Cover of “Umbrella” by Mechanical Bride.
Here’s a smart piece about consent and revenge porn, in which a woman who was a victim of it decided to get new photos taken & publish them herself in order to establish her own agency & autonomy.
She doesn’t advise it for everyone, but she does say some smart things about the nature of sexualization and objectification. Such as:
Then, suddenly, I noticed that this dynamic – sexualisation against her will – was everywhere. Take ‘creepshots’, a global phenomenon which entails photographing women without their knowledge or consent, in order to share them in a sexual context online. On similar sites, people link to Facebook pages asking if anyone can hack or find more pictures of the girl. Here, again, women are used as objects whose lack of consent, of participation, provides the reason and allure of their sexualisation.
This dynamic is a commonplace online and is a concrete manifestation of a larger discourse around the female body, the notion that it is erotic to sexualise someone who is unaware. We all know the tropes: the sexy teacher/student/nurse/waiter/bartender/doctor. All jobs, if staffed by women, can be sexualised. What is sexy is not the job, not even the woman, but the fact that while the woman is just doing her job you are secretly sexualising her. She has become public property by simply being?
Do go read the whole thing. She is straightforward, pro sex, and thoughtful. It won’t solve the problem, but it feels empowered — dignity in the face of a shitty, sexist world.
No really, stick with me. A former student sent me this short interview with Tristan Taormino about feminist porn and was surprised to hear that 1 in 3 porn viewers are women. Surprised, because that’s an amazingly high percentage, & surprising, because as a feminist who has always been pro porn, that seems like a significant shift in the sexual/cultural landscape. But you can’t underestimate ease of access and privacy, and I suspect that being able to view porn on a home computer or mobile device makes it easy enough that women – who might otherwise not want to go to the kinds of places you have traditionally been able to see or buy porn – has made a huge change in things, much as VCRs did back in the day.
As a result: feminist porn, where labor is treated fairly (yes, labor – sex work IS work) and where maybe we need to rewrite the story.
Almost simultaneously, a friend sent me this link to female spec fic writer Kameron Hurley talking about what it’s like to write female characters, and especially why she writes female characters who are soldiers and warriors. And while I think her initial example – of those scaly llamas – confuses the subject a bit, she’s basically saying that we see writers write women as the women who have always been written and that those of us who are women even participate in this because This Is How Women Are Written. If you write them any other way, there will be objections, right? We must believe it is exceptional and rare for women to be in power, or violent, because that is not the story about women that has been told time and time again.
This interview and this blog post intersect in a cool way, no? If you always present women (and men, for that matter) as the same kind of sexual beings they have always been in porn, you get the same porn. But what happens when women are portrayed as dominant, as multiply orgasmic, as physically strong? What happens when men care for or love deeply the women they have sex with, and that is apparent in porn? What if men are shown to forego or postpone their own desire in order to make sure the woman is satisfied? What happens?
Well, you can watch feminist porn and see for yourself that llamas aren’t scaly. That’s what happens. Maybe, in fact, we’ll get around to seeing human sexuality &desire on screen that’s far more what we know sex to be.
I was reading this depressing, massive list of all the business that have closed in NYC since Bloomberg became mayor and then found this post about the meatpacking district and the trans sex workers who used to ply their trade there.
The famous (and also now gone) Lee’s Mardi Gras was nearby, too. But eventually, Sex & the City and new high rents
helped bring a flood of Carrie Bradshaw wannabes to the area, bobble-headed young women tottering over the cobblestones in their Manolos and Jimmy Choos, slipping in the blood and fat.
The neighborhood didn’t change very quickly in the 90s, since Florent and Monster and Hogs were all still there in the late 90s, but they’re all gone now, along with the women who worked those streets. I was impressed by the respect shown them in this piece, evident in that description of that ridiculous Sex & the City episode (which was, by the way, the first one I happened to see, and so was the last, too), but moreso in the last paragraph:
Where did they go, all those working girls? Some no doubt were murdered, as marginalized transwomen too often are. Others found other strolls, in more dangerous neighborhoods. And some, I’m sure, went “legit.” It’s impossible to say.
It sure is.
I know this isn’t exactly news, but I found it fascinating, and with the sheer number of comments on the Reddit thread, a lot of other people have too.
When asked how men and women respond, sexually, to him having two penises, he wrote:
“but for the most part, girls were nervous and some changed their mind at the last minute. dudes NEVER change their mind, they always want it even if they’re freaked out a little. lol”
& Yes, there are photos, both flaccid and erect.
& Lots of answers to interesting questions. He is bi, and poly, & has a committed relationship with one man & one woman. He’s never done porn. Yes, they both work.
Mostly what I found great about it was reading his process of not just accepting himself as he is but valuing it – knowing he’s one in a million. The only real bullying came in high school, when some guys assumed he was gay. Because, you know, two penises. Because, you know, small brains.
If this is any indication, it’s going to be an interesting year.
I don’t know (or care, really) who Tom Daley is, but here’s the thing: all day they’ve been saying he’s gay, when he says he “still fancies girls” but is happy to be in a relationship currently with a man. To me that means he’s bisexual, or pansexual, or has another word for himself, but “gay” isn’t it.
So, yeah. This is why people don’t think bi people exist – because when they do come out, even if they clearly do not call themselves gay, everyone assumes they’re gay.
It tires me, the way gayness eclipses any other possible sexuality. Cranky queer het that I am.
This is the kind of thing I find myself teaching, or referring to, because I teach things that touch on the history of sexuality and on LGBTQ issues. It’s very hard to get across what it was like to younger people who grew up in an era when people lived long, full, otherwise healthy lives despite AIDS. But now it’s gotten to the point where unprotected anal sex is on the rise, again, which means the rates of infection are going up (again).
I have covered wars, before the epidemic began and since. They are all ugly and painful and unjust, but for me, nothing has matched the dread I felt while walking through the Castro, the Village, or Dupont Circle at the height of the AIDS epidemic. It could seem as if a neutron bomb had exploded: the buildings stood; cars were parked along the roadside; there were newsstands and shops and planes flying overhead. But the people on the street were dying. The Castro was lined with thirty-year-old men who walked, when they could, with canes or by leaning on the arms of their slightly healthier lovers and friends. Wheelchairs filled the sidewalks. San Francisco had become a city of cadavers.
& Honestly, we can do better than that.
It’s World AIDS Day. Get tested, play safe.
So here’s a clearly stated article on some of the vagaries of non monogamous relationships, what forms they might take, how they are interpreted in gay and straight relationships, why non monogamy and polyamory aren’t “cheating”, what the difference is between an open relationship and a poly one.
But here’s what I love the most about this one:
Whenever the topic of non-monogamy comes up there are inevitably comments about these sorts of relationships failing. The truth is, non-monogamous relationships fail all the time.
The bigger picture however, is that relationships fail all the time, full stop.
Oh, right. That. & From where I’m standing, there is a lot, a lot a lot a lot, of wreckage around transition. I often wonder how many partnerships might have continued if there had been a little room – say, for a lesbian wife of a trans guy to have a girlfriend, too, because she still loves the guy she met who transitioned but misses having an intimate, trusting relationship with a woman, too.
The more I read about ace (asexuality), the more these kinds of relationships might make sense too.
I had a poly friend once say to me that his feelings about monogamy are kind of like Gandhi’s about western civilization. I’m sure you all know the story: Gandhi was asked what he thought of western civ, and he said, “I think it would be a very good idea.” The problem with monogamy, he explained, is that all sorts of people think they’re in monogamous relationships who aren’t.
As I have before, I’ll once again recommend Tristan Taormino’s Opening Up.
GP Careful! Speaking as a pervert myself, what the internet did was tell you that you weren’t alone. And it was shocking. When I was young, when I was about ten years old, I used to have this fantasy, which used to turn me on greatly, of being in a body cast – lying in hospital, motionless, unable to move. And then when the internet came along, one day I just thought, “I wonder,” and then I just googled “plaster casts” and like – eugh! There’s websites called things like Cast Your Enthusiasm. It’s an offshoot of bondage.
BE It’s an offshoot of surrendering, as well – the same thing. You’re deliberately losing control.
GP And it’s kind of a loving thing, I think. It has to be. If you think about giving up to God, God is always there and is a parental presence, a parental projection. In bondage, there is always somewhere in the fantasy the loving but cruel parent figure.
BE The loving dominator.
GP Yes, we’re all gimps to a certain extent. Often when we look at perversions, you’re seeing an extreme, ritualised version of what everyone else has latent in them.
“Often when we look at perversions, you’re seeing an extreme, ritualised version of what everyone else has latent in them.” = You can put that in your pipe & smoke it.
Okay, so they’ve made asexuality sound cool by shortening it to Ace – as Eddie Izzard would say, “well done there.” Because the culture at large tends to think of asexuality as kind of boring otherwise, right? So many preconceptions for those of us who are sexual, so many new ways of seeing.
As I’ve often admitted, it’s a hard one for me to understand. I understand celibacy – and even choosing celibacy. I wrote a column about not having sex as a feminist a few years back for Jezebel, even. And I especially love the kinds of distinctions that asexual people are bringing to the table – distinctions between sexual and romantic attraction, for instance. As with the kink community, some things that are central or vitally important to one community can be useful to a lot of others, so that we can all think about things in more complex ways that actually describe – as opposed to prescribe – out experiences and identities.
With that, here’s one “coming out as ace” advice page, and here’s another, and here’s a coming out story by someone else who identifies as asexual.
(Also, I want especially to thank the students here at Lawrence, many of them involved with GLOW, who have been willing to explain, describe, and answer dumb questions from their sex positive prof. You know who you are.)
It seems some in the leather community have decided trans men aren’t men – again. This was the case years ago, but then, five years ago, the rules were changed to be trans inclusive, & now they’re back to being exclusive of trans men.
They’re even using that sorry old version of cis, “bio male”, which hasn’t been acceptable to use in, oh, I don’t know, a decade?
“For any person who wants to run for International Leather SIR, Leatherboy you must be a bio male in order to run. Even the Transgender Leather Community has an International title now. ILSb used to be bio male only and we will be returning it back to the Drummer days. We are not turning our back on any segment of the community. It is okay for an international title to belong to a gay man. But we welcome everyone to the party as far as the weekend events and so on. As far as the Leather Sir and Leatherboy, it will belong to the gay male community. ICBB will again have no change there because it is a community title that is open to anyone.”
Many in the leather community are saddened by this atavistic decision.
It seems like a no-brainer to me after 3 porn stars tested positive for HIV and a recent outbreak of syphilis, but when Tristan Taormino recently announced she will have all male stars use condoms in her porn movies, all hell broke loose. Here’s a CNN clip about it, if you prefer video.
Here, she explains why she made the decision she did and also explains that she is still not for mandatory use of them for everyone. This is her own decision, for her films, and in keeping with her own (feminist) labor practices.
If you support her decision, do go like her Facebook page & post a message of support.
Here’s a great interview with the amazing Laverne Cox and Janet Mock about Mister Cee – who was caught soliciting a trans female – that he loves women, dates women, but occasionally desires fellatio with a “transsexual” – that is, a trans woman.
What’s fascinating is how many people think he’s “just gay” and needs to come out.
Liking fellatio – and he’s unclear if he’s interested in a trans woman blowing him or blowing a woman who still has a penis – doesn’t make someone gay.
Liking men, as a man, makes someone gay (if anything does).
Men who like trans women are straight. Maybe adventurous. Maybe they like penises and women.
They said there is no language for someone who loves trans people, but in fact the term “trans amorous” – “trans am” for short – has been around quite a lot. They’re called trans admirers sometimes, or “transsensual” (which is used more on the FTM end of things).
THAT SAID: plenty of men who date trans women are straight men. Period. End of statement.
Janet Mock talks more about shame and gender policing in her article which is, as per usual, right on.
A very, very long time ago I asked trans admirers to step up.
I’m still waiting.
I kinda love that I’m sometimes the first person people have read that mentioned pegging when I talked about Bend Over Boyfriend in my books, but I just ran across this column, by Laura Stuart out of Milwaukee’s Tool Shed, updating everyone’s resource list on the topic.
Since one reader asked privately, I figured a few more of you probably wanted or needed to know.
I thought this was great – one dad’s planned conversation with his son the first time he sees his son look at a woman sexually.
There are two views regarding a woman’s dress code that you will be pressured to buy into. One view will say that women need to dress to get the attention of men. The other view will say women need to dress to protect men from themselves. Son, you are better than both of these. A woman, or any human being, should not have to dress to get your attention. You should give them the full attention they deserve simply because they are a fellow human being. On the other side, a woman should not have to feel like she needs to protect you from you. You need to be in control of you.
Let’s be clear: a woman’s body is not dangerous to you. Her body will not cause you harm. It will not make you do stupid things. If you do stupid things it is because you chose to do stupid things.
A judge said a 14 year old girl who consented to sex with a 49 year old man who was also her teacher was “older than her chronological years” and “as much in control” as the man was.
The girl took her own life. According to her mother, she committed suicide largely because of this relationship.
Moveon.org has a petition that calls for the judge to resign for his poor judgement, victim blaming, and slut shaming.
Which reminds me to define slut shaming: slut shaming is a cultural practice whereby people think a woman “deserves” whatever negative thing happens to her because she has a sexuality or even just a body that she dresses in a way that seems – to someone – as “asking for it”. Slut shaming is when a girl is raped at a party by four boys and the photo of her being raped is passed around and no one reports the boys. Slut shaming is when a journalist reports the slut shaming being done by others of a 12 year told girl who was raped by multiple men. Slut shaming is when a woman who agrees to sex with a guy at a party is mocked and made fun of and nothing happens to the guy. Slut shaming is when a girl who gives a guy a blowjob at a concert and is called a slut while the guy is applauded. Slut shaming is when a woman is considered dangerous or suspect purely because she has an apparent sexuality and is/has been known to have sex with men (or women) she is not married or committed to. Slut shaming is what bisexuals get a lot because they’re assumed to sleep with anyone, anywhere, any time.
Slut shaming is what makes that judge’s ruling possible; it plays into the myths that women are always temptresses, femme fatales, or lolitas, that their expression of their sexuality is always a conscious choice and that any disregard for traditional social morays and expectations will and should be punished.
The word “slut” doesn’t have to be used for slut shaming to occur, and a woman does not have to have had sex with a lot of men in order to be accused of being a slut. That is, slut shaming is a cultural phenomenon that attempts to define and control women’s sexualities and punish anyone whose appearance or practices are not in line with that culture’s standards.
… when they date trans men, that is.
Artist Bill Roundy wrote a comic about what it’s like to be a gay man who dates trans guys is actually pretty damned amusing.
<—– Here’s one snippet.
What we have learned: penis in vagina sex is not always straight/het sex. Genitals aren’t gender. Sometimes men have vaginas. Sometimes women don’t.
Anyway, read the whole thing — his frustration is in every frame but it should help clarify for a lot of people out there who don’t get it.
So this looks interesting:
. . . wide-ranging interviews with subjects who are filmed in the comfort of their own beds, asking probing questions about what people look for in a partner and how they know when they have found it. From a couple that has been together for 71 years to a pair of fresh-faced newlyweds, she encourages her subjects to open their hearts and minds as they share candid and touching insights into their relationships, underscoring the fact that no union is as simple as it seems on the surface.
Each couple gradually discloses intimate thoughts about the sometimes painfully private issues that affect every relationship, including passion, fidelity, family obligations, separation, conflict, negotiation and illness. As they talk about how they met and fell in love, some even surprise each other with feelings long held back, while others revisit old hurts as if they had happened yesterday.
Americans in Bed premieres Monday, August 12 (9:00 ET) on HBO. There’s a trailer here.
io9 did this interesting article about Freud, and why he remains stubbornly, and maybe regrettably, important:
“Freud is truly in a class of his own,” writes Todd Dufresne, an outspoken critic. “Arguably no other notable figure in history was so fantastically wrong about nearly every important thing he had to say. But, luckily for him, academics have been — and still are — infinitely creative in their efforts to whitewash his errors, even as lay readers grow increasingly dumbfounded by the entire mess.”
It’s not so much whitewashing as having to teach him in order to teach a bunch of other things that reference his works. As someone who teaches, it’s hard not to notice how much of what we read and discuss has been written in response to Freud, but no one really assigns him anymore, either. So much of French feminism, feminist film theory, and post modern theory, rely on a basic working knowledge of some of his concepts, like Oedipal complex and castration anxiety and his ideas about the family’s role in the sex and gender roles, for that matter. (If anyone knows of a useful compendium of some of these major concepts, I’d love to know about it.)
But I was, also, reminded of his remarkable letter to the mother of a gay man who was worried about her son. He wrote:
Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation; it cannot be classified as an illness; we consider it to be a variation of the sexual function, produced by a certain arrest of sexual development. Many highly respectable individuals of ancient and modern times have been homosexuals, several of the greatest men among them. (Plato, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, etc). It is a great injustice to persecute homosexuality as a crime – and a cruelty, too. If you do not believe me, read the books of Havelock Ellis.
That’s often the context I teach him in – as part of the movement of turn of the last century sexologists, some of whom, like Freud, were essentially compassionate if also paternalistic. That is definitely not true of all of them – Kraft-Ebing was a pathologizing asshole, for instance – but Ellis, who he mentions, wrote the introduction to the lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness, which was, in turn, brought up on obscenity charges only for portraying lesbian existence.
Bathwater maybe, but not the baby.