Category Archives: sexuality

“Be a Man” = “Learn Pretense”

How the imperative Be a man!” devalues anything our culture (erroneously) feminizes —
including, ultimately (and tragically), empathy.

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Why Teaching Equality Hurts Men

shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows

Don’t let the title put you off. This isn’t what you think.

With few exceptions, there comes a point in every little girl’s life when she first suffers exclusion on the basis of gender. For me, this happened regularly in primary school sports: the boys didn’t like it when I wanted to play cricket, and would actively gang up to ensure I was either kept away from the bat or relegated to the furthest reaches of the outfield. Children aren’t paragons of political correctness: unlike later in life, I knew definitively then that gender was the reason for this behaviour, because I was openly told as much. Over and over again, whether it was soccer or cricket or handball or football or some other thing the boys were doing, I had to fight for inclusion, because even at the tender ages of seven and eight and nine, boys knew

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The whole duck thing

Seriously kids omg I can’t take it anymore.

“Freedom of speech doesn’t mean that one is entitled to a job in perpetuity in spite of incendiary statements.” (-Daniel D’Addario)

Also,
From a writer who’s all about breaking silences: If you’re interested in honest, compassionate dialogue, do it be it start it. Un-firing a character won’t do it for you. Besides, few of us are likely prepared to argue that Duck Dynasty is an appropriate or effective forum for compassionate, rational, researched and well-represented dialogue. If this issue is bigger than a character’s suspension from a show that I hope I never see, then do the work to make it bigger. You. Because seriously I can only un-follow so many people on facebook & the blogs before my fingers start hurting.

(PS I still love you DD fans.)

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Using Words

“As long as I can, I will take what I feel, use it to face what I am able to know, find language, and write what I think must be written for the freedom and dignity of women.”


AndreaonCrete1966MI don’t agree with everything 
Andrea Dworkin has written, but this, yes. Yes.

Taken from “My Life As a Writer,” in Life and Death.

 

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Perhaps We’ll Be Totally Harmless.*

But consider our vibrant bass for details,
The drums on the mass – on the rush – of emotion
This lust for threading needles through the story
For the chance to recognize what we can’t argue with

Again. How we’ve been socialized to respect fear
to be responsible for the corner, for a place
to store your words. Pay no good reason.
Not to ask ourselves what they really are,

Make us only a scratch. So. This is your thing:
The strength of the ways you employ names.
How the prize behind the door
Will be a bell tower / What batters

The grasping or feminine
Your women Your nothing at all
Trying to be in bed with their interiors, & strengths. Tell them
We’re all cramming into stars. Tell them
Maybe a little more.

(*All lines (including title) are found text, resulting from the “What Would I Say” app on my personal Facebook)
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Your silence will not protect you.

Silence-Audre-Lorde-Button-(0348)

I’ve been reading a great deal of Audre Lorde for my work over at Ploughshares. Like Adrienne Rich (whose quote serves as the tagline for Louder Please), she’s a model for placing art in the service of socio-cultural improvement.

When I read her work, it’s like a voice at the back of me:

say it. say it. say it. 

Lately,  my saying has been in the form of songs, pshares blogs, and applications for god knows what activities, all of which could push forward the issues and research I care about. I feel as if I’ve got a hand in everything, prodding the flesh of possible stories. Meanwhile, I find something like refuge in Lorde and Rich, for their emphases on voice, on word, on pressing the damned world into syntax. Not for the purpose of condensing or constraining what can’t be accommodated by language, but for the purpose of the pressing. For the very sensation of limitation.

And dear god, to do what I can. “To roll the thunder of the voice out from the ribs and throat, / To make the people rage, weep, hate, desire with” myself.

“When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.”

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Dear Parents. Stop Saying Miley Was Degrading Herself.

miley + miley

Okay. It’s true that many women who use their bodies to make money ARE degraded, by others or themselves. It’s true that many women don’t have a choice in this, and/or don’t believe they’re worth anything “better.” And our desire to change the socio-cultural situation for the benefit of such women is admirable, and necessary.

But we must not fool ourselves that any woman who uses her body sexually is motivated by low self-esteem or poor morals. This assumption is simply another way to dehumanize the woman while feeling good about ourselves. By expressing disappointment in Miley’s decision to “degrade herself,” we access a rush of moral, psychological, or even feminist superiority, which can feel great. But such superiority relies on a willful skirting of Cyrus’ intellect, agency, and personhood. How do we know that she has degraded herself? And how CAN we know, unless we allow the woman to be a person – and to speak for herself?

The assumption that any woman who uses her body sexually is diminished as a person is a sign of our ongoing dissociation of female sexuality from humanity and agency. If we perceive female sexuality as “dirty,” “impure,” and/or intended strictly for male enjoyment, then the viewing of it all out in the open, seemingly of a woman’s own volition, will be troubling to us.

And it’s this very perception of female sexuality that we must question – particularly in a culture that, for men, readily embraces desire, lust, and a “healthy sex-drive” as symptoms of being fully alive. For women, when publicly revealed, these are symptoms of debasement, slutty-ness, and embarrassment.

i shall take herWhen it comes to women, we tend to think, Obviously, this sexy-fied woman is incapable of thinking or speaking for herself. So I’ll assume I’m the more intelligent, self-esteemed, morally-sound person, and blindly project onto this woman the degradation I’d feel if I were in her place. I won’t ASK her, or leave room for the possibility that she thinks differently (let alone intelligently!) about her work. Instead, because she’s using her body in a sexual manner, I’ll assume she doesn’t know what she’s doing, doesn’t know who she is, doesn’t have good guidance, doesn’t have sound life goals, and certainly that she doesn’t have anything to tell me. In fact, I’ll assume she needs me. If only I could be her mentor!!

I’m not saying Cyrus was legitimately empowered, or that she was expressing her full agency as opposed to playing to the entertainment industry or to a sense of needing to shake off her Disney persona.
I’m just saying we don’t know. And we don’t seem to care to wonder.

It seems to me that, aside from transgressing cultural boundaries as a means of gaining media chatter, what Cyrus did on stage was: sing, dance, communicate a love of sex, touch herself sexually, touch others sexually, and make it clear that she’s a sexual being who’s sexually available. Men do this all the time, including on network TV, and no one blinks. Such men may be perceived as “sleazy” or as “douchebags,” but they’re not pitied. We don’t assume they lack control, agency, or brains. We don’t assume they need us.

We can’t know what led to Cyrus’ choices without treating her like a human being with a brain. That we assume her performance precludes humanity and intelligence – or removes her right to be perceived as a human being with thoughts – reveals volumes about our inability to reconcile a woman’s sexuality with her personhood.

A man can be overtly sexual, even sleazy, and yet be perceived by society as a human being who thinks for himself. I’m troubled that this is so rarely the case with women.

–> Idea time, hooray! <–
If you think Miley Cyrus’ performance was degrading, and if you also feel the need to discuss this with your children, consider describing your perception AS a perception, rather than speaking for someone you don’t know: “This would be degrading to me, and here’s why.” Consider communicating that, as a grown, successful woman, Miley Cyrus can make her own choices, and that we don’t know why she made this particular one. Don’t be afraid to say, “I wonder why she chose this? It’d be interesting to ask her, don’t you think?”
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I want to be numbered among the heretics

It’s the heretic who’s out without her jacket,
skirt above the knees, showing her bruises,
saying, I dare someone to say it’s okay. Try it.

The heretic won’t settle out of court,
dress suicide as martyrdom,
praise the impotence of silence.

It’s the heretic who spits out the communion wine
if it tastes of poison

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