America’s Next Bill Clinton!


Why we have sex …
No, really. I am not crazy, or at least I’ve not yet gone crazy. It’s a legitimate question, based on my reading and research. So, again I ask: what is sex for and why do we have it?

Often, our conversations around sex consist of what we like, the things we are into, and our experiences with it. But rarely is the question asked, “Is our children learning …” no wait, I mean, rarely do we question the purpose of sex. The first question, many of you will recognize, is a Bush question.

In a culture where sex is framed by mass media and pornography, it’s important to ask that question, mainly because popular culture still frames sex as something men earn and women give. In said culture, where the purpose of sex is framed in a sense of pleasure, we see women as the source of pleasure whereas men are the takers of such pleasure. When framed in said mentality, we no longer see women’s roles in sex as one of humans, but rather humans who serve a specific purpose.

As such, said mentality takes away the idea of human connections. We simply see sex as mechanical, and not as an expression between two people. To be absolutely sure, there can be sex without love, and we have all experienced it, but when human connections are taken out of sex, it merely becomes a biological act, and has nothing to do with humanity. Further, it makes us see others as mere vehicles to our attainment of pleasure, rather than human beings with whom we can connect.

Whether we like it or not, sex involves emotions. Yet, within the pornography industry, it’s treated as a mere act. In the end, it teaches us to detach from our human beings. I am not saying every sex act ought to come with love. I am merely saying we need to see others as human beings. Once we see others as merely sex providers, whether paid or not, any feelings or empathy we have for a person is gone. I say this to merely argue the point that until we can see others as humans, with feelings, needs and emotions, the act of prostitution will still be one that views women as providers of pleasure, and not humans. Sex may be great on its own, but we need to recognize that the person from whom we are getting it has feelings and is a human being.

 
With such acknowledgment, we will be kinder and more in touch of that person. In such cases, date rape can certain be prevented. After all, no does not mean no if we do not respect the other person’s feelings as a human being. To be sure, I can be pretty dirty and kinky, but without sounding too cheesy, sex isn’t about just getting yourself off. There is a piece of oneself, a human connection, left in the other person. Despite of what pornography tells us, sex isn’t just sex. That other person is the body parts we like, is a human.

Again, I ask: why do you have sex? What’s it for? Is it merely a way to achieve pleasure, is it a show of mutual adoration, is it to create babies (who am I kidding) is it to show love and reward, or is it a way to attain mutual pleasure with someone you like and respect? By re-defining to purpose for sex, we too re-define how society sees homosexuality. After all, if it’s about mutual respect and culture, then why does it matter what is natural?

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Anti-rape campaign. Join me!

Here’s the deal: you and I both know rape is a big problem on many campuses. We know the statistics. We know people who are survivors. We know that rape is more prevalent in social situations than any others. And most importantly, we have the answers on how to fix the problems.

Now is your chance to step up and take charge and be a feminist leader – whether you are an undergraduate, a graduate or otherwise. We need you to start a local chapter on your campus.

Rather than starting my own organization – I am piggybacking with another already existing organization that aims at community education and outreach to curb rape. The blue print to our goals and missions is being put together. We should finalize it in less than a month.

There are two goals: to education young men about rape, through encouraging them to deconstruct their masculinity and understand why they take the actions they do. Rape happens, I believe, because we live in a culture that eroticizes masculinity, dominance, and gender roles, in which men’s identities are defined through sexual conquests and ownership.

We’re going to hold talks at bars, freshmen orientation, and other places college students frequent. We’ll also have posters, discussion groups and outreach programs.

The second goal is to give women voices – the survivors of rape never often speak up because of the backlash and stigma that rape carries – and as such, to be able to lead a healthy life, both physically and mentally. By giving women a network to work through, we’ll be able to give women voices – and put their lived experiences at the forefront of the matter.

So, I need your help to start this not only on your campus, but in your community. This is something I want to start at all levels – as low as junior high school, in fact. I need you to spread the message to your brothers and sisters, friends, boyfriends, and anyone who you think might be a good addition to this, in your various cities and campuses.

The majority of my friends are women. I need more men to get involved to this, as to show rape isn’t an issue that affect women and that not only women can speak out on this, but this is an issue that affects everyone, and everyone has the responsibility to make our communities and campuses safer.

Contact me if you are interested. And pass on the information to everyone, please. My contact info is below.

Email: mloix002@odu.edu



America’s rape culture

As many of you know, I’ve been feverishly working on a “gray rape” project for class this semester, and the more research I do, the more I get disappointed with human beings.

Let’s suppose a web-site or company advocates and eroticizes murdering people, you’d have a problem with it, right? Even if it advocated the murders of animals, I am sure you’d all have a problem with it.

There are no web-sites of such …a google search for “murder pictures” shows the first website is an anti-choice website that shows abortion pictures. That’s pathetic, but that’s another story on its own.

But let’s do this: a quick search of “rape pictures” turn up this: http://rapeu.com/ (trigger warnings of all kinds. Please use caution.)

Now, in the US, child pornography is illegal. Even “cyber child pornography,” which denotes photoshopped pictures of legal adults onto the faces of children, is illegal. The law is this way to protect children from being exploited and their lives from being ruined.

Yet, web-sites like these are legal? I absolutely don’t get it. By that logic, a woman is only protected under the law (by this, I mean protection as people and not merely “women”) until she’s 18, and then she’s thrown to the wolves, no longer owns her bodies, and can be the subject of rape? If it makes sense that fake child pornography is illegal because while it does not hurt anyone, it promotes a culture of children exploitation, then why is it that we are okay with promoting a culture of rape?

It’s no wonder people think of rape as a violent act that happens only in the night, committed by some stranger. Rape does not have to involve violence. Just because he says “I love you” after sex without consent does not mean it’s not rape. Just because dude bought you dinner does not mean it’s not rape if you say no.

These websites not only promote violent rape, but they also, at the same time, presuppose the idea of what “rape” actually means. Not only does it decriminalizes non-violent rape, it also eroticizes violent rape.

What does this mean? It means if you’re a woman living in America, your body and sexuality aren’t owned by you. It’s owned by a culture that’s making money promoting your rape, the violations of your bodies, and telling everyone that these are perfectly okay because, after all, they are fantasies.

The more I spend researching and in academia, the more I angry I become. Feminism is supposed to make us more compassionate and loving, but the more of this shit I see, the more pissed off I get.

Maybe I am doing something wrong.



“Are you a feminist?”

I am a journalist for the military – that’s how I make my living. Telling people’s stories is how I earn the money for feminist conferences – and to go to school.

My career has taken me places – both while I was in the military and now – where I’d written stories of young women and men being brought to a dark and hopeless place – war – that many, sadly, never returned.

I’ve written stories that touched lives and made people cry. I’ve written “fluff,” a term used in our circle to describe stories that raise morale and make people happy.

Today, perhaps, I asked the one question that made me proudest – a question that, when I was given the answer, touched me as none other ever did.

March is Women’s History Month – and in keeping with the Department of Defense’s guidelines to celebrate various months of diversity, my employers put together a panel of “successful women,” and in front of their hundreds of collogues, told the stories of how they became successful in a male dominated society.

The one-hour event culminated with a question-and-answer session from the audience. I am in the front row, studiously taking notes. Yet, to my disappointment, not a single soul mentioned the F-word in the one-hour session.

I was appalled because one woman related the following story when asked to relate a “funny” story about a woman living in a male-dominated organization.

“After I was hired, I was told that I was hired because I had the nicest legs out of all 15 candidates,” she said. The audience laughed. I was disgusted.

I raised my hand – it was, after all, a Women’s History Month panel – and to let it go by without addressing feminism – a major, if not single, contributor to the empowerment of women would be a travesty.

“How much do you think your successes are a result of feminism – and would you consider yourself a feminist?” I screamed from my front row seat.

I’ve asked a lot of tough questions in my career – and I didn’t consider this question to be tough. It should have been an easy answer.

Yet, the panel members sat there and stared back. One could almost hear a pin drop were it not for the murmurs of the audience. Apparently, I asked a controversial question.

“I’ll take the question,” said a kind woman on the panel. She is a doctor and a librarian – and we have a certain connection in that she is friends with my professors – and a member and major contributor to the Friends of Women’s Studies program at my school.

She continued: “When I went to the University of Michigan, it was at the height of the Vietnam War. I was raised at home to believe I can do anything I wanted to. I got the same things at Michigan. This was when feminism was at its early stages.

“I believe the actions, writings, commitment and passion of the early feminists opened many fields. I owe my life to feminism, and yes, I am a feminist. But I want you to know feminism isn’t just for women. Not only women should be feminists – but anyone who cares about the betterment of the world and give people opportunity can be a feminist,” she concluded.

It was beautiful. I grinned. In front of the hundreds and hundreds of military personnel, this woman had the courage to stand up and identify herself as a feminist. In front of a patriarchal society in which the word “feminism” is frowned on more than the other F word, she told the world she is a feminist.

Perhaps with her answer, the kind librarian – one who I’ve looked up to for guidance and conversations, changed a few minds. Perhaps she’s made people see that feminism isn’t about men-hating, it isn’t about not shaving your legs, and it isn’t about women taking over in a society.

It’s about women empowerment. It’s about the deconstruction of masculinity. It’s about creating a level playing field so that we may all have the same opportunity.

After the panel, I walked up to her and shook her hand. “Thank you for that answer – you made my day,” I told her.

Perhaps more than making my day, she also made history – in changing the minds of some people – those, who, for too long have had a misconception about feminism.



Elliot Spitzer, prostitutes and feminism.

Yet another politician caught red-handed; yet another media circus talking about infidelity, with “relationship experts” who give women advice of how to “keep their men”; yet, another case of a high-profiled sex worker being harassed day and night because of “weakness” of a politician. It’s not fair. It’s not fair that in cases like these, sex workers are treated like freak shows. Their personal lives at probed; the media camps outside of their homes for days at a time; their pictures splattered all over the Internet. Yet, the focus of the issue, the talk of the town, isn’t about her. It’s not about her plight. It’s about the impact this has on politics.

The issues the matter to people are not Kristen, whose service Elliot Spitzer sought, but rather, Spitzer himself. 

There will be discussions about Spitzer’s hypocrisies; there will be dialogue but how this has an effect on progressive politics; and Republicans and back-stabbing Democrats alike will ask for his resignation. The Republicans will call for Spitzer’s resignation because having sex outside of marriage, with a sex worker, at that, is “immoral.”

Yet, they don’t realize the immoral thing here is to ignore the dialogue about sex workers, and what brought them to become high-priced prostitutes. There is a victim to every story. In this case, Kristen is the victim – someone who, because of the failures of an andro-centric society, became just a part of the system.

She left home at 17, became a dancer, and eventually turned into a sex worker.  Yet, her story isn’t told. The lives of sex workers aren’t explored. That politicians are exploiting the plights of the very people they’re supposed to be fighting for isn’t talked about.  

Yes, her face will be splashed across your newspapers and internet sites. She will receive millions of hits on her myspace page. She will become an instant celebrity overnight – but no matter how you slice it, the media’s treatment of her is similar to the treatment of an object – a show. She’s something to be taken pictures of, examined and probed. Her story will never be told. Her voice will more than likely not be heard. What questions she is asked by the media won’t be about what brought her to doing sex work, or the lives and conditions of sex workers, but rather, her interactions with Spitzer. Unimportant questions to unimportant issues.
 

Isn’t it time we change the dialogue? Isn’t it time we put women’s issues first? Isn’t it time we give voices to women – even if said woman is “just a 22-year-old prostitute?” 

When we give something a voice, we give it power; we give its stories values; we bring forth the experiences from the viewpoints of the subjugated. Let’s give this woman a voice.

Let’s tell stories from her experiences. Let’s focus on the real victim here. Until we do, until we bring her story to light, it’ll be the same old shit again. Patriarchy. Aren’t we sick and tired of that?



A sincere apology …

I know I said I won’t be posting much, but the fact is that I need to apologize. It’s been less than a week since school is back in session, and I’ve already been challenged to look at my world from a different lense. For that, I am thankful. The apology note is below.  

I feel the need to apologize to all who’ve been on this blog during the past few months. It’s all my fault.

 I am not making any excuses for it, but I will say this: I failed to see things from your perspetives and paradigms, and I am wrong for it. I wasn’t wrong because I didn’t see it, but because I refused to take the time to see it.

Instead of being critical at myself and my own belief systems, I became critical of the knowlege and claims of radical feminism. I held my “truth” and “values” as the only ones that could be correct, and as a privileged male, doing so only furthered my patriarchy. I took the advice to “listen to women” as meaning “submit to women,” while all along, it simply means to learn from women’s voices and experiences.

 In doing so, I leaned further to the other side of the line – the one that I’d been a part of all my life. In doing so, I moved further from feminism, and deeper into the patriarchy. For that, I apologize.

 The words I use and the jobs I take, while I can justify them with the way I view the world, take on a whole different meaning for women. Rather than trying to see things from women’s perspectives, I was defiant and defended my own perspective. My shots at radical feminism was based on my lack of understanding of untapped knowlege and experiences. My attack on radical feminsm was based on on the male lense, the lense of the oppressor, rather than the oppressed.

From my vantage point, I don’t see everything. I see very little because in belonging to the class that rules, rather than the one being subjugated, I DID NOT need to see a lot. I was wrong.

To truly be effective in feminism, I must not only have the values and the convictions, but also the knowlege of women’s experiences. Too often, I’ve neglected those stories and experiences when they are told to me, because in my world, individual stories are written off as meaningless. They are written off as being useless in the fight for power and control.

Know that while my convictions and values were there, my practice was not, and most of the time, it was an unconscious decision. Most of the time, it was based on my “intuition” and “instincts,” the majority of which was socially constructed based on male power.

As such, I strive to do better in the future …to share less and listen more. The paths to social activism starts with the values and convictions that all are equal, but without the knowlege of what or how to best serve women, then said values and convictions are useless.

 I am working on that knowlege and I will continue to do so. Sometimes, all I need is a dose of reality – a talking-to by a feminist mentor, for me to see what I’ve done wrong.

Perhaps that’s what scares me the most …what the hell do I do when I am out of college and there are no professors for me to call and ask the critical questions? What the hell do I do when I don’t know what’s best for women? Do my professors hold all the answers, or do individual experiences of individual women matter more? Those are the questions I am still trying to answer, and in coming back to the women’s studies program this semester, I hope to answer those questions.



My problem with so-called “Radical” feminism.
December 26, 2007, 7:02 pm
Filed under: 2nd-wave feminism, 3rd wave feminism, Feminism, liberal feminism, social justice

I am taking this off for now, so I can properly write an entry without seeming as though I am attacking the Radicals.