America’s Next Bill Clinton!


Can I still be “masculine” and be a feminist?

My apogogies for the lack of posting. I’ve been extremely busy, and extremely sick. I am still kind of walking around in a haze, not having eaten since Tuesday because of this really bad flu … 

Can I be a feminist and still, at the same time, hold on to my masculinity? I mean, if a female feminist can still cling on to her “womanhood” and be a feminist, why can’t I be the same? If a woman can still wear make-up and high heels and be a feminist, why can’t I be masculine and still be a feminist?

I bring this up because lately, I’ve been charged with not being a feminist because I still enjoy male privilege.

The most serious charge is that I still want power – that in having political ambitions, rather than giving up power, I am clinging on and going after power.

But if I am using such power for something good – feminism, why is it so wrong?

So what if I enjoy a good fight? So what if, upon hearing a Navy guy make an anti-women, anti-feminist comment at the bar, and acting like a misogynist objectifying jackass, I challenge him to a fight? Sure, it’s violence; but it’s violence for feminism?

So what if I enjoy the sense of women (sexually or otherwise) or the taste of beer, or that on Sundays, I am watching football? So what if I love the feeling of being able to shoot my M-16 so accurately that i can hit a target 500 meters away? I am still a feminist.

I can still be tender, loving, caring, and I can still stick by my values and convictions.

To be sure, those who accused me of such are 2nd Wavers, those who live in their own worlds, reject what is reality, and just are “radical.”

I like sex, I like beers, I like violence, I like football, and I still speak out on behalf of human and women’s rights.

I still fall in love I still enjoy wooing women, I still enjoy wearing my heart on my sleeve.

I love being the center of attention. I love power. I love being in control.

But I would never harm, objectifying, hurt, or deny women of their humanly rights.

Why am I not a feminist?

A girl I just spoke to told me one can still be masculine and “manly” and be a good person and a feminist and that I am an example of such.

I shouldn’t give a fuck what the 2nd Wave thinks. But I still need to give up male privilege, as it is how we pro-feminist males are supposed to act.

What am I to do? What’s a guy supposed to do? If I give up masculinity, all that’s in me will be gone. I’d be left with no passion, no drive, no ambition. This is not because it’s what defined me as a man, but it’s because it’s who I am.

I want to be a man, but I still want to be a feminist.

Thoughts?



Sex toys for $10,000????!?!?

Over at Jessica Valenti’s feministing.com, a discussion regarding Charlie Sheen and Real Life dolls are taking place – and I couldn’t help but do it as well. 

I found this both amusing and a little creepy – so I thought I’d share it, since it is Friday and things ought to be lighthearted.

Now, I am all for sex aide or sex toys or whatever you want to use to enhance your sex lives, but this is pretty weird (www.realdoll.com). It’s a life-size doll made of silicon and latex and crap that feels real, and is used as sex partners for (mostly men) who otherwise wouldn’t be getting any action.

It comes with a built-in skeleton as to allow the owner to put it into any position desired. There’s also an MP3 player that’ll make the doll moan and such …I guess in this case, the only “button” to push to turn her on is …well, the “on” button. It also comes with a heating system that’ll bring the doll’s temperature up to 98.6 degrees.

The intent of this, for many men, of course is to get the perfect partner without having to do the leg work. It’s all the “sex” you want without ever hearing no, or having to hear her talk or negotiate mutually pleasurable activities.

Nevermind the fact that every person has some sort of a short-coming and no one is perfect. In this fantasy world for these men, women will behave whoever they want, look as good as they want, without any of the reality of what a woman really is.

As one man says of the dolls: “For the most part, it’s just like sex with an organic woman…who doesn’t say anything and is brimful of Quaaludes.” I don’t know what the rest of the quote meant, but one can stop after the word “anything” and know what kinds of people these men are.

But it gets worst! Some of these dolls are made into the shapes of teenagers or sometimes even younger. What’s going to be included in the MP3 player, a soundbite of the doll singing the Barney song?

From a feminist perspective, it’s probably a good thing, because so long as they have their robotic lovers, these men won’t be going out and trying to mate with women. Results? No babies! Honestly, because people like these shouldn’t be raising kids.

Another point, too, is that this quite effectively ends the debate of whether women are golddiggers and will only have sex with rich men. If these guys are shelling out $10,000 for a doll, they’re pretty rich, okay? So, why are they having to buy a doll instead of just courting one of those “golddiggers?” Oh, yeah, because golddigers don’t exist – only men using that idea as an excuse for not getting laid.

Thoughts?



I am not a flirt! I am just a (3rd wave) feminist!

Recently, I’ve been told – by more than just one woman – that the actions I take when around them tend to me misleading – and that I tend to be, according to some, a “flirt.”

I find this problematic and interesting because I am a pro-feminist male, and as such, I tend to treat everyone equality without regard to gender, but I cannot help but think somehow, because of my behavior, I am ending up confusing the shit out of some people, and in a sense, “leading them on.”

Because of my activism on and off campus in the feminist as well as progressive politics movements, I often dine with a lot of women – and have a lot of what I call “friendly outings” with them.

That’s certainly not the problem. The problem comes in when, in our interaction, I may say things that – in a gendered society as we know it, be considered flirting.

A touch on the shoulder here, a brush on the lap there, a “you’re amazing here,” a “you’ve got a beautiful mind,” there. Just compliments – and just friendly touching – all of which are welcomed. But then I’ve been accused that, because of this, women are taking it as a sign of a come on, and that I somehow don’t “follow through” with my actions, because I then go on and gloat about Emily and how wonderful she is and how much she means.

Perhaps that’s what bothers me the most about the gendered world as we know it – people can’t appreciate and show affection for one another – albeit a very platonic and friendly one, without having to feel as though they are somehow showing signs of romantic interests.

It’s not that I feel bad for myself – I live in a world with male privilege and have absolutely no rights to bitch or complain. I just feel bad that I may be leaving people with the wrong impression.

Really, in the end, is a brush on the lap, stroking someone’s face, or a compliment about how much you like them as a person, really a sign of a come on?

I mean – as a straight male, I do that to male friends, too. It’s a sign of affection. It’s a sign of closeness.

I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just be a robot, sit there and show no signs of emotions or affection whatsoever. Maybe then, no one would accuse me of being “well on [my] way to be America’s Next Bill Clinton – in behavior.”



A pro-feminist male in love (with a feminist!)

I am very sorry for a most cheesy post! 

So, I think I’ve met the woman I would like – the person who is going to be the Hillary Clinton to my Bill Clinton. Some of you  have heard about her before – but I’d like to say this one more time – she is amazing. In the words of my favorite poet, “I don’t know if love conquers all, but I know it’s conquering me at an alarming rate.”

We met at a feminist conference; she interned this summer for a women’s rights organization; she’s spent time overseas to help poor people; she is not religious; she is active in progressive politics both on and off campus; she has a beautiful mind; and her greatest ambition is to one day win the Nobel Peace Prize. What more can a person ask for in a mate, right?

To be sure, we are not a couple – and I like it that way. But I feel this affinity and longing for her. Yet, the funny thing is that I am very much interested in women, in general, and I do go out with a lot of women – most of whom are feminists.

Some people have told me that doing so is inconsistent with my values, because I am “playing the field.” They’ve said that if I truly do feel good-and-love for her, that I should just try to be with her, and not go out to dinners and dates with any other women.

Here, the word “date” becomes one that needs to be defined: is going to dinner with a woman considered a date? Is it a date if you two are the only ones at the table at dinner and drinks? I certainly don’t think so, but others seem to. The thing is I am interested in the way women think – their minds, their thoughts, their experiences and the way they see things. That’s why I go out with women to dinners and cocktail bars. I like finding out about them. I expect nothing in return, and mean nothing by going out to dinner with them. Yet, some people don’t seem to understand that.

On another different note, I’ve been on two dates and a friendly dinner this week, and all of them were feminists. It’s funny because the two dates and the dinner friend broke gender roles, and paid for my dinner and drinks. I am a feminist,  but somehow, I felt uncomfortable with it – as if I owe them something for paying for my dinner and drinks. I don’t know how to take it when a woman pays for my dinner. The feminist in me tells me that it’s good for reversal of gender roles. The person in me tells me that I don’t want to burden them.

[one more note on the feminist I am interested in] She’s not ready for a relationship, and I understand that. And, in fact, I do appreciate her just as her – a person. I appreciate that she is in my life. If, in the end, nothing happens, she’d still be a great person for whom I am thankful to be in my life. I’d like to love her as America’s Next Hillary Clinton, but I already feel the world for her as just a person. I don’t need romance to appreciate her for who she is.

Thoughts?

 Also, I am driving up to DC for her birthday, which means I need to take a day off from work and drive up there at night. This song below popped into my mind. It’s called I-95, by Fountains of Wayne.

They sell posters of girls washing cars
And unicorns and stars
And Guns N’ Roses album covers
They’ve got most of the Barney DVDs
Coffe mugs and tees
That say Virginia is For Lovers
But it’s not
Round here it’s just for truckers who forgot
To fill up on gasoline
Back up near Aberdeen

It’s a (four) hour drive
From me to you
(North) on I-95
And I’ll do it til the day that I die
If I need to
Just to see you
Just to see you

Hip-hop stations are fading in and out
All I’m receiving now
Is a kick drum mixed with static
Constellations are blinking in the sky
The road is open wide
And it feels so cinematic
‘Til a van
Driven by an elder gentleman
Cuts right in front of me
From then on that’s all I see

It’s a (four) hour drive
From me to you
(North) on I-95
And I’ll do it til the day that I die
If I need to
Just to see you
Just to see you



“Coming out” to my parents

I am on vacation, but I still want to write, simply because I’ve ran across a lot of issues worth talking about, to include a fake “abortion” clinic that I called to find out what they’re about (I’ll blog that later). I also went to a strip club with old friends last night, and hated it. I’ll blog that later, too. For now, this one is about my “coming out.”

Almost two-and-a-half years ago, I came out to my parents. No, it wasn’t the type where at Thanksgiving dinner, I announced that I liked penises now, as my dad choked on the turkey breast (what else would he be eating, right?) and my mon slowly fainted, her face in the bowl of gravy.

My coming was a different sort. I announced to them that I had declared myself a women’s studies major, and now a feminist.

I think they took it quite well. In fact, they probably saw it as a phase, one that would pass. My dad, in his sense of humor, would introduce me to the neighbors as “Marc, our daughter.”

Coming home and seeing them now, though, it’s a little different. They’re beginning to realize that I am in this movement for good.

When I told them that I would be getting out of the Army, finishing up my degree and then going to law school to be an attorney in women’s and human rights issues before trying to go into politics, their first question was how I would make money.

“Why don’t you stay in the Army for 20 years and retire to collect paycheck? You’ll only be 37 by then,” my mom pressed.

“Mom, because women’s rights can’t wait. I want to make a difference,” I replied.

They still don’t get it. They worry about money and how I’d make a living, even after I’d told them that so long as I have a roof over my head and a few nice suits to go to work in, I’d be happy. They don’t get it.

I love my parents, but they want me to do things that don’t matter to me. My calling is feminism and progressive politics. My parents envisioned I’d be a doctor or a hot-shot attorney. This time, they’d even offer to start a business for me.

“What change in the world would I make?” I asked them.

“What girl would marry a man with no money, working for a non-profit as an attorney?” my mom asked.

“Mom, women aren’t gold-diggers, and they’re capable of making money on their own. Besides, I’ve got plenty of admirers who’d want to date me. It’s okay, I don’t need money to get laid.”

They’re unhappy, but I am not going to change my life and my passion around for them. I love my parents, but I love my country more. I want to make my parents happy, but there are millions of my fellow human beings who are still being marginalized based on the sex into which they were born. They take priority.

They gave me life and I am thankful for that. But now, I will use my life to change lives. I am not going to sit around doing my best to make them happy. After all, life is a gift. When you give someone a gift, you shouldn’t expect them to do with it what you want. It’s THEIR gift.



On your period? Ewww, you sick

Sorry if the paragraphs aren’t broken up. For some reason, it’s not doing that, and I’ve tried to fix it, but it doesn’t work. So I gave up. 

Are you on your period? Do you naturally bleed each month? Are you a woman? What shame! My God – you should be hiding the fact that your body naturally secretes blood every month because, like, it just grosses us out, hmmmkay? 

This is the message you’d be getting if you buy into this shit http://www.simplydiscrete.com/ 

It’s essentially a little box thing that women can put their tampons in so that they’d hide the fact their on their periods, so that, according to the vendor, if they’re over at their in-laws house, they can change their tampons discretely.

I actually first spotted this product a few weeks ago at the NOW conference in Detroit and it kind of ticked me off. So I played football with the box, which many fellow feminists thought was kind of amusing.

Here’s the thing: I’ve never had a period, I don’t plan on having one anytime soon – and up until last week, I didn’t even know the mechanics of tampons and pads, and the difference between the two.

But I know this: I am not comfortable with the idea that they’re selling a product and making money off women by encouraging them to “hide” what is most natural.

So they bleed every month. So what? They’re supposed to hide this, why? Why are we still taking steps to make women feel ashamed of what’s natural to their bodies?

And this idiot had the bright idea to sell them at the feminist conference!

Secondly, over at a feminist blog, there is talk of new scented underwear that’s coming out. Apparently, the idea behind this all is that women are supposed to smell like flowers (and melons!) because any other would be unnatural.

In fact, I’ve learned that such a product doesn’t provide for much comfort, either, and can create more infections and Urinary Tract Infections.

So, again, why are we shaming women into buying things to make their bodies unnatural and into what we want? This is consumerism and sexism at its best.

And not to be crude – but goddamn, if a vagina looks and tastes like 1800flowers.com just delivered it to my door, I ain’t touching it. Sorry.



The reason I am a feminist.

At feminist conferences or during the first few days of the new semester, often times I’d get the inevitable question of: “You’re a man, why do you care so much about women’s rights?”Often times, because I am at these events to network, exchange ideas and build for a political future, my answer is always something like: “Because it would be a profound and utter act of immorality for me to idly stand by as half of my fellow human population is being discriminated against.”When speaking to a woman of interest, the story of my passion for feminism is one that is based on my religious background: I grew up a Unitarian, and we didn’t know any differently.  

But just last night, I realized the very reason why I am a feminist, and I will, for as long as I live, devote my life to fighting for women’s rights. Coming home at around midnight, I heard yelling and screaming and two burley men in suits and ties wrestling down a man, and pointing guns at the apartment downstairs from me. It turned out the men were undercover police officers who staked out the area because they’d received a call of a suspicious person in our neighborhood, and had observed the intruder jump over the porch and break into my neighbor’s house. The undercovers yelled at me and told me to call my neighbor (a female) to get out of the house.

 When I made that phone call, she had already locked herself in her room and refused to open the door for the officers. It took some coaxing from my roommate for her to eventually open up. My neighbor, whom I’ll call Sue, is a single mother. When the intruder was trying to break in, the three-year-old child was sleeping on the couch and I was told that the intruder saw the child, too. Obviously, my neighbor is shaken. One of the reasons for this is we’d spoken a few days ago about how the screen door was taken down by the landlord, and when she raised the issue, she was told, “Look, if someone wants to rape you, a screen door isn’t going to help stop that.”

It upsets me. It upsets me that the landlord passes off her concerns about being raped as just a trivial matter, and that those who truly are concerns about women’s lives and experiences don’t have the means to change things.  It upsets me that the patriarchy still exists, and the ruling class has no knowledge or concerns for women issues. It upsets me even more that in America, in 2007, women are still having to worry about certain acts of violence directed toward them, just because they are women.

 It upsets me that women have to live in fear for their livelihood, and are treated differently simply because of the nature of their biology. More over, it upsets me that we still need feminism in 2007 here in the most powerful and supposedly progressive nation on earth.  

For me, feminism isn’t sexy. It’s not supposed to be a good time. It’s not supposed to be enjoyable. It should be fought with vigor and passion – the same passion that’s devoted to fighting terrorism. After all, sexism is a form of terrorism.

 As a pro-feminist male, my fight for feminism isn’t about earning the attention or affection of women. It’s not about getting laid for standing up to fight for women. For an aspiring politician, it shouldn’t be able earning votes or tapping into a certain group of voters.

I fight for feminism because the world isn’t fair. I fight for feminism because gender terrorism still exists. I fight for feminism because I know I wouldn’t like to be marginalized and harmed, objectified and trivialized, simply because of my gender. In short, I fight for feminism because of this reason: because I believe while we were all born very differently, some with more strengths and intelligence than others, we should all we treated the same. We may not have been born equal and into the same situation, but we all should be recognized equally, based on our individual worth and dignity, and not on the body parts nature has given us.  



It’s just sex …

Reading one of the Campus Progress web logs this morning, I ran across an interesting statistic – that just about or more than 50 percent of college students are “still virgins.” My question: why do we care? Why is it that, as a society, we treat losing one’s virginity as sort of a rite of passage in which a new person is born and the old, less mature person is gone? It’s to say, as if, a person’s accomplishment in life is based on whether or not that person has engaged in sex. With rite-of-passage teen movies like “American Pie” being a part of the popular culture, it seems the message we’re sending teens is: your worth and dignity is based on whether you’ve “done it.” Yet, they also get messages from the Christian-right about remain “pure” and “untouched” until marriage. The result is a clash of culture, in which, on one hand, the message is about the importance of having sex. On the other hand, the message is about “saving” oneself until marriage. What’s a kid to do, really, in that situation? If virginity is so special, how come the majority of us aren’t even in touch with the person to whom we “lost” it? The truth is when it comes to virginity, there is nothing lost, and nothing gained.

Besides, what’s the exact definition of a virgin anyhow? One who’s pure in both thoughts and mind? One who’s never orgasmed? One who’s never had intercourse? One who’s had intercourse but never orgasm? Does oral sex count? What about priest sex? It’s all confusing, really — yet we’re still obsessed with the idea of virginity.

The fact of the matter is that there are more important things to worry about in one’s lifelong accomplishment than sex and “virginity.” We see movies like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” but we don’t see movies like, “The 40-Year-Old Bum Who Hasn’t Done a Damned Thing to Make the World Better.”

Sometimes, I wonder why. Why can’t we just teach kids, from both the left and the right that sex is something amazing and wonderful that should only be had with responsibility, respect and readiness? Isn’t that a much better message than: if you aren’t having sex, you’re a loser or if you’re having sex, you’re a slut?

Wouldn’t it make the whole abstinence education debate much easier to digest? Wouldn’t it make birth control much more easily gotten? Wouldn’t it strike down patriarchy and society’s ideal of a family at its root? It certainly would. Just by changing our personal outlooks on virginity and sex, we can certainly make move the world in the right political direction.

Second point: why does society put such a strong emphasis on the act of sex? It is, after all, only sex. I don’t mean to sound like a frat boy here, but sex is just an act. It’s neither holy nor God’s gift. It’s neither divine nor special. It’s purely biological, just like any other activity that we engage in as humans. Sure, sex is certainly not making love, but it’s got a quality of its own. Just like going for a walk, having dinner or spending the afternoon with someone, sex is just an act. It only becomes special when the person with whom we are sharing it is special. Other than that, sex is just – sex. Why make things any complicated than life already is? To be sure, one should always be monogamous in a relationship, but let’s not treat sex anymore special than just a kiss. A kiss, after all, without any emotions put into it, is just a kiss.

 Kind of funny, too, how “virginity” never seems to be an issue discussed when it comes to the LGBT community. I guess to the right, “virginity” is only important when baby-making is involved.



What’s in a name? Pro-feminist males or simply feminists?

So, I wanted to write about the misogynistic and patriarchal idea of how some claim two people of different genders can’t “just be friends,” because there’d be too much sexual attractions, but instead, I’ll write about something a poster asked of me last night: why I call myself a pro-feminist male rather than a feminist.

The value of this post is not about activism, but rather, feminist theory. I’d like to know what you think on it.

 So, the following are the reasons I call myself a pro-feminist male.

1) The feminist movement has been and was created for and by women.  For me to call something that was created for the purpose of women’s rights my own is the very definition of patriarchy – and I have a big problem with that. While I can be an ally and a suppoter, I’ll never, ever truly know what the female plight is like. It seems if I were to call myself a feminist, it would trivialize the importance of women’s rights.

 2) To own and have possesion to something is to have power. Thus, the feminist movement empowers women. As pro-feminist males, we’re always encouraged to give up our male privileges (at least birth-right/unjustified privileges anyhow). By taking the feminist movement as our own, all we’re doing is holding on to those privileges, and gaining from them.

3) In the end, all of these are merely semantics, but I believe we must highlight the differences in privilege that we have. Even within the feminist movement, there are differences in class and privilege – often based on race, gender, age and areas of focus. While I might just be able to say that I am simply a feminist, I am not. I get more privilege as a male, no matter  how we slice it. To merely call myself a feminist would mean to reject that fact that I am still privileged for being male.

 Often times, those who are privileged don’t feel the need to recognize or acknowlege such differences, because they aren’t being treated any differently or aren’t losing perks because of the differences. But for me, as a pro-feminist male, to think that we are all one, and are treated the same, is to be irresponsible.

When I look in the mirror, I may see “just a person,” but women are still looked at as women, and with that, comes limitations cast on by society (whether we like it or not and how much we hate it, we are gendered by society because we’ve been trained to be that way.) This is merely a way to highlight and remember that, so we don’t lose sight of what feminism truly is about.
Thoughts?

Marc