America’s Next Bill Clinton!


Feminist relationships.

Over at feministing.com, Jessiva Valenti posted the results of a study that suggested feminists, more often than not, are in more meaningful and satisfying relationships. My first reaction was: no shit – for us, the political is personal, and so our empathy, compassion and love in the political sense can translate into a person sense, thus we often treat our partners with with those traits.

But allow me to bring up another point. Sometimes, in a relationship in which we are both feminists, things can also be extremely frustrating, because we are aware of the political oppressions all around us. As feminists, we thrive to take personal actions that are consistent with our political beliefs, and as such, it can be frustrating sometimes. Because the personal is political and our world is still extremely gendered and patriarchy, and are based on gender roles and sexuality, most of our personal struggles are about relationships and sexuality.

But by no way am I bitching. The personal struggles we face and the questions we ask ourselves are nothing compared to the political struggles many have – especially the women of the Global South.

The following, then, are a list of question I’ve come up with when it comes to relationships and feminism; please feel free to add yours.
1) Is it for me to feel a sexual desire for a woman at the moment of meeting her, without first knowing her as a person? I actually thought of this last night while meeting with a woman at a bar and talking a lot about — nothing. I still felt strangely sexually attracted to her, caught myself and scolded myself.

2) Is it okay for me to buy flowers for a woman-of-interest, knowing the kinds of message flowers might send, and the reinforcement of gender roles and chivalry that it carries? Also – is it really the romantic and genuine gesture, knowing the plights of flower growers in South America (mostly women) where these flowers are shipped? Am I wrong for buying flowers?

3) At a pick-up joint, is it okay to feel like “the man” in having won the attention and affection of a beautiful woman, knowing that she is highly sought after, but is with me? I feel like it’s almost a trophy pick-up – and that is wrong.

4) Is it okay to fall deeply and dangerously in love with someone, knowing the implications of gender roles we might have to give in to, being so in love?

5) Just how adventuous and kinky can we afford to be in our sexual practices? What of roleplaying? Is it wrong to be turned on or to participate in consentual sexual practices, if said practices, in real life, are oppressive to women?

6) Whose names shall we take after the wedding? How do we go about doing this without appearing abnormal to families and friends? How do we remain true to our feminist values, yet remain “real” to the world at the same time?

7) Of diamonds, shall we even consider it for our wedding? Blood diamonds?

8) How do we juggle how much to fall in love, yet remain true to the feminist cause? How do we balance our devotion to each other and feminism at the same time?

9) How do we show our love and affection to each other, yet at the same, show the world that we are equals – and be the shining examples of what healthy relationships should be all about?

A book that doesn’t have all the answers – but rather highlights the struggles between the personal and the political of feminism is called, “To Be Real,” by Rebecca Walker. I highly recommend it to all feminists!

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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?



Feminism, strip bars, and an exotic dancer.

For the last few days, I’ve wanted to write about my experience at the strip club, but I am glad I didn’t, because tonight, I actually got to talk to a stripper about feminism, so it made me think a bit deeper on the issue.

Please don’t kill me – but a few nights ago, my old friends took me to a strip bar, despite my protest. They didn’t put a gun to my head, but I reluctantly went anyway, seeing it as a way for us to spend time together. In that, I feel guilty because I felt as though I was contributing to the objectification and commodification of women by being a patron there. Further, I have to admit that I was somewhat turned on by the visuals of it all. But I am, after all, only human.

 As one of my buddies offered to buy me a lap dance, I refused, out of me feministic values. “Real men don’t have to pay to see a woman naked,” I told him as a way to politely refuse, yet still adhere to my feministic values. But at the same time, even said statement, for me, is problematic, as it defines what a “real man” is supposed to be.

But I felt extremely bad that I was at the club, and that I was physically enjoying the sight of a woman’s body, who was only there because of an imbalance of power. There I was – the male with privilege and money to see her dance naked …I was just like the rest of them, contributing to the misogynistic view of women.

 What was even more upsetting for me, I think, was I saw the cocktail servers walking around in tight little bikinis. While I love the woman’s body, I don’t feel as though I have to part-take in sexism to appreciate it. Although there is always a “no-touch” policy at any strip club, the regulars were actually slapping one of the servers’ butt. I wanted to say something, but realized it was neither my place nor the time. I let it go, and continued talking to my friends. I am sorry!

 Tonight, while sitting at a coffee shop near my house, I was next to a couple a table over. Lost in my new book, “Giving,” by Bill Clinton, as well as texting people, I looked up to the girl asking me if the Ms. Magazine sitting on the table was mine. I offered it to her, and the guy she was with told me she is new to feminism. So, a conversation ensued.

It turns out she’s an exotic dancer, and came to feminism after reading Jessica Valenti’s “Full Frontal Feminism,” and now wants to go to college majoring in women’s studies.

I asked her how she dealt with the political and personal of her life, being both a feminist and a dancer. Her reply was something to this extend:

“It depends on why people dance. For some girls, they dance because they feel they need the approval of men to feel pretty. Some can’t dance unless they’ve got alcohol in their system. I dance because I make a lot money doing so, and I am my own person. I don’t need men’s approval to feel pretty, but I am empowered by it. In the end, it’s about what I do for my own life and not have to feel ashamed by it. I do it because I make my own schedule and report to no one.”

I thought about her answer and wondered: what if stripping truly does make some women happy because they are in control? What if stripping made them happy because they are empowered by the money? What if they are doing it out of their own choice?

Driving home, I think I’ve come up with the answer for it all, and perhaps said answer is still muddled by my experience as a male with male privilege, but I think that feminism shouldn’t be about what we can get out of it, but how we can make the world a better place.

In the end, what we do shouldn’t be motivated by what we can get out of it, but rather, whether it will positively affect woman?

Does seeing women naked make me happy? Sure. But am I contributing to the comodification of women? Yes. So should I do it in the future? No.

The same thing, I think, goes for this woman. This is not a judgement. It’s merely what I think. But as was brought up in my conversation with her, our views on feminism change everyday, as we learn more, and experience more. Perhaps that’s just the case with me.

I recommend to her, “To Be Real,” by Rebecca Walker. I suggest it to all of you, too. 🙂

Thoughts?