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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Of love and masculinity

For the last few weeks, I’ve become more interested in exploring the theories of masculinity in feminism. This came after charges were brought up that I was still hanging on to male privilege – and that my tendency to compete, be violent and even my ambition to grab power and go into politics are signs of male privilege. Because of that, I will be exploring male privilege and masculinity a lot in my notes.

 

One thing I’ve noticed a lot – sometimes in my own life, but in other men’s lives, is their reaction to a rejection of love – and how, no matter how genuine they were in wanting to get to know someone, a rejection drives them into showing their masculinity.

It is, as if, a rejection of love is a challenge to their “manhood” and masculinity – speaking volumes of their maleness when they are rejected. More over, it also says something – coming from a male perspective, that they’re not manly enough and that they don’t have what it takes.

The rejected man, his ego and self emasculated, takes it upon himself then, to re-energize his manhood. How does he do this? He does this by being a womanizer. This does not always have to be about sex – but sometimes does include it. He has to prove to himself (not to others because the rest of the world probably doesn’t know or doesn’t give a damn) that, much like Stacy’s Mom, he still has it going on.

He has to prove to his close circle of friends that he still has it. That he can still get women – even if it just means them falling for him, and him rejecting them. This reinforces his masculinity and ability to attract women. I am not a fan of evolutionary psychology, but I think that there’s some truths hidden in that idea when mixed with masculinity.

This brings up a paradox: if women are seen as less than men, and if what is “feminine” – or belonging to women – is considered negativity, then why does a man, in his manhood, need a woman to elevate his status and to make him feel good about himself?

The reason I bring this up is that I am beginning to realize that masculinity can hurt us all. It hurts us in that our relationships and interactions aren’t defined by who we truly love or care for, but rather, how does our interaction with that person make us feel? Further, it also opens doors to less-than-desirable relationships, in which the purpose isn’t to nurture and to share and to love, but to boost one’s ego.Also – in such cases, the victims are also the women who fall for men who feel like they need to be with these women to feel boost their masculinity. When come to find out that they’re not in it for the love, but rather, their status, women are hurt.

Moreover – it does make one wonder: did this man want to get into the relationship with the original and supposedly true object of his affection because he truly felt something for her, or was it just to boost his masculinity?

Love, after all, isn’t defined by how you react if your romantic advances are welcomed. It’s how you react if your romantic gestures have been turned down.



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!



40 days of anti-choice protest

Since Sept. 26, anti-choicers, in an effort to bring to light the “tragic” facts of abortion, have protested at abortion clinics and Planned Parenthood everywhere, with the intentions of changing the minds of those who have reached the decision to terminate a pregnancy. As well, they intend on making their voices known – as a way to influence politicians hoping to get elected, to climb on their bandwagon.

See: http://www.40daysforlife.com/about.cfm

Where are we as pro-choicers? We’re silent. We’re sitting there and staring back, as if the right to choose is something that’s secured for every woman, everywhere.

Although their protests are built-up as silent vigils, any of you who’ve escorted patients to an abortion clinic know it’s not true. Often times, it’s loud, obnoxious and in violation of a woman’s right to choose. Their tactics are uncanny, extreme and can be very upsetting.

I don’t mind dialogue, and I don’t have a problem with people who share different ideologies than ours. But when the revert to name calling and carrying signs with pictures of aborted fetuses, the dialogue is gone, and there’s nothing left but pure passion – that kind of passion that tears America apart, rather than heals us as a nation.

So, I am asking you – the pro-choicers whom I’ve grown to know and love, to volunteer your time at various clinics, acting as a cushion between the religious wrong, and the women who need our compassion and love – not judgment and insults.

Pro-lifers often want to be vocal about their ideals – yet they don’t want to take actions. They want to raise signs and call names, and pray for everyone, but they would never take the time to adopt. Only if they’d stop for one second and think about it – they’d know that Planned Parenthood is more than just about abortions – it’s about responsible parenting.

Let’s show them we can take a higher road. Let’s volunteer at these places, not as counter-demonstrators, but as those who are there to love and support – as those might not ever understand the decision of an abortion, but have chosen to honor the sacredness the decision between a woman, her family and her God.

Let’s be the shining of examples of what it means to love and accept. Let’s volunteer at a Planned Parenthood today.



Career vs. matters of the heart (as a feminist)

Lately, I’ve discovered (or rediscovered) a softer, tender side of me that embraces love and emotions and, to be perfectly honest, it disturbs me.

For a long time – since I’ve moved here to Virginia and started what is sure to be a bright and promising political career, I’ve brushed aside emotions and love in favor of focusing on my career. After all, that was the reason I ended my previous 2.5-year relationship in the first place – because I thought there were more important things in the world than relationships.

Since being here, I’d go to events on and off campus, meet and impress someone, and we’d “hang out” for a week or two, I’d get bored, or she’d get bored, and we’d move on. I liked it that way. I liked having the ability to making others swoon with the wagging of my finger and the waving of my wine glass.

But lately, I’ve been preoccupied by emotions and that the “affinity” I’d feel for another being. I’ve found that I, the person who is more interested in solutions than feelings, am changing. I am starting to think that, just like everyone else in life, I’d be better off with someone with whom to share the limits of my existence.

I hate that feeling because it distracts me. I sit here writing a news article and I am staring blankly at the screen. I am beginning to have bad dreams about …things. I am sitting at the coffeeshop and reading poetry instead of my feminist texts. I am showing my softer side to people, and that makes me vunerable. I am starting to reject attention and affection received by some females …and the political career all the sudden doesn’t seem so important anymore. I’d be happy as a civil rights/women’s rights attorney …

What the fuck is wrong with me? I can embrace emotions just fine …but now, I am starting to give it more thoughts, and incoporating it into the big decisions I have in life. I am an intellectual, not a cheesy, full-of-emotion weakling. I am set out to change the world – not to fall for people. My life will be chronicled on this History Channel – not Lifetime.

The most disturbing part? I am actually happy with these changes, and I fully embrace them.

Maybe I am growing up. Maybe I’ve lost my magical, political touch.



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.”



My friend is marrying a cheater. What would you do?
October 1, 2007, 12:36 pm
Filed under: cheating, DC, family, Feminism, feminists, friends, infidelity, love, marriage, relationships

So, what am I supposed to do?

I’ve never understood the cheating mentality. I am no saint, but I find the idea of cheating to be unethical and …just completely against everything that I believe love to be. How could one spend so much time wooing the person they want to spend a good portion of their lives with, and then go out and cheat on that person? How could one to love someone, and not have the discipline to say no to being with another person?

Maybe it’s because I have high standards when it comes to relationships and do not fall in love with just anyone, and thereby selfishly do not want to cheat, for fear I might lose that person. Or …maybe, just maybe it’s because I am not an asshole (although I’ve been told otherwise). In either cases, I neither condone nor understand cheating.

So, I beg the question: what do I do in this situation? Go to the wedding and pretend everything is fine? Or do I not attend the wedding at all and risk hurting a friend?