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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Women willing to go to jail to lose weight

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/weightloss/2008-01-06-diet-confessions_N.htm

Because one of the classes I am taking this semester is “Women’s Ways of Knowing” (A class on feminist epistemology and women’s experiences), I am focusing a lot of the notes on body image issues – at least for the next few days anyway.

I ran into this story just reading the news last night, and realized that weight issues and body image is another one of my male privileges – and what’s a male privilege is also a check for women’s plight. The summary of the article is below.

Nearly a quarter (23%) would spend a week in jail; 23% would shave their head; 22% would wear a bikini on TV; and 21% would trade 10 years of life, according to the survey of 1,000 women 18 and older. Most (85%) would rather have an extra toe than 50 extra pounds.

How is it that women have gone through such great lengths just to look the way they’re “supposed” to? Health issues aside – this has nothing to do with health, but rather, the media representation of what a woman is supposed to look like, and it bothers me.

Rather than focusing on healthy lifestyles, women are made out to be Wonder People who are supposed to be everything that’s of the male fantasy. Companies are selling diet pills, gym memberships, and alternative foods just so women could lose weight – and are these women’s health ever taken into account? – of course not. Their goal is to firstly make money off these women, and secondly, setting unrealistic standards for women – standards that few will ever meet. Both the corporations and the media are responsible for this.

What bothers me even more about this article is the fact that one of the survey questions finds that women would rather be the “friendly chubby girl” than the “pretty witch.”

What the hell does that even mean? Why was the question even asked? As if women have to fall into one or the other category. I tell you what it does – it divides women. It divides them into “thin little bitches”, and “fat housewives.” That bothers me, too, because it pits women against one another and the solidarity of the feminist movement and puts it at a stall.

The fact is I know plenty of women – both thin and heavy, whose significant others love them, and who are my dearest friends. The worth of a woman is not based on her weight.

Of course, we ask how the women surveyed could ever got to the point that they’d be willing to lose these things to lose weight …the answer? The patriarchy. One you’ve been socialized that your body is all you’re worth, it kind of feels that way after a while.

It gets to the point where it’s sickening – that no matter how a woman looks, she suffers from it. Ever since they are little girls, pretty women have been sexualized and in some cases, assaulted. “Ugly” women, though, are seen as the outcasts of the world and are forced to go through diets and bizarre ways of losing weight.

In short, they’re fucked either way. If you’re pretty, you get treated/viewed as a slut and piece of meat, and if you’re not, you’re treated like you’re not worth anything …

I once dated a girl who said for a period of time in her life, she gained a lot of weight because she didn’t want to risk being sexually assaulted – but then she was known as the fat bitch.

That’s not a fair trade. Being human and loving one’s body shouldn’t be a trade.



Man kills pregnant daughter.

Courtesy of CNN: “The India native told police he disliked his son-in-law because he belonged to a lower caste and had married his daughter without his consent.”

Someone confirm this for me, this is America, in 2008, right? If that’s the case, then why are stories like these still happening?

http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/01/01/family.dead.ap/index.html

I logged on to CNN this morning to get some stories on the Iowa Cacus, and what do I run across? A story about a father who burned down his daughter’s house because her husband did not ask his permission to marry her.

What the fuck? Firstly, let’s address the crime in itself: since when did it become okay to burn a person because that person upset you? Have we taken domestic violence a step up? Going from beating women to burning them? We’ve talked a lot as of late about how masculinity harms us all – and I disagree. Society’s perception of what masculinity is, is harming women more than they do men. Until a father is burning his son because his daughter did not ask to marry him, then it’s a different story.

Secondly – this guy got upset because, well, his son-in-law did not ask permission to marry his daughter? Are we living in the fucking 1800s? This is a fine example of how the patriarchy and the objectification of women can lead to violence to women. After all, if you see a woman not as a complete person with her own autonomy, but something of an object, to be bought, sold and bartered for, then you can treat them however you want.

The question I have is: if his daughter is so special to him, that he needed to be asked permission to marry her off, then why did he kill her? Isn’t this a case of “if I can’t have you, no one can?”

Thirdly, I’ll tread this lightly: the man who has been charged with this crime is Indian. I’ve said this many times before: it’s not the skin color, but let’s face it, some cultures are more sexist than others. Being of the culture does not automatically make a person sexist, but for certain, the culture does certain promote the practice …

Time and time again – we’ve heard about transnational feminism, and that we have to tread lightly when it comes to people’s cultures. But how the hell do we stand idle and pretend that this shit is okay?



The sexism of Southern Baptists …

You know, I am all for people pursuing their religious beliefs, and practicing their beliefs and living  life as they see fit, but things like these piss the hell out of me.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1203/p20s01-ussc.html?page=2

It’s an article about a Texas university that’s offering classes on “being a good homemaker,” as part of sociology classes – although a Bible college, it’s still pretty disturbing – especially the quote below.

“Feminists are right to be concerned about how this agenda plays out among nominal Southern Baptists,” says Dr. Brad Wilcox, a sociologist at the University of Virginia. “But this model works quite well for traditional religious couples. Conservative, Protestant, churchgoing women are happier than other wives, generally, and their work around the home is more appreciated than that of women who are not married to churchgoing, Protestant men.” 

In short, what this class is teaching are the “roles” in which women must have  in the homes – that husbands are the bread winners, and wives are supposed their roles and “submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband.” At this divinity college, women are learning to be homemakers, and the majority of the staff members are men. It’s also a theological college, but as the patriarchy would have it, none of the women are allowed to pursuit those divinity degrees. Why? Because God said so. Essentially, these people are saying at men and women have different roles, and it’s not interchangeable – that they’re equal under the eyes of God, but the women must submit to their husbands, and be “discreet, chaste homemakers.”What the fuck? Doesn’t that sound eerily like “separate, but equal?” As we all know, separate but equal isn’t.

 I support religion, and I believe that in the end, people are responsible for their own search of the truth …but when said beliefs and “truths,” are used to push women back into the private sphere, while men are still the movers and shakers of the world, I have a problem with that. I have a problem with treating women like servants, as if they’re not intelligent or capable enough to do the jobs that men have been “assigned” to be the public spheres.

More importantly, it gives men an excuse to not share the division of labor that women endure in the private sphere. Let’s face it – cleaning the toilet, doing laundry and accomplishing the mundane bullshit of life aren’t exactly exciting for most people. Somehow, to claim that women naturally enjoy cleaning toilets is just an insult to them.  

At the end of the day, these Southern Baptists can claim religion as an excuse for their practice, but in truth, I’ll call it what it is: sexist, discriminatory, archaic and misogynistic.Women aren’t objects. They’re people – the same people as men, and should be afforded every opportunity to do what they want, instead of what the patriarchal, religious and sexist institution wants them to do. Anyone who thinks otherwise is sexist and probably an idiot … 



Pornography, women, misogyny and feminism

I’d wanted to write about my recent examination of my own musculinity, violence, the struggle for power and the patriarchy, as a response to claims that I lacked (indeed I do) of self-examination, but I ran across something yesterday, after corresponding about musculinity and violence with Dr. Robert Jensen, a women’s studies professor, that I wanted to write about. More, tomorrow, on my recent discoveries of why my urges to fight for power through violent means are a direct result of male privilege and masculinity. For now, you get this.

As many of you know, I’ve become fascinated with research of pornography and how it effects our daily lives. I was in the middle of research when I found a slideshow that already had the things I was looking for. The link is below – and it’s upsetting.

http://www.yousendit.com/transfer.php?action=download&ufid=44490EB8214A0657

More than just objectifying women, porn also affects us in ways we’ve never really thought of before – in tells us what is sexy, what is desirable, and more importantly, how women should be viewed.

With porn, women are no longer seen as whole, complete people with feelings and minds, but rather, a vehicle for men’s pleasure. If we can separate fantasy from reality, is it wrong? The problem is when it starts becoming that prevelant in our culture, it’s hard to tell.

We start to buy into these ideas, and as a result, two things happen: women are harmed, in that they are seen as sex objects, and will become subjects of harrassments, bad relationships, and worst, rape.

Secondly, it doesn’t allow us to truly love one another – because we see our partners through the pornographic lense – they are all resemblences of what the porn industry portrays.

I have to admit – even as a pro-feminist male, I’ve gotten into the mindset of (in the past) women with whom I’d like to have sex, and women for whom I feel an affinity, and would like to know as a person. It’s the slut vs. good girls syndrome, and it pits women against one another.

The thing that most saddens me about porngraphy is that no one is spared. As you can see in this slide show, whether you are college student, school teacher, mother, wife, black, white, Asian, Latina – so long as you’re a woman, you are objectified.

Sex, no matter how kinky, is beautiful when it comes with respect and love. But these sex acts, especially when it comes with describing women as bitches, whores, dumb sluts and other adjectives, I have a problem with that. It’s hurtful, and it does not treat women as equals.

Feminism isn’t about just freedom to do whatever the hell we want. It’s the ability to free us all – from oppression, from a violent, male-dominated culture, from the social norms that have hurt us rather than free us



I am not a feminist, but …

Really, why are some young women so reluctant to identify themselves as feminists?

We met in a women’s bathroom at a gay club. A few friends and I had gone to an AIDS fundraiser earlier that night, and decided to drop by the Wave for drinks. Having to go to the bathroom and a bit sloshed, I announced that I had to pee. Someone suggested that I used the women bathroom instead, because I was considered “fresh meat” for one reason or another in the men’s bathroom.

A friend was nice enough to walk me into the women’s bathroom, and there I met and shook hands (after we both washed of course) with a nice young woman from VCU. After about an hour of meeting and talking to her in the bathroom, I ran into her again. She was extremely attractive, so I continued our conversation.

Upon minding out I am a women’s studies major and feminist, she said, “I am not a feminist, but …” and started listing a long list of reasons for women’s rights.

In my extremely fogged up mind, I recalled an article I’d read as a freshman in my women’s studies class called, “Feminism: Why Young Women Get the Willies.”

If I can recall correctly, the reason for it is that young women are afraid of the stigma that comes with feminism – the image of bra-burning, man-hating, armpit-non-shaving, head-shaving, dyke. They were, as the article said, also afraid that they had to give up their sexuality for feminism – that, somehow, calling oneself a feminist means that one could no longer love a member of the opposite sex.

So, why is it, I still wonder, that so many young college women are afraid of being labelled as feminists? I contend that it’s because of the above false image of feminists – that somehow feminists are strange creatures; we hate sex; we hate men (I do, anyway); and we hate anything that’s normal.

While I hold these beliefs to be false, my question is this: even if they were true, so what?

Take away those actions and behaviors and feminism is left with love, compassion, empathy, equality and a sense of responsibility, in making the world a better place. What’s so bad about it?

Yet, time and time again, I run across women (and men) who take feminist positions, but never want to describe themselves as feminists for fear of shame.

The truth is you should never be ashamed of your work in trying to make the world a better place. You should never have to apologize for the desire to work toward equality and social justice. In fact, you ought to be very proud of it. I am proud of you for it.

The next time the conversation comes up, proudly and emphatically claim yourself as a feminist – and answer with a loud and resounding “Yes,” if anyone ever asked you whether you are a feminist.

Bill Clinton was right when he said, “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what’s right with America.” You are everything that’s right with America.

On that note – I want a “This Is What A I-Am-Not-A-Feminist But looks like” t-shirt. 😀



Sexual harassment victim suspended.

On Friday, I was informed by a friend of mine that one of his students had been suspended for five daysafter SHE was sexual harrassed.

The story goes something like this: in class Friday, when he was teaching Latin, the girl just bursted “I am sick of this shit,” and started crying. He took her outside, and she confided in him that she would “slit his throat and throw him in a ditch.” She went on to inform him that the student in the next seat over had been sexually harrassing her, telling her to “suck [his] dick” among other things …it got worst.

After confirming the information with other students, he wrote up a slip to send the harrasser to the front office for disciplinary actions. But security had already arrived, and took them both to the office.
Come to find out, another school administrator had heard the sexual harssasment victim’s angry comment about throwing her harrasser’s body in a ditch (and she made it in confidence, while angry and crying, TO A TEACHER) and called security.

So, what’s the end result? The girl was suspended for five days for making dead threats, and the guy got two days for being indecent! She also had to apologize to him. Worst part of it all? She is now removed from the class permanently because SHE posed an unhealthy classroom learning environment to him!

Is it just me, or is something extremely backward here? If I got sexually harrassed, you bet your sweet ass I am going to get angry and threaten to kill someone. But I still doesn’t make the harrasser the victim in all of this. WE ALL KNOW WHO THE VICTIM IS!

Furthermore, my friend talked to her and she said she was told that she needed to control HER feelings and not have outbursts. What the fuck? Excuse HER for not remaining prim and proper and “lady like” after being a victim. What’s next? Sending a rape victim to jail instead of the rapist and having her apologize to him for having to fight back? And we’re further reinforcing patriarchy by telling her that all of this is her fault? UGH! It makes me want to pull my hair out.

I really don’t know how we can go about handling this – and am waiting for a call back from my campus director of the Feminist Majority Foundation, but it’s ticking me off.