America’s Next Bill Clinton!


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. 😀

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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?



Feminism and sex.
August 30, 2007, 7:56 pm
Filed under: equality, erotica, feminist, love, rape, relationships, sex, sexuality

A feminist friend and I had a conversation a few days ago, and the conversation of feminism and sex came up …and the conversation was pretty interesting, as we’re both aware of each other’s penchant for certain sexual practices, and I’d like to get some of your opinions on sex and feminists.As feminists, we stand for equality, justice, and all those things, to include non-oppression.

But as humans, we’re sexual beings and our degrees of sexual practices vary.

Said friend confided in me that while she is against sexual crimes and works at a women’s shelter, she sometimes still gets turned on by fantasies of force and such, especially hearing stories from these women.

While I cannot relate to that, personally, for me, as a feminist, it’s a struggle because on one hand, I am still a red-blooded American male, and on the other hand …I’ve got some adventurous practices and preferences when it comes to intimate relationships (sex and love are different agencies, by the way).

In a recent feminist thought class, the point was made that we are primates and animals when it comes to sex, thus having various thoughts and fantasies and acting them out in consensual fantasies is acceptable.

But then the argument was also made that we have to draw the line somewhere, because there is a slippery slope.

My feeling on that is a confusing one: the personal is political, thus what we do in the bedroom extends to how we treat people in the world. But at the same time, we’re also smart enough people to separate sex from politics and equality, so long as the sex is consensual.

One can still separate one’s sexual fantasies and practices and bed room habits, no matter how “adventurous” from being a feminist, one girl I met argues; I think otherwise. But I also think that we shouldn’t be hypocrites. At the same time, we shouldn’t deny ourselves of what pleasures us, if it’s consensual and a mutual understanding between two people who understand what they’re doing is just “in their head” and confined to their private lives.

Thoughts?????