America’s Next Bill Clinton!


O’Donnell’s pubic region and the call for comprehensive sex education

This week, as Gawker featured an article about Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell and the sexual encounter she had a few years ago, to include a revelation that O’Donnell does not shave her pubic region, both the right and left quickly condemned the article – the right out of a desire to garner sympathy votes and the left, out of feminist desires to further gender equality.

While this is to be expected from both sides, the Gawker incidence is also a good opportunity to do two things – call for support of comprehensive sex education and further examine porn culture, which many feminists, I included, believe is responsible for a great deal of the plights women face.

Perhaps the most telling of the article is the expectations of sexual partners to look a certain way – a product of porn culture, to be sure. While, of course, we each are entitled to having preferences in the physical attributes of our partners, an important question remains: are the expectations of how our partners should look and behave a manifestation of pornography? That is, without pornography and the social constructs of what a naked woman should look like, would we be having this conversation about the status of Christine O’Donnell pubic region? Further, if men are affected by pornography, how are women also affected by pornography? Just as O’Donnell’s partner “lost interest” — or, more specifically, probably lost the ability to perform because she did not look like a porn star underneath, are women’s sexuality and ability to feel good about their bodies also affected by pornography?

But it isn’t just how women and men are affected by pornography from a personal context that feminist lens need to be applied. If our lives and personal conducts are somewhat affected by the media we consume – pornography in this case – how else are we affected in our interactions with one another? Do racist messages that often come in pornography affect the way we see those of a different color than us? Does pornography teach us to value young women for their bodies, but not their minds? Could it be possible that, implicitly, we learn from pornography that features women being bought for sex, then kicked off “bang buses” that women are disposable? If pornography only features certain types of sex acts, does it also mean that pornography limits the imagination within sexuality, thereby limiting what we consider intimate? By no means am I advocating, of course, that the sex acts depicted in pornography aren’t erotic or stimulating – I, however, posit that the message pornography sends is harmful to both gender and race relations, as well as our intimate lives. It is pornography, the vehicle that allowed men to make women’s bodies public property, that is also responsible for the objectification of O’Donnell’s body.

Yet, another point worth examining is the author’s assumption that if a woman chooses to make out, or to take off her panties, that the next automatic step is sex. This expectation, too, is the reason that many rape cases are bore on casual dates, as alarming statistics point out. Women – and men – should be able to set the limitations of their sexual comfort levels without ever having to go beyond what they wish to do. Sure, O’Donnell’s decisions were respected – but such mindset – the belief that making out automatically leads to sex – makes one wonder how many young people, and especially young women, have been labelled as a “tease” for having put an abrupt stop to an explosive sexual situation. Further – how many of them didn’t get their wishes respected? After all, faulting women as teases also makes them more liable, and thereby, making it much easier to not respect their wishes. It is a mindset that treats sexual intercourse as a “decision” yet everything else as merely “teasing.” That is – women empowerment – and the rights of women to be liberated, are only valid if women made the “right” decision- to have full-on sex – anything less and she gets labelled a “tease.” To put it more bluntly, how many have started out the night with an innocent crush, meaning only to make out, yet end up coerced or forced into sex against their intentions?

It’s no secret that the majority of us, as teenagers growing up, learned more about sex from pornography than we did in school. How many of our first sexual experiences, then, were modeled after porn? Further, how many young women – because society still dictates that men must always be the ones to initiate and push for sex – were pushed further than their comfort levels? Even more broadly, how then, can we define rape when messages about sex are muddled by fictional acts and situations? How many young girls – also the recipients of pornography’s messages, did not know they could or had the right to say no, and that by choosing to engage in a certain sexual act, they did not have the responsibility to also go further to other sexual acts?

By no means am I advocating that pornography should change and include pro-feminist messages of consent and mutual respect. I am, however, advocating that the assault on Christine O’Donnell points to one thing – that we need programs of comprehensive sex education, that will talk about consent and respect, safer sex and intimacy, body image and expectations of partners, boundaries and choices. Only in doing so, only in providing young people with said programs, can we prevent another future politicians from the mean-spirited attacks that O’Donnell had to endure.

Sadly, rather than embracing comprehensive sex education, O’Donnell has stood against it – and will continue to do so. Although it would be profoundly unfair and anti-feminist to say O’Donnell reaped with she sowed, it is acceptable to say her stands – and by default, her candidacy – is harmful to herself as well as women and men everywhere, because the politics she subscribes to has allowed a culture of misogyny — all you have to do for real-life evidence is read the Gawker article.

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Why ending DADT must wait
October 18, 2010, 4:01 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Earlier this week, when the Obama administration decided to challenge a ruling that effectively stopped Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, I was critical of it for not being in touch with the American public and its liberal voting base. I was wrong. After giving the issue much deeper thoughts, I’ve come to the conclusion that the White House, from both a practical and intellectual perspective, did the right thing.

In short, DADT must and will end – for a myriad of reasons that have been succinctly argued by LGBT advocates, but it must be ended via the proper channels, and more importantly, ended with everything considered, and the proper pieces put in place to support LGBT servicemembers. Unlike the corporate world – the military isn’t a business, it’s an organization in which everyone has a responsibility toward one another – and such great responsibilities cannot be met without carefully examiming all concerns relating to the well-being of gay servicemembers.

To be sure – I support gay rights, as I always have – and it is in this spirit that I stand against ending the policy as we speak. I do not take such a stand as a way to impede upon the rights of LGBT servicemembers, or to, as many have accused the White House of doing, hold the LGBT community as political hostages. I take such a stand because my experiences in the military point to one thing: the military is not logistically ready to cater to and best serve gay soldiers.

Separate but equal isn’t equal, but neither is saying a particular is equal, yet lacking the foundations to help them succeed. As of today, if DADT were to end, young sergeants who are responsible for the training, mentoring, development and welfare of soldiers do not have the skills to work with LGBT members. This is not because gay soldiers are inherently different than straight soldiers, but because they possess different lived-experiences, and thus, have different social needs.

Too many times, young NCOs have to help soldiers deal with personal matters – matters that involve their private lives and navigate them toward the right way. Yet, without any formal training, how are young NCOs supposed to do that, with the confidence they are doing what is best for their soldiers?

The same concept also applies for chaplains and community service personnel, especially trained with helping soldiers with couples counselings. Until those personnel are trained and ready, having gay soldiers serve openly without systems of support in place is not fair for said soldiers, and is a profound neglect of leadership that every soldier deserves.

There are also issues of including gay soldiers – and their needs and concerns – into yearly training, to include prevention of sexual harrassment and assault training. At the current moment, said training is heterosexually-focused, and leaves out a great many situations and problems found within the LGBT community. Until the program is overhauled and changed to include gay soldiers, it is impractical for end DADT.

Then, there is also the matter of medical care and support. Are the training given soldiers including facts about high-risk sexual behaviors as well as safer sex? At the moment, while condoms are widely available on base, what is not available are frank and honest discussions, led by qualified healthcare professionals, regarding the sexual health of soldiers. I take this stand not as an attack on the LGBT community, but rather, because I realize that behind all the talks of celebrating love and respecting all relationships, young soldiers will have sex, whether gay or straight, and the issue must be taken head-on, to protect the health of America’s fighting forces.

Another issue to consider: how to smoothly end the policy without engaging the soldiers who already have negative perceptions of the LGBT community? It’s easy, of course, to say that soldiers should leave the military if they do not like it. But said sentiments are extremely impractical, and further, will create a wedge between soldiers who support LGBT rights and those who do not. In the end, leaders must have an opportunity to hash out, discuss and put in place the tools neccesary to ensure the transition is a smooth one, for all soldiers.

Matters of equality need to also be discussed – does the end of DADT mean the Equal Opportunity Office will include the history of gay persons and achievements as parts of its monthly celebration? If so, to whom should it turn for guidance, and to which extent should be celebrate? Equal Opportunity celebrations within the military are dictated by the law, and thus, the law must also be clear on why, where and when – or if at all – gay rights and histories should be celebrated within the military.

Lastly, there is the issue of the law – while I will leave the judiciary argument for Time Magazine, which did a wonderful job at arguing why a challenge from the Obama administration was important, from a precedence and future cases view points, what I want to focus on are the laws of entitlement. In the states in which LGBT members are allowed to get married, what are their entitlements and benefits within the military, especially for Guard members, who are from those states? Are they entitled to separation pay during combat? Are they entitled to married persons’ rates of housing allowances? In cases of serious injuries, who gets to make the decisions that affect their lives? Will gay marriage only be recognized in duty stations or Guard units in which the state recognizes gay marriage?

These questions, and so many more, regarding how to best serve gay soldiers, must be answered before DADT is ended. We all want to see gay servicemembers get the same rights as the rest of us, but we must also do so correctly, and dot all our I’s and cross our T’s, for if we do not, we’ll create a generation of soldiers who are equal, but on paper only.

Thus the goal of the Obama White House must be, at the moment, ordering studies – as he has done, and to put plans in place, creating Standing Operating Procedures and programs, to let LGBT members serve openly. Only after those plans have been satisfactory shown to be beneficial to LGBT servicemembers should DADT be repealed.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell must end, but only in due time, for if we end it now, we run the risk of handing gay Americans freedoms, but not benefits and entitlements they need to succeed. Freedom without support is not – just ask the millions of Southern slaves who were freed, yet received nothing to help them achieve true freedom.



Elliot Spitzer, prostitutes and feminism.

Yet another politician caught red-handed; yet another media circus talking about infidelity, with “relationship experts” who give women advice of how to “keep their men”; yet, another case of a high-profiled sex worker being harassed day and night because of “weakness” of a politician. It’s not fair. It’s not fair that in cases like these, sex workers are treated like freak shows. Their personal lives at probed; the media camps outside of their homes for days at a time; their pictures splattered all over the Internet. Yet, the focus of the issue, the talk of the town, isn’t about her. It’s not about her plight. It’s about the impact this has on politics.

The issues the matter to people are not Kristen, whose service Elliot Spitzer sought, but rather, Spitzer himself. 

There will be discussions about Spitzer’s hypocrisies; there will be dialogue but how this has an effect on progressive politics; and Republicans and back-stabbing Democrats alike will ask for his resignation. The Republicans will call for Spitzer’s resignation because having sex outside of marriage, with a sex worker, at that, is “immoral.”

Yet, they don’t realize the immoral thing here is to ignore the dialogue about sex workers, and what brought them to become high-priced prostitutes. There is a victim to every story. In this case, Kristen is the victim – someone who, because of the failures of an andro-centric society, became just a part of the system.

She left home at 17, became a dancer, and eventually turned into a sex worker.  Yet, her story isn’t told. The lives of sex workers aren’t explored. That politicians are exploiting the plights of the very people they’re supposed to be fighting for isn’t talked about.  

Yes, her face will be splashed across your newspapers and internet sites. She will receive millions of hits on her myspace page. She will become an instant celebrity overnight – but no matter how you slice it, the media’s treatment of her is similar to the treatment of an object – a show. She’s something to be taken pictures of, examined and probed. Her story will never be told. Her voice will more than likely not be heard. What questions she is asked by the media won’t be about what brought her to doing sex work, or the lives and conditions of sex workers, but rather, her interactions with Spitzer. Unimportant questions to unimportant issues.
 

Isn’t it time we change the dialogue? Isn’t it time we put women’s issues first? Isn’t it time we give voices to women – even if said woman is “just a 22-year-old prostitute?” 

When we give something a voice, we give it power; we give its stories values; we bring forth the experiences from the viewpoints of the subjugated. Let’s give this woman a voice.

Let’s tell stories from her experiences. Let’s focus on the real victim here. Until we do, until we bring her story to light, it’ll be the same old shit again. Patriarchy. Aren’t we sick and tired of that?



A sincere apology …

I know I said I won’t be posting much, but the fact is that I need to apologize. It’s been less than a week since school is back in session, and I’ve already been challenged to look at my world from a different lense. For that, I am thankful. The apology note is below.  

I feel the need to apologize to all who’ve been on this blog during the past few months. It’s all my fault.

 I am not making any excuses for it, but I will say this: I failed to see things from your perspetives and paradigms, and I am wrong for it. I wasn’t wrong because I didn’t see it, but because I refused to take the time to see it.

Instead of being critical at myself and my own belief systems, I became critical of the knowlege and claims of radical feminism. I held my “truth” and “values” as the only ones that could be correct, and as a privileged male, doing so only furthered my patriarchy. I took the advice to “listen to women” as meaning “submit to women,” while all along, it simply means to learn from women’s voices and experiences.

 In doing so, I leaned further to the other side of the line – the one that I’d been a part of all my life. In doing so, I moved further from feminism, and deeper into the patriarchy. For that, I apologize.

 The words I use and the jobs I take, while I can justify them with the way I view the world, take on a whole different meaning for women. Rather than trying to see things from women’s perspectives, I was defiant and defended my own perspective. My shots at radical feminism was based on my lack of understanding of untapped knowlege and experiences. My attack on radical feminsm was based on on the male lense, the lense of the oppressor, rather than the oppressed.

From my vantage point, I don’t see everything. I see very little because in belonging to the class that rules, rather than the one being subjugated, I DID NOT need to see a lot. I was wrong.

To truly be effective in feminism, I must not only have the values and the convictions, but also the knowlege of women’s experiences. Too often, I’ve neglected those stories and experiences when they are told to me, because in my world, individual stories are written off as meaningless. They are written off as being useless in the fight for power and control.

Know that while my convictions and values were there, my practice was not, and most of the time, it was an unconscious decision. Most of the time, it was based on my “intuition” and “instincts,” the majority of which was socially constructed based on male power.

As such, I strive to do better in the future …to share less and listen more. The paths to social activism starts with the values and convictions that all are equal, but without the knowlege of what or how to best serve women, then said values and convictions are useless.

 I am working on that knowlege and I will continue to do so. Sometimes, all I need is a dose of reality – a talking-to by a feminist mentor, for me to see what I’ve done wrong.

Perhaps that’s what scares me the most …what the hell do I do when I am out of college and there are no professors for me to call and ask the critical questions? What the hell do I do when I don’t know what’s best for women? Do my professors hold all the answers, or do individual experiences of individual women matter more? Those are the questions I am still trying to answer, and in coming back to the women’s studies program this semester, I hope to answer those questions.



Taking the time off …
January 12, 2008, 5:26 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Yeah – class starts again on Monday, and with working and going to school from 6 a.m. – 10 p.m., this blog, as well as any un0fficial emails, take a break for a while.

Good luck to ya’ll in whatever you’re doing …



Male privilege check-list.

I tend to save the more lighthearted posts for Fridays, but given the recent developments of the blog, and because I’ve not had any Red Bull and have spent the last few nights thinking about the whole love thing instead of sleeping, I am feeling a little slow. So here’s just a post that lists male privileges. I am sure you can come up with more than I can, as I am privileged, and often don’t see these. These privileges can be both physical and social perceptions.

 1) Career wise, I can do almost anything I want, without having to fear that I can’t make it because of my gender.

2) When I do have children, I can still continue with my career, and won’t seem like a “bad dad.”

3) No one would ever use my gender as a way of insulting someone, as in “You throw like a girl” or “don’t be such a pussy.”

4) I can almost always walk down the street at night without fear of being attacked.

5) I can go to a bar and drink to my heart’s content, without having to fear I might get sexually assaulted.

6) I almost never have to worry about being sexually harrassed by my boss.

7) My ability to do a certain job will never come into question because of my gender

8) My gender will never be an issue when I run for political office

9) I can marry someone based on looks like it will actually empower me more.

10) There are no laws made pertaining to MY body.

11) I can go out in public wearing almost anything without being harrassed or judged.

12) If I so happen to meet someone at a party, and decide to have sex, I would be viewed as being “the man,” whereas it doesn’t apply for women. They’re seen as sluts.

13) My sexual/dating history is not the discussion of the town

14) I can pee standing up!

15) I don’t have to worry as much about pregnancy when it comes to sex

16) I am less likely to get an STD than a woman would, because of how our sex organs are built

17) I can date more than one woman at the same time, and society would not look down upon me for it.

18) As a child, no matter what I wanted to do, I had some sort of a role-model with whom I could identify

19) I am judged more for my actions, rather than what I wear and how I look.

20) No childbirth!

21) I am guarantee to orgasm each and every time I have sex

22) No pharmacist can claim the right to deny me any medicines I ask for at a drug store

23) Even when I am acting within my gender role, I am GAINING from it, rather than being oppressed.

24) If I go to church, I can attend knowing that I’ll hear someone of my gender speaking about a god of my gender.

25) I don’t have to live up to expectations of how thin I am supposed to be.

26) No monthly menstrual cycles!

Anything else you’d want to add? I am running out of things. But I am sure you can think of more.



The homosexual witch hunt.

I don’t make it a habit of defending conservative Republicans, but I will in this case. 

At this rate, I am never going to get to blog about the male-female relationship I’d been thinking about for the past few days; but I ran across something interesting on another blog here: http://pandagon.blogsome.com/2007/08/07/busted-florida-republican-state-reps-black-gay-panic-defense-on-soliciting-charge/, and thought I’d write on it instead.

 Here’s a synopsis of the story. A state representative in Florida was arrested for solitication of same-sex prostitution in a public bathroom. It turned out the person he was solicitating was an undercover police officer – and thus he was arrested.

 What makes this story is funny is that this man is a conservative Christian Republican. His defense? “Well, the guy was black and he was intimidated, he didn’t want to become a statistic. So, he was just making a pass at the guy to try to bail himself out of a bad situation.”

Liberals are having a field day with this, in pointing out the hypocrasies of the religious right and the piss-poor defense this representative gave.

 But I’d like to take a different approach. Too often, it seems we liberals only scratch the surface and do not think of the actual issues. Here’s my issue with the whole situation: why the hell are we still engaged in a witch hunt for homosexuals?

If two guys want to give each other blow jobs in a public bathroom, or anywhere else, why is it my business? This, for me, is simply a modern-day witch hunt for homosexuals. It exists simply as a means to punish homosexual men for being gay. On the surface, it might seem like a way to keep good order and discipline, but do we see this going on in women’s bathrooms or at the bar?

Why is it okay for me to be at a bar, with some girl on my lap and slobbering all over me, but it’s not okay for two men to be intimate in a bathroom stall or anywhere else? Straight sex happens in bathrooms all the time, but that’s not being cracked down on. So why target homosexuals?

 The plight of gay men is already that they can’t really behave intimately in most places in public, and now we’re cracking down on their behaviors in a semi-public place? What’s next, cracking down on two men kissing in the car, at home or at a bar? Gay men already suffer as is from being able to display their affection in public, and at home, it’s not really accepted by most.

 As a taxpayer, I’d rather police officers go out there and focus on, oh, I don’t know, gang violence, rapes, murders, and drunk drivers than standing at some corner stall busting guys for asking for and receiving blowjobs.

Besides, as a police officer, you’ve got to have screwed up pretty bad to be assigned the duty of hanging out at public bathrooms, pretending to be gay and waiting for some guy to come up to you, offering you a blowjob.

The point is that it’s unfair and it’s discriminatory. It’s profiling in a sense, and it seems we scream and yell about airport profiling and will be quick to jump on anyone right-leaning when they are caught in a situation like this. But as true liberals and Democrats, aren’t we supposed be defending their rights? So what if they’re gay and Republicans? They’re people, too. Let’s focus on the real issue here.

But, there’s a lighter issue also at work: bathroom sex can be hot, but why the hell are these men looking for each other in public bathrooms? Isn’t that what gay bars, craigslist, and Promise Keepers meetings are for? If push comes to shove, they can always go to the Catholic Church. But that’s not the point now, is it?

Also, who the hell would PAY to give a blowjob? To be sure, I don’t pay to get one either – but when it comes to the penis, I wouldn’t even want to taste my own. :X But I don’t suppose that’s the point in all of this, is it?

Thoughts?