Isn’t history just repetition and accumulation of power and influence? This is about understanding why you feel so wronged. Don’t you know it takes the Sun and the Moon to make the tides? It’s also true that roaring cats don’t purr. In this specific instance, it is either roar or purr. There is no both.
Cities showed up 6-figures deep. A people’s definition of amazing. Folks are asking if this is another revolution for a problem with no name. Pre-conditions find themselves in dispute along with feeling safe, not comfortable, but safe. You do not have my permission to share this. Pussy is on sale.
Today we celebrate 44 years of codified privacy and personal (white) choice. An axis of origin. To be fair, there’s no standard agreement on how many simultaneous wars we are fighting. Drama should be reserved for love. The noise, the roaring noise, has been the most reliable of our tensions. Hair-triggering sensitivities. Isn’t it ironic?
If you are a private poet, then your vocabulary is limited by your obsessions.
— Richard Hugo, The Triggering Town
It’s a fact. Cycles sync. It is October, 2016. The word pussy is in our mouths again. Full and heavy bodied, it’s paired with a specific violence as naturalized as an inherited ownership tone. This is the fetishized frequency of law and order.
*** you’ve got to stack it so it’s stable – Low, No Comprende ***
So this is what whiplash from a mass capture of imagination feels like. A forced common image. Pussy, for now, functions as an ironic partisan anchor, while still maintaining its gendered significations.
What is the whole of this historical objectification of our parts? Patriarchal logic argues that this violence of disassociation is necessary and even desired. This detachment is inherent in our economic theories, consumer-based language, and mass-produced representations.
We learn, repeatedly, there are far more serious and urgent issues to concern ourselves with than ritualized gender-based violence. We are dismissed. We are told to question less and obey more.
*** underneath this hood you kiss, I tick like bomb – Perfume Genius, Hood***
We perform this idealized creed through a perpetual liturgy of demure expressions in a culture that protects mobs of high-volume denials. This contemporary shrill masculinity is socially recycled into discourses that tap into an idolization of individual perspective. For most, this illusion only creates isolation.
Manipulating the dark side of vulnerability isn’t a new strategy to win elections, or maintain control. What feels different this Presidential election cycle is the dredge of cultural material to mine and the hypervoyeurism that has been produced. Public and private boundaries are as unstable as our contemporary understanding of when virtual becomes reality.
As we bare witness to the misogyny that rages beneath all our sacred institutions, may the soundtrack to this ride to November include Magnet by Bikini Kill.
I’m keeping this advice on a loop: I’ve got the love that’s strong and not weak.
Andrea Smith’s foreword in Undoing Border Imperialism by Harsha Walia states, “a liberatory vision for immigrant rights is one that is based less on pathways to citizenship in a settler state, than on questioning the logics of the settler state itself.” This expansion of decolonization, a revolution to undo “zones of invisibility, exclusion, and death,” requires a radical vision and daily practice of justice. For those of us who are not indigenous to the nations we occupy, liberation is no longer a theoretical space you can opt in and out.
Undoing Border Imperialism is a collective expression of a migrant justice movement grounded in healing justice. Starting from a place of opportunity, “as a prefiguring framework, decolonization grounds us in an understanding that we have already inherited generations of evolving wisdom about living freely and communally” Walia shows us a future few movement theory books dare dream. Through various entry points in the book, which are beautifully supported by poets, philosophers, and activist’s lived experiences, the reader is profoundly transformed.
Undoing is not used haphazardly nor as a metaphor. We are asked to enthusiastically have a decolonized orientation to self and others. The systems few move through with ease are relational, which is political and embodied. Borders are human-made. That’s one clear justification for resisting violence with nonviolent direct action. If one needs a concrete example, follow #NoDAPL.
Chapter 3 entitled Overgrowing Hegemony: Grassroots Theory puts everything into perspective. Consider this your manifesto.
Given all the power-over we have internalized, traumas we have metabolized, and walls and hierarchies we have maintained between one another, it is imperative that we unravel and confront these effects of border imperialism within our movements as we work to dismantle the systems that propagate it.
Name it. Analyze how power functions and distorts. Commit to steering “movement strategies and relations toward collective liberation.” This requires consent, accountability, and communication that is transformative, not transactional.
We all have a role in this vision.
Strategy cannot be applied in a cookie-cutter approach; it requires collective deliberation, trial and error, and reflection. It necessitates a willingness to experiment, and make mistakes, and humility to change our ways.
Syed Khalid Hussan’s epilogue is a reminder that “our actions are just as much visceral as they are analytical, theoretical, or intellectual.” It’s time to declare that we are no longer obligated to be monogamous in identity, story, or victory. However, we are bound to practice compassion, respect, forgiveness, and evolve our ways of being in community with each other. Walia, and the voices she shares this revolution with, moves us beyond those never-ending conversations that center frameworks (talk). A tactic designed to distract and delay justice. This embodied power is found through a decolonizing praxis that honors generational resistance. To deny this is to remain complicit in settler logic.
We can, as Smith so clearly states, dismantle the logic of the settler state. And in its absence, we move freely with self-determination.
In a previous post, I coupled the early essays of The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure as “academic stimulation with real-world sensations.” The chorus of voices throughout the remainder of the book continue on that path and give more support for using an erotic economic analysis. The production of porn is about selling pleasure, consuming (queer) desire, and fucking loving yourself.
Ingrid Ryberg in Every Time We Fuck, We Win pushes you to understand watching porn is witness to intimacy. It is telling that we have to learn to repress so much to fit into assumed historic preferences. Keiko Lane’s Imag(in)ing Possibilities spreads your psyche out with respect. Experiencing “fantasies made conscious” is a particular arousal of “embodied subjectivity.” That point of view, a corporeal validation, is useful. Porn can heal us if we experience it without shame or remorse. If you want to get the deepest and quickest purpose of this book, read Constance Penley’s A Feminist Teaching Pornography? She gives you the permission to study porn as film. We are the audience to a multi-dimensional experience from performer to director to public tastes.
Presentation matters: angles and agency. Lorelei Lee demonstrates that to the fullest. “Sexual desire and sexual identity are absolutely essential to the freely defined self.” Feminist porn performs power which is why it deserves its current patriarchal reputation. Own that what you feel from seeing is pleasurable. This feminist entertainment project is political. That’s no-fucks-given explicit from the begging to the end The Feminist Porn Book. As is Ariane Cruz’s call to “take up a politics of perversion, a disruptive shift in black feminist studies, to critically analyze the engagements of pleasure and power through pornography consumption, performance, and production.”
All anthologies straddle numerous opinions and I agree with Nina Hartley that “porn houses our sexual dreams, which are vitally important to our happiness.” The how – worker centered – is what makes feminist porn feminist. It is what mutual satisfaction looks like – good enough to share. Tristan Aormino knows both sides of the camera. I’ll watch sex that is “presented as joyful, fun, safe, mutual, and satisfying.” Sexual expressions of joy! Who would be against such imagery?
That was a larger question that was often left out of the frame. We hear and see enough of the anti-porn position. It was a nice reprieve from that way of thinking. The Feminist Porn Book repeatedly and gently reminds you to consume critically and honor consent always. Sexual expressions are exchanged as erotic capital and culturally produced whether we agree with it or not. That’s why having more porn that thinks and fucks like me is where I’ll be putting my hard-earned feminist dollars.
We gather inside and treasure light. We are enamored with the hues of soft pinks and peach oranges that have lengthened during this seasonal rotation. Yes, we do have an agenda, a way of being, of feeling seen.
While shadows form, for they provide their own value of shelter and comfort, we scout for interdependence. We want transformation not assimilation. Our politics disrupt, express, reconceptualize desire and power. It’s a decentered practice. A rebellion.
What we seek is an acknowledgment of the complexity of difference and an orientation that does not ignore a reality that is relational. All of our connections, regardless of intimacy, physicality, and emotional depth are nonnegotiable and non-hierarchical.
I’m seven essays deep into The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure. There are new terms to embrace like “pink films” (Japanese softcore porn) and breathless realizations around phrases like “the key to mutual confidence–risk.” The essays couple academic stimulation with real-world sensations. As the infamous Betsy Dodson so aptly notes, “all forms of sex were [are] an exchange of power, whether it was [is] conscious or unconscious.”
The politics around (re)production, representation, and the permeable moral high ground of porn – “feminist” or not – are chapters of a story that pivot on domination and release. Who’s on top and who is really getting what they asked for? What lies beneath most of the antiporn rhetoric (which is intimately coupled with conservative ideas about the purpose of sex; hint: it’s not pleasure) are “sexual panics” around fluid concepts of decency, normalcy, and obscenity. All of these convictions, and more, build towards a formula that reflects standardized shots designed to maximize profit.
I like Susie Bright’s pithy assessment “porn arouses to distraction” to describe what porn actually does.
In the essay “Emotional Truths and Thrilling Slide Shows,” Smith & Attwood theorize “in making arguments for free speech, its proponents often cede the ground that some forms of pornography are indeed awful, damaging, and to be abhorred, thereby confirming the basic analysis that there is something intrinsically problematic about both the cultural forms of sexual representation and those who seek them out.” This sounds similar to the soundtrack around abortion rights and reproductive freedom in general. This ceded ground leaves the usual suspects, non-wealthy, gender non-conforming, and non-white, maintaining the space of deviance. That is until there is a reason to play with that resistance.
It was the sound of rushing, the way the ocean pulls into itself.
Falling and rising, gravity is an indicator measuring distance.
In Proofs & Theories: Essays on Poetry, Louise Glück admits, “I liked scale, but I liked it invisible.” Starting from a place of invisibility, a sense of safety, yet maintaining perspective resonates deep within me as winter slowly transitions into spring.
Water in West Virginia is deadly and smells like licorice for hundreds of thousands. In fact, over 300,000 people have been forced to drink only bottled water; the chemical spill’s impact contained within a complete and conveniently round number. Bodies, specifically women and girls’ of color bodies in comas, are illusions for a culture that still claims to value human life. National discussions center the paradoxical, for those in power, concept of growing gaps. Shrinking safety nets catch only the most tenuous of “opportunities” for those who have learned how to survive within the thinnest of margins. Pop stars and Fox news package feminist rhetoric in digestible byte size narratives that keep gender politics profitable.
It feels endless, this parade of brazen hypocrisy. There should be no surprise that we opt out behind private screens, devise elaborate rituals of denial, and post selfies to curate what we wish to be. It’s within this scale of manufactured hopes and inside the disposable commodities of dreams that we strive to find community, love, value, and joy.
I am trying to accept anxiety as a strategic friend, trust in my capacity to create my own joy, and loudly maintain routines of comfort. I hold these current active desires like the traces of an embrace, gently and with intent.
Light’s influence is what I most like about living here. This newly discovered perception acts as a solipsistic aperture. This writing space, especially lately, has become a catalog of such impressions. Every week I try to encapsulate the mundane pieces of myself in hopes of illuminating and also distilling my meditations; a brave attempt to honor grandeur of thought.
Writing is a numinous process
similar to those seconds between lightning
and then thunder.
I’ve been marinating in the honesty of Dorothy Allison’s Talking About Sex, Class & Literature. Allison’s penetrating words have triggered this post: “Traditional feminist theory has had a limited understanding of class differences and of how sexuality and self are shaped by both desire and denial.” This statement so acutely supports my obsession with desire – for others, for choices, for pleasure – that my mind shut down with the impact of this truth.
Allison eloquently and systematically breaks it down, “It has taken me most of my life to understand that [running away or closing up inside yourself], to see how and why those of us who are born poor and different are so driven to give ourselves away or lose ourselves, but most of all, simply to disappear as the people we really are.”
Writing forces me to not run away. Today I write to remind myself of this verity.
I am untethered without my weekly confessions and ritual of expression.
I miss that feeling of being exhumed without judgement.
This wanting to “have it all” feels nostalgic, a manufactured desire.
I never asked you to be a model of hyper-essentialism. It’s the struggle and consequence of choice and I can, on good days, appreciate all the “sacrifices” you made for yourself. It has provided benefits to some and a vision for others.
Your regret is not worth repenting especially when your privilege has already confessed for you.
When I imagined the future, I failed to envision a world that censors state lawmakers from saying the word “vagina,” more specifically because they referenced their own vagina when pleading to maintain the right to have an abortion. My future was based on an assumption that there would be some evolution and general social dignity.
Our politics are getting very personal. Can you handle this intimacy?
I am growing ever more annoyed by heterosexual men whose lips are mum than from the to-be-expected cliched responses of misogynists.
To quote Begin the Begin, “Silence means security.” A security maintained by restriction is ultimately vulnerable. If men who love women continue to be mute, their sexuality and their sexual agency will be as equally depressing.
Like rape, this political repression is about power not sex. Seductive patriarchal fantasy and prescriptive subjection create more than fifty shades of grey when it comes to how we all resist domination. Your silence is your implicit consent. Until I hear otherwise, I won’t know that you don’t agree with the assumed benefits you’ve been reaping all these millennia.
I have existed within this latitude and longitude (37.8044° N, 122.2697° W) for almost a year now. It’s time to unpack and pull the threads of the past into our odyssey.
The gravity of this settlement persuades me to acknowledge tension. I surrender to subtlety.
In Keeping Things Whole by Mark Strand, he writes:
“We all have reasons
to keep things whole.”
I answer obligatory questions and watch my referents evaporate into confusion. The whiplash from my assumptions generates a spark every time. Those moments are when I am reminded of my capacity to render myself authentically.
This era of blank wave feminism has produced a cacophony of ideologies. From lipstick to victim, we continue to separate ourselves inside self-identified categories. These categories codify and they assist in commodification. I think this evolution is natural – application of theory assumes reification.
Active desire: I’m going to have an Olympic summer.
Thursday I ran my fingers over the white picket fence posts so I could feel something solid. Like the first signs of spring, it takes a while to recognize life returning from a winter of discontent.
I sat up, spine straight, in the oasis of the Redwood park. It felt good; right. The ferns danced from the wind of man-made machines. The landscape is preemptively changing. I choose to see joy in change, in evolution.
When I am lost, I return to what I know.
This current journey of (re)discovery has yielded results unexpected. To quote Gloria Anzaldúa, “For if she changed her relationship to her body and that in turn changed her relationship to another’s body then she would change her relationship to the world.” Anzaldúa was a seminal force in my understanding of the potential and the power of having a sense of self shaped by feminism.
When I first found her words, Gloria’s naked honesty about del otro lado resonated with how I was beginning to make sense of how my childhood landscape of isolation did not have to equate desolation. I found a language and an epistemology that planted seeds of joy in the shadows of my repressed desires and restrained possibilities. Her intimate and radical belief in an inclusive identity, a rejection of fragmentation, was revolutionary. More so as an identical twin. I returned to her words a month ago, through an impulsive purchase in a Portland bookstore, and once again found solid ground to stand.
When I was in Portland, a stranger asked me, “What’s the upshot?” I think the answer is change, which implies transformation.
Today’s title is a reference to the fact that we all know Mitt Romney is a Mormon. The point being that we (ahem…liberals, progressives, nonbelievers, etc.) shall not question this part of Mitt’s identity lest we look intolerant towards another man’s beliefs. Put away your critical thinking hats people; this is a non-issue.
We do not want to mix church and state.
It’s a fascinating internecine contest. The fascist moralist’s position is precarious which is why they declaim so loudly, and so often. This political project, played out on a very public stage, is struggling to remain coherent as words like “polygamy” and “open marriage” are googled in the middle of the night in small midwestern towns – once closed minds swirling with possibility of alternatives. Oh heteronormativity, the depths of your ironic power seems limitless.
The recent Komen pink scab fiasco and their whine about not wanting “our mission marred or affected by politics – anyone’s politics” is another internecine conflict. The pink frosting of Komen’s “politics” has been well documented as saccharine. It is, after all, baked into the cake.
I will make myself really clear so that you do not wander in the darkness – the commodification of women’s bodies is the real politic. Komen’s philanthropy wrapped in counterfeit feminism was exposed and quickly sussed out for its deceit. That abortions could be associated with screening for breast cancer uncovered one truism: women’s health is still controversial. Let us hope that each time we see the ubiquitous pink, we question intent and ask the hard question of who continues to benefit from such commodification.
To quote Wild Flag, “I like the way you make me understand.”
Embodied Resistance, a new anthology edited by Chris Bobel and Samantha Kwan, accurately summarizes “just how complex, contextual, and contingent such [embodied] resistance really is.” Every day we resist and we accommodate. Patriarchy is an efficacious system.
The spectrum of copacetic is endless in a world filled with milquetoasts.
Let us have intentionality “because relations of power are social, it follows that they are constantly under deliberation, a perpetual give-and-take.”
Have you ever heard of a better argument for consent and for stirring up gender trouble?
I can tell you all of my sins but I don’t think you have the time nor the capacity. I sin everyday.
What if we walked the streets, unapologetic for being in public, like Camile Paglia tells us to do? Virginie Despentes, in her manifesto King Kong Theory, describes how she saw her rape in a political context after reading a Paglia interview. Paglia argued that the dominant narrative of “the world is a dangerous place, you might get raped” ** keeps women from taking risks. It keeps us from stepping outside and into public spaces practicing our agency.
Despentes writes, “She [Camile Paglia] was inviting girls to look at rape as a risk worth taking if you want to leave the house, an inherent part of being a girl.” It’s controversial but true; risk is subjective like sin or transgressions. It’s taken me years to come to my own plateau where I own the risks I took but I no longer carry the burden of proving that I did not give consent.
When you’ve been baptized ***, you are theoretically reborn. It feels like the epiphany of taking risks.
* “Random Rules” by Silver Jews
** It should be noted that Paglia’s cultural context is the late 60’s. Sadly, the recent slutwalks demonstrate that the narrative of “she asked for it” has not left our lexicon.
*** I’ve yet to deal with the fact I was baptized without my consent. Baby steps…
To quote Kim Gordon, “my future is static, its already had it ” (Schizophrenia). My holiday wish is pretty simple: please let the next sixteen days zip by and let the future year roll forward like it’s no big deal. Expectations, purposely constructed or illusionary, make me nervous and if past experiences are indicators of anything, vehicles of disappointment. This is not an indictment. It’s a calculated reference to the title of this post.
I love reading the top searches that a random passerby used to find this mess of a blog. Child vagina (WTF?!) and man pussy apparently are two tubes you can take to find this url.
As American feminists were hissing about the Plan B reversal due to “common sense,” British feminists rallied for the muff, in her original glory. The body politic is gloriously exposed; sexuality was rationalized on the lips of politicians and defiantly displayed on the streets. It’s all so Victorian. Foucault just yawned.
A random list of ten good things from the last three months:
After reading The Absence of a Gender Justice Framework in Social Justice Organizingby Linda Burnham, I looked up the definition of framework because I hear frame/framework used so often that its meaning has been dulled into phrase-yawning jargon. That curiosity led me to a crumb by the name of Isaiah Berlin and his infamous essay, The Hedgehog and the Fox. Berlin exhumed the ancient Greek allegory of the hedgehog (monolithic, focused) and the fox (multiplicitous, decentralized) which re-adjusted my personal feminist framework, just a little.
Burnham argues, rightly and simply, that “social justice activists operate with a woefully inadequate understanding of how the society they are trying to change actually functions.” She outlines that the danger in playing “oppression Olympics” coupled with feminism’s “tainted” reputation means gender is delegated to making the coffee not policy. A salient quote by an interviewee eloquently demonstrates that if you don’t practice gender justice at home (i.e. every day), you won’t have a framework that will survive the fox’s pursuit of complexities. “I find that in personal relationships it’s important to create a language and a platform to discuss problems. Then you reach a threshold and eventually it becomes easier. It becomes part of the fabric of the relationship.”
Finding space to practice justice in a culture that is polarized and marginalizes for the sake of profit and protest, leaves me desperate for passion, for creation, for joy. To quote Margaret Kilgallen, “The obsession with imperfect perfection has changed my work.”
I dropped the F bomb (feminism) at work which resulted in some collateral damage of assumptions. The axiom that feminism was an operating principle was incorrect. I was immediately sanctioned and corralled into the old folks home for such an outdated belief. Ultimately the conversation went down the lonely road of semantics and neatly buried with other land mines I am sure to step on in the future.
Good Vibrations wants to open a store in my neighborhood (see welcome wagon message in photo). It’s a small business not wanted by some who react viscerally to life or pleasure.
We march because we’re all “sluts” in a patriarchal culture that devalues us on the basis of being sexual, or sexualized by others. And hell, I am a sexual being, but from now on I am a sexual being on my own terms. I don’t view the word “slut” as something to take back, but rather, something to vomit onto the streets of New York. As if to say, go ahead, call me a fucking slut. I fucking dare you. … But I have an entire movement, a whole big fucking army of others just like me who aren’t taking your shit anymore.
“…a feminist future depends not on erasing or celebrating sexed differences but on producing a collective consciousness that theorizes and acts on social processes and their implications.” – Chris Bobel
New Blood: Third-Wave Feminism and The Politics of Menstruation
Reading Chris Bobel’s book, New Blood: Third-Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation, has left my nerd whiskers quivering. Bobel states, “Thus, study of menstrual activism yields important insights into the evolution of social movements and feminist epistemology, a system of knowledges in constant flux.” New Blood is an excellent and thoughtful expose into generational feminist praxis.
“I was always interested in sex, even as a kid. Sex includes shame and humiliation and fantasies and longing. It’s so dense with the kinds of things I’m interested in.” — Miranda July
It’s a daily struggle to authentically practice feminist ideals in a culture whose discourses include paternal debates about women’s autonomy of their bodies* and close-minded demands that there is a formulaic way to love another. As Miranda July notes, sexuality embodies a myriad of powerful contradictions.
It’s fascinating to watch constructed private matters exhumed so publicly. The violent rhetoric needed to maintain the facade of control over such matters is obvious. Such porous boundaries are fluid which is why they are so dynamic. Others have written more eloquently (Bordo, Luibheid, Butler, Lorde) about these constructions and how they discipline our practices and influence our longing and fantasies.
This move to another state, a new city, and a deviant version of the same occupation has afforded the possibility to practice these principles in a new way. It’s a privilege I do not take lightly.
* add race, class and sexuality and it gets even more dense
Erica Jong’s Is Sex Passé? rant was provocative. She certainly aroused me with her assertion that sex is a nostalgic trip for youth (she defines “youth” as mid-30s).
According to Jong, these youngsters are rebelling against their mothers old-fashioned quests for sexual liberation. She notes, “If their mothers discovered free sex, then they want to rediscover monogamy.” What does a rebellion of sons look like?
“Sexual passion is on life support” due to a desire to control the chaos in a depressing culture of war, conservative values, and persistent attacks on women’s rights. Ultimately, Jong calls for a feminism that unites both sexes which I wholeheartedly endorse. It’s her homogenous heterosexual perspective of rebellion (have babies) that I find limp and passé.
I’m a singleton again (which unknowingly is a great segway from above). I stood at the nexus of nature versus nurture; evolution versus status quo. Intentions are questioned and desires to understand how we can be so different go unanswered. There are assumptions we both operate under which creates the distance. I miss her.
There are beautiful things in the world. I think I may have fallen in love.
Breakfast, as we demised, was glaring. You are right. The transparency of the glass ceiling is obvious.
Today’s word: tears
Conservative white men assert their rebel yells and women weep. We shouldn’t be surprised that with the rise of neopatriarchy the front page of the New York Times has an article about menstruation and women’s libido.
Dorothy Parker said, “Lips that taste of tears, they say, are the best for kissing.”
The busman’s holiday is not only an idiom, it’s an axiom.
Reading Gender/Body/Knowledge/Feminist Reconstructions of Being and Knowing has been my vacation treat, my busman’s holiday if you will. So far (I’m up to page 92) I’ve had the intense pleasure of knowing the following:
“Eroticism is calm passion.” This almost turns me on.
“…unless women can authentically voice their own desire and pleasure, then all forms of political liberation will be to no avail.” This may be why silencing women’s voice is golden in a capitalist society and “well-behaved women seldom make history.” What is authenticity in a culture that does not allow autonomy?
“Woman’s body is already colonized by the hegemony of male desire; it is not your body.” Good. Let them own a body that bleeds but doesn’t die. The horror!
Helene Cixous invented the word “sext” in 1981. According to Cixous, sexts is a pun on sex and texts. Because the body is a text. Or as Susan Bordo so eloquently notes, “Our conscious politics, social commitments, strivings for change may be undermined and betrayed by the life of our bodies…the docile, regulated body practiced at and habituated to the rules of cultural life.”
“Erotic experience is extraordinary, lying somewhere between dream and daily life.” This turns me on.
Exploring resistance and the erotic construction of building knowledge has left me feeling very satisfied.
After recently hearing Cornell West rap about Socratic energy (living an unexamined life is not worth living) and deodorized discourse (we aren’t talking about the issues; we’re covering up the funk, the bruises), I am hypersensitive to the cover up. There was such hope for this new decade but we find ourselves mired in factional dichotomies paralyzed at the nexus of change. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before …
In the war on words with its battlefields littered with broken compromises, there are no coherent winners. Our stories are false and shallow.
In the book, Bodies of Knowledge: Sexuality, Reproduction, and Women’s Health in the Second Wave, Wendy Kline exposes the battle lines around women’s knowledge of their own bodies. She quotes sociologist Kathy Davis, “it was the method of knowledge sharing and not a shared identity as women which appeared to have a global appeal” for Our Bodies, Ourselves, the seminal catalyst for the women’s health movement. Bodies of Knowledge is an interesting exploration into who owns authentic knowledge and what Kline describes as “the inherent tension between two equally valid truths: the singularity of being female and the plurality of individual experiences among women.” (emphasis added) Klein outlines how the “personal is political” was implemented and eventually institutionalized for better or worse, neither side having a clear victory. The point was made more than once that the false paradox of body and brain, after all most of us have both, is outdated at best and divisive at worst.
Was the “personal as political” or DIY health care scalable? And if not, is that a such a bad thing? Why this need to always go global? Localizing and authenticating your epistemological standpoint within critically examined experiences might actually be worth the engagement and collateral damage. It’s the sharing of those authentic experiences that just may be the missing praxis. A symphony of critical voices who are just as fine operating within the system as around it is a worthy goal that’s often overlooked as a viable vehicle for living one’s life. Of course that shouldn’t be the only strategy for social change but it certainly sounds better than the current chorus.
As access to abortion becomes more and more difficult for the “average” woman, those of us on the body side [choice] find ourselves weary from using the master’s tools. Jane where for art thou?
I’m feeling the tension of transparency. Talking points are not on a spectrum of disclosure.
Sometimes I wish I had the luxury of ignorance but that sounds incredibly pretentious.
I fear the (inevitable) numbness of privilege that’s associated with moving up a class. There are doubts tangled around every conversation and the heavy dread of diminishing self-confidence is illogical but still it lingers.
Assumptions of belonging are dangerous.
Watching those with privilege and wealth access opportunity and exercise their option of choices while ignoring the reality of the majority is a melancholy pursuit. Do you spy what I spy?
Did you feel your heart sink when the rich white man uprocked the evening designed to honor women? The crowd cheered; some even had tears. The injustice was ignored because of the $100k donation and the women danced on the sacrifices of those who had come before them.
Perhaps what I’m really feeling is the tension of working within a broken system where hope is a commodified ideology. Or it could be the looming holiday season of forced consumption. Or it’s the slow realization of not fitting into a place that was never designed to accommodate you in the first place. There are many hypotheses to consider for the sadness of consciousness.
Watching self-defined riot grrl, Sara Marcus, read from her book, Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrl Revolution, was nostalgic inducing. Feeling that old confidence, the passion, and the idealism of being what you want and not giving a damn was rebellion in its purest form.
Sara wrote this “true story” because as she articulated, “the specificity needed to be reclaimed.” Riot Grrl was more than music, it was a radical feminist youth-led movement to change shit. I was late to the grrl party but its influence was still thrashing, even in the heart of America. It changed and shaped me. It was the method of delivery that infected my consciousness; a theory of practicing what you preach.
Ending with “settle for nothing less than absolutely everything,” I walked home with a little extra revolution in my hips.
The crumbs listed above led people to this blog. I’m equally proud and horrified that the internet and its series of pipes dumped people here. How these terms correlate to cacheculture’s content is literally accurate but it’s certainly not definitive.
According to the New York Times, contacts that make your eyes look larger are both a dangerous fashion craze and a fad that’s already over. The article outlines an apparent global aesthetic for “huge eyes” and women’s willingness to stick medically unnecessary contacts in their eyes and believe it’s just like other make-up enhancements.
The article continues on with a hegemonic medical reminder that if a doctor doesn’t prescribe it, it could be dangerous. Because we all know that tummy tucks, hymen reconstructions, and other beauty regimes performed by licensed medical professionals aren’t dangerous and come with “grave concerns.” A blip about “circle lenses are not just for Asian people” successfully equalizes the multi-cultural phenomenon.
The male voices, the “experts,” are authoritatively paternalistic. The female voices, the consumers, are simply stating that looking good makes them feel good and happy. They get compliments from …. from who?
Can we assume these are all heterosexual women? Can we assume this hetero-normative gendered groupthink is because men told them they look desirable? The male gaze is seemingly lacking or absent so it’s difficult to conclude that answer.
What to make of these women who have a regressive belief that child-like is attractive? Why am I regressively assuming that they are wearing circle lenses for hidden sexual agendas? I’ve been readingNobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity and I can’t stop thinking about gender performance and how that informs sexuality. Sometimes the obvious is the hardest to see. Or when you’re not looking for the signs, you’re likely to miss them even as they are staring right at you.
Wearing circle lenses isn’t any different from other forms of beauty regimes women subject themselves to (bleach douches anyone?) and they certainly won’t be the last. Exposing the dynamic nature of beauty fads and their intersections of race, consumer culture, sexuality, class, and gender norms is fascinating to me. Thank you Mattilda and contributing authors for keeping my eyes open and huge.
Manifestations of dichotomies and coding perspectives can be minefields in a culture that demands you don’t notice the wires.
I really like this praxis (and this blog!). I think we should practice the same discipline when we see racism, sexism, and classism. Imagine that possibility.
Getting stuck in the grind makes it hard to recognize that life is always around you.
January 1st is the prescribed time to make changes, June 1st is the time to assess that reality. The last few days of my Jesus year afford an opportunity to join those theories with the anticipation of what lies ahead.
You are right. It’s summer and we aren’t machines.
You know you’ve had an interesting week when you start and end with two profound comments about assholes.
The beginning of week started with a conversation about life’s eternal struggle – finding a job that satisfies.
One person’s perspective on the dream job:
work on projects you love
get paid enough to travel to far off lands
The end of the week was enlightened by a Kiki Smith lecture. A lecture of casual f-bombs (feminism), deconstruction, self-determination, changing forms (drops: blood to rain to milk), animal hair, fighting like hell to not be culturally owned, flipping meaning, and embracing then utilizing contradictions. Kiki Smith called herself a “self-righteous asshole.” She was irreverent and brilliant.
Strengthening the power of interpretation, having the courage to envision, and demanding to be dynamic in a static culture, these are a few things on my to-do list.
Reading an interview with the author of, Cheating on the Sisterhood: Infidelity and Feminism, Lauren Rosewarne makes a succinct, well-articulated bridge from second wave feminism to third wave feminism and back again:
Q: You write this book from a markedly third wave feminist perspective and challenge feminisms that are especially dogmatic, yet you do not always hold third wave feminist ideology in high esteem. What do you see as useful about a third wave approach to infidelity?
A: On a very cursory level, supporting women’s choices on how to use their bodies has united each of the branches of feminisms. Yet, while there might be much agreement on reproductive rights, sexual rights are more complicated. This is demonstrated by second wave critiques of prostitution, for example. Third wave feminism has clutched onto choice really, really tightly — and I like this. I want choice in everything. I want the choice to make both good and bad decisions. But, as evident in my book, choice on its own is not enough. If we’re going to make our own choices we need to take ownership of those choices, and we need to understand the consequences. In order for a feminist to do this with any sense of academic legitimacy, understanding the consequences of our choices needs to be examined by utilizing all that has been offered by earlier waves of feminism.
Mail & Guardian ~ 20 Aug 2009 ~ OP/Ed: Bridget Hilton-Barber
“Have you seen the Femidoms?” asked my travel mate. We were at Platjan border post, between Botswana and South Africa, returning from a road trip. “Nah,” I replied, “but I once saw Femi Kuti the Nigerian muso, you know, son of the famous Fela …” “Female condoms, you idiot,” he said, “right there, next to the male ones, in the big box that says For Free.”
I must confess I had only ever heard of female condoms, or Femidoms as some are branded, but never actually seen one or used one and certainly didn’t expect my first encounter to be at an unassuming little border post under an acacia tree along the banks of the Limpopo River.
It was also a bit embarrassing to have a man point out the free Femidoms. But to be fair, he’s a tour operator and comes through here once a month with Dutch and German groups, mainly women.
They take them as souvenirs, he says. I took the last two left in the free Femidom box. “The gals they like them,” said the Botswana border post official, stamping me out of Botswana with a resounding thump.
I have found out some interesting things about Femidoms since, even though mine lie sadly unused in the office drawer. Like the fact that you’re actually more likely to encounter one under an acacia tree in Africa than under a statue, say, in Europe or the United States.
I also found, with some delight, that African women seem to have subverted disdainful Western notions about the female condom and have instead popularised it and given it street cred.
Femidoms were pioneered in the United States in 1993 by the New York-based Female Health Company (FHC), but whereas they were slammed in the West, they have caught on in Third World areas with a high HIV prevalence, where men are traditionally recalcitrant in their own condom department.
Female condoms are distributed for free by Aids NGOs mainly in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Ghana, parts of Southern Africa and some Southeast Asian countries.
“Is that an amoeba between your legs?’’ ran a famous British newspaper headline slamming the Femidom’s debut. “It looks like a cross between a pair of diaphragms and a male condom that might have been used as a water bomb,” said another report.
European women complained that the Femidom was baggy and that it “squeaked” during use. They never really took off in Europe or the US and are pricy there and inconsistently available. In the streets of Senegal, however, it’s a different story.
The sisters there, apparently, have turned the squeak into a novelty. In some hot spots the female condom comes with a free bine bine bead necklace, worn around the hips and designed to complement the squeak erotically with its click. Mmm. Must be that old African rhythm thing.
It is also rumoured that Senegalese women boast that the Femidom is so large because their men are so large. In Colombo, Sri Lanka, sex workers use the Femidom as a sex toy, allowing the client to insert it — a special thrill because seeing or touching a vagina close up is still taboo there.
Prostitutes are apparently now charging more for sex with a female condom.
Zimbabwean women, too, are tantalising their men with female condoms. They say that when a man’s penis rubs up against the inside ring of the Femidom during sex, it causes a pleasant tickle that intensifies his orgasm.
In Zimbabwe a new word — katekenyedze — has been coined to describe this tickle. In the late 1990s, Mary Ann Leeper, president of the FHC, got a call from a woman named Daisy at the Zimbabwean health ministry who said she had a petition signed by 30 000 women wanting to bring the female condom to Zimbabwe.
According to one report, the FHC has since struck a deal with the World Health Organisation to sell the female condom at a discount to education programmes in more than 80 developing countries, mainly those hit hardest by Aids.
In South Africa local television has started screening advertisements for a female condom under the brand name Care at R5 for two.
Recently an as-yet unpublished study in South Africa found that 80% of men liked the female condom and the same percentage of women agreed.
The men said it didn’t reduce sensation as much as a male condom and the women said they could use it without male knowledge, insert it hours ahead of sex and it didn’t kill the moment of passion. It may be time, sisters, to check out the squeak and tickle.”
It’s taken me awhile to get over my pop headache after attending the 8th Annual Pop Conference at the EMP. Dance Music Sex Romance: Pop and the Body Politic was meant to be provocative and stimulating for those inclined to think that discussing body politics in academic speak is stimulating.
I attended these sessions: Dance This Mess Around, Shock and Awe, Sexual Healing and Relocating Desire.
Dance this Mess Around was a chance to rap lackadaisically about feminism, pop culture, and the subtle nuances of transformative action. The session was worth sneaking out of work for two hours to be with intelligent women theorizing about embodiment, sexism, and rock and roll. However, it became apparent that the average Jane off the street (someone like me) wasn’t supposed to actually be in attendance. Inside jokes, giggles, and academic speak were alienating. I walked away with more questions (Why does Brittany Spears matter so much?) than solutions which was no fault of the session. I fault the moderators taking for granted that not everyone has the daily opportunity to engage in such theoretical banter. It was illustrative to know that “selling out” isn’t cause for alarm but rather the messy dance of living in a fucked up society.
Shock and Awe sought to inform the audience of “redeeming pleasure outside transgression” and demonstrate how sexual identities act as branding tactics. It was during the first two presentations that I became convinced that I was a spy. It was a cold blooded realization that seeking intellectual activities outside of sanctioned “school” settings is deviant. Attending “academic” events shouldn’t invoke feelings of awkwardness but it was made clear that talking about something you’d never done and falsely assuming the role of expert was the goal for most the conference participants. It was a display of cock feathers and mundane circumstance. And then David Thomas spoke. David Thomas’ rant on being Keane (a hypothetical sexual identity constructed to sell junk) was brilliant. He bravely pointed out the lameness of the entire conference. He used the phrase, “reactionary confection,” to describe punk. He called out the absurdity of demanding equality when paralyzing discourses of defining/stereotyping continue to dominate how we speak and understand music. Thomas used The Raincoats to illustrate his point that good music is good music. He came with the purpose of agitating the crowd – a hostile crowd of critics and analyzers. During the Q&A, Thomas yelled out, “You’re destroying culture.” It was validation that letting others speak and define your existence is suspect at best and dangerous at worst.
Sexual Healing and Relocating Desire were painful continuations of the conference theme to lure with catchy titles and bore with talking-at-you-presentations. Sarah Douger’s presentation was interesting only because she played rare vinyl lesbian folk rock. The next presentation on Adult Contemporary (AC) music was valuable only for its questions that were raised around how adult contemporary music and women in the workplace has influenced this slice of the radio pie. The shift of AC to “workplace” music assumes the normalization of women in the workplace and the conscious effort of radio executives to harness that demographic into raising millions of advertising dollars. Using music to sell products certainly isn’t a new phenomenon and the apathy of such a phenomenon was chilling. The “Let’s (Not) Get It On – Or, Fucking to ‘Songs About Fucking‘ and Other Uncomfortable Developments in the Awkward Relationship Between What We’re Going to Have to Just Agree to Call Indie Rock and Sexuality in the 1990s” won the prize for longest title and saddest personal diatribe.
If not for David Thomas, the experience would have been an alienating waste of time. There were little to no valid critiques of classism, racism, and despite the titillating title, a real lack of discussion around gender/sexism. It really was reactionary confection in the most non-punk shell.
Constance Consequences, or Connie if you’re nasty, warns about the evils of alcohol, cigarettes and club drugs.
There is also a section on the precocious body, “When it’s all done, you’ll be a woman, which is very exciting!” Passive puberty is so empowering.
Feeling like you’ll never measure up to runway models? Acknowledgment that standards of beauty set by the media “aren’t real and can be dangerous” is interesting but that’s where the advice ends. GirlPower.gov doesn’t recommend any action to transgress this “danger”.
“Polls before the vote showed the ban [in South Dakota] would have been approved easily had it included exceptions for rape or incest, though pro-life advocates don’t support aborting babies for those reasons.”
There can be no compromise with an ideology that does not recognize rape and incest as violations of personhood. To sanction choice in this matter is not an option.
Their line has been drawn.
Appropriating feminist discourse of empowerment and autonomy can no longer be tolerated. Pregnancy crisis centers need to exposed as fraud. “Abstinence only” as state sanctioned policy needs to be delegated to an absurd 20th century notion. They are not “babies.”
“If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” – Emma Goldman
In a recent opinion article, Phillip Longman bemoans the lack of life fostered between liberals.
Conservatives are breeding like crazy which accounts for the historical rise of Bush hegemony and even apparently forgotten patriarchal values. He cites Utah as the conservative example and gay loving Vermont as the liberal signifier of childlessness.
Do you think the army is bad and feel an overwhelming urge to protest their killing ways?
Do you believe that “soft” drugs aren’t that bad?
Are you of the mindset that being gay isn’t a one way ticket to the pits of hell?
Then you are probably going to have a dog instead of shuffling the kids to soccer practice 3 days a week.
Looks like my womb will be barren.
This must be due to the fact that the generation before me fostered ideas such as feminism and civil rights which will leave “no genetic legacy”.
These opinions are adapted from the full article entitled, The Return of Patriarchy. Longman harbors such ideas such as:
“Patriarchy does not simply mean that men rule. Indeed, it is a particular value system that not only requires men to marry but to marry a woman of proper station. It competes with many other male visions of the good life, and for that reason alone is prone to come in cycles. Yet before it degenerates, it is a cultural regime that serves to keep birthrates high among the affluent, while also maximizing parents investments in their children. No advanced civilization has yet learned how to endure without it.
Through a process of cultural evolution, societies that adopted this particular social system which involves far more than simple male domination maximized their population and therefore their power, whereas those that didn’t were either overrun or absorbed. This cycle in human history may be obnoxious to the enlightened, but it is set to make a comeback.”
Patriarchy is set to make a comeback? How obnoxious!
Longman continues his patriarchy is good for the evolution of mankind rant:
“Indeed, in almost all the hunter-gatherer societies that survived long enough to be studied by anthropologists, such as the Eskimos and Tasmanian Bushmen, one finds customs that in one way or another discouraged population growth. In various combinations, these have included late marriage, genital mutilation, abortion, and infanticide. Some early hunter-gatherer societies may have also limited population growth by giving women high-status positions. Allowing at least some number of females to take on roles such as priestess, sorcerer, oracle, artist, and even warrior would have provided meaningful alternatives to motherhood and thereby reduced overall fertility to within sustainable limits.
During the eons before agriculture emerged, there was little or no military reason to promote high fertility. War and conquests could bring little advantage to society. There were no granaries to raid, no livestock to steal, no use for slaves except rape.” (emphasis added)
There’s more …
“Another key to patriarchy’s evolutionary advantage is the way it penalizes women who do not marry and have children.”
Longman’s tongue-in-cheek endorsement for patriarchy:
“Without implying any endorsement for the strategy, one must observe that a society that presents women with essentially three options, be a nun, be a prostitute, or marry a man and bear children, has stumbled upon a highly effective way to reduce the risk of demographic decline.”
Again – patriarchy was on the decline? Last time I checked the news, the society I live in hasn’t fostered the advancement of women in quite some time. Ask me where I can fill out my prescription for EC. Or is this the first in a series of effective strategies of the state to increase U.S. world domination?
“Advanced societies are growing more patriarchal, whether they like it or not.”
May advanced societies everywhere heed this warning. The alarm has been sounded. We can no longer advocate for women to have equality for fear of a barren planet.
Don’t worry – it’s the conservatives that advocate for abstinence only.
This morning on the Today Show, Katie Couric interviewed two young women that were “girl-cotting” Abercrombie & Fitch‘s t-shirts. It was early, I thought one of the t-shirts said, “Autonomy Tutor.” Instead it offensively read, “Anatomy Tutor.” One of the girls declared it was classist to pit blondes vs. brunettes.
Have you ever heard a better reason why Women’s Studies should be taught in high schools across this culturally barren land?
“‘What you are while you are a girl, you will be when you become a woman.’ Somewhere within the recesses of every girl’s heart is the desire to act, and be treated, as a lady. But a true lady is more than just graceful and feminine; she has a Christ-centered character that regulates her inner thoughts and motives, as well as her outward graces. Originally published in 1850, extraordinarily practical wisdom is offered to young girls in the practice of developing womanly character. The girl’s equivalent to Thoughts for Young Men, this book is an excellent workbook for mothers and daughters and a must-read for every young lady-in-training! Paperback. 224 pgs.”
There is also a CD, Sleeping Beauty and the Five Questions, which lectures the father to “guard their daughter’s hearts at all costs.” Fathers are to protect their brides-to-be from “inappropriate romantic relationships” and remind their precocious offspring that God is preparing their sexy soulmate.
Happy Halloween. Another nominee. Another white man.
Maureen Dowd’s synopsis of the future of feminism was just as depressing and arrogant as Bush’s pick.
Make-up, sex and children. Lack of job opportunities and sexual objectification. Discussing the dichotomy of why Maxim allures and frightens, Dowd fails to breakdown the consequences of such absurdity. Her lack of class analysis was the most frightening of all. Quotes from overly educated, privileged single women who blame their ringless fingers on their positions of power is grotesque.
Feminism is much more than these sexy bytes of information. It is about analyzing the structures of power that create and maintain hierarchy. Trying to squeeze into a bankrupt system is the last thing this “modern girl” wants to do.
Bush nominated a woman to replace a woman on the Supreme Court.
Congratulations to Diversity!
We have been led to believe that having more women in positions of power means women overall benefit. We have been led to believe that if a few lucky (privileged) women break the ceiling, the stairway to heaven will be easier to climb. If only it were that easy. It is a matter of consciousness. If you are not aware that structural inequalities exist to allow some to be pulled up by their pumps, you will be of no benefit to the masses of women who struggle for their daily existence. There will always be ambitious privileged women in positions of power, the jury is still out on how that helps the rest of us.
In a rumble that is sure to shake the very foundations of the struggling feminist movement, a group of privileged college women seek to challenge the feminist status quo.
The feminist as liberal-man-hating-child-killing-dyke status quo.
The Network of Enlightened Women (NEW) was established a year ago at the University of Virginia and seeks to foster the “education and leadership of conservative University women.”
They want to influence the women’s studies department’s “agenda” (last time I checked, most women’s studies department’s agendas were to stay viable) and introduce a persecuted conservative perspective that has been ignored on college campuses. The viewpoint of “a strong conservative woman” has been silenced for too long according to NEW.
Women like Ann Coulter?
Agness said. “The feminists are brainwashing us that their viewpoint is [the only] viewpoint, and this isn’t true.”
The group sponsors speakers such as Christina Hoff Sommers and Steven Rhoades. Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and author of Who Stole Feminism? Sommers advocates for “equity” rather than “victim” feminism. Steven Rhoades is author of Taking Sex Differences Seriously, a book that claims scientific evidence supersedes the fluff of socially constructed gender roles. Denial of sexual differences has created a society of “fatherless families” and is even responsible for the sexual revolution!
NEW advocates that women’s success includes a home bustling with children and normative heterosexual relationships, something that eludes the feminist gestalt. Women should not assume that success equals the cold sterile boardroom of major corporations. NEW demands that the heterosexual couple raising the American Dream is not dead but instead should be heralded as ideal, or at least obtainable.
While there is a valid argument that academic feminism and liberal feminism lacks a diversified perspective, couching conservative ideology in the blanket of women’s lib is not “NEW.”
NEW and NOW are not very different. They both want to work within corrupt power structures that are designed to favor a certain group of people, which is not very enlightening or empowering.
Stay-at-home-moms deserve to be paid at least a living wage for their invaluable services. One can only imagine the whirlwind ride this link has had today. The news traveled throughout the shadowy underground mom network validating what we all know as common sense – being a mom is damn hard work. Salary.com conducted an informal survey which suggested that the average stay-at-home mom should be earning at least $130,00 a year.
While there should be more value and respect afforded to the stay-at-home mother, it should also be noted that it is a privilege that many women cannot maintain. What does the “working mother” (an inane definition of the mother who works outside the home – the classic divide and conquer linguistical battle that wages in our culture of values) hope to earn?
I’d better get my uterus fertilized before this mommy train ends.