greenie_breizh: (gay)
I forgot yesterday that I had a bunch of French links I wanted to share!

First the website Vie de meuf; reading it is a great, unwelcome reminder of the kind of sexist crap that women still have to hear every day. A recent post about porn made me think that I would disagree on some things with the feminists who maintain the website, but it's a pretty cool resource regardless.

Second, I wanted to share a bunch of links on the recent changes made to the biology curriculum in France; it now vaguely integrates questions of sexual diversity. And it's been causing outrage amongst our conversative morally-righteous Christian right.
- L'homosexualité enseignée à l'école : une pilule qui passe mal
- Identité sexuelle: Copé soutient les 80 députés UMP
- Manuels scolaires : le mauvais procès des bon chic bon genre
There's repetitions over the three articles, but I wanted to link them all for my own reference. As a sidenote, one of the things that annoy me the most about these articles and this whole fake controversy is that people keep saying that the new textbooks were influenced by gender theory; even if it was true, it's been watered down to the point where it's not only almost impossible to recognize the influence of gender theory, but where gender theory would actually have TONS of issues with the way things are being formulated in the textbooks. But whatever.



Also I forgot yesterday this really interesting article on the sexualization of Casey Anthony, written by one of the bloggers from Tiger Beatdown. "Casey Anthony may have killed her daughter, Casey Anthony made out with a girl at a party–there is no connection between the two ideas. Unless, that is, you buy the idea that being sexual — impermissibly, 'shocking'-ly sexual! In public! With a girl, even! — makes you a monster. Or the idea that, for a woman, enjoying sex is a moral offense that can be fitted onto the same scale of human evil as murdering a toddler. If you buy that, the connection is perfectly clear."
greenie_breizh: (holding life still)
Sun is finally out. Probably only for a couple of days, but considering we had hail yesterday, I'll take even temporary nice weather! It's basically been February here since, well, February, and we're all really, really tired of it.

I just wanted to post a few links quickly; it's going to be a little all over the place but bear with me.

First, a really excellent analysis of sexist discourse in the French media following the whole DSK scandal. Les informulés d’une rhétorique sexiste. It's in French and I wish there was a translation available, because it's fantastically insightful, and not just for French culture.

Some of you may have heard about the story of parents in Toronto raising a 'genderless' kid. You can read the original story (complete with douchy neighbors, friends and family members! I always love the whole 'your kid will get bullied' argument because, y'know, if a kid gets bullied, the problem is not the kids who bully and the parents who teach their kids things that could lead them to be jerks to other kids). But you can also read this reflection on the piece from the Raising My Boychick blog, which is excellent. I only want to point out that while I think it's cool to assume your baby's gender is aligned with their biological sex (assuming that's straightforward) until your kid is old enough to tell you otherwise, it's important that you tell the kid that, directly or at least indirectly. Otherwise you might be the most open-minded parent who'd be totally cool with a trans or gender nonconforming kid, your kid might never know.

While we're on the topic of gender/sexuality, the New York Times recently ran a beautiful series on gay teenagers. The stories are touching, but what really drew me in is the photography. Wonderful and quiet photos.

Now for the unrelated to gender and sexuality stuff:

Allie started a food blog with her friend Katie, The Dough Also Rises - and you should all check it out, because they make really, really delicious food. With simple recipes! Which is always nice (I don't like overly fancy things that I could never reproduce/require ingredients I couldn't find if my life depended on it). Keep an eye out for the yam burrito. SO GOOD.

I may have mentioned (or not) that we're rewatching every Harry Potter movie in expectation for Deathly Hallows Part 2, and it's been great. Harry in the first movie is just the most adorable kid on earth, but it's so great to see all of them grow up. :) And then today [livejournal.com profile] mieystrapurore posted this video, which is amazing. It's just beautifully made, with wonderful music, and it takes you through the whole journey that is the HP series. If you have any attachment to this story, you should watch it. Maybe several times.



And to finish on another pop culture note, I never even mentioned here that The Playboy Club has been picked up by NBC! SO EXCITED to see Sean in there; he's psyched about the storylines that writers have in mind for his character, which makes me even more excited to see it. Let's hope it doesn't get axed by like, episode 3, I'm going to be so upset if that happens. Unless they make a spinoff about Sean's storyline, I'd be down with that.
greenie_breizh: (soci grad: painfully aware)
Instead of getting angry about nuclear power and ranting at all of you guys, for once, I'm just going to link to a note (in French) by Dominique Voynet that's particularly articulate, I think.

I also want to link to all these photos from the aftermath of the tsunami/earthquake in Japan; they're awesome and incredible (both in the original sense of the word), and incredibly moving. I also like photos because they make the reality of something like this more palpable to me, even though it remains hard to believe when you're safe and quiet in your corner of the world. Anyway; it's terrifying just how much damage natural catastrophes can do.

And to finish, a cool story from a mom about how she dealt with slut-shaming and her 10-year-old son. I love this because it's doing more than saying, slut-shaming is wrong! and it's actually giving parents (and non-parents) some tools for how to confront this kind of stuff when it happens. I think a lot of why we still don't react to gendered harassment (whether it comes out in the form of homophobia, sexism, or slut-shaming) is that we just aren't sure how to. It's cool to see how other people do it so we can, not necessarily reproduce it exactly, but learn from it. :) Also, a nice reminder that this is why you need to talk to kids about sexuality when they're pretty young, and you can't wait until they're older - these mechanisms are set in place very early on, and if you don't address it there, it's way harder to do anything about them later, once they're well-rooted into a broader system of being in the world.
greenie_breizh: (political)
I don't even know where to start with what's been happening with public workers (especially teachers) in Wisconsin and other places (especially Ohio) in the United States lately, or with the unrelenting attacks by conservatives on Planned Parenthood and issues relating to women's health. I can't even link to that many articles because I've been almost avoiding reading too much about these issues because they make me so profoundly angry, frustrated and disappointed. But if you are interested in reading more, I can at least recommend this piece by Diane Ravitch on teachers in Wisconsin, and this piece by Rebecca Traister on cuts to Planned Parenthood. (This is also a helpful overview of the responses from pundits to the cuts over at Salon.) If you are in the U.S., I would also urge you to sign this Open Letter to Congress on behalf of Planned Parenthood, and to consider donating to them.

If I get started on all the implications of this conservative push, I will never stop, and I have other things to get to today, so I won't start. I will just say that these moments of U.S. history are the exact reason I do not admire the country and despise its tendency to think of itself as the Best Country of All Times; these moments also make me so, so glad I ended up not attending grad school in the U.S., because I hate the thought that the decision would have been read as, 'one more person really wants to move here because we're awesome!'. Canada is far from perfect, and France regularly does its share to make me ashamed they delivered me my passeport, too (and France also has a tendency to think of itselfsuper highly, which doesn't help). But this kind of bullshit reminds me of just how awful the rhetoric gets in the United States; it's so bad (and maybe more importantly, it's given so much visibility and credence) that it almost feels like a parody of what you can hear elsewhere in politics. Ugh ugh ugh. I wish I could hope that it's going to 'get better', but I feel like there's actually very little to indicate that it will. And the saddest thing, to me, as a French citizen, and as someone who may well end up a Canadian citizen? Both these governments think that emulating the U.S. blindly is a GREAT idea.

So anyway, as usual, this has ended up as more of a rant than I was hoping. >.> The worst part is I know I shouldn't even care or whatever, but I feel so angry and tired and disappointed on behalf of all of my awesome American friends who deserve better than this crap.

To finish on a more positive note, President Obama and his administration are apparently continuing to grow a spine! : the Justice Department will no longer defend DOMA against lawsuits challenging it as unconstitutional. This is great news, although with limited effects for now, obviously; but considering court cases challenging the constitutionality of DOMA are making their way through the court system right now, it's a huge step forward. It also sends a strong message in favor of marriage equality, which is also very important.

EDIT: I also recommend this Tiger Beatdown article by "Grizzili Fetus". Funny in that way that doesn't make you laugh really, because it's too right on target.
greenie_breizh: (political)
As promised, a bunch of links I've been meaning to share! The personal update might come soon-ish - I'm in the middle of writing my last paper of the term and hopefully I will be done before I head to France at the end of next week. Anyway, on today's menu: queer kids' lives still suck, queer kids are awesome, Canada could make great changes re: gender expression/identity in its legislation, and the Assange sexual assault thing is not so awesome.

- Parents Who Reject Gay Teens Hurt Teens’ Health: Seems pretty 'duh' to me and I'm sure pretty much anyone who knows anything about gay teens, but since we loooove the scientific evidence these days, I guess here it is?

- Study: Gay Teens More Likely to Be Punished: On a similar note, more evidence that it sucks to be a queer kid sometimes in our current society. I definitely do think this story has a lot to do with gender expression, btw, even though they didn't get into that much.

- On a more positive note, check out this video "Rethinking Gender and Sexuality" because it's awesome and pretty much everything I try to tell people, ever. Plus it's a nice reminder that queer youth are (obviously) not just helpless victims but often awesome, resilient, smart youth. :)

- Bill C-389 passed in House of Commons: Bill C-389 (Canada always comes up with the sexiest names for its legislation) is an Act that would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to include gender identity and gender expression. Or: awesome. So let's hope it actually goes through, but this is already a great first step.

- On Assange and "sex by surprise": I don't know how many of you are following the Assange thing (I have to confess I'm not really) but I thought this was a particularly good and thoughtful article on the different perspectives that are at work here when looking at sexual assault: "Making the Assange story juicier blog-bait in the U.S. is the fact that we’re deeply wedded to the notion of rape as forcible; despite many of our best efforts, a consent-based framework for evaluating sexual assault is not yet widely accepted."

- On the same topic, this commentary over at Bitch Magazine is great as well. I particularly like the conclusion, "We can believe that Julian Assange is doing crucial work with Wikileaks while also allowing that he may be capable of violating a sexual partner’s trust and consent. We can believe that political opportunism is at play in Interpol’s pursuit of Assange without assuming that it’s a total frame-up."
greenie_breizh: (jon stewart <3)
I should be working (story of my life, ha) but I'm happy with how much I got done this morning so I'm going to take 10 minutes to write that post I've been meaning to write forever. First, some links! Wonderful!

- Black-Grrl Power: Willow Smith and Sesame Street: an article on black hair, started by the recent Sesame Street video featuring a black girl puppet singing about how awesome her hair is. It's a good article, and a nice reminder that racism takes forms that white people sometimes can't even fathom.

- Why Decriminalizing Sex Work is Good for All Women. It's kind of old news by now, but at the end of September, the Ontario Supreme Court struck down Canada's prostitution law (read news article here). Because it is likely to set a precedent, it's a huge step taken towards decriminalization (not to be mistaken with legalization!) of sex work in Canada. And in these Tea Party ridden times, that's almost unbelievably progressive and fantastic. So I'm just going to gleefully quote: "Whore stigma is one clue that anti-prostitution ideology is about more than just violence against women—it’s specifically about femininity. In this sense, arguments against transactional sex are a defense of both the gender binary and of heterosexuality. This is why men and transgender sex workers are invisible in prostitution debates. This is why changing laws is just the beginning, not the end, of a longtime struggle for basic human rights for sex workers."

- A post by Dan Savage on a manifesto written Episcopal Bishop John Shelby's decision to no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. More than this decision (which has positive and maybe negative sides), the reason I'm posting this is Bishop Shelby's words on "fair-mindness", which is a discourse currently used by media outlets to justify airing the views of profoundly homophobic parties: "In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by "fair-minded" channels that seek to give "both sides" of this issue "equal time." I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people." This is an incredibly powerful statement, and a serious challenge to the way we tend to think about 'freedom of expression'.

- Two links (1, 2) to galleries of photos from Saturday's Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in D.C. There are many signs amongst these that I feel ambivalent about, but there are true jewels in there, too, including this one, this one, this one, this one or this one. My all-time favorite, though, is this one which I found on Lemonde.fr (#5): "I masturbate and I vote (but not usually at the same time)." And then of course I have a special fondness for geeky signs. :) I have my ambivalence regarding the Rally (most of which has to do with the way that it idealizes moderation, as if this particular political stance - because it is one, whether people like it or not - didn't have its own problems, and consequently the way that rhetoric around the rally has tended to lump together right-wight extremism and left-wing radicalism, which I find infinitely problematic) but in the midst of all the Tea Party insanity absurdity, it does feel good to see people come out and point out the ridiculousness of people who embrace their willful ignorance and refuse to debate reasonably.

- And to finish, a link shared by [livejournal.com profile] shadesofbrixton: a sexual attraction chart. Very neat, not without its problems obviously, but I love the sheer complexity of it. :)

As usual, this has taken me WAY longer than I expected, so I'd better make myself some lunch and go back to the 200 pages I'm supposed to read before 4pm. Haha...ha.

EDIT: I forgot! I went to see The Social Network the other night - I went in being slightly unconvinced but I was truly blown away by the quality of that script. Great, complex characters and super tight dialogue, I did not see those 2 hours go by at all. What did everyone else think?
greenie_breizh: (clothesless)
Oh, yeah, also:

Please everyone lament this reality TV awfulness with me. >.> And let's take a moment to think about who this "we" is supposed to be...

I'm disappointed that none of them seem to own cats.
greenie_breizh: (clothesless)
"Ultimately, of what possible social significance is it if a person likes to masturbate over a shoe? It may even be non-consensual, but since we do not ask permission of our shoes to wear them, it hardly seems necessary to obtain dispensation to come on them."

- Gayle Rubin, Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality


I love when academics slip funny things into their otherwise very serious analysis. XD

We're checking out Science World today! I'm really excited.
greenie_breizh: (clothesless)
"If you don't send your boyfriend naked pictures, I feel bad for him."
- Rihanna, in this interview.

I would add that if you don't send your girlfriend naked pictures, I feel bad for her, too. (Actually it's not true because it depends on what you're into and what they're into and all that, and that's really really important, but point is - there is nothing wrong with this practice as a whole.)

I have ranted enough, I think, about why I am ten levels of frustrated by the backlash that V Hudgens has gotten for engaging in what is commonly known as sexting. I get riled up very easily at the sexual double-standards that befalls women and men (especially in adolescence), but more generally about the kind of moral panic that so many people (especially in the U.S.) generate when it comes to talking about teens and sex. So I was really happy to listen to Dan Savage (in his Savage Love Podcast, episode 160) tear a new one to a male high school principal who suspended two girls from extracurricular activities for taking photos of themselves pretending to lick a penis-shaped lollipop during the summer, outside of school. The school was then sued by the ACLU on the behalf of the girl because this is, basically, bullshit. You should listen to Dan but here is his rant.

Who's bringing disrespect to the school? Who's creating a bad reputation for the school? Austin Couch, principal. Douchebag. [...] The most outrageous part of the story is - the girls were told that they could reduce their punishment by 25% (I don't know what that means) is they went to three counseling sessions and then appeared before aaaall the athletic coaches at the school who are aaaall men to apologize for their action. What this is really about, this whole story, this whole obsession on the part of principal Couch is the fear of female sexuality, particularly teen female sexuality, and the desire to punish and control and humiliate these girls for having any sort of sexual agency at all, for having any sort of desire at all, any sense of humor or play or - most appalling of all, this idea that they were in charge of or in the possession of any control of their own bodies, [...] that their bodies were their own and they could take pictures of them and post them on their own Myspace pages where only their friends could see them... this is really just another bit of evidence that the country and a lot of people in it have a problem with teen sexuality and in particular female teen sexuality and freedom and we have to fight these people, on behalf of these girls.


A+, DAN, A+.

Again I think there are some things to unpack there, it's not as easy and simple as Dan makes it sound. There are power dynamics between girls and boys in teen heterosexual couples that we should pay attention to, and different types of pressures that teens might be under to be more sexual than they feel comfortable being, etc. But I think the only effective way we can address these issues is if we acknowledge that most teens are sexual in one way or another, and THAT'S OKAY. By embracing this fact, we can take it seriously - we can educate and reflect and tackle problems in a much more meaningful and significant way than by pretending teens can be controlled and their sexuality restrained. By acknowledging teen sexuality we can talk about masturbation and deconstruct the fucking virginity myth and explore sex as a multiplicity of practices of pleasure rather than a single act of penetration and we can learn to embrace our bodies instead of being terrified and ashamed of them.

On that note, I have been so unproductive this weekend, but writing about things that matter makes me feel good, so whatever.
greenie_breizh: (clothesless)
I'm sure I've made this exact point before, but Dan Savage's latest column made me think of it:

"Once again: If a man and a woman are doing it —whatever it is— it's a heterosexual sex act. It doesn't matter who's on top, who's wearing the lingerie, who's being penetrated, or whether the dildo is penis-shaped or Glenn Beck–shaped. If a girl is doing it with/to a boy, it's heterosexual sex."

Identity is a whole other thing, and I would argue slightly more complicated than Dan puts it even, but it'd be nice if everyone could at least get that basic level. (Of course, this also gets a little more complicated if you take into consideration the fact that the male/female binary isn't that clear-cut, but like I said. It's a basic place to start.)
greenie_breizh: (snark)
I'm generally annoyed at this news item. I don't think it's awesome that a teacher would sleep with her student. It's stupid and not exactly professional. But when, by the student's own account, the relationship was fully consensual and instigated by the student herself, I think it's ridiculous that this teacher is going to end up on the sex offender registry. I mean seriously, WTF. That's not a sex offender. And the fact that the girl was a minor is - in this particular case - of almost no relevance to me. The line between minor and adult has been randomly drawn at 18, and I understand there is a need for a line and in some cases I fully support treating minors differently from adults (I'm thinking crime and justice particularly) but for sexuality the lines are possibly even more blurry than with anything else and this entire story is kind of a really stupid example of that. And it takes away from looking at relationships that are much more problematic. Ugh.

Also how fucking irrelevant is that line: Police found several sex toys during a search of Goddard's home after her arrest.
Um yeah, so what? Why even report this? What does this bring to our understanding of the case? It's one line, unrelated to what was said before, and what is said after. I hate that. The least they could do is explain WTF they're bringing this up. What link are we supposed to establish on our own? That it's just one more proof that this is clearly a scary dangerous sexual deviant we're dealing with here?
greenie_breizh: (clothesless)
Vanessa Hudgens on the whole naked pics thing:

"It's just really unfortunate, and to this day people hate me for it, but it's not like I chose to put that out there in the world, you know? It's so aggravating and frustrating, and whenever anybody asks me, would I do nudity in a film, if I say that it's something I'm not comfortable with, they're like, 'Bullshit, you've already done it.' If anything it makes it more embarrassing, because that was a private thing. It's screwed up that someone screwed me over like that. At least some people are learning from my mistakes." (Source)

I can't stress enough how glad I am that she isn't apologizing all over the place. I've ranted enough about it previously, but I just wanted to say that. I'd actually love to have a calm, adult conversation with her about this whole scandal - and the assholes who are suggesting that having private photos leaked means you should have no problem displaying your body to the world. She seems to have a much more mature way of dealing with it now, which I can respect.

--

I feel for Caster Semenya - I am a woman with male chromosomes. An interesting Daily Mirror Chronicle by Sarah Graham that's a good overview of why it's not as easy as drawing a line between male and female. I continue to be appalled at the way just about everybody is dealing with Semenya, from the way people seem to think it's appropriate to discuss very personal medical info to the incapacity of grappling with the fact that even sex is a social construct. I haven't read too much, but I like that her family and friends in South Africa are not caring. So much for being the civilized, liberal one, Western culture, no?

--

Sinead's Hand: A cute video about same-sex marriage< from an Irish organization.


I've hit pretty much all my trademark topics so time to go watch Corbin Bleu on my TV. ;)
greenie_breizh: (badass women ftw)
Most of you probably haven't heard that Vanessa Hudgens (of High School Musical fame) had more nude photos leaked online last week. She had a first nude scandal a couple of years ago, and these new photos were taken before that first scandal, although the pictures themselves are older than the ones first leaked. Either way, she's underage in both batches.

As you can guess, she's getting slammed and called a slut by a number of people. Although she probably won't be making a statement this time around, she did last time: "I want to apologize to my fans, whose support and trust means the world to me. I am embarrassed over this situation and regret having ever taken these photos."

Several things about this whole scandal bother me:  )

That's it! Done ranting. Woah. Sorry if I'm a little intense and all over the place, but this has been bouncing around in my head for a few days now with all the reactions I've read really bothering me for the most part, so. It's been building up. ;)
greenie_breizh: (quality tv: dollhouse)
First, a funny comic strip about Dollhouse being renewed.

And now more serious links:

- On the virginity fetish. Two really interesting points that caught my attention.
"She points the finger of blame back at conservatives and argues that it's the myth of virginity, not 'Girls Gone Wild', that's hurting this generation of young women. Those two competing influences have more in common than some might think: Both teach women that their most valuable commodity is their sexuality." Not only that, but it's a very specific kind of sexuality that's valued here: phallocentric sexuality, so implicit in the message is the idea that their heterosexuality is most valuable. Our obsession with virginity and what constitutes a virgin terrifies me with its implications and the fact that it's making teens have unsafe sex (whether oral or anal) in hopes of staying "pure". Not to mention the double-standard that exists, obviously, because we're much more concerned with women than men staying virgins.
"I don't believe in gray rape. [...] We can reframe sex as something that should be a collaborative, partnered event. And, if we redefine consent as not the absence of a “no” but a presence of a “yes,” then maybe we'll actually get somewhere." I don't know that I'd go as far as saying I don't believe in gray rape, but I do think we need to ask ourselves how on earth men can think they have consent when they don't. (Because yes, overwhelmingly, it's men raping women, especially "date rape" which is where the issue of consent is often understood as most blurry. But that applies beyond that specific hetero set-up anyway.) I love the idea of thinking of sex as requiring an (enthusiastic) yes rather than the absence of a no. It completely changes the dynamic. But for that we need to learn, and teach our kids (especially our girls) that sex is not something dirty, not something to be afraid of; something they don't need to have, or want (hi asexuals!), but if they do, it's great, and they should let their partner know and be informed and safe. Sex ed would look very different if we thought about sex differently, not solely as a vector of diseases.

- Michael Kimmel on Gender. The key quote is that video excerpt they have available is "privilege is invisible to those who have it" which I think is mostly true, but I think it's also more nuanced in the sense that it's often invisible to those who don't have it, too. When I see the level of heteronormative statements that can come from LGBT folks, or the kind of sexist reasoning that some women can have, I think it's useful to remember power doesn't work in a straight-forward manner. It's embedded in our belief systems and we often end up unwittingly reinforcing dominant patterns that don't benefit us. We can even be strongly invested in these patterns, to the point of experiencing internal homophobia or racism. But it remains easier for those in the majority/dominant group to think of themselves as universal, not to see their race/gender/sexuality/ability as a privilege whose benefits they reap (whether they want it or not).

- I also really want to do a more substantive post with the French comics for IDAHO, but I don't think I'll have time this morning.
greenie_breizh: (annoyed)
About the 13-year-old and 15-year-old who are parents.

What I love best, of course, is what the woman from LIFE (an anti-abortion movement) has to say, "this is symptomatic of the over-sexualisation of our youngsters and shows the policy of value-free sex education just isn’t working" when the boy's father says a few lines up, "When I spoke to [Alfie, the boy] he started crying. He said it was the first time he’d had sex, that he didn’t know what he was doing and of the complications that could come."

Let me repeat that. He DIDN'T KNOW OF THE COMPLICATIONS. That means he didn't get any fucking sex ed, you conservative retard, and what's happening to these kids is typical of what happens to kids who don't get any sex ed or get idiotic abstinence-only education. It just doesn't work.

Arrrgh. These people just fucking kill me.
greenie_breizh: (clothesless)
Helping me procrastinate these past couple of days has been Dan Savage's column. I don't agree with everything he says but as far as sexual stuff is concerned he's a pretty amazing (and amazingly honest) sex columnist. I really enjoy some of his more political rant, too, so here are a couple. Read them through - they're hoot and he's painfully right. (Both are related to abstinence ed.)


First one:
And, hey, here's another interesting study: While straight kids are busily boning each other's butts—the better to preserve their virginities!—gay teenagers are knocking each other up. According to a study out of the University of British Columbia, lesbian and gay teenagers are seven times likelier to get knocked up than their straight peers. How the hell does that happen? Well, gay teens are having straight sex in order "to prove they are heterosexual to avoid harassment and discrimination" by their parents and peers. In other words, gay kids are still having heterosexual sex under duress. This is where abstinence education and homophobia have gotten us: Gay kids are having vaginal intercourse and straight kids are having anal intercourse. Good work, sexphobes!

--

And the second one, longer but worth every word:

The 17-year-old daughter of Sarah Palin, the GOP's vice-presidential nominee, is pregnant. The news was released by the McCain camp during a busy week—a hurricane, the Republican National Convention, Dick Cheney getting us into a war with Russia—so it didn't receive the coverage it deserved. To recap:

Seventeen-year-old Bristol Palin got her ass knocked up five or so months ago by 18-year-old Levi Johnston. Among the hobbies listed on Levi's since-yanked MySpace page—"fishing, shoot some shit, and just fuckin' chillin'"—was this revealing tidbit: "I don't want kids." But Bristol, says her mom, "made the decision on her own to keep the baby," and is now engaged to Levi "Shootin' Shit" Johnston.

As the adoptive parent of a child born to a pair of unwed teenagers, I'm certainly not in favor of abortion in all circumstances. But I believe that it's a choice teenagers should be able to make for themselves—with input from their families whenever possible—and, so it seems, does the GOP's VP nominee. Sarah Palin is pleased that her daughter made the decision—on her own—to keep the baby.

But Sarah Palin doesn't believe that other girls should be able to make their own decisions. Sarah Palin believes abortion should be illegal in almost every instance—including rape and incest. So Bristol Palin is being celebrated for making a choice that Sarah Palin would like to take away from all other American women. Apparently, today's GOP believes that choice is a special right reserved for the wayward daughters of Republican elected officials.

Oh, and Sarah Palin also believes that birth control shouldn't be made available to teenagers, she opposes medically accurate sex education, and she backs abstinence-until- marriage sex "education."

Sigh.

The GOP has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into abstinence "education" programs during the Bush years. I believe this enormous investment of public funds begs the obvious question: Is our children abstaining? Sarah Palin's aren't. Despite this massive outlay on the part of the American taxpayer and the example set by her Christian parents, Bristol Palin became sexually active while still in high school. Excuse me, but if abstinence education can't keep the daughter of the evangelical governor of Alaska off the cock, what hope is there for the daughters—and some of the sons—of average Americans?

I'm a cad for writing this, of course, because shortly before Bristol and Levi were paraded before cheering throngs at the Republican National Convention, the Palins asked the media to respect their daughter's privacy.

Another special right: When it comes to respecting your family's privacy, Palin and the GOP see no need. They want to micromanage the most intimate aspects of your private life. And if their own kids fail to live up to the standards that Palin and the GOP seek to impose on your family, well, that's a private matter between the Palins, their daughter, their God, and the thousands of screaming imbeciles in elephant hats waving McCain/Palin signs on the floor of the Republican National Convention.
greenie_breizh: (random4)
[livejournal.com profile] shiraz_wine directed me to a fascinating analysis of the Twilight crazy. I agree with a lot of the points that the poster makes and in particular, that it's important to remember that a text is polysemic and that different people are going to take different things from the same material. Thank fuck, it's entirely possible for a girl to read Twilight and not to integrate the creepy messages about submissiveness, rather choose to see agency in the story, though I do think it's interesting that messages that are undoubtedly conservative resonate - at least partly - with female teen audiences right now. All in all, Twilight has seemed from the start as rather non-worthy of interest to me - yes, it's fucking creepy, and that assault thing I posted about yesterday made me truly angry, because the father's reaction was unacceptable - but to be honest, there's a lot of really bad literature out there that people get obsessed with. And we all read stupid things when we're teenagers. (I'm pretty sure The Famous Five were not the most progressive feminist series ever written.) The level of intensity from Twilight fans is a little creepy, but again, not going to throw the first stone here.

Point is - I don't like these books, regardless of different readings, I think they're problematic, but then I think Disney is highly problematic. I don't think it's a coincidence that books with a central message of abstinence are huge right now, and I think it's particularly worrying that mothers are upholding these books as perfect material for their daughters. But I also don't think they're going to end the world, and the problem is not if the girls read these books, but if that's all they read, and how they read them, and whether or not they're going to grow into reading different things later.

But something that I'm really interested in - especially after reading more detailed summaries yesterday - is the fact that Bella is apparantly portrayed as having a rather insistent sex drive, and that Edward always have to remind her they can't have sex, because she really wants to. Girls are not usually portrayed as the one wanting sex, we're usually more concerned with telling them they should learn how to say no and how to protect themselves against boys who will, naturally, want it. For once, the boy is the one who has to be the gatekeeper... of course, the ironic part is that it means that it's still the boy deciding the terms of the relationship, but hey. There's an interesting twist there. And admitting that teenage girls do have sexual desire is pretty crucial.

--

Speaking of reading against the grain, Judy Dushku, Eliza's mom, is an active member of the Mormon Church, but also a progressive, feminist-oriented strong woman by Eliza's account. I've always been curious about what seems - to me - like a slight contradiction in terms, so I found this quote from the Boston Globe interesting:
Judith Dushku isn't just disappointed, she's embarrassed. "This ugly conflict between my church and those who advocate for legal gay marriage troubles me terribly," says Dushku, an associate professor at Suffolk University and the mother of "Dollhouse" actress Eliza Dushku. She's referring to the Mormon church's support for Proposition 8, the ballot measure banning same-sex marriage that passed in California. (Local Mormons who helped finance the initiative include Michelle Ainge, wife of Celts exec Danny Ainge, and members of Mitt Romney's family.) A lifelong member of the Mormon church - her ancestors pushed handcarts to Utah to establish a place of worship - Dushku says she was "deeply ashamed" by the behavior of Mormon leaders in the days leading up to the vote. (The church sent letters, held video conferences, and from the pulpit urged members to donate money and time to the pro-Prop 8 cause.) "This is completely counter to my whole life of experience with Mormons. These are not a people that are narrow and parochial," she said. "This is not what I expect." An active member of the Mormon church in Weston, Dushku risks excommunication by speaking out. But she says others feel the same way. "Many Mormons feel deeply disappointed in what our church has done with its wealth and influence," she said. "The idea that Mormons are unified around this issue is not my experience... Many people are embarrassed."
greenie_breizh: (clothesless)
Yesterday I was at a lecture on asexuality, given by two representatives of AVEN (Asexuality Visibility and Education Network), David (who's the founder) and Cole, a friend of mine. This is not something I've talked about a whole lot and so I figured this would be a great time to go over some of the stuff they mentioned in the lecture.

First of all, it really struck me how familiar the content sounded even though I don't think I've ever heard or read much about asexuality in itself. A lot of ideas are very similar to the ones I've encountered doing anti-homophobia/heterosexism work, though, and with reason: heterosexism assumes "natural" (hetero) sexual desire (at least from males) and the asexual community has very much grown from the LGBT movement and they're big on the idea of inclusion. Which is awesome.

So for starters. An asexual person is "a person who does not experience sexual attraction". In the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the closest term to asexuality is "hypoactive sexual desire disorder". What I find interesting is that the DSM qualifies it a disorder if it's a source of distress (whether personal or in a relationship). So there is absolutely room for healthy, happy asexuals there, and the asexual community is not looking to change the DSM per se.

Basically, asexuals don't feel the need to make sex part of their relationships.

There was a big emphasis on the idea that "asexual" is a word and an identity that you decide to use for yourself; no one is qualified to decide whether someone else is asexual, or if someone else is not asexual enough, or any of that. "If it's a word that makes sense, you use it. Otherwise, you don't."

Asexuality is very different from celibacy. Celibacy is the choice not to have sex, whereas asexuals are simply not interested in sex. Even though David and Cole didn't go into a lot of details about the relationship that asexuality has to the religious and conservative right, they did say that the asexual community feels uneasy about abstinence-only education (and find it unhelpful). David also talked about being very sex-positive (personally sex-neutral but politically sex-positive, I liked that), and Cole about the fact that they talk about sex a lot on the forums - so asexuals don't necessarily shy away from sex and are not afraid of it. It's just not part of the way they conceptualize their relationships.

What they brought up is that we basically have very few models for intimate non-sexual relationships, so it is up to asexuals to determine what that looks like, which is great because it gives you much freedom to fit something that works for you. This refashioning around understanding relationships can also be very helpful to sexual people who can then broaden their understanding of what makes a relationship. What is intimacy without sex? What does an asexual relationship look like? Nobody knows, and that's the beauty of it.

David and Cole also went to great lengths to explain that the asexual community is diverse even in identities. Some asexual people seek out romantic relationships (bi-, hetero-, homo-, pan-romantic are all options, of course), others don't. David defines himself as having "community-based relationships", and I'm just going to copy/paste the little blurb from their FAQ:

"Some asexuals, instead of establishing one-on-one romantic relationships, prefer to connect with the people around them in a community-based intimacy framework, establishing emotional intimacy with other people (including sexuals) without forming expectations of sexual or emotional exclusivity. For asexuals who are comfortable with this setup, it can alleviate the biggest source of tension in a standard mixed relationship (because the sexual person can have their sexual needs met elsewhere)."

Note that this is different from open and polyamorous relationships which both assume you have primary partner(s).

Oh! And I liked that Cole and David both had problems with the word "virgin" because it's so multi-faceted, and also David made the point that it had connotation of being pure, and innocent and not having had sex yet, all of which are problematic and he certainly doesn't feel 'innocent' applies to him. ;)

Also, I like the difference that they made being sexual arousal and sexual desire: just because your body is aroused doesn't mean you want sex or you should have sex, which has very important consequences on understanding consent and desire for intimacy. There's also the whole "why don't you just try it" thing, which is so fascinating: why would you want to force something to do something if they don't feel like doing it? It's like the gay/bi/straight thing, do you really need to have sex with a man to know you're attracted to them? Of course not.

For the record, about 1% of the population is asexual (I'm pretty sure that number applies to people who don't feel sexual desire, not to people who actually use the identity asexual, since that's VERY new).

So there you go. A little space given to asexual visibility here, too. :) The AVEN website is a great resource if you want to learn more.


And now just a quick personal write-up )
greenie_breizh: (clothesless)
Before I get started on this little rant, something I did in preparation for my lecture:

Really, heterosexuality manifests itself at school? No. Never, ever.

--

UBC FilmSoc is showing the movie this week and I've been hearing about it so we (me + a bunch of friends) went it to see it last night. Three things that I found particularly interesting about the movie (which is about, well, young people - four couples and a threesome - fucking), but I'm going to put that under a cut in case some of you don't want to be "spoiled" for the movie.

Hétéronormativité, quand tu nous tiens... )

It's 'funny' because I'm pretty sure I'm coming across as very critical; I actually enjoyed the movie a lot and I would absolutely recommend it. But especially since it's so much about sex, sexuality and relationships, it's just impossible for me to sit there and not reflect on the messages that the movie was perpetuating and the way in which the audience through its reactins was reifying very problematic messages about sexuality. What's acceptable, what's "normal", and in contrast, what is funny because it's unexpected/abnormal/unusual.

Pretty much I was sitting there and feeling like I was watching hegemony at work. Our messages change, evolve, but some dominant beliefs don't.

Real guys don't get fucked, y'know?

Heterosex

Aug. 30th, 2008 11:49 am
greenie_breizh: (clothesless)
Reading about heterosex and feeling a little down at how male hegemony is just so closely intertwined with the way we see sex - it's like even when we think we're in an egalitarian relationship where the woman is treated the same as the man, our accounts of sex reveal systemic inequalities. :/ I find myself wondering if it's possible to have non-hegemonic heterosex and the thought that maybe it's not is incredibly depressing.


"The way these activities were described, as in these two extracts, often represented her orgasm as something that she had as a result of what he did or gave her. In contrast, his orgasm, achieved through intercourse, was not typically framed as her giving – instead, it was something ‘we’ did together, or about where his orgasm took place. In these accounts, the man is represented as more active in the production of orgasm – both hers and his own – than is the woman. In this way, it is a subtle account of the relative passivity traditionally expected of women in heterosex (e.g. see Gavey and McPhillips, 1999; Gilfoyle et al., 1992)."

[...] "Numerous studies have pointed to the links between male sexuality and performance/competence (e.g. Gilfoyle et al., 1992; Kilmartin, 1999). It also points to how ‘saturated’ heterosexual reciprocity is with unequal status. If a woman’s orgasm is ‘given’ by a man, as it is in the discourse of reciprocity, men stand to gain positive identity positions (sensitive and unselfish) through this discourse. Furthermore, the caring, sensitive man partaking in reciprocal heterosex is also imbued with ‘sexpertise’ (Potts, 1998, 2002) – the competence to know how to meet the complex challenge of producing orgasm in the female body, as well as the more straightforward task of his own orgasm. Women’s ‘gift’, on the other hand, is recognized less as an active gift than as a taken-for-granted expectation. As such, the positive identities to be gained by women through the discourse are less clear (although the negative implications of not participating are clear)."

[...] "It is ironic . . . that the ‘enlightened’ male discourse, in which men take some responsibility for their partner’s pleasure, is yet another example of men abrogating power to themselves, as they take away women’s ability to be an independent sexual agent. (Gilfoyle et al., 1992: 224)"



(Extracted from Virginia Braun, Nicola Gavey and Katrhyn McPhilips, “The ‘Fair Deal’? Unpacking Accounts of Reciprocity in Heterosex,’ Sexualities 6:2 (2003): 237-261.)

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