Saturday, 26 February 2011

What's all the fuss about male violence?

These excerpts are taken from an essay entitled "Masculinity, Violence, and Sexual Murder" co-written by Deborah Cameron and Elizabeth Frazer.

"They[feminists] say that men need, and feel entitled to have, unrestricted sexual access to women,..."
Actually I would argue that it's the other way around and not only in regards to sexual access but to access in general i.e. hookups, relationships, marriage. Women are now the majority of those receiving college degrees and most women look for men that are at least as if not more educated than themselves. Many assume (Lori Gottlieb) that another more perfect man is just around the never-ending corner. The statistics are not in our favor ladies. I think we need to collectively let go of this idea of Prince Charming.

"It expresses[rape, assault, etc.] not purely individual anger and frustration but a collective, culturally sanctioned misogyny which is important in maintaining the collective power of men."
It seems very difficult to make a case for "men rape, therefore they are all collectively violent unless they are feminists." The majority of men will never rape or assault anyone, let alone a woman, therefore I find this statement hard to deal with. What is the collective power of men? I'm not sure when this was written but men hold very little collective power in my opinion. Feel free to disagree if you have examples.

"Male violence against women is defined broadly by feminists to include not just the most obvious cases...but also and most importantly, a range of male behaviors ... like flashing, stealing underwear, and making obscene phone-calls."
Forgive me for taking this one on a personal level, but I find a lot of feminist claims to be very personal rather than logical so I don't feel too bad. I have never been flashed. In fact the majority of flashing I've seen in my life is of women flashing men (Girls Gone Wild anyone?) I've never had my underwear stolen and never even hear of this happening to anyone. The authors are going to have to be a little more specific with "obscene phone-calls." Sure they're are creepy people out there but you know what? They're not just men. Chances are you have caller ID and if you don't recognize a number then don't pick up. If it's legitimate they'll leave a message. No big deal really.

What's all the fuss about male violence? Yes violence happens and we should be working to reduce that (obviously) but I'm not sure how demonizing one sex is going to help overall. It seems to me that an awful lot of women like to write essays, but not many of them that write these words are actually out in the field. Interesting. Very interesting.

Friday, 25 February 2011

1. A journey into frugality

Oh yes, it seems that I need to jump into the frugal blogger arena starting today. Long story short, my university changed its tuition payment schedule (don't get me started) so everyone has received letters saying that we need to pay our fees in full by March 7th. Previously we paid in installments throughout the year. This is very inconsiderate, and not to mention very unprofessional, on the part of the university to just change things on us with little to no notice, but here I am. I all but had to drain my British checking account to cover my outstanding fees. When I go home in May I'll be able to transfer over some more money but until then I've got 6 weeks, a trip to Barcelona, £200 and a stash of $135 dollars which I'm hoping will stay intact.

If I was at home, or anywhere in the US for that matter, this would be a piece of cake, but I'm not. I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world and I'm going to get by on just £25 a week. Fortunately I paid all of my rent up front so all I really need to worry about is food and transportation. Getting around London is expensive which is why I usually buy a one month travel card for £80. Obviously that's not an option this time around, so when mine runs out on March 11th I'll be switching over to pay as you go, but mostly I'll be walking. I go into uni 3 days a week so I figure I can get one bus either on the way there or on the way back and then get the free bus for the second part of the journey both ways.

My previous budget that I tried to stick to was £50 a week plus transportation. I always did fine with that until I would forget to take out cash and would start using my card. Plastic isn't good when you're on a budget.

Anyway, I'm looking at spending no more than £3.57 per day. Here it goes.

Groceries for today
bread           .79p
cold cuts    1.00
cheese         .98p
tomato         .55p
pastry          .20p
total            3.52

For dinner I'll be making something that uses up stuff I already have in order to minimize having to buy anything else. All I can say is, I'm glad I listened to my grandma and have always had a good stock of canned soup hidden away. Yum, can't wait. Six weeks to go, I can do this.

I stand with Planned Parenthood because...


I stand with Planned Parenthood because I care about the health and well being of my fellow inhabitants of the United States. I believe in the prevention of sexually transmitted infection and cancer. I believe in intentional motherhood and intentional fatherhood. I believe in comprehensive sex education. I believe that it is a crime to keep information about the human body out of the hands of people with human bodies. I believe that Planned Parenthood effects more than just women, it effects our whole society.

Most of all, I stand with Planned Parenthood because I believe in improving our quality of life, not just ensuring quantity. 

*I would like to point out that I do not approve of this poster at all. As I have stated previously, parenthood means both motherhood and fatherhood. Sexually transmitted infections are not to simply be regarded as women's health issues since they obviously effect everyone. We complain about our daughters being brought up in a 'princess ridden culture' and yet this poster is promoting that very culture by its pink colour. This poster is just evidence of how much is still not discussed or given attention. I even received an email from Planned Parenthood itself on how "We have to raise a massive outcry against this dangerous attack on women's health." THIS DOES NOT ONLY EFFECT WOMEN!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Got a headache? Here's the pill!

This has been something that has irked me for a while now. Say you're a female between the ages of 11 and 40 and you walk into the doctors office with some minor symptoms of, quite frankly, nothing: headache, bad cramps, clammy hands, tummy ache, etc. You will walk out with a prescription for the Pill in under 5 minutes (not including waiting time.)

I have friends who aren't even having sex, or intending to have sex until they're married, who are on the Pill for no bloody reason at all. I have a problem with this. Our aim should be to reduce the number of people on any type of given medication. Most women on the Pill have not really researched it, which is pretty scary considering that some will continue to stay on it for twenty to thirty odd years. Call me a crazy hippie or whatever you want but I think we need a more holistic approach to health.

Girls and women tend to think of the Pill as a fool proof option for all their birth control needs. The fact of the matter is that a good percentage of people don't use it correctly and end up pregnant. Same with condoms. You've probably seen those episodes of 16 and Pregnant where quite a few of the girls state that the reason they are pregnant is because they weren't on the Pill and they never used condoms. I mean, really? After that it's difficult for me to be sympathetic when they are having trouble making ends meet. Fair enough if the condom breaks, but even if you're on the Pill you should be using condoms as extra protection particularly when there is no way you are in a position to have a child.

The over-prescription of the Pill hasn't done much in regards to decreasing unwanted pregnancy. Contrary to what sex-positive feminists would argue, there does seem to be a good case for waiting to have sex until you actually know how your own body functions and then limiting sexual encounters. Here in the UK the rates of STI's and teen pregnancy have been steadily rising even though birth control, STI tests, etc. are all funded by the government. When comparing these rates to those of mainland Europe it is even more staggering.

Let's not rely on the education system or the Pill to cover our asses. Don't pretend that government funding means that people are actually using birth control effectively and all the time. And most importantly, let's stop kidding ourselves that unwanted pregnancy is not 100% preventable. If you're not responsible enough to use birth control every time and the right way then you are definitely not ready for a child and should probably just abstain altogether.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

As if we need affirmative action...

I always find affirmative action concerning women to be just downright hilarious. Projected estimates for the school year of 2016-2017 shows us as being way ahead of the men.

Associates degrees: 273,000 / 489,000
Bachelors degrees: 707,000 / 1,057,000
Masters degrees: 287,000 / 487,000
Doctorate degrees: 29,800 / 37,100

I remember in my senior year of high school hearing on a number of occasions that girls felt they would get into a certain college, even if they weren't as qualified, because that particular college endorsed affirmative action. I'm not going to lie, I too perceived myself to be much more of a minority than was actually the case. I recognize that I shouldn't apply these statistics to myself since I don't attend college in the United States, but I find it interesting nontheless. I graduate in 2012 (a year earlier than my American peers because BA's are only 3 years here) and in 2012 women will be awarded 204,000 more bachelor's degrees than men. In 2017 that difference will grow to 350,000.

My big question is, why is there such a big perception out there that women need affirmative action? The quote below is taken from NOW's website: (I'm only focusing on gender in this post, not race.)

Despite the enormous gains made by the civil rights and women's rights movements, women and people of color still face unfair obstacles in business and education. An astonishing 70% of schools are not in compliance with Title IX, the federal equal education opportunity law.

So, even though 70% of schools don't comply with Title IX, women still outnumber the men on their own. And, my personal favorite for evidence of discrimination, "Less than 1% of auto mechanics are women." It's hard not to laugh at that one. Surely that's not evidence of discrimination itself but of gender roles and how we are brought up, right? I'm sure if women genuinely wanted to be auto mechanics that most of the guy mechanics would be quite pleased to have some diversity down at the local JiffyLube! I knew girls at my high school that loved taking Auto and who progressed through all the levels offered, but there was no way they were considering it as a career because they wanted to go off to a 4 year college and get degrees in Biology and English Lit. instead of going to community college for two years, living at home, etc. They liked it as a hobby but did not find it appealing as a career. Fair enough if you ask me.

I mean if we're looking for there to be a 50-50 representation of men and women for every profession out there I find that to be a bit ridiculous. I am not saying that men and women are not socialized differently and therefore more likely to work in different professions, but I think that sometimes we confuse discrimination with socialization. Women are socialized in such a way that most of us don't genuinely want to be auto mechanics for one reason or another. That does not mean however that we necessarily face discrimination if we expressed an interest in wanting to be auto mechanics. There is a very big difference between the two of those that should not be confused, and frankly I'm disappointed in NOW for not realizing this. 

"As yet, I doubt any colleges need to admit under-qualified boys to achieve gender balance. Rather, because there is such an oversupply of applicants, there are more than enough girls and boys who meet most college’s SAT and GPA standards (there’s just a lot more girls)."- Newsweek education article

This quote shows that the gender gap is happening before the college application process even begins. Keeping affirmative action in place for women while men are quickly becoming the ones under-represented seems absurd to me. While I applaud the success of women, I do not wish to see women become the majority of those receiving college degrees. I think we can all recognize why it is important to have a pretty near 50-50 representation of those receiving college degrees and how that would benefit society more in the long run. Having the pendulum swing back and forth between female and male over representation would have strange effects, would it not? We need genuine equality in our educational institutions. 

Men have not outnumbered women in obtaining bachelors degrees since the early 80s so why is this policy still in place some 30 years later? What would the reaction be if, in a few years time, affirmative action were proposed in order to get men into college? I'm very interested to know why the number of men who receive degrees is in decline. I did a quick search but all the arguments I found seemed rather unconvincing so if you know of any great literature on the topic please let me know. 

Friday, 18 February 2011

Why Men Scoff, Part 2: Why the Third Wave is Lacking

At first I thought I had merely a bone to pick with sex-positive feminists and now I find that I have a bone to pick with the whole third wave. Head over to Feministing which is one of the most popular representations of the third wave and what do you see? Mainly their logo: a woman. Their bloggers: all women. They explain their logo as being ironic. "We wanted to take a traditionally sexist image – the mudflap girl – and subvert her. Hence, the middle finger. We like to think of her as saying “fuck you” to the sexist beauty standard she is supposed to represent." In the sense they describe the logo works, but only for that purpose which I find to personally be very narrow. 

A recent blog post on the site is entitled "Attacks on Planned Parenthood are attacks on American women." In the spirit of continuous improvement, I would like to point out that attacks on Planned Parenthood are also attacks on men. Being a parent does not come with a following descriptive gender qualification. Women are not the only parents out there. In fact, male, female, or anywhere in between and you can be a parent. And why is it 'American' women? We have loads of people who live in our country, legally and illegally, who would not identify themselves as American, don't these attacks affect them as well?

"It pains me a little bit to say this, but I have to admit it. I’m kind of a hypocrite. I’ve spent over a year on this blog exploring most every facet of being a teen girl in this culture through a feminist lens. I’ve bitched (and rightfully so) about how there’s still a shit ton of sexism out there and how we still need to fight for equality, but I never really mentioned the guys." -Julie Z from

Julie Zeilinger has been pretty widely recognized within the third wave and she's openly admitting this just now. Sexism goes many different ways. I mean come on people!

I understand that the default when talking about feminism is to talk about women. As I mention in Why Men Scoff (part one) this is also the most repetitive, so much so that it is a joke. I've heard on more than one occasion fellow students saying that they don't feel the need to show up when the lecture is on feminism because it's the same thing every darn time. However, feminists have themselves created this culture and none of them, with the exception of bell hooks (see quote in part one), seem willing to do anything to change it. This changes with yours truly. 

I believe that in order to be a true feminist one must also believe that patriarchal systems are oppressive to men. Straight men. We have women, gay guys, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, and transexuals that get recognition from feminists but what about the straight guys? Essentially, they don't fit anywhere!

I suggest we start with the term feminism in the first place. It suggests that you need to be feminine and further so, female. Female feminists want men to identify themselves as feminist yet the term itself is not neutral at all, even if the ideology behind it is. Some go by equalist. I'm not sure I'm okay with this one either. Being a woman, man, transexual, or transgender each have their own lens and experience. They are all of equal importance of course but they are not the same experience. I'm not sure what the new term(s) should be but I think maybe there should be some talk of creating one(some).

Similarly, gender studies should be a study of gender, not women. Gender is not a synonym for women. Gender studies suggests that both women's studies, men's studies, queer studies, etc. are all included. To be honest, this rarely to never seems to be the case. Gender is constructed and therefore ALL of those constructions need to be given attention. 

The LGBT movement needs support from those that wouldn't identify themselves as LGBT because homosexuals only make up about 10% of the population and never tend to reach more than that. They can't do it by themselves. The feminist movement on the other hand seems to believe that because we make up 50% of the population that we do not need outside support. And I'm here to tell you that we're dead wrong about that. Firstly, and primarily, because not all women are feminists! Right off the bat we do not have 50% of the population and certainly not 50% of the vote. 

It's high time we start reaching out to people who would love to join our cause but can't just because we aren't willing to make a space for them. 

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Bieber on Abortion

He isn't sure what political party he'd support if he was old enough to vote. "I'm not sure about the parties," Bieber says. "But whatever they have in Korea, that's bad." He does have a solid opinion on abortion. "I really don't believe in abortion," Bieber says. "It's like killing a baby?" How about in cases of rape? "Um. Well, I think that's really sad, but everything happens for a reason. I don't know how that would be a reason. I guess I haven't been in that position, so I wouldn't be able to judge that." [my underlining]
Rolling Stone

I find this chilling. Undeniably abortion is a topic that needs to get talked about and often it seems that you don't really know someone until you know their views on the matter, but this strikes me as being weird. He doesn't seem like he's given much thought to the matter. If rape is merely "sad" and "everything happens for a reason"in Bieber's eyes then it seems evident to me that this kid doesn't have very much life experience. But then again, why would he? His comments on Korea seem to show that his views are very much shaped by the media. He doesn't even identify North Korea as a completely separate country from South Korea.

I hesitate however to go any further in dissecting his comments because he is an individual that clearly does not have fully formed views yet. I will however comment on this apparent string of popstars with psuedo-Evangelical world views. Seemingly the least rigid followers of these types of views were the Hanson brothers, but there were some definite underpinnings there. The Jonas Brothers wear purity rings. And now Justin Bieber is stating that abortion is wrong and sex is okay if you're in love.

The questions directed at Hanson and the Jonas Brothers are different in nature than those directed at Bieber. Key to this is that they were of age at the time and replied with responses on issues that they had clearly contemplated and reflected particular evident lifestyle choices they had made (getting married young, purity rings, etc.) Why abortion in a Rolling Stone interview with Justin Bieber? As far as I know he has never expressed particular interest in the topic of abortion or discussions on sex either for that matter, so why is it brought up?

This may be bad management on his side or a not so great interview idea on Rolling Stone's side. Whatever the reasoning behind this I'm not impressed. The sad part is his so-called 'beliebers' may not be able to recognize that he is not an authority on these types of subjects and think to question for themselves. Then again, I doubt many of his fans who are pre-pubescent girls read Rolling Stone.

The Girl Effect

This article suggests that the girl effect could lift the world's economy. I think we need more than a lift, I think we need a fix. However, I'm not so sure that we're ready for a conversation about an economic system that is inherently characterized by boom and bust. In the mean time, as far as human development and security goes, the girl effect works wonders for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the majority of people, excluding the Taliban, recognize the national potential for the girl effect. Even conservative groups that promote women being in the home and with the kids know that an educated and healthy mother is important. Healthy mothers and kids equal healthy communities.

Secondly, this is an issue that is somewhat a-political. Whatever side of the political spectrum you fall on it is easy to support this cause because it isn't coming out of an opposing ideology. Personally, I think we need more things like this that can draw widespread support and make a difference rather than liberals supporting a, b, and c causes and conservatives generally supporting x,y, and z.

Watch 'The Girl Effect' under the Watch section at the top of this page.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

French vs. American: Notions of femininity

If you are promiscuous are you a less capable mother? If you pose nude, wear sensual clothing do you deserve less respect? Should your intelligence be questioned? If you are an intellectual are you less sensual? What about less motherly? I answer 'no' to all of these questions in theory but when I do catch my own thoughts occasionally and ask myself if they are true I find myself buying into particular notions.

In France there seems to be a place for woman as intellectuals, as professionals, as mothers and any combination of those and many other labels that generally describe our day-to-day lives. I see a clear difference in the United States. Women can be intellectuals but then they are less capable as mothers, they can be mothers but then they are not adequate as professionals, etc. How did these different cultures evolve and why? Why are French notions of femininity more encompassing?

If I were to be filmed for Girls Gone Wild would that radically alter my intelligence and years of education? No, but I would definitely be seen in a different light would I not? Somehow it would make me less worthy of respect. I understand the need for a check on sexual excess as I think we all do, but where is the line drawn? Apparently for us it's drawn right down the middle regarding a number of issues. If you are perceived to be sexual in anyway you are somehow less in another part of your life.

Take Hillary Clinton. People just can not seem to get over the fact that she is a woman! I understand that with being a woman in the very public and political eye that people would be genuinely curious about things like 'does she cook? clean? prefer this brand of clothing over that brand? does she make Bill take out the trash?' and other questions of that nature. Yet, shouldn't those topics be reserved for, like, not trips abroad on government business (there's been more than one scandal over people asking her what clothing brands she prefers, what her husband thinks, etc.) We can't quite grasp that she's given birth AND she can be involved in politics and that one does not make her less qualified or legitimate in doing the other, in theory at least.

Like it or not clothing, makeup, and appearance in general is an important part of being a woman in this world. I just don't see how it should always be made relevant to government business. There is a time and a place. Just as people want to know about her clothes and 'style' people want to know about Obama's favourite football team, basketball team and other typically male things. Yet no one would dream of asking him about anything to do with his kids because those type of questions go to Michelle.

So, why can't we be more in more than just theory?

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Are you a Betty, Joan, or Peggy?

Forgive me. I've been watching way to much Mad Men lately. However, a part of the reason I love this show and find it so intriguing is its female characters. They provide the anchors for a spectrum of women. I'll explain.

Betty is the typical educated WASP suburbian housewife. She has a college degree but stays home with the kids and takes care of running the house. She doesn't have control over any financial aspects of the home and many times seems bored or less than content with this arrangement. The Feminine Mystique is directly aimed at her.

Joan is a working woman and sometimes housewife. She gets married at an older age and wants to have a family but is not sure how to balance everything. She has life experience so a baby and a broom won't keep her satisfied for long. Joan is the kind of person you want around in a crisis, meaning she always seems to have a plan and has the ability to navigate her way through different and difficult situations.

Peggy is a working woman. She's focused on her career and only seems interested in men because she feels that she's supposed to be interested in them. She wants an apartment in Manhattan and her own life. She definitely doesn't have the calm resourcefulness that Joan does and sometimes she needs to be brought back down to reality.

So, am I a Betty, Joan, or Peggy? I'm going to say that I'm between Joan and Peggy. I aspire to be more of a Joan but the plain fact of the matter is that I do need the occasional reality check. I get caught up in my own brain with things that aren't necessarily the case. Once I'm brought back down I'm definitely a Joan though. I could never be a Betty and that's for sure.

Which one of these ladies represent you best?


Sunday, 6 February 2011

You do you

"Operation Self-Esteem--Day Fucking One." -Elizabeth Gilbert

If there has to be one thing I love about getting older it has to be that I just don't give a fuck anymore. I know who I am and what I want and I stopped apologising for that years ago. People's comments don't hurt me anymore.

It's a beautiful thing really, getting comfortable with yourself and all. You don't really care about other people, even if that sounds somewhat narcissistic it's a nice feeling. You know that if all these people were gone tomorrow that you would still be okay. Maybe I read to much Thoreau in my high school days but wow, did he help me out. His best words of advice: "Never take advice" and I would have to agree.

There a lot of people out there who think that they know better than you do and, believe me, they will let you know it. When I was preparing to move abroad I encountered loads of these type. People who had never left the state let alone the country but somehow felt they had the authority to tell me what to do. Needless to say, I recognized that irony and here I am writing this from a library in central London.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you're not comfortable with yourself and able to make decisions on your own then you should probably sort that shit out. You're not going to lead the potentially amazing life you could have if you have no self-esteem, no trust in yourself. In fact, that is my resolution for 2011, to trust myself a little more. As it turns out, I do know what I'm doing after all.


Saturday, 5 February 2011

Things I learned from my Aunt Diane

My Aunt Diane is not a regular presence in my life and perhaps that's why I've been able to learn so much from her. She's the wife of my mom's brother. She married a younger man. She bought out the company she worked for and is now a top insurance executive. She lives in LA and works with celebrities. She's a Kelly Cutrone type of woman.

1. Just because you're some hot shot executive and empowered woman out there in the real world making your own (millions) dollars doesn't mean that you are exempt from knowing how to cook, sew, and generally run a household. In other words, being in the kitchen is not feminist or anti-feminist it's simply basic upkeep (same with sewing, cleaning, entertaining, etc.) Many women (and men) pride themselves on not being able to cook or even knowing how to throw together a basic meal. Well you know what? That isn't cool and it sure as hell isn't enlightened, it's nutrient deficient.

2. Round tables are better than rectangular or square ones. For a start, you can converse with everyone much easier. Secondly, you won't have to put up with any of that 'I'm sitting at the head of the table because I'm a man and therefore leader of the house' bullshit that generally accompanies rectangular tables. And thirdly, large round dinner tables are less and less easy to come by. Once I started paying attention this last point has shown especially true, everyone goes for the rectangle!

3. When it comes time to dress yourself quality is better than quantity. Invest in that $150 blazer because you're going to be wearing it for the next 10 years. (She bought me a military green Abercrombie and Fitch fitted light weight jacket, a timeless kind of piece, the summer before I started high school and 6 years later it's an absolute staple in my wardrobe and has no signs of wearing out yet).


Thursday, 3 February 2011

Why men scoff

Last week my boyfriend resentfully said that he should have stayed in bed instead of getting up to go to his 9 am lecture because it was on 'gender.' I pressed him further. It seems ever more common that the teaching of gender studies or feminism decides to focus solely on women without any regard for what patriarchal systems have thrust upon men as well. Or, as the #4 essay question for my War & Security studies module prompts "'Gender is not a synonym for women.'Discuss."

Ask most men today what feminism means to them and, undoubtedly, it is something radically anti-male. "Feminist movement was from the outset presented to most males via mass media as antimale. Truthfully, there was a serious antimale faction in contemporary feminist movement. And even though the man-hating women were a small minority of women's libbers, they received the most attention."(bell hooks) So, can we really blame the men, AGAIN?

It seems that most men would be quite happy to jump on board with feminism if it was somehow made relevant to them, and not in the way it currently is, by telling them that they're vicious wife-beaters. While it is easy to see why the 'woman' aspect of gender studies and feminism is given most of the focus, it is also the most repetitive. We've all heard it before. In fact we've heard about men being absolute pigs again, and again, and AGAIN. Now, find me a university lecture on feminism and/or gender studies that focuses on what patriarchy means for males and maybe they will scoff no longer.

One of the first things I learned in my AP English Language course in high school was to KNOW. YOUR. AUDIENCE. It was the second most phrase that was drilled into us (right behind EVERYTHING IS AN ARGUMENT!). With that in mind, let's get some lectures reflecting the other half of the room. Additionally,..."there is no body of recent feminist writing addressing men that is accessible, clear, and concise." (bell hooks) And, maybe some new literature as well...


Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Michelle Goldberg says it best

Starting 25:50 Goldberg outlines my almost exact initial feelings after conversing with Betty Dodson via e-mail that I addressed in the previous post. I was prepared to read something from her much different than I received, and to be honest I felt somewhat assaulted directly after reading. This also shows my growing reaction to sex-positive feminism in general. I expected to hear that it's all about choice. Well, it is all about choice, their choice.

If you choose to not follow in a sex-positive feminist's footsteps then seemingly you cannot be a sex-positive feminist yourself. In other words "The only person that made me feel ashamed of my sexuality was a woman I interviewed in my early twenties, Betty Dodson... I said something to the extent that I wanted a monogamous relationship with my boyfriend and she made that A) just ridiculous and B) fatalistic... I felt if I had said that I kept two men in latex in my basement and brought them out to whip them twice a day that I would have received some celebration from her." (27:18)

I haven't been a follower of Goldberg for the plain and simple reason that I wasn't really familiar with her or her work. However, after watching this I look forward to reading her book and seeing her views articulated more fully. Her perspective seems to really gel with mine and maybe I've finally found a feminism that can encompass my views.


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

What it means to be sex-positive

According to feminist Betty Dodson and Carlin Ross "Our definition of a sexual feminist is a woman who gets to make up her own mind, but it must come from choice... The key in sex is always about choice, I choose to be an old slut." Alright, so far I'm on board... Betty went on to illustrate (in e-mail) the madonna-whore complex and cultural pressure on women's sexual choices. Still on board... She continues that because of this complex and the dichotomy set up between virgin and slut sex-positive feminists take the route of the whore, of the fallen woman. You lost me Betty, not in understanding your argument here but how it relates to your previously stated definition.

To me feminism is about breaking down the madonna-whore dichotomy in the first place, not simply aligning with the perceived 'bad opposite side' of what our culture wants in order to prove a point. The freedom to choose not only gives people the right to say yes, it also gives them the right to say no as Dan Savage states here. I understand that many girls and women make choices about sex based on religion, culture, etc. but, we should also acknowledge that women have brains and maybe are genuinely making that choice, not just because they are brainwashed. Many women do make choices without really taking the time to reflect and research but it should not be held completely out of the question that someone could make the decision to not have a lot of partners, only have sex in a relationship, when married, etc. out of pure and genuine choice.

Michelle Goldberg really gets at how I feel and why I am hesitant to label myself as a sex-positive feminist. "There’s another sort of possibly emerging sexual conservatism among younger women that I actually find a lot more understandable and am personally a lot more sympathetic to…I do think that organized feminism or mainstream feminist activists have somewhat missed an opportunity to speak to a lot of young women who find hookup culture and the emotional brutality of contemporary sexual mores to be really unsatisfying…Sex-positive feminism became something in which women were expected to be as casual and callous about sex as the most casual and callous men."(2009)

If being sex-positive means choice, pure and simple, yes and no, maybe, tomorrow, not until marriage, a one night stand, not until love, a quickie in the club bathroom, then I am sex-positive. If it means insulting women (and creating further divisions) through accusations of 'you couldn't have possibly made that choice yourself, it was your culture, your religion that did it!' then I might be running as far away from sex-positivism as I can. 


An Orgasm a Day Keeps the Doctor Away...

...or something like that anyway.

This blog will be my exploration of feminist issues. In particular I will be exploring whether I would label myself as a sex-positive feminist or not. Maybe through this I will find a label that encompasses my views in their entirety. Although that seems rather unlikely, I'm going to give it a shot anyway.