that’s funny!

Normally when I blog or generally talk about feminist things, the above is a sarcastic phrase used to indicate my dismay and precedes a description explaining, as gently as I can, why the joke was racist/sexist/homophobic/able-ist/etc.

But, this is not one of those cases. I want to talk about what is funny. That’s not true either, I want to talk about why I’m funny.

Shocking to believe, I am not a humorless feminist. In fact, I was the class clown, and now I’m the clown anywhere but class. (in a PhD program it is not recommended to crack jokes the whole time, but I digress)

I will retell stories in my head until I think they are funny enough to share, I make wise cracks when other people are speaking (so much so, I almost made the vita-mix sales man lose it with laughter when I was watching the demo and was standing near the front), and puns. Oh, how I love the puns. Other people don’t always agree, but trust me, they’re wrong, my puns are hilarious.

But people don’t notice. And by people, I mean what the patriarchy defines as people: men. Its not that they don’t get my jokes, they just forget I ever made them.

I can think of two reasons.

1. Men get told off by me when their shit is sexist, racist, etc. so they are associate me with killing THEIR fun at the expense of others.

2. “girls” aren’t funny.

This may be slowly changing, but in general womyn are seen as up tight, as adorable, as sperm receptacles. To make jokes, means you have agency, you are the one who is receiving attention for something other than what a nice looking object you are. AND worst of all, you have to be clever! You can be a little funny, but not as funny as a guy.

Well, Duh, I hear you cry.

What brought this up in my mind? It is related to how I met my first boyfriend. Why that came to mind, I have no idea. I was walking from the coffee cart to my office on campus, and I was thinking about those days gone by when I was in an improv comedy class. I was in high school, and I met my first boyfriend there. He was too old for me, and I was too young for him. When you are a high school student, age differences are bigger.

I thought he was so good looking, and he was younger than the last crush I had. Therefore, (I rationalized) it would be just fine. However, I did have to think about it. We were flirting for a while, and one night he drove me home and asked if we could date/be in a relationship/something. So I said I would call him the next day or so. (Should have been a warning when) he said, but you were flirting with me! As if that means I HAD to be in a relationship. Then he cited an example.

We were doing an exercise in class where we were speaking in unison and making sentences (groups of about 5 people). Sort of an oral Ouija Board. The teacher thought this man was leading the sentences, and we assured her he was not. She said, it must be that rich baritone voice.

Now if you’re a young woman in a patriarchal society, you want to marry well. Even then I didn’t want that, but I knew that it was true.

So of course I responded with near Mae West intonation: “I could use a rich baritone.” (nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more)

Not that this could not possibly be just a joke. It HAD to be for the benefit of a man (a real man not just an imaginary referent). It had to be flirting, or leading on, or something. It could have no reference to anything but how I felt about the man’s hot sexy sexiness.

It couldn’t, I don’t know, be a JOKE? Given how much people hurt others by saying “it’s just a joke” you’d think this would be given a pass. But, no, it was flirting, and If I didn’t go out with this man, I would be a dirty cock tease. right? Silly me, “girls” don’t make jokes. But my virginal lady bits were a flutter over his sexy goatee, and therefore did not notice the poisonous sentiment.

I can’t believe that it took me nearly ten years to notice that.

party in consent culture

I usually don’t drink because I’m afraid. I mean, I don’t consciously think, “I’m uncomfortable with this situation.” But last night I went to a party where I did feel 100% safe. It is only when I juxtapose this to other parties that I realized something was wrong.

Even around my nudist friends, I would not get drunk and naked. I was at a (clothed) party with the nudist crowed, and Rich started hitting on me as soon as he found out I did a shot of tequila. Um…. yeah…. (I use his name because I do not protect the identities of would-be rapists who think they just need a girl with beer goggles to get laid, and don’t consider that to have consent neither party’s judgment can be impaired)

But last night was amazing. I’d known some of the people for a decade. Others were new to me, but they were all screened by my friends. And they were all open and honest about sex and relationships, and lots of them had slept with at least one of my friends. (so not only personality screened, but personality in bed screened) My friends would not sleep with people who did not communicate with all their partners. They wouldn’t sleep with someone who used sex to control and gain power.

It was consent culture. I got really drunk for the first time in many many months. I was talking to this guy about everything under the sun. but I had no fears drunk and chatting. It was safe. When I mentioned I was feeling a little too drunk I handed him my drink. He brought me some water. I started to feel better so we bee-lined to the hot tub. Because of our influence the hot tub quickly became a nude space.

I was sitting in a hot tub in mixed company, naked and drunk. It was just hanging out. It wasn’t sexual towards me. There was sex at the party, there were lots of people who sleep with each other at the party. No one grabbed my ass even in jest.

But can you imagine the court case if I was assaulted in that context? she was drunk, why would you be naked if you didn’t intend to have sex? she regularly hangs out naked with old men that she has hugged! She has had sex more than once before! And she was at least a decade younger than all the other people at the party at a big house! She must have been LOOKING for a rich man or something!

I was drunk so I went to bed there, as many people did. I was half naked in one of the guest rooms (they have a Gi-normous house). But I have no doubt that if passed out completely naked on a couch or bed that I would have been perfectly safe. imagine doing that at a frat party.

It is so wonderful that that house is a pocket of consent culture in a wasteland.

It is fucked up that personal safety is remarkable. But I’m glad it exists at all.

why do YOU have sex?

I accidentally came across this article. I skimmed as much as I could so I wasn’t ranting about something I hadn’t read. Now my head hurts. (though it does acknowledge cultural constraints on women’s sexuality)

My biggest problem with the article is that I don’t understand why we need such a study. Or rather, I DO understand why we need such a study and I think ugh.

I know why I have sex. so I’m guessing this article isn’t for me. Who cares why women have sex? oh. MEN. (and maybe lesbians but I’m pretty sure society still thinks that they only exist for men to fantasize about.)

Plus the whole article goes on and on about how women have sex to get back at people, or they are trading favors, or “simply to “keep the peace” at home.” (Um rape culture anyone? 84% of women report this. If saying no was easy and respected this wouldn’t be an issue…)

The article has a tone that implies that this behavior is female in nature. Men’s sex drives are mentioned briefly a couple times, but usually to uphold that men have sex for pleasure or because they are in love, (both in the top 20 reasons men have sex). See it’s those complicated women that make sex complicated!!

Actually, it is not the study itself I cringe at but how the analysis is used. if we looked at how sociologically we are programmed we might find that these results are consistent and indicative of a problem. but the patriarchal lens looking at this study could never make those connections: “More than half of women under 60 still suffer from low sex drive.” Low sex drive in women is a problem for whom? Who is suffering from it really? if I don’t crave chocolate one day am I suffering from lack of interest in chocolate? I mean eating chocolate does bring me pleasure when I do it. so isn’t this the same problem? no. why? because chocolate is just a preference.  And who decides what a “normal” sex drive is?  “Low” is BAD!  why???? If women aren’t interested in having sex whenever a male is, this is seen as problem. Why isn’t that just a preference?

And they only have what people report. People do things all the time without thinking them through, then piece together why. Also there are societal constraints on how we are expected to answer these questions. and women are not supposed to feel pleasure. We are supposed to lie back and think of our country. would that color how people report their reasons for sex? I think so. Its that whole ontological reality thing. we don’t have access to it.

When you have a relationship with someone, no matter how brief, is what 64% of the people do important? no. It is what you and your partner think and communicate. It is how you feel, about how you’re partner feels. Because no specific person will match up with the “general” person on everything, so you must still listen and react and be honest.

Or maybe I’m just being reactionary because this study shows I am in fact a freak of nature because I believe sex should be grounded in consent and pleasure. Plus I think that my body should never have to be used as a bargaining chip because I want to be seen as a whole person, even though I acknowledge that I don’t yet live in that world.

defining sexuality

so. I generally identify as straight. but I’m at a place where I’m attracted to my good female friend. am I bisexual? maybe. And I know that people are going to be pissed with me, but I don’t think so.

I know there is a lot of bi-phobia out there, and I’ve seen a lot of reactions from people who feel betrayed by people who have relations with people of both sexes but don’t identify as bisexual. It is not my intent to distance myself from the queer community. In fact I’d feel guilty if I identified as bi.

I have straight privilege. I know that when watching movies or whatever that people will have relationships that have the gender make up of the relationships I’ve had. I’ve never dated a woman, and I’m not really interested in most women. I know, I know, that’s like labeling all virgins as asexual. Obviously you can have sexual feelings and know who you want to date even if you haven’t dated them. but this is different. I’ve always wanted to date men, with their hairy faces and penises. It is not just a response to being programed by society and not being true to myself. (Yes I have had people argue my sexuality with me before so I’ve thought about it and had to deal with this argument). I don’t want to co opt a culture and movement with my mostly straight voice.

I would be okay with being called my-specific-best-friend-sexual. because that’s what it is. I like her specifically. not that when I date boys I don’t like them in specific, but a large range of men stimulate me and the same doesn’t happen around women.

It feels like I should have this sorted out by now. not my entire love life, but my sexual orientation identity. I don’t even like that sexual orientation should be be part of my identity. I identify with much more important things. Thing I’m super passionate about. I’m a math educator, I’m a subverter of the dominant paradigm, I’m a feminist, I’m a nudist. but that’s part of straight privilege. I’m “normal” so I don’t have to deal with my sexuality as my identity as a part of me that others me from society. if I did date a woman then society would label and identify me. I would have to respond to that, or at least live with that, unless I moved to a cave.

in the post-everything-bad world the label would be meaningless. everyone would just date who they like. And what their genitals looked like wouldn’t be a big deal. but that is not where we live. sigh.

I don’t hate “blank” people but….

I don’t know how to react to people who make the above statement sometimes. Especially if they are not people who are easy to avoid. Especially if they are people who have loved my my whole life and taken care of me, and who I love and who I have fun with, or have things in common with.

My mom, who is liberal and supports me in my work for marriage equality, said something the other day that I don’t know how to deal with.

She warned me recently, and not for the first time, not to date bisexual men because they are promiscuous and could give me AIDS.

Wha..????

because men who sleep with men, do it all the time and do it without protection. I hang around the queer community. It is a place where I can be myself and accepted as a nudist, as a feminist, as a vegan. This community has been a safe space for me too. so I have know quite a few people who don’t identify as straight. both male and female, either born or chosen. Let me tell you… views towards sex vary. It depends a lot on the individual. Safe sex is important to most of the people I hang out with because that is a value I have and I like to hang out with people who have similar values. so even the people who have sex all the time that i know are being safe about it.

This came up when I showed her a picture of a guy I thought was cute, and she thought he was gay. I said well he identifies as bi, so I’ve got a chance… The first comment was actually “that usually means he’s gay in the long run..”

I gave her a blank look.

then she gave me her warning.

I used to talk to my mom about cute guys all the time. We have a history of checking out guys while people watching at restaurants and such. so that I would share with her when I like a guy is not something new.. but it may be something I keep to myself in the future.

We should respect peoples choices and how they choose to identify. that doesn’t seem like a difficult idea to grasp. we should also hold our judgments off until we actually meet people. and not base our judgements on things as superficial as sexual identity. (or race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, the cloths they wear, country of origin etc… etc…)

I know we are all products of our culture, and that it is hard to escape the ramifications of that.. but it’s difficult when its some one so close to you.

Published in: on April 6, 2009 at 10:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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I was too quiet

Yesterday I had a bit of an icky experience.  I went to the beach, as I am want to do.   I had a great talk with my new fellow vegan feminist nudist person.  that was all good.  but I started mentioning March Forth on March 4th. (which if you are in San Diego You should go to! Please click the link for more information on marriage equality and the upcoming supreme court case.)

This is what got me into trouble. I mentioned it to one guy who had been fairly friendly in a not creepy way and I he “didn’t believe in it” and had a “different opinion” Now to me an opinion is whether you prefer blue or gold or something like that, not if you think you should take 1,138 rights away from people who love each other. I mentioned how people can’t even visit loved ones in the hospital he deflected. I almost decided to get up and punch him but thought that it wouldn’t go over well with the rest of the beach.

I stood up for equality but was just angry. Which is understandable. my being too quiet happened later.

When everyone was dressed and getting ready to tramp up the hill I was saying my good byes and waiting for people to finish packing and this guy comes up and hugs me. I try to move a bit out of the way but don’t completely disengage. I was just so shocked he would come up to me and so shocked he would impose. So I just let him violate my space.  What makes him think he has the RIGHT to do that?

I feel I should have said no and should have screamed it! should have said “I don’t want you in my personal space” or “you have not been invited to have physical contact with me, do not touch me.” You know SOMETHING. I understand the need to be polite but that is very VERY different than being friendly. I don’t want to talk to people who think a group of people are second class citizens just because they don’t fit into the heteronormative bullcrap paradigm. Ok.. I do want to talk to them, when I’m out doing marriage equality work, but not when I want to relax. not when I’m in a place where I want to feel safe being myself.

And I sure as hell don’t want them to touch me.  Especially in such a friendly way as a hug.

Of course you know a rapist.

I was tag surfing and came across Luddite Journo’s Post which was commenting on the comments on a post by Kiwi Politico.

and I mean, COME ON. who are these people who have never met a rapist? if 1 in 6 women are the victims of a a rape or attempted rape in their lifetime and 73% of rapes are committed by a non-stranger, do the math.

I have my suspicions about some people and keep my distance. but how many people walking down the street are rapists? maybe less than 1 in 6. but still. how many people are in a grocery store when you go shopping? how many are men? even if it is 1 in 20 you are around them and they are around you. In your families, in your nightclubs, in your churches, at your weddings.

turning a blind eye, or sticking your fingers in your ears and going “nya nya nya” doesn’t change reality. it only creates a culture that makes excuses, a culture that when faced with it will allow rapists to go free. OMG!! that’s rape culture.

Power differences and heterosexual relationships

I am generally heterosexual. I’ve been attracted to a few women but never dated any due to logistical reasons. (eg. they were already dating someone or I was already dating someone or both or they just weren’t interested…or they were on the other side of the planet….)

anywho.. I am yet again in a heterosexual relationship. Go me. or something. But it has temporarily become a long distance relationship and I like him more than he likes me. At least, I’m pretty sure this is the case. At least I’m more resolute about how much I like him.

This makes me feel very silly. (and not in the funny hat sort of way.) I only saw him last week and I’m already worried that he feels pestered by my IMs and phone calls. I don’t want to scare him away after all.

It just feels so stereotypical. The woman who wants commitment slyly trying not to frighten away the male. I mean Ewwwwwwwww. Normally I’m on the other side of this exchange playing the part of the frightened commitment-phobe. So its not like I’ve spent my time trying to “trap” a man. but even though 90% of the time I don’t fulfill stereotypes I know that people only remember the 10% you do.

and it makes me feel icky all over. is it unfeminist to follow your heart? popular feminism says no. but maybe it can be. in a post patriarchal world there would be no stereotype to fulfill or not so it would not matter. But I don’t live there.

so I sit dwelling in insecurity (which is not completely unfounded) and wonder “should I call?”

it’s so pathetic. bah. how can I react with integrity towards my political beliefs but still get everything I want?

Published in: on January 16, 2009 at 12:31 am  Comments (2)  
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what will you do for a gender free tomorrow?

I’ve always been a huge proponent of gender deconstruction. But I don’t know if that is really the right phrase. People talk about hetero-normative culture, I believe it is only part of a larger problem of gender-normative culture.

What is “straight” but a gendered expectation on who we should want to fuck or raise a family with? The patriarchy thrives on the gender binary system. It sees Masculine and Maleness as good and anything outside that as, well, not good. We can not live freely as womyn if we are living in the confines of “femininity”. But we cannot change what it means to be a “woman” without affect what it means to be a man. If we take away the strict definition of “man” the patriarchy has no legs to stand on.

Men also cannot live freely withing the confines of “Masculinty”. But while womyn have risked their lives, careers and families for the ability to wear a pantsuit, most men do not stand and fight for their right to wear pink frocks. That would be fighting for something that is doesn’t fit into the male= good paradigm. So the few men who do fight for equality in gender relations are cast out and punished (including physical assault) by the dominant system as a warning to those who would question the status quo.

And the Pantsuit is no salvation. It is women taking on a masculine costume to gain the power that masculinity brings. It does not change the “male=good” definition. This is not an unreasonable plan since no true revolution has come yet.

Gender-normativity is so built into our culture that we don’t have the words to adequately describe the world without dividing it into “girl things” and “boy things”. And English isn’t even the worst at it. In most romance languages every noun has a gender. But even though English isn’t the “worst” it is still completely deficient.

We need a singular pronoun that is gender neutral, because “it” isn’t cutting the mustard, and “they” gets really confusing and difficult to decipher for some people who insist it is plural.

Gendered expectations control lives, oppressing our true autonomy. I say no race, no economic conditons, and no government has the right to take my autonomy. (They do. All the time. But I’m talking about my dream of the post patriarchal world here) So why should I let gendered expectation control me? there aren’t always options, (esp for children.) Many Schools in NZ have uniforms that require skirts for girls and shorts or trousers for boys. from day one we are told we either belong in the cult of pink or blue.

I know it seems I am not offering solutions. I don’t think that a world free from gender-normative expectations will happen overnight. So here’s what I’ll do:

1. I will speak out against destructive gender-normative impositions as I see them in everyday life.
2. I will encourage and support those in my community who act outside of gender normative expectations to live the life they choose.
3. I will respect and support those who live in fear of coming out as not wanting to live within gender normative expectations (this includes not outing anyone).
4. I will proudly not fit into rigid gender roles when I don’t feel they define who I am.

Join me. What will you do to support a gender free tomorrow?

Go here read and then ACT on it.

http://daywithoutagay.org/

If I were in the states i would be there!  but I’m not in the country so I can’t call in gay.  I encourage everyone to call in, not just those who identify as “gay” because it’s about equal rights.   It’s Important to have equality and tolerance. 

I just tag surfed “prop 8” and I’m going to go cry now.  yes on prop 8 people make my tummy hurt.

Published in: on November 20, 2008 at 10:14 pm  Leave a Comment