Thursday, July 8, 2010

how do you feel about polyamory?

I feel like polyamory is tricky to pull off without hurting someone's feelings - a lot of guys, I'm sure, would be fine with it at least in the beginning... but attachment could lead to jealousy and/or confusion. The same with girls - and girls frequently attach faster and delude themselves further: I've noticed many girls convince themselves they're okay with friends with benefits when they really aren't okay with it, but they simply want to be with the guy and will settle for his request/demand, try to handle it the way the guy wants it to go. I've read Emma Goldman, though, and can appreciate the way she approaches "true love." It's a sticky debate - I believe it's possible if the individuals getting in the relationship are devoted, open-minded, and can learn to not be possessive, if they can approach love in a "The Art of Loving" sort of way. It's tough though - even Emma struggled with it. I know I could never pull off polyamory (or promiscuity for that matter) but I can also respect those who pull it off without getting hurt or hurting. I think it's a nice ideal, and more honest of human relationships than a lof of what is perpetuated out there.

Ask me anything

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Story Behind Cosmetics

Let me start off by saying, I LOVE informative youtube videos - and this one is certainly an eye-opener! Look for what's in your cosmetics, buying herbal or organic can mean NOTHING. Look on your labels for phthalataes, parabens, and bha - AVOID THEM.

In other news, this makes me feel better about my generally lazy approach towards using cosmetics.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Youtube Guide to Getting it On: Safe Sex Ed

Guide to Getting It On

I don't remember where exactly I found this youtube channel, but it seems like it started up somewhat recently. The most important part is that it seems very beginner friendly - so let's spread the sex education (infinitely better than the abstinence programs out there)!

He also has a video entitled: "5 Things to Learn About Lovemaking from Porn."

The News Reel: 6/28-7/4

Herein begins the first post in a series of weekly posts called "The News Reel" where I will link to a handful of interesting news stories and opinion pieces I've read within the past week (or uh, in this case, the past few weeks) relating to gender/women's studies, sexuality, and possibly psychology.

Please let me know if you'd find it helpful for me to provide brief summaries for each article rather than just posting the link.

No Sex Please, We're Middle Class

No, Sexual Violence is Not 'Cultural'

Sharron Angle: You Can't Have An Abortion Because It's God's Plan You Were Raped

Kids of lesbians have fewer behavioral problems, study suggests

Say No To Sexual Violence in Conflict: Petition
Women and girls hardly ever fight the world's wars, but they often suffer the most. Increasingly, they are the direct targets of fighting, when sexual violence is deliberately used as a tactic of warfare.

And yet fewer than 10 percent of the people who negotiate peace deals are women, and only about three dozen individuals have been convicted and jailed by international war crimes tribunals for committing or commanding widespread sexual violence.

Sexual violence in conflict is NOT inevitable. It can be stopped.

Ten years ago, in its landmark resolution 1325, the United Nations Security Council called for women's full and equal participation in all elements of peacemaking, and for prevention of this kind of violence. But implementation of this historic resolution has been too slow.

Make Women Count for Peace

Add your name to this petition and ask your government to support three steps to implement Security Council resolution 1325:

Prosecute those who command and/or commit sexual violence and exclude them from armies and police forces after conflict.
Ensure that women participate in peace negotiations and all post-conflict decision-making institutions.
Increase the number of women in troops, police forces and civilians within international peacekeeping efforts.

How Sarah Palin is Reshaping the Religious Right

Plus-Size Girls Are More Likely To Have Sex Early And Unprotected

Victim Blaming 101: A Rape Apologist World

When Rape Victims Aren't Perfect

NY City Council Eliminates Sexual Violence Funding is a link to the first copy of this article I saw, on the SAFER website. However, another article covering this topic has also been published in the New York Times

Experimental drug being used prenatally to "fix" intersex genitals

NYPD Tapes 3: A Detective Comes Forward About Downgraded Sexual Assaults

Journalists at G20 Summit Arrested, Threatened With Rape, Mainstream Press Doesn't Notice

Breakthrough: the once-a-month male birth control pill

UN creates single entity to promote women’s empowerment

'Virginity test' helps free 3 in Vietnam rape case

Current sources used include:,,, and amongst various random twitter accounts and friends facebook profiles.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What is a Feminist?: A Discourse on Dissent

Although I did not plan for this topic to be my first blog post here, I've realized that perhaps it would be the best and most important thing to start with. I know I personally have struggled a lot with the word: "feminist," and I know that there are also a lot of misconceptions about it. It's a fickle word in the sense that feminism is a scary concept in a patriarchal society for most, and thus, it will be greeted with hostility and its meaning will be warped by political forces. Words are almost always morphed when politics changed, and history has shown that many female-positive words (such as "cunt") warped into female-negative words (such as modern day "cunt" to most women) the moment patriarchy started grinding its wheels and setting itself into action. So now, for the most part, people confuse "feminism" with "man-hating"... when really these concepts are two completely different things. To give my argument good footing, let's go to for a basic definition of feminism and feminists:

fem·i·nist (fěm'ə-nĭst)
n. A person whose beliefs and behavior are based on feminism.
adj. Relating to feminism.

fem·i·nism   [fem-uh-niz-uhm]
the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
(sometimes initial capital letter) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
feminine character.

While the third prong of the definition of "feminism" disturbs me a little (as I know many feminists who are not "feminine" and would not like being identified as such), I would like to highlight the first and second prongs of the definition of feminism. Feminism means advocating for women's rights, being a feminist means you essentially want women to have the same rights as men. Simple enough, and yet...

BAM. So many branches of feminism I don't even want to count.

I come to this argument with the identification of being a "white middle class feminist," which is to say I'm not sure if I would still be considered middle class or not. Regardless, it's to let you all be aware of my background and how I'm going to be constructing this argument. While I've never taken a Gender/Women's Studies course and have done a lot of the reading and engaged in the various discussions on my own spare time, I've been made aware that being a white middle class heterosexual woman somehow inherently makes it difficult for me to be a respected feminist. I'd like to point out, before I go any further, that it's very hard to hear (and very frequently heard) about how I'm an "oppressor" or "evil" (or whatever the case may be), simply because of a sexual orientation, a skin color, and an economic class I was born into, an identification I had just as little choice in picking as much as any type of minority would. And yet, it is because of these attributes I have that I am suddenly extradited from the argument - I am not worth listening to.

Emily Hartsfield, daughter to one of my favorite professors at Fort Lewis College and local professor of Pueblo Community College (if I remember correctly), studied trauma in literature for her MA and agreed that this type of attitude put women like us in a tough situation, "I read all this third-world feminist literature, and it's hard, because they're all like You're evil."

I joked at her that I wish there was such a categorical viewpoint as "Trauma Feminist," because I tend to look at Feminism as the same way I view trauma (specifically domestic violence and sexual assault, although many experiences can cause trauma, obviously). What I mean by this is that trauma can occur within any class, skin color, or sexuality. And, more importantly, if you're studying these types of trauma, you know that sexual assault and domestic violence are quite bluntly, tools of oppression. With trauma, the worst possible thing you can do is doubt the victim and invalidate her experiences (using this pronoun for argument's sake - men definitely can and do go through these types of trauma). To pretend one type of skin color or class or sexuality preference isn't at the risk of being traumatized or cannot be traumatized because of these attributes is dangerous: it stereotypes, it creates doubt surrounding the victim's trauma and possibly invalidates her, and it allows society to replicate this attitude.

Another important thing to know about trauma is that what may be traumatic to one individual may not to another - we are born with different sensitivity levels and will be affected by different things, and thus, we will also heal at our own rates in our own methods.

Now how does this all apply to my argument about feminism? A little while ago I wrote a very heated, angry, spur of the moment rant on tumblr about the hatred towards white middle-class feminists, reminding people that I've been through a handful of sexual assault scenarios (including one that endured for years) as well as domestic violence situations. I even threw out there that daughters of high-powered fathers are the ones who seem to be most susceptible to mental illness and neurosis through eating disorders, etc. That, while yes women of color and women who don't have a straightfoward sexuality are going to feel lambasted and pressured by the media, it doesn't mean women who fit more into society's wanted mold feel any less pressure. This is something Supergirls Speak Out: Inside the Secret Crisis of Overachieving Girls attests to (a book I would highly recommend and will review soon). One of the troubles of being a middle-class white woman, I've reminded, is society's pressure upon them and class pressure upon them to seem Perfect, a word that has caused me many nights of unrest and has created behaviors in me that are discussed in this book - overachieving, image issues, and so forth. This is to say: while we may not all be oppressed the same way at the same level, we all endure the oppression.

I want to further clarify: this is not putting down other classes and women of color and different sexualities - this is me saying, everyone struggles. every woman struggles. no one is immune to pain. having a certain skin color or sexuality does not make you exempt from all forms of oppression. no one class, gender, sexuality, or skin color gets to own the rights to pain and grievance. Whenever I rant about this topic to my friends, I get flustered, and will frequently say, "Come on, we're all women fighting for women's rights, can't we all just get along? As if the patriarchy doesn't tear us apart enough, we seek to tear each other apart?

And we do. I've had this trouble with professors who chide me for not looking into class and race as I'm just nailing down the basics, with acquaintances who will erase me from their life as I remind them of the above things. I've talked with my mom as she's confronted by a black woman, who calls herself a "womanist" because "feminism is a white woman's movement." I've seen links to Audre Lorde tearing apart white women, heard of bell hooks having issues with trans people (apparently). When I post links or discuss the neuroscience of the female brain or evolutionary psychology or even get into the biology things, I catch myself holding my breath, waiting for a backlash of feminists to tell me that science is gender-biased, mutable, and not worth considering. While I recognize that, I have my own biases, and have always been the type of person that goes "Oh yeah? I want proof to back up that statement. Give the science. The studies. Real life situations." Again, my own background and biases. And I can recognize that everyone has different points of view, and I definitely believe smashing the patriarchy is not something that cannot be done in one straight-forward way (as we are all different women with different interests and biases and who am I to tell you what empowers you and what doesn't). The problem is, there's no respect for that amongst a lot of feminists - it gets turned to black and white, right and wrong.

I've frequently had confrontations with the "More Oppressed Than Thou" Feminist who tells me I have no right to complain because I'm a white middle class feminist, and what do I know about oppression? In situations like this I can practically feel the hostility chucking itself at me in waves. Next, there is the "More Educated Than Thou" Feminist who is likely or has likely academically studied Gender and Women's Studies issues, been instructed on what feminism truly is, and when I voice my opinions, I can hear the "tsk" in the gutter of her throat, and surely enough, with their implication that I am ill-informed, this type of feminist will then proceed to recommend books to me so that I may become enlightened on their point of view and join their cult of prepackaged instructed feminist views.

I tend to run into problems with Educated Feminists especially when it comes to issues of being porn (pro-porn here or perhaps ambivalent-porn). I can understand the oppression inherent in porn, but then again, I've also read Jenna Jamison's memoir, How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale, - and I'm not going to walk up to a woman and tell her she's delusion about what empowers her, because she's likely not - she's just not fitting into your preconceived views. To rope it back into my diatribe about trauma, these whole last two paragraphs and the attitudes I've discussed in them are a big red flag of invalidation.

In my little lens of being a self-proclaimed Trauma Feminist, I've spent my whole life struggling with invalidation - particularly through the patriarchy who doesn't want to honestly and respectfully deal with sexual assault or domestic violence survivors, through the perpetrators who did convince me and will convince victims it is their fault, through bad relationships where I'd begin to second guess everything good that happen - due to a lot of truth bending and invalidation, I've become the type of person who does not trust easily and will expect physical proof to back your words. So, when I approach feminism, I don't want to be invalidated - I am fighting for my own rights as a woman, as I naturally have a right to do being a woman. Feminism shouldn't be a oppression-competition and it shouldn't be an elitist educational exclusionist act - it should be a vehicle for kindness towards other women. And I really hope people begin to remember that.