Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Trans Youth Homes

It's no secret that I don't want to have children...yes, that might change in 5+ years but I'll still shank anyone who patronizes "oh once you get older blah blah blah." Many personal reasons that I won't describe here, but it honestly just doesn't make sense for me. Any care-taking calling that I might have would not involve bringing more people into the world.

There are homes, mostly in metropolitan areas, for transgender youth who have been kicked out by their families. Homelessness among trans youth, particularly of color, is horrifically common. Prostitution and/or drug dealing are generally the only means of survival...if you can call it that. Group homes provide shelter, rehab, connection to medical care, education, job training, etc. Generally, these homes are pretty strict regarding curfew, drugs, chores, etc. - you know, like a PARENT would be. Also importantly, the communities provide personal validation and assistance in passing (or not, depending on the individual).

The need for trans youth homes won't go away anytime soon and they're always short-staffed and short-changed. As someone with knowledge, experience, and understanding, I'd enthusiastically give my help to such a home.
I interned at Milwaukee's Alliance School - an alternative high school for LGBTQ kids. The work itself was ok, teaching is not my forte, but talking with the students was fantastic. Many of them came to the school mainly for the warm meal (don't get me wrong, they loved the school too - these were kids who had been bullied out of standard schools and appreciated having such a welcoming place) and when they went home at the end of classes, you never really knew whether you'd see them again or not.
To provide a place for kids like them to call home is what I want to do. Maybe that will involve a group home, maybe that will involve adoption, I don't know yet. This idea has been developing for years and it will probably continue to do so until I'm ready to take on a care-taking role.

Related reading: "Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers" by Cris Beam

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Alverno College

What you get when you date someone from Alverno College:

1) qualitative assessment skills

2) self-awareness

3) strengths in the Eight Abilities:

problem solving
social interaction
global perspective
aesthetic engagement
effective citizenship

4) public speaking, editing and presentation skills

5) mediation

6) whenever you're acting like an asshole, we'll call you out on it: "that's blocking behavior!"

Friday, December 9, 2011

Women Dumbing Down

I've been out of school for two and a half years now and my post-Alverno College, post-women's college, outlook keeps shifting. I see women behaving in the same ways, but with drastically different outcomes between the feminine cloister and the outside world.

At Alverno, there were plenty of students who dumbed themselves down. Normally, they feared insulting someone who might not be as intelligent, which is a twisted kind of empathy that I have yet to see in men. Yes, there have been plenty of women who have complained "so-and-so thinks she's so smart, blah blah blah she's so stuck up." That's even been said of me, when I thought that I was just doing a favor by providing information.
More understandably, these students just didn't want an extra workload!!

In the normal world, there are women who dumb themselves down because they think that they won't be liked otherwise. In private, they might be extraordinarily intelligent; publicly, they feign stupidity. A friend of mine does this and I found out, through one-on-one conversation, that she's very interested in feminist theory (ironic, huh?). Whenever we meet up in a group, I jump in before she has a chance to say something stupid, "hey tell me about the book you're reading!" With others, attempts to get to know them are blockaded by "teehee, look at this cute pic in my phone!"

I'll admit that I sometimes dilute my intelligence, though not to such a degree. Rather than blathering "theory theory theory blah blah blah," I'll see how the conversation goes while asking questions; then I'll point out "what you're saying is similar to blah blah blah theory." I do this because pouring out all I know isn't a conversation, it's a monologue and nobody will learn anything from that. It's more effective and more enjoyable to back off for a little while.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Is it Misogyny?

Sometimes, I encounter an arrogant asshole and I can't tell whether he's treating me like shit because he just doesn't like me* or because he perceives me as a woman. And when he tells me "you don't even have to say anything for me to know that you're wrong," it doesn't really matter why he's being a jerk anymore.

I was recently told that I must be a good person because his friend is dating me.
excuse me?
Gee, thanks for acknowledging me...oh no wait, you didn't. This could be any person hand-in-hand with the prick's friend. The space I fill is not who I am.

* arrogant assholes tend to dislike me since I ask them penetrating questions about their blatant insecurity, but so innocently that they can't legitimately get mad

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Getting to that Age

Within one week, two complete strangers asked me about my marital/motherly status. Please don't let this become a regular thing...

When I was at work, a coworker called to ask me for synonyms. Upon hanging up, this lady asked me with a big, vapid grin if I was helping my SON OR DAUGHTER with English homework.
Excuse me?.......................................... May I leap across the counter and throttle you now please?

And at a party, a friend of the host asked me when I was intending on getting married.
And then he lectured me on how, at 26, I'm getting to that age of marriage and that it would probably make my mother happy and that I should really consider getting settled [tied] down and that the host has a really good heart.
No, no, no and this was only the third time we had ever hung out! Apparently the third date-ish thing is when you propose now.
Sir, could you please shut your big, dumb mouth while I shove this broken bottle up your ass?

Wrinkles, weight shifts, gray hair and other parts of aging don't bother me - it doesn't make sense to me when people worry over them. But apparently 26 is that age when complete strangers start lecturing you on marriage and children. GAAAAHHH I hoped that I would never reach this age! Up until now, there was always the dumbly-knowing nod "oh you'll feel different when you're older."
YES, I do! I feel FUCKING PISSED OFF!!! Apparently by settling down and having kids, whether I want to or not, and listening to normal people, I'm getting to that age when my mind shuts down.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Women Protagonists

I prefer women protagonists in novels. However androgynous I identify, the way I'm usually perceived in the world, is as a woman. Protagonists who are treated as women in their worlds are more appealing, interesting, validating and relate-able to me.
Not all women protagonists in general. Although they are among my favorite authors, Lois L'Amour, Isaac Asimov and John Green (he may be removed from this list come January!) have rather one-dimensional, sometimes sloppy women characters. Asimov's Susan Calvin, to use the most famous example, is a feminist's heroine for being a strong-willed, intelligent woman of science; he managed to touch a few chords with her, but it isn't her cold demeanor that makes her so distant from the reader.
Clearly, making a general character, however strong, female isn't enough. However powerful or weak, pleasant or hostile, the way a woman character moves in her world can make the novel invaluable.

- "She's Come Undone" by Wally Lamb
- anything ever written by Toni Morrison
- "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston
- "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak
- "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker
- anything ever written by Virginia Woolf
- "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath
- "Fear of Flying" by Erica Jong
- "A Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood
- "Clan of the Cave Bear" by Jean Auel
- "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" by Milan Kundera
- "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins
- "Valley of the Dolls" by Jacqueline Susann

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Liberal Quaker History

There are alotsa new people in my life now, and it dawned on my yesterday that most of them (you?) are unfamiliar with my Liberal Quaker past. I'm reading The Battle For God by Karen Armstrong and she included a bit on the Quakers; that brought back some long-forgotten memories.

When George Fox founded the Society of Friends in the 1640's, Europe was already in great upheaval not only between the Catholics and Protestants, but also in shifting religion from the field of intellect to emotion. So then this podunk upstart comes along comes along with his atheistic anarchy, according to the standards of the time. After initial insanity among the Society of Friends, they've ever since been active supporters of equal rights and the underdog.

In theory, Liberal Quaker beliefs and practices still make the most sense to me. All life is a manifestation of the divine and united, thusly, in equality. Seek out your inner light through personal methods. Meetings, rather than Masses, are times of quiet contemplation/meditation, with secretaries rather than authorities. Personal ideas of faith/spirituality are PERSONAL and just fine, they come second to the practices of equality and humility. This all makes sense, it leaves room for spiritual wanderings and doesn't repeat Catholic habits.

In practice, at least among the Liberal Quakers with whom I've talked, attending Meetings and active participation in the Society of Friends are demanded. I requested respect for my independent meanderings, and that was denied. Now that I think about it, that was a hypocritical attempt at authority...and the Friends with whom I spoke berated my sharing of information and questions solely because I'm not affiliated with a Meeting. The Society of Friends, at least the ones with whom I had contact, repeated the same issues of organization shared by other religions.

"make use of [your] own understanding without direction from another." - George Fox

Monday, October 24, 2011

Male Privilege, Male Security

Up until this year, male privilege was a vague concept to me, loosely connected to economics and political power. How did it actually affect the average guy? Aside from women falling over each other to leech off his elevated status (clearly, also a class privilege), I didn't know.

And then I started hanging around men much more. Mostly masculine, straight men. A series of minute details occurred:
- they don't tend to check whether their doors are locked multiple times. And if the doors have multiple locks, not all of them are locked all the time.
- they don't look over their shoulders while walking around at night
- they usually don't check in with loved ones when they're traveling
- they don't have multiple routes home planned out

After accumulating this evidence, it became clear to me that there is a general absence of fear. What man has been taught that he has something precious and fragile that everyone wants and will take by force? (I'm sure many men fantasize about this concept...or now they will.)

In addition to gender differences, granted, most of these guys are much bigger than most women. I'd love to offer my defensive arm to a damsel/twink in distress, but who would take it? Fortunately, all the men with whom I hang out now happily offer their physical intimidation for my use against creeps. Again, absence of fear - or not functioning on fear.

Most crimes are perpetrated by men toward other men...so why are they not functioning on fear?!?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Opposites Attract?

How cliché, "opposites attract." What do they do after they've attracted each other?

All the time at work, at O'HARE AIRPORT (so I have a pretty good sampling), miserable couples meander by. The women who just walked out of Better Homes knowingly empty their minds over celeb rags, the burly macho men soak up business books...and then pay for their wives' magazines. Sometimes, men will enjoy conversations with me about westerns, history and/or sci-fi - masculine genres. Their wives/girlfriends envy me for not only getting along with their men, but also for having the knowledge they don't*.

Aside from their decisions to fit traditional roles, these men and these women are utter opposites. They aren't genuinely attracted to each other because they actively hide who they are!! And they don't get along precisely because they're opposites, they don't relate to each other. The same fights over and over again: "don't go back to the bathroom, you'll spend another 20 minutes on your hair;" "you never hear anything I say, you're only interested in your fantasy football." Opposite interests, repulsion rather than attraction. These couples rarely share similar projects...they're each other's projects!!

Speaking for myself, I'm generally attracted to people to whom I can relate. I'm androgynous/masculine, and I'm attracted to people who have similar qualities (high femmes can have very big balls/ovaries). As a feminist, a sci-fi nerd, an artist with high appreciation for science, a cuddler, etc. I'm attracted to people who share these qualities.

It makes more sense to me to tackle projects with someone similar than to tackle someone who's my opposite. And much more arousing.

* it is possible, yes, that these women just genuinely aren't interested in those genres. I've been told or overheard too many women say "I wish I could enjoy math/science/sci-fi/history/technology/etc. more, but it scares boys away."

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sexual Excitement Survey

I'm currently reading "The Erotic Mind" by Jack Morin, Ph.D. In his research for the book (way back in the early 90's), he came up with this survey. It's included in the book and he requested filling it out and mailing it in anonymously. I dunno if, nearly 20 years later, he's still accepting the survey, but I thought it was very interesting. It made me think about these things in ways I wouldn't have connected otherwise and found some surprising patterns. Here it is (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCgQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jackmorin.com%2Fuserfiles%2F673622%2Ffile%2FSexualExcitementSurvey.pdf&rct=j&q=sexual%20excitement%20survey&ei=15-KTuH2DMfJgQfd4JWxAw&usg=AFQjCNFbtnGu7Nqr4ivcWQnuLTtnisTidg&sig2=DfHds59nvlvirJrmIwoR-g&cad=rja):

Part I—Real-Life Encounters
Think back over all of your sexual encounters with other people. Allow your mind to
focus on two specific encounters that were among the most arousing of your entire life.
Describe each of them in as much detail as you wish.
1. Describe exciting encounter #1
2. How old were you when you had this encounter?
3. What kind of relationship did you have with the partner(s) in this encounter?
a. Casual or anonymous
b. Acquaintance or date
c. Boyfriend/girlfriend
d. Primary relationship/spouse
e. Multiple partners
4. What do you think made this encounter so exciting?
5. How would you rate your level of excitement during this encounter, especially
compared to your usual ones?
Not particularly exciting <—0—1—2—3—4—> Extremely exciting
6. How would you rate your level of fulfillment during this encounter, especially
compared to your usual ones?
Not particularly fulfilling <—0—1—2—3—4—> Extremely fulfilling
7. How important was each of the following six groups of emotions in this
encounter? Within each group of feelings, base your rating on whichever feeling
was most important. (Note: some emotions, especially the “negative” ones, may be very
important even though they’re not particularly intense.)
a. Exuberance (Related emotions: joy, celebration, surprise, freedom, euphoria,
and pride).
Not at all important <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very important
b. Satisfaction (Related emotions: contentment, happiness, relaxation, and
Not at all important <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very important
c. Closeness (Related emotions: love, tenderness, affection, connection, unity,
oneness, and appreciation).
Not at all important <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very important
d. Anxiety (Related emotions: fear, vulnerability, weakness, worry, and
Not at all important <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very important
e. Guilt (Related emotions: remorse, naughtiness, dirtiness, and shame).
Not at all important <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very important
f. Anger (Related emotions: hostility, contempt, hatred, resentment, and
Not at all important <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very important
8. Before or during this encounter, which of the following drugs did you use?
(note as many as apply)
a. None
b. Alcohol
c. Barbiturates/Tranquilizers ("downers")
d. Stimulants (Cocaine, "speed")
e. Marijuana
f. Nitrite Inhalants ("poppers")
g. Psychedelics (LSD, “Ecstasy,” etc.)
9. Describe exciting encounter #2
10. How old were you when you had this encounter?
11. What kind of relationship did you have with the partner(s) in this encounter?
a. Casual or anonymous
b. Acquaintance or date
c. Boyfriend/girlfriend
d. Primary relationship/spouse
e. Multiple partners
12. What do you think made this encounter so exciting?
13. How would you rate your level of excitement during this encounter,
especially compared to your usual ones?
Not exciting <—0—1—2—3—4—> Extremely exciting
14. How would you rate your level of fulfillment during this encounter,
especially compared to your usual ones?
Not fulfilling <—0—1—2—3—4—> Extremely fulfilling
15. How important was each of the following six groups of emotions in this
encounter? Within each group of feelings, base your rating on whichever feeling
was most important. (Note: some emotions, especially the “negative” ones, may be very
important even though they’re not particularly intense.)
a. Exuberance (Related emotions: joy, celebration, surprise, freedom, euphoria, and
Not at all important <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very important
b. Satisfaction (Related emotions: contentment, happiness, relaxation, and security).
Not at all important <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very important
c. Closeness (Related emotions: love, tenderness, affection, connection, unity, oneness,
and appreciation).
Not at all important <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very important
d. Anxiety (Related emotions: fear, vulnerability, weakness, worry, and nervousness).
Not at all important <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very important
e. Guilt (Related emotions: remorse, naughtiness, dirtiness, and shame).
Not at all important <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very important
f. Anger (Related emotions: hostility, contempt, hatred, resentment, and revenge).
Not at all important <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very important
16. Before or during this experience, which of the following drugs did you use?
(note as many as apply)
a. None
b. Alcohol
c. Barbiturates/Tranquilizers ("downers")
d. Stimulants (Cocaine, "speed")
e. Marijuana
f. Nitrite Inhalants ("poppers")
g. Psychedelics (LSD, “Ecstasy,” etc.)

Part II—Sexual Fantasies
The focus of Part II is your personal experiences with sexual fantasy, in the past as
well as the present. A sexual fantasy is simply a mental image, daydream, thought, or
feeling that turns you on. Fantasies can be brief and simple or long and complex. If
you’re unclear about what fantasies are, read the fantasy section in Chapter 1.
17. At what age do you first remember having a sexual fantasy?
18. Describe one of the first sexual fantasies you can remember.
19. Considering all of your sexual fantasies that include other people, what
proportion of the important characters—besides yourself—are of the same or
opposite sex as you?
All same sex <—0—1—2—3—4—> All opposite sex
Following are a variety of statements about sexual fantasy. How frequently does each
statement apply to you personally? For each statement, select a number from this scale
that best reflects your experience:
Never <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very frequently
20. I fantasize about my past sexual experiences.01234
21. I fantasize about desired future experiences. 01234
22.I fantasize about things that couldn’t really happen. 01234
23. I fantasize about things I wouldn’t actually want to do. 01234
24. I fantasize about someone besides my regular sex partner(s). 01234
25. I fantasize when I masturbate. 01234
26. I fantasize when I’m having sex with a partner. 01234
27. I fantasize about sex with two or more partners at the same time. 01234
26. I have fantasies when I don’t want to. 01234
29. I’m embarrassed or uncomfortable about my fantasies. 01234
30. I think my fantasies are less interesting than other people’s. 01234
31. I wonder if my fantasies are normal. 01234
32. I wish my fantasies were different than they are. 01234
33. I’ve made a conscious effort to change my fantasies. 01234
34. Imagine yourself really wanting to be sexually aroused but, for some
reason, you’re not. Based on everything you know about your sexuality,
describe the fantasy that would be the very most likely to arouse you.
35. What are your ideas about what makes this fantasy so exciting? Please be as
specific as you possibly can.
36. Describe the "climax"—the most intense point of excitement—of this
37. How important is each of the following six groups of emotions in this
fantasy? Within each group of feelings, base your rating on whichever feeling is
most important. (Note: some emotions, especially the “negative” ones, may be very
important even though they’re not particularly intense.)
a. Exuberance (Related emotions: joy, celebration, surprise, freedom, euphoria, and
Not at all important <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very important
b. Satisfaction (Related emotions: contentment, happiness, relaxation, and security).
Not at all important <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very important
c. Closeness (Related emotions: love, tenderness, affection, connection, unity, oneness,
and appreciation).
Not at all important <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very important
d. Anxiety (Related emotions: fear, vulnerability, weakness, worry, and nervousness).
Not at all important <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very important
e. Guilt (Related emotions: remorse, naughtiness, dirtiness, and shame).
Not at all important <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very important
f. Anger (Related emotions: hostility, contempt, hatred, resentment, and revenge).
Not at all important <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very important
38. Think about all of the different fantasies that excite you. What percentage of all
your fantasies have a similar theme to the one you just described?
39. For how many years have you been aroused by fantasies similar to the one you
just described?
40. How often do you use erotic materials—such as sexually explicit books,
magazines, videos, etc.—either alone or with a sex partner?
Never <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very frequently
41. If you ever use erotic materials, what is the most common effect they have on
No effect <—0—1—2—3—4—> Highly arousing
42. Which of the following people have you told about your most exciting
fantasy? (note as many as apply.)
a. No one
b. A parent
c. A sibling
d. A friend
e. An acquaintance
f. A stranger
g. A casual sex partner
h. A regular sex partner
i. A therapist
Part III—Personal Background Information
(Respond to this section only if you are mailing in your answers.)
43. Your gender?
44. Your age?
45. Your occupation?
46. Your race?
a. Asian/Pacific Islander
b. Black
c. Hispanic
d. Caucasian
e. Other __________________
47. In which state do you live?
48. How would you describe the community in which you live?
a. Large city
b. Suburban
c. Small city
d. Rural
49. Your highest level of formal education?
a. Less than high school
b. High school graduate
c. Some college
d. College graduate
e. Some graduate work
f. Graduate degree
50. In which organized religion did you participate as a child?
a. None
b. Protestant
c. Catholic
d. Jewish
e. Other _______________
51. In which organized religion do you participate now?
a. None
b. Protestant
c. Catholic
d. Jewish
e. Other _______________
52. How much influence do you think your religious beliefs (past or present)
have on your current attitudes and feelings about sex?
No influence <—0—1—2—3—4—> Strong Influence
53. How old were you when you first masturbated?
54. How many times do you masturbate now in an average month?
55. If you masturbate, how many minutes do you usually spend?
56. How old were you when you first had a feeling of sexual attraction toward
another person?
57. How old were you when you first did any kind of sexual touching with
another person?
58. How old were you when you first had an orgasm with another person (from
any kind of stimulation)?
59. How many different sexual partners have you had in your lifetime? (any
sexual contact, not necessarily intercourse)
60. During the last year, how many times have you had sex with a partner in an
average month (any sexual contact, not necessarily intercourse)?
61. How many times would you like to have sex with a partner in an average
62. During the last year, how many orgasms have you had in an average month?
(by yourself and with a partner)?
63. When you have sex with a partner, about what percentage of the time do you
have an orgasm?
64. What is your current marital/relationship status?
a. Single/never married
b. Married
c. Separated/divorced
d. In primary relationship, but not married
The next four questions are about your current primary relationship. If you are not
involved in a relationship, please skip to question #69.
65. How long have you been involved in your current relationship?
66. Is your partner male or female?
67. How many times have you had sex with this partner in the last month (any
sexual contact, not necessarily intercourse)?
68. Since you became involved with this person, with how many other partners
have you also had sex (any sexual contact, not necessarily intercourse)?
69. How do you define your sexual orientation?
Exclusively Homosexual <—0—1—2—3—4—5—6—> Exclusively heterosexual
70. Overall, how satisfied do you feel with your current sex life?
Not at all satisfied <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very satisfied
71. How would you rate your overall level of self-esteem?
Very low <—0—1—2—3—4—> Very high

Please answer "Yes" or "No" for each of the following questions:
72. Before puberty, did you ever have any sexual contact (not necessarily
intercourse) with an adult?
73. Have you ever had any sexual contact with a sibling?
74. Have you ever had any sexual contact with a parent or stepparent?
75. Have you ever been forced to have sex when you didn’t want to?
76. Have you ever forced another person to have sex with you when they didn’t
want to?
77. Have you ever done anything sexually that was against the law?
If yes, what did you do? ____________________________
78. Have you ever been arrested because of your sexual behavior?
If yes, what were you arrested for? ___________________
79. What was the total amount of time you spent filling out this survey?
80. Are there any comments you would like to make about this survey?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Enthusiastic Consent, Poly and Mono

There is this idea that, by "putting out" for multiple people, consent means less. As though spreading it thins it.

Another way of looking at it is that sticking to one person can become an obligation, a chore. Enthusiastic consent can lose its enthusiasm in stagnancy. Enjoying different partners allows one to value each more.

Neither point of view is generally right or wrong, just different for different people. Giving enthusiastic consent to one person can strengthen it for some people, sharing it with different partners empowers it for others.

Enthusiastic consent is not a dwindling resource. Whether given to one or to many, frequent giving makes it more joyous. The enthusiasm makes one an active partner, fully aware of what's being shared.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Feminine Domesticity

Wanderlust, the antithesis of domesticity, is a masculine characteristic. And, likewise, domesticity is feminine. I have a very high wanderlust and, frankly, I don't want this to be a gendered quality. For a few years, I've been exploring masculinity and experimenting with masculine traits. The implication, though, that feminine women stay at home precisely because of their femininity concerns me. I don't mean housewifery specifically, also settling down sooner/younger than men and not exploring beforehand.

Many feminine women, particularly from college, say that they admire my "bravery" in traveling disconnected from domestic obligations. That's great, though it isn't exactly "bravery" to follow your dreams and it would be more of a compliment for these women to live their own lives. These women also fear for me. What does this accomplish?!

Perhaps feminine women are more domestic because home is a safehaven from misogyny. Which isn't to say that misogyny doesn't happen in the home, but the facade of control can be held up there more than out in the world. And for all their masculinity, butch lesbians get very domestic and eager to settle down. They tend to get twice the bullshit: misogyny + homophobia. With the understanding that home is a safehaven from these social forces, butches would be even more driven to build and maintain one. This certainly helps explain why lesbians jump into relationships so quickly: to feel safe together from shared bullshit.

And I may be exempt from gender-related domesticity because home wasn't a safehaven for me. The road is my safehaven.

Monday, August 29, 2011

"Look Both Ways" by Jennifer Baumgardner

You may recognize Jennifer Baumgardner, the co-author of "Manifesta." "Manifesta" was great, a basic and in-depth feminist, well, manifesta for young women of the early 00's. I highly recommend it as a primer.

And then "Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics" by Jennifer Baumgardner caught my eye at the library. http://www.amazon.com/Look-Both-Ways-Bisexual-Politics/dp/0374531080/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1314628877&sr=8-1

I've noticed that the vast majority of nonfiction I read can be divided into two categories: purely objective information and subjective semi-autobiography. Sadly, these two writing styles can be divided between the sexes. Women authors almost always include personal anecdotes and opinions in their nonfiction, while men are more likely to just write the evidence and analysis. "Look Both Ways" really takes the cake - Baumgardner appears to have interviewed only women akin to her class, background, profession, gender expression and urban location. Their stories intermingle with her own - this is not hard journalism, this is a blog. Which is fine! But don't write a 227 page blog of one's opinions and pass it off as "women's studies"!

And then there are all the issues in the book itself. At first, I schlepped through this book to find a few gems of actual information; about halfway through, it became a page-turning hurricane of shock. Many of the "drawbacks" of bisexuality she describes can be remedied by having a spine. A brain wouldn't hurt either.

On page 32, Baumgardner explains her relationship with a man, Steven, and cheating on him with a woman, Amy. She states in very clear terms that her relationship with Steven was just what she always wanted because of her relationship with Amy. By stretching her relationship wants and needs across two people, she was better able to appreciate them both. So what does she do? Dumps Steven! And here I'm stomping on the book, screaming "try polyamory, stupid! POLYAMORY!" Alas, the option of non-monogamy isn't mentioned at all in the entire book.

Page 141: "Women are entering into relationships with men with gay expectations, but they don't know how to actualize those expectations or, sometimes, even acknowledge them. It's part of the paradox of feminism, of feminism's unfinished revolution: women expect equality from their relationships, but not from men." If a woman is in a relationship with a man and she doesn't communicate her expectations she bears the responsibility of her disappointment. And expecting equality in relationships but not from men? Is Baumgardner writing about thinking adults here? She seems to have a pretty low opinion on men in general, but this makes women look contradictory and weak as well.

Page 143, Baumgardner writes about the appeal of a bisexual/lesbian girlfriend to men. The first reason for this, apparently, queer (a term mentioned once in the book) women lack the neediness of straight women. The author herself proved that false: she was very needy in her relationships. The second reason is that a man, who's CLEARLY commitment-phobic, knows that he won't have to commit to a queer woman. This is just insulting to everyone. And the final reason is that queer women tend to be more independent - actually, I really have no argument here. You've read my blog, this isn't news.

Those are all the specific snippets I have lined up. Overall, "Look Both Ways" is insulting. It insults men by calling them inherently misogynistic, emotionally dense, commitment-phobic and insecure. It insults women by calling them needily dependent, always looking for "The One", childlike, and stupid enough to date one of those Neanderthal men while expecting something more syrupy. To be sure, PLENTY of people who fulfill these stereotypes exist - these Breeders (not a sexuality-specific term) are the bane of my existence. Beaumgardner's worldview is so small that these may very well be the only gender roles she knows. How a 40something, bisexual, feminist journalist in NYC could emulate Carrie Bradshaw so well is beyond me.

And it's additionally insulting to pick up a book bearing the subtitle "Bisexual Politics" and to discover "My Repeated Bisexual Mistakes." The one real drawback to bisexuality mentioned in this book is that one's sexuality is perceived as reliant on one's partner. "Oh you're straight now" when dating a man, "oh you're a lesbian now" when dating a woman. So many people don't see bisexuality as a real sexual orientation because their own minds change it based on changing partners. Baumgardner explains this problem...and then implies that the bisexual person feels some kind of guilt?!?!? Guilt for other people's inability to conceptualize fluidity?!? Guilt for not living up to some bisexual role, which apparently doesn't exist because Baumgardner isn't aware of polyamory?!?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Decreasing Marriage Rates in Asia

According to an article in The Economist, marriage rates in Asia are decreasing dramatically - partl because there are just more men (by 2050, there will be 60m more men of marriageable age than women) and partly because it is more advantageous for women to remain single. Education, business, health care and urbanization all improve the lives of single women, while the lives of marriage women stay the same in traditionally family-oriented cultures.

In Asian cultures, women with the least education are more likely to marry. In the West, however, women with degrees are more likely to marry. I theorize that this is because of a woman's role in a poor family. Among poor Asians, a daughter is another mouth to feed: send her away to take care of her (potentially wealthier) in-laws. Among poor Westerners, a daughter is another contributer to her family's funds: why send her away to fund another family?

Also, cohabitation rates have risen in the West while marriage has fallen. This reflects on the poor image we have of marriage: it's expensive to begin and to end (and there's a 50% chance it'll end). The habits of cohabitating couples aren't different from those of married couples. In Asia, though, the extremely low rate of cohabitation hasn't changed. The low rate of marrying women doesn't reflect on marriage, but on a traditional woman's role when she isn't single. They don't want their mothers' lives: they don't want to take care of anyone other than themselves.

Ther are also far fewer options in Asia for working mothers than in the West.

Come the 2050 sex divide, perhaps there will be an influx in clergy. People have used religious vocation to solve social/economic problems before. This article suggests that the 60m unmarriable men will topple the concept of universal marriage. I wonder if an honorable role for these men will be formed - clergy has been the common way to do that in previous times.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Recovering Catholic

I've had a loose concept of Catholic-based paintings/artwork for about a year now, it's been very slowly coming together. Aside from acrylic paint (<3), I'm using rosaries, pendants, prayer cards, flyers, etc.

It's difficult to describe, verbally, what this artwork expresses (thus the painting!). All the little icons and such are from a thrift store in Milwaukee. Going through the box of Catholic items there has been a very odd experience: everything is familiar, but my more recently acquired logic wonders wtf all this crap really DOES. Emotional comfort vs. rational reason.

The fact that there is some emotional comfort in these familiar things is pretty odd, considering all the terrible things I endured at St. Monica's Elementary. Discovering that St. Monica's is so extreme that it isn't acknowledged by the Chicago Diocese, though, has helped so much. I'm discovering actual Catholicism now, separating it from extremists. Many horrors occur in Catholicism and there is no way I'll convert back - I'm sifting the pleasant out from the abusive. Obedience to a cruel hierarchy is separate from artistic/musical/poetic appreciation. The comfort of some supernatural mother figure makes no logical sense but can be emotionally appealing.
That's one of the main reasons why Catholicism has been so successful for so many centuries: the emotional appeal tends to be much stronger among uneducated people.

Individual people and greed for control are responsible for what I've endured, just like with most evil committed in the world. I can appreciate parts of what they twisted, even if just as a familiar and complex myth. If I abandon that solely because I don't logically "believe" in it, how am I any different from the people who avoid fiction because they're afraid to feel anything? Like it or not, Catholicism is among my roots and I'm clearing away the weeds they planted.

Seems to me that there are three reasons for following a religion:
1) actual belief. "This deity actually exists, this special person actually did that, and I must do this." Logical thinking minus measurable evidence
2) cultural tradition. "We are this group and we do this. If this deity actually exists, it would be an additional benefit." Communal functioning.
3) emotional appreciation. "The symbols and stories are aesthetically appealing to me." No different from secular work.

I primarily have #3, but can appreciate #2 to a degree. My family has a mix of #2 and #3 and I would attend mass with them because I enjoy any time spent with them - if we're appreciating beauty together, even better!

Times like these I wish I had some sort of spiritual guide (an actual person, not an angel or something). The one great priest I knew has been warped by an administrative job and the Quakers to whom I reached out demanded community obedience in exchange for discussion. I'm done searching; though it may be lonely processing these icons by myself (nobody else from St. Monica's cares, or they're perpetuating), it's certainly safer.

And when my shitty 8th grade principal told me that I could never be non-Catholic since I was baptized, I thought she was just bullshitting me. No other religious culture could ever feel so familiar, make such irrational sense.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sex Positivity

Oh the joys of sex positivity! Who knew therapy could be so much fun?! It's healing, a way to take control of one's 50% of the situation (or some other percentage, depending on how many people are involved). Enthusiastic consent makes the entire experience even more enjoyable.
Today is Milwaukee's SlutWalk and it's so wonderful how many people, particularly Alverno people, who are marching in it. Wish I could be there with you glorious sluts!

After a very strict Catholic upbringing, it was only about midway through college that I learned to accept pleasure. Suffering doesn't actually accomplish anything (it could be argued that one learned through suffering, but extreme Catholicism looks down on learning as much as on pleasure), and enjoying pleasure doesn't make one a bad person. It's ok to be moderately selfish, especially when so much fun can be had giving as well. Sexual pleasure is a physical release, and going at it enthusiastically and partaking in power play bring about a mental/emotional release as well.

Many thanks to Susie Bright, Eve Ensler, Del LaGrace Volcano, Annie Sparkle, Margaret Cho and many many others who have brought about the queer sex-positive awareness that has certainly improved my life and, well, certainly the lives of my lovers! There are indeed queer slut role models aplenty, advocates of enthusiastic consent and body awareness and gender fluidity, which can flood one's life like a rainbow avalanche if only that door is opened. They've cleared the rough paths so that mine may be easier to walk (or skip).

And a very special thank you to Kate Bornstein. The quote in her book Gender Outlaw has made all the difference: "never fuck anyone you wouldn't want to be." (and, of course, my appreciation to the grandmother who coined the phrase, and to the anonymous person who announced it at a Bornstein event).

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fulfilling Stereotypes

Having attended an all-women college, living in the dorms the entire time, I realize that those were five years spent away from normal men. Aside from standard social divisions such as race, age, sexuality, etc., the main split between us students was between nursing majors and everybody else. By no means were all nursing majors vapid, shallow and dependent - just like not all non-nursing majors were deep, analytical and independent. When someone who didn't major in nursing was referred to as a "nursing major," the reference of her mind was understood.
And, aside from a few faculty members, security guards, and boyfriends of friends, men were not a social group in my mind. Because I only knew them as individuals, I thought of them as individuals rather than as representatives of a gender.

So when I graduated and came back to reality, I was extremely hesitant in thinking along the lines of "men this" and "men that." When I'd read/hear women complain that men take up too much space, I didn't want to believe it. The main division, in my mind, was still between nursing majors and everybody else, devoid of gender...alright not entirely. It's saddening to see a woman fulfill the "nursing major" stereotype because she can't imagine her own independence and value.

And now, after two years of almost daily public transportation, it's much more difficult to question women who claim that men take up too much space. About two-thirds of the people who cram me against the bus/train wall, rub up against me unnecessarily or push me into the aisle are men - all of the people who intentionally do these things are men (how do I know it's intentional? They look right at me while doing it and the women apologize).
This is probably not a natural, biologically-based behavior - at least not any more than the vapidity of many women is based in biology. Granted, I don't know the backgrounds of most of the people who act along these stereotypes, but I'd like to believe that these behaviors are nurtured socially.

In essence, a lot of people make it rather difficult to not categorize them along stereotypes.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Go on a Diet!

I've written before that normal people understand multiple partners in the context of cheating, but not so much in polyamory. The idea of monogamy, lived successfully or not, is a comfort zone for most people. Open honesty among multiple sexual partners, though, baffles the normals.

Living poly has opened up my life in ways I couldn't have imagined. A year ago, I was in an unhappy monogamous relationship and I wasn't doing anything. The only people I was meeting were my girlfriend's friends. And bedroom activities had fizzled.
And now I'm meeting new people all the time, I have projects going on, learning new things, queereducating people, and having so much fun! And...expanding my experiences.

Most of the normal people I know (monogamous, straight, etc.) behold my life as a soap opera minus all the drama. My worklife hasn't suffered from my social life aside from being really worn-out and sleepy some days. And yet some of these normals tell me to go on a diet - and not a diet from food! This is just too much for a lot of people, apparently I need to rein in the awesome insanity of my life.

This is probably not, for the most part, jealousy. One person actually is jealous and it's no secret. But otherwise, there's no reason for me to decrease anything I'm doing so long as it's safe and everyone involved is happy. Aside from finding the time, there's no struggle in my poly life nor in discussions with normal people. It's just facepalm-worthy sometimes.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

PMS Rant

Recently, I encountered two women in a professional relationship. One was a client of the other for legal purposes. The client, who was in this situation because of a car crash, didn't know what an axle was - she was at least my age and knew English, she just didn't understand how her own car worked and couldn't name various parts of it.
The other lady and I had a conversation aside from her client. We were discussing a medical professional and I mentioned how, since I've taken many anatomy-based figure drawing classes, it's refreshing to hear a doctor who speaks in terms I know. She said there are plenty of people who know what a trapezius is, I shouldn't make such a big deal of sharing that knowledge with the doctor. I replied "there are some people who don't know what an axle is."
She chuckled "many girls don't know about cars."


What really pisses me off is that she's right.
So many people, specifically men who're just minding their own business, will meet woman after woman after woman who knows nothing and needs her hand held...and then they expect the same of me. I can't blame them!

This isn't a problem of the sexes or the genders or the sexualities, it's what comes of heterosexism. Shulamith Firestone theorized that a man, with his male privilege, will pick a woman to elevate to his status. While there are probably very few men who have that specific thought process, her theory is evident in our culture. And Olive Schreiner noted "The less a woman has in her head the lighter she is for carrying.” Many straight women who rely on being elevated through a diamond ring will lighten the weights of their minds. This is how it works, up until a queer freak comes along and gunks up the clockwork.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gay Flirtation

A cousin of mine, a straight man, has worked on the railroad for decades. About ten years ago, he had to get glasses and, because of the nature of his work, had to get a glasses-necklace to make it easier to switch them off and on. When he picked out a holder, the store had a black one and a rainbow one. My cousin, bless his heart, is not the most aware guy. He thought "oh, these are snazzy" and bought the rainbow ones! He wore this rainbow glasses-necklace every day while working the railroad. He noticed, from then on, that men were honking at him and yelling "nice ass" at him much more often. Not one to turn away flattery, my cousin thought he must be lookin' pretty good! Finally, a coworker enlightened him that a rainbow is LGBTQ Pridewear - he was rather disappointed that the rainbow caught these guys' attention more than his ass.

His ass, though, had not changed. Only when he wore this rainbow glasses-necklace, not knowing what it signified, did men catcall him. The fact that he was perceived as gay brought on this attention.

There has been a theory for decades that chauvinistic straight men are homophobic because they fear that gay men will mistreat them, just like how they mistreat women. Many homophobic men will actually admit that's why they're homophobic (sometimes with pride).

Yes, there are predatory gay people and, yes, my cousin's situation is only one person's. However, his story implies that the fear of these homophobes is unfounded. Many gay men won't catcall straight men, either out of fear of retribution or because it would be pointless.

While I'd like to say that a gay man wouldn't hit on a homophobic man, the fact that women date chauvinistic men proves that such logic doesn't apply to reality.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Masculine to Masculine

When people see me with a bioguy lover, the few who say something will say one of two things:

1) that I've turned straight

2) we might be two gay guys

The main difference between those groups is that 1 sees sex and 2 sees gender expression. Group 1 perceives "opposite sexes" (and don't know that phrase makes no sense) and expects certain behaviors - like I secretly loathe my lover and just want him to buy me things. They also, usually, can't resolve my queerness with my "heterosexuality;" apparently I must choose one or the other.

What Group 1 can't see but Group 2 can is that the people to whom I'm attracted are usually masculine and that I'm rather masculine. In addition to just basic attraction, I relate more to masculine people. One thing that I've noticed recently is that most of the guys I get along with best have only brothers. Guys with sisters tend to be more protective of me rather than challenging, and I hate being protected.
Anyway, Group 2 is a bit closer to reality. They see gender expression, which is a facet of an individual. Biological sex has no inherent meaning or value, therefore judging a relationship on it ignores the true value of the people involved.

There are some queer people who are in Group 1, which is very disappointing. The queer community has been fighting for decades to be accepted for/despite "same sex" relationships. And now that I have "opposite sex" lovers, some queer people are giving me the same shit they've been given. It's frustrating! And a few can't/won't see that we're in the same predicament!

What those poor misguided queers and Group 1 see are "opposite sexes" and privilege. Yes, there are L.U.G.s (Lesbian Until Graduation) who give up their queerdom to live a "normal" life of straight privilege. That is not me! The people of Group 1 who assume my hatred of my lovers expect me to be like all the breeder women who'd rather be in a miserable relationship than contentedly single. And they do so because they get privileges by being in relationships with breeder men.
And I don't even want a relationship!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Things I've Learned

- As an increasingly masculine person, I'm primarily attracted to masculine people. People who balance masculinity, not macho people. Because I must relate to a person I'm gonna date and I tend to relate more to masculine people, I date masculine people. There are a handful of feminine people to whom I'm physically attracted, but that's about it. Believe me, I respect femmes and I'm ecstatic that they're around, just not my cup of tea.
subnote: in industrial/blue collar environments,the people to whom I'm attracted are usually butch lesbians. Butches and industry go hand-in-hand, meanwhile most of the straight men there are macho. This is one of the things I miss most about Wisconsin! Chicago has been commercial for decades so the very qualities to which I'm attracted in butch lesbians occur more often in straight guys here. People look at the F on my driver's license and assume that I'm straight in Chicago but a lesbian in Wisconsin. They don't see my masculinity interacting with the masculinities of people in different cultures.

- I would love to learn more about BDSM but have yet to find a free, SAFE environment in which to do so. Recently, there was an offer for a private play party...but my discomfort outweighed my curiosity. I didn't know the people involved well enough and this would have taken place somewhere I don't know. Call me a wuss, but my safety can't be compromised. With regards to that intimacy, I'd rather be a safe wuss than brave with regrets.

- Because I'm non-monogamous, a lot of people assume that my two lovers and other dates are all needed to fulfill some voracious appetite. That is nice, yes, but that's not the motivation. If I meet someone great and we start dating/sexing/loving/etc. and then I meet another great person, I shouldn't have to choose between them. Why not both? And then people are extra-baffled that everyone involved knows about each other, but I've already written about that.

- Combining masculinity with safety, being upfront is great! Though it may be nerve-wracking and you're taking a huge risk, it's usually best to just come out and say "hey I like you, whaddaya say?" Chances are that person didn't even know! It sucks to get turned down, yes, but at least there's closure.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Thoughts on Sex Drive and Mono/Polyamory

I was thinking about the stereotype of gay men who have open relationships. It's a stereotype because it's usually true. There's this idea that men have a higher sex drive and a lower value on codependence, so two men together would mess around with others. This is usually the case in reality.
But what does that mean about straight men? That they're somehow supposed to rein it in because women supposedly have a lower sex drive and a higher value on codependence? That sounds like a bum deal to me.

A lot of women don't have a lower sex drive until they're on The Pill. Granted, The Pill doesn't have the same effect on all women; but you can't deny the fact that a lot of women take it IN ORDER TO lower their libido (alright you can deny this if you didn't know already). They wouldn't do that if they didn't have a high libido, right?

Now that I've been living it up poly and seen how normal people - and some abnormal people! - can't wrap their minds around this lifestyle and I've been studying human sexuality and heard so many women bitching about their boyfriends wanting sex more than them (because they were on The Pill IN ORDER TO want less sex), I've got this idea that women are socially pressured to idealize monogamy more than men. Not a conspiracy, just that it's a cultural standard that most people don't usually question. Here are all these women who fight their own bodies in order to maintain monogamy. Economic property and jealousy are really the only things that keep us valuing monogamy, there's nothing biological to drive us to monogamy. And all these people think that I'm insane to have two lovers who know about each other, and that I keep dating others.

What really shocks people is that both of my lovers know that each other exists, that they know that I go on dates with other people as well, and that my lovers are free to date others too. The open honesty is what shocks people. We all agree that it would be cheating to keep a new sexual partner secret; open honesty makes safe sex safer. But people are shocked and confused that everybody involved knows about everybody else.
What these confused people don't realize is this: if I kept my lovers secret, people wouldn't be confused. Whether or not they approve, cheating makes sense to people. Cheating implies a value on monogamy, at least the appearance of it. My libido would be absolved (until someone recommends The Pill to lower it...) through the facade of monogamy.

I wonder how people would act were I a man, though.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Citizens Upholding Noisy Titillation

First, a refresher from The Vagina Monologues:

This was my story. Well, not the lawyer part (though I'd gladly take her as a sugar mama). But I, too, used to "hide my moan" with a couple unappreciative lovers and in some primly proper residences. Sex was far less enjoyable; it's one thing to choose to be quiet because it adds a sneaky quality to how naughty you're being, teehee, and quite another to be told "if you don't quiet down, I'm going to stop." The silence of these dorms and apartment buildings was something to conform to, right? Don't disturb it, even if it is 9pm on a Saturday.

I assistant-managed a production of The Vagina Monologues at my internship, shortly before graduation. My relationship at the time was also faltering and it ended about a month after I graduated. These three coinciding events inspired me to throw off the weight of imposed silence. Although it was sad to no longer be held in awe in the dorm, at least I didn't have to worry about disturbing someone's homework (what could turn you off more?). No more would I be silenced, I would proclaim my lover's skill - and sex got a lot better with this noisy liberation!

Those of us who appreciate loud sex must band together. Good sex makes a happier world and if you can't hear it happening, how do you know it's happening at all? Make the world a happier place by joining Citizens Upholding Noisy Titillation.
Step 1: have loud sex
Step 2: cheer on the loud sex you overhear
That's all it takes to become a Citizen of C.U.N.T. We want to hear Noisy Titillation in the apartments and houses we pass, in the dressing rooms of where we shop, under the tables of restaurants, and in the parks. A society in which people are getting laid is a happy society.
Join the Citizens Upholding Noisy Titillation group on facebook - t-shirts and buttons to appear in the near future!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cactus Tree

Up until college, the goal put into my life was to get a husband. Good grades and a degree were good, too, but paled in comparison to a diamond ring with a house and kids.
After coming out, clearly the priority of marriage fell a few notches. The idea of permanently settling down was still a goal, as though such a thing would prove my worth and heal all the instability of m life thusfar.

It got to the point, when I was 20-22, that I feared I had some flaw. Most of my friends and my girlfriend at the time had been proposed to at least once or had even been engaged. This hadn't happened to me, so something must have been wrong with me, right? This may be difficult to believe now, but I was very feminine and domestic then, still seeking out a permanent anchor.All that was missing was the anchor - which was one of the reasons why I took it so hard when that girlfriend left me to engage someone else.

Through clusterfucks aplenty, cutting contact with my mother, learning more about my father's history, studying artists who had traveled between the MidWest and the SouthWest, forming independent relationships with my "spinster" aunts, and seeing the misery of my prematurely tied-down peers, things clearly changed. I began to be grateful that a proposal had never happened. Regardless of the answer given, a proposal shifts the situation. Could a couple really go on as normal with a "no" reply? Relationships have ended even with an "I need to think about it."

About a year ago was when I finally took life by the reins - if I'm gonna make it WEST, I have to make it happen. Which means the very things I once considered fulfillment are what I must prevent now. It seems foolish to vow permanence, particularly of relationships, because that can't be controlled. People who attempt such allegiance to me, frankly, scare me. It's like they're trying to hold a slippery, writhing fish by crushing it.

Promises of always seem to value the stability of the relationship over the quality of the person. And end doesn't necessarily imply rejection or abandonment. Although it's cheesy and cliche: if you love someone, let hir go.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

SlutWalk Season

I always love Pride Month, but this June is turning out more active and exciting than any beforehand. In addition to travels galore (to get away from the Midwestern winter's grip), Chicago's SlutWalk and Milwaukee's PrideFest were just a week apart! Both events serve as a statement of sexual freedom, from activities to identities. Both involve pride, networking, diversified unity, and a good serving of comedy. And there are those who choose to withdraw from both events, either because it's just not their cup of tea or from policy disagreements. And that's fine!

At Chicago's SlutWalk, I got a t-shirt advertising the event and its date. I wore it to Milwaukee's PrideFest, naturally. At least a dozen people, ranging from sassy queens to rough bulldykes and everyone in between, commented on it and asked me about it. All of them said that, had they known it was going on, they would have come down to march. I told them all the same: Google Milwaukee's SlutWalk and march in that one. Later, I discovered that the booth of ToolShed, Milwaukee's queer sex shop, had information on their city's upcoming SlutWalk. August 13!

You can see at http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/satellite where and when worldwide SlutWalks are taking place. Or you can just search online your location and "SlutWalk."
The fact that this kind of event, marching out against sexual assault and oppression, is internationally popular implies that people are ready for change. It's arguable what a few hours of marching can accomplish, true. But the eagerness to make a public statement, in the streets, across cultures and nations is suggestive of perhaps greater changes. This has coincided with the DSK scandal, for example, which many consider to be the international Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas. That scandal has brought to European cultures what Anita Hill arose in America nearly 20 years ago. Could it be that all these people around the world are sick of the silence around sexual harassment? Are people finally coming around to the idea that appearances are not invitations? Pride has loosened the connection between sexual preference and personal quality, and maybe now that concept is extending beyond the LGBTQ community.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Basic Rules of This Ethical Slut

The absolute #1 rule: SAFE SEX!! Get your junk tested, use protection (particularly "barrier methods" with new partners), know your outbreak symptoms if you have something, and COMMUNICATE! This goes beyond just physical safety, it's also about not getting into a situation/relationship in which resent grows.

#2: Never fuck anyone you wouldn't want to be.

- apparently this is a new concept to many people. I read this rule in one of Kate Bornstein's books. Since I don't recall which, read all of them.

#3: Know yourself. Listen to your body, keep track of your habits, learn to self-soothe, keep healthy. This ties in to both 1 & 2; you can't have safe sex if you don't know what's going on with yourself and, if you don't want to be yourself*, maybe you should reconsider getting intimately involved with someone else.

* I'm talking beyond employment, finances, living situation, etc. That's all trivial bullshit. I mean personal qualities and basic self-respect.

#4: HAVE FUN! It's corny, but isn't that what Sluthood is all about in the first place?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ugly Girl vs. Pretty Girl

Working at O'Hare, two kinds of straight (usually white) men really stand out. The airport construction worker and the elitist businessman, and they stand out because they're similar in how they hit on me. Because they assume that I have a vagina*, apparently that means I'm there for their advances. I tend to ignore them, especially since they hit on all "women" equally and a flight attendant will probably kick them out - you go, girls!

But then these guys will call me pretty. I don't want to be pretty, I want to be smart. Firstly, I don't see how Michael Cera can be pretty to these skeezy guys. Secondly, my appearance is not an invitation. I know that some of these guys, usually the construction workers, probably think that calling me a "pretty girl" is the utmost compliment and they probably mean well. How are they supposed to know that I would be irritated while their wives/daughters/etc. appreciate it?

Throughout school, especially when I broke my nose at 9, I was The Ugly Girl. Of course, now I know that it was because I was malnourished, abused and generally disconnected from my own body. At the time, it was incredibly painful. Up until 8th grade, I saved up all my money for plastic surgery, I mildly dieted and stuffed my bra. Then I embraced my Ugly self and actively decided to walk my own path as an Ugly person. I honestly thought "if Ringo Starr could be a BEATLE with his giant nose, I can be a normal person with mine."

In high school, though, my acceptance of my Ugliness didn't make rejection any easier. Now I know that a couple people did have crushes on me, but I was still holding out on my Prince Charming who would perceive some personal beauty beyond my malnourished, abused body (as though such personal beauty couldn't exist without that validation). And I wasn't willing to act dumb or to give flattery where it wasn't due, so my refusal to compromise with stupidity made me even more alone romantically. And then some guys bet each other to ask me out.

At college**, though, things finally opened up. Firstly, I WAS IN A HEALTHY, NOT ABUSIVE PLACE!!! Secondly, a mind-centric group was available. I was finally able to form myself and to pick my scene. Things turned around!

It's not that I don't want to be perceived as pretty, just not 24/7. Or even 8/5. How about 2/3, two hours a day three days a week? When I CHOOSE to be perceived as pretty. Although I would absolutely never choose to relive those Ugly years the same way, being The Ugly Kid taught me to value smarts over beauty. I'd far rather be called "smart person" than "pretty girl."

* one of the many reasons why I love it so much when people call me "sir" or get confused in public bathrooms

** at an all-women college, a lot of students really enjoyed not being "pretty" (makeup, done-up hair, jewelry, heels, bras, etc.) all the time. However, a lot of women there thought that they MUST do/wear these things when a man, even a gay man, was around. I could never get a reason out of them as to why.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A New Trend

Firstly: http://thoughtsonblank.wordpress.com/2011/04/13/i-am-trans-i-just-dont-try-very-hard/

And then my real post:

Either I've struck gold or there's a new trend - I'm choosing to believe it's a new trend - since masculine/androgynous chicks are a hot commodity.

When I was in middle school, high school and college (an all-women college!!), there were many many girls who felt like they had to choose between male attention and their own "masculine" interests. "I love math, but I want to get a boyfriend," or "I always wanted to learn woodworking, but I got married." AAAAHHH SO STUPID!!! And now, particularly when I'm at work, those kinds of women can't have simple conversations with their boyfriends/fiances/husbands.

Clearly, I didn't give up my interests in order to snag a man, even before I came out of the closet. And that makes me really attractive to a lot of straight men now, which I NEVER expected. Knowing sci-fi, carrying a pocketknife, and having welding experience are not only things I enjoy but they also are apparently pretty sexy. This means that, at least at work, I converse with straight guys while their women get very jealous of me. But because they abandoned their interests in order to get a man, all they can contribute is "look, honey, Bristol Palin is on the cover of People magazine!"

At first I thought that I'm just really lucky, but then I talked with a flaming friend who said that most straight guys, regardless of social group, are into "bi girls" now. Whether it's Jersey Shore types into girls making out with each other or nerds into masculine/androgynous women, we're where it's at now!

My point is...
fuck it

Thursday, May 19, 2011

SlutWalk Chicago, My Sex Positivity

http://www.slutwalkchicago.org/blog.html is calling for submissions regarding one's sex positivity. Here is my submission:

1. First and Last Name, Age, Neighborhood (or suburb) of Chicago in which you live
K. Kriesel, 25, Edgewater

2. How do you promote sex positivity in Chicago?
My first priority, regarding sex positivity, is to heal from my own sexual assault. This involves decreasing the intensity and frequency of my triggers, separating completely from the person who raped me, maintaining control over my 50% of any relationship, and, maybe most importantly, integrating this experience into my identity. Through the Chicago chapter of the Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse (http://www.ascasupport.org/_events/event1.php?eventID=51), of which I am a co-secretary, I am reaching those goals.
I am also promoting sex positivity by having enthusiastically consensual sex! When one of my lovers described sex as communication, I took that concept and ran with it. Flowing from discussion, to sex, to artistic expression, to reflection, and again, I keep a sexual dialogue (trialogue?) going. Sometimes a simple, frank conversation can open doors. Also, as a genderqueer person perceived as a bicurious lesbian with biomale lovers, I break boundaries and answer questions - usually with more questions.
Also, I have a blog: http://kkriesel.blogspot.com/
I have an online gallery of my artwork: http://sites.google.com/site/kkrieselart/home
And I write articles for thenewgay.net

3. What sort of changes would you like to see in Chicago in regards to sex positivity?
The person who sexually assaulted me did so because she was not sexually aware. She thought that, because we're both females, whatever she did to me could not be sexual. She was also extremely sexually repressed and acted out her lack of self-connection through controlling me.
By taking control of my own sexuality as well as by facilitating discussion and educating others, I am promoting sex positivity as a prevention technique. Sexual taboos and rape culture are two sides of the same coin. Through sex positivity, personal issues of sex-as-control can be resolved through discussion, expression and consensual activities.
Also, gender and sex policing occurs here too often. The concepts of "you are your biology" and "pick a side" (regarding both gender and sexuality) are still rampant and don't help anyone. The lesbian and gay movement has been fighting for so long to be valued as individuals rather than through the sexes involved in relationships - but the social bind between anatomy and destiny is still there. In some circles, there is no room for fluidity. I want to see this policing end, to see individuality and fluidity welcomed and celebrated.
Simply, to break the social taboos over talking about sex, power play, sexual assault, gender and sexuality.

4. Why do you support SlutWalk Chicago?
Firstly, for its initial cause. Rape is rape because it is nonconsensual. A person's garb is not consent. There is no connection between clothing and consent. This ties in to other issues regarding sexual assault: all sexual assault is violent, certain bodies are there for others' taking, etc.
Secondly, to demonstrate my control over my own sexuality. My body is mine, I define it and I choose what to do with it. Should I choose to march in "slutty" clothing, I would be allowing others to see my body, not giving. I would control my 50% of the situation.
Thirdly, in what other way could I walk down the street in lingerie and feel safe?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Love vs. Loyalty

The concepts of love and being in love have been heavy discussion topics with my lovers over the past few weeks. What's the difference between loving someone and being in love with someone? Does being in love imply priority or commitment? How do you keep your sanity when you're reeling in love? How do you handle being in love when there's a third party and potentially more?

Honestly, I don't see what the big deal is. Then again, I tend to fall in love fast and, without trying, pull my prey in with me. I dunno why, maybe it's because I'm a Libra or maybe it's because, like Brandie and I used to say, "I don't DO ANYTHING!" And I admit that I'm also in love with being in love; by no means do I seek out people just to get into that state, I just enjoy it that much more whenever it happens. Both of my current situations are surprises, they were not expected at all when I started my Slut Odyssey.

Being in love is an emotional/spiritual state. It heightens your experiences, it makes you floaty and art and music and good food and sensuality are all saturated. It's separate from logic and one can still function on logic while enjoying the lovey-dovey trip. And yes, it can be scary and painful - particularly when the end happens. In High Fidelity, Nick Hornby wrote that emotionally involved people can pull some cherished emotions out of bittersweet ends. Which doesn't mean that falling out of love is a goal, just that some people ride out the feelings similarly to falling in. Yeah, I've done that.

A big deal to me is to become loyal to someone. Where love is emotional/spiritual, loyalty is more logical and can also be a heightened state. Loyalty is a respect of someone's judgement and a value of someone's character. For example, X is in a situation where I'm not and I only find out what happened through a third party. Without loyalty to X, I'd say "I have no idea what happened, I'm not going to get involved." When I'm loyal to X, I'd say "I trust that X said or did the right thing, even though I wasn't there."
It takes a lot more for me to become loyal to someone, and my loyalty can outlast the period of being in love with that person. It's also much more painful for someone to betray that trust, mostly because it means the person has almost betrayed who they used to be but also because it decreases the value of my judgement. It's hurt more when exes have acted stupidly out of character than when we've fallen out of love. Just like love, loyalty doesn't necessitate commitment or obligation.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Yes Means YES!!!

I just finished reading Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power & a World Without Rape, edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti. Margaret Cho wrote the introduction, a powerful essay on how just passively consenting to sex isn't enough in our sexual lives (READ IT here: http://lachristagreco.com/2010/08/07/on-consent/). It's a fantastic book of articles, noting how rape and sexual assault/coercion and the taboo of women's sexuality are two sides of the same coin. Most of the contributors have experienced sexual trauma and wrote about opening up a more sexual, sensual, respectful culture. Some of them articulated the connection between sexual trauma and sex-positive activism, and for others it was unstated but obvious.

Of course, this has lead me to analyze (overanalyze) my current sexual life in light of my resurfaced sexual trauma. People keep asking me if I'm queer/lesbian/bi because of my childhood sexual assault. NO and that's the wrong question! Am I a proud, queer sexual being because of that trauma? Yes and no. I had been wanting a more sensual life long before those memories were triggered, so my libido is unrelated to the trauma. Now that I'm consciously navigating the role of that assault in my life while I'm slutting it up, the boundary blurs. Awareness of consent heightens my experiences now.

I agree with the authors of Yes Means Yes in that more than just consent is necessasry, though. ENTHUSIASTIC consent, respect, communication, self-awareness, responsibility, play, desire, etc. It's the difference between "ok" and "YES YES YES!!" Knowing the value of these things in my experiences, that my partners value them too, and that I have complete control over my 50% all enhance my ethically slutty life now. That's a great book too!

And what's really mind-boggling is that the sexual assault that happened to me as a child wouldn't have happened (probably) had the perpetrator been sexually aware. She had no idea that what she was doing was sexual because anything other than penile-vaginal sex was entirely unknown. Had she been sexually aware, maybe she would have reconsidered what she did to me. Clearly, this doesn't make it ok.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cinderella Ate My Daughter

The next time you spy a Disney Princess product, check to see if the princesses are making eye contact with each other. They're not! Roy Disney was opposed to bringing together princesses from different movies, so this was a creepy compromise.
I'm not arguing that trivial details like this are manipulating the children of America, but it gives you a good idea of how the higher-ups of child-focused companies function (or not). This is just one anecdote of oddity included in Peggy Orenstein's Cinderella Ate My Daughter, through which she navigates her new parenthood.

It's no conspiracy that the boys' and girls' sections of toy stores are so neatly divided, but it's no accident either. Orenstein did an unbelievable amount of research and found that the decision-makers of toy companies honestly believe that they're just giving kids what they want: pink, feminine, consumer/domestic items for girls and violent, mechanical items for boys. They also are after making the biggest sale, but that's to be expected of anyone. And parents are often dismayed at what their children are offered in the gender-segregated aisles, but see no other option. It's partly the companies themselves and it's partly the parents that divide children along masculine and feminine, but Orenstein's research into children - especially little boys who want to wear mommy's makeup and little tomboys - is the most revealing. I'll leave you to actually read the book to find that out.

As in her previous books, Schoolgirls and Flux, Orenstein articulates how gender divisions in our society impact real people in Cinderella Ate My Daughter. She makes connections through hard-hitting research that seem so obvious upon her articulation. I highly recommend reading any and all of her books!

My only complaint, though, is her description of Sesame Street and the Muppets - and I admit that this is only a personal bias. She investigated the very few regular women characters (Ms. Piggy, Janis, Zoe, Abby, ...?) and the Henson company explained that feminine characters just don't market as well as "masculine" ones. Honestly, I always thought that most of the characters were androgynous. Even as a kid, I thought that Big Bird, Elmo, and most of the monsters were genderless (same for the Toaster and Blanket from Disney's The Brave Little Toaster). Then again, that probably explains a lot about my genderqueer identity...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sex Positive Feminism + Queer Liberty

As stated in my previous blog post, I'm dating a bioguy. Thanks be to the diversity of Chicago, no straight privilege shit or queer-based biphobia has come my way - just many many MANY questions. The number one question, asked by queers and straights alike, has been how this impacts my identity. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm as queer as a purple $3 bill riding a rainbow unicorn.

I'm still on the trajectory that began as I graduated high school and started college. That was when I discovered sex-positive feminism and when I came out of the closet as bi/lesbian/queer. The two lifestyles collaborate, not codependent upon one another, so that one may CHOOSE to base identity upon sex. Active members of the queer community may realize that sleeping with "the same sex" isn't enough the qualify as fabulously queer. What goes on in a consensual bedroom (or bathroom or car or ski chair lift) shouldn't mean anything to the government nor anything to one's movement.

There's this lesbian movie, Go Fish, from the early 90's. It's pretty shitty, but a few scenes stick out in my mind. A dyke playah has sex with a man, then gets captured by the lesbian community and they interrogate her for her reasons and identity. She argued that sex is just sex, that it shouldn't make her less of a lesbian - especially considering all she had done for the community. The lesbians demanded that she identify as bisexual, even if it means she gets less pussy. Another scene shows a lesbian getting married to a man, but fighting to maintain her lesbian history. She nearly suffocates in her self-justification: "I'm a dyke despite my straight privilege" .

Were I not in Chicago in '11, would that be my world? Fellow sex-liberated friends have been through that shit. Is it just a matter of time and place for me as long as I keep dating and fucking people to whom I'm ATTRACTED?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Queer Qualifiers

When I hung out with the Madison Socialists, a newbie at one of the group meetings asked what qualifies someone as queer. As the most visibly queer person in the group*, I answered that someone who doesn't get straight privilege would be considered queer. Then we all had a big discussion on how privilege doesn't actually benefit anyone.

I'm dating a straight bio-guy and a lot of people expect my identity to change, that I identify as bisexual rather than lesbian now. With people who are easily confused or won't invest much thought into gender/sexuality, I let them think what they will. My gender identity had started shifting years ago and, because of that, "woman-identified-woman" hasn't really applied to me for a while. Lesbian is too small a box for all my fabulous queerdom. And don't even get me started on the binary "bisexual" label. The genders of the people I date impact me so little that it surprised me when that was the first place people went upon this news.

Just look at me! I'm not gonna get straight privilege anytime soon. Heterosexism both disrespects gay relationships and elevates straight relationships for no reason; as a confusing genderqueer, the genders/sexes of the people I date are used as judgement. When I pass for a guy or an "it", it implies the guy I'm dating is gay; when I pass for a woman, it implies that I'm straight. Either he gets a taste of homophobia or my queer identity gets smothered by straight privilege. It's a lose-lose situation.

Last week, I went on a date with an androgynous, straight bio-guy and this table of jerky businessmen was leering and laughing at us. I don't know if they thought we were both lesbians or fags or if their behavior would've changed had they known our "opposite sexes" (so many things wrong with that system!). Aaaww my kitty just curled up in my lap! My point is that being gender-variant, especially with complete strangers who know only how you look, is more likely to stir up shit. And rather than trying to figure out who you are, they're more likely to fit you into the "gay", "straight" or MAYBE "bi" box. WHO CARES?!?

* by no means is this a value system or qualifier, it's just how it was. I was far more likely to get odd looks (at the least) in the street than everyone else in the group, who looked normal. Well...normal for Madison.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


My days off this week are yesterday and tomorrow, so thank goodness I didn't get caught at work. Around noon, I ran some errands and there had been no snow yet - just blustery winds off the lake. By 4, when I was heading home, the snow had started and the wind had increased. O'Hare closed at 4:30 but three of my coworkers, including my general manager, had to spend the night in a hotel which lost power and heat!! I got home just as the blizzard became unbearable. My apartment faces an airshaft, so the weather outside my window always looks like a milder version of how it really is; by 7, there was almost no visibility out my window. I believe that was when the Wrigley Field roof was torn off and my friend Liz's power went out. I fell asleep last night to the sounds of 70mph winds, my building didn't so much as flicker or quake.

When I woke up this morning, slightly less high winds were blowing around giant flakes and 5 inches of snow were built up on these top floor window sills. The cta is still technically running, but my manager told everyone to not even try to come out - especially since she and my two coworkers had yet to get home! It stopped snowing about an hour ago, so I walked the four blocks to my Jewel. At the flattest areas in the streets, the snow went up my knees - 18 inches. Due to the wind, there are more 5ft drifts than flat areas! I saw a couple abandoned cars and it looked like people had tried to shovel/blow some sidestreet intersections but then gave up. A fair number of people, mostly my age, are walking in the streets rather than braving the sidewalks. Nobody has even bothered digging out any parked cars. It's not that cold, maybe mid or upper 20's (how sad is it that I don't think of that as too cold anymore?) and the sun is fighting to get out.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I'm not paying to learn reverse cowgirl!

At work yesterday, this polygamous family - a guy with two wives - came in. The husband and Big Wife looked like they were in their late 30's or early 40's and they had thick Southern accents; Little Wife looked in her late 20's and she was very meek. They all browsed around a bit, then Little Wife picked out a magazine she wanted. Keep in mind that about three other customers were browsing around the store, too, while this happened.

Big Wife grabbed the magazine out of her hand, looked at it and started waving it around while yelling "A running magazine?! This is so stupid! You would want a running magazine! What articles do they have in this piece of junk...'Running to Happy?' What are you gonna do, run your way to happy?! That's why you want this, isn't it? This is so stupid!" Husband stepped in and quietly added it to his pile of magazines.

Big Wife had not picked out anything yet, so she yelled at them "I'm going to look in the erotica section!" Oh Jesus Christ, really? She looked around in there, then came back to the other two and yelled at them, "I'm not gonna pay to learn reverse cowgirl!" Husband politely asked "really?" And she angrily yelled back at him "I could teach you for free!"

And then they left, leaving the few other customers and I in shock.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Closing Scope of Masculinity

Imagine a man with a sleek mustache, a boater with a ribbon, a pink ascot, and a cream, well-tailored, three piece suit. A hipster seeking a classy sugar daddy, right? Nope! Up until WWII, our dapper friend here was the height of masculinity! You may not believe it but, in the early 1900's, pink was a very masculine color.

Unless you were alive at the time (I tip my boater to you if you were), check up some gif.s and YouTube videos of The Beatles early in their career. Watch A Hard Day's Night. Pretty gay, right? Nope! That was masculine fifty years ago. Granted, this is Europe we're dealing with but I think we can let that slide.

Masculinity has gone through drastic changes in a relatively short amount of time, these examples are only an obvious few. Pat Boone, Mike Douglas, Bill Shirley and other suave singers in the 50's had no cause to doubt their manhood; but a man who sings about dreams and his heart flying with joy today just sounds fruity. Not only have the social standards for masculinity changed, but the scope of it has changed over time as well.

Mark Hamil has noted that, in thirty years' time, his action figures have gained at least fifty pounds in muscle. As the Y chromosome shrinks, so shrinks standards for masculinity. It's become a competition of manhood, with more and more men's archetypes falling into girly territory. When an individual man asserts his machismo to the point of emasculating others, it's pretty obvious that he's insecure in his own manhood. On such a cultural scale, though, could insecurity alone have brought about the closing gates of masculinity?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Actively Ex-Catholic

My upbringing was very Catholic. The clergy, faculty, administration and volunteering parents all regretted Vatican II, they were that conservative. They also tolerated and even encouraged the bullying and abuse that happened to me. I allowed all that to happen for so long because, firstly, I didn't know that anything else existed and, secondly, I thought that that's what God/Jesus/Mary/etc. wanted.

Then I went through a rebellious phase in which I hated all Christianity. This is very common as the atheist population grows (at least amongst the middle-and-higher classes). I never blamed God for everything that happened, to me, though; I just changed my concept of God. There's the argument, commonly used by militant atheists, that God can only be two out of these three qualities: omnipotent, all-good, omniscient. Ignoring the subjective meaning of "good," this argument excludes another quality: active.

My relationship with an inactive God ("God" just being the Western term for an unknowable, ultimate being/force/essence. Tao comes close to my concept) is separate from my relationship with Catholicism. There are still many questions I want answered about the terrors of my childhood. I continue to study Catholicism not only to uncover more answers, but also to find peace with Catholicism. It's highly unlikely that I'll ever "be" Catholic again, but being mad at it is a waste.

Catholicism has been successful for centuries for a very good reason: symbols, rituals and hierarchies are emotionally appealing in a chaotic environment. Many "nonbelievers" (future blog to come on belief) attend mass regularly because it can be a calming weekly ritual and it's pretty. I admit that, when I'm having a crazy week, the idea of attending a peaceful mass with my family sounds like a nice escape where I won't have to think. And it would help heal some old wounds.

It is possible, and maybe even healthy, for an ex-Catholic to find harmony with Catholicism. It's as big a character in my past as my parents; I've made peace in my relationship with the absence of my father, Catholicism is next.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

NO RESPECT for watering cans!

This morning, I was at the Belmont red/brown/purple line station, waiting for the bus to work. About five or six people were standing around, waiting for the bus. This guy with a watering can came up and announced "I got dibs on second place in line, ok? This watering can will hold my spot in line, ok?" We all just stared at him as he went into the station to make an angry phone call. Someone said "he must not be from Chicago..." I agree, this guy was definitely a tourist.

About five minutes later, the bus showed up a block down and the watering can guy was still inside the station on his phone. I went in and told him the bus was coming, he nodded but kept yelling into his phone. The bus pulled up and we all got on. He ran out and yelled at us, waving around his watering can, "Hey I got dibs! I'm second in line! DOESN'T ANYBODY HAVE ANY RESPECT FOR ANY HOUSEHOLD ITEMS ANYMORE?!?!?" Rofl wtf?!? I asked him where he's from, Lake Forest? He insisted that this bus-line holding was a Chicago tradition and that he had dibs. We all laughed at him and he didn't get on the bus, still clinging his watering can.




Friday, January 7, 2011

Changing Church

The Cardinals and others who appointed Ratzinger to be Pope did so in hopes that he would return the Catholic Church to a more conservative, insular status. Pope John Paul was, for Catholicism, very liberal and he made the Church more "worldly" as a way of genuinely helping more people of more backgrounds. Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, is just the opposite and has a strong background of being a dick. However, though he has made it his mission to de-secularize the Catholic community, he has made some small but rather drastic changes:

1) He forgave the Beatles for saying that they were bigger than Jesus. When John Lennon said that, he was saying that they were more popular than Jesus and, according to the thousands of people who thought that the Beatles could HEAL them, he was right. When Pope Benedict forgave the Beatles, while replacing Pope John Paul's "modern" music (Christian rock) with traditional Gregorian chanting, he took a large step into the mundane and secular world. Ringo Starr aptly pointed out that the Vatican has more important things to worry about.

2) The Church, for the past century, has been adamantly opposed to artificial birth control. Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is great; if a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate. It's a good little Catholic's mission to breed as many Catholics as possible and birth control impedes that. And because the Church is opposed to homosexuality, gay people shouldn't even be doing anything that would require birth control anyway. Pope Benedict, however, recently declared that birth control should be used as a safety measure in certain circumstances as long as it wouldn't prevent pregnancy. A gay prostitute should use a condom to protect himself from AIDS! Whoa!

3) Pope Benedict has now theorized that God was behind the Big Bang. This isn't a new concept, but it's a big deal for a Pope to concede that the science of how the universe came into being could be correct if God is behind it. Catholicism and science have never really gotten along, so this is another issue of Pope Benedict bridging the gap between the Church and the secular world.

The Church has been, for centuries, incredibly slow to change. Vatican II was uncharacteristic, to say the least, and took a monumental effort. In fact, the changes of Vatican II weren't as important as the fact that the Church admitted that it needed to change! That admittance was unprecedented in the oldest social organization existing today. Many people, clergy and lay and non-Catholic, have opined that a Vatican III should take place - especially considering the sex scandals. That's incredibly unlikely, even just considering how slowly the Church processes anything.

Pope Benedict's few changes, however, especially made by someone who was such a stalwart of Catholic elitism for so long, imply that more is going on within the Church than we know. If the hierarchy thought that they were desperate for new members in the 90's (see Sister Act 1 & 2), they must be flogging themselves now just to keep who they have. The sex scandals are turning away everyone except for the people who are too poor to have anything but the Church. The Pope's changes may seem trite to us, but they're drastic cries for help by the Church.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It's been a month, I know

I'm at home, sick, and honestly can't shake a good blog out of my brain.

In the past month, though, I've given up on labels. Fuck 'em.