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Bathroom Diaries: Transgender Restroom Access VS Civil Rights

19 May

There is a lot of misunderstood dialog between sex and gender – the ideas only get more conflated in communities and households that thought they go hand-in-hand…

The most recent headliner of the Great Transgender Bathroom Debate came hot off the press of the New York Times earlier this week. One of my new guilty pleasures is to peruse the comments thread on Facebook beneath the high profile articles. I like to see individuals with opposing viewpoints duke it out. Sometimes I just laugh at the “idiocracy”, other times I learn something new and it changes my outlook. Not this time.

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I try to hold back the urge to get involved – to be one of those commenters that responds to every “hater” who disagrees with me. Every one has a different opinion – and that is OK!

I relapsed anyway when a few stray cats came in and compared transgender bathroom access to the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s, my own claws came out.

To assert that only biologically males are “allowed” to use the men’s restroom is not the equivalent to having a “White’s Only” restroom. African Americans, at that time, did not have equal rights. Transgender individuals most certainly do have the same natural rights as you and I. To compare bathroom access to systemic oppression cheapens that injustice.

I do believe that you cannot force someone with a gender identity crisis to use a labeled bathroom inconsistent with their self-identification. This seems unethical and likely to cause emotional harm.

However no one is being denied equal access to public restroom accommodation. This debate is less about rights and more about being afraid of what you don’t know.

A majority of heterosexuals who feel that transgender individuals are encroaching on their privacy by using a restroom opposite of their biology are scared – scared that it is a gateway for anyone to enter any restroom based off of how they are “feeling.” Of course it does enable perverts easier access to harm people, though I do not think it necessarily is “breeding” a new type of predator.

If a man is comfortable living as a woman, and vice versa, then we should respect that.

This is a slippery slope for me as I toy with the idea more of what a restroom “means” to me (this is an amazing article about stall confessionals!  http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/stall-confessions-for-women-the-washroom-is-a-sacred-place-one-for-privacy-and-reflection).

For the record, I do not mind sharing a restroom with a transgender male. But everyone is not as liberal.

This is about fighting to fight. And while I am all for human rights, I think this topic is tired. If a transgender individual does not feel comfortable using the bathroom with which gender they identify…use a unisex one! It does not automatically classify them as “other.”  Trans students are the hot topic for discussion and lament having to “resort” to entering family restrooms because of harassment and bullying.

But! but! while it seems unfair that they feel threatened and pressured to use the restroom which biologically describes them, the fact is there is no solution that is satisfactory to the majority of any stance!

While transgender people may enter any restroom they choose, they cannot change the opinions of others. Like racism, discrimination again non-conformists will persist NO MATTER WHAT.

Some of you are just too damn sensitive over EVERYTHING and need to realize that labels are necessary.

We are a species, that since the beginning of time, has named things. We are innately curious, speculative, and yearn for identification and expression as a means of storytelling and making sense of the world. Having labels is not oppressive – it is how we categorize things.

Taking away gender labels in favor of  “genderless” will not prevent standards and societal normatives to shine through. Taking away the label that women wear heels and men play with guns will not prevent people from doing those things on the basis of gender.

Utopia, then, is not a society where is no gender.

Rather, utopia is a world in which there are a wide variety of genders and gendered expressions, all of which are seen as equally true, and equally acceptable. Gender of all sorts would ideally be as unmarked, and unremarked, as whether or not you wear glasses or contacts. You’d notice if someone was male or female or both or neither, but it wouldn’t be defining, and wouldn’t carry with it a weight of expectations, anger, censure, and potential violence. – Noah Berlatsky for Ravishly.com

Demanding genderlessness only reinforces the importance of gender, and makes it more visible. It causes you to look more microscopically for the “hated” signs of gender.

The end of gender shaming will not come from people having no gender. The end of gender is the moment when wearing makeup or playing with trucks isn’t seen as having any particular meaning other than that you like wearing makeup or playing with trucks.

As long as there’s one standard, even one standard of genderlessness, those who don’t conform to it will be marked and targeted.

Making restrooms for “all” or abolishing labels on restrooms all together will not solve the issue or make trans individuals feel any less alienated.

Education and acceptance are the only resolution.

 

 

Why Women Are Spending Big Bucks on Athleisure

27 Aug

Every day, women spend hundreds of dollars on clothes they plan to wear only while sweating –- sports bras, yoga pants, skin-tight “breathable” tanks. But why? Business Insider reports that it’s all about the way retailers like Lululemon market their apparel – to appeal to women’s insecurities.

Companies like Lululemon capitalize on these instincts, providing workout gear that women can feel “stylish” in, even when they’re doing sun salutations.

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It’s not men they’re trying to impress with their high-end workout garb, it’s other women.

But female competition and insecurity can’t be the whole story here. Because single women are on the path to out-earn their male counterparts,  they’ve steadily become a more formidable consumer force. Women in their 20s and 30s aren’t just spending money on workout gear because they feel a need to impress their peers — they’re spending the money because they can.

Lululemon isn’t the first company to actively target young, single, self-sufficient women. Citibank and Hond notoriously pointed to the demographic’s financial successes and increasing independence. In the ad for Citibank, a young woman says: “My boyfriend and I were going on vacation. We talked about getting a diamond, but with all the ThankYou Points I’ve been earning, I flew us to the rock I really had in mind.” The rock she “really had in mind” happens to be a giant rock formation near Moab, Utah.

New commercials sell women the cars and financial products they can now afford by presenting those big ticket items as tools for celebrating their independence rather than attracting a husband.

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Advertisers are learning that the way to women’s wallets is acknowledging their strengths rather than exploiting their weaknesses, and by focusing on this demographic brands are appealing in part to their awareness of their own power — earning power.

 

Women Love Sex Too! And No, It Doesn’t Make Us Sluts

20 Mar

I have a lot of guy friends that significantly outnumbers my amount of girlfriends. A typical weekend night consists of throwing back a few brewskis, (guys love adding “ski” at the end of everything…I still don’t know why) watching some type of perverse cartoon (South Park, Archer…) and of course the storytelling of the weekly sex-capades. Since I’m considered a “bro”, there’s no detail they believe is unfit for my ears. Besides, I might have a whole new perspective on why Dawn cheated on Dan, and that could be valuable information!

“Yeah, she just got down and started going at it.”

“I told you she’d be into it bro.”

“She’s such a little slut.”

Slut…the word for women who have a plethora of sexual partners. So apparently, we are not allowed to carnivorously desire, and engage in sex like men. Please! As a woman with a high sex drive, this aggravates me.

Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson have also had a lot of sex — and they’re not afraid to talk about it either.

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After Fisher went through a rough breakup, the two New York-based stand-up comedians, both in their mid-20s, decided to pool their collective un-shame about sex and create a podcast in which they interviewed men they’d slept with. The first episode of “Guys We F**ked, The Anti Slut-Shaming Podcast” was released in December. Since then, their audience has grown quickly, and the show now has over 200,000 subscribers on SoundCloud.

“We’re saying, have a lot of sex and be proud of it,” Hutchinson explains at the beginning of the debut episode.

That friendship extends to no-holds-barred, frank discussions about sex. The pair touch on everything from dirty talk to disastrous one-night stands with equal parts honesty and humor. But “Guys We F**ked” isn’t meant to titillate — Hutchinson and Fisher hope that the podcast encourages women to feel more comfortable with themselves and everyone to have more great, shame-free sex.

The Huffington Post interviewed the pair on their response to how society’s opinion of sexually empowered women is flawed.

Why do you think that slut-shaming is such an issue in our culture? Are people just terrified of women as sexual beings?
K: Yes, I think people are afraid. Hate stems from fear and I think they’re just afraid of a woman who is empowered and sexually in charge and in control of her own body. And I also think that some people were raised to feel this way because the people in their lives didn’t have a positive attitude towards women, and they don’t realize that it’s messed up.

What do you hope listeners take away from the podcast?
K: We want to make people feel more comfortable in their own skin. We just got a message from a girl from New Delhi, India, about how she loves the podcast because it makes her feel like it’s OK to be comfortable with your sexuality and enjoy sex. And that made me so happy.

Do you two consider yourselves feminists? Do you shy away from that term at all?
K: I don’t shy away from the word “feminist.” I think it’s unfortunate that people have a negative connotation of that term and I’m guilty of being that way too, sometimes. I find myself saying, “Well, I’m not like a feminist or anything, but…” But what feminism means to me is owning your sh*t. And under that definition I am absolutely a feminist.

C: Yeah, I like to call myself a modern feminist. I loved the Spice Girls because they dressed however they wanted and they rocked their hot bodies, but they were still promoting a really positive message. And I think to say that to be a feminist you can’t show off your body or be overtly sexual is bullsh*t. Jesus, if I can’t wear a miniskirt in my 20s, when can I?

Are you hooked yet? Want to hear more? Listen to the podcast that started it all…

https://soundcloud.com/guyswefucked/vinnie

Sandberg’s ‘Ban Bossy’ Campaign Undermines Women

13 Mar

Sheryl Sanberg’s new Lean In campaign, ‘Ban Bossy’ is being backed by many strong female celebrities and organizations that operate for the advancement of women (Girl Scouts)

While I love Sandberg’s tenacity, I simply do not agree with ‘Ban Bossy.’

I think it’s absurd to ban a word that is neither gender specific nor insulting.

My boyfriend and friends would describe me as sassy, independent and bossy. It is true: I enjoy being in control and managing others. However there is a difference between “assertiveness” and “aggression” that the campaign fails to distinguish.

I believe girls are strong willed, and ‘Ban Bossy’ underestimates their ability to be go-getters.

The word “bossy” doesn’t discourage female leadership aspiration, environment does.

I have always been a very motivated girl and so needed to adapt a thick skin. There will always be people who say you’re ugly, stupid, or not good enough, how are these any less of a concern for girls than being called bossy?

Not all girls want to be leader.

‘Ban Bossy’ is biased in promoting that society equates leadership and bossiness.

There are countless ways of leading without being domineering. There are infinite ways of being bossy that don’t involve the intent on wanting to lead.

Furthermore, the idea that all girls want to be leaders is ridiculous. I know many people who function better  as part of a team. ‘Ban Bossy’ doesn’t speak on girls finding their voice to assert themselves and be strong women in a communal setting. No, it shames the more shy and less outspoken, suggesting that every girl should strive to be president.

The Veil of Sisterhood in Rossetti’s “Goblin Market”

5 Mar

Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” is the type of poem I cherish not only because it’s lucid, lively, and genius for its time, but because there are so many ways of interpreting the language.

It’s freezing here in Jersey, it’s hump day, I got out of work early… my first thought…”I have plenty of time to lose myself.” This is what I came up with. Some ideas are not exactly complete, but I’m sure it will rain or snow in the next few weeks-giving me plenty of time to revise 😉

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            Goblin Market, under the veil of sisterhood, narrates the homosexual relationship between sisters, Laura and Lizzie. The text speaks on the nature of homoeroticism amongst women, and its influence upon the dominant patriarchal code. This code accommodates an environment where being a woman is of consequence to sexual and emotional vulnerability, allowing masculinity to control by assault as the central expression of power.

Karl Marx in Capital, (Das Kapital) defines a commodity as “an object outside us, a thing that by its properties satisfies human wants of sort or another” (Marx, 125). Marx attempts to explain that a commodity is only valued in relation to demand or otherworldly conditions, and therefore is an ideal item for the capitalist economic system. The relationship between the materiality of an item and its perceived societal value is illusory—It’s value solely determined by desire.

In her book, This Sex Which is Not One, Luce Irigaray uses Karl Marx’s definition of commodity relations and values within the capitalist market, in comparison to the cultural structure and values of patriarchy’s own ‘market,’ which she asserts pre-dates capitalism: “From the very origin of private property and the patriarchal family, social exploitation occurred…all the social regimes of History are based upon the exploitation of one class of producers, namely women” (Irigaray, 173). Irigaray substitutes men as the ‘exploiters,’ a position Marx reserves for capitalists. She argues that under patriarchy women are oppressed, serving only as exchangeable property, while men are “exempt from being used and circulated” (Irigaray, 172). Irigaray’s interprets female homosexuality from the response of patriarchy, as a product which is to be consumed—a commodity—in which women become men because the code of patriarchy dictates that only a man can desire a woman. Irigaray questions, “what if these ‘commodities’ refused to go to market? What if they maintained ‘another’ kind of commerce, among themselves?” (Irigaray, 196). Irigaray believes female refusal to participate in masculine society would allow for a new society to form, in which, women are empowered and masculine systems of barter abandoned. Goblin Market also seeks for utopia, as throughout, the sisters challenge the conventions of patriarchy. However the end is troubling, whereby it ends not with abolishment of the patriarchal code, but a restoration of it through childbirth.

Goblin Market can be interpreted as both a didactic story of the importance of sisterhood, and a subversion of patriarchy, whereas Rossetti creates a world devoid of masculine hostility, where women are dependent on one another. Laura and Lizzie live in a feminine society which is depicted as ideal. However, each evening the utopia is threatened by goblin men who are selling their seductive fruits. They become a catalyst in the sisters’ transition from childhood into adulthood, and allow them to also realize their sexual potential, thus destroying their utopian, female society.

Whereas Laura is wary of the goblin men by warning her sister of their intentions, she is not strong enough to resist their temptation. Lured by the chanting, “come buy, come buy” (Rossetti, 4) and the exoticism of the produce that “men sell not such in any town,” (Rossetti, 101) Laura submits to exchanging a lock of her golden hair for the fruit. Irigaray observes that “heterosexuality is nothing but the assignment of economic roles: there are producer subjects and agents of exchange on the one hand, productive earth and commodities on the other” (Irigaray, 192). By substituting her hair for money, Laura ‘commodifies’ her body—allowing the men to determine the terms of the purchase, and situate herself within the patriarchal economy whilst rejecting participation in the female community. Through force, Lizzie is able to rescue her sister from the economic code of the goblin men, and create a new society which closely resembles Irigaray’s vision of utopia for women, where they possess agency and “exchanges occur without identifiable terms, without accounts, without end” (Irigaray, 197). However, before this new society can be formed, both sisters must negotiate within the goblin men’s economy.

When Lizzie goes to the goblin market she assumes the masculine role of “an agent of exchange,” (Irigaray 192) when she carries her coin. The goblins though, reject her money and therefore deny recognizing her as an equal agent of exchange. They try to force her to eat their fruits, rubbing them into her skin, and saturating her with their juices in a violent manner which echoes sexual and physical abuse. Lizzie manages to be triumphant against the goblin men, and while holding her coin, rejoices to Laura,

“Come and kiss me.

Never mind my bruises,

Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices

Squeezed from goblin fruits for you,

Goblin pulp and goblin dew.

Eat me, drunk me, love me;

Laura make much of me” (Rossetti, 465-72).

Laura offers Lizzie her body, requesting nothing in exchange. What follows is an erotically charged, homosexual salvation, as Laura is saved by consuming the juices from her sister’s skin. It can be said that sexual love offers a fulfilling experience of healing, much like spiritual devotion.  As the sisters are brought back together, their utopia can be more fully realized. “Nature’s resources would be expended without depletion, exchanged without labor, freely given, exempt from masculine transactions: enjoyment without a fee, well-being without pain, pleasure without possession” (Irigaray 197). Laura and Lizzie have placed themselves outside the control of the masculine system; however they have not abolished it. They may be able to save themselves as well as each other, but their children will have to fight for themselves.

The poems ends with a restoration of the patriarchal system as the sisters grow old and become wives and mothers, albeit men are absent in the text. Their children, who are sexless, are told to honor sisterhood, “for there is no friend like a sister” (Rossetti, 562). While the concept of sisterhood is supportive and comforting, it is a continuity of patriarchy. Although women can save each other, they cannot change the system that endangers them. Laura and Lizzie can therefore only hope that the ideals of sisterhood and warnings of the goblin men will prevent their children from falling victim to patriarchy.

The ending of the poem seems to be detached from the earlier sequences. The diction of the poem changes as well as the goblin fruits that were initially described as “sweeter than honey from the rock/ stronger than man-rejoicing wine/ clearer than water flowed that juice” (129-31). They now become “like honey to the throat/but poison in the blood” (554-55). The illusory pleasure and sensual nature of the fruits has been realized. This transition from fantasy into reality also brings a restoration of order. Rossetti appears to imagine a world in which sisterhood triumphs over patriarchy, however the ending in which Lizzie and Laura submit to the order by marriage and procreation, subverts Rossetti’s utopia into sheer intangibility of sole hopefulness. Sisterhood can triumph over patriarchy, but only temporarily—it cannot sustain it.

Sisterhood functions in Goblin Market as a way for women to save one another from the code of patriarchy. Women can disable masculine oppression, but only temporarily. While Laura and Lizzie are able to be victorious over the goblin men, their feat has no causality of change for their condition. Instead of fostering the new society which Irigaray envisions, the sisters reincorporate themselves into patriarchal society, thus allowing the system to persist

Female “Self-Love”- The New Trend in Pop Culture

28 Feb

Love her or hate her, Miley Cyrus has a knack at pinpointing things in the Zeitgeist and turning them into worldwide trends.

A scantily clad Miley Cyrus on stage in LA, hand on crotch

After making twerking so popular that it found its way into the Oxford dictionary, she debuted a racy video for her new song, “Adore You,” in which she rolls around while making masturbatory gestures.

But Cyrus isn’t the only celebrity giving new meaning to the term “self love.” A couple of months ago, Rihanna was spotted wearing a T-shirt saying ‘D.I.Y.’

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Yup, female masturbation is having a another pop culture moment and it’s about time. Still, men tend to have it easier—films such as There’s Something About MaryAmerican Pie, and Don Jon depict it as natural and necessary—and it remains something of a taboo for women.

Which is precisely why provocation-hungry celebs are eager to talk about it. But unlike the riotous, feminist rock stars of the ’80s—such as Blondie and Madonna, who simulated masturbation during performances of “Like a Virgin”—modern provocateurs are presenting self-service as an intimate practice. Instead of seeking out the male gaze, it seems like they’re building an allegiance with womankind. After all, isn’t masturbation social class, age, race, and marital status agnostic?

The shift that has appeared is largely based around an absence of the man: take for example Janet Jackson’s Take Care, where she sings: “I’ll lay here and take care of it ’til you come home to me.” For Jackson, masturbation is a bookmark. The Divinyls’ I Touch Myself– a pro-masturbation anthem if ever there was one – contains the line: “I’d get down on my knees, I’d do anything for you.” When it came out in 1990 it was intrepid. But the song is just as much about giving pleasure as getting it.

In a 2011 interview with CNN, Kathleen Hanna, feminist leader of Bikini Kill and now the Julie Ruin, questioned the purpose of Katy Perry’s sexual presentation on Perry’s 2008 debut single I Kissed A Girl. “The whole thing is like, ‘I kissed a girl so my boyfriend could masturbate about it later,’ said Hanna. “It’s disgusting. It’s exactly every male fantasy of fake lesbian porn.”

Considered alongside a line from the new essay collection by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, Is It My Body? – “The body’s not theirs anymore,” she writes of rock stars. “It’s a public domain and public perception” – the discussion over whom a woman’s pleasure serves seems more relevant than ever.

“Masturbation is true girl power,” says Karley Sciortino, editor of the unapologetic, pro-sex website Slutever. Sciortino believes the current trend was influenced by  groups of young underground women artists who “use their bodies to make sense of their identity.” She also predicts that modern feminism will continue to encourage body reappropriation, and thinks that “discussing masturbation is an important step of this process.”

Delphine Gaudy, co-founder of hip Parisian, women-centric sex shop Dollhouse says part of our disconnect from proper sexual identity is that women usually first encounter porn that wasn’t intended for them—or, as she puts it, images that are “projections of male fantasies onto women.” But the landscape is changing. And instead of selling ultra-phallic shapes, Gaudy stocks her shop with pocketsize gadgets in fun colors intended for “yourself only.”

Personally, I’m pumped artists are bringing awareness and acceptance to a practice that was once seen as shameful (although their ways of alluding to such might not be the best, but hey it’s something right?!).

1200 Calories? What Fitness Advice for Women Leaves Out Compared to Men’s

20 Feb

Like myself, Sophie is sassy, and seemingly alarmed by how women and men are targeted differently (and wrongly) by fitness gurus and media alike. Check out her awesome post in its entirety, but here’s a snip-it…

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I don’t know why “1200” managed to be the magic number of calories women should consume if they want to lose weight.

I don’t even know how I know of this number. Only that I know it, and my friends know it, and my mom knows it. Somehow, somewhere along the road, I was taught that if I want to have a flat stomach and tight tushy, I need to limit my calories to 1200 a day and do cardio. I don’t know how it got in to all of our collective brains, but somehow it did (if any ladies remember how or when they first heard the 1200-calorie rule-of-thumb for losing weight, please let me know via comment box).

What I do know is that 1200 is the general number of calories health professionals say women cannot drop below without suffering negative health consequences.

Interesting, isn’t it? 1200 calories. The…

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