June 12, 2012

  • “How to Kill a Trans*person” by Ceridwen Troy

    “How to Kill a Trans*person”
    by Ceridwen Troy


    On Saturday, Sanesha Stewart, a transwoman of color living in the Bronx, was murdered in her own apartment. She was 25 years old. Her accused killer, Steve McMillan, had known her for months, yet when he was arrested, he claimed to have been enraged to find out that she was what the media coverage called not really a woman. He stabbed her over and over again in the chest and throat. She tried to fight him off; there were defensive wounds found on her hands.

    On Tuesday, eighth-grader Lawrence King was in a classroom in Oxnard, Calif. He was openly gay, and often came to school in gender-bending clothing, makeup, jewelry and shoes. According to another student, it was “freaking the guys out”. One of them shot Lawrence in the head. He was declared brain-dead on Wednesday.

    It is easy to look at cases like this and think, how tragic. How random. How senseless.

    But then, you forget how easy it is to kill a transgender person.

    You forget that all across this nation, faith leaders of all stripes, men and women who claim to speak for God Himself, call us sinners, call us abominations, call us evil.

    You forget that at best the media depicts us as something to be pitied, something that our families must be strong and overcome. At worst, they depict us as abnormal, exploiting our bodies for ratings, exploiting the public’s fear of us for shock value.

    You forget that on a good day, law enforcement agents are neglectful of us, and that far more frequently they join in our harassment. You forget the transwomen of color who are rounded up on suspicions of prostitution. You forget the beatings that go uninvestigated. You forget the molestation and rape we face when we are arrested.

    You forget the medical establishment that drains our wallets for the therapy and hormones and surgeries they tell us we need. You forget the way we are then refused treatment when we are dying, dying of treatable diseases, dying of easily patched wounds.

    You forget that, by the law of the land, it is legal in the majority of states to deny us employment, to deny us service, to deny us housing.

    You forget the shelters and the rape crisis centers that will not allow us through their doors.

    You forget that many of us do not even have family to turn to when we are at our most desperate.

    You forget that the leaders of our own community have told us that it is not time for us to have rights, that it is not pragmatic for us to be considered worthy of the same respect as other human beings.

    You forget that in our own circles, it is considered a negative thing to be too flamboyant. You forget the way our pride parades have been derided by our own community. You forget the scorn heaped upon drag queens by other gay men. You forget the fear to be seen in public with a friend who is considered too open, too queer.

    You forget the way it seeps into the minds of transgender people, too. You forget the way a transsexual will shout that she is not a crossdresser, as if there were something wrong with that. You forget the catty names we call each other if we don’t “pass”.

    You forget how many of us take our own lives every year.

    You forget because the noise is always there, a constant drone in the background. Every newspaper piece that calls a transwoman “he” instead of “she”. Every talk show host who spends an hour talking about our genitals. Every childish taunt about “looking like a tranny”. Every transperson who talks about themselves as “true” transsexuals. Every activist and politician who tells us “now is not the time”.

    You forget too, how easy it is to kill a person of color, with myths about “gangstas” and lies about immigrants. You forget how easy it is to kill a person living in poverty, cutting off her welfare because she is supposedly being paid to breed. You forget how easy it is to kill a sex worker, with sex-shaming language, slinging about slurs like “hooker” and “whore”.

    You forget the message hidden inside every single one of those statements.

    “You are less than I am. You are not worthy of the rights and respect that I am worthy of.

    “You are not human.”

    It is very easy to kill something that you do not see as human.

    It is very easy to kill a transperson.


April 27, 2011

  • rape culture. and consent.

    Rape culture is a set of values and beliefs that provide an environment conducive to rape.  (that is, the generic culture surrounding and promoting rape, not the specific settings in which rape is likely to occur.)

    Rape culture is pervasive insistence that false reports are common, although they are less common (1.6%) than false reports of auto theft (2.6%).

    Rape culture is pervasive claims that women make rape accusations willy-nilly, when 61% of rapes remain unreported.

    Rape culture is a ruling that says women cannot withdraw consent once sex commences.

    Rape culture is boys under 10 years old knowing how to rape.

    Rape culture is blurred lines between persistence and coercion.

    Rape culture is treating diminished capacity to consent as the natural path to sexual activity.

    Rape culture is. . . Click Here to learn more about Rape Culture.

    Rape culture is asking the questions on this exam:

      “Write down five things a woman can do on a date to avoid date rape.”
      “Write down two things a woman can do to avoid being raped.”
      As the image says: this is victim blaming.

    Rape culture is a culture that blames the victim of rape. 

    Rape culture is teaching girls how to not get raped without teaching individuals not to rape

    Rape culture is a culture that doesn’t teach consent. 

    Rape culture is when issues of consent are blurry. 

    Rape culture is a culture that doesn’t understand exactly what rape is.

    Rape culture is when research on sexual assault is done where quotes such as the following are collected:

    - A hook up is… “When you are really drunk and meet up with a woman you sort of now, or possibly don’t know at all and don’t care about. You go home with her with the intention of getting ass much sexual, physical pleasure as she’ll give you, which can range from kissing to intercourse, without any strings attached.”
    - “[Date rape is] when a woman wakes up the next morning and regrets having sex.”
    - “Consent is a fine line.”
    - “I have a problem with the word rape. It sounds so criminal, and we are not criminals; we are sane people.”
    - “If that [the fact that a woman who is intoxicated is unable to consent to sex] is the legal definition of rape, than it happens all the time on this campus.”
    - “When women get drunk, they invite sex. Girls get drunk here and then come on to us. What are we supposed to do? We are only human.”

    Rape culture is not understanding that alcohol undoes consent.
    - “Specifically related to the issues of intoxication, it should be noted that if a person is unconscious or their judgment is impaired by alcohol or drugs, legally they are unable to give consent. These types of laws are meant to protect people from being taken advantage of when they are intoxicated.”  (source: men against abuse now: alcohol and consent)
    - “Know that if someone is intoxicated they cannot legally consent to sex. Having sex with someone who is intoxicated is rape.” (
    student health services at illinois university)

    Rape culture is a culture with thousands of songs that celebrate drunkenness, drugs, rape, and sexual harassment. 

    ALL of the following songs incorporate both drinking and sex.

    The Whistle Song (“Damn shorty look good and I’m thinkin bout gettin at her; time to whistle at her”)
    Drop it Low (“I can’t stop staring at your body, put my hands on your body, you sexy fo’ sho’”)
    I’m the Shit (“
    Is that yo girlfriend? I really like her. I’m talking only for a night- I wouldn’t wife her”)
    I Love College (“
    That party last night was awfully crazy I wish we taped it; I danced my ass off and had this one girl completely naked”)
    Hennessey (“
    Now that it’s poppin ain’t no love bitch”)
    Kush (“I’m on some new shit while your bitch is on my dick like a glue stick”)
    Tipsy (“
    Now I’m lookin at shorty right in the eyes; couple seconds passed now I’m lookin at her thighs”)
    Wasted (“And I don’t like to brag so my bitches brag for me, oh she a good girl, I got her transforming”)
    Drink Away the Pain, (“I used to be in love with this bitch named E and J; don’t fuck with her anymore now I fuck with Tanqueray”)
    Pop Bottles (“
    No I wouldn’t take ya girl but I shall take her tongue from her”)
    I Smoke I Drank (“
    I ain’t got nuthin but dick for you hoes”)
    Drunk and Hot Girls (
    “We go through too much bullshit just to mess with these drunk and hot girls”)
    Shots (“
    The ladies love us when we pour shots; they need an excuse to suck our cocks”)
    Stand Up (“The more drinks in your system the harder to fight!”)
    Pop Champagne (“All the girls give it to me, I ain’t gotta take it!”)
    Get Low
    (the whole song)

    (Other songs about alcohol: drive better drunk,
    everybody drunk, drunk by myself, my drink and my 2 stepmy apologies for not dabbling into other genres. i know messages about rape, drinking, and sexual harassment pervade other genres as well.)

    Rape culture is a culture that allows men to watch girls and sexually evaluate women alone and in the presence of other men and writes it off as “boys will be boys”.  Rape culture characterizes “girl watching” as only play, a fun game, harmless- while more than 1/3 of women have reported experiencing unwanted sexual teasing, jokes, or remarks about their body. 

     - “What most men don’t realize is that all women in our society are on the receiving end of unwanted sexual attention at some point in their lives, and most of them get it a lot. Women are catcalled on the street. They’re harassed in bars, groped in clubs, and whistled at in the grocery store. They’re told that they need to be sexy to be valued and then they’re attacked as sluts. Simply put, women put up with sexual intrusion for most of their lives, in big ways and small. It happens everywhere and most men have no idea how much of an impact it has.“  (source: “the most important thing that men who have sex with women need to know”)

    - Boys are told from a young age that whatever they do will be excused under the “boys will be boys” mantra, and that “boys will be boys” mentality leads to what I call the “boiling frog” problem of women’s sexual boundaries. I call it that because if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump right out, but if you put a frog into a pot of room-temperature water and slowly heat it to a boil, the frog will acclimate as it heats and never jump out, eventually boiling to death. Similarly, when we learn as young girls to tolerate “low-level” boundary violations like the ones we often are forced to suffer in silence at school, at home and on the street – bra-snapping, boob-grabbing, ass pinching, catcalling, dick flashing “all in good fun” relentless violations that adults and authorities routinely ignore – it makes it harder for us to notice when even greater boundaries are being violated, eventually leading to the reality that many women who are raped just freeze and fall silent, because that’s what they’ve been taught to do over and over since day one. You tell me what’s more infantilizing: repeatedly letting boys (and grown men) off the hook for their behavior because “boys will be boys” and we can’t ever expect any differently, or creating a consent standard in which all partners take active responsibility for their partner’s safety, and which acknowledges the truly diseased sexual culture we’re soaking in every day.  (source: the yes means yes blog)


    rape culture- the blurry line between fun and harm, joking and harassment, consent and rape. 


    click the image for the source

    1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.
    (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape)

    17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.

    9 of every 10 rape victims were female in 2003.

    While about 80% of all victims are white, minorities are somewhat more likely to be attacked.

    60% of rapes/sexual assaults are not reported to the police, according to a statistical average of the past 5 years.
    Those rapists, of course, never spend a day in prison.
    Factoring in unreported rapes, only about 6% of rapists ever serve a day in jail.



    speaks of both persons’ active agreement to engage in sexual activities, wholeheartedly and freely, without pressure, obligation, or ambivalence; good partnered sex requires good communication, a good idea of what the encounter will involve, and absolute allowance to stop or set new boundaries at any time without a problem. Consensual sex never involves pushing or coercion, or one person doing something they don’t very much want to do. Consent isn’t “well maybe” “I guess so” or “oh all right”- consent is a clear, enthusiastic “YES!”

    one cannot consent when:
    - they are under the legal age of consent.  (find out the legal age in your area here.)

    - their judgment is impaired due to the use of drugs or alcohol
    - they are not of the appropriate mental capacity

    If you’re not mature enough to treat consent like a continual process, you’re not mature enough to be having sex. By which I don’t mean “OMG teh kidz can’t have teh sex!” I mean, if you can’t grasp and act on the basics of consent, you’re taking on a responsibility you’re not equipped to handle. Like stealing your parents’ car when you don’t know how to drive, you can really hurt yourself or someone else that way. (source: consent is not a lightswitch)

    Rape occurs when a person is forced into a sexual act against their will, with physical force or some form of strong coercion.  If a person consents to sex under duress, such as threats to harm friends or family, or if the victim has been given drugs or alcohol to produce consent, that is also rape.

    Rape has subcategories.

    • “Forcible rape” generally implies physical force or full-body violence.
    • “Date rape” or “acquaintance rape” applies to a rape committed by someone known to the rape victim. 
    • “Spousal rape” refers to a rape that has occurred between married people. 
    • “Gang rape” is the term for a rape in which more than one rapist is involved. 
    • “Statutory rape” implies a legal adult, or person over the legal age of consent, engaging in sexual activity with a minor, or a person under the legal age of consent.
    • “Attempted rape” and “assault with intent to rape” are terms used to describe an instance in which rape did not take place, but was intended or attempted.  Rape may also be classed as sexual assault, abuse, or molestation.

    While very few people are confused about what forcible rape is, many people are in denial about other types of rape.  Coercion–pushing and pressuring a partner to have sex until they finally give in–can be rape.  Pursuing sex with someone who is clearly inebriated, under the influence of drugs, or distressed is also rape, if sex does ensue. 

    as someone who has been sexually abused, i don’t think it’s just children or really young folk [who need to be protected]. i was sixteen & he was twenty-eight. no obviously means no, but not saying anything means no, not moving means no, crying means no, i think maybe i should go home means no. it does not mean keep asking. it was really hard for me as a young person to tell this person that i respected and looked up to no. i said no once, but was bombarded with requests to do it anyway & eventually said yes even though my headspace was very no and more importantly my actions were very no. pay attention to body language.” (source: askforconsentalways)

    Nearly 60% of girls under age 15 and sexually active have reported some sort of involuntary or coerced sex.

    Sexual harassment:  Unwelcome and uninvited sexual advances, requests for sexual favors–even in the form of jokes–or other sexually-loaded verbal or physical conduct are sexual harassment, when accepting or rejecting that behavior or those advances could affect a person’s employment, interfere with a person’s performance, or create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive enviornment.  While its most often applied in job enviorments, sexual harrassment can occur in schools, community centers, online, and other areas.

    Sexual harassment has the power and impact it has for the same reason it’s so rarely reported: because in a culture where sex is seen as shameful, it’s very easy to shame someone into silence where sex is concerned, and our culture has a tendency to blame the victim of a sexual crime.

    the above “definitions” section taken from the book s.e.x. by heather corinna.

    lack of a “no” is not a “yes”

    understand consent.
    take a stand against rape.

April 26, 2011

  • college.

    the above graph, which fails to include making money and paying bills, can be used to explain why i haven’t blogged for something like two years.  college has been kicking my ass.  this isn’t the entire truth, of course- i mean, no one expects for college students to have to pay their own expenses (or even have expenses to pay) or do maintenance on their car all the time, and i’m sure professors and others in the academic stratosphere don’t expect for you to have an endless, undying devotion to one (or several) online community(ies) in addition to your ‘live’, offline communities…. but that’s my reality. 

    and it makes me bitter about college.

    because in between my health classes where i’ve learned how much sleep i should be getting, water i should be drinking, food i should be eating, and my sociology classes that have informed me of the unequal distribution of, well, pretty much everything across classes…. i still have to go to school, get inadequate sleep, eat overpriced, unhealthy foods, and play into a system that marginalizes people who were born with less wealth than me.  during the day, i do work i don’t care about in order to satisfy course requirements that enable me to graduate while i stay up at night on tumblr reading about things i’m passionate about and get no credit for.  i read about social issues, chronic illness, disability, media, advertising, discrimination against trans people and people of color and other minorities, and all these things that i would live my daily life blind to if it weren’t for these brave bloggers also taking time away from their busy days to shine light on situations, to educate about these things. 

    so add that to the little chart above.  doing reading for classes vs doing reading about things i feel actually matter.  and maybe another point to address depression and coping with depression and doing things for me so i don’t fall into depression like everyone else on my mom’s side of the family.  because doing reading for school alone is unfulfilling, but not getting good grades in school is heartbreaking, and not getting enough sleep makes me chronically irritable. 

    i feel like i am constantly wrestling with my privilege, and i don’t know how to deal with it.  it’s been suggested to me more than once to simply “stop wrestling” and accept my privilege and do things to help those less privileged than me… but it’s not that easy.  because i am also wrestling with the areas in which i am marginalized as well, and reading articles about people like me and the things we go through that no one else has to go through.  although this is not the intent of this post whatsoever, i read something yesterday that fits nicely with this train of thought, on how people of dominant groups expect for the marginalized group to teach them about diversity and how not okay that is, and i want to link you to it.  that piece is here and angry and powerful in its anger.  i encourage you to read it so long as you’re not scared into your shell by swear words and you can understand that their use of the word “hate” isn’t serious, it just aids in the (extremely warranted) rant.  and since the author did not link you to any articles about the transgender woman being beaten in a mcdonalds last week, i will (trigger warnings for graphic violence, violence against trans people, and related): link 1, link 2, link 3 / follow up 1, link 4 / follow up 2 (be thankful i didn’t share all 8 of my bookmarked news coverage).  

    actually, while i’m on the subject of trans people in the media and trans people in research and all that, i’m just going to throw some stuff out there for anyone who is interested:
    this is all reaaaally recent unless otherwise stated:
    - study: discrimination takes a toll on transgender americans

    - transgender bill invades women’s privacy in bathrooms (propaganda from the right)
    - transgender woman mocked at utah dmv, forced to scrub off makeup
    - transgender woman gets hate mail after visiting dmv (older story than the one above, and separate from it)
       – related: dmv sued by transgender woman over privacy
    - do you want men dressed as women teaching your kids? (static webpage from right right)
       – (to the scardycats: things like this already happen.)
    - a dad testifies for his transgender teen daughter (a touching story)
    - raising a ‘fabulous’ son
    - hot pink-toenailed boy in j. crew ad sparks controversy

       – boy in pink nail polish sparks online outrage
       – new j. crew ad sparks debate on gender identity confusion
       – and the original article from fox news: j. crew plants the seeds for gender identity
    trans people in general, and trans children specifically, have been getting a lot of media attention lately.

    but this truly wasn’t the intention of this post.  

    i’m not sure this post really had an intention, well, other than to acknowledge (complain about) that literally doing *anything* that isn’t homework comes at the expense of my homework.  that being a full-time student literally means working full-time, 40+ hours a week, and wow i am totally unprepared to be doing absolutely nothing but homework every minute of every day because that’s so not at all realistic.  oh, and to acknowledge my privilege.  because while the half of me complains about homework right now, the other half of me is like, shut up you privileged person, be thankful you’re even in school at all, this is an opportunity all too many in the world don’t ever get.  so… yeah; where is that line?  because i am thankful to be in school, and i love school, and i am grateful for my education and being wealthy enough and able-bodied enough for it and all those factors… but, if i can just be honest with you for two seconds…. the end of the semester–every semester–makes me incredibly depressed.  because i just can’t eatsleepbreathe school, i can’t. i can’t drop everything that isn’t related to school. i can’t forgo sleep. i can’t stop making time for my partner(s) and friends. i can’t turn off my brain, or stop reading the news, or stop reflecting on things that are going on in the world around me, just to get an A in some class i can’t even determine whether i care about or not.  i care about my GPA, yeah, sure. i just wish i didn’t.

December 5, 2010

November 25, 2010

  • Gratitude

    “Sometimes in life, things happen too fast. We barely solve one problem when two new problems surface. We’re feeling great in the morning, but we’re submerged in misery by nightfall.

    Every day we face interruptions, delays, changes, and challenges. We face personality conflicts and disappointments. Often when we’re feeling overwhelmed, we can’t see the lessons in these experiences.

    One simple concept can get us through the most stressful of times. It’s called gratitude. We learn to say thank you for these problems and feelings. Thank you for the way things are. I don’t like this experience, but thank you anyway.

    Force gratitude until it becomes habitual. Gratitude helps us stop trying to control outcomes. It is the key that unlocks positive energy in our life. It is the alchemy that turns problems into blessings, and the unexpected into gifts.

    Today, I will be grateful. I will start the process of turning today’s pain into tomorrow’s joy.”

November 22, 2010

  • on sexism and heterosexism

    so yesterday i was driving around the vassar campus and i came upon this sight: a van (taking up both lanes of the road i might add) being driven by a girl leaning across the passenger side seat and basically out the window, talking to another girl walking her bike.  and the thought occurred to me that if this driver of the van was male i would have interpreted the scenario differently. and then it occurred to me that i was at vassar. and gender rules, roles and stereotypes just aren’t the same at vassar as they are everywhere else. so i started thinking.

    a few weeks ago we watched this documentary in my women images class where this woman walked down a city street with a camera and filmed the guys hitting on her as she did it (as well as their reactions/ responses when she confronted them). at one point during the documentary a man responded that he hit on her because she “looked single”. she challenged him on that saying that it seems as if he’s suggesting that she need to be hanging off the arms of a man in order to be shielded from the male gaze, sexual harassment, and related. i think he tried to say that that wasn’t what he was implying, but… that’s exactly what he was implying. solo women appear single. and it doesn’t stop there. groups of women are all single as well.  and hetero.

    in section after the lecture where we watched that documentary a few of the girls brought up dancing at clubs and how if a group of girl friends were together (with no guys) single guys thought it was their place to infiltrate and start dancing with them (or flat-out ON them) without their permission. they talked about the girl code of signaling that the friend should come in and get in between her friend and the guy to spare her friend the encounter. i vividly remember my brief encounters with this in 2008. my hair was short and i’m pretty sure i was read as a lesbian by most people, and yet i still had men on me, on my friends, all around us, and if we didn’t have a code there would have been a lot of unwanted scenarios. and i remember wondering what gave them that right.

    the other day emma and i were watching the l word (the end of season one in particular) and jenny who had been coming into herself as a woman who is attracted to women was asked out by this guy (in a way that seemed pretty random to us as the viewers). emma paused the show to discuss how it’s not right or fair or whatever that a guy can go up to an unassuming female and strike up a conversation that will end in the proposal for a date. but if you’re gay (and she referenced the scene with dana trying to figure out if lara was gay) you have to jump through hoops first, not only to find out if they’re gay, but to just to find out if they’re going to get offended or not. we got into a conversation about how there isn’t equality in that way. the people who are the recipient of homosexual advances don’t always say “thanks but no thanks” in the way straight people do- no, sometimes there’s aggression (either physical or relational) involved that complicates things in a major way, and if it’s not present the fear of it still is. so you have a lot of single queers.

    we talk a lot in therapy about what led to me at 20 getting into a relationship with a minor (at 16.75 yrs) and i’m going to say that i think a lot of this was at work. not even just within me and shaped by my personality and perceptions (and love) which i’ve talked about a million times before, but all this social stuff too. the truth is you DON’T have the freedom as a queer person to ask out the people you think are attractive, you don’t have the freedom to take a chance with desire the way you would if you were straight. you aren’t just limited to the (let’s be generous) 10% of the population who identify in a way that could make you two a match but you have to break your back (and heart) to figure out if the person you’re talking to isn’t of the heterosexual majority. and that’s no easy task. even understanding this, society won’t forgive me for responding to a love that literally fell into my lap during a time when i thought i would never find love? i think it’s absurd. and i think even they understand how absurd it is. but their hands are tied. like all of ours.

    other related thoughts: the idea of “public vs private” is absurd. all that is private relates to all that is public, and all that is public relates to that which is private. marriage and family arrangements and sex and reproduction- these are all private matters which the government has its hands in. today in “women in early modern europe” we looked at how royal women influenced politics through their relationships with family members who had more political power. we looked at how women used religion (priests, confessors, nuns), piety (the idea that their first obligation is to all that is religious and couldn’t possibly have a political agenda) and illness (woe is me, bring me a priest that i may share my political troubles with…) to give themselves a voice. we basically discussed how women—thought to be inferior to men—used informal and indirect means to create political change. they used their PRIVATE relationships to influence PUBLIC matters. that was in the 1300s. i don’t think anything’s changed. i have faith that people are just as crafty now as they were then. in fact, i’m pretty sure this happens every day with the christian right.

    another thing that hasn’t changed is women’s position in society. i just read a 200 page book (studying england, 1300-1600) where the author’s thesis was: women’s work stayed still in a changing economic world. within a traditionally female-dominated profession (brewing ale) technological advances were happening, things were becoming more specialized and professionalized, the rate of consumption was increasing, there was more demand… and as this happened woman began to get pushed out of the occupation. the more status the job incurred, the more capital was needed and the less women could afford to remain employed; guilds were formed that excluded women; it was taken over by capitalism and woman could no longer keep up.

    i bring this book up for a few reasons: 1- it illustrates how patriarchy is not a plot, it’s just the maintenance of male power, 2- it illustrates the silencing of women in a systematic way, 3- it shows us again how law linked to the bible influences individual (private) lives, 4- it illustrates a segregation of the sexes which led to an eventual exclusion of women from a high-status job they once had direct access to. and this is important to me now because this is our history and this is all still true today where women do all the low-paid domestic labor and childcare and continue to live in poverty disproportionally to men.

    i guess this was all just a really long tangent to say that i don’t think homosexuality is going to become an equally valid lifestyle to heterosexuality for a long long time. because it’s been 700 years since the 1300s and there’s still continuity in the area sex-segregation and religious beliefs and related, and for as long as that continuity remains, queer lives aren’t going to have a chance. i’m reading this book (you’ll hear that phrase a lot lately) and one of the author’s main points is that it isn’t gay SEX that gets society all freaked out, it’s gay LIFE and LIVING. it’s the idea that two men or two women (or a community of friends and lovers) could be complete outside the traditional heterosexual pairing. because it just screws up our timeline, our stereotypes and our misconceptions.

    and i guess somewhere in here i’m back to where i started, with these thoughts and ideas about assumptions of heterosexuality and how solo people appear like single people and all that junk. i don’t really know what more to say about it, i don’t really know how to fight it, but i think it’s important to acknowledge its existence and that even we queer folk do it. 

    i possibly have more to say on this subject but this is already quite long and all over the place and i think i should leave you here.

November 19, 2010

  • spring schedule

    spring schedule so far

    • research methods
      study of scientific reasoning and critical thinking, correlational and experimental research approaches, including control, designs, statistical analyses, and hypothesis testing
    • psych of language
      study of language behavior and its relation to learning and thought processes. attention to language acquisition and psychological phenomena of speech and speech perception. social aspects of language and non-verbal communication
    • masculinities
      examines how masculinities are constructed and represented culturally, socially, and institutionally; how race, class, gender, sexuality, age, ability, and nationality inflect understandings of masculinity; how masculinities may reproduce or challenge inequalities
    • rape and sexual assault
      explores the realities of rape in our culture with special attention given to acquaintance rape. also: society’s response to and perpetuation of rape on both grass roots and institutional levels. areas to be explored will include: activism; education/prevention; advocacy; legal and therapeutic theories

    alsoooo one of the following:

    • psych of perception
      perceptual processes of form, color, movement, space, localization, and constancy. consciousness.
    • psych of memory and thinking
      theories and research regarding the mental processes of acquiring and retaining information for later retrieval, and the manipulation of that information for complex skills such as reasoning, decision-making, and problem solving
    • modern philosophy
      philosophy of the 17th and 18th centuries: bacon, hobbes, descartes, spinoza, leibnitz, locke, berkeley, hume, and/or kant. topics may include: subject/object, mind/body, self/other; theories of knowledge; ethical and political theories
    • later greek and roman philosophy
      selected works of the ancient stoics, epicureans, skeptics, and neoplatonists in their historical and cultural contest
    • history of christian thought
      a survey of representative thinkers and documents of the christian tradition, from biblical times to the present. also: the christian encounter with other religions and cultures
    but which one?  vote now. :P

  • psych homework (cosmopolitan)

    Go to the library, local bookstore, or hit the web – check out a magazine that you wouldn’t normally read that is targeted at either men or women. No porn please! For example: Maxim, FHM, Men’s Health Magazine, GQ, Esquire; Cosmopolitan, Ms., Women’s Health, Vogue, W. Describe 3 examples from the magazine (either from images, ads, articles, etc.) that either support or oppose traditional gender roles and stereotypes. Do you think the magazine is constrained by social norms (i.e. broadcasts what the reader expects/wants), or is responsible for maintaining these social norms? Pick one of the major explanations for sex differences from the text (e.g. Social Roles, Socialization, Evolutionary, or Hormone Theory) and use it to explain why the publishers of your magazine might feel justified in presenting a gender in a certain way.

    Cosmopolitan magazine is not only constrained by social norms, but it capitalizes on them. The idea that men and women are “opposites” permeates the language, layout, and purpose of the entire magazine. A “woman’s” magazine, it is littered with advice for women (but only feminine, heterosexual women) and their relationships with (judging from the contents) masculine, heterosexual men. (I didn’t see any room for women who are gay or unconcerned with fashion or beauty or sex anywhere within the pages. But I also didn’t expect to.)

    Their articles range on their justifications for why they maintain social norms. In the article “8 Times It Plays to Be Cocky” they flat-out blame testosterone (hormonal theory) for the reason men have “always been more comfortable than women with blowing their own horn… and reaping the benefits”, while in the article “Why Guys Cheat on Hot Women” they point to theories of social learning in saying that “Many two-timers come from chauvinistic cultures or families where their fathers cheated. ‘There are internal blueprints (created by watching our parents) that make cheating more of an option for some guys.’” In yet another article, “6 Fascinating Facts About Men Today”, they note socialization theory, that men are “told to be thoughtful, caring, passionate, connected, fathering types [but also] still expected to be ‘macho.’” It seems to me that they will take justification for being sexist and heterosexist from just about any source, even if that means misrepresenting academic studies on gendered behavior. (Almost every article contains something said by somebody with a PhD somewhere and I personally don’t feel that from those studies they could draw the conclusions they drew – at least, not every time.)

    And, I can’t blame them. If they instead suggested the truth, that men and women are more alike than different, they would eventually phase out the need for their magazine. You don’t need a magazine to tell you how to interact with men if you have the know-how to do it yourself – so, in order for sales to continue, men need to continue to be “othered” and explained off as some unusual creature from another planet; “pleasing your man” needs to remain among a woman’s top concerns (oh, and she needs to be ignorant about it, too!); and infidelity needs to be explained away by science so as to not fix the problem but sweep it under the rug like everything else.

    Above all, I am outraged, I am physically upset to see women presented as sex objects in “their own” magazines.  While I don’t condone the depiction of women as objects in magazines geared towards heterosexual men (such as Esquire and FHM), it seems somehow less harmful than writing articles to women telling them that all they’re good for is… their beauty, their youthfulness, and their sexuality. (Did I miss anything?)  I mean, obviously they’re not useful for their intellect, because according to Cosmo women spend all of their time thinking about men, sex, fashion, drinking martinis, men, hair, sex, shoes, dresses, men, beauty, sex, and men, and this leaves no time for politics, academics, education, family, work, what really makes a relationship work (hint: not sex… or even beauty), or anything else in life that might matter (like finance).

    There’s a theory out there called Sexual Objectification Theory that would explain why some women love Cosmo. It’s this theory that, because society treats women as little more than an instrument of sexuality or object to use, women can only begin to evaluate themselves in terms of their beauty and sex appeal, which leads to body shame and insecurity… and eventually mental health risks like depression and eating disorders.  But anyway, because Cosmo plays into women’s insecurities about their body that they’ve internalized because of our sexist culture, women want to read it because they want to find out how to fix the problems they experience because of our sexist culture.  It’s an extremely marketable cycle of feeling like shit.  Tons of companies (thousands, millions) capitalize on making women feel unattractive.  Don’t you love capitalism?

    To be fair, I study this area more than probably any other area and I could write a million more paragraphs expressing my distaste towards Cosmo and magazines like it.  We live in a society that could position things with a lot more gender sensitivity, with much more gender-sensitive language, and people choose not to for the sake of sales.  Every day, lives are ruined when gender variant people (feminine men, masculine women, transgender and transsexual people) are bullied, harassed, and even killed for their gender expression… and magazines like this not only maintain but promote a culture where that makes sense.  In my world, that’s not okay.

    Feel free to discuss this, challenge this, praise this or whatever you want with me. :)

November 14, 2010

  • if you don’t turn onto politics, politics will turn on you.

    The sad truth is that one vote doesn’t make a difference. In your opinion, what’s the best way to make a political difference?

    collective action.

    one vote may not matter but a thousand votes certainly do. that said, voting isn’t enough; voting is about the least effective thing you could do if you’re looking for political change. you can act personally and (better) collectively political in a number of ways.

    vote with your wallet/ feet.

    probably the most important thing you can do is vote with your wallet and feet (they go hand-in-hand most of the time). only buy the goods and services that you feel promote the social change that you want, and boycott the things you think work against your cause. if a bar you frequent tolerates sexist behavior (most bars?), stop going, get your friends to stop going, talk about it, threaten not to go back until things change and then follow through.  keep in mind, though, that boycotts don’t always affect the people you want for them to and you need to think all the details through. i learned during the target boycott that those who would be most affected were the workers (many of whom are gay) and not the uppities who supported the homophobic political figure. (i can’t find the article right now so i can’t remember names or details, but i do remember exactly why the boycott was a bad idea.) this kind of thinking and acting goes along with most things. if the way we treat our environment concerns you (and it should), do everything in your power to stop doing things that hurt the environment. keep your lights off, unplug the appliances you aren’t using, keep your heat reasonably low, use only reusable containers (travel mugs, thermoses, water bottles, microwaveable containers, canvas bags), put old plastic bags to good use (give them to someone that has a dog, use them for your smelly laundry- don’t throw them out), boycott places that use styrofoam carelessly (ie. dunkin doughnuts), be mindful of the waste you produce, encourage your friends to be mindful of the waste they produce. raise awareness.

    raise awareness.

    you don’t have to protest to make a difference (but you can!); there are a lot of other ways to raise awareness about policies and behaviors you want to see changed.  so do the research, provide information, get creative, and get out. be visible.  we live in a fast-paced world where a million things are expected of every one of us at every given second and we may not be mindful of the fact that the one water bottle a day we snag on our way to the gym adds up to hundreds of water bottles a year, which is a waste of not only plastic but money as well. so make demonstrations. if there’s a message you want to get across, say it.  people learn visually.   last week the recycling club lined the campus with old water bottles.  a couple weeks before that the feminist collective put signs about gender, domestic violence, rape, and other feminist issues all across campus. i’ve seen political writing and statistics in sidewalk chalk across campus.  get organized and then express your mind in a creative, highly visible way.  (just don’t hand out tracts. :P )  be prepared to have conversations and defend your beliefs while respecting others’ differences.  you might not change their mind about something at that moment but you might plant the seed that grows inside them. :)   if you can’t do any of that, use your facebook or twitter to bring awareness to the issues that concern you. put it on the web. get it out there.

    counteract consumerism, corporatism. 

    think local first.  support small businesses and farms that nurture their local community, provide local jobs, keep their carbon footprint low by staying local, work to reduce waste, and value their employees. support positive workplace culture.  cook your own meals and deserts and snacks. (make it from scratch; it tastes better, is better for you, is often cheaper than the shop bought stuff — and there’s no packaging to dispose of; packaging makes up the bulk of the garbage found in most homes… and on the side of the streets.)  bring your own lunch. don’t buy junk food. (you support not only unhealthy eating, but the corporations which produce this shit; you also support the excess waste that packaging produces.) don’t buy from vending machines. buy less. buy in bulk. recycle clothing (buy/donate). recycle. compost. grow you own vegetables and herbs. exchange services with your friends. barter. carpool. bike. keep your cost of living minimal. live within your means. try to keep your debt low. use cash over credit. use a diva cup instead of tampons or pads. repurpose old furniture. stop using using using buying buying buying.

    demand genuine democracy.

    politicians respond to the pressures put on them. so pressure them. in all the ways listed above, pressure them. and pressure them with your voice. WRITE to your politicians, WRITE to companies whose policies upset you, and get your friends to do it. collective voices talk louder than the wallets of billionaires only when enough people organize. this takes time and energy and organization (like everything else above). this requires donating a few hours of time a week to organizations or campaigns you feel passionate about, and/or leaving time for the letter-writing process. this means taking the time to get educated, the time to make demonstrations, the time to cook your own meals, the time to volunteer. make that time. if there isn’t a group for a cause you believe in, make your own, and then draw creative attention to it and get it going. PUSH. fucking pressure the people in power. people in power want to keep that power. we have the power to take it away.

    we are not powerless. we are surrounded by millions of people who share our frustrations and our instinct for justice and rationality. it is your job to connect with each other. only together are we powerful. if we remain alone, we remain hopeless. fucking act out already. if we don’t turn onto politics, politics will turn on us.

October 17, 2010

  • holy college.

    the other day i had an appointment with one of my major advisors, and we reviewed my college transcript and the experience was relatively overwhelming because… i had no idea i have taken so many courses. 

    as of fall 2010, i’ve completed (/am enrolled in, for five of these):

    • sociology of religion
    • major world religions
    • intro to psychological principles
    • developmental psychology
    • adolescent psychology
    • abnormal psychology
    • social psychology
    • psychology of gender
    • psychology of personality
    • intro to psychological testing
    • elementary statistics
    • pre-calculus 
    • social problems in today’s world
    • american national experience
    • human sexuality
    • lifetime wellness and fitness
    • sociology of the family
    • education in american society
    • women: images & realities
    • women in early modern europe
    • human biology
    • environmental biology
    • 2d design
    • modern poetry
    • shakespeare
    • performing skills for the classroom
    • intermediate spanish i & ii
    • sociolinguistics

    makes sense now why my mind is always spinning.