Category Archives: feminism

Neurosexism, Naomi Campbell & Foot Fetishism

First of all:

we now have a Tumblr account! Find it here and bookmark. In the future there will be less tidbit-posts here and more on Tumblr, since it fits that kind of format better. But no need to worry, we will continue working at this WordPress blog.

So this is one of those posts that is filled with tidbits, and all due to me not being able to juggle studies with other types of writing.

First of all, this is a good read for those of you who might still believe that there is essential differences between genders and they are hardwired in our brain. A reminder that while there is such truths that we hold dear, there is also such things as bias within not only social sciences but also the medical profession;

http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/culturelab/2010/09/fighting-back-against-neurosexism.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news

And then, here is something for all of those who are really into feet but not sure of how to approach your fascination. I know this is about men who are into feet and am aware of the exclusion of female foot/shoe fetishists but it certainly carries some important bits, so take note or just laugh at this video made by Count Boogie.:

Then there is the diva of divas Naomi Campbell,that provided us with some wank-material in October 2010 edition of Interview magazine. Photos by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. Please feel free to drool. I did.


Pr0n, baby, it is all about Pr0n

 

 

During a talk at Stockholm Pride this summer, we where listening to a talk about the possibilities or rather apparently the inpossibilities of feminist pornography. Now, I don’t view a lot of pr0n, simply because I’m not very interested in the expressions and most of the time find hot things in other places, even if they are not intended to be anything erotic. I’m sorry but I guess that is how I am wired. What I am interested in is different erotic expressions amongst people, and with that comes certain discussions that I do know are reoccurring and sometimes really frustrating.
There is doublebind and a difficulty when it comes to porn and feminist theory. Not because there is something inherently problematic about porn itself, but because it has been made in to being so problematic. It does not matter if you come from a rightwing nutplace like the one below

or if it is a rethoric coming from what is framed as a feminist, because they can both frame pornography as something pwetti evööööööl. It turns men into murderers, women into wanton sluts or depraved victims and wrecks families, lives and it is also the ultimate expression of the patriarchal society in which we live. I.E porn, according to some, is the blueprint of the oppression of women in our society. Etc. Etc. I could go on forever and ever on the massive effects that pornography is supposed to have on mankind. Yeah, that is MANkind, because it is the man who can never separate fantasy from reality, who can’t control himself, who turns into broken rapists and sadists (the bad kind).

I can’t say I’m totally positive towards the sex industries, but that is in the same way as I am not totally positive towards many other industries. We are not perfect human beings, we can’t really claim that everything is alright, fine and dandy, because hey, I make a choice and if I make a choice that must automatically be good, right? Not really, but my point here is to discuss the implications of a possible feminist pornography. The project ‘Dirty Diaries’ from Sweden was filmed with mobile cameras, and with another approach than what porn production usually has. Furthermore, it was also given funding from the Swedish State (which many saw as proof of how twisted the Swedish society had become, funny enough…). Now, I’ve seen bits and bobs and for me it did not do anything, sexually, but I found the approach being interesting. With a mobile camera filming and the participants being a very active part of the creation, the lines between the viewer and the viewed became blurred. By turning voyeurism and exhibitionism on it’s head, I think there is a lot that can be done, especially if it is for someone else than the viewer. This is already in full throttle  with the masses of amateur porn that is produced each and every day by people shagging away in front of the camera.

The thing then is, for whom is pornography produced and why? Usually, the answer is something like, “People who want to get off on watching other peeps shag”. Now, I can fully understand that it is how it is defined, because definitions are important to us, especially in the West with our obsessions of taxonomy here and there and everywhere. But is not definition to narrow? Does it not exclude all of those who do amateur pornography for themselves, for their own private pleasure? Or those who view it with other perspectives than the hands-down-pants intention? There is of course a question of art here, if art is a part of all of this, and also a question of value.
I think many people would say that ‘The Swing’ is different from the picture from the CCTV with the creep who is harassing women. And I would agree.

 

The Swing, by Jean-Honoré Fragonard

 

I’m going to touch on the issue of consent first actually, just because it is a simple but still important bit. The painting depict a playing couple, whereas the CCTV image is, as far as I know, a man who clearly don’t respect women’s boundaries. A sexist pig indeed.
Second of all, I think I’m far more impressed by the work of Fragonard, simply because it is such a beautiful painting. I’m talking workmanship here now, the craft of an artist versus the developed technology which enables the act of the Peeping Tom to be caught on camera. The intention of one of these images is that it is an object d’art and the other is a candid image never meant be put on show or hung up in a gallery.

But to get back on track, or back to the pornography. There is also a thing about what the intention behind an image is. What reactions does The Swing conjure, and how do you feel when looking at the Peeping Tom?
First of all, the reaction to the Swing and Peeping Tom are contextual and situational. They depend on what society we live in, what kind of norms we have, so once in a time, the painting was erotic. It showed skirts, it showed nature and people enjoying themselves, it showed stockings, legs and hints of something more. And yes, the Peeping Tom-idiot can also be seen as erotic, although I personally have a problem with sexualizing images like the above.
In what I am going to say now, is not that we should not take responsibility, but that it is possible to shift the focus of struggles. Feminist pornography is used as a way of escaping the problem, by phrasing it slightly differently, it is supposed to be something completely else. In the discussion at Pride, a member of the panel started to connect art and feminist porn, like they are interchangeable and that pornography has to be art in order to be (feminist) pornography. I don’t know how many turns this logic can take, but it does certainly create a scary binary,  where pornography has to show something special, something specific, as if it would be responsible for for what the viewer might see.
Here is some news: you can’t control the viewer. You can adapt and work with different ways of influencing the viewer, in the same way as Fragonard works with his composition or in the same way as a CCTV erotic image can make us feel a bit uneasy, but I repeat, it is not possible to control the viewer. Just  about anyone can pick up any kind of pornographic movie and it would not matter what the intentions were of the producer. What is possible to control is the conditions that the people on the set work are subjected to, to push for safe sex practices whenever possible.  And this is where the focus needs to be.

I am a sex-positive feminist and don’t see anything inherently bad in connecting sex and money, but my beef is where the focus is and who holds positions of power. This connected with us living in a patriarchal society that does not help young people to shape their lust as well or learning how to take responsibility for ones fellows, in the same time as people choose to pinpoint blame on pornography, creates a really toxic situation.  And is really, really irresponsible and stupid. It is like bombarding someone with images, impressions, values, language, norms and feelings  but not giving them the tool to interpret and relate to them.

As a fan of queer pr0n, on many different levels, I believe that there is more to pr0n than exploitation and misery and I don’t really believe in feminist pr0n, but I don’t want to put the ones who are shagging on pedestal either.

But it is time to stop blaming the pr0n for everything, and turn the attention wider.

 


An Army of Lovers Cannot Loose II

Update:

Stacey Blahnik Lee, a transwoman from Philadelphia was found by her boyfriend on Monday, murdered in her apartment. Feministing reports how bad the news coverage was phrased.

The Stonewall riot some 41 years ago kickstarted the gay-rights movement and one of those worthy of remembering is Raymond Castro, who died from stomach cancer recently. During the Stonewall riots;

Castro pushed against the patrol wagon with both feet and knocked the two officers to the ground. He was detained but later released without charge.

When we are speaking of heroes, read this about a school-kid who got his head smashed against the ground 4 times and who is now picketing outside his school to raise awareness.

And last update on this post, but not least; Dan Savage is angry.

I wish I did not have to write these posts. I really wish I did not have to talk about the hate against people who love each other. Serbian Riot Police clashed on Sunday with far-right homophobes and haters that thought they had any business of rejecting the human rights of LGBTQI-people.

This was not an isolated incident.  Not at all. This is not a specific case of severe homophobia that one can only find in Serbia.  And it is also not just one of those public manifestations of homophobia, because there can’t be any distinction here between what is personal and political. Homophobia will always be political, and it can hit you wherever you are.

But I keep going back to these pictures. Pictures of people participating in a Pride celebration that previous years would have not taken place. These gorgeous queers are out and  proud and loud and are fighting, not with the police but for eachother and through activism try to change the world that they live in.

And then there is all of these teenage suicides in the U.S, queers that has been bullied so badly that they have taken their own life.  I cry when I think about all of this. And this youtube-clip is one of the strongest I ever seen.

The It Gets Better project is brilliant and beautiful. And I’m sorry, but I really don’t know what to say right now. Just take some time to watch some of the videos. And don’t forget that you have the right to be angry, you have the right to cry, you have the fucking right to love whom ever you wish to love, and that you are not alone. You are not alone because there is so many people, we are an army of lovers, and an army of lovers cannot loose.

To all LGBTQI sisters, brothers and all of those who wish to be neither- I love you.


Coming out kink

So, how many of you readers have fully disclosed your life for your friends and family? What have you disclosed? Is there anything that you feel you don’t have to tell? I’m sure there is, because I myself is struggling with the whole concept. I am as out as I can be in regards to me being queer, I am open about girlfriends and boyfriends as well as being open about my non-monogamy. But when it comes to kink, I am not out. I don’t know if I want to really. As much as my sexual practices are important to me, they are that. They are practices which are a part of me now, but they are not written with non-removable ink on my body, and might very well change. Believe it or not, I’ve been asexual as well.
I suppose I would not want to question my father on if he likes blowjobs or not, or ask my mother about what kind of bodies she find being the hottest (I would assume my father is not really on that list). I respect their privacy, and would assume mine would be respected in the same way. Except that it is not.
A couple of months ago, some smart-ass (well-meaning?) sent a gift to me anonymously. To my address in Sweden, an address that the person sending the gift must have known my full name in order to do. The thing is, I don’t live in Sweden, so I changed my Swedish address to the address of my parents. Everyone who knows me well enough to know my full name also know this. In any case, I received this gift and I’m not going to disclose what it was, except that it gave away pretty much everything, including words like ‘kink’ and ‘vanilla’. In the end, I blamed everything on a art-project for university (you can always blame art for anything, it is brilliant!) but still had to navigate questions at the X-mas table. Lots of fun, and even if I know laugh about it (and I sold the gift) it was also scary at the time.

My mother told me recently that another packet had arrived. And I keep on debating if I should just come clean. The thing is, I don’t feel guilty. I don’t believe I am guilty and I don’t believe that I am obliged to come out to any one against my will. It would be different if I would be a high-ranking politician building my career on discriminating against sexual minorities while still being in the closet. But I am not. I don’t have that privilege and for the record, if I would I would use it in a better way than via discrimination.

But the real reason for this post is not my story, it is this story. A letter together with applications for law schools was sent. The letter stated:

To come out fully, in my case, requires three separate disclosures, each as potentially confusing and alienating as the last. I share them now for reasons that are political as well as personal: I am pansexual. When I say this I mean that I seek physical and emotional partnerships with people of all genders, including men, women, and transgender individuals. I am polyamorous. By this I mean that I see monogamy as one among many stable ways in which people are capable of forming romantic and familial bonds. I mean also that I find joy in my partners’ joy, including when that joy comes through companions and lovers other than myself. Lastly, I am a member of the BDSM community. When I say this I mean that I find fulfillment in consensual relationships and sensations that are not always soft and fuzzy, but can indeed be painful and challenging. Taken together, these three facts mean that I have found love and fulfillment in a wide spectrum of relationships and with a variety of people, and that this diversity of partners figures importantly into my identity.

They mean also that I inhabit a small, overlapping sliver of three poorly understood, largely invisible, and utterly unprotected sexual minorities. I am acutely aware that to share these details about myself represents a risk both personal and professional, and in some cases legal. But one reason I have chosen to out myself is to help legitimize my identity, and the identities of those I care about. It is my great hope that taking this risk openly and often will yield benefits both for me and for all those minorities who seek public recognition.

I am an activist, but I am no partisan, no bloodthirsty separatist. Instead of engaging intolerance and divisiveness, I have invested my energy in positively increasing the visibility of diverse sexual identities and normalizing the discussion of sexuality in my immediate environment. This is why I co-founded the Male Sexuality Workshop at Brown University, and for three years took the lead role in designing its curriculum and organizing its activities, affecting more than two hundred and fifty alumni of the program. It is also why I wrote a weekly sex advice and sexuality column for Brown’s student newspaper, why I currently work at Planned Parenthood, and why I have volunteered with the Boston chapter of the National Organization for Men Against Sexism over the past year. Most importantly, it is why I am applying to law school.

The communities I hope to support are at best underserved, at worst the victims of fierce and unchallenged discrimination. How best to contribute to their advancement, whether through labor or constitutional law, family or criminal law, is not crystal clear, and I will allow exposure and passion to guide as I move further into my career. But the larger society can and will come to a better understanding of the diversity of sexuality and gender expression it contains, and in the slow crawl toward that understanding, the first and most profoundly personal step I can take is to state unabashedly who I am: to come out.

Read the full story, it is very well worth it, and I can’t really describe how warm and fuzzy I felt inside after I had read it all.
He was admitted to Law School and I hope he will be one more of the kink-friendly professionals that are so very well needed.


This just in: Erotic Awards double-standards

Erotic Awards held their prize-giving ceremony this past weekend. I just wanted to raise awareness of how the event went down, especially considering that the person who was awarded the ‘activist of the year’ was denied (due to the lack of accessibility) the possibility to receive the award on the stage as well as giving an acceptance speach. This is mostly a post consisting of quotes, I am afraid you have you live with that. (Revision period, exams starting in a week)

These are the words from De (also known as Clair Lewis,or Dennis Queen) who works with Consenting Adult Action Network:

Just back from trying to attend the Erotic Awards in London, I won ‘campaigner of the year ‘ award. What a sham! Given how I was excluded yesterday by an inaccessible stage, venue which was impossible to move around independently except for outside in the cold.. and a very rude awards compere, I don’t know if someone from CAAN will be going tomorrow to deliver my speech at the Rally after all, despite me having spent hours writing a powerful speech designed to pull more people into active campaigning. And anyway who knows if we’ll even get on the platform!

My costly attendance last night was unnecessary and a waste of my desperately needed personal resources, but we were told it was very important to have someone there by seven (judges decided days before who won) .. the event started two hours late.. and basically we didn’t get to accept the award on stage or say anything so we lost the opportunity to use this for publicity, be filmed and photographed or do or say anything useful.. or to just even identify myself to anyone – every other award winner was invited to the stage, something was said about their work and they were then invited to talk for a minute or two about it. My trophy was passed down (via others, not the person who was doing the presenting) across to where I had been asked to sit in my wheelchair, with the other winners by the stage.. the compere said CAAN is a campaigning group our website is www.caan.org.uk – and that was it. Didn’t even mention I was there (other CAAN people i saw later thought I hadn’t attended!!)

It would be good to hear the views of other CAAN people and supporters what we should do with this token gesture of a golden penis trophy.. Do you think other CAAN people should further personal time, energy and money on publicly supporting this event? and should we keep any kind of relationship with this archaic organisation which is too busy patronising disabled people to let us join in on an equal basis? They didnt even seem to think this was a problem. Really unimpressed.

:-( ended up having to get a hotel cos couldn’t stay at the event as I was so cold it hurt, because it was so late by then that there were no more trains :-( after wandering the streets in the rain.

De

……..

I’d have given these thanks for my award, were I given the mic like the otherErotic Award winners. I know I couldn’t get on the inaccessible stage in my wheelchair, but I *can* still communicate. I will instead use my voice where I am welcome and let the ignorance of the people running things on the stage – Tuppy Owens and Helen Croydon (who were raising money ‘for the disabled’ (!)) – speak for itself.

“Thank you to everyone involved who has worked hard to support me in my role as National Convenor for our Consenting Adult Action Network.

Thank you to the Erotic Awards judges for this great compliment, which is due to everyone involved in our inclusive network, really, and well deserved.

All of us at CAAN are volunteers, donating our personal time, skills and resources, in all sorts of different ways. Many CAAN people work behind the scenes due to the personal risks of being outed.

Please continue to support us and join the fight against state-sanctioned discrimination, exclusion and criminalisation of consenting adults, just because of our sexual choices.

……

To read more about De, activism with CAAN and activism in general, check out the blog

I really don’t know what to say, except that it is embarrassing for Erotic Awards, that pride themselves upon being alternative, open and accessible.


David Cameron is wrong. And stupid.

I know, I know, this whole debate happened in the end of February, but since it is the General Election coming up and I’ve got a terrible backlog of things to get published here on the blog, I thought it was just as good to get it out of the way. And furthermore, this is not a debate that gets old, it is highly topical and it is about gender, bodies and control. Which is basically stuffs that gets written about in this blog.

First of all, I am not suprised that he is wrong. It is not something unusual, and usually I would not give a toss about him in this blog, but his recent outbursts caught my attention.

Apparently, he is very much against the sexualisation of kids and don’t allow his daughter to listen to Lily Allen.  Bloody hell. Ok, so here we go again. First of all, I’m not very much a fan of small girls underwear that is geared towards making them into ‘sex kittens’ from the time they are 7,8,9 years old. Nor am I a fan of poledancing kits for kids in the same age. But that is not because I am against sex or believe that pole-dancing is the most evil thing ever.  We live in a fantasy world if we think that kids are ‘innocent’ because of their age. There is nothing there to ‘protect’ or rather, the only thing we need to save kids from is from ourselves. Our own rotten appreciation of sex and lust. There is no age in which you are ‘innocent’ and then after that you turn into someone who is ‘guilty’. You don’t wake up one morning with a scarlet letter ‘S’ for sinner.
And while there could certainly be stricter restrictions on how advertisement is geared towards children, I don’t think the most harmful one is just the sexualised kind of advertisement and products. If you walk down on the high street, or to Hamleys, you will notice what expectations there is on children today, according to what gender they are perceived as belonging to. We all know of the colors, the activities and the attitudes this foster and pointing fingers towards a padded bra or outspoken singer.
And this is where the populist idiot David Cameron comes into the picture. Because what he is complaining about is nothing new under the sun. Au contraire, it is something that goes along the line of the argument like But-think-about-the-children! And we all know how very well that works.
Because Cameron has a daughter, the focus has been there pretty much, but it is also symptomatic of what I have written before about a body that is female. No matter what age, a female body is a site of regulation, strangulation and modification.

As one of journalist so brilliantly expressed, this is not so much about the kids. It is true, that they live in a reality that is sometimes dangerous, and there are threats to those who are not mature to handle life on their own, but that has more to do with us. And when a kid explore the dress-up drawer, they do not do that because they want to have sex or shoot someone in the stomach with a AK47. But it is still the girls that our dear Cameron is so concerned with. Because they dress in feather-boas, they apparently become Heard of fantasy? About creativity? The sad thing is that we are working very hard to constrict that very fantasy and that creativity already.

But this is not only about the kids, or female children. This is about a larger picture, and it is one in which there is a constant worry about what is happening to females everywhere. Ariel Levy’s ‘Female Chauvinist Pigs’ is one which questions the very base on which the ‘raunch culture’ lies, a base which is perceived as ‘liberating’ and fulfilling.
And I can agree with many of the criticisms, I’m one of those who pretty much is so fed up with burlesque, fed up how streamlined the bodies that we see are.  It is the 21st century version of the 70’s but the problem is that there is nothing in sexuality to liberate, there is nothing that is trapped or needs to be unleashed. There is nothing deep in there in our bodies that needs to be found and put on display. Instead we need to know how we make ourselves understand sex and what possible consequences this might have. It is not a project that one can finish, never ever. Instead it is a journey and a endless exploration,  and I would prefer if there was something more open in general, not making sex in to something special, something threatening, something incredibly powerful. By giving sex so much importance it becomes so important. And by importance I mean sex  in a sex-negative, hetero-normative, binary way of looking at it.

And it is here that I can’t really say what I want to say as good as I would like it to, so I’m going to quote my favourite blogger Penny Red:

Young women and girls are blamed for their concessions to misogynist, ‘pornified’ sexual culture even as we are told that we’re so thick we can’t help but be complicit. Apparently, there is no middle ground between being an independent, dynamic young thing who makes joyful millions selling her body and the subsequent book-deal, and a cringing, broken victim of porn culture crying tears of shame into her cleavage. Elements of this binary thinking reinforce a stereotype which is just as damaging to young women as the ‘happy hooker’ fantasy beloved by bourgeois filmmakers. As the furore over ‘raunch culture’ escalates, all this baby-boomer moral hand-wringing is beginning to sound less like radicalism and more like priggishness. It’s sounding less like genuine concern, and more like good old-fashioned slut-shaming.

I’m not arguing that raunch culture does not hurt young women. It hurts us deeply. It encourages us to lessen, cheapen and diminish ourselves, to think of ourselves as vehicles for the sexual appreciation of men who still hold economic sway over our lives. It makes us understand that what we look like is as important or more important than what we do, whether we’re lap-dancers, librarians or lazy-ass freelance journalists like me. It warps our understanding of power, intimacy and desire and urges us to starve and torture our bodies and neglect our intelligence. It sells us a fake, plasticised image of empowerment that, for most of us, is deeply disempowering – as many wealthy and powerful middle-aged men and women have recently observed.

I am not asking for us to pretend that raunch culture is unproblematic, or that it’s uncomplicatedly fun to be a Southend lap dancer. I am asking for honesty. I am asking for an analysis that is more rigorous, more grounded in an understanding of the gendered basis of capital, an analysis that is less focused on recalcitrant sexual morality. I am asking for an analysis that addresses itself to young men, who also consume and are affected by the brutally identikit heterosexual consensus. Most importantly, I want a consensus that actually gives a voice to young women, not just those who work as strippers or glamour models, but all young women and girls growing up in a culture steeped in this grinding, monotonous, deodorised sexual dialectic.

…….

Censorship should never be an alternative to challenging the roots of patriarchy. Instead of slapping a blanket ban on pictures of tits, we need to look harder at the economic basis for sexual exploitation and at the reasons why many women make the choice to comply with raunch culture. Today’s young women are neither soulless slags nor tragic victims: we are real people with real desires and real agency, trying to negotiate our personal and sexual identities in a culture whose socio-economic misogyny runs far deeper than conservative commentators would have us believe.

I am not even sure that strippers have that much of a voice, but rather the corrected version of something that can best be resembled to the Belle DeJour version of sexwork, further exploited by the crappy television show. And with this, I’ll leave you for a nice  Sunday, and hope the may-weekend is as nice as you want it to be.


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