Academic Slacking

30 07 2009

I had hoped that in this transition period between school and employment, I could be fabulously productive, academically speaking, and apply to all sorts of conferences and submit lots of things for publication.  In reality, lying flat on my back after moving is a lot of fun.  I’m bummed that I can’t submit an essay to the New Directions in Feminism and Human Rights issue of the International Journal of Feminist Politics (I think that’s the journal name, don’t quote me) but it’s due Saturday and I’m going to be in NC.  I thought I could manage 8000 words on human rights approaches to homosexuality in the developing world but alas, no cigar.  If you have an idea you can crank out by this weekend, or something 8000 words or less already written, you should submit!  They’re looking for a really broad range of perspectives and I think it’ll be an amazing issue.  Also coming up, deadline for Emory’s gender violence conference (proposals due, not full papers).

Tati Tuesdays: Weeks of July 14-20 and July 21-27

28 07 2009

What are Tati Tuesdays?  Tati Tuesdays are a weekly feature that highlights Things Around the Interwebs that I’ve found this week and want to share.  They’re a way to keep me engaged with you, the reader, without feeling the pressure to comment extensively and intelligently on every article I want to bring to your attention.  In addition to the acronym, they’re called “tati” because I tend to drink tea in the mornings while I surf the web.  Hence, “ta for the tea!” shortened to tati.

File it under…


I haven’t watched it yet, but apparently Obama defended the gayz in front of the NAACP.  I can’t help but repeat my party line: more doing, less talking please.  Also see a reaction to a reaction by Dan Savage.

And in other ugh, Obama news, apparently the Hyde Amendment is okay because it’s “tradition.”

An Even Cooler Interactive Map

This one is about migratory consent.

Cable News Smackdown

Believe it or not, I actually recommend you watch Rachel Maddow going head to head with Pat Buchanan over Sotomayor last week.  Also, incidentally, Jon Stewart did another great funny interview with Brian Williams last Monday.

Damning with Feint Praise

Bill Clinton basically supports marriage equality.

Gay Glee

Amanda Palmer answered some of her lesbian fans’ questions on Lesbilicious.  Mine is the second question in the “on creativity and identity” section.  Reading AP’s answers to lesbians’ questions is actually more fun than kissing her that one time was.

Find out how hetero you are.

Exploring Prejudice

There’s an interesting post up at Feministe about racism and prejudice, heavily commented on as well.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as I’ve moved from a very very white suburban Midwestern neighborhood where I was admittedly quite comfortable to an urban block on the East Coast where I’m one of the only white people, and I’m finding a lot of internal racism bubbling to the surface.

Intelligence in Congress

I haven’t actually seen anything on it since this article, but it’s at least possible that the Matthew Shepard Act will pass.

Sexism (Advanced)

This is kind of an unexpected place to find sexism: instructions for urine collection in a doctor’s office.

Things That Make Me Sad

Both Merce Cunningham and E. Lynn Harris just died.  It did make me smile to see the latters’ books prominently displayed on the front fiction desk at Central Library today.

This Is Just Wrong

Apparently one of Francesca Lia Block’s books is being banned.  It’s complicated, but I’m bummed either way.

Moving Shop

21 07 2009

Internet goes bye-bye tomorrow and I’m on the road Wednesday and Thursday moving to Baltimore, then in New York Friday-Sunday, so Tati Tuesdays links will be posted as a 2-in-1 next week.  Also, perhaps, some thoughts on Quiverfull, which I just finished.  Keep me in your thoughts and wish for no breakdowns, accidents, or speeding tickets!

A spot to which I must return

17 07 2009

I was just doing the Feministe map of “strong geography,” where you mark a place that makes you feel strong, and I picked the bar in Cork where I came out to myself as a lesbian (as opposed to bisexual).  Then I noticed that not too far from there is a street I never went to called “Dyke Parade.”  Oh, this needs to be done.

Thoughts on communicative sexuality

15 07 2009

Note:  the below is crossposted from my book journal.  No Tati Tuesdays this week b/c I didn’t actually have much to report, though I do recommend Jon Stewart’s interview with Barney Frank on Monday.

I’m reading an anthology on date rape, edited by Leslie Francis, and I was particularly struck by the first two articles.  The first, by Lois Pineau, proposes a new communicative model of sexuality to replace the contract model frequently used in understanding sexual relations in rape cases.  According to the contract model, the idea is that if the victim consented, then a contract was established and the perpetrator did nothing wrong.  Pineau argues that this allows perpetrators (males) to get away with a lot because the evidentiary standard for showing consent is relatively low.  The alternative she suggests is a communicative model, where sexuality is thought of not as a contractual relationship but as something akin to friendship or conversation.  Under this model, the presumption would be nonconsent in the case of any noncommunicative, aggressive sexual interaction.  The defendant would then have to offer a reasonable explanation for his belief that the victim was consenting, despite the lack of communication between the two.  I like this idea, because it encourages communication and makes it more difficult to argue “I thought she was consenting.”  I also think, based on some psychological pieces I’ve read, that many men would be less likely to rape if the situation was not “blurry,” as I’ve read quite a few accounts of men who seem to honestly believe that their behavior was okay, based on certain actions or words of the victim.  In an open, honest, complete dialogue, they would have more trouble convincing themselves that it was okay to force sexual contact on the victim.

The second piece in the anthology, then, is David M. Adams’ critique of Pineau’s piece.  He has two main objections.  One is that verbal communication is not always necessary – that men might reasonably rely on other indicators such as body language and that given the difference in how the genders communicate we should not dismiss these indicia – and the other is that verbal communication is not always sufficient – in other words, a woman might say one thing and truly feel another.  I think that both these two objections could be met by a look at BDSM sexuality.

In arguing that verbal communication is not always necessarily, Adams points out that erotic communication is often complex and that a “checklist” would take away from the sexiness of it; that the most unambiguous form of expressing desires, literally writing them down and checking them off, takes all the romance out of the equation.  In fact, this isn’t true at all.  Many BDSM couples in fact use a checklist – before the fact.  This establishes some reasonable assumptions, because partners are aware of likes and dislikes in advance.  Further, the partners are not bound by these preferences – they are free to use a clear verbal communication, in the form of a safeword, to say no.  This kind of verbal system makes it very clear when non-consent is established.  The “she said no but I thought she meant yes” strategy doesn’t fly, because there is one word that means “I no longer consent, and this is not up for debate.”  Though it’s unlikely that all couples would establish a safeword, I do think a similar model of communication both before and during erotic encounters can make the experience both sexy and mutual.  I’m also bothered by Adams example of a man establishing consent based on a look in the woman’s eye versus the example of a woman deciding not to physically resist based on a look in a man’s eye that provokes fear.  He uses this example to argue that feminists can’t have it both ways – if option B is allowed, then so too option A.  I think this is absolutely ridiculous.  There’s a big difference between establishing consent based on a look in someone’s eye, and making the decision not to affirmatively ask, and feeling instinctive, gut, fear based on a look.  Any look at the way women are raised in this society, and the fears men instil in us from a young age, would prove this point.

Finally, I also think the BDSM model is instructive on Adams’ other argument, that someone can say one thing and mean another.  In any communicative system of sexuality, part of the deal is an implicit agreement to be open and honest in communication.  This may mean that things move slower, and one or both parties may have some issues to get past in developing trust and an ability to be open.  But I think such a model entails responsibilities for both partners – first, to ask questions and affirmatively establish the partner’s desire, which includes paying attention to any red flags that come up, such as discomfort in the conversation itself; second, to be open and honest about one’s own desires, and to refuse to go forward with a sexual encounter if one is unable to do so.  Of course, without such a system, the fact is that there will be cases where a person says “yes” in an affirmative, enthusiastic way, not really wanting a sexual encounter.  In such a case, it’s hard to blame the other party – and I think the communicative model accounts for this, in that when genuine communication and affirmative assent is established, there is no rape.  But I think what it means for the big picture is that as sexual partners we need to pay close attention to how our partners communicate consent, and be on the lookout for signs that it is not enthusiastic.  At the same time, as a culture, we need to work on making it easier for women, especially, to say “no,” and not make genuine feelings about sex something that women need to be embarrassed about or feel a need to keep secret.

A part of the rape culture that I hadn’t considered

8 07 2009

I’m reading Jane Sexes It Up right now, and one of the essays in that collection made me think of something I hadn’t in a long time – that extremely uncomfortable feeling you can get as a little girl around grown men, when they’re joking or talking about something you don’t quite get. It might be sex, it might not be, but there’s a fear and discomfort there whose origins I wonder at. Do we have some innate understanding of the sexual and the shameful as children, even if we don’t understand it?

Tati Tuesdays: Week of June 30 – July 6

8 07 2009

What are Tati Tuesdays?  Tati Tuesdays are a weekly feature that highlights Things Around the Interwebs that I’ve found this week and want to share.  They’re a way to keep me engaged with you, the reader, without feeling the pressure to comment extensively and intelligently on every article I want to bring to your attention.  In addition to the acronym, they’re called “tati” because I tend to drink tea in the mornings while I surf the web.  Hence, “ta for the tea!” shortened to tati.

File it under…

Body Positivity

Really interesting post up on the Feministing community about what’s wrong with the BMI index.

Free Feminism

I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m excited about a free feminist documentary.

Gay, Very Very Gay

You can now watch The Times of Harvey milk for free.

Some clarification on the Dehli High Court’s sodomy ruling.


Slate has a review up of task-manager programs.

Homophobia 101

More ridiculousness related to the Stonewall-like Forth Worth raid.

Some fishy stuff going down related to people of color at Pride.


A Code of Ethics for female attorneys.

Misogynistic Asshattery

Judge Kozinski of Ninth Circuit fame is being let off for some pretty gross shit.

Pop Culture Questions

A feminist interrogates pop culture’s vampire obsession.