Obviously not writing

18 04 2010

So I started this blog without knowing that I’d be moving across the country suddenly.

The dude has been offered a dream job and I am excited to leave a city that I never felt that passionate about. Actually I’d say this is the first place since my birth place that I’ve lived in only because it seemed like I had to or it was the appropriate thing to do. Staying here for love and for an experiment in stability has been an easy choice (especially for these two years after I moved away for a while and discovered what was most important to me – and thus, came back).

This new move will be a rushed one (per usual for me) but for him, it will be the first move he’s made in a decade. I, on the other hand, have never lived any single place for a decade. So the rushed factor pushes us to focus almost entirely on the move. He’ll be on the road at the end of May and I’ll finish out my job and start traveling in June.

I apologize if anyone is reading this blog and hoping to see actual posts. Soon – soon!





Hair

11 04 2010

Shocking confession of a normal behavior:

Every once in a while, I shave my legs.

If I had it easy, I’d get all the hair on my body removed – except maybe my eyebrows. But that’s costly – and it sounds painful. A needless indulgence. And seriously – the act of removing my hair is followed by a rush of feeling clean and renewed – I couldn’t trade that in for less hassle.

In particular, the process of shaving my head makes for one of the best feelings ever.

I did it earlier this week and it never fails. Bad day at work? Sluggish clouds hanging low? Shave the head.

I step out fuckin’ freshed and feel like myself all over again. It’s as if the hair growing ever so slowly on top of my head is an army of lazy, heavy, depression trying to keep my spirit down.

Sidebar: I lived in New Orleans for a little bit a few years ago and in that city, the public space is a social space. Me being basically shy and essentially content with solitude – it was a change for sure. To be approached on the street – but not by catcallers (though yeah – of course that happens everywhere) but by people seeking meaningful connections – was a revelation. I connected with so many people – we were all so diverse – it blew my mind and when I moved away to my current abode, it was what I missed the most about that city.

Here, it really is just the catcallers. Here, my shaved head stops people in a way that makes me try to act like I didn’t notice. In New Orleans and other places I’ve traveled, I find that the most frequent commenters on my lack-of-hair-style are older women. They express the desire to do the same and all I can say is ‘go for it’.
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Sitting Back

10 04 2010

I just read this personal essay at stuff white people do and need to share it here. I don’t regularly visit that blog, in fact I’ve probably only read it a handful of times over the past year but I saw a link to it from another feminist blog tonight and wanted to check it out again. Kind of glad I did and at the same time, what I just read was fairly upsetting.

Growing up, I’ve often been the one who talks too much and often about things that other people would rather not discuss. I was raised by a mother and step-father who were very successful professionally, very passionate in their personal relationship and very cruel about others. Intentionally or not (not, I’d say), they raised a very conscious girl who grew up to be an often very quiet and at other times, very outspoken young woman. Today I could, at any offensive moment, respond or walk away. I tend to respond because I value ‘teachable moments’ – I cherish what I’ve learned from people who’ve reached out to me to say ‘hey, that’s fucked up’ and I hope to offer the same kind of perspective-changing words if I encounter casual bigotry.

I figure she’s right that on average people don’t speak out – I think a lot of people quietly consent to bigotry without realizing the impact of their silence.

The most significant time that I tried to make something out of ignorance was just a few years ago – my effort was not entirely successful yet somehow was still somewhat positive in the end. As a temp in a corporate setting, I spoke out to a fellow temp without fear of losing my job because hey, I was temporary anyway. I had no expectation of being hired and really, sometimes real life matters more.

It wasn’t the most tense situation in the world but it seemed significant. This coworker asked what the big deal was about a celebrity making a gesture with her hands and eyes that was, essentially, completely, racist (although the coworker didn’t describe it as such obviously). I offered some words about ‘majority’ ‘minority’, and being othered, things like that as she studied the image on her screen of the celebrity. I’m pretty sure the conversation ended with her shrugging her shoulders and us quietly returning to our work.

I can’t remember how I dealt with that moment internally, perhaps a little glad that I said something, maybe a little pessimistic that it had any kind of impact. At the end of the day, another woman pulled me aside to talk about it – she wanted to thank me. I was floored – thank me? I had never heard that one before. She appreciated what I did on many levels apparently and said to me “I live and breathe social justice”. Damn – I thought – maybe this isn’t the worst place to work after all.
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A sleepy person wonders

4 04 2010

If she’ll be moving to a feminist city soon.

Earlier this afternoon, I was having a veggie dog on the porch of this local lunch spot with the dude when the restaurant’s music became that old favorite of my mother’s that I so rarely hear … “if you’re going to San Francisco…”

There was sunshine, a slight warm breeze and he was looking damn handsome as we listened to the song.

Could it be?





The Sexual Feminist’s Guide to Sex Toy Shopping from Afar

3 04 2010

I have this memory of watching something on TV a few years ago that I’m pretty sure led directly to my discovering my own personal sexual pleasure. Though I had slept with someone years before witnessing this TV moment – I hadn’t really considered taking care of myself sexually – I really just thought of it as a partnered experience. I look back in my mind to that very educational moment and see four or five middle-aged women, sitting at a table outside – on some patio – discussing personal sexuality. And no, it wasn’t Sex and the City – it wasn’t fiction at all but real women, talking openly and honestly about their personal sexual lives.

I was surprised to learn that some women don’t explore their own sexual pleasure until they are in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and onward. I was also surprised to discover that I hadn’t really gone there myself either. This has a lot to do with the socialization of us as we grow into our sexually unique selves in this sexually bizarre society. There’s a whole culture and money-making industry around male masturbation – so pervasive and normal that all genders are aware of it. What a strange betrayal of our existence that we women can grow into being sexual without knowing ourselves as honestly as we can – we are somehow denied this education and support system as young women. While in fact there is a full sex positive culture and knowledgeable industry for females, it’s just not as accepted in the mainstream (yet). Somehow positive female sexuality is too scandalous to be the norm. It definitely didn’t reach my teenage self. I didn’t start masturbating until I was 20. In fact, I didn’t start using sex toys until I was 23. I only started purchasing sex toys at the age of 25, just last year.

I can say that, today, buying sex toys as a woman is a great experience. There are so many options for body safe toys from sex positive spaces.

A feminist sex shop is a good thing to have and a great thing to share. For exploring your sexuality in a partnered adventure or as a personal journey – women-oriented spaces offer all you need to make it a slippery slope to pleasure and discovery (yes, I went there with the pun). Being that I live in a small city that lacks a feminist, woman-owned sex toy space – I turn to the internet. So this is me sharing what I’ve learned so far about shopping for toys as a feminist who lives far away from feminist spaces.

As a woman in the internet era, you don’t even have to walk into a store if you don’t want to (though with workshops and more, you’ll probably find a reason to stop by if you’re lucky enough to have one near you) and you don’t have to wait for your town to get a shop if it doesn’t have one yet – you can go to the many sites already chock full of safe, sensual and sexy toys (and tons of healthy sex info as well):

Babeland (Seattle, New York)
Ah, Babeland. This is the fun, sex positive environment from my dreams. I’ve always wanted to visit Seattle – an opportunity to stop by the Babeland store is just one more reason.

Sugar (Baltimore)
Lesbian owned, woman and trans operated

Smitten Kitten (Denver)
I’m not sure if this is woman-owned but it is a great resource for body safe toys

early to bed (Chicago)
Woman-owned, woman-oriented and welcoming to all genders

Womyns’Ware (Vancouver)
Their tag says: “Celebration and empowerment of women’s sexuality”

Tool Shed (Milwaukee)
Supportive of all genders, woman-owned

A shop that isn’t queer-positive, woman-positive, trans-positive – isn’t really positive at all. As far as I can tell, all of the above meet that criteria.

These few cities are so lucky to have such great spaces for a healthy and sexual lifestyle – many of these include workshops, lectures, screenings and more.

I offer this list as an alternative for those who live too far away – this is sex toy shopping for the rest of us.

PS – Know of any others with online shopping? Please let me know in the comments – thanks!





Lorraine Hansberry

30 03 2010

A Women’s Firsts blurb (part of an ongoing series):

—–

The first African American woman to have her play produced on Broadway was Lorraine Hansberry. The production was A Raisin in the Sun and the year was 1959. Written from her own past experiences, the production earned her the New York Drama Critics Circle Award of Best Play for which she was the youngest American playwright to receive the honor, only the fifth woman to do so and the first African American woman.

Hansberry died at the young age of 34. In her short life, she worked not only as a significant playwright but also as an activist. She spoke openly about racism and oppression and pursued Civil Rights for all people, regardless of race or sexual orientation.

Though she was married to a man for part of her adult life, Hansberry also dated women. Her interest in the intersectionality of gay rights and the progression of women’s rights in particular led her to the lesbian organization the Daughters of Bilitis. In a 1957 letter to their publication The Ladder, Hansberry expressed:

“I think it is about time that equipped women began to take on some of the ethical questions which a male-dominated culture has produced and dissect and analyze them quite to pieces in a serious fashion”

She looked specifically at the connections among misogyny and homophobia, going on to write:

“There may be women to emerge who will be able to formulate a new and possible concept that homosexual persecution and condemnation has at its roots not only social ignorance, but a philosophically active anti-feminist dogma.”

The little I’ve learned about Lorraine Hansberry is not enough. I am looking to her for the courage I need when I’m forming my voice.

I plan on reading more about her as soon as I find a good book – if you have any particular recommendations – please let me know in the comments!





Somewhere Carl Jung is smiling

26 03 2010

Speaking of synchronicity!

For exploring more thoughts about love and feminism and fucking and feminism (a la my previous post), there are two new reads breaking out:

Fucking While Feminist, With Jaclyn Friedman

and

Dating While Feminist by Jill Filipovic

Personally, the guy I’m currently living-n-lovin’ with was mostly feminist when I met him. He has been an anarchist and vegetarian for most of his life and feminism was always part of that. But it’s safe to say that our feminist perspectives have deepened through our partnership FOR SURE. Like seriously. It’s an on-going process and it only got off the ground because we challenged each other and cared about each other.

I’ve dated many guys (and only guys, so far) and have had many different kinds of relationships. And yeah, I’ve been with some who were misogynistic (didn’t last long). Through the years, I developed priorities:

*The person has to care about me (this hasn’t always been true, but once I became aware I made it top priority)

*If he is a feminist, it might not work if he’s too worship women. If he has a goddess pedestal, we won’t get far. Same goes for that hellcat idea, “feminists are hot!” – no way – same sexist story, different phrase.

*If he’s not a feminist, he should be open, curious and respectful (this is me totally agreeing with Jaclyn Friedman).

*Honestly, if he didn’t have some feminism, certain hot feelings probably wouldn’t have even bubbled up for him after a certain age in my life.

I’m participating in this conversation about dating and fucking even though I’ve been doing those with the same person for almost three years because I care about the topic. And it’s something I think about.

I’ve made compromises but so has he. The key has been to be self-aware. Both of us try to consider that we don’t know everything (hmm!) – it simmers the ego, checks the socialization and encourages learning – pretty damn peaceful stuff. Long-term relationships can be complex journeys and ours is for sure but it is also full of love.

Wasn’t always easy though – not trying to claim it was a hot cake right out of the oven. We’ve worked our asses off for this.

We’ve had some notable feminist moments at seemingly inappropriate times. Like say, on vacation. I remember when we were talking about rape on a road trip. It was probably the middle of the night and we were cruising down some desert highway. I expressed that rape should never be the point of a joke (not that he had made one – I actually can’t remember what sparked the thought).

Right or wrong was the question (though come on, I wasn’t really expecting a debate. Good example of how feminism is a learning process, particularly a shedding of old skin – we absorb so much that is damaging unless we critique it off of us). We went in and out of the topic, used other words, grabbed examples from other horrible acts in society – we were ALL IN. We even pulled from old movies like Alien and whether the alien inserting another alien into that man was rape. On vacation. VACATION. That feminist moment was long, strained, passionate and ultimately satisfying because we totally agreed with each other in the end. We left that discussion winded but refreshed. And smarter. And better feminists.

I know that we become stronger by talking with each other.

Being a feminist while fucking, dating and loving can be a great way to spend a life. Compromise unless it makes you feel uncomfortable, at which point you should talk – depending on how that goes is probably whether the relationship moves forward or not.