Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sex Positivity

From my understanding of the Wikipedia page and the 8 Ways to be Positive You’re Sex Positive article, being sex positive means that you know what works for you and are comfortable doing those things, but also and maybe more importantly, that you know what doesn’t work for you. If you say you’re “sex positive” just because you enjoy having sex, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re “sex positive” in the way that feminists use the term. White talks about discrimination against LGBTQ, calling people sluts, and people having fetishes, all as examples of things you cannot do if you’re going to properly refer to yourself as being sex positive. She says that being sex positive and policing other people’s sexual attractions and habits is not ok, but policing your own habits and paying attention to your own comfort levels is a necessity!
I do think it’s important to always dig into your own emotions/mind/psyche and assess: What is this doing for me? How do I feel afterward? How is my sex life impacting other areas of my life? Just because you like something sexually doesn’t mean it is good for you. Remember, sex positivity is not sexual hedonism. It’s about ethics and self-development rather than simple pleasure-seeking.”
I feel that this quote really sums up the importance of knowing your limits, when to push them and when to respect them. If you feel the desire to try something new or different, then by all means do it, but you should always pay attention to how you feel and how you reflect on your experience afterwards. It is likely that if you have a negative experience in one situation, you’ll have another negative experience if it happens again, which can be pretty psychologically damaging. So just to be safe, if you know just for a fact that you would be uncomfortable with something, and especially if you know from experience, then be careful to avoid it! I also really like the term White uses, “enthusiastic consent - only having sex in which both parties are enthusiastically consenting,” meaning that if you are consenting to sex but not “totally feeling it” then it is not only your job to say no when you don’t want to go any further, but it is hugely the other person’s responsibility to be aware of that fact and to be respectful and stop, and vice versa.
The article on Wikipedia confused and shocked me quite a bit, especially how much of their definition of sex positive feminism was talk about pornography and images of rape in porn, compared to how little porn was brought up in The Frisky. I don’t really know how to feel about this issue, not being an avid porn watcher myself! But personally I don’t care what other people do in their free time as long as it is not being forced upon me in any way. The page says that feminists want certain restrictions on porn, and I agree that any pornography that is actual footage of nonconsensual sex is absolutely nauseating and should be taken off the internet, but doesn’t White’s definition of being sex positive include respecting other people’s sexual activity such as their desire to watch pornography no matter what kind they prefer? Maybe I’m missing something here… 

Monday, October 15, 2012

What Are Little Boys Made Of? (final) REFLECTION/QUOTES

The author of the article, What Are Little Boys Made Of?, Michael Kimmel, is trying to suggest that feminism offers the “possibility of a new boyhood and a new masculinity based on a passion for justice, a love of equality, and the expression of a full range of feelings,” despite what some male psychologists are saying. Kimmel believes that the idea of manhood and masculinity being an image of independence, courage, invulnerability and power needs to shift to the vision of being raised to confront, “racism, sexism, and homophobia – both in our communities and in ourselves.”
Critics of feminism, such as psychologists Michael Gurian and Steve Bioldulph, say that the biology of boyhood is to naturally be loud, highly active and inclined to perform weird experiments on bugs, and that “cultural meddling – especially by misinformed women – won’t change a thing.” I feel that this is especially ignorant, and it implies that women feminists are all uninformed and are only hurting men, as well as that all boys are crazy and impolite. Kimmel agrees saying that the idea, expressed by Bioldulph, that all “boys will be uncivilized animals,” is insulting and disgraceful. Gurian feels that teaching boys that they are not supposed to be rambunctious is only sending a message that “boyhood is defective,” and that to give them this feeling would give reason for boys to be insecure, depressed and ultimately more likely to commit suicide.
I am slightly confused because Gurian says that no matter what any feminist says or tries to do that “boys will be boys,” but he also believes that corporal punishment for boys, what he calls “spanking responsibly,” should be allowed at home and at school. Bioldulph agrees that boyhood should be accepted for what it is, but goes against himself saying that boys should start school a year later than girls so they can be “on par intellectually”. Both of these psychologists, to me, seem to be contradicting themselves.
Another pair of psychologists, Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson, feel that boyhood is less biologically influenced and more culturally influenced, and that the difference in emotional paths is due to unearned male privileged. They also recommend that we “allow boys to be boys,” but that they be treated with respect, that discipline should be allowed to build and guide boys in the right direction, and that manhood should be modeled “as emotionally attached.” Kimmel feels this is an effective and feminist approach, because girls should also be treated in the same way. Kindlon and Thompson believe that boys should not only not be taught about their nearly inevitable privilege, but that it should not be addressed at all and ignored.
In spite of the opinions of Gurian and Bioldulph, Kimmel explains that feminism, rather than “wreck[ing] boyhood,” should encourage men of all ages to be more emotionally expressive, empathetic, and to be more constructive with emotional outbursts than violent, “and feminism demands the kinds of societal changes that makes this growth possible.” I am finding myself completely agreeing with him. The fact is that men are advantaged, looked up to, and favored in our society, and saying that masculinity means being emotionally unavailable and forced to “suffer in silence” is seemingly inconsistent with reality. All that feminists are trying to say is that “boys and men can do a little better.”

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What Are Little Boys Made Of? - notes (incomplete)

"Because of feminism, they say, America has been so focused on girls that we've forgotten about the boys."

"By minimizing the importance of basic biological differences, and establishing girls' standards as the ones all children much follow, feminists have wrecked boyhood."

"We've misunderstood boy biology, and cultural meddling - especially by misinformed women - won't change a thing."

"Boy Code" "Mask of masculinity"
    -boys must put on an image of vein independent, brave, and invulnerable
    -teaches that boys are supposed to be in power
    - men's association with violence originates in "the fear of shame and ridicule, and the overbearing need to prevent others from laughing at oneself by making they weep instead."

"Guarian's books disingenuously show one boy of color on each over, but there's nary a mention of them inside."
    -reminds me of Professor Bogad's story of her 'intersectionality slip' with the picture behind her saying "I AM A MAN"
    -also reminded me of Barbara Smith's, Racism and Women's Studies, and how she, a black woman, was invited to speak at a feminists convention, and no one that spoke before her recognized racism as an important topic of discussion


Repudiate, reprimand, punish, ANTIFEMINISM
       -Gurian suggests corporal punishment at home and school, "spanking responsibly"
       -Bioldulph suggests that boys should start school a year later than girls so they would be "on par intellectually"
       "boys will by uncivilized animals" - author, as a male, is insulted by this.
      -Kindlon and Thompson suggest that we "allow boys to be boys," accepting high levels of activity, language, using discipline to guide and build, modeling manhood as emotionally attached
      - **do not address male entitlement

--> the culture of men being "in charge" and following the "boy code" results in men becoming emotionally unavailable, suffering in silence, and being "silent witnesses to acts of cruelty to others"

"Feminism encourages men - and their sons - to be more emotionally open and express ice, to develop empathic skills, and to channel emotional outbursts away from violence. And feminism demands the kinds of societal changes that makes this growth possible"

"half of all teenage boys get into a physical fight each year" - seems REALLY high..

"raising boys to manhood means confronting racism, sexism, and homophobia - both in our communities and in ourselves."

""we believe that masculine violence is intentional, deliberate, and purposeful. It comes from an attempt by men and boys to create and sustain a system of masculine power and control that benefits them every minute of the day." Forget testosterone; it's sexism!"

Gilligan- "violence has far more to do with the cultural construction of manhood than it does with the hormonal substrates of biology."
   -"who, after all, has offered the most trenchant critique of that cultural construction but feminists?"

-Feminists feel that boys and men can do better.
  --> "offer possibility of a new boyhood and a new masculinity based on a passion for justice, a love of equality, and the expression of a full range of feelings."

Monday, October 8, 2012

Racism and Women's Studies ARGUMENT

      This article, by Barbara Smith, discusses racism in women's studies from the point of view of a black, lesbian woman. I wasn't sure how to feel about the article, and I reread it 3 or 4 times. Some of her points were really confusing to me, and I almost took some of it as her being racist towards white women! I'm sure thats not what I was supposed to get out of it, and I'm really interested to see what the other people that read this article felt about it.
     In the article she refers to herself and to other black women as "Third World Women". The fact that she refers to herself as a Third World woman really struck me. I searched her on wikipedia, and she was born in America, a "First World" country. She might be referring to her ancestors when she calls herself this, I don't know, but it doesn't seem right to me for someone who is demanding to not be generalized and put into a category when she is doing that to herself. I don't AT ALL mean this to say that being from a third world country means that you are worth less than anyone else, but it seems like she is putting herself down and trying to get the audience to pity her, which I personally don't feel is the right approach when trying to establish yourself as being equal.
     Another part in the article that bugged me was when she says that, "it's not white women's fault that they have been raised, for the most part, not knowing how to talk to black women, not knowing how to look us in the eye and laugh with us...what is your fault is making no serious effort to change old patters of contempt- to look at how you still believe yourselves to be superior to Third World". I am a white woman, and I was certainly raised to accept people of all different backgrounds. Talking to black people doesn't make me feel any more uncomfortable than I feel talking to white people, or anyone for that matter. She is stereotyping white women to say that all white women are racist towards black people, and she is stereotyping black people to say that they should be talked to "differently" than others, like its a skill or something that should be specifically taught.
     I agreed with her definition of feminism saying that it is "the political theory and practice that struggles to free all women," which is the same thing that we are learning in class about intersectionality. In the next paragraph, however, she says to white women that "racism affects your chances for survival too". I have no idea what she means by this. Is she saying that white people are in danger if they are racist? Who are they in danger from?
     The last piece that bothered me was when she says, "I feel at this point that it is not only about getting Third World women's materials ion the curriculum, although this must be done/ This has been happening, and it is clear that racism still thrives, just as the inclusion of women's materials in a college curriculum does not prevent sexism from thriving... we are at a stage of having to take some frightening risks." This is really pessimistic to me, and I feel like she basically saying, "oh, good try teaching people about racism and sexism, but its never going to change anything. Sure you can teach it more, but white people are still racist and people are still sexist, so whats the point?" This just seemed really negative, and like she feels there is no hope for change, but at the same time demanding change. What are the frightening risks she is talking about???
    I feel that she contradicts herself way too much and in very subtle ways. For example, a tiny detail that I noticed is that "white women" is never capitalized but she always chooses to capitalize "Black women" and "Third World women". That is such a little detail, but it sent me a pretty clear message. I personally didn't enjoy this article very much, and I feel like I got a different message than what was intended for this assignment, but I can't help how I understood it. I'm really curious to hear how others feel about it in class.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sorry, Obama!

Sorry, Obama, but Romney absolutely crushed you in the debate last night.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

stubborn parents!

     When it comes to politics in my family, I only ever hear my mom and my brothers voicing their opinions. My oldest brother Jimmy, who now lives in New Orleans, was the biggest instigator of political arguments at the dinner table. My mom has completely opposite views on almost every issue in politics than Jimmy, so as you can maybe imagine, dinner at the Bold residence was usually more screaming and fighting than enjoyable dining. I have pretty much never heard my dad talk about politics and presidential elections; he and I usually keep silent and try to enjoy our food. Unfortunately,  I have learned from growing up in this situation to hate pretty much all conversation about politics. This class has been the first positive experience I've had with talking about presidential elections and it has opened my eyes to political discussions. Even if I still don't say much in conversations, I'm beginning to enjoy listening to people talk about it, and I find it interesting what different people have to say.
      When I was researching Obama's views on reproductive rights for the blog a few weeks ago, my mom saw me reading an article on the computer and a big picture of Obama was visible from where she was. She asked me, "Are they having you research Obama for one of your classes?" I said, "No, were supposed to pick an issue, pick a candidate, and find out their stance on the issue". In response, and to almost no surprise, she said, "oh it's good you're learning about Obama. It's important to know who your enemy is." "...yeah... thanks, Mom."
     My Dad and I sometimes drive to Providence together in the morning because he works at Brown. The other morning he turned on the radio to a station that was having a heated discussion about the election. I have always been curious about how my Dad feels about politics, and because he works at Brown I ignorantly figured that he must be pretty liberal. I asked him who he was going to vote for in the upcoming election and I was shocked when he said, "A.B.O.: ANYBODY BUT OBAMA!"
I had no idea.. yikes!!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence QUOTES/CONNECTIONS

From what I understand and can wrap my head around from the article Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence by Adrienne Rich, is that to some people, “lesbian existence” is merely “temporary” and it is a psychological complex experienced by a woman. Many people accept the Oedipus complex for young boys because it is the first sign of a male being heterosexual, and eventually the boy should be able to move on from it, and not actually wish to kill his father and marry his mother. In the article, Nancy Chodorow expresses that lesbians have experienced the “reverse” Oedipal complex as children. She explains that while boys learn from it to associate male-female relationships as an “exclusive, primary relationship,” “the mother remains a primary internal object [to the lesbian], so that heterosexual relationships are on the model of a nonexclusive, second relationship for her”. I have never thought of lesbianism in this way before, and while I recognize lesbianism as being just as legitimate as any other sexual orientation, I found this view on it really interesting.
Another view on “lesbian existence” that was evident in the article is that lesbian women are just denying men out of spite for something a specific man or men in general have done to harm them in some way. Rich explains through examples from other relevant texts that, “women are “innately” sexually oriented only toward men, and… that the lesbian is simply acting out of her bitterness toward men,” so for a women to be sexually attracted to another woman is unnatural because women cannot reproduce with women alone, and that for a women to be emotionally attached to another women is only the result of men being emotionally unavailable. For so many people this understanding is as far as their discussion about homosexuality goes. Since biologically, the goal of all life in general is to be able live long enough to reproduce, even the “idea” of lesbianism shouldn’t “exist,” and the inability for reproduction to result from a homosexual relationship is the sole reason for it being “wrong.” This is where I feel “compulsory heterosexuality” stems.
It is obviously true that lesbians cannot naturally produce a child, nor can gay men, however, I do not feel that it is only biologically instilled in people that the only legitimate relationship is between a man and a woman, as even Ann Romney expressed in her speech at the Republican National Convention, saying that she and Mitt share a “REAL marriage”. Everywhere you look there are advertisements and messages that condition the mind into believing that heterosexuality is the only right way. This is even including where many women directly get advice on their health and wellbeing: the doctor’s office.
Almost everything that a medical professional advises to women is about how her health will in turn affect the health of her potential children. Rich sources pamphlets written by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English called Witches, Midwives and Nurses: A History of Women Healers and Complaints and Disorders: The Sexual Politics of Sickness, summarizing their thesis that, “advice given to American women by male health professionals, particularly in the areas of marital sex, maternity, and child care, has echoed the dictates of the economic marketplace and the role capitalism has needed women to play in production and/or reproduction.This section drove me absolutely crazy. The more I thought about it, the more bizarre and utterly inescapable it became to me. From what I understand, the economy needs women to be heterosexual so that they will marry and reproduce with men, so that from even before their children are born they can make money off of things marketed to pregnant women; from items such as maternity clothes to special diets to headphones specifically made for a pregnant belly so an unborn child can listen to classical music. From the day their children are born, industries will make even more money off selling diapers, baby toys, baby clothes, baby food, baby lotion, and hundreds of nearly pointless items designed specifically for babies. Companies will continuously make money off parents, especially clothing companies around the ages where growth spurts occur and at the start of every school year. This cycle never ends because eventually these children will be adults, they will almost inevitably be brainwashed by advertisements to buy insanely expensive diamond rings, have insanely expensive weddings and then have even more babies, allowing big industries to make even more money. AHHH! We are in quite the unavoidable pickle, my friends.
I originally had a video up here of a comedy stand up by Bill Hicks on marketing, but i decided it might be inappropriate to post to a class assignment! I personally find it hilarious but I can see how someone could easily be offended by it. if you want to watch it all you have to search on youtube is "Bill Hicks marketing"