So much is happening right now in my personal life and I don’t know whether to discuss it on the blog? This site acts as a place of positivity and strength and I worry that if I begin to air my concerns or share some of my own, perhaps more negative and more subdued, emotions it may not be beneficial to followers. Thoughts on this?
Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy, in case you hadn’t heard. How dare she remove those ticking time bombs from her chest, amiright? Like, hasn’t she learned by now that her body is public domain and we all get to vote on what she does with it? Sheesh, how selfish can ya get.
I have to say, I really disagree with how this cartoon is positioning Angelina Jolie’s very public choice to undergo a preventative double mastectomy. First and foremost, I don’t believe the issue is about Jolie’s agency surrounding her body - the op is absolutely correct in saying that Jolie does have the right to make whatever choice she would like concerning her body. However, her choice to do this is suggestive of a greater problem. The bodies increased medicalization is making “health” more of an individual’s responsibility than ever before. The era of neoliberalism has made it so bodies with breasts have to take it upon themselves to prevent cancer, rather than a collective effort between institutions and individuals to more actively and holistically look to preventing cancer entirely. Instead of focusing on what is causing cancer in the first place, the notion that a person needs to take it upon themselves to undergo incredibly expensive, potentially dangerous and invasive surgery is being glorified in this instance as the new and ethically “correct” thing to do.
Another aspect to understand here is privilege. Angelina Jolie has the privilege of paying the exorbitant fees to the nations best doctors to run the necessary genetic testing, have the multiple surgeries she likely has undergone to ensure that she remains looking physically “normative”, pay for the necessary medications and for the necessary care to ensure a speedy recovery. In todays market, with the current prices of both medical insurance and medical fees, Jolie is in a very unique socioeconomic position. So what does this say to other people with an 87% chance of breast cancer who find themselves in a different socioeconomic position? Should they make the financial sacrifices, on top of the others that they are surely making, in order to reduce their chances of breast cancer? Furthermore, what this cartoon is suggesting is that if a person has an 80% chance of any kind of health concern, that they should be encouraged to do the “necessary” thing to avoid that. So, since we all have a 100% chance of dying, should we all commit suicide? This may sound extreme and I am certainly not trivializing suicide by any means, but this cartoon is situating Jolie’s decision in a logic that suggests otherwise.
If a person has a high chance of any kind of cancer, should they too remove that part of the body, if living is still possible after its removal? Preventative lymph node removal, preventative ovarian removal, preventative testicular removal? I think this a travesty in many ways. As I said before, why does the responsibility of ones health fall upon the shoulders of the individual when it is much more than just genetics that are contributing to our increased cancer rates? Why isn’t there a greater focus on the environment? On our corrupt food supply? On pollution? On the leading causes of stress and fatigue, all of which are contributing factors to death.
This isn’t about Angelina Jolie’s individual decision (which, however, I would argue that we do have the right to analyze as she has very publicly positioned her choice as one that is in alignment with her work as an activist) for me its about the continued discourse around health, privilege and the neoliberal notion of individual responsibility continuing to create health narratives that encourages people to internalize notions of health and quality of life, rather than do what desperately needs to done, and that is radically change the way we are currently existing on this planet, radically change the way we are approaching “solutions” and begin to recognize collective responsibilities, removing ourselves from ahistorical analyses of health statistics, looking directly at the way in which neoliberal capitalism and globalization are absolutely contributing to poor health internationally, and radically change knowledge production, particularly around health.
Furthermore, it isn’t just about what Jolie has said about her decision, but about what and how institutions of power are going to manipulate and spin this instance of a preventative medicinal choice (and choice here is illusive, there is a great deal that has not been mentioned as to the coercive forces at work leading up to Jolie’s decision) in order to favor and to shift discussions of breast cancer into a different, increasingly unequal and gendered direction.
Feelings. Nothing more than feelings.
Today is one of those days, and there seems to be many as of late. I am floating above, outside of this body, yet simultaneously within. Is life real? I think not. Today I think not. What am I searching for? My most inner-self, that pure, unadulterated essence of my being, seems to continue to seek for something within another person in a certain kind of way – like a dog who has caught a scent, on an incessant journey to snuff it out. Is the light that shines when submerged in darkness somehow brighter than the light that shines amongst all other light? Stirrings. Stories untold unraveling onto pages of breath. Who are you? Why do we know each other? What have we come here to do, together?
We gather. We commune. We melt and fade and swim.
Life has shown me, on repeated occasions, that there is relief - great relief - great swells of “sense”. This makes sense. I make sense. You make sense. It is all perfect even in the imperfection. Even now, as I float around reality, I know that this is precisely as it should be. Don’t resist, it will only pull the ropes tighter. Don’t fight, it will only hurt you more.
Sit in the discomfort, with the unknown, face the unimagined space that you have no choice but to move forward towards. Right now, each letter I type, each shape that manifests itself through this cursor, pushes into the unknown without choice, without agency.
Am I safe in this world? Are any of us safe?
Breath. Breath is the hand that guides you. I am a cursor on the page of life, and it is breath that unravels this story onto the invisible map. I will look behind me and see an entire world, an entire universe that I have left in my wake.
Today in class we began our final presentations about the experience of keeping a blog this semester. Presentation is a funny word here, as it was more of an opportunity for each of us to speak for 5 minutes or so and share our thoughts. I listened to people share and I was very honored to hear their words, many of whom courageously chose to discuss their discomfort with speaking in class. For varying reasons, several people felt that their voice would occupy unnecessary space or was not valid enough to be heard. Listening to their stories was really beautiful – I was captivated by every single one of them who chose to allow us into their inner world, if even for a moment. But I began to think about my own voice. I am one of those students who always sits in the front of the class room and says at least two thing each time the class meets. It made me think about privilege and speaking – how these two things are so often intertwined. Yet, when I think of privilege it is often something unexplainable. It’s a right, an ease that you can’t explain why it is exists, it just ‘does’. My speaking does not come from a privileged place, which I’m sure could be contested. However, I can trace the exact moments when my voice began to evolve into something that was about self preservation, about grounding me in reality, about helping me to remember that I am real.
My mind is, often times, a confusing place. I will have multiple spirals of thought happening simultaneously. All of which, at their very core, take me out into the ethos to examine existence and what it means. I am constantly aware that I am dying, that we are dying, that death comes to us all. I am always in conversation with the fact that we live on a planet, which is situated in a solar system, which is situated within the universe, which is situated within infinity. What is infinity? I think about the powers of the universe, how it is expressing itself through all of us and, if this is its expression, where can I find the moments of beauty? I try to find them all the time because there is so much ugliness, there is so much destruction. I need to ground myself because when I do not, I become profoundly aware of how much of this life is just an illusion. I begin to question reality. So, speaking and speaking outloud becomes a chance for me to experience what is real. I speak, and I am heard, and I am responded to and in this exchange, the world becomes slightly more concrete.
Speaking is also catharsis. The spirals of thought generate a kind of energy within me that must me dispelled because, otherwise, I might combust. Last semester, when I was so alone with not many people to comfortably engage with, my running became my only outlet. I ran 6 miles every day, sometimes even twice just to eradicate the viscosity of my minds thought-trails. Speaking to me, is a matter of survival.
When I think of the privileged speaker, they speak without knowing that they are occupying space. They speak with a kind of naïve arrogance, an ownership of the sound waves of a given room. When I sit in the classroom I become aware of everyone around me. I cannot and do not make assumptions about us all, but I am aware of the power dynamics at play. Even the architecture speaks to me and I pick and choose when I speak because the dynamics might shift or there might be a temporary opening for me to ask or inquire or share a reflection of the conversation through my minds interaction with it all. Is this privileged? Maybe. Maybe not.
Privilege is also a lack of listening, or a lack of active listening. When I am here, sharing this room with you all, I am listening, quite instensely to all that you share. I try to see myself in you – because, despite immense differences, despite all the mechanisms at play that keep many of us apart – there are pieces of us all within us all and this is the community I try to reside in. Listening is as equally powerful and valuable as speaking. I try to listen as much as I speak because it is about balance. They are the reflection and inversion of each other. The ear listens and it is sees. And, as much as I try to be seen, I try to see you.
As a consistent speaker I hope I have not made anyone feel shut out or inadvertently silenced anyone with this kind of interaction with space. If I have, I extend my deepest apologies. But know that the graciousness that is extended with listening and sharing, even if it is only coerced through the presence of walls and chairs and tables, know that you have helped me stay grounded in the here and now, which has provided me with another day of life.
I am a sponsor for my son's High School GSA, and plan to continue participating next year, as well. Is there anything I can do, and the other sponsors can do to teach them about safe sex between same gendered couples?
This is a great question! I would get the GSA together and have a group discussion about the issue and come up with some options - a few learning alternatives that you could see being received successfully by the students. I would then talk to the administration of the school, present these different ideas and discuss the red tape that will likely be around this. You might have to organize a separate event that is optional for parents to bring their children to. But it all depends on the temperament of the administration - if they are open minded and see the incredible benefit of this addition to sex education programs, they might work with you to incorporate it into their health class. But you should be prepared for some push back and have a plan to get around it. I think its all about having a good plan and communicating. Maybe even have some student advocates come with you to the admin meeting? Good luck with this and keep me posted.
chezsticky replied to your post: How can you tell that guy to keep letting his wife…
Absolutely! Sadly, people seem to still have outdated and unnecessarily limited views on monogamy. Can I just say that I am so proud to be following this blog. It’s amazingly fearless and eloquent at that. Keep up the amazing work!
Yes, I think the idea of non-monogamy brings up very fundamental fears for a majority of people. Non-monogamy threatens what we have all been socialized to think is quite natural - the heterosexual nuclear family. I think non-monogamy (which is not necessarily the same thing as polyamory I might add) pushes up against very naturalized and concretized concepts of sexuality and gender. Monogamy, particularly for “women”, is a deeply gendered attribute. It has been a staple of female sexuality, a repetitious act that assists in regulating both the gendered body and how it behaves sexually. Bodies that successfully perform “femininity” are absolutely monogamous, heterosexual and have a deep desire to have and raise children. By entering into non-monogamous spaces, these things become undone. It brings up issues of identity as well, again this is a deeply gendered issue. If women are defined by their ability to lure and maintain the interests of one man over a lifetime, then they are successful, they have meaning, they are now “complete” because they are situated within a “monogamous” relationship. “Women” are taught that until this ultimate relationship arrives in their life they are incomplete, not whole, not sufficient. Non-monogamy raises very deep anxieties about this because it problematizes this intrinsic identity issue. Now, I am not saying monogamy is invaluable - it certainly is and it works for many people. However, I think it is extremely useful to follow the discomfort the notion of non-monogamy brings up. Is it actually true that “women” are incomplete without a “man”? Absolutely not and I think we need to foster a society that support, across notions of gender, that all individuals are complete with or without the presence of a partner (or several).
Hi! Have you seen the Hysterical Literature gifset going around? I thought it might suit your blog - it's ladies reading literature of their own choice out loud while getting off. Anyway I thought some of your followers and/or you might be interested in it, since it's very female friendly porn. It's possible you already posted it and I didn't see it though. (no need to answer this on your blog or anything, it's just a suggestion) (<3 And I'm glad to see your posts back on my dash)
I have and I really like it! For those who haven’t seen this, Hysterical Literature, is a project by Clayton Cubitt, a photographer and fimlmaker, where he films people reading literature at a table while they masturbate with a vibrator. Its really wonderful to watch! Click the link to take a gander. Thanks for reminding me of this great art project :)
doesnt all those labels sounds like pokemon types to you ? it kinda does to me :/ queer was fine but people seems to have a pretty strong need to identify and to label themselves... i dont know how i feel about that but hey, that's their lifes and everybody is free to do what they want :)
Yes this is true - but we also have to remember that labels can be extremely empowering for marginalized peoples who have been erased or suppressed in any kind of way. Having and claiming a label can give you visibility and can become an anchor to organize politically and socially around. Even though some of us may feel like labels aren’t necessary, I think it is crucial to never forget why and how they can be useful tools of resistance for other folks. Additionally, it has been the use of labels by marginalized groups throughout history that often times gives us the privilege to say we don’t feel we need them.
[image description: An image mimicking the classic red ‘hello my name is’ sticker, with the alternate text ‘hello I identify as’ in all caps. The write-in section is blank.]
Since then, the signs have lived in the Out On Campus lounge, being used for workshops or as examples of the kind of work done there.
This semester, four members of a class called ‘Queer Genders’ were tasked with a project. Jai, the original creator of the file, Mickie, Mark and Nicole decided to show the variety of identity on campus, not just in gender or sexual identity, but in all aspects. They made the above image into a pair of whiteboards, and split up, asking folks to write in their identities, and then taking photos of them. These photos were edited into a video and shown to their class.
For ethical reasons, none of those photos will be posted to this tumblr, but the work goes on. If you feel like it, please download, print or otherwise make use of this image, and fill it in with your identity. Submit a photo, or file; if you don’t have the capability to alter the image yourself, send us an ask, and we’ll write your text in for you.
by Cyree Jarelle Johnson
I’m (not) sorry to inform you that femme privilege does not exist. Not in the queer community. Not in the world at large. Does. Not. Exist. In fact, the very idea of inherent “femme privilege” is rooted in misguided misogyny. It operates under the erroneous idea that the discrimination and violence that femmes in particular and feminities in general experience is not based on our gender presentations. It relies on the idea that all femmes are cisgendered and cissexual, which is cissexist. It anachronistically leaves out femme as a genderqueer identity. It is ignorant to the continuing oppression of women, femmes, and other femininities by patriarchy and masculine privilege.
The most common argument for femme privilege I encounter is that femmes are not the recipients of physical and spiritual violence because of their femininity, while female masculinities are frequently the target of such assaults. Even upon first glance this ignores the constant reality of rape and sexual assault in the lives of lots of transgressive femininities. Personally, I have been “corrective”ly raped twice for being femme, once by a doctor when I was 17 after coming out on my intake forms and the second time during my time working at a bar in Newark. According to a study performed by Keren Lehavot, Ph.D. “women who identify as “femme” (or feminine) and have a more feminine appearance report more adult sexual assaults” than women in the study who identified as “butch”.
That’s not even to speak of the harassment that I experience every day on the street. Not just the street, everywhere I go. It is frequently terrifying, and it also leads to more terrifying things. Of course, omnipresent harassment is afforded to masculine of center folks as well: because in both cases the harassers are targeting our gender presentation. For real, they are. The truly hate us both, for the same reason. Our harassers are deeply invested in the control and ownership of bodies they perceive as “women”. They want to decide who gets to be included in that category, and what that identity means. It is not a complement when I am catcalled, grabbed, pushed, smacked, and groped on the street, it is an insult. And it is certainly not a privilege.
Then there’s that weird concept of passing privilege that I don’t even think works for sexual identity in the way that it does for race, but is so frequently employed that way. Racial groups have phenotypical markers that differentiate their skin and hair and body features from that of a privileged race. Being gay or queer looks different in every corner of this country and every corner of the world.
The idea of cisfemmes passing for straight and receiving straight privilege ignores the fact that to patriarchy inside every lesbian lies a straight woman. Straight people don’t see anything but straight. Even if very masculine female identified folks are instantly read as gay by heterosexuals, does that necessarily make not experiencing that a privilege? Passing is a privilege when you pass into a group that has privilege. “Woman” is not an inherently privileged category at all, nor is “feminine”. Femininity, queer and straight alike, is viewed as frivolous and shallow, stupid and excessive. Most importantly, it is taken much less seriously than masculinity.
Moreover, regarding femmeness as privilege ignores the existence of femmes who are trans*women, androfemmes, kikis, and all those who may simultaneously be femme and not able to pass for straight or even pass for feminine. It forgets us femmes who try and fail and try and fail again to be seen as authentically feminine. We femmes with tapers and Caesars lined up. We femmes who are 6’4 in heels and rock a bitchin’ limp that people frequently comment on yet rarely stare at. We femmes who sit gap legged in flannel waiting for folks to stop telling them to be more feminine when we are trying as hard as we fucking can.
In her interview with Elixher.com, Brown Grrlz Project Co-Founder Trinz Massiah writes that femme privilege “is a matter of perspective. A femme identified womyn has to negotiate always safe spaces to “come out” over and over again… Can you imagine the anxiety of negotiating safe spaces constantly?” Central to femme invisibility (which should be called femme erasure, in my opinion) is the allegation that femmes are not “gay looking”. Ok, then who is and why? Who gets the privilege to set the tone of the conversation of what it means to look queer or gay? Clearly not femmes or we would have at least included ourselves.
There is the problem of “looking straight” and needing to access queer/gay safe spaces and being questioned uncomfortably. Of spending time scrimping and saving to dress up for the dyke bar and pay the cover just to have everyone treat you like a fag hag. Of being out for almost a decade and still getting treated like an interloper until someone sees me with a stud they know. Of being made to find people to vouch for your dykedom. Of having to come out every day to everyone, often several times to the same people because apparently femmes are not experts on their own lives.
So, in short, don’t come at me with that shit. Quit relegating feminitinity to the backburners of queerness because of a faulty generalization. Check your own association of femmeness with excess and shallowness and stupidity. Learn how to see femmes, and stop blaming us for our own erasure.
Some really interesting points that resonate with me. Although I tried to avoid discussions that become oppression competitions, I think its really important to look at the issues the op is raising. i resonate!! Thoughts?
I was recognized on the bus yesterday because of the blog/youtube videos. She was really sweet and said some really nice things (you made my day Gina!!)! This is the third time this has happened since starting this blog … has this happened to anyone else? Each time I’m always very shocked. I suppose I’m shocked every day when I continue to see people follow, like, reblog, message me, view my videos etc. Its very humbling. So, I just wanted to say a very sincere THANK YOU to all of you for engaging with my content, contributing the way you do and helping to establish a really great little corner of the tumblrsphere :) Happy Wednesday y’all
Hi! I've been reading through your blog for the last hour, and it's incredible! My boyfriend of a month just told me that he has herpes. He cried when he told me, and so did I. I love him, but I don't know all the risks if he gives me herpes too. Is there anything he can do to lessen the risk of me getting it? Thank you!
Thanks for this question! It took a great deal of courage for your boyfriend to share this information and is certainly an indication of where he’s at in terms of respecting you and your body! These are good things! And its even better that you’re asking about the risks.
First and foremost, I encourage the two of you to visit the doctor or your local planned parenthood and talk to a medical provider about your circumstance.
Although I am not a doctor, this is some of my advice:
Herpes operates differently in different bodies. Ask your partner how often he has expressions (a term I try to use instead of outbreak) and if he takes prescription medication. Ask what other methods he uses to suppress the virus (vitamins, homeopathic treatments etc.) Basically, you both want to make sure you’re doing all you can to keep the virus suppressed - when the virus is “hiding”, transmission is virtually impossible (however, he can be virally shedding without having an outbreak). Use protection and you can even use lubricants with carraggenan (seaweed extract proven to assist in reducing risk of transmission).
Ultimately, the decision is up to you. Whether it is with your current boyfriend or not, our risk of contracting any number of STD’s is relatively the same. Being with someone who has herpes requires an increased communication, trust and comfort. You have to be comfortable to ask questions and be intimate with one another in new ways, which I believe has more potential to strengthen a bond rather than deteriorate it.
I hope this helps and good luck with your decision! Take your time, but be as honest with your partner as he was with you.
This weeks video! You don’t have to have herpes to watch this, some thoughts I think many people need! Don’t let things dim your light, certainly not an STD. :)
Why did I purchase these products?
These are Lelo’s version of ben-wa balls. Vaginally insert these weighted silicone balls to practice your kegel exercises. Kegels have incredible benefits: tightening of the vaginal muscles, shown to increase capacity to orgasm and they are an excellent toy to explore your g-spot (to do this, lie on your back and rotate your hips).
This versatile water-based vegan lube can be used on all toys and with condoms. Additionally, it has carrageenan included in its ingredients. This seaweed extract is great for people living with herpes as studies show that it can further assist in preventing transmission (this lube should not be used in place of condoms and you should not have sex with a partner during an outbreak!).
Have you tried these two products? Let me know your thoughts!