arvan's picture

Wherefore Art Thou, Prudity?

(Image courtesy of allisontracy24)


n. One who is excessively concerned with being or appearing to be proper, modest, or righteous.  Originally a French term of respect meaning "wise woman".

It occurs to me that I had completely overlooked and marginalized a viewpoint on sex, gender, body: Prudishness.  Speaking clearly personally, I have rebelled against the idea of it for decades.  I considered whether or not prudity is a valid sgb viewpoint or not.  The answer seems overwhelmingly 'yes' because, for some people it is going to be an honest expression of their sgb identity. 

Upon reflection, it occurs to me that what I have objected to over the years is not so much Prudity itself, but rather the use of prudity as a reason for unthinking crowd control.  Prudity has been used as reason to tell people how to dress, who (not) to fuck / kiss / hold hands, etc..  In other words, it was something used as justification for other people to tell me how to live my life.  These arguments were interchangable with other hack manipulations like "because God said so" or "because that's the way things have always been / ought to be" and my (least) favorite - "because otherwise you'll be a whore"

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig.  The majority of the prudity conversations I have had were driven by a desire to control my behavior because it made someone else feel better to do so.  Whether it was unconscious parroting of societal control mechanisms like patriarchal religious and civic organizations; or merely someone that was freaked out by their own sgb issues - it was about manipulation.  That is what I rebelled against...and still do.

arvan's picture

the landscape ahead: who will identify the individual? self or society?


Identity—the very essence of who we are and how we interact with others—is in the middle of a period of extraordinary tumult. The Internet
and a host of new communications technologies have transformed the
concept of identity and redefined our relationships to businesses, governments and constantly churning networks of friends and peers.

Growing numbers of digital natives now define themselves by their
Web presence as well as their real-world presence. Indeed, they move
seamlessly from their online to offline lives, and they expect to assert
who they are on their own terms.

Call it the audacity of self-identity. I am whatever I say I am.

J.D. Lasica, Identity in the Age of Cloud Computing (emphasis mine)


Identity is the focus of and I want to take a shot at clearly articulating some of what I see going on right now (and maybe a little bit of conjecture on where this might all lead). 

There are several types of identity by which we all are known.  The two identity types that most people are familiar with are:

Self Identity - the way one person is defined by one's self.  It is the act of a person telling a group - "This is who I am".

Group Identity - the way one person is defined by a group of people.  It is the act of a group telling a person: "This is who you are".

Most of us employ a mixture of group identity terms as self identity.  We use language, which we did not invent, to describe who we are.  Often, we did not even choose the words we use (i.e. fat, skinny, smart, gay, man, woman, tall...and so on).  Labels, judgments, names, terms - all consisting of language.  

Clarisse Thorn's picture

Sex-positive documentary report #6: “Bi The Way”

In a minute I’ll review the sixth film at my sex-positive documentary film series, but first I have to say … man, the screening was unexpectedly stressful! For the first time, we simply didn’t have enough space for everyone. In a way I’m thrilled, of course, but I’m also feeling a bit overwhelmed. Previously we have simply been encouraging people to RSVP by phone (312.413.5353) in order to save a seat, but it looks like now RSVPing is effectively a requirement. If you want to attend, you probably want to RSVP by phone … or show up early and hope that someone who RSVPed flakes out! I’ve been encouraging people to RSVP in the last few invitational emails and on Facebook; since last Tuesday I’ve also emphasized the RSVP information in every other Internet venue I have control over.

It’s been suggested multiple times that we switch to a bigger screening venue. This is, however, more complicated than it sounds. One reason for that is that we have very little money for Sex+++. It’s a largely grassroots effort that’s being supported by a few awesome co-sponsors; you can help if you know any potential sex-positive co-sponsors — talk to them and tell them to talk to me!

Another issue is that we want to make sure the event is centrally located within Chicago. This is important because that way it’s maximally accessible to everyone — but it’s especially important because we’ve already printed up the next batch of posters for Sex+++, and they all say it’s at the Hull-House Museum. So, ideally, any new venue would be close enough to Hull-House that people could still make it to the film if they went to the wrong place. You might be able to help us find space if you know of any large, free (or at least cheap), centrally located Chicago movie venues and can convince them to talk to me.


Yeah! Sex+++! Last week’s documentary was “Bi The Way” — all about bisexuality!

Serena Anderlini's picture

Gaia on SGB

Hey folks! 

Nice to meet you on SGB.  It was election week and I had to come up with an intro to my new book, Gaia and the New Politics of Love.  Everyone was excited about the imminent end of the Bush era.  The idea of the book is that we need a new politics of love to stay alive on this little planet we’re all stuck on!  We need to learn the arts of loving each other or else we will simply kill each other off until the last one of us humans is dead.  Ouch!!!  If that’s the case, I want to go first!

Notes for a Poly Planet, the subtitle says.  What’s a poly planet?  Well, that’s the planet we will have when the new politics happens.  We’re not sure yet, it’s a prophecy . . .
So, a new politics of love in both senses: a new way of managing the political aspects of love, and a new way of doing politics that is based on love.  That’s why I thought that a president born from a passion of love was a good foreboding.  Of course he is the president of an empire, and empire that accidentally still calls itself democracy.  But his mother and father must have had the hots for each other, don’t you think?!? 

arvan's picture

Taslima Nasrin: Speech from Women's Forum

This speech was given by Taslima Nasrin in France, on October 15, 2005 at The Women's Forum.  Little has changed for herself or women around the world, since then.

          I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for having been invited to the first International Conference by   Women's Forum.  Today I would tell you a little bit about my life. 
          I was born in 1962 to a Muslim family in a small town called Mymensingh  in what then was East Pakistan. Now, after it gained its independence in 1971, the country is called Bangladesh
          Bangladesh, where I was born, is a nation of more than 140 million people, one of the most populous countries in the world. It is a country where 70 per cent of the people live below the poverty line, where more than half the population cannot read and write, a country where there is insufficient health care, and where infant mortality is high. Nearly 40 million women have no access to education nor do they have the possibility of
becoming independent. 
        In my country, my childhood was not much different from that of other girls of my generation. Like other girls of a middle-class family, I was sent to a  school. Girls frequently dropped out of school when they were fifteen or sixteen, ages at which they often were given into marriage by their parents. Few girls had a chance to continue their studies, for after an arranged marriage they were not allowed to continue studying in school or college or university nor could they take a job. They became totally dependent upon their husbands, in other words.

arvan's picture

"Modern Primitives": The Accelerating Collision of Past and Future in the Postmodern Era

The idea of "Modern Primitives" is an interesting one.  I will not attempt to define it with any authority whatsoever.  To my eyes and limited exposure, it seems to intersect the notion of technology and body in a way that encompasses ritual, experience, definition, display and spirit.  I looked it up this morning, to see where I can bring this conversation into and found this piece over at a Dr. Steven Mizrach's page at FIU.

Modern primitive

Today, largely thanks to publishers such as Re/Search and Loompanics, Autonomedia, and Amok Press, many people are familiar today with the "modern primitive" movement. They know that it involves some sort of strange juxtaposition of high technology and "low" tribalism, animism, and body modification - a kind of 'Technoshamanism,' if you will, at once possession trance and kinetic dance. In books like William Gibson's Count Zero , ultracomplex Artificial Intelligences (AIs) take on the personality of Haitian Voudoun deities, seizing the minds of initiates through neural networks, creating an ersatz technoreligion.

The idea of the "primitive" is of course one from anthropology's abandoned socioevolutionary past. While invented to simply function as a descriptive for temporal phases, it inevitably also functioned as an evaluative term, suggesting that those societies to which it was applied were inferior in terms of literacy, knowledge, technology, social organization, or moral judgement - in a word, they lacked 'civilization.' The notion was of course inescapably ethnocentric, since it assumed that all societies on the planet were on an undeviating climb toward the standards of Western culture with regards to religion (monotheism), marriage practices (monogramy), economics (the free market), governance (representative democracy), etc. The 'primitive' was at once reviled and romanticized, especially by Romantic artists fascinated with the taboo and the exotic, and philosophers swayed by the image of the unfettered Noble Savage.

arvan's picture

Politics with a small 'p' as in 'personal'

(I have been neglecting my first blog, The National Gadfly for the last month.  The effort to launch and configure sexgenderbody had consumed my pea-brain.  Tonight, I posted my thoughts on why and how I distinguish the politics of the individual and those of society.  Cross posted here, by me with love for you.)

(Image courtesy of digado)

As many of you may already know, I have recently launched a community, collaborative blog:  In the last couple months, my content here had become a bit too higgledy-piggledy even for myself.  I found that I had a great deal to say on personal politics, the politics of self-definition.  This is not a conflict with the conversations I have been having here in the realm of Politics with a capital P, the politics of institutions and society at large or simply - groups.

Politics with a P are the more commonplace discussions that we all know and 'love': conservative vs. liberal, right-wing vs. left-wing, labor vs. management, class vs. class, race vs. race and so on.  Inside the myriad of daily Politic-speak are notions of the rights of the individual.  The terms of these conversations are subtly couched in a model where governments and institutions are defining the individual.  Rights, protections, entitlements, values, uses, and many other terms that all serve to reinforce the model that the individual exists in terms given by the society, or Political party affiliation.  A person's rights as given by the Constitution, a Political affiliation or membership in a religious sect.

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