body

Jaded's picture

Slipping Out Of Gendered Spaces

Earlier this week I was discussing Wuthering Heights with my class of 11th graders. We were talking about how demarcations, borders and outlines of the Body are continuously challenged in the text, in such a way that the Body becomes a hybrid of human and beast. At one point Catherine exclaims, “Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He is always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being”, here the Body possesses masculine and feminine spaces simultaneously, which by extension ‘queers’ love, as well as allows the Body to dislocate itself from chronic heteronormativity. I was about to explain how the text polices this ‘abnormal’ body when one student asked me to stop. He couldn’t reconcile the idea that a woman’s body can embody and imprint from her lover’s body and identity. He didn’t like that she remained autonomous of her identity while slipping into Heathcliff’s body (figuratively speaking) at will. The way he put it, “Why isn’t she happy with the space she’s given?”. As trans-phobic his statement was, I could understand where it stemmed from. Even when all I wanted to do was stop the class right there and start discussing transphobia, probably also whack him on the head¹ with Gender Trouble till he saw how pungent his assumption was and all I could do was try to not start ranting and fuming, I could see why he thought this way. As a culture, we’re told to see transsexuals and intersex people as the Other, we’re encouraged when we participate in erasing people who identify as trans; so my student’s reaction was hardly out of the ordinary. What stuck with me is how ‘natural’ it was for my student to say what he said, without even pausing to consider that androgyny or ‘gender bending’ may go beyond people who are ‘born that way’.

I don’t really remember how I finished the class, I do remember mulling over what my student said even as I was waiting on the platform for my train to come. Before I knew it, I’m standing in front of the ‘Ladies Compartment’ marked with blue stripes and for a second I couldn’t move.  We gender our spaces wherever and whenever possible, and this differently ‘marked’ compartment proved just that. The reason behind keeping separate train compartments for Ladies and Dudes is to keep groping and sexual harassment to the minimum — by employing the Cure The Disease And Spare The Symptom Method — but the boundaries are clear. If I look like a Lady, I must travel in the space alloted to me or I shouldn’t complain when I get assaulted when I travel by the ‘general’ compartment; questions whether I identify as a Lady are quite easily ignored. At social gatherings and dinner parties, somehow unanimously women use separate rooms or tables, where even the talk is gendered. The Dudes sit sipping alcohol and talking of ‘dudely’ things finance, architecture, politics — I don’t even know what else as I’m generally in the opposite section — whereas Ladies talk about children, husbands, cooking, chores and ungrateful relatives. As a child I used to think that men must speak a different language altogether as they seldom talked to girls or women. This isn’t to say the two genders never interact socially — we’re one of the biggest populations on the planet, so some social intercourse is happening somewhere — but that in the presence of these different spaces, we don’t step out of our boundaries. I am often uncomfortable in such gendered tables or rooms as the manufactured differences always get to me; not because I’m uneasy in my prescribed gender but because there is no scope for me to transgress if I ever wanted to. Media and social traditions foster the idea that a person who identifies as queer or trans is a laughing-stock. In fact most encounters with hijras leave people giggling, because opinions like “can you imagine being a man down there! It’s so sad and funny!” are too commonplace. In fact, “Bobby Darling” is used as a slur to discourage boys from showing their effeminacy, effectively silencing the woman behind this slur as a body who independently chose her trans identity.

arvan's picture

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Twelfth Annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance.

November 20, 2010

I really don't look forward to this day at all. 

I dread the emotional impact of realizing the toll in human lives that sexism and misogyny take out as measured in human lives. 

I don't want to think about people being killed because of their identity.

I cannot stand thinking about the lies, gloating, pride, vanity, bullying, cruelty and inhumanity behind each death blow.

I am angered by the willingess of juries and judges to allow murderers to go free because of "trans panic" or some other abominable story about why killing someone is acceptable because of the murderers ignorant, hate-filled judgments.

I feel helpless against the millions of deaf ears and thoughtless insults that it takes to bring about the change in law, religion, culture and family that is needed for human beings to be accepted as the gender they know themselves to be.

But, I am alive and I have the chance to help end all of this that I abhor and dread.  So, I do not forget and I do not remain silent, because silence is murder. 

So, I remember and I speak out and I ask that you do the same.

-arvan

arvan's picture

Kick-Ass Hologram Plays Sold Out Live Concert

I just saw this clip from a live concert that recently took place.  The lead singer is a 15' tall hologram named Hatsune Miku.  I gotta tell ya - this is badass!  I can totally see enjoying a show like this.

World is Mine Live in HD

...and there was even a duet or two!

Butterfly on Your Right Shoulder Live in HD

Bekhsoos's picture

Jismi.net: A Campaign for Sexual & Bodily Rights in Lebanon

Jismi.net is dedicated to the annual “One Day, One Struggle” campaign, a unique effort to underscore the joint struggle against the violation of sexual and bodily rights in Muslim societies, which takes place on November 9. (The Arabic word “Jismi” means “My Body” in English.)

This year, the Lebanon-based groups NasawiyaHelem and Meem developed an online video campaign focusing on bodily autonomy and sexual rights of individuals.

The videos feature people of different ages, gender expressions, religious affiliations and professional fields talking about the various experiences they were subjected to in terms of sexual and bodily oppression and the ways they were able to overcome these imposed restrictions to achieve complete autonomy and independence in their sexual and bodily choices.

The campaign aims to fill the gap created in dealing with issues related to the body and sexuality, as they are always considered private matters and taboos that shouldn’t be discussed. In addition to them being an integral part of human rights, sexual and bodily rights are a political matter regulated by legislations, rules, institutions and the state, as well as inherited social and cultural restrictions which affect the individual’s relationship with their body and sexuality and reshapes it using oppressive measures, stripping the individual of their autonomy.

Last year, groups held a panel on sexuality at the American University of Beirut (AUB).

arvan's picture

Call for Submissions: Perverts Of Color

(h/t Sex in the Public Square)

pervert:

vb - to lead into deviant beliefs or behaviour; to corrupt.

n - a person who practises sexual perversion. 

person of color:

n - is a term used, primarily in the United States, to describe all people who are not white. The term is meant to be inclusive among non-white groups, emphasizing common experiences of racism. 'People of color' was introduced as a preferrable replacement to both non-white and minority, which are also inclusive, because it frames the subject positively; non-white defines people in terms of what they are not (white), and minority frequently carries a subordinate connotation.

Mission Statement

The Perverts of Color anthology is a collection of voices from people of color (POCs) who participate in alternative sexual and relationship practices which include but are not limited to: S&M, D/s, leather, kink, fetishism, polyamory, and swinging. “Pervert” is a term that society projects onto our bodies and our desires. We use “pervert” both to acknowledge the rejection and stereotyping we face, and to redefine the word on our own terms.

Our Intent

a) celebrate the experiences of US racial/ethnic minorities navigating alternative sexualities;

b) recover hidden histories and recognize the contributions of POCs to alternative sexuality rights and culture;

c) share stories about ways POCs have resisted dominant narratives about their sexuality; and

d) create possibilities for coalition and resistance for kinky POCs.

Call for Submissions

The voices of US racial minorities in alternative sexual communities are important but often unheard. If you are a POC who has been or is involved in the kink/poly community, the Perverts of Color anthology needs to hear your story.

Click here for writing prompts and ideas.

We are accepting non-fiction essays (1,500-5,000 words) related to the theme of the intersection of race and alternative sexual practices. New authors are welcome. Fiction, erotica, and poetry are not accepted. The Perverts of Color anthology is intended as a multi-ethnic, multi-racial collection, so we encourage all POCs to submit their stories. We invite POCs of all genders, ages, religions/spiritualities, sexual orientations and socio-economic backgrounds. Authors may use a pen name in order to maintain anonymity. All authors will keep the copyright to their submission, have a printed biography, and receive one copy of the completed book.

Now accepting submissions until December 15th 2010!

Contact Us

If you are interested, email us at pervertsofcolor@gmail.com with a one-paragraph summary of your essay (250 words maximum) and a short bio (250 words maximum). All submission summaries are due by December 15th at 12 midnight (Eastern Standard Time). We will contact authors individually to express interest in a complete submission.

What made you decide to create this anthology?

We are longtime kinksters, community members, and political types whose frustration with the racism experienced in the organized kink community - and with the kink-aversion in our other racial communities - got us thinking and talking to each other (and anyone who would listen) about the connections between our racial and sexual identities. This anthology is a way for us to start larger discussions on the topic with voices of all kinds.

Who are they?

Jaki is a genderqueer Black American Leather feminist with a passion for alternative sexuality and getting off. Jaki has begun a one-person campaign to promote "yo" as a gender neutral option because it is fun and original. Yo has always been interested in writing for the underdogs. This passion has lead to minority studies in many flavors which ultimately lead to the BDSM/Leather Community. Jaki sought a book about the intesection of race and radical sexuality and when it didn't exist, yo decided to create it.

Katie is a queer, biracial Korean American kinkster with experience in grassroots activism around racism and violence against women of color. She has been involved in the DC kink community since 2003 and has identified as polyamorous ever since she discovered a word for it in college.

arvan's picture

Columbia College Chicago presents Tomboy

Columbia College Chicago presents Tomboy

Columbia College Chicago November 8, 2010 – January 7, 2011

Glass Curtain Gallery,

Columbia College Chicago

1104 S Wabash Avenue, 1st floor,

Chicago, IL 60605

Gallery Hours: Mon-Wed, Fri, 9-5pm,

Thurs 9-7pm, Sat Noon-5pm

http://www.colum.edu/deps

Reception with curator and artists: November 11, 2010, 5-8pm

Opening Night Programming:

Artist Performances include Indoor 5k, run with Mary George, 4:30-6:30pm

and I Will Always Love You, interactive performance by Allison Halter, 5:30pm

Accompanying Lecture

“Crossing the Line: Genre & Identity,” a reading and lecture by award-winning author Dorothy Allison, 7:30pm in the Conaway Center adjacent to the Glass Curtain Gallery

Additional Programming:

Cafe Society, a year-long series featuring several Columbia College exhibitions, welcomes the Columbia community and the public for a salon style discussion of Tomboy. November 16, 4:00-6:00pm in the Glass Curtain Gallery.

Tomboy examines the degrees to which identity and gender influence meaning in the work of six contemporary queer women artists.  From painterly gestures to performative acts, sculptural installations to digitally altered photographs, this exhibition explores the variety of approaches artists take in negotiating notions of identity.  These works turn away from the essentialism of early feminist art and the specificity of “identity art,” and instead employ identity in intentionally ambiguous, mercurial, and peripheral ways.  Tomboy delves into the murky spaces between the personal, the political, and the formal in order to ask viewers the question: “can and should what we know about an artist be separated from how we experience their work?”

Participating Artists:

Kelli Connell

Dana DeGiulio

Daphne Fitzpatrick

Mary George

Allison Halter

Leeza Meksin

Tomboy is curated by Betsy Odom

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Visit the Department of Exhibition and Performance Spaces webpage: http://www.colum.edu/deps

CONTACT

Exhibition information: Mark Porter, mporter@colum.edu

Press inquiries: Elizabeth Burke-Dain, eburkedain@colum.edu

This program is produced by the Department of Exhibition and Performance Spaces of Columbia College Chicago.

arvan's picture

Simone de Beauvoir Institute - A Feminist Position On Sex Work

(h/t Cybersolidaires)

Simone de Beauvoir Institute’s Statement:

A Feminist Position on Sex Work

The Simone de Beauvoir Institute of Concordia University supports the recent decision by Ontario Superior Court judge Susan Himel with regards to Canada’s prostitution laws.

We support this decision as feminists, and in particular as feminists who have taken a position of leadership with regards to sexuality.  The Simone de Beauvoir Institute is the oldest women’s studies program in Canada, established in 1978.  We were the first Canadian university women’s studies to offer a course on lesbian studies (1985), we helped organize La Ville en Rose, an international conference on lesbian and gay studies held in 1992, and were active in the implementation of the first undergraduate course on HIV/AIDS at any Canadian university (1994). Since 2006, we offer an elective course entitled “Framing the prostitute,” which considers the ways in which debates about prostitution are constructed – within feminist, policy, and activist sites.

For more than three decades, then, the Simone de Beauvoir Institute has provided leadership with regards to questions of sexuality. Our position in support of the Himel decision continues a long tradition of deep reflection and action with regards to sexuality.

Jaded's picture

UnVeiling Hued Bodies

This weekend over a family dinner, I was seated at the ‘women’s table’ as usual, wondering when did I morph from child to woman, old enough to be the invisible ear for middle-aged Ladies who need to vent out their LadyEmotions through the forms of humour and snark. As the conversation turned to ungrateful husbands and disobedient children I looked at the table at the end corner of the room where a young mother kept on glaring at her daughter of about six years of age for hiking up her dress or sitting 'inappropriately'. I always had the same problem growing up; I could truly empathise and almost wanted to send her an invisible signal reassuring that she'd learn to ignore such comments soon enough as I watched her burst into tears later. Body policing is something Ladies Of The Dark Regions learn very quickly and rather subtly, only when someone points it out, the cracks in our disciplined bodies become visible. I remember reading Freud's theory on Penis Envy -- and rolling my eyes to eternity of course! -- and realising how bourgeois and Euro-centric the theory was considering MudSquatter kids like I and my friends weren't generally allowed didn't play with boys till about the time we were aware just how and why our bodies were different, we knew how girls were supposed to run, jump and be and how 'those boys' could be as carefree as they wished, to ever want to voluntarily see the little dudes up, close and personal to ever develop envy for that dangly appendage. In fact, after facing direct sexism and existing under the thumb of patriarchy as many DustyLadies do, then this supposed envy comes out, just so we can -- for a while -- be as unmarked as the culture lets us be.

The point is, as 'occupied bodies' the body -- theoretical or literal --  is a taboo subject to explore, discuss or even think about. There is a popular superstition that if a little girl swings her legs -- non-applicable to little dudes --, one of her parents will die thus effectively blackmailing the girl into sitting still and poised at all times. The body is something that hardly goes unnoticed out here which is directly ironic to how much effort goes into negating it.  The motive is to police, tutor and chart it the way the DudeCouncil wants, which will make these unruly bodies into wives and mothers of the Dutiful Variety. I went to a Girl's Convent school and can still remember how certain Muslim girls would suddenly start wearing full length tights under their uniforms in sixth or seventh grade, the way other girls would whisper "she got the curse¹!" much to the poor girl's embarrassment. The shock on seeing classmates changing into the hijab or donning the veil everyday the moment they stepped out of school is still raw, I could never reconcile the Girl I Knew with the Girl In The Veil, to me they were separate bodies altogether, one marked as someone else's and the other as bits of 'herself'. I am not saying the veil is an imposition and there is never a possibility of it being a choice, rather that to a person who will never be expected by society or her religion to practice veiling, the invisibility of the veiled body bears a certain meaning to me, which may or not go along with the traditional space of hijab and its many practices.

arvan's picture

The Story Of My Addiction

This post is about addictions, self-harm, self-discovery and eventually, self-care.  I recently had occasion to think back to when I was 20 years old.  I retraced my steps to the present day for the first time in one sitting and was quite surprised with my reaction to the story of my own life.

Looking back, I was terrified at the prospect of finding my way in the world.   At the time, I just knew that I was getting high all the time and felt shame, despair and fear like a lump in my throat almost choking the breath out of me.  I was on the verge of a great sadness, constantly frightened and alone.

I looked around for love or sex or something to quiet that feeling of loneliness, but no such comfort was there to be found.   I remember awkward, clumsy moments with women and some conversations we had about sexuality, friendship and literature/music.  I remember standing in my kitchen talking to one woman on the phone about her attraction to women.  She was wondering where to go with it and I wanted to be her friend even if it meant not being a lover.  I hope to god that I actually communicated that!

I remember another girl that I tried to get a relationship with, but she eventually stopped the relationship because I had no money and no clear indication that I was going to have any.  That triggered my shame issues and I chose to leave for the Green Berets like some romantic sod off to the French Foreign Legion in the wake of a broken heart. (what a mope!)

I figured that if my life didn't change, I was going to end up as someone standing around talking with great authority about how my life would be if I ever lived one.

So, off I go to the Green Berets because it was the hardest thing I could find in the military.  I joined the Green Berets because I was lost in my life.  I figured that I would either grow up or die trying.

arvan's picture

Sex Education Is A Political Act.

(This post is part of a blog carnival to raise awareness and funding for Scarleteen - the longest running fact-based sex education resource on the Intenet.)


(via withoutgods)

Sex Education is a political act. 

In terms of group politics - there are large groups of people who are fighting to prevent you from learning any facts about sex.  Facts that can effect your health, income, present, future, career, happiness, ability to have or enjoy sex, choice of sex partners and even the ability to have sex.

People get elected using by using sex to scare voters - queer sex, teen sex, unmarried sex, kinky sex, fun sex, sex of any kind.    Cultural practices and commonly held beliefs about sex punish or shame people for even discussing sex, much less teaching it to a classroom.

Organized religions and self-appointed 'holy men' claim to speak for their god in calling sex a sin.  Sex is a fact of mammalian evolution and humans are mammals.  That undisputable, proven fact is a direct challenge to the notion of sin and therefore a challenge to any religious or secular institution that believes that sex is a sin.

In the arena of personal politics - young people are dependent upon those who come before us to offer up the knowledge of previous generations - or they can withhold it.  As teens we struggle with asking the adults in our lives for information, guidance and the benefit of their experience on one hand, while on the other hand - we wish to assert our own judgment and choices. 

What you are told about sex is a political act. 

People who may or may not have your interests in mind spend a lot of time shaping the information you receive about sex because they want you to make decisions that favor them or their world view.  What is best for them may not be what is best for you.  The only way for you to make an informed decision is for you to have facts.

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