Preferences and Prejudice: Which Is It?

Is it classist to reject someone because they don’t have a job? 

Most of us know that it’s fairly racist to reject a potential partner based on race or on the color of their skin. Many self-identified feminists mourn the perceived standards being projected onto the female gender, and there is more than enough discussion about how people feel in regards to women having short hair or natural hair. (Unfortunately, I am not as well versed about the criterium projected onto same sex/alternative couples, so if you know any – feel free to list them in the comments for added discussion!).

A great deal of people spend an inordinate amount of time trying to prove to others (and themselves) that we’re each unique individuals and aren’t required to abide by arbitrary beauty prerequisites.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the concept of beauty and whose opinion matters the most. When I was a Senior in high school, there was this guy, CJ, that I liked. He was a white boy; tall and rail-thin, and I remember chatting with him online. In my usual style, I told him I liked him and he responded with: I only date white girls.

Most people would respond with complete disgust over this – How dare he!? That’s so racist!  I lived in a racially diverse area where a myriad of people attended my high school, so you would think that most people would have a more “open” view of who they’d like to date. But -

My whole life, I’ve never really been attractive enough for anybody:

1. my skin wasn’t clear enough

2. my breasts were too small

3. I wasn’t perky enough, hood enough, outgoing enough… the list continues

Of course, our choices aren’t made in a vacuum. Do many white people reject black partners out of some racist agenda? If we had a more egalitarian media (since television and cinema influences many people’s understanding of relationships and who they’re attracted to) – would more people be interested in dating outside of their race, economic class, sex, (etc)?

Many women (and perhaps men too) spend a lot of time looking at how they’re not represented in the media, and how this somehow suggests they’re not attractive by conventional standards. I’m not exempt from this; I spent a few minutes on Twitter yesterday lamenting how small breasts are rarely touted as being signifiers of attractiveness. Essentially, large breasts are considered more “womanly” and “feminine” than having a “boyish figure”.

This is a complex problem: on one hand, the world is giant mirror, reflecting back to us what we believe about ourselves and the world at large. On the other hand, I see this as a type of Second-Hander rhetoric – where I long for other people to give me validation about myself in some capacity. It’s almost like I don’t exist until someone else decides I exist. All of this pertains to self-esteem, and the value being placed in one’s own ideas and opinions.

I don’t want to be a Second-Hander, and have other people’s prejudices and preferences dictate Who I Am.

 

What About You? What are some of your preferences or prejudcies? 

As anyone said you weren’t enough because of the way you look?

#YesGayYA – LGBT Novels

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loathed YA. At least since high school, which tends to be the demographic for Young Adult. I loathed the lack of black characters, and how all the characters seemed to be clones of each other in some way, shape or form. There just didn’t seem to be a lot of diversity – in any respect – and generally, YA had become the bane of my literary existence. With one exception (the Uglies trilogy) – I avoided YA with fervor.

In addition to my YA ban, I’d also renounced a lot of reading in general because of the lack of POC and LGBT characters specifically, since these are things I look for. So for several months, I read only non-fiction, but it’s not as satisfactory as a good science fiction or fantasy novel! While I go back and forth with my dislike for YA with the fact that in general, many mainstream novels lack any kind of decent representation.

Recently, someone linked me to Malinda Lo, a lesbian YA writer, who has two books out with lesbian lead characters. Ms. Lo wrote a post detailing the amount of LGBT books being published each year, and thanks to some links on twitter, I came across an extensive list of LGBT YA books available. Some of the books have LGBT leads, while others have LGBT supporting characters. Additionally, much like my previous post on POC authors, there’s a list of books with POC characters too.

Thanks to the wide world of blogging, there are sites dedicated to exploring diversity in books and being aware that we need to bring more attention to books written by POC.

There’s no telling how difficult or easy trying to get your book published might be. Often times, it seems, a book’s success demands on a mixture of marketing and pure luck. Who would’ve guessed that Harry Potter would’ve become as popular as it did – though it took awhile before it finally took off. I remember being in the minority when HP originally came out, and it wasn’t for several years until I met other HP fans. So I would hate for anyone who is interested in publishing a book with LGBT/POC characters to feel dissuaded.

Often times, representation is difficult to come by. Our experiences regarding our race, gender, sexuality, class (etc) colors our perceptions of the world, and often times in many niche environments (ie: blogging) certain types of people are going to be drawn to that place. It can be hard to create diversity when your experience is both knowingly and unknowingly excluding other types of people and their experiences. Books are definitely no exception to this – and more work definitely needs to be more inclusive.

What kind of representation would you like to see more of? Not just in books but in movies, comics – any kind of media you consume on a daily basis (including blogs!).

As a side note, I’ve entered into a giveaway with a chance to win an ipad 2! I’ll link to it here, in case you’re interested in winning one as well. The contest ends September 30th and by October 2nd, you’ll find out who won! LAMFinances – giveaway

Why I Don’t Support Polyamory

While watching The Office, I found myself disgusted by the overt displays of jealousy and insecurity between the Karen, Jim and Pam triangle. At times Karen was overtly rude and tried to police both Jim and Pam’s feelings in order to create her own comfort level. She tried (and failed) to control the situation. This also happened when Roy attempted to attack Jim (out of a sense of possession) and was often overtly aggressive toward Jim because of his attraction to Pam.

Some people might suggest that this is a pretty typical – albeit unhealthy – response to perceived infidelity. Neither

Flickr credit to: Igsinden

characters physically cheated on their partners and Pam insisted on staying with Roy despite their stark incompatibilities.

Granted, The Office is a fictitious example, but I would say that these relationships aren’t too far removed from the reality that they’re based on. According to this article published at Madame Noire, “Is Monogamy Really Possible?”, it suggests that because over 50% of both men and women admit to cheating; does that mean monogamy isn’t a viable option? Should more people begin to explore polyamory to curb cheating?

This implies that cheating is primarily sexual, not emotional or mental, which plays down the severity of a cheating spouse. For me, cheating is a sign of great personal weakness. It means you know so little about yourself that you are unable (or unwilling) to address issues of unhappiness. In Atlas Shrugged, Hank Rearden cheated on his wife for two years with Dagny for very similar reasons. He was attracted to Dagny, but he didn’t completely understand why. He was no longer attracted to his wife, but he didn’t completely understand why.

He divorced his wife when he realized what it was about their marriage (and her) that he had grown to dislike.

The very act of cheating (or wanting to cheat) is about escaping reality, not wanting to admit what’s wrong. I firmly believe that if more people had deeper self-introspective skills, cheating would be less of an occurrence. You would know immediately when and why a relationship ceased to be valuable to you, and you could come up with solutions. But by cheating, you’re admitting to yourself and the world that you’re too afraid of confronting any inner, personal truths.

Cheating is a personal choice, not en evolutionary one. 

Some might herald polyamory as preferable because the atmosphere creates one of open communication – which monogamous couples notoriously lack. But I sincerely believe that the perceived emotional perks of polyamory are achievable in monogamous relationships. Honesty, trust, communication – there is a reason why some people have been happily married for decades. 

So, what happens when you’re faced with a healthy, and fully functioning relationship? Do you pursue this with just one person or multiple people?

And there – we have the element of choice.

Here are some other blog posts that discuss this:

1. Eat the Damn Cake – “Fidelity – how big of a deal should it be?”

 

2. The Lion’s Historian – “a letter to the monogamous masses”

3. Arielle Loren – “Double gender standards: polyamory vs polygamy”

What about you? What you do believe in terms of polyamory, cheating, monogamy?

 

 

 

Stopping Street Harassment

I was probably 16, I remember because I was living in Long Island at the time.

Whenever I would go out, the Mexicans in their vans full of grass clippings would honk and holler at me. I remember not really understanding why. I told a friend about it – she said it happened to her too and I was shocked because she didn’t seem the type guys would cat-call over. Though, of course, neither was I.

For years, I ignored it because I had no idea what was going on or why. I assumed mindless things – like the fact that I’m black or walking down the street – induced the honking.

Flickr credit to: womenspeakproject

Though it continued to happen and perplex me, I had no words to really describe what I was experiencing. Until I was perusing on twitter and discovered it: street harassment. Where women are sexually harassed on a near daily basis but as I started hearing about other women’s stories, I realized that it was much worse than just honking.

Women on twitter talked endlessly about their dangerous situations. Many women commented on being followed by men, cornered (even in public spaces), or being touched. Some of these men – if not most of them – continued to make lewd comments at the women as they walked down the street. It’s difficult for me to really paint a picture of what these women experienced because I have never had those types of encounters. Perhaps it’s pure luck that no one ever threatened me with violence for rejecting them. Threatened to kill, rape or maim me because I said no.

There are some posts I have found through reading other’s blogs: “The Time I felt I couldn’t Hollaback” by Abigail Ekue at Random Musings and “Long Walk: Street Harassment” by The Feminist Griote.

Unfortunately, I can’t really expand much on the discussion – I’m nowhere near as knowledgeable about street harassment as other women, nor have I experienced it outside of leering and rude comments made to me as men walked by. It’s a product of patriarchy, where even in public spaces women have no rights. Where we’re objectified and told that we need to do specific things to curtail this behavior, that it’s our responsibility to control men. It’s part of sexism that says that men are wild beasts who lack impulse control, and it’s other women who reinforce this mentality.

But there’s a great blog managed by Holly Kearl. You can read even more stories from women, who experience this world wide phenomenon.

If you’re a woman, have you ever experienced street (sexual) harassment? If you’re a guy, have you ever told someone to leave that woman alone? Why or why not?

Stopping street harassment requires the participation of both men and women. Find out what you can do. 

La Petite Mort

The French have a unique term for orgasms. They call it, “La Petite Mort”. 

Flickr: credit to SalaBoli

I learned about sex through porn.

I didn’t get the sex talk when I was younger, which isn’t all that atypical, especially as many parents struggle with how to broach the topic with their teens. So, I suppose it was a mixed blessings of sorts that I graduated from high school, totally unawares that people my age had sex. (So college was a huge eye opener!)

Naturally, I became insatiably fascinated. With my steady consummation of porn since fourteen and evolving expertise with masturbation, I sought out all the sex stories I could find. So when my friends told me that they hadn’t experienced an orgasm, I wanted to dive in and help them understand the awesomeness of self-stimulation. And when another said that sex wasn’t that big of a deal and I wanted to discuss the possibility of tantric sex with her.

But in a world where experience is king, I often felt my lack of actual sexual experience [with another person] invalidated my opinions. Who am I to talk about sex when I’m not even getting laid? Anything I said, seemed to fall on deaf ears; I wasn’t considered an expert on sex. Which, I think, is a fundamental problem when trying to discuss sexuality. Sexuality isn’t just for men and women who are already having sex, but it’s also very much for people who are still virgins: either through chance or circumstance.

Unless you’re an asexual, your sexual preferences make up a huge part of who you are. This isn’t about labels or limiting beliefs about who we’re attracted to – but if each of us is a sexual being, then our relationship with our sexuality is paramount. Which is why I’ve been singing the praises of masturbation since forever. I always marvel at women who wait until marriage to have sex yet have never even touched themselves. If you’re afraid to get down there, how can you expect someone else to?

But it’s not just about having sex with yourself, it’s about personal empowerment when you can finally take your sexuality into your own hands. Not having to rely on another person to give you pleasure is the ultimate form of freedom. I believe strongly in establishing who you are so that you’ll never need [or want] another person to complete you.

Masturbation is key on the path to one’s sexual liberation and personal empowerment – but where does one find quality material? I believe in the power of porn, and once you find the good stuff, you can’t go back! Porn is an excellent and safe avenue for exploring your sexuality in the privacy of your own personal space. But finding quality porn can be difficult, if you don’t know where to look (or if you don’t know what you’re looking for). But I’ve saved you the trouble. Bear in mind though, I have unique preferences that other people might not have, and these links reflect that. 

Check it out:

1. I Feel Myself : Focuses primarily on women/women relationships (though there are some male/female ones) and masturbation. That’s a referral link: so if two of you sign up, I get a free month at the site! 

2. Beautiful Agony : A site where you just see the faces of both men and women while they’re orgasming.

3. Crash Pad Series : A site that’s been nominated as feminist porn! Here’s a quote from the front page:

Here you’ll find real dyke porn, lesbians, femme on femme, boi, stud, genderqueer and trans-masculine performers, transwomen, transmen, queer men and women engaging in authentic queer sexuality, whether it is with safer sex, strap-on sex, cocksucking, kink and bdsm,, gender play and fluidity, and always authentic orgasms.

They do provide free samples, although ultimately you’ll have to pay for complete access. 

Porn gets a bad rap, but once you find the quality stuff, you’ll realize how amazing and female-friendly a lot of it is.

What is your relationship like to your own sexuality? How old were you when you got “The Talk”? If you did, at all.

How About Some Link Love?

Recently, I noticed that some white bloggers tend to really highlight other white bloggers. It bothers me because it makes me feel like that maybe there aren’t as many black popular bloggers or that white people just don’t really pay attention to them. So I figured that I could link you guys to some black female blogs I’ve discovered and really enjoy reading. They’re all a little bit different.

1. The Writerbabe Series by Raven Moore. She’s switching her blog up a bit, writing about the things she loves the most; video games, her upcoming wedding, anime, arts & crafts to name a few. Her latest post is about adult swim! Is Adult Swim the Internet of Television? Her twitter: Writerbabe.

2. A Black Girl’s Guide to Weightloss by Erika Nicole Kendall. She writes about weight loss, exercise, healthy eating, being black, body image – everything! Her latest post is Body Image, Self-Worth & Sexuality: Dark Skin, a new Documentary. Her twitter: inetespionage.

3. Aconerlycoleman and The Sojourner Project by Arianna Marie. Her blog(s) talk about human sex trafficking, being black, African, human rights, social change and other sorts of awesomeness. Her latest post on the former blog is: Am I Free? and on the latter, it’s Are Diaspora Remittances A Solution to Africa’s Underdevelopment? Her twitter: A. Marie.

4. Arielle Loren! She blogs about sexuality, gender race, traveling to name a few. She even has her own documentary about bisexual men and a Q&A series on youtube where she answers questions on sexuality. Her twitter: Arielle Loren.

5. Tami at What Tami Said. She blogs about things I find insanely interesting: black culture, media, feminism to name a few. Her latest post: Putting the White into Multiculturalism. Her twitter: Whattamisaid.

 

So please check all these people out! They’re totally awesome and their stuff is magnificent.