Here’s a nice, inspiring video for your Sunday. Legalize Love!
Here’s a nice, inspiring video for your Sunday. Legalize Love!
am currently traveling in South America, visiting with my
girlfriend who has been living in Brazil. While spending a lazy
evening in Buenos Aires, Argentina, my host put in a DVD of Star
Wars: El Imperio Contraataca (The Empire Strikes Back). After
watching this epic movie and eating many handful of Rocklets, his
girlfriend suggested we watch a movie for “us girls” (meaning her,
my girlfriend, and me) and popped in “The Sweetest Thing”
starring Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate, and Selma Blair. I
remember watching this movie as a tween and enjoying it. But this
time, I could barely even laugh (except when a car ran over a
mannequin). Here are some not-so-sweet aspects of the movie:
First, I have to address the lesbian jokes, which peppered the
abysmal script every few minutes. It seems as though the
lesbian jokes fell into a few tropes: if a woman isn’t interested
in me (a man), she must be a lesbian; calling a woman a lesbian is
the ultimate insult; lesbians are sexy and we should not respect
their relationships as real; lesbians are softball bat-wielding,
terribly dressed aggressors; it’s funny to put two fingers
straddling ones mouth and wiggle your tongue.
In addition to the overwhelming lesbian material (and yet this
movie was not called “The Lesbian Thing”), the women in the movie
only talked about sex with men (failing the Bechdel test)
and called one another whores, the men only taunted each other by
calling one another gay, and even the supporting cast and extras
were overwhelmingly tall, thin, and White. Lastly, a discount Betty
White in one scene soured the whole experience.
Perhaps this not a surprise to anyone. Of course Star Wars is a
better movie than The Sweetest Thing. However, what disturbed
me the most was how poorly the film represented me and the USA and
that this type of humor was read onto my body and experience. My
Argentinian friend loved and laughed at this American export,
complete with oppressive representations of love, sex, race, beauty
and sexual orientation. And that is the least sweet thing.
Recently I was at a friend’s house and one of her neighbors
stopped by. The neighbor is a drinking buddy of hers. We got to
chatting, and once the neighbor found out the gender of my partner, he
asked if I was bisexual. I said I was. I’m much more comfortable with
saying I’m bisexual than lesbian, since lesbian is at least 50%
inaccurate. I would’ve preferred queer, but overall I was hoping we
could move on to topics other than my sexuality.
The neighbor proceeded to offer me his number because he liked the
idea of “being the filling in a titty sandwich.” (Sigh.) I just said,
“If I ever need some filling I’ll keep it in mind,” and then tried to
change the subject. There is a lot that is annoying about this. The
level of assumption, and that it seemed really automatic, something he
was just compelled to say anytime he ran into a bisexual girl. It was a
really half-hearted, depressing come-on that felt more like putting me
in my place than any actual desire to pick me up.
The neighbor then went on to tell me how he was super into having sex
with old white ladies and about how his 13-year-old son is getting into
masturbation, and about how he liked masturbating to Dr. Dre when he
was that age. I was doing my best to extricate myself from the
conversation and go home when the he said something along the lines of,
“I don’t get why they have to be that way at pride. You know, so
I should’ve just gone home, but instead I took the bait and tried to
talk to him about how not everyone’s goal is to assimilate into white,
heterosexual culture (and it shouldn’t be), and how the people at Pride
were expressing themselves the way they wanted to. And how my favorite
thing about Pride was the fun, outlandish ways people expressed
The neighbor wasn’t having any of that and was pretty much of the
opinion that those people should be ashamed of themselves for hurting
the acceptance of mainstream gays. I didn’t inquire too deeply into who
he meant by “those people” because I didn’t even want to know.
I don’t know what the point is of me writing this interaction down.
It’s been a week and I’m still thinking about it. I think what was
disturbing about it was that we had this whole conversation under the
guise that we were all friends, but he clearly wasn’t my friend, didn’t
get me and seemed like he was being gross on purpose. If he hadn’t been
the neighbor of a friend there’s no way I would’ve put up with half of
what he said.
I’ve spent the last week being pretty hard on myself for not being
more direct with this guy. Part of it was not wanting to start anything
with someone I might have to see again socially.
Another factor is that one of my side effects of working at a sex toy
store for years is that I sometimes don’t notice when a conversation is
getting creepy. I have a pretty intense auto-filter that dismisses
gross language like background noise. It made it easier to do my job,
easier to help people find what they needed or flip through adult
magazines while eating lunch.
There’s nothing wrong with talking about masturbation or your
masturbation habits or who you’re attracted to or what you tell your
kids about sex, but where the creepy happens is blurting all of that out
to a person who you just objectified who you know nothing about. Also
the neighbor was really into making spurting ejaculation sound effects,
which just felt excessive. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I like to have
some sort of basis of a relationship with someone before I get into the
details of my sex life or hear about the details of theirs.
My friend seemed horrified that this was happening and somehow I was
still just sitting there, trying to have an intellectual talk with this
guy about assimilation. I felt like I should stay and change his mind,
but the thing is, he didn’t give a fuck about me or what I thought and
just wanted someone to talk at. At least that’s how it seemed.
This happened a week ago and I went from feeling mildly amused by the
interaction to bummed out and embarrassed. I felt stupid for listening
to this guy talk and for thinking that somehow what I said to him made
any difference. When I left I even said, “Nice meeting you,” which is
possibly my biggest regret. I feel like I set this guy up to think that
this is an acceptable way to behave around people he’s just met, which
it’s not, and that I enjoyed my time with him, which I didn’t. So maybe
that’s the real reason I’m writing this blog. Just in case someone like
him reads it.
So in case anyone who is reading this needs it, here’s the sum-up of my points:
1. Don’t objectify strangers, or anyone, unless you know that’s something that person specifically wants from you.
2. Bisexuals don’t automatically want to have sex with you. Just
because gender is not my basis for who I choose to have sex with,
doesn’t mean I’m not picky.
3. Get to know someone before you launch into diatribes about your sex life, your kid’s sex life or anything that personal.
4. There’s very few people who like ejaculation sound effects and if
we did want a sound effect we could create it in our own minds based on
past experience or imagination. Unnecessary.
5. Don’t ever talk about “those people”. No matter who you’re talking about it’s going to be offensive.
6. Not everyone’s goal is to fit in or assimilate into white,
heterosexual culture and it is not your job to police people who “don’t
fit” according to you.
7. When someone says, “Nice meeting you.” They might not mean it. I didn’t mean it.
back in the unseasonable warmth of february (hello, record temperatures)
i decided that turning my fourth of july into a five-day weekend would
be a good use of p.t.o. this proved to be true, as i was later
invited to a friend’s family cabin with ten other lovely people that
very weekend. we journeyed to the woods of wisconsin to drink
beer, eat meat, shoot fireworks, and dance to drake.
an excellent time was had by all, but there was a group consensus
based on pit stops for food, beer, and gas that small town wisconsinites
were not feeling us. like, really not feeling us. i personally
felt i was getting more side eye than mary-kate olsen and olivier
sarkozy (probably) do strolling through the city of lights. it
could just be paranoia brought on by certain aspects of rural midwestern
culture, despite the fact that i’ve come to expect them, such as the
ubiquitous anti-choice billboards. the first one i noticed was a little
different than most, in that it shared half its space with an ad for
cremation services, as if to say “we are constantly thinking this whole
(what we think is the) life cycle ALL THE WAY THROUGH.”
while we are certainly a lively bunch, we are also far from
obnoxious, our politeness and hygiene both impeccable.
nevertheless, it felt as if we were immediately recognized as
liberal, city dwelling outsiders and subsequently treated with an air of
disdain. what i imagined them thinking was something along the
lines of, “we’re red. you’re blue. and purple doesn’t exist in this
country, so we hate you.”
full disclosure, i’m smack dab in the middle of franzen’s freedom, so
competing notions of freedom and the uglier memories of the bush jr.
administration have been occupying my mind a bit more than usual lately.
but even if that hadn’t been the case, the following picture of
what i found in a gas station ladies room still would have sent me right
the french freedom tickler. now, as i’m sure most of you
remember, back in 2003 when the u.s. decided to invade iraq, our french
friends were strongly opposed and expressed this opposition loudly in
the united nations. this led to some americans boycotting french
goods and, to really drive their point home, alter the name of perhaps
our most beloved fried food, french fries, to freedom fries. as
far as i know, this phenomenon was relatively short lived, but the
evidence of its existence still lives on in google image search:
i can only imagine that the maker of the french freedom tickler
thought that, unlike with fries, to completely replace “french” with
“freedom” might prove too confusing for people, and they would pass on
buying it. so what they did instead, that clever person, was put
the word “french” up in the corner, ablaze in the fire held by the very
statue that the french themselves gave us in 1886. how does that liberté
“tickle her fancy with the real thing,” the tickler proclaims,
because everything real exists on american soil. and just in case
you weren’t sure you were buying what you think you were buying adjacent
to the coin-operated condom dispenser, they put “adult novelty” at the
bottom. for those of you who don’t know, this phrase is a rather
abhorrent one, because (in the united states) by selling products in
this particular category, you are entitled to all sorts of legal
loopholes that let you sell (cheap) toys that people insert into their
most private of parts containing b.p.a. and other shitty chemicals and
can also be totally porous and unsterilizable, allowing bacteria and
s.t.i.s to be fruitful and multiply (and, if you share them, shared!).
LET FREEDOM RING!
this trip to the ladies room made me sad at first, thinking that
perhaps the only “novelty” to speak of in this town was a sad,
heteronormative freedom tickler. then i remembered it’s the 21st century
and started to recall other things that made me think i shouldn’t fret
so. like how there are a great number of sex toy stores that are
decent and don’t sell shitty toys and, most importantly, sell shit
online. i thought back to my own days working in such an
establishment, and how i would smile a little when i would see that some
finely-crafted leather cuffs or high-quality dildo were being sent to
someone in bumfuck (pun intended) america. even target now sells a number of vibrators and (generally vibrating) cock rings in stores and online.
while this may or may not seem like a huge deal to you, i’m sure that
the people of alabama certainly appreciate it, seeing as how in
2009, the alabama supreme court upheld their ban on the sale of sex toys in
a 7-2 decision. so, you know, feel free to sell and stockpile weapons,
but pack up your leather harnesses and butt plugs and get the fuck out
of here. this is what freedom sounds like in alabama:
public morality can still serve as a legitimate rational basis
for regulating commercial activity, which is not a private activity,”
associate justice michael f. bolin wrote in the majority opinion.
there is nothing `private’ or `consensual’ about the advertising and sale of a dildo,’” the majority opinion said.
after reflecting on ideas of sexual freedom in this country, i took a
moment to be grateful to live in a time and place where i can choose to
have sex only for recreation and not for procreation and can buy a
variety of birth control methods and sex toys, not to mention get an
abortion should that birth control fail. this doesn’t mean that i
don’t hope for much, much better for the people of america when it comes
to having a nuanced and fully informed grasp of human sexuality, but i
do want to appreciate the battles that were fought to get us to where we
now, for the proof that i really was in wisconsin, the leinie lounger:
if my hair had been as long as it was a few weeks ago, i might have even tried a freedom braid:
I got a recent email from Minnesotans United for All Families talking about the broad coalition
they have formed to defeat the marriage amendment. This coalition
includes everyone from General Mills to the Minneapolis School Board and
all kinds of businesses, churches, and non-profits. The other side may
have their allies, but it’s clear that many are fighting to prevent
discrimination from being written into Minnesota’s constitution.
Reading that email made me think about a New York Times article
I saw about the North Carolina vote to ban gay marriage and about the
sole Fortune 500 company that fought against the ban. The New York Times
reported that Replacements Limited,
which sells new and used dinnerware online, “lobbied legislators,
contributed money to causes supporting gay marriage, rented a billboard
along the interstate near its headquarters, and sold T-shirts at its
Replacements Limited faced backlash and loss of business, receiving
angry letters and emails from people canceling their business with the
company. I think what strikes me about this is the commitment to
stand for what you think is right regardless of the financial
consequences. Bob Page, the company owner told the New York Times, “I’m
always concerned I will hurt our business. I know we have lost business.
But I don’t have a board or shareholders I have to answer to. My life
is not about money.”
The vote is over in North Carolina
and the voters chose to amend the constitution to ban gay marriage. But
Replacements Limited took a stand against the amendment when other
large businesses deemed it too risky. I wanted to write this blog
because I think about the stand Replacements Limited took and I want
them to succeed because of it. I want there to be an evident reward for
standing up and doing the right thing instead of the easy thing, staying
I don’t know if any of you are in the market for some used or new dinnerware, but if you are, buy from Replacements Limited.
They chose to fight the good fight regardless of it being popular or
profitable and I want them to see just how many people are with them on
the right side of the issue.
On that same note, support General Mills. Marriage Amendment supporters have been organizing a boycott of their products and it’s important to let General Mills know that the stand they took is no small thing.
I’ve known about the general awesomeness of Family Tree Clinic for a while, but I’ve only recently become aware of their LGBTQ Health Initiative.
As Family Tree discusses on its website, “Family Tree Clinic is
committed to improving the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender, and queer individuals through affordable, respectful sexual
health care and education.”
It’s a good place to get tested, get an annual exam, and/or generally
look after your sexual health. If you’ve been putting off taking care
of your sexual health because you hate having to justify or discuss your
body/gender/sexuality with your doctor, ditch them and go to Family
Tree instead. (This is advice I also need to take. My doctor is always
shitty to me about my weight and somehow I still end up going to see
They even have fertility and conception classes
that are specifically oriented towards LGBTQ people. So, if you’re
looking to get knocked up, Family Tree is the place to get information
from people who won’t assume they know your gender identity or sexual
orientation. Their next LGBTQ fertility seminar is coming up July 12.