Musings on Life for the Queerly Inclined

Archive for the ‘pop culture’ Category

Let’s Talk about Sex! (Unless Your Name is Dan Savage)

Hello!  It has been an age since I’ve posted anything, which I guess is proof that I have a life outside of the internet.  Good to know.  But now, at long last, I’m back and, as usual, full of thoughts about quirks and oppression in pop culture.

Last week I received an email from a friend that contained three words and a link: “ugh, dan savage.”  For anyone who knows me or has spent more than five minutes perusing this blog, you’ll know that “ugh, Dan Savage” is a common reaction in my life.  The self-proclaimed (and self-aggrandizing) spokesperson for the LGBTQ+ communities and writer of the Savage Love sex column is perpetually on my shit list.

But wait, Dan Savage is a gay man trying to increase visibility of LGBTQ+ peeps.  Don’t you support him?

[TW: discussion of oppression and survivor-blaming]

Funny you should ask.  No, absolutely not.  In fact, I think Dan Savage should shut up and get out of the public eye ASAP.  He has a long history of being incredibly biphobic, trans*phobic, racist, anti-asexual, misogynistic (among other nasty, oppressive qualities) and mocking survivors of rape.  Whenever he’s called out (which happens frequently), he becomes defensive and attacks the people who’ve criticized him.  So no, I don’t support him.  If you are unfamiliar with these incidents, may I suggest Google:

Dan Savage is

You clearly don’t have to type very much before you’re well on your way.  If you want even faster results, a record of various shitty incidents and commentary can be found at Fuck No, Dan Savage!  Beyond perpetuating a swath of oppressions, I think Savage gives really terrible, shaming sex/love/relationship advice.  On the occasions I’ve read his columns, I’ve usually wound up feeling ostracized on behalf of the people who’ve sought his help.  Not good.

Consider the article that my friend sent me, thereby prompting this post:

“I no longer believe that most bisexuals wind up in [“opposite-sex” relationships] because you’re all liars and cheats, or that you’re all dying to access societal perks reserved for heterosexuals, or that you’re all cowards and it’s hard out here for a homo. I think most bisexuals wind up in heterosexual relationships because most bisexuals are mostly hetero. You may be physically attracted to both sexes, but most of you can only fall in love with an opposite-sex partner.

“…before angry bisexuals start pounding away at their keyboards, consider this: My current position on bisexuals winding up with opposite-sex partners (you’re mostly straight) is a hell of a lot more charitable than my previous position (you’re cowards, liars, cheats, etc.).”

Excuse you…WHAT?!  Some things:

  1. What are “opposite-sex” relationships?  There can’t be opposites if there are more than two options.  Casual reminder that intersex folks exist.
  2. Thank you, gay individual, for asserting that you know more about bisexual folks’ experiences of their sexuality than they do.
  3. “Angry bisexuals”–yes, anyone who calls you out for invalidating their identity is simply angry and their concerns should be written off.
  4. “My new disgusting stance is more charitable than my old disgusting one” is not an appropriate or convincing argument.  He’s openly admitting that his views are shitty, but isn’t remotely apologizing for them.  He’s simply moving onto new biphobic accusations.
  5. Yet again, bisexuals apparently need external validation before their sexuality can be considered authentic.  Thank goodness Dan Savage is here to give a stamp of approval…or not.

But wait, isn’t Dan Savage kinda a tiny bit right?  Some bisexuals are probably in relationships that appear straight because it’s more socially acceptable!

I mean…yeah.  That’s most likely true.  So?  Bisexuals certainly aren’t the only people who choose their partners based in part on social acceptability.  Like, not at all.  Furthermore, your partner(s) are your business and you could have any number of reasons for choosing them.  As long as you aren’t being actively shitty/oppressive to marginalized groups, I don’t care all that much.  My #1 goal isn’t for every LGBTQIAP+ person to come out publicly.  Being out looks different for different people and is a highly personal decision.  I’m far more concerned by people like Dan Savage who–out or not–are doing a lot of damage to other members of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as to folks of color (cuz POCs are totally more homophobic than whites and their homophobia is totally a bigger problem than racism *vomit*).

Why did I originally start writing this post?

Believe it or not, my original goal was not just to chew out Dan Savage and his politics.  After discussion of the initial article, my friend asked if I had any suggestions of better sex columnists.  I must admit: I don’t read much sex/love/relationship advice online or off, so I don’t have an extensive list to provide right off the bat.  That being said…

  • Scarleteen covers a wide range of topics from sex “how-to”s to sexual health, relationships, navigating doctor’s appointments, and more!  Geared toward young people.
  • Early to Bed is “Chicago’s first women-owned, women-oriented, boy-friendly, queer and trans-positive sex shop.”  The website and blog also include a ton of sex advice.
  • Early to Rise is an online affiliate store, geared toward men.  More sex advice and tips abound.  I’m not as familiar with this site, because most of it’s not relevant to me/my relationships, but I trust the Early to Bed folks, so I’d give Early to Rise a look.
  • My Sex Professor: I know one of the bloggers, so I’m mostly familiar with her pieces.  The site has a lot of great info, but as I was looking through contributors’ bios, I noticed that almost all are white women.  Just putting that out there, as it’s bound to affect content at some point.
  • Good Vibrations: Good Vibes is a toy store, so you guessed it–much (but not all) of their advice section pertains to sex toys.
  • What else?

This is not my area of expertise, but I’m sure some of y’all have great suggestions.  Have you found helpful blogs/vlogs/books/magazine columns that address healthy sex, sexuality, and/or relationships?  Please comment with your recommendations.  Spread the resources!

Last, but certainly not least: no sex-related blog post would be complete without a totally unoriginal, but oh-so-necessary reference to Salt-n-Pepa.  So here I go:

Summer Nights are for Women; Steel is for Men

Those of you who know me in real life know how much I love deodorant.  Okay, okay, I don’t have some weird obsession with anti-perspirants; I’m just fascinated by the names.  First of all, they’re completely ridiculous.  What do “summer nights” and “playa” smell like exactly?  Second, the names are incredibly gendered, or at least the packaging would suggest as much.  Take a stroll through CVS’s deo aisle and you’ll see a selection of small pastel containers bearing names like “warm rain,” “summer stroll,” and “allure.”  Across the aisle will be larger, squarer containers in black, forest green, and fiery red: “swagger,” “phoenix,” “steel,” “pulse,” and “manliest man who ever manned.”  (I may have made that last one up, but I’m sure you’ll agree that it fits right in.)  Apparently “convict,” “recovery,” and “instinct” are other branded scents.

On a recent shopping excursion, I discovered that “romance” smells disgusting to me and “escape” is great.  Hold on while I go ponder my life…

 

This week I discovered a new favorite soap: “falling rain.”  Let’s be clear now–this does not evoke the rain rushing through the cracks in your driveway.  It’s not the muddied water pooling in the sandbox and obscuring the toy truck than Janine left behind at recess.  It’s falling.  Interestingly enough, this soap smells suspiciously like peppermint.  Who has peppermint rain?  Please come forward.

So what’s the deal with deodorant marketing?  In case you hadn’t noticed, deodorants (and soaps, shampoos, and other toiletries) marketed toward women cost more.  Not only that, they come in smaller packages, so they’re ultimately much more expensive.  This problem is exacerbated by the number of individual products that are marketed to women, where combo products (all-in-one shampoo/conditioner/body wash) are advertised for men.  Women are paid less (hello, people, the pay gap is still alive and well!) and conditioned to pay more for our products.

So what is it we’re paying for?  What makes the difference?  Turquoise packaging and cosmetics industry employees who sit in far away offices devising names like falling rain.

Hey, I Just Saw This! And This Is Crazy!

I would like to address an event that’s near and dear to our hearts–read: a raging controversy in some circles and up for passionate debate–the Miss USA pageant.  Yes, that one, run by Donald “These are the most beautiful women…oh and I guess I should say they’re smart too…did I mention I’m rich?” Trump.  I’m not gonna dissect pageant culture right now, except to say that the whole discussion of beauty standards still applies (except that, ya know, there’s no androgyny in this line-up).  Instead, I’m gonna jump right into the important stuff: they made a music video.  That’s right, all the contestants dusted off their mime skills, busted out their best dance moves, and jammed to Carly Rae Jepsen’s musical classic.  As Carly Rae would say, you should know that, so if you have no idea what I’m referencing, go watch and then continue reading.


1. South Carolina is wearing gold sequins.  Approve.

2. I love NY because she’s miming/dancing like she lives for these moments (0:29) and I’m liking the bold purple and green~~props to you, NY.

3. Who is the awk man at 1:29 (boy band import?) and, more importantly, 1:57?  Anybody else reminded of a bad werewolf impression?

4. New Mexico is working it while riding backwards on an escalator (1:41).  Skills.

5. If I were in this, I would be Virginia at 1:48.  Yep.  All of the time.

6. Oh heeeeeeey there 1:26.  Can we talk about the massive dose of queerness that just popped up?  Now they’re dancing at 2:45~~this is love.

7. There are matching bikinis.

8. Dear Donald Trump, until you came into this video, I did not miss you at all.  Why the awk cameo at the end?  You’re fired.

My Life Is Rough

WordPress tells me that I have readers in the USA, the UK, Pakistan, Germany, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico.  Welcome, everyone!  Now to business.  I would like to draw upon your collective creativity and knowledge to help me solve a most urgent problem.  *drum roll*  How can I watch The L Word without being subjected to the outrageous shenanigans of Jenny Schecter?  She starts off okay, but by halfway through the series, she needs to go.  By the final season, she’s unbearable.  As Diane Schipley wrote in The Guardian in 2009, “the death of whiny egomaniac Jenny was probably long overdue.”  (That does not need a spoiler warning–season six premiered three and a half years ago.)  Suggestions?

My solution?  Bypass The L Word all together and instead watch Noah’s Arc.  So many gay men.  So much awkward flirting.  Let’s see how long I can stick with that.  It’s dramatic and entertaining, but the patronizing macho power plays really put me off.

On to the good things in my life:

1. I actually made breakfast.  Real “I’m home now and have access to a fully stocked kitchen and super fabulous professional stove” breakfast.  The house was filled with the sugary scents of cinnamon rosemary artisan French toast, stewed bananas on the side, all sprinkled with crushed pecans and drizzled with maple syrup.  Last night I had pennette with homemade pesto (my mom grows basil).  There’s also been an exponential increase in the amount of homemade guac and chips since I returned home.  I’ve missed cooking…

2. My mom (of her own accord) bought the new Allison Bechdel book: Are You My Mother?  I promptly stole borrowed it.

3. This.  All of this.  Who’s in Chicago?  Hit me up.  We’re gonna find out who these people are (already got one of them), where they are, and when we can party it up with them.  Let’s go drink champagne and get you laid.

Chicago Wins…Again

Fuck Modesty~~It’s a Social Construct Anyway

Who’s heard One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful”?  Everyone who’s turned on a radio or been subjected to someone else’s in the past year, your hands should be up.  For those of you not intimately familiar with the lyrical prowess of this artistic masterpiece, it includes such confessions as: “The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed.”  Oh yeah–they went there.  Heavy stuff.

For real though, let’s talk about this song.  Specifically the final message of the piece: “You don’t know you’re beautiful.  That’s what makes you beautiful.”  Umm…really?  The person to whom the song is directed (presumably a young woman) is described as shy and she “smile[s] at the ground.”  Her beauty comes from her immense modesty and even insecurity, the implication being that if she were aware of these things, she would be less attractive.  Hmmm.  I feel similarly about Orianthi’s “According to You”, which is all about deriving a sense of worth and attractiveness from another person (read: a man telling a woman that she’s good enough).

These examples follow a long tradition of popular media that perpetuate the notion that women must be attractive, but excessively modest.  Beauty is presented as external attributes combined with self-conscious body language.  (I’m telling you, people, these numbers rank up there with Beethoven’s 5th).  Everywhere are messages telling us–especially women–to be more self-critical, to rely more on other people for validation, rather than developing our own senses of pride and accomplishment.  Where are the songs that extol self-confidence and self-sufficiency?  Confirming one’s own wondrousness, whether or not one has a date?  When these songs do appear, they often still rely on someone else’s gaze i.e. “You hurt me and now I’m finally coming back to show you how much better I am alone” (aka Kelly Clarkson’s go-to song).  What if you’re always straight up fantastic?

On the flip side, if these songs help some people feel better about themselves, that’s great.  I guess what I’m trying to tell you is…my #1 hit (which will, of course, debut at the top of the charts) will be called “I’m fucking fabulous and y’all besta deal with that.”  It’s time for everyone to rock their own marvelousness without fear.

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