Musings on Life for the Queerly Inclined

Posts tagged ‘sex’

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:

What is “female”? Womanhood, Racism, and the Olympic Games

The sports world has been abuzz recently over the case of Caster Semenya, a South African runner and 2012 Olympic hopeful.  Dubbed by some “the fastest woman in the world,” she’s now under investigation for not actually being a woman.  (Everyone’s bullshit detectors should’ve just perked up.)  These two articles break down the case against her.  Essentially, other runners and Olympic officials have accused her of having androgen levels in the “male range” (whatever that means–nobody seems eager to give a precise definition), which according to their logic, give her an unfair advantage over other female competitors.

Some clarifications and a couple huge issues:

1. Androgens are not just “male sex hormones.”  They’re found in all bodies, regardless of assigned sex.  Androgen levels are generally lower in FAAB bodies than MAAB* ones, but there’s variation from person to person.  Besides, Olympians are exceptional athletes, so what makes anyone think that the standards used for us mere mortals would apply?

2. Sex =/= gender.  We divide sports by sex, not gender, so everybody who’s saying that Semenya’s gender is being scientifically investigated needs to step off.  She says she’s a woman, so we’re going with that.

3. From my friend Leila, the BAMF ultimate frisbee player:

“Hormone levels are more indicative of one’s sex than one’s gender identity…A more feminine-presenting woman could have higher testosterone levels than a more masculine-presenting woman, yet is more likely to be left alone in the sports world since she might not fall prey to the traditional argument that sports turn women into butch lesbians.”

Yep, pretty much.  I don’t see the Olympic officials calling for mass testing of all athletes’ hormones in this particular way.  The International Olympic Committee’s new ruling speaks of “the investigated athlete” and describes the formal procedure of “Request[ing] a Female Hyperandrogenism Investiagtion.”  It seems as though other athletes and IOC medical officials can request the investigation of a specific athlete; otherwise no additional testing will take place.  This means only a few athletes will be singled out in this way.  Alienation, much?

4. Let us not ignore the fact that Semenya is a black South African and that North American/European standards of beauty (which have been pushed all over the world) are Eurocentric.  (That is not my controversial opinion; that is a fact.)   When standards of womanhood and femininity are defined by white women, according to phenotypically white features, women of color are the ones scrutinized for not being “womanly” enough.

5. More from the IOC: “women ruled ineligible to compete may opt to medically lower their androgen levels.”  Great.

Semenya may have high levels of androgens, but for the IOC to single her out for testing, state that she must medically interfere with her hormones if she doesn’t pass said testing, and (at the last minute–the Olympics start at the end of this month) threaten not to let her compete is more than unfair.

* FAAB: female assigned at birth; MAAB: male assigned at birth.  Not taking into account trans* people who may have taken hormones. The inclusion and categorization of trans* athletes is a whole other conversation that needs to be had.

Victoria’s Secret > Most Sex-Ed Courses

A couple days ago, I was in Victoria’s Secret.  First of all, let me say that I freakin’ love VS.  So many different types of people shop there, which makes for the best people watching/listening.  Too funny.  As anyone who’s a frequent VS shopper knows, the semi-annual sale just happened, so everything was hella marked down.  Rooting through a huge (and by that point completely disorganized) pile of sale merch?  Don’t mind if I do.

Amid the 5857193 shreds of lace and cotton, I came across something very interesting:

Practice makes perfect?  Hmmm.  “What are they getting at?” I wondered.  Is this a reminder that, despite the fairy-tale romanticized myth of one’s “first time” being a guaranteed magical experience, many people’s first time having is sex is honestly not the best?  Not the most comfortable?  Not the most self-assured?  Not perfect?

Is VS encouraging self-pleasure?  I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that will definitely get better with practice.  Is this a message to a partner, i.e. “with practice (and conversation) you will get to know my body better”?  Either way, I approve.

We’re stuck between abstinence-only sex-ed programs that demonize sex and media that tell us that we should all be having sex–and lots of it–and it should be great and we should inherently be amazing at it and what’s wrong with us if we aren’t???  It’s definitely time to slow down and actually have some critical conversations (especially with young people) about our bodies, sexual (and asexual) agency, communication, and consent.  Not just “no means no” consent, but “this is how to ask for what you want and really check in with your partners about what they want” consent.  Then the world might not be so full of panicked questions like this (and inane answers).

Another intriguing find:

Is VS promoting oral sex on women*?  When was the last time any mainstream media source or consumer advertising endorsed–or even mentioned–that?  Then again, maybe VS is just suggesting making out while practically naked.  I mean…that’s cool too.

*I acknowledge that it is my assumption that most people wearing VS items are women, though I’m sure there are others out there too.  You do you.

Incongruities

Put a Bird on It

This morning I woke up far too early (10:05am is the crack of dawn, okay??!) to the sound of what I presumed was a squeaky dog toy being compressed repeatedly outside my window.  “Make it stopppppppppp” my sleepy little grey cells moaned, “we want REM cycles, not shrill attacks on your ears!”  The noise grew louder and louder, until I could no longer take it and I dragged myself out of bed and to the nearest window.  (Let’s be real–this was about 16″ away.)  Opening the curtain, I saw a baby bird grasping the screen and calling out to the grey clouds above.  Instantly, my heart melted from “ugh” to “awwwww” and my singer’s brain snapped on, propelling me from “why can’t I just sleep forever?” to much more important questions like “how thin must its vocal cords be to allow it to produce such high, piercing notes?”

But the real question is: why is it only when I move back to the city, out of the middle of nowhere, that I’m awakened by a baby bird?

CoD: Call of Duty Crumble Old Dichotomies

Conversation with le brother (age 15, into video games…duh) yesterday:

Le bro: I just explained to one of my friends that there’s more than two genders and he was like, “whaaaaaa?”

Me: Wait, you explained this over the headset while playing?  How did that come up?

Le bro: He was registering for something and had to select male/female/other.  He was like, “Other?  Hahaha.”

Me in my head: I love the world.

Le bro: So I told him that yeah, you could be born biologically male or female, but that doesn’t define whether you’re a man or a woman or a different gender.

Me in my head: Wait, I really do love the world!

Me out loud: Wow, so what did he say to that?

Le bro: He was like, “Ummm, I’m gonna drop this conversation here.”

Me: Ya know what?  You were exactly right and hopefully he’ll think of that again some time in the future.

Me in my head: I HAVE CORRUPTED THIS KID SO WELL!!  Time to move on to phase two of casually schooling him in terms/concepts* he should know…

It gives me hope to know that somewhere out in the world, there are 10 or so people who are listening to a teenage CoD star tearing apart biological determinism and the gender binary, while all on secret missions to drive tanks through dangerous computerized terrain and blow things up.

*Next up: there are more sexes than male and female; bodies are assigned M/F at birth.  And why is CoD such a compelling game?

Psssst, Tamar! What is pansexuality?

I hear some of you wondering this across the vast reaches of the internet.  As much as I would like to release you to the wondrous world of the interwebs and tell you to get on Google and edumacate yourselves, in this case, that might lead somewhere unfortunate.  Periodically, I Google pansexual (as well as a slew of other gender and sexuality terms) just to see what would show up if I were trying to learn about these things for the first time.  The good news: in the last three and a half years (since I started doing this), definitions have expanded exponentially, thanks in large part to the blogosphere.  Now even Wikipedia is getting hip to the kids’ brand spankin’ new vocab words.  Still, I’m concerned about some of the “information” that’s out there.

According to Yahoo Answers’ “What is a pansexual?” page, “they are COOL PEOPLE.”  That’s lovely, dear, but not very helpful.  Other answers on this thread include “someone who’s unbelievably easy” and “sexually attracted to cookware.”  How I love the world today.

I cannot speak for all pan people–clearly, everyone experiences their sexuality differently–but here’s a good working definition.  Pansexuality means an attraction to people of many/all sexes and genders.  To clear up some common misconceptions: it doesn’t mean being attracted to/wanting to sleep with every single person all the time (how exhausting!), nor does it have anything to do with pedophilia or bestiality.  One phrase that I’ve seen tossed around a bunch is that pan people are “gender blind” and can’t see gender at all.  Excuse me, but…what??  To me, this sounds suspiciously like the people who claim to be “color blind” and unable to see race, when really they mean that they refuse to acknowledge it.  Am I attracted to people of many sexes and genders?  Yes.  Does this mean that I simply pass over these part of their identities and don’t notice them at all?  Absolutely not.  I just find different things to appreciate about various identities, so I’m not gonna discount anyone as a potential partner simply because of their sex or gender(s).  Everyone gets an equal chance in this regard.  If you can’t handle my obsessions with purple things and brie?  Well, that’s an entirely different story.

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