Category Archives: sex

That LGBT Thing & Writing Guidelines

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Benson Kua, Wikimedia

This post probably won’t be what you think it is. It’s about writing and my submission guidelines for Alice Unbound but it’s about more than that. The above letters refer to people of various gender preferences or identities. It’s also called QUILTBAG, for ease of remembering the letters in the acronym.

It is very common to now see a statement in submission guidelines that states something like: “Submissions from the QUILTBAG community are accepted/encouraged/not discriminated against.” The words vary but the intent is the same: inclusion. That’s the basis, though I’m not sure of the full evolution of this in terms of writing.

As some point in the past, someone or some people felt there was a prejudice against  gay or lesbian people or those identifying with any other version of gender identity. I’m going to state this here first, though I’m sure to offend someone. I’m an egalitarian. I believe in equal rights and the same treatment for all people. Now I’ve judged and juried several writing competitions and awards, edited some magazines/zines and a couple of anthologies. And even before I did any of these things I was a reader. Never did I choose to read a person because of their color, their gender or who they liked to have sex with. In fact, the latter especially is none of my business. I read because I liked the story and I went back to the same author because I liked their style.

As an editor and juror, I read for great stories first. I may know by a person’s name whether they’re female or male, but not necessarily. I don’t know if they’re a person of color or if they’re gay and asexual, or bi-curious, or bi, or gender fluid. And really, as far as I’m concerned, it does not matter. I’ve never submitted a story and said, hey, I’m a white girl whose Italian mother was ostracized by my father’s Scandinavian family, and I’m bisexual but only like black guys and white women. (Some of this statement is true and some is fiction, but again, it doesn’t matter. Some of that statement could be valid in submission, if the magazine only published Italian writers, or people of color. And likewise, the anthology I’m editing must have Canadian or residents of Canada as writers.) It is nobody’s business and has absolutely nothing to do with my writing. I also would feel uncomfortable stating any of this while submitting to an anthology/magazine, because I want my story to be chosen on its merit; not who I know, who I bed or how I identify.

Now, I’m not saying that there has been no prejudice. There probably has been in some cases or some areas. I just have lived in a bubble and don’t know about it overall but I don’t know every magazine out there. But an editor reading relatively unknowns from different geographies isn’t going to know these things about a person, unless that person is already known to them, or tells them. So where does this prevalence for guidelines saying “LGBT welcome” come from? I’m not sure. Some is general gender awareness and the rise of equality for gay and lesbian rights, and then more awareness of other gender identities/preferences. It’s only natural that it would get tagged into something as powerful as writing. And in the speculative genre, some might say that there has been a predominance of white Amerocentric characters, while at the same time, and long ago, speculative fiction was one of the first places where strong female characters and other types of sexual relationships were explored, even if it was once white men only writing them (and Samuel Delaney). Robert Heinlein was a product of his times but he was exploring identity and genders in his own way decades ago. Spec fiction has always been open to pushing boundaries. And yes, some female writers started out with male names to stop any prejudice against women.

This blog piece has evolved from comments on a thread where I posted the guidelines and someone said, why list this LGBQT stuff? At the same time, another person said editors were lazy for posting this and should solicit people directly. So let’s address that aspect.

If I have open submissions and the anthology is not invitational, then to solicit specifically from a transgendered person, or a gay person means I’m giving preferential treatment over other people. It’s an open submission and I’m an egalitarian. Second, editors don’t always have time to solicit this person and that. I’d have to start researching writers I know of, as opposed to those just starting out where there would be little to research, to find out who is gender fluid, transgender, asexual, bi, gay, lesbian, etc. to solicit a story from each of them. And I’m sure to leave someone out and cause more ill feeling. And then what about the hetero people, or cisgender? By being equal and fair, I list the guidelines so anyone can submit. Just send great stories.

Well then, why are you encouraging QUILTBAG in your guidelines? Because, if you don’t these days, someone is sure to attack you as being prejudiced. And in Canada, many small presses receive grant funding from provinces and the federal gov’t. Those governing bodies also require fair and equal attention to all types of writers. The statement is pretty much standard. So, if anyone of color or whatever gender identity feels like they might be ostracized or blacklisted, this tells them that they are not. And again, I’m really not going to know 99% of people’s gender identities or preferences.

Lion and unicorn, Alice, Through the Looking Glass

Lion or unicorn, or girl, you’re welcome to submit to Alice Unbound. Sir John Tenniel illustration.

In the end, as I’ve said before, I read for good stories. I don’t even read the submission letters first, and I don’t care who you have sex with. And please, don’t tell me. I don’t need to know. It’s none of my business and I will not reject or buy your story because you are any of the above. However, sometimes for those grants, if the publisher says, yes we had three transgendered writers, then that might help with more grant funding. Exile Editions actually has authors sign (voluntarily) a form that discloses if they are a minority of any type, but it doesn’t affect my selection.

And to those who decided to call editors lazy, try being an editor first before you make that statement. To close this post, I’ll state again, I’m an egalitarian. I don’t care who you are, or how you identify. I care that I have the best stories to emulate the premise for Alice Unbound.

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Fetishes, Flaming and Facts

A few weeks ago an extremely popular, Canadian interview host, Jian Ghomeshi, was fired from CBC radio. When this first happened, CBC said it was because of information they had received about Ghomeshi. Well, that was rather mysterious. I point out that I also heard this on CBC Radio, not on another station. (I don’t have TV so I get my news by listening to radio.) Then Ghomeshi put out a  statement that he has a kinky lifestyle and indulges in bondage and domination, and that CBC found this “sexual behavior was unbecoming of a prominent host.”

Jian Ghomeshi, rape culture, sexual abuse, kinky lifestyle

Ghomeshi in the Q studio. From: http://www.blogto.com

Jian Ghomeshi hosted the popular radio show called Q. He interviewed many famous personages from writers and politicians to actors and singers. The interviews were good, with depth and Ghomeshi asked good questions. He received at least one award for his interviews. For those who watched the filmed versions, Ghomeshi had charm and women found him cute, handsome or some other mysterious mix of enticing.

Now, it’s a known fact that our current, super, ultra right-wing, Conservative government thinks the arts only consist of artists standing around in evening gowns and tuxes sipping champagne (to paraphrase a comment from our prime minster), which shows the lack of reality in how tough it is for artists to make a living and the disconnect  when even political speeches and political party branding come from artists. It’s also known that Prime Minster Harper is trying to muzzle scientists and get rid of the CBC by drastic funding cuts. These days I’ve heard the same program as many as three times in one week, due to these cuts. Q and The Current are two radio shows that through their popularity have survived so far.

Now, because Prime Minster Harper’s strict and religious roots tend to show from time to time (and unlike the US, Canada has not mixed religion and politics) and from what looked like the unveiling of Ghomeshi’s sexual practices and CBC’s vagueness, it seemed pretty clear what had happened.

I posted the following on my public facebook page:

So CBC fires Jian Ghomeshi because he leads an alternative lifestyle. So what! Let’s get this right. He is not a criminal and hasn’t been charged with anything. This is the same as CBC firing someone because they’re gay, or single, or married, or like to do it in the missionary position. It’s no one’s business.

Let’s not mention how the Harper government has stripped CBC of programming so badly that the nakedness of this national broadcasting station is far more shameful. And as Pierre Trudeau once said, and CBC exec, you should pay attention: “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.”

And what can I say…the vitriol started to fly. Remember, this was within 24-48 hours of the initial news and it sounded like he didn’t meet their ideal of upright citizen.

One response was this (language alert):

God, I am so sick and fucking tired of seeing this unexamined argument. The CBC fired Ghomeshi because he’s under journalistic (and not far off from a criminal) investigation into multiple instances of rape and a host of things too foul to mention. Ghomeshi is not the injured party.

At this point what I had heard on CBC Radio was that there was no criminal investigation, no mention of rape and no mention of things too foul to mention (Iif they weren’t mentioned, how do we know they are foul?). I have to say I wasn’t doggedly digging up every article coming out and I don’t live in Toronto, so perhaps the super irate people were glued to their media devices (I was at work). I thought it unfair to fire someone on hearsay of a possible kinky and consensual lifestyle as it was presented. I said, what happened to innocent until proven guilty and got even more anger.

…you’ve got the wrong end of the stick, and … actually, fuck it. I’m done. You go do whatever you want.

So, okay…the conversation had only just begun but obviously, according to some people, I’d thrown in with Jian Ghomeshi. More people made it sound like I hadn’t a clue about the world, that abuse doesn’t always go reported, that I thought rape was good, that I didn’t care about women’s rights. No one said this but they sure implied it. I responded with the following (if you want the full thread you can find me on facebook and read it):

Let’s put it this way. Let’s say you jam olives up your nose. While most people don’t (do this) and more don’t like it, it’s not illegal. However someone tells your employer that you’re an olive jammer and you’re fired on the spot, because they don’t like it and it’s shameful. Now let’s say you stomp olives and that’s illegal. Well then you’ll be charged and the courts will rule accordingly. Should you be fired while it’s going on, even if you only sell hot dogs or collect garbage? And yeah, Rob Ford wasn’t fired. They couldn’t wedge him out.

If Ghomeshi is guilty or if there is enough evidence then he’ll be charged for a crime. However, the CBC firing someone because of an alternative lifestyle is no different to when the gov’t used to check up on women on welfare in the 40s to make sure they didn’t have boyfriends. It’s about rights (and yes if women didn’t consent and were abused, that’s an abuse of rights) but the right to free speech and the right to having sex however you like it is there for everyone, unless it harms someone, unless it’s consensual. And sorry, but no matter what the courts say there are many many people who have relationships that are “kinky” however you define it and that’s consensual whether you or I like it or not.

Someone then said well yes, you can fire people before they’re charged and posted about the guy who was fired as a CEO because there was a video of him kicking his dog in an elevator. However, that’s tangible evidence…a video. At this point it was CBC and Ghomeshi saying he’d been fired because of the sexual practices. It was not yet clear on how much CBC knew or believed.

If anyone has a doubt about how I feel about women’s rights and sexual abuse and if anyone even presumes to think that I think this okay, then they’re guilty of jumping to conclusions. I was defending human rights based on what I heard, reported by the radio broadcaster that fired Ghomeshi. Perhaps people should think before they grab pitchforks and torches. I’ve been sexually abused by my father and I can say I never shed a tear when that monster died. I’ve spoken about rape culture and sexual abuse in such posts as “She Dressed that Way; She Must Have Wanted It,” and “Rape; It’s Just a Social Media Trend.” So if someone thinks I support sexual abuse, then they don’t know a thing about me.

Since I posted, something like eight women have come forward with allegations that Ghomeshi’s sexual practices were not consensual. I have only heard one interview and while it seems no one was raped, they were assaulted in other ways. I could be wrong about this. I haven’t seen the reports. That’s a lot of people,  even without hard evidence. Witnesses are used in trial and there could very well be a body of information to convict him.  I never said he was innocent except for saying he wasn’t a criminal when CBC was extremely vague about why they fired him. I was defending a person’s rights to be innocent until proven guilty. I saw an infringement on the rights of someone to an alternative lifestyle, not an infringement due to sexual abuse which was as yet not made clear. And now, CBC execs have given more information.

I wonder about Ghomeshi. Someone of his fame indulging in a fetish lifestyle that left marks would have needed to be extra careful. And I know people of many walks of life and of different lifestyles. Some sexual practices aren’t for the faint of heart but there are people who pursue and like variations that might be “too foul to mention” for others. As I’ve always said, if it’s consensual, then it’s no one else’s business. But I”ll stress. IT MUST BE CONSENSUAL (and of legal age).

If Ghomeshi is guilty of abuse, then he must have been arrogant and narcissistic to think something like this wouldn’t surface. Either that, or he wanted to be caught. Either way, the courts will decide. However, it is true that many women never voice the threats and abuse that have happened to them. My father got away with it. And it’s complicated why he wasn’t brought to trial. There were others who were too damaged to go through that. I’ve seen what a trial can do to a woman who was raped, how it’s made to seem that she enticed, that she flaunted, that she taunted, that she was the guilty party. I will never condone sexual abuse, and I’m pretty insulted that people presumed that about me and conflated my comments about human rights with supposedly supporting sexual abuse.

If I’ve made enemies, that’s fine. I’m glad that we have people running trials and gathering evidence. Otherwise, I might already have been lynched by misconceptions. Ghomeshi is on trial on many levels already. This has shed a light on the fact that rape culture still runs rampant, that women are still blamed when they are raped. Let’s not even get into other cultures and how a woman can be stoned if she’s raped or called a slut. It makes my blood boil.

I will however say again, that if someone was fired because they were into spanking, or bondage, or master-slave relationships that were consensual that they have that right to do in their own home as they wish with adult and consenting partners. You and I don’t need to like it. We might find it too foul to mention but that’s not a reason for a person to lose their job. Our private lives are our rights and gay and lesbian culture and relationships were once treated as being too foul to mention.

 

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Writing: Sexist SF Covers

sexist, feminism, objectifying women, sex sells

This made me laugh but it outlines the extreme of the difference between the way women are portrayed to men in comics and SF covers. Read this article for more insight.

I’ve talked about this before, the blatant objectification of women on book covers or in comic books. In my distant past I worked at (and edited a newsletter) a comic book and science fiction bookstore. There have always been comments in the comic book industry of the scantily clad women or those in skintight outfits, revealing every curve, indentation and nipple though they were supposedly wearing a costume that wasn’t painted on. In those days I made several relevant comments that while there was sexism of the women, there was also sexism of the men.

Superheros are made of heroic or amazonian proportions in almost all cases and all you have to do is talk to any professional comic artist to confirm this. A man or woman is more than you or me. They are perfectly built, well-muscled, super agile, larger than life. While the man package may not be emphasized as much in those tights because its considered too in-your-face (and indeed the ancient Greeks thought the small penis was the modicum of civilized decorum), a woman with larger than life, gravity-defying boobs (I use “boobs” intentionally here) is the norm. Most comic books are still geared toward the adolescent boy who is preoccupied with his growing awareness of the other (or same) sex, and of games. (Or so I’m told.)

I read a lot of comics and I always sneered at the improbable poses of women in stilettos with gaping holes in their costumes and nipples ready to tear through the fabric but who could still perform death-defying feats. You can find other posts on my site about superhero costumes.

book covers, SF, comic books, objectifying women, sexism, victims, submissive women

Jim Hines makes fun of SF covers that objectify women but he does it for a good cause.

But as we go on to book covers, I remember good old Red Sonja. She was Conan’s female counterpart, wore a chainmail bikini and carried a sword. Now I want to point out that Conan wore little more than a fur loincloth himself so they  were equally unarmored and nearly nekkid.

But this title transitions us to book covers, where Conan books and comic books existed. There were the infamous Gor books in the 70s an 80s and after awhile I refused to bring them into the bookstore because not only did they objectify women on the cover, the stories were also all about slave women victims.

Whereas comic books have their heroes of each gender portrayed in their form revealing outfits, and women jutting out body parts that would kill their backs, SF covers tend to  have a still larger imbalance with more women depicted as sexy whatevers than men. Writer Jim Hines has tried to point this out by doing  poses as seen on SF covers. They’re hilarious but he’s proving a point. While many SF covers now portray other things, creatures or events, women are still disproportionately exemplified as sexy, sexy and a victim, sexy and deadly. Female warriors still get to wear less armor than males.

sexist poses, sexploitation, Jim Hines, objectifying women

I cannot do better than just showing what Hines is doing. Go read his blog.

Jim Hines has pointed out that even something as innocuous (we think) as a woman just standing and facing the viewer on a cover can still be sexist. And indeed, every pose has a chest thrust out or a hip cocked with a hand on it. Basically all women must be vixens who can seduce you to death or maintain sexy while maiming you. This includes pop tops, midriffs, short skirts, high heels and cleavage.

While there is some improvement since the early days of SF, there is also some regression with Hollywood’s and advertising’s attempt to sexualize everything! Pulp covers are one thing, but there is still room for a lot of improvement in today’s fiction covers. Next time you pick up a fantasy or SF book see if you can spot the sexploitation.

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Gender Stereotypes and Food Don’t Mix

mancakes, cupcakes, food, baking, confections, gender stereotyping, taste, savory food

Bacon chili chocolate ManCake. Women, don’t touch!

Imagine this scenario; a woman is perusing the menu at a cafe and the waiter comes to take her order.

Woman: I’ll just have a coffee, black and the Whiskey Lime cupcake.
Waiter: I’m sorry ma’am, I can’t do that.
Woman: You can’t do that?
Waiter: No, sorry.
Woman: Why?
Waiter: Those are ManCakes. We can only serve them to men. And I’m afraid that only men drink their coffee black. I’d have to bring you cream.
Woman: What! I can’t have this cupcake because it’s only for men?
Waiter: Might I suggest the strawberry cupcake with cream cheese frosting and sprinkles?
Woman: Sprinkles?
Waiter: Yes, women eat those sorts of things.
Woman: Forget it. Just bring me a scotch.
Waiter: Sorry, can’t do that. That’s a man’s drink. Might I suggest a daquiri?
Woman: You know Hemingway drank that, don’t you?
Waiter: Pardon me?
Woman: What about that man over there? He’s eating a cupcake with sprinkles and sipping a drink with an umbrella in it.
Waiter: Oh, he’s not a man.
Woman: What?
Waiter: He said his name is Genevieve and he’s a woman so “she” received the woman’s cupcake.
Woman: Fine. Call me George and bring me a double scotch. And the friggin Rum and Coke ManCake.
Waiter: Do you really want to mix your drinks?
Woman: Just bring them!
Waiter: Right away, sir.

 

food, cupcakes, mancakes, manly food, gender stereotypes, eating, taste

Manly man food according to DragonBeak at Deviantart.com RaRrrgh!

Building on the sadness of yesterday’s discovery is another port closer to home that makes ManCakes. Sigh. And in fact, now that I found them, my comment about the radio announcer saying they were invented to be more manly actually refers to these ManCakes and not the ManPies. Whereas yesterday’s diatribe was about manly meat and other savory pies, today’s is about cupcakes that will not be called such a thing. Because, as the Port Coquitlam bakery’s creators (down as only Geoff and Jeremy) say of their previous buying experiences, “Shortly after purchasing these cupcakes we became acutely aware that we are men, and that we have taste buds. We don’t want frilly cupcakes with inches of icing smeared on top.”

So these poor guys didn’t even know they were men until they bit into a frilly cupcake. Perhaps they should have removed the paper lace doily first. And then those dastardly cupcakes of the frilly and overly iced variety awoke their taste buds, because, from that statement above, it seems that women don’t have taste buds.

manly man, food, eating, real men, cupcakes, baking, mancakes     Don't manly men

Don’t manly men want to eat babies and raw meat and dirt? Image of Sebastien Chabal by Pauce Photography

Remember how I commented on advertising gone bad? These guys actually move above ManPies by a mile. While the site shows some pretty interesting and delicious looking cupcakes, the whole manly man complaint just doesn’t wash and actually offends me. When I look at those cupcakes, I see many flavors that I’d be interested in trying and I’m not really a cupcake person.  I’m not a bacon person either but I know many women who are. Pink peppercorn and grapefruit, chocolate red wine and bacon chili chocolate (Chocolate base filled with ancho chili chocolate buttercream, topped with vanilla buttercream and crumbled bacon) all sound worth trying to me.

So why this need to say that women only want sprinkles and frills and things made gooey sweet but with no “concern for what tastes good instead of what just looks good”? Seriously, guys? Sounds like someone’s bought into the advertising hype. I get pretty tired of finding that cider is sweetened up to be what producers think women want to drink. In fact, I tried a rather sad, new restaurant/pub last night where when I asked about ciders the waitress told me that they had Smirnotff Ice, which is in no way a cider. Seriously, perhaps women in their 20s like the gooey sweet stuff but not all do of any age or any particular gender. Please don’t perpetuate this gender stereotyping. I detest it.

Like the ManPies people, these guys will probably do very well because well, food sells, and people like good and interesting food. Notice that I said “people” and not men nor women. I’d would try these cupcake (and really, guys, a rose by any other name is still a rose) because they sound interesting even though I’ve only ever entered one cupcake factory and that was in Seattle. I know one of my male friends once reverently carried a cupcake all the way back to Maine with him and he seems pretty manly to me.

I’m looking forward to seeing a new revolution of gender foods. I can’t wait to see the Woman Steak and the Girl Ribs. Yumm yumm, the zombies will be especially thrilled.

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Filed under consumer affairs, Culture, food, sex

Miss Universe Should Be Miss Trophy Wife

jenna tacklokova, sexism, women, beauty pageants

Jenna Tacklokova walks the razor’s edge between equality and sexism. Photo: Model Mayhem. com

Jenna Talackova, Vancouver’s representative for the Miss Universe Canada pageant has made headlines recently because she was disqualified as not being genetically female. Genetically, some women will be more female or male than others, as will men. And while her gene pool designated her as male at birth she obviously never felt or believed she was male. Could you tell whether my female friend or I was more genetically female? And really,  why did it matter what she was born as if she is a woman today?

Because the veneer of depth to any beauty pageant is as thin as the fact that these are set up as a shopping mall for rich men. What? You think this isn’t true? Have you looked at what they’re judged on? At least they call it a beauty pageant. Just check out the wiki entry, which outlines that you’re judged on poise in a bathing suit and in an evening gown. Why not business attire and casual clothes? They added in a tough question or two that contestants have to answer on goals, dreams, ethics, maybe favorite fruit, but that’s supposed to give some depth while trends indicate the organizers have dropped the emphasis in recent years. So really, it’s about the prettiest flower in the bouquet. Even if most of these women are intelligent and achieving great things in their own right, such a pageant put greater emphasis on the coating than on the interior.

beauty pageant, miss universe, sexual exploitation, sexism, miss universe canada

A beauty pageant of a different sort. This one’s for perfect spines, but they still used women. Life photo archive–Wallace Kirkland 1956

sexism, beauty pageants, exploitation, bigotry, beauty

Beauty pageants like to keep women in their place, as ornaments and chattel. Creative Commons

Is it so wrong to be judged on beauty? I guess it depends. I’ve already commented on the severe wrongness of the toddler beauty pageants; at least these people are adults, even if they have to jump through hoops. We all like beautiful things and are drawn to the good looking people or animals or resorts or dinners. And while beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the beholden tend towards certain standards. The Mr. Universe “pageant” seems to just be about body building so one could say it’s all about the body as well. But let’s get back to the transgendered Jenna. Originally she was disqualified because she wasn’t female enough. Why on earth would it matter when she looks like a woman and has all the body parts of a woman? You can’t be Miss Universe if you have children or are married, either. Oh heck, here’s what the site says: They must not have ever been married, not had a marriage annulled nor given birth to, or parented, a child. The titleholders are also required to remain single throughout their reign. Now why might these restrictions make a difference to the title of Miss Universe? Well, if you’re pregnant you might have to drop out of your one-year tour of duty. But married, divorced or having a boyfriend/girlfriend (they don’t mention that you must be straight)–well gosh, if you had a relationship, then all those RICH MEN might not think that you can be theirs. And all those men would FREAK OUT if they thought they were chatting up a potential trophy wife who might once have had the same tackle as what dangles between their legs.

I don’t think we should make this equal and start parading men for their body parts either. I believe that Vancouver once moved away in the past from teen beauty pageants and then just had youth ambassadors, who could be any gender. That makes more sense. Judge people as a whole, not on that thin veneer that will wrinkle and age like anyone else’s. Your merits, intelligence and demeanor can last longer than ephemeral beauty.

Miss Bala, beauty pageant, sexism, female exploitation, womens rights

Miss Bala was a movie about a fixed beauty pageant and how a woman gets victimized as the winner and is a drug lord’s mule.

Miss Bala was a gritty movie about a woman who wins a fixed contest because the winner is nothing more than a sex and drug puppet for the local drug lord. On one hand I give Ms Talackova kudos for slapping the Miss Universe (and Donald Trump) organizers upside the head. On the other, I ask why she’s bowing to these exploitative conventions, except that life can be very hard for transgendered people and there is a lot of prejudice out there, so if she can get some money and positive attention, that could make a big difference. When the organizers disqualified her for not being female enough I wonder if they also looked at those who have botox, breast implants, any sort of reductions or cosmetic surgery, false eyelashes or even makeup. After all, what’s true beauty? It’s what resides within that matters most.

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Another Stupid Way to Objectify Women

lingerie football, sexism, discrimination, chauvinism, objectification, women's sports

Women are still the butt of society’s joke. Creative Commons: John Pozadzides flickr

The news recently reported that Vancouver would be subjected to a new sport. Well, not really a new sport but played a new way. Lingerie Football. I do not kid you. It seems that the only way for women to actually get to play the sport is take off their clothes. The organizer, a man, was most serious about how these women had sports skills (they could run, they could throw) but really, if you have half-disrobed them what exactly are you hoping people will watch?

Is this the only way that people will watch women’s sports, if they’re objectified and showing titillating bits of flesh? One friend said, “Well, they have a choice in joining, don’t they?” He couldn’t see anything wrong in this. Let’s look at a few problems: if you happen to be the best runner or catcher ever but you’re a stocky woman, or not particularly beautiful, or missing the right curves for wearing skimpy underwear on the field, do you think you’ll be picked to play football? Is there even a woman’s team anywhere where they get to wear the protective football uniform? What else is wrong? Oh yeah, let’s go look at the sex kittens. Who cares if they can run or throw a ball; we’re not going to take them seriously anyway.

Sure, a woman can choose to join or not but it’s not putting this on par with men’s football, nor will it be considered a serious game. To think this is the only way women can play football galls me. Sure, women will volunteer for this. Many of us will do a lot for money. Sure, they’re not being forced, but a woman might wear a burka but not be forced to because it’s been drummed into her head that she should cover up (or be uncovered) while men can do as they please. It doesn’t make it right. I do not agree with any group that decides men and women should be allowed different rights. If this is the way football is going to be, then make the men run around in jock straps and runners only.

lingerie football, sexism, discrimination, chauvinism, objectification, women's sports

Men’s football gets shoulder pads, but women’s gets cleavage as well. Housey Lei, Design You Trust

Oh and let’s talk about the ludicrous, sexist costumes. They’re wearing uniform bikinis, I suppose,with runners, shoulder and knee padsand helmets. And then to make the utmost of stupidity and objectification there are adjustable garters (the straps for holding up stockings) and a garter around the leg. The men who organized this should be ashamed but they’re too idiotic to understand that this continues to put women in a category where even the police have said, don’t dress provocatively or you’ll get raped. The last is based on a real example in Canada and was yet another example of how the blame is placed with the woman.

The organizers are businessmen of course, exploiters of people, and they see it as a great money-making venture, as pimps always do. Now do not get me wrong, women and men should be able to dress up or down or sexy as they please. But it shouldn’t be a requirement for a place to work, as it often is. (Do the women at one of your restaurants/bars have to wear tight/short/skimpy/low-cut clothes as part of their “uniform?”)  Are there any men working the same job? This is just yet another case of where society considers women nothing but sexual victims (whether for rape or exploitation or coveted possessions). It’s not right and it certainly isn’t harmless. Any other job and it would be grounds for sexual discrimination or harassment. Consider that.

This makes me very angry and I would hope people would boycott it but I’ve found the masses to be self-centered, unthinking and as stupid as the organizers. Next up, watch for burka baseball or some other version of women sexually exploited for your viewing pleasure.

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Interesting Blog Demographics

blogging, writing, clicks, posting, blogs, internet searches, culture

Creative Commons: Kristina B flickr

You know all those fun stats that WordPress gives you if you write a blog; number of clicks per day, week, month and year, search items, posts clicked on, etc.?  Well, it’s really interesting to see trends or what people are interested in, though repeating it doesn’t always work. My first year or two I tried to write 5 days a week. Then I knocked it down to about 3 days a week. Sometimes what I write about may be topical, or just something I’ve been thinking about, but it’s not what others are reading about. Then suddenly, weeks or months later, the post takes off and gets a lot of views. I doubt I could predict what would have been the more popular posts.

If I had to guess I would have said sex, or what my government is doing to me and you. But like the Facebook cartoon that went around (it shows a person posting on serious things, government, political stuff and the post gets three “likes”, then they post on something inane, such as “I like frothy pink milkshakes” and they get 1,000 “likes”) it’s never what you think will be the hit.

My all-time top post is Rape: It’s Just a Social Media Trend, which just beats out the up-till-recent top post: Traveling in India: Betel Nut Adventures. When I look at the search criteria, people have been searching for “rape” and “betel nut.” I’m always a bit disturbed that so many people are searching out rape, and I wonder why. Is it to be informed, or worse, for some form of warped titillation? In a way I could possibly understand why betel nut might be my top post. After all, the population of India equals 17% of the world’s population.

Weekly totals tend to range but usually these two posts come out on top. This last week it switched to my recent The Skinny on Models, with anorexia being the search term. I’d like to think that this is because people are concerned about an eating disorder that’s being found in younger and younger children and is spreading too far in a society obsessed by looks.

Creative Commons: thisfragiletent.wordpress.com

I’m no big 15,000 hits a day blogger (yet) but it’s fascinating to see what hits the reader is attracted to immediately and what seems to gain interest over time, such as Starbucks and the Censored Mermaid and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Superhero Fashion. When The Only Good Thing About Snow was freshly pressed, it gained the most views in a single day to this date, but that tapered down.  I do find whenever I write about transit or the fact that people in greater Vancouver pay 33% taxes every time they park, whether in a parkade or on the street, or about Big Brother watching us, that no one seems to care. Alas. That also disturbs me because it indicates that we live in an age of complicity as well as hyper sexualization. While I’m not a prude, I’m still bothered by these connotations, at least as shown by internet searches.

My other top posts follow. You will see that many of them have to do with sex or sexualization in some way. But not all. I’m happy that people liked The Stones of Ireland: I as well. Oh, and I expect this post to not be popular because it’s dealing with statistics, not breasts or betel nut. 😉

TOP 13 POSTS

Rape: It’s Just a Social Media Trend

Traveling in India: Betel Nut Adventures

Home page (It’s hard to tell which posts these would be as it’s a daily change, every time I post.)

Starbucks and the Censored Mermaid (How did the Starbucks logo evolve and devolve?)

Incest, Betrayal and Genetic Sexual Attraction

The Only Good Thing About Snow (This one was freshly pressed.)

My Religion’s Better Than Yours

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Superhero Fashion

About Colleen (Yes, the about me page, which probably needs updating)

The Disturbing Trend of Sexifying Children (The creepy world of child beauty pageants.)

Tonsil Tales (My adventures on getting rid of my tonisls.)

The Stones of Ireland: I

Sexy Cartoons: the Cutesifying of Society

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Are Women’s Halloween Costumes All About Sex?

costumes, Dr. Who, daleks, racism, Halloween costumes,

A spoof on the STARS campaign by geek of the day

It seems I’ve put my travelogues on hold to comment on Halloween costumes. I already posted this week about whether Halloween costumes are racist or not if you wear one of an Arab sheikh or a Mexican farmer of 100 years ago, brought on by the STARS campaign against racism out of Ohio University. While I agree that some costumes are in poor taste, I don’t agree that dressing up as another ethnic group, in a historical, cultural context is necessarily bad nor disrespecting. Halloween is often about being what you’re not.

As I’m working on my own costume for Halloween (which could offend the French for all I know because of its historical context) I wandered into a Halloween costume shop and was a bit stunned to see what range of cheap costumes they had for women. Going to a few sites supports that the latest greatest fashion for women involves sex oozing out of every woven fiber.

Fairy tales have always been popular costumes, such as the characters of Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, witches, fairies, as well as superheroes, pirates, barmaids and fortune tellers. But something has happened to the costumes in the past few years. They’re almost all like hooker costumes (if you’re buying one). Men of course can wear full outfits but look at these following costumes, every skirt is short, stockings and garters and high heels. Tops are tight and cleavage abounding. Go to any major costume site on the internet and these images are there. The percentage varies but it’s as high as 90% sex costumes on some sites. Others might have other costumes for women but they’re still few. Really, if someone went to a prostitute some would have these very outfits for roleplaying scenarios. And I should mention that almost all superheroes are drawn with godly perfect proportions, and men and women are put into skin-tight affairs.

super girl, heroes, costumes, sex, sexy costumes, Halloween

Even Supergirl now has stockings and garters and cleavage spilling out.

costumes, sex, Halloween, sexy costumes, hookers

What happened to the rest of Red Riding Hood's dress?

costumes, sex, sexy costumes, Halloween, clothing, prostitutes,

Somebody chewed out parts of this queen's costume.

I’m not against sex or sexuality. Sex not only sells but it is indeed part of the human psyche. An animal’s need to procreate is strong in all creatures and we are just the human animal. However, when every costume becomes just another way to oversexualize a woman I do have to wonder. If I wear a full length costume, as I did for Little Bo Peep, am I not sexy? Should it even matter if I’m sexy? We’ve been inundated so much with the sex kitten image that we don’t even blink at it anymore and to me that’s more troublesome than if I dress up as someone from Mao’s army.

But that might just be me and in some ways, none of this is new. Way back when I was still in college and working at a local TV station as a stills photographer one of the directors had a party. It might not have been even for Halloween but it was costumed; you were supposed to come as a movie star. Well, not all the women wore sexy outfits but many of them did. Going against the tide, I donned a western shirt, cowboy hat and eyepatch. I stuffed a pillow in the shirt and practised my John Wayne voice and swagger. Even so, in the very crowded party, women would squeeze up to some man as I tried to get past  and would glare at me as if I was “stealing their man.”

Maybe it really is all about territories. I just really hope that women don’t have to be sex kittens 24/7. But for Halloween, well it really is about what you’re not so there you go, sexy outfits and with the popularity of zombies at the moment I guess some of these will become dead sexy.

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How to Bomb Out on Dating Sites

dating, love, dating sites, sex, men, chatting

Creative Commons by Motoyen (Flickr)

I’m in a state of singlehood at the moment, which some liken to being a leper while others might see as being a lion amongst a herd of gazelles. People often have different requirements on a dating site. Some want short-term dating, some long-term leading to a permanent relationship. Others want casual companions or to hook up with a bed buddy for the night. In the last situation you might start your online chat with, “Do you like it doggy style?”

But for me, there is no faster turnoff than a guy who doesn’t bother to chat about life, the universe and other intriguing things (notice I didn’t say “everything”) but instead begins with “I’m very physical. I like to cuddle/neck/be oral/snuggle/have a high libido/enjoy holding hands. What do you like?” To me, it’s rude and crass. Stick it in your profile, if you must. Often, we haven’t exchanged names yet so it’s like a guy on the street flashing open his trenchcoat.

If you met someone at a friend’s dinner party, would you start out saying, “Do you like it hard and fast or slow and soft?” Perhaps it’s suitable in some cases but in most it would be crossing a line way too soon. And without the benefit of alcohol when online (I presume here) it’s certainly a rude slap. A guy that starts with the 20 questions about sex may as well stick a picture of his penis up online as well. And if that’s all he can really think of to talk about he should just say he’s looking for sex. I couldn’t lose interest faster.

The other way to bomb in the dating field is to do another twenty questions about the age and ethnicity of guys I’ve dated. It’s one thing to know if I would date someone younger or older than me but another to want me to list their nationalities. In my bomb shelter I will hide from the barrage of such questions and wonder what the reason for asking is. If I’m willing to talk to a person younger or older and of any color it already shows I’ll likely date them. Listing every nationality or religion is bizarre.

I’d prefer not to be bombed with a multitude of questions but to trade questions and answers back and forth, even discussions about life and interests. Guys like the top two examples make me think they wouldn’t be good dating material because in one way or another they’re more hung up on sex than on relationships and on who to date by looks than just who is compatible. I do believe sex is part of a good partnership but it’s not all. If it was, I wouldn’t worry about being single or not. A great mind is more likely to get me into bed than a sex fiend is.

If you’re a guy or a woman and you think you’d like a relationship but all you can think to talk about is sex then I would suggest learning how to carry a conversation. You certainly don’t want to arrow in on the genitals in the first few chats online with someone. Unless a relationship is established, to me, it will always be crass. Those intimate questions are better left to discussions in person. If all you want is to have online sex, go for it. Just don’t bother chatting with me. Forget about love; let’s start with a decent conversation.

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The World’s Oldest Profession

prostitute, courtesan, hooker, prostitution, Greek, music

Wiki Commons: courtesan and musician w/client

It’s debatable as the oldest profession, but it’s also true that prostitution has been around for a very very long time. And undoubtedly there were probably forms of prostitution going back to Babylonian times. While there are Sumerian and Mesopotamian texts referring to prostitutes there is still great debate as to whether there were sacred prostitutes who gave themselves away for coin at various temples. There are many references to Aphrodite, Ishtar and Inanna, and Herodotus writes about the temple prostitutes for some of these goddesses, but some scholars debate the veracity of his words.

One thing is certain; as long as we have had men and women, there has been a need or a want for sex. And the trade has been plied in various cultures and various ways for millennia. The ancient Greeks differentiated between courtesans, concubines and wives: “we have courtesans for pleasure, concubines to provide for our daily needs, and our spouses to give us legitimate children and to be the faithful guardians of our home.” (Pseudo-Demosthenes) As with this comment it is obvious there were different classes of prostitutes. Pornai were often owned by pimps and therefore either slaves or indentured servants. Then there were hetaera, those we would associate with mistresses or courtesans. They didn’t sell to various customers but would have had a select clientele.

The hetaera could manage their own affairs, while the pornai would have possibly been dancers, musicians and/or women who had to sell themselves to survive because they had no pater familias to protect them. The world of the Greeks was not an easy place for a woman and for her to do anything she needed the protection of a man, unless she was of the select few who could run businesses and own property without a man’s permission (Vestal Virgins were one group in Roman times). Young girls and boys could also have been prostitutes, sold into it or born into it, and the world and culture were different then.

But has it changed much in the world today? Prostitutes who are “owned” by pimps are often still on the lower rung of the ladder, whereas call girls and courtesans rate higher, work with select clients and don’t have to be on the street. There are many people who get into prostitution because they are destitute, on drugs or suffered an abusive childhood (often including sexual assault). But there are some who prefer it, because, like the sacred prostitutes of long ago (some of them), they feel they are therapists, they like it or they enjoy the rewards they can reap, though like any job, work is work. There are those forced into it as child prostitutes. No one, no matter their age or gender should ever be forced to give or sell sex.

But should it be legalized? Yes. To do so would get it off of the streets…mostly (more on this in a minute). Sex workers could be certified, checked for diseases, housed in government brothels (just like cigarettes and alcohol, I can’t see how the government has passed up this opportunity for another vice tax), protected from pimps and dangerous johns. Those on the street would more likely be those underage and the police could haul them and the johns in for consorting with minors. It would literally clean up the streets and keep almost everyone else safer. Of course, there is always a grey area and the laws would have to be explicit as to how the prostitution would look, including laws about minors, people not in control of their faculties (drug addicts) and what is okay. But it can be done and places like Amsterdam and Nevada prove it.

To let outmoded religious beliefs of a few affect the sex trade is yet another case of forcing one’s morality on another. If it doesn’t hurt anyone, then it should be allowed. Let adults be adults and decide for themselves. And let’s do more to protect the numerous women out there so that they’re less likely to end up as a corpse in the woods or on Picton’s pig farm. Keeping prostitution illegal only hurts those who are in the trade and doesn’t even give them a better way out.

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