Monday, December 31, 2007

"Bi-Gendered" Relationships

This article kinda irks me. On the one hand we see that the writer is making a point about men and women friendships that can be platonic; an idea that is often brushed to the side. Meaning, our world is often set up dichotomously – men hang with men, and women hang with women. But this friendship is different; they are two genders that get along well, have good conversation, and yet, don’t want to sleep together. Wow. Unheard of, right? Of course I am being facetious here…anyone can be friends with anyone, but with all of the pressure to remain true to predefined (and gross) gender roles in society (i.e. the men play sports together, while the women shop for shoes together), it is often skeptical to see a man and a woman being friends and nothing more. And the comments posted to the article prove this skepticism:

“I think in certain ways you really want to date your friend Sean and try to sabotage his relationships,” one commenter writes.

“One day your friend will find a woman to love and that same relationship you have with him will dwindle as he transfers that part of his life to her. You're both wasting time. You need the courage to have a romantic authentic relationship with someone. Him too," another commenter remarked.

These comments are awful. They perpetuate the idea that men and women can have little in common/comfort if they are not sleeping together. The idea is very heteronormative in that it points to romance as being the ultimate goal between women and men.

And in other ways, the author herself irks me. She compares the relationship with her male friend as something that her female friends cannot give her. Is this because she thinks women are only “cheerleaders” who offer support, thereby perpetuating a common idea that all women are more nurturing then men? Or is it because the man in her life gives her “realistic” advice, as if to say that only men can offer real conclusion while women are somewhat floaty?

It is interesting that as much as we move forward towards equality, and the elimination of gender-role justification, these types of articles only seem to put a back-peddle on the progression.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ladies' Night

It’s Ladies Night, and that means those who society deems a lady get to waltz in to a bar (often for free), sit down at a stool and order greatly reduced drinks.

One has to wonder why these types of specials happen. Is it that the patriarch is finally realizing that women work damn hard and deserve alcohol in cheap quantity? Or is it because bars want to exude their finest chivalry by allowing women to enjoy life on the establishment’s dime? Or is it because bars want more men to come to the bar – maybe because of age-old stereotypes that man pay or drink more while out on the town?

A club in New York City is being sued for allowing such nights because it is discriminating towards men. A lawyer representing the bar makes many attempts to say that this is not the case, including pointing out restaurants that allow free/discounted food to those who are elderly or children. The lawyer also says how it can be better for men…

Vanessa R. Elliott, a lawyer representing the club AER Lounge, said in court papers Friday that nightclubs recognize that men might not want to visit the clubs if they fail to attract enough women. "Under this theory, male customers may actually benefit from ladies' nights in other ways and be encouraged to attend the club on those nights," she wrote.

Who is really benefiting here?

This type of lawsuit has been going on all around the country. In Denver one male customer won because, well, it does seem particularly sexist. The customer said it was unfair that he had to pay more to get in to the establishment, and he felt discriminated against. Rightfully so perhaps.

[As an aside, the NYC man suing has not been all too kind to feminists, which sucks because true feminists also believe that sexism is a two-way street..."What I’m trying to do now in my later years is fight everybody who violates my rights… the Feminazis have infiltrated institutions, and there’s been a transfer of rights from guys to girls.”]

One writer – who is a serious misogynist in “gentleman’s” clothing – says that men are not men if they can’t saddle up to a bar ready to pay. He goes on to say any man who presses such charges should lose their “status” as a man, and should no longer have the privilege of sleeping with any women. Wow. One can’t be a man if they feel that one way to stop perpetuating sexism is through the abolishment of such women-luring tactics?

What would be interesting, perhaps, is to do undercover work on what the bar considers a man to be – does it matter if they are straight or gay? What do these bars consider a lady? Are they only those who will catch the male gaze, maybe donning a skirt and cleavage-revealing top? Are they only feminine females? Are they heterosexual females? What happens if a masculine-identified lesbian woman walks up to the bar…does she get treated the same?

Important questions.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Proving One's Gender

We are a country made up of both science and religion, of which the two sides are often in contradiction. And while the powers-that-be contend that spiritual and faith-based beliefs are kept out of policy, many would argue that it has indeed permeated into the fabric of institutions, legislation and moral codes. And while religious folks essentially believe a story that has no real PROOF, although it may indeed bring faith and hope to people, they demand that anyone not conforming to their life code must PROVE themselves.

We are a society with a need for absolutism: the idea that we can prove something beyond a shadow of a doubt. For transgender folks, this proof lies within themselves – they feel it, they know it, and they want to live out the gender of their choosing. Yet, despite the fact that a higher power has not been PROVEN; many say that gender identification must be proven.

This article talks about a young man who is going through hormonal treatment, and will not be placed on his college dorm’s male floor because he has not “transitioned completely.” What does this really mean? If a person does not have surgery (coupled with hormones) to physically alter their body, does that discredit the fact that they have felt and known that they have identifiable (PROVABLE) needs including the desire to fully express themselves?

It is unfair, and incredible to me that our society is still stuck in this world where on the one hand people accept moral reasoning that stems from religious texts, while on the other hand requiring proof of one’s own identification. And of course, the worst part about this story is that even if this young man goes through with surgery, gender roles, and “biological presentation” sit at the forefront of many people’s minds, making it impossible to fully transition because so many just simply cannot accept it.

Advocates cited in the article explain this best:

“No surgery is going to remove the discomfort other people have,” said Will Carlson, Equality Utah's policy director. “It's important for people to face these stigma.”

Monday, December 17, 2007


The Tila Tequila show is pushing societal boundaries, as it pushes sexuality, and the freedom of being fluid in to the mainstream. It is like other dating shows where there are handfuls of folks vying for the love of a partner – in this case 16 men and 16 women who are seeking the affection of Tila, a woman who says she came out to the world via the TV program.

Discussion and articles about the idea of the identification of bisexuality have been thrust in to the forefront of conversation and Internet sensation because of the show, mainly because the concept has been long questioned – just like being queer has long been discussed as a choice.

Many say that bisexuality – for a woman anyway – is a trend, a way to turn on men. A valid argument. We live in a world where women are still objectified and marginalized, and the idea of a woman kissing another woman makes a man tingle…it is the ultimate fantasy for those who feel that two females could never be truly be in love with one another, but rather that they want to please the patriarch. Others say that bisexuality is a stepping-stone for those on their way to acceptance of being gay.

Tons of books can be purchased where women and men can read the trials and tribulations of being bi, and many discuss this concept. One book, “Bi Any Other Name,” opens with a cartoon:

Your lesbian friends: “Internalized homophobia won’t allow you to accept your lesbianism.”

Your straight friends: “Your interest in women is an attempt to avoid your fear of intimacy with men.”

Your mother: “You’re sick.”

While simple, these interpretations run the gamut of the ways in which society feels about not conforming to the hetero norms that the powers-that-be set up many moons ago. Women, in particular, are supposed to marry a man, have a career, take care of the home, raise children, and the like. Often, the question of bisexuality has been an argument against these “requirements” because coming out is a hard-thing to do, and many contend that parents, friends and society-at-large are more willing to accept this orientation because, well, there is still a chance that normativity can still be clinched. As if it’s only an experiment.

But for folks who identify as such, it’s not a joke, or a test. It’s real for them. And in fact I have heard that many people feel like they are marginalized in an already marginalized gay community. It’s an interesting dialogue that really may only be absolved (but then again maybe the topic of sexuality should never really end…we should continue to stretch our labels and boxes), if we can successfully break through the gender role glass ceiling.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Things We Want

I don't generally put my own thoughts here, but after seeing the "Things We Want" the other night at a small theater in midtown, (directed by Ethan Hawke and starring awesome actors from "Little Miss Sunshine" and "The Station Agent"), I wanted to write:

Ah, the quest for happiness. What is it? What does it feel like? Who does it feel like? Am I constantly in a state of change; ready to seek out the other, the one thing that doesn’t quite feel like right now? Do we all do that? Why do I lose sleep every night over all of things that I wish I had done, wish I had said? Why do I repeat this dialogue the next night – those last minute should have, could haves – instead of stepping up to the plate? Maybe that’s what dreams are for? How is that we obsess over things only to change, only to erase that product, that feeling, that comfort?

Fuck the questions, I want some answers.

I used to go shopping. Big shopping. I would drive to the grocery store; find just the perfect spot on the blacktop parking lot. List? Check. Cart? Check. Wallet in my right back pocket? Check. I’m there, sifting through product under fluorescent bulbs; a random person walking past on a cell phone, “Do we buy the toilet paper with hearts or zigzags?” I wonder what they bought. I choose the same things over and over again – some for me. Some for other. Those items, as if a metaphor for life, were always in the house. Pierogies? Check. Tortillas? Check. Biscuits? Check. Comfort. Love. Being aware, yet unaware of what we feed – physically and metaphorically – our bodies. Then one day, it’s gone. The smells don’t waft the same, and the drip of the coffee pot doesn’t percolate as long now that there are fewer cups to brew. It’s just life. Changing. New comfort, new smells. New favorites.

Life is kinda like my relationship with a frozen bag of brussel sprouts. The water would bubble, then boil, and one by one they would melt into the steam. They are good for us. The vitamins, the fiber. I used to eat them so much that one day, they smelled like feet. I remember one morning, just before the humidity hit its full peak. I sat there at the long cream and black table, salted the vegetable just so. Something was off. I gagged. I gagged again. I lost what little I ate. I never had them again. I wanted change. Now I eat peas.

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's Monday; We Could All Use A Good Laugh

Monday, December 3, 2007


Bullying can be a major road block for any kid, and thankfully some states are now taking punishment to a new level by drafting and enacting anti-bullying legislation.

And while there are many reasons specific kids are targeted, i.e. race or class, of particular concern are young LGBTQ students because thier identification may often be compounded by the color of their skin, their ethnicity, their religion, etc.

Cited in a Kansas newpsper article -- a state where anti-bullying laws go in to affect January 1, 2008 -- were statistics taken from a 2005 national survey about LGBTQ students:

• Three-fourths of students heard derogatory remarks frequently or often at school.
• More than a third of students experienced physical harassment.
• And lesbian and gay students were five times more likely than students in general to report having skipped school in the last month because of safety concerns.

However, despite mounting tales of young folks who have been savagely beaten, or intimidated, Kansas lawmakers say there is no need to specify LGBTQ bullying issues because it is already folded in to the general policy: “Superintendent Winston Brooks said the district's current policies and student code of conduct already prohibit such harassment, and that sexual orientation is not a protected class as defined by federal law.”


It is an unbelievable outrage that sexual orientation is not protected by federal power, and more so, that individual states would be so ignorant to want to go along with it.

This is especially true because there are numerous states and school districts that are not only saying that bullying is a problem, and that folks should be held accountable for their hateful actions, they are also saying that students, the administration, teachers and parents also need to look at the reasons behind the hate; learn to solve the problem through education; and to train everyone in LGBTQ human rights by shining light on the underlying heteronormativity U.S. society is grounded on.