The Radical Notion

Encouraging women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians

Terminology (or, This Isn’t Sex), Pt. 2 February 27, 2010

Terminology (or, This Isn’t Sex), Pt. 1 found here.

Note: I briefly had this post under password protection, as it dealt with some personal/intimate details and feelings. If you read the post and have strong opinions on whether or not it should be publicly published, please drop me a line in the comments (I can delete your comment after if you want).

[trigger warning]

This is a continuation of the sentiments expressed in the other day’s post, Terminology (or, This Isn’t Sex). In it, I describe how when I was younger, I assumed pretty much any sexual media to be “sex-positive” and empowering, as some sort of “take that!” to the social conservative, decidedly sex-negative movement. I conflated objectification and rape apologism with empowerment and sexual freedom and agency, in part because none of the former words were in my vocabulary at the time. I discussed how the lack of feminist terminology in popular discourse, or the misunderstanding of same, leads to the phenomenon of all criticism of pornography, etc. being labeled as prudish and anachronistic, and had I realized that at least some of the criticism was based on ideas I would actually agreed with, I would have come to certain realizations much earlier.

Today, I’m going to discuss more thoughts about sex I had at that age and how they were influenced by popular culture and education, so this is your fair warning to leave if it’s something you’d rather not hear about (Hi, Mommy!).

When I was a teenager, one of the paramount themes in representations and discussions of relationships was sexual intimacy (shocker, I know). I was lucky enough not to be in an area of the country or religion where abstinence-only sex education or purity pledges abound, but the impressions I got were still mixed, at best. In discussions with health teachers, other adults, friends, and of course almost all popular media, the following messages were disseminated:

  • Teenage boys are the horniest creatures on the planet. They are perpetually masturbating, or thinking about it, and this is both completely acceptable and very funny. In almost no situation can a teenage boy control his sex drive, whether this means becoming aroused at an inappropriate times or trying to “get” sexual activity from a hesitant (female) partner.
  • Teenage girls are boy-crazy, but any sexual contact with said boys is a result of peer pressure. The vast majority of girls don’t masturbate, which is why any discussion of it is both rare and considered much more”shocking”. Teenage girls can’t control their emotions and fall hopelessly in love with boys at the drop of a hat, which leaves them vulnerable to being “made” to do something they’d rather not (have sex). This is not a funny thing in the same way that boys humping apple pies is, but the girls aren’t pitied very much either, because as the possessors of a lower libido they are the Designated Kill Switch for any teenage sexual activity, which is universally considered to be bad unless we’re just talking about boys having sex with nameless figures, in which case it’s cool and funny. Any girl who fails to properly control her boy’s sexual urges is to be blamed and shamed; any indication that she might have actually invited or (gasp!) wanted said sexual activity should lead to even more blaming and shaming. The terms “fast”, “loose”, “easy”, “whore”, and “slut” should be employed whenever describing a girl that someone thinks might have wanted sex, or had sex, or been “made” to have sex, and are universally acknowledged as the worst things a girl could ever be.

People were not entirely without sympathy for the female half of the population, though. We also received frequent admonitions and instructions on how and why we should “resist” our potential boyfriends’ inevitable (and inevitably unwelcome) sexual advances. I remember distinct moments in health class, for example, where we all discussed what we would say if our boyfriend told us “you would [have sex] if you loved me” – the proper response was “if you loved me, you wouldn’t make me”. A boy who is trying to have sex with a girl who doesn’t want to (pretty much all sexual activity was assumed to fall into this category) is inconsiderate and not a nice person, and it might even be good for you two to have a Serious Discussion About Your Feelings, but breaking up with a boy who was pressuring you into sex was a last resort (don’t want to be a prude! And all boys are gonna do it anyway, so do you really want to be alone?). (more…)

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On Credibility September 13, 2009

Filed under: Feminism,Meta,Relationships — theradicalnotion @ 2:53 pm
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Okay, so here’s the thing: I am a huge nerd.

No really, I am totally that person who, at the slightest provocation, will start to go about social insects or childbirth in America or the history of syphilis, because I think it’s just that cool. Thanks to a rabid curiosity about the world, a fairly good memory, and nearly constant Internet access, I have become a veritable well of quasi-useless factoids. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and in elementary school a good portion of my interactions with classmates were them asking me for homework help.

I’ve met a lot of people, in a lot of different contexts: different jobs, different schools, different social events, and as would any person, I’ve made a variety of impressions. It would be grossly misleading to imply that everyone I’ve ever met has liked me; I’m obviously not an impartial judge but can imagine that some of my negative traits include a grating sense of self-righteousness, over-prurient sense of humor and a not insubstantial amount of social awkwardness. However, there’ve been very few interactions with people where I felt that the other person saw me as too stupid. Yes – obnoxious, annoying, boring, lazy, inconsiderate – but not slow-witted or unintelligent. Whatever people’s other feelings about me have been, I’ve managed to go through my life having my intelligence relatively unassailed by would-be doubters (or if I haven’t, I’ve obviously been too dense to notice a lot of it).

I can assert that yellow jackets are wasps rather than bees, that tetanus doesn’t actually come from rust, or that rabies is the only disease that can be prevented after its transmission without people batting an eye (except perhaps in disgust). There is, however, one thing I can do that can completely change the way a person is interacting and speaking with me, so that in a moment I go from “pleasant, acceptably well-informed person talking to me about ______” to “OMG HOW DID I EVER LISTEN TO THIS PERSON AS SHE’S CLEARLY NUTS.” That thing, of course, is to say something feminist. (more…)

 

To say “I’m Sorry” would be a lie… June 1, 2009

Filed under: Relationships,Teh Interwebs — theradicalnotion @ 5:30 pm
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So, I’ve been puttering around the Interwebs, as is my wont, and getting inspiration for all sorts of TRN-worthy blog posts, but this afternoon I got distracted and started wandering around Askmen.com. I’m not linking, both because you can find it if you want to and because honestly, I think the world has enough people who read it already. For those not in the know, AskMen is a site for men, by men, and about men’s problems (namely, dealing with women). And I do mean dealing with themĀ  – there are advice columns in which “Doc Love” tells you how to properly manipulate a woman into staying with you, complete with Important Capitalized Terms and percentages and frequent references to “Psych majors” using language and terms that I, a Psych major, have never heard in an academic setting. There are mentions of “Womanese” and “the fact that women do 90% of the dumping” and “every woman has power over every man, ever, and you just don’t know it” and “if these tips don’t work for your woman, she’s clinically insane. Get out and head for the hills!” and “would you let your woman have an abortion?” and before I get all ranty, let me just cut myself off and say that several blogs could be written with the sole purpose of describing the shittiness of this website. But I’m a glutton for punishment, so I read some articles, alternately cackling and sighing, and then decided to really grab the bull by the balls and search for the money word. (more…)

 

Mommy’s Day May 10, 2009

Filed under: Meta,Relationships — theradicalnotion @ 11:04 am
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Well, today is Mother’s Day (Huzzah!). And I could write about a lot of things, including:

  • The idealization yet disdain of motherhood in our society
  • The fact that “women’s work” is chronically undervalued and thus, one Mother’s Day is not enough
  • How Father’s Day is also worthwhile, as male parenting is usually not afforded as much respect
  • All of the women who wanted to be mothers and now are not, and all of the women who didn’t want to be mothers, and now are, and what this has to with individual and reproductive rights
  • You get my point (more…)
 

I am not…a member of the Family ‘Felidae’ January 26, 2009

I am not a cat. When I have an argument or physical altercation with another woman, it is not a catfight. It is not sexy or funny any more than it would be if two men were fighting, or a man and a woman. If I say angry words to another woman, it is not an occasion to say “meow” or to hiss. Maureen Dowd, irksome though she may be, is not “much better at meowing at her own side”, nor does she have “cat-wit”. If a woman or girl of any age is being petty or mean-spirited, she is not being “catty”. If I get a new boyfriend or lover (or get him to make a commitment), I am not “sinking my claws into him”, nor am I entrapping him as one would do prey. (more…)

 

Verdict IN: Campbell’s > Progresso December 31, 2008

I’ve never been much of a soup person; that is, of any soup other than chicken noodle without chicken chunks or anything besides broth and a shit-ton of noodles (I’m not proud of my pickiness). However, I may need to start buying more soup, at least if it’s from Campbell’s, as they have just taken a small but significant step towards equality.

Now, ostensibly, what they did isn’t that big of a deal. They simply took out a four-page ad in The Advocate, an LGBT magazine, advertising their products (here’s what they looked like). Three out of the four ads are lone men talking about the wonderfulness that is Campbell’s, but one features two women and a young boy. (more…)

 

Mawwiage October 5, 2008

Filed under: Politics,Relationships,Same-Sex Marriage — theradicalnotion @ 11:47 am
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Yes, my friends, mawwiage is what bwings us togethuh today. Mawwiage – that pwecious event, that dweam within a dweam…More specifically, same-sex marriage (gasp!). As the current Hot Topic, civil rights-wise, this issue has gotten a lot of coverage. I think it’s fairly obvious that this question serves as a proxy for people to advertise their views on LGBT rights in general. I haven’t seen any primary literature on the subject, but I imagine that there are very few people, if any, whose feelings on the specific issue of same-sex marriage differ greatly from their feelings on other queer rights-related issues, such as adoption or right to hold religious office. Marriage, in and of itself, is not the issue here. Intolerance is. But, since the prevailing struggle in this country is, presently, marriage, we will talk about marriage.

I just want to reiterate, for anyone who might not have gotten it the first time, that marriage is not the be-all and end-all issue for queer acceptance in this country. It is not an isolated question, it is not some unique arbitrary matter that everyone suddenly cares about for no good reason. It is the current battleground on which Bigotry is fighting against Acceptance. It is not the only battleground, or even (perhaps) the most important one. But, whichever side gains some ground finds their ultimate goal (societal shunning of those who are ‘different’ vs. the right to live one’s life undisturbed) that much easier to obtain. So, even though I personally feel that marriage is in some ways a flawed institution, and there are many reasons for everybody (queer or not) to take a good long look at its history and how it might affect your current life, the right to get married is a very important stepping stone in the journey to some kind of absolute acceptance (in addition to being a major goal in and of itself, for many people). So it is a worthy topic to spend a minute or 100 on.

The argument against same-sex marriage is frequently couched in terms calculated to not connote oppression of any particular group, but merely defending against some enemy or onslaught: “protection of marriage”, “defense of marriage”, “preservation of marriage”. And this word “marriage” is frequently modified by the moniker “traditional” – “preservation of TRADITIONAL marriage”, and so on. I could (and will, at some point) write a whole post about what is actually connoted by “traditional marriage” and how a lot of people don’t think about what means or doesn’t mean, and how arbitrary it is, but right now, for brevity and clarity’s sake, I will focus merely on the institution of marriage in the present-day United States.

(more…)