Making My Triumphant Return to Blogging!

So it has been quite awhile since my last blog post. This past semester was awful. My classes were fine, work was fine, but the amount of drama that erupted in my personal life over the last few months left me incapable of focusing on anything beyond school, work, and starting my post-undergrad job hunt. I even pushed my GRE back to June because studying for my original November date just wasn’t an option.

I’ve resolved for 2012 to be better. Even though I still don’t love the idea of resolutions, I am making a small resolution-type-thing… in 2012 I refuse to get caught up in anything that will drag me down in the way that this last year did.  My anxiety issues (which I will talk about more in a future post) have hit their peak in 2011 (seriously, I’m calling it) & 2012 will be the year that I pull myself together and become the calm, collected, kickass person that I can be 24/7, instead of just when I am out in public and my reputation is on the line. Part of this resolution means writing here (and elsewhere on the web) a lot more again, because I miss blogging & everyone who I interact with on here!

While I was missing from Imagine Today a TON happened elsewhere. The two most exciting things are…

(1) I got an article posted on xoJane.com!

(2) I also got accepted to present at Momentum 2012 alongside Maria Falzone! Check it out, check it out! I added the conference icon to my sidebar (FINALLY) so if you’re interested at all check it out and consider attending. Last year’s conference, the first ever, was fabulous, it was new, exciting, and experimental yet the organizers obviously knew what they were doing… the workshops were well scheduled, presentations ran smoothly and were well times, plenty of delicious and refreshing snacks were constantly available. I normally really enjoy conferences, but Momentum is on another level entirely. Check out the liveblogs & recaps I wrote of last year’s conference…

Maria and I will be co-facilitating a presentation called Selling Safer Sex to College Students: Tips and Techniques of the Trade. Click the linked title to check out the description! Maria is ridiculously funny & we are both committed to facilitating a session with plenty of dialogue and engagement, so I can promise you this will be awesome. I know my biggest issue that week is going to be choosing between so many wonderful looking workshops.

So I am signing off for now, but I promise this time it won’t be for nearly three months (sorry!) I’ll be back with new content (and a renewed commitment to writing here) soon! In the meantime, do any of you have resolutions? How do you stay calm and focused when life seems to want you to lose your mind? I always love having conversations in the comments!

Shades of Grey

I agree with Gail Dines on quite a few levels. The way in which women and men are currently depicted in the media is often terrible. Women’s bodies and sexuality are often used to sell products, to the point where female sexuality is turned into a commodity by the mainstream media. I don’t have to get into this – Dines does a good job of introducing the topic in the talk posted on the Ramapo Women’s Center blog .


Instead of going through the ways in which I agree with Dines, I want to talk about the places where I disagree in order to give voice to an opinion that has not gotten airtime yet on this blog. My disagreement comes when we start to talk about where these negative portrayals come from, and what needs to be done about them. In my opinion, at least, this isn’t the problem of a porn-infused society so much as the problem of a society that has co-opted female sexuality as a means of selling things to people, thus turning women (and their sexuality) into objects. Its the problem of a society that has deep roots in racism (that much of Dines’ speech I agree with) that we are not willing to examine, which leads to us sexualizing women of color in even more dehumanizing ways than we do white women. This isn’t the problem of porn, though. The horribly racist, misogynistic, violent, scary porn that is out there… that’s just a symptom of a larger cultural issue; just as the racist/misogynistic/generally awful non-pornographic movies and books and television shows are symptoms. Basically: the medium is not the issue, the message is. I believe that if women and people of color were treated as equals in our society and our media then the representations of these groups would be better across the board – in magazines, television, movies, and yes, even porn.

I am aware of the fact that violent porn exists, I am aware that people who perform in these movies are sometimes treated poorly… but I am also aware that we live in a world full of shades of gray. At the same time as there is misogynistic, terrible porn out there, there is also awesome, inclusive, feminist porn.
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My First Burlesque Show

Before this weekend all I really knew about Burlesque was that it was a form of performance art that combined dance and taking off one’s clothes. I knew some people feel that it is awesome and empowering, others feel that it is degrading. Basically I knew very little, mostly because I was too intimidated to seek any more information out on my own.

Luckily for me Momentum offered the opportunity to attend Sense & Sexuality: How Taking it Off Empowers the World with N (“The Only Letter in Burlesque”) and Lillith Grey. I was a little nervous at the start of this workshop, but as soon as we started discussing glitter and its many, many (endless, really) uses, I knew I had found my people. The session passed quickly, with stories shared about burlesque history and legends, how-to books and samples of props (like boas and hats and pasties) passed around… it went by so quickly, in fact, that I found myself entirely unprepared towards the end of the workshop when N declared: “I’m going to do a little performance for you now!” (Lillith was injured and, thus, sadly unable to perform as well.)

Uh-oh. N moved a chair to the middle of the room, as I quickly tried to understand the feeling of anxiety shooting through me. You have seen naked bodies before, I reminded myself. This is not a big deal. N tossed on a dramatic mask and a blonde wig, getting read for the show. She does this all the time, this is her job, she enjoys doing it… there is nothing wrong with being in this audience. N told the intern to turn the music loud. Before I had time to deal with my strange gut reaction there was a real live burlesque performance happening not three feet from my face.

I had no fucking clue what to do.

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Momentum Liveblog: Part One

10:40am: Now I am in No Homo: Prejudice and Homophobia Within the Gay Community with Brandon B,who used to be an improv actor back in Los Angeles!  He does a lot of things bit one thing he does is write the Inqueery, a website that reviews sex toys and things for male-bodied people and sneaks in safer-sex information and sex positive information! He has glitter on his eye, so he’s already cool in my book!

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Of All People, a Jezebel Should Know Better!

Recently Jezebel picked up this post from a blogger on The FBomb, and posted it to their main page; I was shocked to see this posted. I’m inclined to go easy on the poster since she is a teenager who didn’t write this expecting Jezebel-level publicity… but, honestly, something has to be said because it is disgusting that this type of slut-shaming narrative would be allowed on a website that proclaims itself to be a feminist resource [Jezebel is the site I am referring to; I understand the FBomb has different standards because it is a community blog meant for young feminists to “test the waters” so to speak, this post fit just fine there and had it stayed there what I am about to say would be unnecessary.] So, without further adieu, I’d like to have a conversation about teenage sexuality, using this piece as a backdrop and a jumping-off point.

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At my high school, I have sat through the numerous internet safety lectures. “Once it’s out there you can never get it back.” This doesn’t seem to stop many girls from taking pictures of themselves topless or lying spread eagle while their boyfriend snaps pictures. I don’t mean to insult the numerous organizations and police departments who send speakers to scare us straight, but it simply isn’t working. If a girl is in “love” and they are going to be together “forever” I doubt she is thinking of the consequences it will have on her future. So if scaring us straight doesn’t work what will?

This statement both angered and surprised me.

I was surprised to read this form of condescending language directed towards teenage relationships, considering this piece was coming from a teenager. Sure, teenage relationships can be volatile, they can be superficial… but they can also be loving and based on mutual respect. Same goes for sex, it can be superficial and used to manipulate and either party can lie about feelings or intentions to get the other to have sex with them, but that’s not true in all cases. Plenty of teenage relationships and sex are based on mutual respect and love. Mocking the reader’s relationships by insinuating that their “love” is not real is just the kind of thing that’s going to make people not listen to you; it’s the sort of thing many adults do when they’re talking down to teenagers about sex and love… in short, it’s not something I’d expect from another teen.

I’ve been with my partner since we were fifteen, and I’ll be twenty in just a month, so I’m practically an expert on this. This approach will not work if you’re trying to help someone; it works fine if your intention is just to judge, but that doesn’t seem to be what the author was going for. The advice that I am willing to listen to has always come from the friends and mentors in my life who were willing to take my feelings and my relationship seriously, and not just assume that what I had going on was shallow, superficial, and doomed to fail.

I decided to put this initial annoyance aside, however, and try to hear the author out because this piece was on Jezebel and, thus, I felt it deserved the benefit of the doubt.

Oh, how wrong I was…

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The Cult of Heteronormativity

valentine-gift-valentines-day-giftsValentines day is the ultimate holiday for romantic stereotypes; which is why now, more than ever, its time for us to start considering the effects of living in a heteronormative society. As a cisgender woman, dating someone of the opposite gender it is easy for me to fall into the trap of ignoring how cookie-cutter our society has become. However, this is the Exactly the reason why it is important for me to be aware of my privilege, and work to share that privileged with others.

What is heteronormativity?

Turn  on the TV, look in a magazine, read a newspaper, go out and by a book, look at the billboards on the street.. as you do this look for relationships, of the romantic sort, and note what they’re made up of. How many of those relationships are between two people of the same sex? If you found even two, I’d be incredibly surprised. Even more importantly, how many of the gay relationships that you saw were presented as something typical, rather than serving the purpose of proving a point, or acting as the “token gay couple”? Not many, I’d be willing to bet. In fact, even single gay or lesbian characters are a rarity on television these days.

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