Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Students Back Obama and McCain

That's today's headline for my local paper, and it's completely cracking me up right now.

It's actually referring to the local results of a statewide mock primary that students at my local HS (and one of the local middle schools) participated in. Obama won the local mock Democratic nominatiion and McCain won the local mock Republican nomination.

(Now, keep in mind as you read this that I live in a rather rich, conservative, religious section of one those nice big red counties on the CA map.)

What I find really funny is that if you look at the actual numbers, you see that Clinton - despite losing by a landslide - still got more total votes than McCain did.

These are the results:

Obama 299
Clinton 132
Edwards 25

total Democratic votes: 456

MCCain 96
Romney 38
Paul 32
Huckabee 26
Giuliani 23

total Republican votes: 215

Wow. I mean, I'm used to the current under 35's -especially the under 24's - leaning towards the Democrats by a big amount. But by a supermajority a usually Republican district? Damn. That's just pathetic.

Seriously, look at that. Obama got more votes all by himself than all the Republican candidates combined. Obama, all by himself, beat the combined votes for Republicans by more than 10%.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Girlie Books


For all the talk about how required fiction in schools is very girl centric, the truth is that while most well-read women have read a decent number of the classic "boy stories" there are very few well-read men who have read Little Women, Anne of Green Gables or the like. (The one exception being Little House on the Prairie which actually is sometimes read in school, owing in equal parts to the TV show and Laura Ingalls Wilder herself being a teacher, imo.)

And this is why I love Buffy. Because it's written by someone who has actually read Little Women - or at least is aware enough of the story to know the special place that Christian Bale as Laurie occupies in our ....hearts.

On a similar note, the closing quote from the latest episode of Criminal Minds was from the creator of our dear Anne Shirley*.

For we pay a price for everything we get or take in this world; and although ambitions are well worth having, they are not to be cheaply won....

Yeah. There's a reason why I love Criminal Minds.

Well, several, actually. :)

(CM screencaps from Oracle of Quantico)

Speaking of TV shows that make me like TV...I finally saw last weeks episode of Numb3rs - "Power" - and wow. If only rape could be dealt with even half that well on even half the crime shows on air.

*I admit it. It took me a few times to realize that "Lucille" = "Lucy" :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Apparently, You Can Never Be Young Enough

feministing and copyranter have both weighed in on the creepiness factor in this ad.

What I find interesting though, is that this ad is from Tiger Beat. A magazine that (assuming it had the same purpose and demographics in 1972 as it does now) is for

1) teen and pre-teen girls

2) who are "obsessed" with boys.

The model in the ad is not standing in for a grown woman - as a commenter at feministing argues - she is standing in for a teen girl only several years older than herself. I rather suspect the shampoo maker used a sexualized pictures of a very young girl to sell it's product not just because our culture infantilizes women, but also because it half-neuters teen girls - they are sexualized, but god forbid they are sexual or have desires of their own.

So, how does one use sex to sell something to teen girls if one cannot be seen as encouraging sexual behavior in teen girls? Especially, god forbid, by acknowledging that they like to look at men and boys. Even in a magazine that is generally bought for the pull-out posters of the pretty boy of the day. (And, whatever one may think of the idea, using sex to sell products to the readers of Tiger Beat is a perfectly logical route to take.)

Well, one fetishizes "innocence" - ie, virginity.

And ends up with something even creepier than what one was trying to avoid in the first place. And yet somehow more acceptable to society. Which is a whole 'nother level of creepy altogether.

Monday, January 21, 2008

It's Not Advice If It's An Order

What strikes me most reading this, is how much it such "advice" mirrors the "advice" given to (young) women on how to not get raped.

As inge points out in the comments:

The question is how much is a person expected to give up to reduce how low a risk to their own or their children’s health? At some point it passes ridiculous and becomes political.

Because that's the part they never talk about...the fact that - as Amanda repeatedly points out in the actual post - people still have lives to live and work to do and fun to have and problems and addictions to deal with, and so on and so forth - even people who happen to be female. Even people who happen to be female and pregnant.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Correlation, Causation or Coincidence?

I keep feeling like I should have some deep thoughts about the WW/Playboy thing - and all manner of shit from the past year - happening at the same time that the American Library Association gave two of their major annual awards to graphic novels/comic books (in addition to this, the 2008 Caldecott went to a graphic novel for elementary school kids). Hell, even this year's Newbery went to an illustrated collection of interwoven stories and last year's Printz award went to a graphic novel.

However, it's just not quite there.......and I need to get ready for work.

thoughts, anyone?

Monday, January 14, 2008

There's A What On My What?

It's a little sad and scary how excited I am about this.

(excited enough to do my first ever wikipedia edit, btw)

But seriously, how cool is it that this year's Dr. Seuss award went to an early reader that was done in comic book format?

And hey! Now that I get actual weekends maybe you'll get a review of it sometime soon!

(don't count on it, though)

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Number 1 Reason Why the Playboy/WW Thing Annoys the Crap Out Me

(on the rare occasions that I think it's worth thinking about at all)

....are we to expect a naked, body-painted Batman on Playgirl in the months leading up to this Summer’s Dark Knight?

Pink Raygun

God, I hope so… I would totally buy that.

Liz - in the comments at The Beat.

As if.

and I seriously cannot read the rest of the comments because not two down from Liz's is another "sex is power!" comment. if sex is power then why is Playgirl such absolute crap?


What Was The Question Again?

(spoilers for Juno and Knocked Up)

I saw Juno last night - and loved it. (Ellen Page is perpetually awesome.)

However, I saw it with my mom and some of her friends - and they didn't like it quite so much. They didn't hate it, but....they thought it was too easy. How could this be a lesson about pregnancy and teen sex* when everything worked out so easily?


"It wasn't about the pregnancy," I said. "It was about relationships." The pregnancy was just a plot device.

I rather suspect their disappointment made them even more eager to see the sneak preview of 27 Dresses that they saw today. But me? I was less jealous of their getting to see it today than I had been before.** It's not that you know how it's going to end just by watching the previews, because I knew that before. It's that it seems so very unreal and fake and empty compared to the kind of love that's central to Juno.

I think a part of it is generational. Juno's main problem wasn't the pregnancy, it was learning how to navigate relationships and learning to keep having faith in other people and romantic love amidst the reality of divorce, break-ups, and loss. I think, in a lot of ways, baby boomers still believe in the idea that everybody gets a happily ever after one true love a lot more than younger generations do. Like people tend to do, they kept imagining what they would have done if they were in Juno's shoes. But they've never worn Juno's shoes because when they were 16 and first starting to figure out adult relationships, divorce was still a bad word. So instead, they focused on the part they understood - the pregnancy. They saw the people in Juno's life as being important because of how they affected her pregnancy and the baby and not how they affected Juno and her willingness to be vulnerable with other people. I'm not sure my mom and her friends really understood what Juno was really searching for throughout the movie. I know they got it in the end, but I think that they missed a lot of thematic points because it took them longer to realize it.

BetaCandy suggested the other day that

I think most people do watch movies and TV to escape reality, but that men are more likely to find escape through pure fantasy with little focus on problem solving and women more likely to find it through seeing problems get solved in fiction.

Some of the best proof for the second part of that statement that I can see is that my mom and her friends are still eager for 27 Dresses and I'm not. To them, Juno didn't do what it was supposed to do. I don't think it's so much that it didn't deal realistically with the pregnancy but that it involved pregnancy but didn't focus on relationship between mother and child, between Juno and her body and the person inside her. And yet, they thought it was meant to, giving them the impression for most of the time they were watching it that the movie was doing a crappy job of dealing with the problems it laid before the audience. 27 Dresses, however, will obviously focus on relationships in a more traditional and understandable way. Problem will be clearly presented and fixed. To me, though, Juno presented and dealt with the issue that most people my age are most worried about when it comes to relationships - who can we count on, how long can we count on them, and is it worth it if it doesn't last? 27 Dresses, however, will still give us that fairy tale ending that hampers our ability to find honest and realistic answers to these questions.

Oddly enough, Juno makes me think of The House of Mirth and class discussions on it. I didn't like it at first because I didn't understand why Lily couldn't make up her damn mind. Our professor gently steered us toward the realization that Lily's problem wasn't making up her mind, it was the fact that she wasn't free to choose what she had already decided. Lily didn't want to decide between Lawrence and Percy, she wanted to go on as she had been - single and social - but that wasn't an option available to women. Juno sets up a false either/or situation for Juno as well. I wasn't as bothered by the unrealistic "they have fingernails!" reason for not getting an abortion as I thought I would be. Because by then, I knew it was a gimmick. I already knew that it wasn't about dealing with the consequences of sex, it was about deciding to be intimate with someone. We aren't shown the flashbacks to the act that got Juno pregnant because we need to know how it happened or why she made such a mistake (which isn't ever addressed in the flashbacks), but because she keeps asking that question throughout the movie - the one she supposedly already answered - should I, or shouldn't I?

Oh, I finally saw Knocked Up a few days ago as well.

I don't get it. It made about as much sense to me as Jerry Maguire did.

So much of it just seemed - odd. Not just "why did she not have an abortion?" not just "her career stays on track? how realistic" but - "what did they see in each other, exactly?" Other than desperately wanting that fairy tale ending, why in the world did they ever try to get together in the first place?


ps - you should totally go read Amanda's take on it as well.

*Dear god, must everything be a lesson whenever teen sex is mentioned? Although, to be fair, they didn't come up with this idea on their own - that seems to be what is floating around the MSM/word of mouth.

**I work on Sundays now.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Yes....and No

(from the comments at pinkraygun - NSFW - re: the now infamous playboy/WW cover)

But secondly, female sexuality is a power, and I would argue that sexuality has always been one of the things that makes Wonder Woman strong, in addition to her physical strength and other abilities/weapons.

I'm going to set aside the whole issue of Wonder Woman for a moment - mostly owing to the fact that I'm hardly an expert on the subject - and focus on this part of the quote:

...female sexuality is a power.

That's one one of those statements that is technically true, but is often falsely used to mean more than just the literal definitions of the words in question.

Why, after all, does one always feel the need to say that female sexuality is a power? Is not sexuality itself a power? (Really people, I cannot possibly be the only one watching the first season of The Tudors now that it's out on dvd.)

Or, more precisely, isn't being sexually desireable a power?

Since, of course, one's sexuality is made up of more than just how other people view you. Yet, when one is discussing Playboy type looks, one is very obviously discussing how other people view you, not everything that falls under "female sexuality." Feminine desires are part of the conversation only when/if they intersect with being on display.

The Pinkraygun reader is trying to argue that being sexually desireable is just one of the many weapons in Wonder Woman's arsenal. However, the fact that we (usually) only attribute such powers to women makes it a gendered power, which - for various reasons - makes it more of a requirement than an asset. It's not just that it's useful to Wonder Woman that she is beautiful and sexy; by defining male and female sexuality the way we do, we also make being ugly more of a liability for women than for men - superheroes included.

Because, for some reason, we consistently define feminine sexuality as very passive - one is desired but does not desire* - and define male sexuality as very active - one desires but is not desired. Needless to say, the fact that reality is otherwise creates some major problems.

Female sexuality feels more powerful to people than it is because the desire (straight) men have for women tends to undermine the premise that men do not fall prey to emotions. But it isn't a superpower - it's an often an illusory power; being an object of desire is only useful if you are high enough in the hierarchy to use that to your advantage. (Henry VIII vs. Duke of Suffolk vs. Anne Boelyn vs. Buckingham's daughter)

Or, more perhaps accurately, female sexuality feels powerful to people because when one is bargaining, the power dynamic between hagglers is largely determined by who is more willing to walk away without a deal having been made.

When we define sexuality only by men's desires, we make it seem as if straight men are always at a disadvantage; we write a cultural narrative in which women are always the ones willing to walk away and men never are. Reality, however, is quite different. (As the characters from The Tudors can attest to.) Plus, being willing to walk away from a deal is not only determined by how much one wants something, but also by if one is physically, financially, and legally able to leave. When we define reality by men's experiences (and usually powerful men's experiences, at that) we forget how often women and other disadvantaged groups are put in the position of not being able to walk away.

(spoilers for the first episode of The Tudors)

I keep going back to one particular scene in the first episode of The Tudors. In it, the king asks Lady Blount if she consents to having sex with him. She says "yes," and very obviously desires him as well. And yet...she's also just a little bit hesitant. And I can't help wondering what would have happened to her if she said "no." I'm fairly certain that she wondered the same thing at one point, and that both of us came to the conclusion that she would have suffered for denying him.

And then, of course, we have Charles Brandon's seduction of Buckingham's daughter (does she even have a name?). This is very obviously a case where the (modern) cultural narrative doesn't work. He chose her mostly in order to hurt her father; it's almost certain that he would have made sure her father knew of her actions if chance had not done so for him. On the other hand, whatever her reasons, it's obvious that desire was one of them. In this case, the man is the one who is using his attractiveness as a weapon and it is the woman who literally cannot walk away from this world of men.

Female sexuality is a liability in a world where sexuality is defined by male desires, and where this definition is enforced by laws and cultural mores. Being a sexually desirable woman is a possible advantage, but how much of a power it is depends upon one's status, which is in turn determined by whose opinions and desires influence culture and law. Women's status may have vastly improved for the better since the time of the Tudors, but as long as our definition of sexuality is (mostly) shaped by male desires, and as long as women as a group still have less political and economic power than men, women will still be at a disadvantage at the bargaining table.

(People who know the character better than I do are welcome to disagree, but...)

I think that Wonder Woman's beauty and sexiness is a more useful power to her in her home world, where it is seen as an asset rather than a requirement, and where she is afforded enough status that her own desires are not disregarded and where other's appreciation of her beauty isn't used to undermine her other strengths.

Which is pretty much the opposite of what most people mean when they talk about female sexuality being powerful.

Plus, what Ragnell said. In spades.

*even women that are viewed as sexually aggressive are usually viewed as being eager to take whatever men want to do to them, rather than having desires of their own

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Inside the Campaign!

A little birdie told me that Clinton had two speeches written for Tuesday.

One for if she lost - by a little.

Another for if she lost - by a lot.

The campaign staff were told to be thinking about looking for other jobs soon.


The same little birdie said that a computer program that makes it easy for volunteers from around the country to make get out the vote calls to other people throughout the country- used once upon a time by - is partly responsible for the win.

Although, the little birdie may be biased in that opinion. :)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Remember Anita Hill

So...several months ago Anita Hill was in the news again, because Clarence Thomas wrote some stupid book.

It occurred to me at the time, that the people who really didn't want Clinton to get elected would do well to remember the last time a bunch of powerful, old(er), white men - and quite a few people who are neither male nor white - sat around and said stupid things about a woman that most people couldn't care less about at first.

Remember, we believed Anita Hill.

Job News

So, what do I discover around the corner from the library on my second day at work?

A comic book store! :)


I already have several projects to work on, which is good. :)

(and while I fear this may jinx it....)

One of the projects is coming up with possible events to advertise these free books - as required by the application to ask for them.

Appropriately enough, the children's part of the new library* is named after Martin Luther King Jr. There's a big sign in front of the new (mostly completed) building that says "I have a dream!..." next to a picture of MLK. Since one of the books is an illustrated copy of the Gettysburg Address for kids, I got to thinking...and I looked up a few dates....

And guess what? Those speeches were given 100 years apart - minus about a month and a half. And they are coming up on their 45th and 145th anniversary this year.

So I thought it would be cool to have an essay/speech (and art) contest that's kicked off by reading aloud MLK's speech on 8/28 and concluded by reading aloud the winning speeches and the Gettysburg address on 11/19.

Oh! and look what falls right near the end. Why don't we decide the winners by having the patrons vote for their favorites starting election Tuesday?

(and here comes the "I don't want to jinx this" part)

How cool is it that we may be reading those winning speeches on equality just after an historic election?

(kinda makes me wish the dates were flipped, actually)

*yeah...did I mention that the branch I got transfered to is closing down in a few months and then opening up in a new huge state of the art building a few blocks away?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Me Want Wii

I really wish I had more intelligent things to write about with regards to the latest issue of Cerise, but that's pretty much all I can think about after reading this article.

On a related and more depressing note, my father and I had the following (one-sided) conversation earlier today:

(important background - my new job means I'll have enough $ for an apartment within the next 2-4 months; I borrowed my brother's Playstation2 last March and he finally asked for it back a few weeks ago)

Me: "I hadn't realized how cheap dvd players had gotten in the last few years. Last time I looked it was only the knockoffs that were really cheap, the regular brands were still $100 or more. Now even the good brands are well below that."


Me: "You know what though, I saw a used Playstation2 advertised for not much more than that the other day. Now that the PS3 has been out for a while, they are really starting to come down. I might look into that and see if I can get one for about the same price as a dvd player."

Dad: starts listing off prices for dvd players that he's found online.


I kinda think that "dvd player/game console" will be taken off the list of "suggested housewarming presents" - I'm far too likely to get what my family thinks I'll use/want rather than what I really would use/want.

Although, to be fair, maybe he doesn't know the PS2s play dvds as well? (But we went through this the last time I moved out, when my younger brother and I shared an apartment - my brother convinced me that PS2 was the way to go and I was very glad he did.) In any case, I'm certain that he has no idea how many games I own.

(And yes, it's very spoiled of me to be expecting housewarming gifts above $20 - or at all, but I also know that my parents and older sister are going to be so thrilled when I finally move out that there's a decent chance I'll be getting such gifts from both of them. My older sister has already said as much when we were discussing Christmas gifts and lists - she pretty much told me that dvd player was too cheap, that it would make a better housewarming present than a Christmas gift, is there anything else I want?)

As of 8 am Tomorrow...

This blog needs a new name!


(but it won't likely get one for a while - inspiration has yet to strike)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Half Truths

I've been quite the insomniac over the past few days because my new job starts on Monday, and my last day at my old jobs is on Friday. So I've been reading through (among other things) all the carnivals that I missed over the last few months.

This post from the 47th Carnival of Feminists caught my eye. It's about the classic listserv exchange "that starts out with someone being called out on saying something sexist and immediately turns into an attack on overly-sensitive women and the girly-men who respect them."

At one point, Ross, the guy that Eric ends up exchanging e-mails with, writes:

Maybe I am over-interpreting her response, but I have seen far too many people that always see prejudice in everything because that is what they expect and what they look for.

Excluding the hyperbolic "everything" - there is a kernel of truth to that statement. I very much disagree, however, that we see the sexism because it's what we expect. I'd argue quite the opposite, that we see it precisely because we are the ones who have learned not to expect it, not to normalize it.

As I've said several times before, one of the most enlightening experiences about having gone to a women's college was spending several years in an environment where the default was female. Not male. Not gender neutral. But female.

Remember too, that this wasn't just a place where we volunteered or worked. It was everything: home, work, play. Everything. 24/7

Not surprisingly, language changes in these circumstances. It isn't just our feminist sensibilities, but simple logic, that makes it clear how absurd it is to keep using words like "freshman." So we were "first-years" instead. Or, rather, "firsties." And, needless to say, there were no arguments about which pronouns/nouns were appropriate. When referencing the student body, the feminine was always used. The "he or she" (or "s/he") construction was used when discussing faculty and other staff.

We even developed a type of common shorthand for certain words. The Venus symbol was faster to write than "woman" - and "woman" came up more often than "man" - which became the sign for Mars. (both together meant "people") Besides, the venus symbol looks like a hasty stick figure it you do it a certain way. And that "certain way" was part of the logo for the student government.

And of course, we diminutized a lot of words - but never any that had anything to do with the women who were out mentors and inspiration, no matter whether they were teachers, upperclasswomen*, or our peers.

The point of this ramble being that I came home for Christmas break already unthinkingly referring to my classmates as "women" even though we still called our friends some variation of "girls" when talking directly to them. And so my mom, at one point while I was at home, looked at me bemusedly and asked why we did this.

And I had to think about it. Because it's mostly just something you pick up....and yet as wrong as it feels at first, it felt wrong as well to to call the dormmates we barely knew - especially seniors - girls. We could vote. They could buy alcohol. If we aren't adults by graduation, would we ever be?

And so, after thinking about it, I told her I thought that it wasn't so much that we thought of ourselves as completely adults yet, but that we certainly weren't children either...and that we damn well better be adults by the time we graduated. So while we referred to each other as women as a sign of respect, we did it not so much because we were sure we had earned it, but so that - by the time we left school - we'd become used to it and be able to recognize it better when people treated us with disrespect.

And it's most definitely worked, at least in may case. I don't get annoyed every time someone calls me girl, but I'm freakin' 30 people. When the 19 year old co-worker prefaces his statement to myself and the other 20+ woman sitting beside me with "girls,...." I most definitely get a little annoyed. And I see it as disrespectful, irrelevant of intentions.

Coming back to the post that inspired this ramble, I'd like to point out that at the end of the exchange, Ross adds:

Also, I have enjoyed our debate on this topic..... It can be entertaining and educational to debate these topics, especially considering that I don’t entirely agree with my own position.

Eric rightly calls him on this, saying that:

I wish I could get a guy like Ross to understand that this is not a “debate.” I hope this exchange was at least a little bit educational for him. I don’t feel that combating sexism is entertaining…

What he means of course, is that he wished Ross would see the conversation as something other than a game.

The thing is, I'm fairly certain he does. He may see it as a game as well, but it's obviously more to him than that - the use of ALL CAPS betrays a certain amount of (gasp!) emotion on the subject, as does the rest of the tone, the less formal writing in his earlier emails, and the fact that he bothered to email Eric at all.

No, Ross' claim that he "do[es]n’t entirely agree with [his] own position" isn't there to reassure Eric that he was only messing around, it's there because Ross lost. It's an attempt to lessen the loss by trivializing the debate after the fact. And it neatly, subtly reasserts his comrade Chris' main argument that "this is a silly discussion." An argument belied by the amount of time and effort Ross - and even Chris - put into the discussion.

PS - The comments are nearly as maddening as the emails that prompted the post. Is there any particular reason why people have such a hard time making the leap from "ok, ok, so maybe that wasn't the smartest thing to say" to "I'll try not to do it again"????????

*Spellcheck does not like "upperclasswomen" but it thinks "upperclassmen" is just fine. >P

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

It's the "Sex" Part That Needs Redefining

I've been reading figleaf's Real Adult Sex (NSFW, but not quite what it sounds like either) and he's been talking a lot about what he's "calling *men's* dominant paradigm of women as the "no-sex" class."

I find the posts interesting because, well, they are (this is one of my faves, for obvious reasons) but also because it's really nice to listen to someone trying to work out feminist arguments in a way that will actually reach other men without intentionally watering them down or twisting them into something they are not.

He explains the theory thusly:

But.... it *doesn't* resonate with men... to the point where we're inclined to say "in our dreams!" Because for whatever indisputable *abstract* privileges such class division might bring to us our *experience* of it is... pretty disempowering.

So in the face of that contradiction -- holding the reins of patriarchy on the one hand and feeling totally out of power when it comes to sex on the other -- I decided to try and (mis)apply a standard strategy from mathematical logic: attempt to prove the contrary position -- that men perceive women as the *no* sex class -- and see what shakes out. And, in fact, tons of fascinating stuff shakes out....

The point being not that feminist theories are wrong but that they are incomplete in that they tend to only describe how men (as a class) act within the system and how women experience being in the system, not how the average man actually experiences being in the system, or even really how women act from his perspective. Which is a fair criticism.

It's also the type of criticism and expansion of feminist theories that is best done with men leading the way - for obvious reasons - so it's really nice to see a man addressing it, because I've been wanting my male peers dissatisfaction to be properly addressed for quite a while now.

But of course, that doesn't mean I agree with all of it. I don't think he's wrong, exactly, just that it's obvious and understandable that he's still working this out - we all are - so it needs some (a lot?) of fine tuning.

It makes me feel like we need some unifying theory.

While he talks about this terminology resonating with men when little else does, and he draws as much from feminist writers as he does from personal experience when explaining the theory, it still bothers me that the terminology doesn't completely resonate with women. (ok, with me, anyway.) So, while it's a very useful theory for reaching out to men, (and again, may I add, thank god, finally?) it still doesn't help much for reaching out to people and has limits in the extent to which it will facilitate conversations between women and men, feminists and not.

Mostly, I disagree that women don't see a distinction between being called "the sex class" or "the no sex class." I think that men and women both identify with being called "the sex class" - or identify with neither. This presents a problem when trying to work things out together.

Well, then, how to resolve this?

I think figleaf got pretty close in his this post on the consent:

I was thinking about someone I quoted earlier on the limits of "no means no" and it occurred to me that even the concept of requiring consent is kind of missing a big point.

We don't seek our friend's "consent" when we ask them to join us for lunch. Instead we seek consent to park our car in somebody's driveway. We don't seek "consent" when we have a couple of extra tickets and ask if our friends want to tag along. We seek consent to use the school gymnasium for a neighborhood fundraiser.

There's been a lot of talk in the feminist blogosphere over the last several years about shifting the goalposts of consent from "no mean no" to "yes means yes."* Which I completely agree with.

But, yeah, still missing the point. Legally, it makes sense to worry about consent, because that's always going to be the legal issue. But culturally, it's both a revolutionary step forward and still so far off the mark. I have the same vague feeling about defining men as the "sex" class and shifting women to the "no-sex" class. It's useful, and good, and suggests some major changes to how we view things, but pretty soon we are going to notice that we've only moved things around a bit. The paradigm shift we are looking for is still buried beneath it all.

I think quite often we are talking past each other.

Not because women are from Venus or men say what they mean, dammit! But because we perceive ourselves differently than others perceive us.

Figleaf classifies women as the "no-sex" class (er....identifies that women are perceived as the "no-sex" class by men) because men have this perception that women don't want sex.

But why the fuck does this even matter? Why does the stereotypical man care that he wants to have sex but women (supposedly) don't? And why do we care? Well, because the stereotypical man wants to have sex with a woman, not a man, that's why!** Shifting women to the "no-sex" class is still focusing on how one gender experiences and perceives the other; it's not really looking at how we both experience living with the system, how we perceive ourselves and are viewed in turn, and, most of all, how this all fits together:

I'm suggesting that either way the heteronormative assumption is that sex is something to be obtained by the man, and dispensed by the woman... that sex is requested by the man and granted by the woman... which in turn assumes that sex isn't something she just might naturally just want to *have.* And that's what I mean by the dominant male paradigm of women as the "no-sex" class -- that by nature women just aren't interested, let alone motivated, the way men are.

Wait!....back up a bit.

....the heteronormative assumption is that sex is something to be obtained by the man, and dispensed by the woman.

Yup, that's the part.

Or, as someone told me quite seriously during the pie fights "A man's sexuality is defined by sexually desiring women. A woman's sexuality is defined by men sexually desiring her." In short form: sex is something that men want and that women have.

That lie that "women don't want sex" is only one part of this very false proscription for sexual behavior.

It's an important one. One that's long overdue for demolishing. And certainly a better one for talking to men than "men hate women." (As is the reasoning behind labeling men the "sex" class - the "boys will be boys" assumption that men are always horny that figleaf picks apart all the time as well.)

However, it's one that doesn't resonate with women not only because, as figleaf constantly points out, we know this for the lie it is, but also because it doesn't speak to our experiences as the class that is responsible for giving out sex.

Now, I don't think that figleaf needs to change his terminology so that it will speak to women as well as men. That would be silly and selfish and counter-productive for obvious reasons. But again, we need some way of talking about this is public, in mixed company, etc. And I think the key there will be found in the dynamic itself - and the tension between how we are taught to be, how other's perceive us, and who we actually are - not just how men or women view the system from the inside.

*the term, in case anybody doesn't know it, is really "enthusiastic participation." But, it tends to be rephrased as "yes means yes" when talking to a non-feminist audience. Which rather misses the point, imo, since the most radical part of "enthusiastic participation" is the idea that one wants to do this, rather than emphatically agreeing to do something.

**because, you know, no one is gay or bi in the prescriptive scenario.