Gender-bender….or just a kid?

So I listened to people freak out on a radio show recently about Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, regarding her tomboy status and gender bending. Salon.com has even published an article about this famous little blond:

Immediately following this conversation, I heard an equally derogatory conversation about Suri Cruise being too young for high heels, which literally equated high heels to sexuality.

(Not really my point but it is worth pointing out that this is the flawed logic that allows rapists to justify their actions with statements about their victims clothes and behavior. Oh and by the way, I read a worthwhile blog post by The Accidental Theologist regarding our one-sided thinking about rape anyway back to my thoughts about kids and gender).

My point about these two kids is this: STOP IT! There are so many rules about gender and kids gendering in particular that we seem to criticize people no matter which way they go. Let people be – who ever they want to be!!

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Got Gay? Teen TV does!

I read this NYT article today about therapists who counsel people on keeping their homosexuality a secret. It’s pretty interesting and genuinely worth a gander but sad! At least I think so. The article focuses on a psychologist named Denis Flanigan who is gay and feels that “Some gay evangelicals truly believe that to follow their sexual orientation means abandonment by a church that provides them with emotional and social sustenance — not to mention eternal damnation,” so if what makes them happiest is remaining in the closet, than that is how they should live their lives – despite the fact that this “means giving up any opportunity to have fulfilling relationships as gay men and women.”

While I think you should read this article and definitely comment to me about your thoughts – I find that the article pushes me to write about all the positive representation we are seeing regarding acceptance of varied sexual orientation. First of all – I haven’t noted it here, but Bravo NY for legalizing gay marriage!!! I Unfortunately, I live in a backwards state that continues to perpetuate hate and what I view as clear violations of basic civil rights – based on sexuality. (That’s right, Florida, I am calling you out this morning!) That said, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, marriage is clearly  one of the ways that our culture and culture at large perpetuates and supports herteronormative standards and benefits. As many of you know I am happily married and see no issue with commiting to love one person but theoretically, I do not agree with the link between marriage and social/governmental benefits. Not just because it favors heterosexuals but also because it discriminates against other lifestyle choices like single moms and dads. I’m off track a bit for where I want this blog post to go – but it’s also worth mentioning that tax deductions for children support heteronormative ideas as well. (Think about it; that’s all I’m saying.) Funny:

My true intention with this post is to point out what I’m calling a climate change in terms of representations of homosexuality on television. I don’t know how many of you watch teen television – but my PhD work deals with all kinds of teen representation, and I am repeatedly joyfully flabbergasted by how many teen shows are genuinely representing gay characters and the issues they face. Sorry the image is blurry – but it’s worthwhile to take a look at this slide show:

Beyond this list there is Santana on Glee and Emily on Pretty Little Liars and at this point I feel like there may even be others that have gone unnoticed by me – which I do not feel was the case when I was a teen watching TV. Please note: I am not saying that there are not issues with these representations – in many cases there are – but the mere idea of repeated representation of gay characters to the teen/tween audience underscores the idea that being gay exists, is normal and comes with issues like all other aspects of life in our prejudice/heteronormative world. Arguably representations that normalize homosexuality also work to eliminate homophobic hatred, don’t they?

In a world where teen suicide caused by fear of the exposure of one’s gayness is rising, teen tv gives me a little bit of hope. Well that and the It Gets Better Project.  Have you seen this? I cried:

Feminists Who Like Men Who Like Feminists Who Like Women Who Like Men Who Like Men Who Like Women Who Like Men Who Like Masculinists Who Like Whomever and So ON!

So recently I have encountered two things  that deal with questions of masculinity and the oppressions that men suffer a blog entry by Pris Killingly @R]Evolutionary Witticisms in 4/4 Time entitled Our Boys Are Being Failed – A Primer and an awesome masculinist blog called No, Seriously, What About Teh Menz? – which I mentioned yesterday or the day before. And after reading these things I felt that I needed to clarify my position regarding men and feminism. Or rather that a conversation about where I stand regarding questions like do men belong in the feminist movement might clarify for some of you just what kind of feminist I am and also what I actually hope for in terms of social justice.

If you read my blog regularly you’ll remember a post I made a few weeks ago about inequalities in social justice. With reference to these ideas, I have often become enraged in women’s studies and feminist classrooms when people mention “women’s spaces” – or rather events that exclude or ban the presence of men. I feel that banning or eliminating the presence of men from the feminist discussion not only repeats the oppressions of a patriarchal culture but also underscores the male/female difference – creating no room for healing this false cultural divide.

As the bloggers @ What about the Menz? and Pris Killingly make clear the constructions of masculinity have created cultural oppressions for some men in ways that are similar to the oppressions that many women have felt and feel. That said – like with all norms – the enactment of the norm for men, i.e. sterotypical masculinity results in certain privileges, and in the case of men – those privileges are extensive. BUT still what if you’re not heteronormative or white or sporty or strong or whatever… What then? – Honestly, if you are not a man’s man who can easily enact the role of masculinity , then the ridicule that comes with failing at masculinity is vast and plentiful. Apparently, there are some feminists out there that seem to feel male privilege creates a un-sealable rift between the sexes and therefore they look down of masculinist identities by arguing that men have the privileges so they can’t complain. As far as I am concerned, I don’t need to compare suffering – if you tell me your suffering, I believe you and support you desire to escape the state you interpret as oppressive. To be fair, I’m pretty well versed in terms of feminists and I don’t know any who feel 100% anti-men but I do know MANY who feel the sexes need to remain divided particularly with regard to these “women’s spaces” which allow women to “heal” from the abuses they have suffered at the hands of men.  To be clear, the abuses I am discussing are of a philosophical nature. Sexual assault and/or physical abuse clearly require healing, and it is understandable why a woman/man who has suffered from this kind of abuse would want to avoid all types that represented her/his abuser. I am not talking about this. I am talking about women’s conferences and meetings and politics, which exclude men.  I am talking about the complexities of oppression that come along when we truly understand how race, sex, class, religion, sexuality and other aspects of culture converge to define us in relation to an unobtainable norm – and the need to stop seeing the world as an abstract farce of oppositions.

That said, I believe that we all – every plant, animal and mineral – suffer under the construct of masculinity and the understanding of “masculinity” as the penultimate state of perfection. The element or concept associated with masculinity that  makes this true is reason. Reason is currently used to justify male mastery or rather the human understanding of ourselves as the master consciousness on the planet and the enforcement of this mastery through violence of all kinds – physical, political, verbal, sexual, fiscal etc. I have formed this opinion by reading books and articles – amongst others – Val Plumwood’s Feminism and the Mastery of Nature, Micheal Kimmel’s Guyland (see point five of Popculture Smörgåsbord) and James Gilligan’s Preventing Violence.

In particular Plumwood enabled me to understand that we see the world through a dualistic framework. Culturally we formulate our understanding of the world and cultures by defining things in opposition to each other and this opposition implies a hierarchy of dominance and submission. For example, if we look at dualisms such as male/female, civilized/savage, mind (spirit)/body, culture (human reason)/nature, master/slave etc., we recognize that traditions of western philosophic thought and practice have often defined these concepts as in opposition to each other and rendered one dominate over the other: male over female; civilized over savage; mind over body; culture over nature; and master over slave. Plumwood calls the philosophical practice of constructing reality in terms of hierarchical dualisms, the “master” consciousness or the “master model,” highlighting the oppressive nature of this kind of thinking (Plumwood 3, 23).From this perspective, at the core of continued oppression of all material beings is the assumption that human reason dominates all, particularly the corporal, natural or material.

The underlying oppression of dualism is not a concept of Plumwood’s conception; it has been explained and employed by many philosophical and feminist scholars (Derrida 1981; Beauvoir 1952; Bordo 1993, Collins 2000, etc.).  Plumwood recognizes the deeper theoretical construct of “privileged domain of the master,” and subsequent subjects (Plumwood 3). She explains, “much of feminist theory has detected a masculine presence in the officially gender-neutral concept of reason…it is not a masculine identity pure and simple, but the multiple, complex cultural identity of the master formed in the context of class, race, species and gender domination” (Plumwood 5). In other words, rather than recognize the world in terms of male domination and female subordination, Plumwood views dualism as the enabling force behind power and domination, which is not inherently male but rather dependant upon a deeply more complex and ecumenically political culture, which is currently dominated by the masculine.

I tell you all of this to make a point you may have heard me make before – acting out the role most often associated with masculinity – i.e. the role of mastery helps no one.  It doesn’t help men or women who are suffering from the homophopic/violent  tendencies of a heteronormative masculine culture; it also plays a role in how we view nature and animals and everything else.  So, a feminist acting like the patriarchy  by being exclusionary and ostracizing themselves from men doesn’t genuinely understand the meaning of the word equality. Nor does she understand the philosophical framework which allows us to construct oppression, and in doing so she leaves herself open to the possibility of being THE OPPRESOR!!! This is not a solution. We need to overturn our culture of perfection and mastery – WE NEED A SHIFT IN CONSCIOUSNESS.

and honestly, that shift cannot – will not happen – unless we genuinely recognize that hierarchy stinks – nothing is black and white and no one way is the best way  – or rather it’s more complicated than male/female or any other false opposition you want to throw my way.


Feminste…WOW!

So once again I am sending you to read the commentary posted by Jill @Feministe. Today the discussion posted was about late-term abortions – it linked to this NYT article. These writers consistently impress with their savvy commentary and their up to date awareness of how the world is dealing with women and gender issues. I genuinely recommend that you sign up to receive their RSS feed in your email.

Feminist Blog Roundup

So as y’all know I do quite a bit of reading out there in the blogosphere and this particular post keeps you from having to do the same – In other words here are the most interesting bits and pieces I’ve read lately:

1. Easily Enthused posted “Jack & Jill and the “Burdensome Bucket” – but even more interesting was the commentary that ensued after No, Seriously, What About Teh Menz?‘s reposting of this particular article. [drmindbeam  – a contributor @ No, Seriously, What About Teh Menz? also wrote an interesting rant about the term “battle of the sexes”]

2. Anushay posted about skin bleaching – which is bizarre – and her question: ” Are South Asians still recovering from a colonial complex?” is one worth considering.

3. One of my faves – when it comes to laughter and smarts – Ms. Betty Fokker broke down the false notion that Romance Novels prove women want to be dominated.

4. Jill at Feministe made me aware that there is a call to ban circumcision in San Fransisco.

Just some tidbits really – but I think I’ll start doing this more often – there is just so much out there to read and see that sometimes we need to filter – not too much though.

Worry about the Ocean!

Betty Fokker, The Stay at Home Feminist Mom, who makes me laugh constantly – mentioned the endangered wildlife in our oceans today and I wondered if any of you have ever read the outstanding Altered Oceans series was written by the LA Times in 2006 but is still very poignant.

The Porch – Tonight at 5:30!

I’m not sure that all my readers are aware that I not only go by the handel Feminist Cupcake, but I am also know as Listerine! Check out this bad ass:

 

This particular alterego of mine is found yacking it up on FAU’s owl radio on a talk show called The Porch which is hosted by V, another savory character:

The show also features a number of other interesting voices – including my nearest dearest – DJ Oral-B, who is clearly morning the shut down of the shuttle program:

In particular, the porch is availible live through owl radio’s website or shoutcast at 5:30 on Wednesdays – or you can subscribe to the Porch on itunes by clicking here. Also when were on the air the phones are open so call in tonight:

(561) 297-2842

Popculture Smörgåsbord

So there are some posts that I’ve been meaning to write but I’ve been rushing to tie up loose ends regarding my submission to Hunger Games and Philosophy (edited by George Dunn and Nick Michaud) and now my thoughts on these bits and pieces are getting untimely so consider this particular post my way of saying got any thoughts on this nonsense:

1. Recently, yesterday in fact, I was reading Feministe and I became aware of a  30-year-old McCain staffer’s marriage to a girl who was 17 when they met. There are some semantics in this situation – she was of age when they married and they are very wealthy, blah, blah, blah… So the conversations about statutory rape and what not have gotten pretty overlooked, but what is the deal with women wanting to get married at 17? Ouch, say. Also, there is something so weird about how republicans can twist culture’s moral rules – think Bristol Palin pregnancy – and it’s okay but when liberals do this crap the world goes haywire.   Scarier is Doug Hutchison’s (51) nuptials to a sixteen year old.

2. I need to mention www.xojane.com. I’m not sure how many of your remember Sassy Magazine but as a teenager it was my bible and it’s existence started a life long love affair (from afar) between myself and Jane Pratt – who if you don’t know was also the editor of Jane Magazine for most of its lifetime, and I would argue that her retirement from the magazine caused its demise. That said, like other feminists, I am not feeling Pratt’s newest endeavor 100%. Perhaps I return to my not so third wave feminist outlook – but the website is  way more junk than edgy smart – a little more serious please! I want headings like politics and news – not just sex and beauty. What up, Jane?

3. It’s worth noting Anushay Hossain of ANUSHAY’S POINT. I first discovered her on Broadminded. She is Molly and Christine’s Feminist Broad, and her blog is always interesting and worth reading. Subscribe. Hey, while I’m at it subscribe to Feminist Cupcake, that blog is the bomb-diggity – you should subscribe to that blog too. In particular Anushay has written an informative ditty about Saudi Women’s Protest against the ban on women driving in their country.

4. Speaking of Broadminded – Yesterday morning I caught the last bit of a conversation concerning bullying and cyber bullying among teens. Unfortunately, I am not sure of their guest’s name but he said something about how our television shows and movies present adults making fun of people or embarrassing pranks as so funny and humorous – which in turn got me thinking about the movie Bridesmaids. I meant to review this film for you guys – but I’ve been busy, like I said.  There was feminist potential here but I think it sank. (More later). With regards to adult bullying, sort of, so many movies, including bridesmaids present other people’s embarrassment as something we should laugh at. Admittedly, there are moments when someone trips or slides on a piece of lettuce (circa 1996, June and Ho – Rye, NY) and you can’t help but laugh. But still – is food poisoning that causes you to poop your pants funny?  I say no. Maybe I’m too empathetic – but watching other people’s embarrassment – embarrasses me.

5.  Finally, I wanted to turn y’all on to Micheal Kimmel, who is a spectacular example of a male feminist. I am presenting at the NWSA conference this year and he’s speaking and I absolutely can’t wait. I also teach his article “Masculinity as Homophobia: Fear, Shame, and Silence in the Construction of Gender Identity” in my classrooms. Recently, on his Ms. Blog, that considers the whole Wiener incident, “Ah-nuld, DSK, Weiner–And Us.” A worthwhile read.

Theorizing Twilight: Essays on What’s at Stake in a Post-Vampire World!!!!!

Theorizing Twilight: Essays on What’s at Stake in a Post-Vampire World includes an essay on Twilight by yours truly – Lindsey Averill for those who know me only by the handle! And this week Mcfarland Publishers released the publication date. The book is edited by Maggie Parke and Natalie Wilson. Natalie is the author of the blog Seduced by Twilight.

The description of the book reads:

Since the publication of Twilight in 2005, Stephenie Meyer’s four-book saga about the tortured relationship between human heroine Bella Swan and her vampire love Edward Cullen has become a world-wide sensation, inciting screams of delight from loyal fans, sighs of derision from detractors, and fervent pronouncements about what “Team” one is on. Those looking deeper into its pages and on screen can find intriguing subtexts about everything from gender, race, sexuality, and religion. These accessible essays examine the texts, the films, and the fandom, exploring the series’ cultural reach and impact. Aimed at both the casual fan and the careful academic, this thought-provoking collection offers one of the first thorough analyses of the saga, compelling readers to examine more deeply their own reactions to the cultural phenomenon that is Twilight.

You can pre-order the book by clicking here. We, we, we, we so excited. (<- why yes that is shamelessly calling on Rebecca Black’s Friday – it’s so bad it’s catchy – sorry).