As I sit in my living room, the familiar sound of rotating blades of a helicopter whoosh above me. I can hear them, hovering. They’re following the Oakland protestors who have taken to the streets outraged by the not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman. “No justice, no peace,” they shout as they embark on a mile-long march for justice. This custom is a byproduct Oakland’s long legacy of dissent. To outsiders signs that say “Fuck The Police” seem entirely unrelated to the trial, but the relationship between the department of justice and local law enforcement is one that Oaklanders understand very well.
Like Oakland, the rest of the country is in mourning. People everywhere are trying to reconcile how no one is being held accountable for the untimely death of a teenage boy. We’ve taken to the streets, the Internet, to church and community, but one thing that social media has made apparent is that we’re mourning for very different reasons.
For many, we mourn because this case crystallizes how the legal system does not provide equal protection of the laws for everyone. Some mourn because the not guilty verdict means Martin’s parents will not be vindicated in their son’s death. Others mourn because another young boy of color was robbed of his life and it could have just as easily been their son. And of course, some don’t mourn at all — the death of a black boy is insignificant to their life. Keep reading »
Last month, Blogger sent an email to any blogs flagged as having “adult content,” informing them that they had only four days to remove all adult advertisements on their blog or face deletion. My Twitter feed exploded with sex writers trying to figure out what exactly Blogger considered “adult” in both their content and advertising links—pictures of nipples? Stories of hardcore gang bangs? Links to sex ed sites like Scarleteen? Four days also wasn’t enough time for many people to rework their blogs and the material therein — one person lamented that they’d be on a business trip until the day before the “pornpocalypse.” As Violet Blue tweeted, “Google’s @Blogger will delete scores of blogs that have existed since 1999 on Monday under its vague new anti-sex policy purge. It’s wrong.”
Censorship isn’t a new concept for anyone who writes about sex on the Internet, but the Blogger email is just one more example of popular Internet-based companies and social media sites banning porn after years (or in Blogger’s case, more than a decade) of tolerating it. Just a few months ago, Nerve wrote an article on how Tumblr porn might change sex journalism, but for every success, there’s another story of a major social media platform or Internet retailer clamping down on a thriving community or popular authors. Amazon is famous for tinkering with the rankings of its “adult” ebooks,FanFiction.net threw out an estimated 62,000 stories last year, and Facebook’s guidelines are notoriously confusing. We may live in a world that’s more open to sex, but if so, our social media platforms are lagging behind. Keep reading »
As a feminist, kinky person and sex commentator, I am the target audience for Jillian Horowitz’s xoJane essay “I’m a Sex-Negative Feminist” — and that’s exactly the point. Part of the site’s “Unpopular Opinion” series, I can only surmise that the essay, like others before it, was written largely with the intention of riling up its supposed targets rather than fostering a nuanced debate.
I’d also quibble with her quickie history lesson—yes, sex-positive feminism in part emerged as a response to anti-porn feminist activism, but it also sprang from the anti-BDSM and anti-lesbian bent of much of mainstream 1970’s and ’80’s feminism. My understanding is that sex-positive feminism was about embracing feminist ideals and furthering sexual freedom—for everyone, not just women. Keep reading »
Liberal guys like me are often kind of squeamish when it comes to talking about abortion. I mean, we support it. We describe ourselves as pro-choice. We share the ridiculous things that asshole Republicans say on Facebook. (Did you hear the one about the masturbating fetus…?) If we’re straight, and we maybe decide to join our girlfriends or wives or whatever at the rally, we’ll wear the pink or orange t-shirt they pass out, and when they chant “My body, my choice!” we will chant “her body, her choice!” and consider ourselves allies. Look at us A-plus dudes, cisgender and incapable of becoming pregnant, out there to demonstrate for someone else’s rights! We could just stay out of it, but we care!
I know that’s how a lot of men think of abortion rights: like it’s someone else’s fight, and we might occasionally show up and offer support. And while I understand the impulse, that’s not good enough. The fact that guys like me need to realize is that abortion rights are our rights, too.
When I was 23, a young woman I knew needed an abortion. More importantly to me, so did I. Keep reading »
On June 1, actor Matt Smith, star of cult TV favorite “Doctor Who,” announced he would be leaving the show at the end of December. This declaration sent shockwaves through the nerd-o-sphere and left everyone asking the question, “Who will be the next Doctor?” As a result, the Internet has been flooded with heated debates and delicious casting suggestions. (“Chiwetel Ejiofor!” “Sir Ian Mckellen!”) As much as I’d love to see these celebrities inside the Tardis, I think it would be best for Steven Moffat, the showrunner of “Doctor Who,” to simply cast the best woman for the job.
That’s right, woman. Keep reading »
This piece originally appeared on Role/Reboot. Republished here with permission.
Warning: Some parts of this article, and individual hyperlinks, are explicit, and may be considered NSFW.
There’s a lot of pressure to have a good vagina. Rapper Missy Elliott’s mysterious “Pussycat” is a ballad from a woman to her genitals. She pleads that they not “fail her now” so her lover won’t cheat on her. Then she disguises her voice through a creepy filter and raps as her lover, backhandedly affirming that he’s “glad [hers] ain’t that gushy stuff.” Ten years later, I’m still not sure if the song is parody or commentary. It reminds us that in a culture that reduces women to our appearances, we can feel like not much more than walking vaginas. And if you flip and reverse that argument, when we sexualize women, we see women’s genitals existing to perform for a partner’s pleasure. Where every part of a woman’s body is taxonomized, judged, and sentenced, it’s no surprise that we treat our vulvas with fear and disgust.
I know a few extra things about how women regard their genitals. While creating my documentary,Subjectified, I had intimate conversations about sex with women across the United States. In the jarring words of a funny, self-confident, conventionally gorgeous 23-year-old, “I don’t think I have the prettiest genitals…I remember like three years ago I put a mirror down there, and that was the first time I saw up-front what was going on…I was totally horrified for a whole week.” Another woman described how her genitals were seriously injured in childbirth, requiring reconstructive surgery that she couldn’t afford. She felt stuck in a dysfunctional relationship because she was ashamed to show her body to anyone else. Our feelings about our genitals reverberate through our lives, and we project a life’s worth of insecurities onto our private parts. Keep reading »