I am a black woman and my best friend is a gay man. He came out to me the summer between our senior year of high school and our freshman year of college.
“I really need to tell you something,” he began, while driving us home from our summer job at the local pool. I didn’t know what to expect — an admission of love, maybe? That would be awkward.
He pulled the car over, then stared deeply into my eyes and said, “I’m gay.”
I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Oh, that’s cool with me,” I replied.
He was excited that we would remain friends and was especially happy to have someone to go out and “meet boys” with. Together we frequented New York City’s gay clubs and bars, more often than the straight ones. Splash, Therapy or Barracuda, but The Ritz was a mutual favorite. It was a two-floor bar with a huge dance floor, usually jam packed with sweaty, shirtless men by 1 a.m. The environment offered us both freedoms: I could be as black as I wanted: dance to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” twerk it, shake it and break it (while being applauded), and he could be as gay as he wanted. Keep reading »
I watch a lot of television. One of my mother’s favorite stories involves her coming home from work and finding a three year-old me on her couch, pointing to a schedule grid in her TV Guide and asking to watch a primetime “Scooby Doo” special. As such I have a vast amount of useless pop culture knowledge. I can remember who shot J.R., when Sam first kissed Diane, and why I still want to kick Damon Lindelof in the balls over the “Lost” finale. I also remember a lot of really, really unnecessary rape scenes.
Like Laura Spencer’s rape on “General Hospital.” Krystle Carrington’s rape on “Dynasty.” Liz Spencer’s rape on “General Hospital.” Kelly Taylor’s rape on “Beverly Hills, 90210.” Naomi Clark’s rape on “90210.” Joan Holloway’s rape on “Mad Men.” Tara Thorton’s rape on “True Blood.” Gemma Morrow’s rape on “Sons of Anarchy.” Gillian Darmody’s rape on “Boardwalk Empire.” Buffy Summers’ almost-rape on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Madison Montgomery’s rape on “American Horror Story: Coven.” [Warning: Spoilers after the jump.] Keep reading »
I have slept with a fair amount of people. But I’ve orgasmed with only one, the person I was in a long-term relationship with. All of my other sexual encounters have been varying degrees of fun, but have not resulted in the Big O. For me at least — the men I’ve slept with always come. This never comes as a surprise to me. I don’t expect to come from casual sex, while I’m sure every dude I have it with does. As Natalie Kitroeff notes in an article for The New York Times, “in hookups, inequality still reigns.”
Here’s what I’ve noticed over, uh, the last 13 years of having sex. Some guys, even random dudes I’ve brought home from bars, are really, really into getting women off. But most of them are driven by their own egos. “Every girl I’ve ever been with has come” is something I’ve heard more than a few times from guys who just won’t stop until they’re sure you’ve reached their idea of satisfaction — orgasm. I’ve been known to fake it with these men, because it’s just so much easier than explaining to a relative stranger “I just can’t orgasm unless I am really, really, really in the right mood and there are no distractions and I’m 1000 percent relaxed and my OCD/ADD isn’t acting up. Also you have to be licking my pussy just right and it also helps if I use my vibrator while you’re fucking me, but even then it just might not happen. Don’t take it personally, I’m still having a great time!” I have given a few dudes the short version of that explanation and they all looked at me like I just killed their puppy. Keep reading »
Earlier this week, Lululemon’s founder, Chip Wilson, made a boneheaded comment in response to the sheer batch of yoga pants that the company had to recall earlier this year.
“Frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t actually work [for the yoga pants] … It’s more really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it,” Wilson said in a TV interview.
I’ll admit, I buy and wear Lululemon products. I suppose he’s right about the shape of a woman’s body affecting the wear and tear on the pants, yet there was something irksome about about his comment. Forgetting about the actual yoga pants for a moment (which happen to run about four sizes smaller than a woman’s actual size), I think what makes me (and others) bristle about Wilson’s comment is his subtext of exclusion. Keep reading »
Slate.com’s modus operandi is to troll the hell out of everyone. Today’s piece by Dear Prudence author Emily Yoffe, “College Women: Stop Getting Drunk,” is a classic example.
In her piece, Yoffe recounts a statistic from a 2009 study that 80 percent of campus sexual assaults involve alcohol. She then gives what she thinks is sound personal safety advice for “young and naive women,” but it’s actually a slippery slope to victim blaming:
Perpetrators are the ones responsible for committing their crimes, and they should be brought to justice. But we are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them. Young women are getting a distorted message that their right to match men drink for drink is a feminist issue. The real feminist message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will attract the kinds of people who, shall we say, don’t have your best interest at heart. That’s not blaming the victim; that’s trying to prevent more victims.
Keep reading »
Over the past fortnight I’ve watched as a familiar narrative re-emerged around rapper Kanye West. Basically, Kanye’s an arrogant ranting asshole who needs to shut up, and stick to music. The end.
Admittedly, Kanye doesn’t help his cause. At times his behavior lends credence to what I think is a shallow theory.
Yes, Kanye West regularly makes outrageous statements about his overstated abilities and does silly things. But based solely on the Zane Lowe and Jimmy Kimmel interviews, Kanye’s fury can be distilled down to a single factor — he’s frustrated that despite his wealth, passion and accomplishments, he’s unable to start a joint venture with any of the major fashion companies. This frustration is deepened by the fact that he’s demonstrated he has influence over consumer buying habits and trends. Keep reading »
In a recent Yahoo! Shine article, a young, white, California entrepreneur, Mindy Budgor, was deemed a “warrior princess” after ditching her posh, luxury-filled life to become the first female warrior of the African Maasai tribe. Armed with Underarmor, pearl earrings and Chanel dragon red nail polish — which made her feel “fierce”– this nice Jewish girl from Santa Barbara, who loved “manis and pedis and warm croissants,” was heralded for singlehandedly empowering the Massai women. She even wrote a memoir about her experience. As a 23-year-old black college student, similar to Ms. Budgor, I set out on my own “spiritual quest” that landed me on the Big Island of Hawaii — miles away from my New Jersey home. But my experience was far less empowering for everyone involved. Keep reading »
It ended as quickly as it started. I felt his hand squeeze my butt, heard him shout “Nice!” and caught a glimpse of his back as he bolted off the subway car. I stood there, clutching the metal pole, utterly paralyzed. Did that really just happen? Did a random man just grab me and proceed to proudly proclaim to the B train that he had violated me?
Yes. It did.
I stood there, stunned. I began looking back and forth, desperately searching for a forgiving pair of eyes, a sympathetic nod of the head. Instead, I saw two young men smirking at me, their eyes scanning my Betsey Johnson dress, as if to remind me that what had just happened, if it was anything at all, was something I had brought on myself. Keep reading »
Now that Chelsea Manning has expressed a desire to medically transition through hormone replacement therapy, there are a lot of questions circling about what Leavenworth looks like for a trans woman, and how exactly someone might transition from male to female in prison. While Manning’s case itself is complicated, the question of what kind of healthcare someone deserves in prison is fairly simple. There are clear legal and moral arguments for Manning receiving hormones once they are prescribed by a doctor. This isn’t about what she did or did not do; it’s about the basic commitment we make as a society when we lock someone up.
When someone commits a crime, no matter how heinous, we still have an obligation as a society to provide their basic needs while they serve their time. As Lesley Kinzel argued when writing about the Michelle Kosilek case last year, “What makes us better than murderers is that we value human life, even the lives of those who don’t value life themselves, their own included.” Whether or not you agree with Manning’s release of classified information, we consider a decent life a collective value, enshrined in the basic rights that are guaranteed by our Constitution. Courts have already held that the 8th Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment confers a right to adequate medical care in prison, and medical experts and courts have consistently found that hormone therapy is a medically necessary treatment for transgender people for whom it’s prescribed. Keep reading »