I’m just going to say it upfront: I’m a massive fan of “Game of Thrones.”
I know it’s problematic, controversial around its portrayals of women, and arguably more violent on screen than required (see last night’s rape scene for an example). And I know there’s been plenty of excellent critiques arguing that “Game of Thrones” is feminist, or isn’t feminist, or asking if it matters whether it’s feminist or not. I’ve appreciated the commentary on racism and “GoT,” as well as in fantasy in general. Through this I have learned a great deal on how to be a fan of problematic media while still maintaining a critique; there are certain ways where the book and the show differ that make the show more sexist, and in other ways less sexist, than the original material. I’m glad, actually, because if I never engaged in anything I found critique-worthy I think I’d self-destruct! Keep reading »
I’m writing this on an airplane from Toronto, Ontario, to San Francisco, California. I’ve just spent six days among other women, other queers, other porn performers, and other feminists at the Feminist Porn Awards and the Feminist Porn Conference. In that time, I have witnessed moments that made my heart soar, my eyes tear up with love and the fiercest of joys, pride in the people I hold close to me. I have experienced moments that hurt my heart, that disappointed me, moments that underlined how privilege can alienate and divide us. I spoke to academics, I spoke to sex workers, I spoke to sex workers who were academics. It was a weekend of realizations, inspiration, determination … and I came away from it all feeling exhilarated and ready to change the world.
I also realized that the sex wars are still very much A Thing. There are still Good Feminists and Bad Feminists, though the definition of which is which varies depending on who you ask. It’s saddening to see us fighting each other, women who have been called prudes for asserting their sexual choices attacking women who have been called whores for asserting their sexual choices … and vice versa. This is, of course, exactly what the patriarchy wants. While we bicker about whether or not porn is empowering, we are being systematically marginalized, turned away from jobs, thrown out of school, our kids and our workspaces and our money and our privacy taken away from us. The act of having sex on film or any other sex work may empower some and humiliate others, or we might start feeling one way and eventually feel another. (The same holds true for food service workers, though we ask that question far less often). In our current culture we are all experiencing and navigating the effects of capitalist patriarchy. Keep reading »
Racism is a covert agent in our lives. Some claim that it is invisible to them; completely hidden. It is very infrequent that racism openly reveals itself for long enough to be identified, before disappearing, cloaked in discussions about “culture,” “socio-economics,” “sensitivity,” or “history.” Online prostitution is one venue where structural racism can be seen in plain sight.
That’s why I researched online prostitution in New York City for my college thesis. With the help of websites like Backpage.com and Craigslist.com, I became acquainted with the underground sex industry, where the value of a woman is in plain sight. Her worth is advertised without a hint of political correctness. No excuses are made about class, schooling or occupation. Every woman is simply a scantily-clad commodity who, with the click of a mouse, is deemed wanted or unwanted for purchase. Keep reading »
I was packing my bags, looking forward to a week trip to the Feminist Porn Awards and the Feminist Porn Conference, having finally earned enough through my Patreon patron-funded writing to travel and have a bit of a cushion when I got back. Payments would be processed at the beginning of the month, and I welcomed the assurance of my first paycheck that would pay my rent. I was finding it refreshing to be making a living (albeit barely) through getting paid to write on my experiences in the sex industry, giving me some hope that I could transition out and still survive financially. Finally I was getting paid for my writing… not in “exposure,” but in rent money!
That’s when I got an email from Patreon, saying that the payment processor PayPal had threatened to shut down all integration with their site because it contained “adult content.” The email stated:
“[A]s you can imagine, this would be detrimental to creators — hundreds of thousands of dollars were to be ‘frozen’ unless we flagged all adult content pages, made them private, and removed Paypal functionality from their individual pages… I’m so sorry that we had to do this without warning you first, but it was SUCH an emergency! We simply had to take action to avoid a situation where creators would lose hundreds of thousands of dollars of legitimate pledges.”
Patreon emailed all of our patrons to warn them and suggested we also email them to ensure payments went through as usual at the beginning of April. While Patreon was open to artists creating work that was adult in nature, their hands were tied. And not in a kinky way. Keep reading »
The race to find a silver bullet to solve the “Where are all the girls in science and engineering?” puzzle is fast and furious. And as someone who works to encourage and support women studying in science and engineering fields, I worry our efforts often end up pitting the “pink sparkly girls” against the “digging for worms on a rainy day” ones.
I was one of the girls digging for worms. Rainy days were awesome when I was a kid: I would throw a swimsuit under my play clothes and hit the street. My mom use to talk about her horror of finding me building a mud dam in the street, trying to keep the river of storm water from getting to the sewer system. (Of course, that is also one of my favorite memories from childhood.) For me, science has always had a hold on my brain and heart. From archeology to the space program, I loved it all. Okay, maybe not genetics. Fruit flies were sooooo boring. And with my gift to kill plants, botany was a huge failure for me. But as a biology major, I had to take it all. Keep reading »
Recently, London comedian Jenny Collier tweeted a screen grab of an email she received from a booker informing her that she was kicked off a show because there were too many women already on the line-up.
Yes. That’s right. Keep reading »
This post is reprinted from The Huffington Post with the permission of its authors.
What’s the biggest myth about street harassment? That men of color comprise the majority of offenders.
It’s a myth as old as this nation: the idea that Black men are more likely to be sexual predators — especially of white women. Consider D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth Of A Nation,” that builds an entire narrative on the idea of the black brute. From the Scottsboro boys to Emmitt Till, history as well as popular culture, the justice system and virtually all other facets of American society still hold the deeply entrenched notion of Black men as people to be feared.
But the myth doesn’t stop with history. In a recent New York Times article, a White woman living in a mostly Caribbean community (Crown Heights, Brooklyn) gets physically assaulted by a Latino man and wonders if it’s her fault, as if moving into a mostly Caribbean community was the city-dwellers equivalent to “asking for it.” A few years ago, a woman, also writing for The New York Times, reported on her experience doing aid work in the Congo and hearing repeatedly from other European aid workers that sexual harassment, violence, and rape in those areas “is cultural,” instead of, as she duly notes, “a tool of war.” The myth that Black and Latino men are innately sexually aggressive is one that extends beyond our national borders. Keep reading »
Yesterday, Will Ferrell’s company, Gary Sanchez Productions, announced that it is launching a female-focused film and television department called Gloria Sanchez Productions. The idea came from Jessica Elbaum, an exec at Gary Sanchez, who will head the division.
This is exciting news, but I think they missed a major point. I believe people are at their funniest, smartest, most moral and most complete when they exist together. Gary Sanchez Productions is like an apartment with no living room. Yes, it’s vital and sanity-saving to have your own room, but all the best stuff happens in the living room, where people congregate and everyone feels like they belong. While I love the new Girls Room of Gary Sanchez Productions, it doesn’t improve what has been going on in the Boys Room at all. Keep reading »
If there was one thing Piers Morgan got right in his interview with writer Janet Mock last night, it was when he called her, “brave, frank, and honest” about coming out as transgender. Sadly, the interview sort of falls apart after that.
From almost the start of the interview, the header “Was a boy until age 18” ran across the screen, insinuating that Mock wasn’t truly a girl or woman until she had genital reconstruction surgery. That is not only incredibly reductive regarding gender, but missed the entire point of Mock’s new memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path To Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More about her road to girlhood, which began far earlier than one moment in Thailand at age 18.
Instead of treating the topic of disclosure with the nuance and sensitivity that it deserves, Morgan went straight for the sensational, wanting to know how the various men Mock has dated have reacted when she finally told them about being trans. He treated Mock, her body, and her past as a spectacle, rather than with respect as befitting the lived experiences of a fellow human being. (You can read the transcript here, although Morgan’s responses on Twitter are a better illustration of his blowhard behavior.) Keep reading »
Whitenicious, a cosmetics line created by California-based, Nigerian-Cameroonian pop star Dencia touts its ability to help customers even out their skin and get rid of discoloration. The product is essentially a skin bleaching cream in a golden jar, sold for $150 a pop– well, at least that is what anyone would gather from Dencia’s “transformation” as seen on the advertisement, from a mocha beauty, to a caramel, Beyonce look-alike, to a washed-out corpse.
So why is this never explicitly stated? More importantly, why is the purpose of Whitenicious — to make a dark skinned person have lighter skin — intentionally concealed? The advertising campaign for Dencia’s product leads consumers to believe that the function of her “cosmetic” is to “nourish your skin and lighten dark knuckles, knees and elbows.” Keep reading »