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Member since: Mon Aug 23, 2004, 10:18 PM
Number of posts: 39,239

About Me

Whiteness is a scourge on humanity. Voting for Obama that one time is not a get out of being a racist card

Journal Archives

"It's On Us"

Found on


'PC culture' isn't about your freedom of speech. It's about our freedom to be offended

When a writer like New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait feels it necessary to whine in print about his and other (mostly well-remunerated) writers’ inability to write offensive tripe without consequence, I think: Boo-fucking-hoo. Get a real problem.

A man in the UK tried to kill three women because he was a virgin and thought of them “as a more weaker part of the human breed”. Another man who gave a thumbs up to the camera as he sexually assaulted Canadian teen Rehteah Parson – who later killed herself – was given probation. And here in the US, Republicans tried to pass a 20-week abortion ban that would only allow for rape and incest victims to access abortion services if they had first reported the crimes to police. And that’s just this month, and just about women, off the top of my head.

It is in that environment that Chait wants us to take seriously and without any offense his weighty, serious mind-baubles on everything from race relations to his frustration that rape laws are supposedly too strict and now his hand-wringing over imaginary affronts to white liberal men’s ability to speak freely (by which he means “without women or people of color getting mad at him”). Feminism might be dominating many conversations, but sexism is still horrific and, while there is a good conversation to be had over how ideological one-upmanship and “call out culture” impacts rigorous debate, that is not the conversation Chait is starting.

Chait conflates real incursions on speech – a University of Michigan student who was harassed and intimidated after he published what was seen as an offensive newspaper column, for example – and simple forms of activism like signing a petition to keep a speaker off campus. Most of the acts that Chait says are “perverting liberalism” are acts of free speech themselves: discussions of racial microaggressions, hashtag campaigns, and even complaints from women of color about racism on a Facebook group. It seems the only kind of speech Chait thinks should be “free” is the kind he agrees with.


Internet trolls love feminist writers

Thought this apropos given our critter infestation

What is it like to be a woman on the internet? More specifically, what is it like to be a feminist woman on the internet? From the amount of hateful, sexist, and outright violent messages I and many feminist activists and writers receive on a daily basis, it’s not easy.

As a white, straight, middle-class, able-bodied, cisgender woman, I know that because of the myriad privileged identities that I hold, the attacks I receive often pale in comparison to others. And yet, every time I submit a piece or send a tweet, I brace myself for the reality that some of the ensuing responses will be incredibly sexist and demeaning, perhaps even violent. It seems that being a woman who speaks her mind about injustice is unacceptable for many inhabitants of the internet.

There are anti-feminist trolls who follow the work of feminist writers simply to tell us how stupid we are, how silly feminism is, how useless our work is. Think about that. There are people sitting at home in their living rooms who spend entire days trolling feminists online. It’s ironic; these people who claim to hate feminism so much spend their entire day reading feminist work.

But truthfully, that says far more about them that it does about us. By and large, feminist activists don’t spend our days obsessing over what Men’s Rights Activists or anti-feminists write on the internet because we have our own work, our own issues, our own lives to worry about. We have more pressing matters, like the all-out assault on abortion rights, or the rampant sexual assault in the military, or the violence directed at the trans* community, or the enduring gender wage gap, just to name a few, that demand our attention and energy. There are real world issues that need to be dealt with, and instead, these trolls spend their days attacking feminists online. What an epic waste of time and energy.

Fucking with Feministing: BDSM Subbing (And Feminism)

(New advice column brought to you from the folks at Feministing--should be veeery interesting)

Welcome back to Fucking with Feministing! This is Feministing’s new monthly sex advice column where we answer questions from you. I’m Sesali and I’ll be your resident sexpert with the help of our friends at the Center for Sex & Culture (CSC) who have partnered with us to make sure that we have smart and safe with our sexy. We’re looking forward to helping you stay informed (and hopefully have great sex, because my feminism wouldn’t be complete without it). Send your questions to sesali@feministing.com – each month we’ll pick a question to talk about here. Questions will remain anonymous. We’re so glad that you’re Fucking with Feministing!

Q: Assuming you’re familiar with the Dominant/submissive dynamic of the BDSM culture, how do you feel about a feminist being sexually submissive?

In exploring the world of kink, I find that I lean toward the submissive role in the bedroom. But sometimes those sexual feelings contradict my socio-political feelings, and I’m just trying to consolidate it all in my head. It’s weird to feel so strongly about gender equality while I also really love being tied up and told what to do and sometimes even called degrading names, but only within the context of the bedroom and with total consent and communication and everything.

Can you help me figure this out?

With the film adaptation of the controversial and extremely problematic “50 Shades of Grey” set to hit theaters next month, the time is ripe to dig into the topic of kink and its feminist implications. Like feminism, sexuality, identity politics, or, in my case, my hair working out, kink is just a part of life. But at least the Feministing team is here to help you do it in the bedroom. Kink, or consensual power play, can really transform how you understand and practice sex. It’s a healthy way to explore sensation limits, build stronger bonds with a partner, reach your erotic potential, and explore your desires in a new way. For some people – though certainly not all people, perhaps not even most people – kink can be a practice of dealing with and healing from trauma.

Let the record state that some of my kinkiest submissive friends have been complex, trill, and inspiring feminists. Something that stood out to both Carol Queen and I in this reader’s question is that they explicitly state that they “love” their submissive role. Feminists support people playing safe and consensually at all costs, and any feminism that doesn’t isn’t one that I support. Feminism has facilitated a space for many people to feel comfortable enough to explore alternative fantasies – and realities. A movement committed to critically dissecting gender and sexuality leaves room for people to define pleasure on their own terms. This includes having your ass spanked until your partner’s handprint is a new tattoo if you so choose. For those of you wanting to explore BDSM and other forms of kink, don’t count on feminism representing a barrier.

If you need a primer on exactly what BDSM is or some of the terms used in this post, Carol was gracious enough to explain:

Producers pull out Fifty Shades Of Grey’s tampon scene, leaving fans highly aroused

Oh my fucking God the comments are hilarious. I didn't read the book so I didn't know about 'the tampon scene'

With no regard for sensitivity or the mess it might create, producers have just reached in and yanked the “tampon scene” out of Fifty Shades Of Grey, according to Variety. “It didn’t make it into the movie. It was never even discussed,” director Sam Taylor-Johnson said of the unilateral, take-charge attitude and total lack of communication that is so irresistibly erotic, whether it involves forcibly removing a tampon so that an exceedingly wealthy man can have sex with you when he wants to, or just making a movie where that happens. Oh jeez, Taylor-Johnson thought, erotically. There goes my tampon scene. Holy crap.

As producer Michael De Luca explained while gingerly attempting to avoid violating the holes in its author’s terrible prose (you know, like a boring beta male would do), “The book needed to put you in Ana’s shoes to be a successful experience. A lot of it was very literal. The movie didn’t need to do that.” Instead, Fifty Shades the film will take a more impressionistic approach to the metaphorical sense of fucking on your period, as Christian Grey removes the emotional tampon from out Annastasia Steele’s heart, allowing her feelings to flow freely.

It will also significantly tone down the sex scenes of E.L. James’ novel-that-began-as-Twilight-fan-fiction, making for a “less racy,” R-rated version that will finally remove all the distracting, repetitious graphic sex from this story of two souls finding each other, then having repetitious graphic sex. “Fifty Shades Of Grey is first and foremost a romantic love story, and the sex is only part of that,” James insisted of her book, clearly aroused.

Indeed, it first and foremost consists of sweeping, romantic passages such as this one, in which the sex—and the erotic removal of a tampon to have sex—is only part of it. Really though, it’s about the contractually dictated love between two people, which not even menstruation can stop:

His breathing is ragged, matching mine.

“When did you start your period, Anastasia?” he asks out of the blue, gazing down

Why Torture When Does Not Work? Orientalism, Anti-Blackness and the Persistence of White Terror

Very good read.

A guest post from Melanie Richter-Montpetit, responding to the disclosure of the Senate Torture Report in December. Melanie is currently lecturer in international security at the University of Sussex, having recently gained her PhD from York University in Toronto. Her work on issues of subjectivity, belonging and political violence has also been published in Security Dialogue and the International Feminist Journal of Politics.

a land on which no slave can breathe.

- Frederick Douglass (1846)

I had to leave; I needed to be in a place where I could breathe and not feel someone’s hand on my throat.

- James Baldwin (1977)[ii]

I can’t breathe.

- Eric Garner (2014)

No, bin Laden was not found because of CIA torture.[iii] In fact, the US Senate’s official investigation into the CIA’s post-9/11 Detention and Interrogation program concludes that torture yielded not a single documented case of “actionable intelligence.” If anything, the Senate Torture Report[iv] – based on the review of more than six million pages of CIA material, including operational cables, intelligence reports, internal memoranda and emails, briefing materials, interview transcripts, contracts, and other records – shows that the administration of torture has led to blowbacks due to false intelligence and disrupted relationships with prisoners who cooperated. What went “wrong”? How is it possible that despite the enormous efforts and resources invested in the CIA-led global torture regime, including the careful guidance and support by psychologists[v] and medical doctors, that the post-9/11 detention and interrogation program failed to produce a single case of actionable data? Well, contrary to the commonsense understanding of torture as a form of information-gathering, confessions made under the influence of torture produce notoriously unreliable data, and the overwhelming majority of interrogation experts and studies oppose the collection of intelligence via the use of torture. This is because most people are willing to say anything to stop the pain or to avoid getting killed and/or are simply unable to remember accurate information owing to exhaustion and trauma.[vi]

So if torture is known not work, how come, then, that in the wake of 9/11 the U.S. at the highest levels of government ran the risk of setting up a torture regime in violation of international and domestic law? Why alienate international support and exacerbate resentments against “America” with the public display of controversial incarceration practices, as in Guantánamo Bay, instead of simply relying on the existing system of secret renditions? Furthermore, in the words of a former head of interrogations at Guantánamo Bay, most of the tortured and indefinitely detained are “Mickey Mouse” prisoners,[vii] reportedly known not to be involved in or not to have any information on criminal or terrorist activity against the U.S. and its allies. Drawing on previously published work, I will explore this puzzle by addressing two key questions: What is the value of these carceral practices when they do not produce actionable intelligence? And, what are some of the affective and material economies involved in making these absurd and seemingly counterproductive carceral practices possible and desirable as technologies of security in the post-9/11 Counterterrorism efforts?

Against the exceptionalism[viii] of conceiving of these violences as “cruel and unusual,” “abuse” or “human rights violations”[ix] that indicate a return to “medieval” methods of punishment, the post-9/11 US torture regime speaks to the constitutive role of certain racial-sexual violences in the production of the US social formation. Contrary to understandings of 9/11 and the authorization of the torture regime as a watershed moment in U.S. history “destroying the soul of America,”[x] the carceral security or pacification practices documented in the Senate Torture Report and their underpinning racial-sexual grammars of legitimate violence and suffering have played a fundamental role in the making of the US state and nation since the early days of settlement.[xi] The CIA Detention and Interrogation program[xii] targeting Muslimified subjects and populations was not only shaped by the gendered racial-sexual grammars of Orientalism, but – as has been less explored in IR[xiii] – is informed also by grammars of anti-Blackness, the capture and enslavement of Africans and the concomitant production of the figure of the Black body as the site of enslaveability and openness to gratuitous violence.[xiv]


Why I Had to Quit Filming Hardcore Porn

When I was in my early 20s, I made my living as a pornographer. For more than five years, my working life revolved around framing acts of public copulation. I’ve pushed cameras and microphones into dwellings no machines should ever go. I’ve been granted a front-row seat to scenes of startling intimacy. I’ve helped pick up thousands of used baby-wipes. Somewhere along the line, I gained a financial stability that, in light of the rather limited artistic scope of the movies I helped produce, I probably didn’t deserve.

But after half a decade of the sex grind, I decided to call it quits. For despite having entered the smut leagues with the very best of intentions, the vast majority of the porn I ended up shooting was not “sex-positive” in character. Instead, the sex I found myself videotaping was of the Gonzo variety: the kind of scenes that are harshly lit, reek of a basement in the San Fernando Valley, and inevitably wind up devoured and forgotten in 15 minutes. If my “career” as a director is notable in any way, it’s that I’ve played for both sides—which is to say, while I’ve shot hundreds of hetero scenes, I’ve shot almost as many in gay porn.

We Have to Give Them What They Want

Though gay and straight porn may appear distinct from one another mostly due to the various orifices which receive the majority of the camera’s gaze, for me, the most important difference was that they felt governed by subtly different moral tenets.

Let’s begin with straight porn; for that’s where I began. I got into porn as a horny 23-year-old Jewish kid, hoping to stare at and hopefully score with curvy women who didn’t see a roll in the hay as too absurd a way to make their rent. Perhaps I was blessed with an excessively literal mind, but I quite simply imagined that the best way for me to live out my sexual fantasies was to, well, join the sex industry itself. It was not to be so simple, I soon discovered: many a man had shared my same dream. A good job was hard to come by, but after months of crushing disappointments, I finally landed a mildly lucrative gig shooting camera for a website. Understandably, I was psyched.

Will the awful power of the word 'slut' defeat feminists' efforts to reclaim it?

It’s been over twenty years since then-Bikini Kill frontwoman and Riot Grrrl icon Kathleen Hanna scrawled the word SLUT across her stomach. In the years since, there’s been a book called Slut!, countless feminist debates over the reclamation of the word “slut” and, in 2011, thousands of women took to streets across the globe in anti-rape marches called SlutWalks – a reference to how victims of sexual assault are often blamed for the violence done to them.

Like “cunt” and “bitch”, many feminists have long tried to wrest away from its original users the power and harm of the word “slut” and to give it new meaning. Increasingly, though, it’s seeming like we might not succeed any time soon.

Take Leora Tanenbaum: in 2000, she wrote Slut!: Growing up Female with a Bad Reputation chronicling girls’ and women’s experiences with the word. She herself was called a “slut” as a high school student in the 1980s – long before the term “sexual harassment” was coined – and told me “I had no vocabulary to understand what happened.”

Now, 15 years later, Tanenbaum is about to publish another book: I Am Not a Slut because, in part, the sheen of reclaiming “slut” seems to have worn off over the years. When she spoke to women who called themselves “sluts” with a “positive and defiant” spirit, all told her the decision had turned against them later – and all regretted it.


Outside Charlie Hebdo

Very interesting article, it changes the topic, and makes for richer thought. This site is very critical of the critics of Charlie Hebdo, so this is a particularly thoughtful piece when seen in that context.

I’m really appreciative to all the Francophones on various sites who have taken the time to put Charlie Hebdo’s work in a rich cultural context, opening up the magazine’s visual aesthetic and clarifying their editorial and political vantage point with more nuance than most of our mainstream Anglophone sources. These people’s willingness to do the tedious work of translating image after image, kindly and with probably strained patience, has elevated a very stark conversation into a vastly more nuanced one.

Here we have a convergence of so many issues that compel our culture to debate: free speech, extremism, faith and fascism, violence, humor, bullying, mockery, racism, sexism, and art. And yet so many opinions seem to fall broadly into one of just two camps – the ones that just outright call CH racist, and the ones that cloak it in the venerable mantle of satire.

Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of a long discussion with me on the subject of satire knows that I really just, generally, don’t find any aesthetic pleasure and only very limited intellectual pleasure in satirical work. Even when it’s very well done, it is a mode of discourse that relies on a spectrum ranging from discomfort to derision, and my response is almost always to turn away on purely emotional grounds. I’ve been very open about this opinion; it’s not new this week. It’s made me feel very awkward about adopting the “Je Suis Charlie” hashtag, because I wouldn’t have said something like that before last Wednesday’s events. The hashtag makes the magazine a metonym for all the people killed – even the Muslim policeman. I respond strongly and decisively to those who were killed and wounded as people, with voices and rights and subjectivity. But I respond to the magazine and the cartoons with ambivalence – because even though I tend to agree with the politics, the aesthetics are beyond me.

Probably for that reason, my reactions are not substantially mitigated by actually understanding the satire, although it helps. The logic of Charlie Hebdo’s satire is certainly much clearer to me now that so many people have spoken patiently and eloquently to clarify it. In particular, the cover depicting the sex slaves of Boko Haram as welfare queens appears much smarter and more complex when interpreted as “why do you care so much about these threatened and disadvantaged girls, but not about the threatened and disadvantaged girls right on your doorstep?” I am convinced that much of the work is indeed more complicated — and certainly contextually rich – than appears at first glance to readers who do not inhabit the immediate cultural context. These are political cartoons, and politics is always contextual.

- See more at: http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/2015/01/outside-charlie-hebdo/#.dpuf

The Most Feminist Moments Of The 2015 Golden Globes

If the 2015 Golden Globes taught us anything, it's that women's stories matter -- and girls truly do rule. This year's Globes gave us one badass feminist moment after another. (We are convinced that allowing people to eat and drink at an awards show makes everything better.)

There were some less-than-ideal parts of the show (i.e. Kevin Hart calling Salma Hayek "aggressive," Jeremy Renner's creepy joke about J.Lo's breasts, the entire North Korea bit), but overall it delivered serious lady power -- after all, four out of five of the shows nominated for Best Comedy have female showrunners -- and some deeply powerful acceptance speeches.

We rounded up the 11 most feminist moments of the night:

1. Tina Fey poked fun at the props given to male actors who undergo physical transformations for roles -- and simultaneously got in a jab at bullsh*t beauty standards.
"It took me three hours today to prepare for my role as a human woman," she quipped.

2. Patricia Arquette gave a beautiful shout-out to single mothers and all that they do.
"You placed in my hands the part of Olivia, an under-appreciated single mother," she said. "Thank you for shining a light on this woman and the millions of women like her and for allowing me to honor my own mother with this beautiful character."

3. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey threw some serious shade at Bill Cosby.
Our girls didn't hold back when alluding to the more than 20 women who have come forward with allegations against Cosby. When describing the plot "Into The Woods" Poehler joked, "Cinderella ran away from her prince, Rapunzel was thrown from a tower... and Sleeping Beauty just thought she was getting coffee with Bill Cosby." Fey then proceeded to impersonate Cosby, quipping: "I put the pills in the people! The people did not want the pills in them!” Zing.

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