Category Archives: Sexuality

I’m back, y’all.

I’m back. Sorry about that. I was busy graduating college and becoming semi-gainfully employed. It was mildly dramatic.

As a welcome back present to myself, I present the latest entry in the series of things that I find offensive.

I give you…Light Reservation!

Context: This art installation is part of an exhibit on the grounds of Cheekwood, the estate that Maxwell House Coffee built in the tony Nashville suburb of Belle Meade, TN. The artist description of this installation is as follows:

Light Reservation is an assembly of tipi-like structures made from spent fluorescent tubes.
“The installation is about my enthusiasm for the imagination; but I also hope that Light Reservation presents people with an opportunity to ponder both the good and bad aspects of our recent history.” 

-Bruce Munro

This may be the laziest justification for using politically charged imagery I have ever heard. You (you being Mr. Munro here) built tipis out of florescent lights because they look cool and then decided to use the word “Reservation” to describe them (because they are behind a fence, maybe?). You realize that this is potentially offensive and try to head off criticism by encouraging viewers to ponder “the good and bad aspects of our recent history”?

The Good and Bad Aspects of Recent* History: A Pondering

Good: America is post-racial because Obama and mixed babies. Amazon Prime.

Mixed: Social media. Sexting. No more green ketchup.

Bad: Kim Jong Il looking at things replaced by less entertaining Kim Jong Un looking at things. Paula Deen.

*Please note that  Mr. Munro does not specify what period of recent history he is referring to, and therefore I have chosen to interpret the recommended timeframe as the last six and a half years.

Yeah, I’m done.

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Filed under Announcements, Sexuality

The thoughts that go through my head when you tell me that I should “be careful” around a guy.

1) Trapper-keeper SHUT

2) What does that even mean?

3) I’m assuming that you mean that he’s too sexually aggressive.

4) I’m assuming that this means that you’ve seen him be too sexually aggressive.

5) Did you do anything when you saw him be too sexually aggressive?

6) What happened to that girl?

7) How many times have you seen him be too sexually aggressive?

8) What happened to those girls?

9) Do you tell all the girls this, or just your friends?

10) Do you watch him at parties to make sure that he’s not too sexually aggressive?

11) Why is it my responsibility to be careful around him instead of his responsibility to not be sexually aggressive?

12) Would you help me if he was being too aggressive, or would you assume that since you warned me, our encounter must be consensual?

13) Have you ever said anything to him?

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Filed under Gender, Life, Sexuality

Boy Meets Girl, Boy Creeps on Girl, Boy Asks Girl If He is Being Creepy, Girl Does What?

I realize that the answer to this question may seem incredibly simple, and in theory, it is. In practice, it can be much more complicated.

Let me walk you through a scenario or two:

1) You’re in a bar with your friends. A guy comes up to your table and starts talking. No one is interested in him, but you’re nice people, so you engage in enough small talk not to be rude, but you try to let the conversation die after a few minutes. The guy is freaking Lazarus and keeps resurrecting himself. It’s been twenty minutes, and he’s still circling the table despite your best efforts to put out an uninterested vibe. You’ve pointedly hinted at boyfriends. You’ve avoided eye contact. And yet, he parks himself dangerously close to your personal zone. He says, “Am I awkward? I’m sorry if I’m making you uncomfortable. I don’t want to be a creep.” And you say….

2) Your next-door neighbor seems like a nice, nerdy kind of guy. You’re friendly and say hi when you run into him in the hall. No big deal. But then, you start to realize that he might be interested in you. He sends you texts for no reason and keeps trying to get you to hang out with him alone. You ignore the texts and/or decline politely, but he doesn’t stop. You start to avoid him. Then, out of the blue, he sends you an explicit text asking you to have sex with him. You are shocked and incredibly uncomfortable. You say no. He apologizes and says “I just can’t help thinking these things when you’re around. I’m sorry I’m such a creep.” And you say….

The instinct for many women who are put into the above situations is to say something along the lines of “Oh no, you’re not a creep,” because that is how nice people respond when someone puts him/herself down. Most people don’t enjoy saying negative things about other people (at least to their faces) and most people are trained to graciously accept apologies. It also is generally a terrible idea to offend someone who has six inches and forty pounds on you. And so, the creep manipulates his target into “forgiving” him, thus giving him license to stick around and creep even further. This is dumb. This sucks. This shouldn’t happen.

So, what do you say?

For starters, tell the truth. “I am uncomfortable with the way you are acting,” “I do not want to continue talking to you,” and, “Yes, you are a creep,” are all perfectly acceptable things to tell people when a) they are making you uncomfortable b) you don’t want to talk to them and c) they are being creeps. You don’t have to go into detail or make derogatory remarks, but if someone says to you “Am I being creepy?” this indicates a level of self-awareness about the creepiness of his/her own behavior that deserves an honest answer. The creeper is literally asking you to call him a creep. So do it. It might not feel good, but it’s better than sanctioning inappropriate behavior.

And if you can’t tell the truth, lie. “I have a boyfriend and I’m not interested in meeting anyone else,” is a stand-by, as is the fake engagement ring often worn by single female travelers.

A note on this: It SUCKS that sometimes you have to rely on men (imagined or not) to get rid of creepers for you. It feels anything but empowering. It is ridiculous that you, a fully formed human being with rights and agency and all that, letting someone know that you are NOT interested or, you know, not expressing interest in having sex with someone is not enough to keep said someone from harassing you. But, if you are in a situation in which you are threatened or potentially in danger (your next-door neighbor, does, after all, live right next door), it may make more sense for you to lie.

Lastly, look out for your safety, especially in ongoing situations such as harassment by a neighbor, classmate, or acquaintance. Make sure that you’re not the only one who knows what’s going on, and if you directly rejecting a creeper isn’t enough to make the creeping stop, don’t hesitate to get a third party involved.

And, very lastly, to everyone in this situation who is not a) the one being creeped upon or b) the creeper: Be sympathetic. Be helpful. Do not dismiss a friend’s concerns as oversensitivity. Do not tell someone that he should be flattered by the attention. Do not tell someone that she is responsible for what has happened because she’s too friendly or flirty or pretty or whatever. Be a not-douchebag.

To the creeper: STOP CREEPING. Stop looking for compliance and look for enthusiasm. No means no isn’t always enough- the better rule of thumb is YES MEANS YES. If someone is avoiding eye contact, stepping away from you on the dance floor, giving one-word answers/not responding to your questions, and generally not acting interested in anything you have to say, GTFO. You don’t want to make conversation and/or love with someone who doesn’t like you–you’re better than that.

P.S. I realize that this post is heteronormative/assumes that the creeper is male (there is a lot more to write on this particular subject, but I’m not doing it right now). Please feel free to replace pronouns wherever necessary in order to relate to your personal situation- I wrote based on the experiences of myself and my friends. 

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Filed under Gender, Life, Sexuality

On Hanna Rosin’s “Boys on the Side,” or Why Hanna Rosin is not the second coming of Feminist Jesus

Hanna Rosin wrote a piece in the Atlantic on how hook-up culture isn’t victimizing women, but rather is perpetuated by them. Jezebel and Slate gave it good press. I’m giving it a mixed review.

Rosin’s piece makes women who hook up sound, quite frankly, like privileged, self serving assholes. The whole first page reads like something out of “I am Charlotte Simmons”–God forbid women laugh at a dumb photo of someone giving a snowman a blowjob. My 6th grade class was equally as ribald. Among other things, Rosin writes that women who perpetuate hook-up culture are “cannily manipulating it to make space for their success, always keeping their own ends in mind.” Of course, as the piece progresses, those other things that Rosin writes become more positive and praise-worthy, but there’s still something about the whole shebang that sticks in my craw.

Maybe it’s that Rosin is writing this as a preview to a book called The End of Men: And the Rise of Women (which sounds like the perfect Christmas present for your resident Men’s Rights Advocate’s entitlement complex). Maybe it’s that the words “I’m focusing on my career instead of my relationships” sound more callous on the page than coming out my friends’ mouths. I think it’s mostly that I resent that in order for people to make sense of unrepressed women’s sexuality, they have to make women into capital-M Masculine Men. And more than that, I resent that we accept without evaluation that male sexuality is ravenous and indiscriminate, and therefore the shift from traditional dating to hookups doesn’t need to be studied as a change in men. I am not at all trying to say that hookup culture is evil/immoral/terrible/whatever, but it does seem unfair and somewhat insulting that people assume that all men must be totally into it (or prefer it to being in a relationship) because BOOBZ and HORMONEZ and REAL MEN ALWAYS WANT IT.

Anyways, Rosin’s piece is worth a read, but I don’t know that it does much for feminism….I’m glad someone is out there trying to convince the world that women having sex doesnotequal the apocalypse, but it would be nice if women having sex = relatable human beings instead of that sexy-scary girl with short hair and a black pantsuit who intermittently steals Kathryn Heigl/Reese Witherspoon/insert romantic comedy heroine here’s boyfriend.

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Filed under Gender, Sexuality