Representatives vs. Tokens

In thinking about tokenism, it occurs to me that this stems from our idea that one person can serve as a representative for a huge population of others like them. We elect representatives and those representatives are supposed to be capable of serving the needs of all their constituents. Because they were put into office by a majority, their actions are suppose to reflect everyone. (As though majority interests reflect everyone anyway.)

The same seems to go for academic conferences and social groups and community blogs and otherwise "diverse" groups. It happens all the time and is endlessly annoying for members of minority groups: one black person or one queer person or one woman or one trans person etc is invited to sit on a panel or speak at an event or participate in a group with the expectation that they'll be able to "cover" any issues pertaining to the minority they're a part of.

Race activists have been writing about tokenism for a long time. They explain that it's a problem because one black person (or latino or muslim or asian etc) cannot speak to the experiences of every person of their race. There is diversity within minority groups, and tokenism ignores this. It allows majority groups to feel that they're being inclusive when really they're just continuing to oppress most minority voices and only allowing one (usually one that's supportive of the group's interests) to come through.

I think this says something about the idea of representation in general. It is pretty foolish to think that any single person can accurately represent the interests of a diverse group of constituents. I don't think we should dismantle our government; theoretically I like the idea, but I don't have any better solutions so I just try and work within the system. I do think, though, that we should try to be more aware of the fact that representatives really don't represent. It's more than a little bullshit.

Internet Love

I stayed in bed naked all day today, mostly by myself, and had a wonderful time catching up on my blog readings and internet surfings. Whenever I start to read blogs, I end up clicking around for hours. My ADD sets in and I always have 20 different windows open, video clips playing, things to read. It's a wonderful way to spend a day.

Today in my wanderings, I found Cherry TV, a wonderful little website that features videos of "normal" women talking about their sex lives around a table. There are also sexpert videos with advice on various things sexy.

I think this is a wonderful idea. A huge part of the problem with sex in this country is that we're so afraid to talk about it in a personal context, even when we do manage to bring it up intellectually or politically. It's great to see these women talking and all exclaiming with one another as they realize they share experiences, and also supporting each other in their differences.

My one critique is that the site, whose tag line is "Juicy Talk for Women," is decidedly heterocentric. All the video tags talk about what you're going to do to "him," and there aren't any lesbian or bisexual voices on a site that proposes to be for "women," which implies all women. It's not a huge critique, though, because it is a great resource for the heterosexual women it includes.

Definitely worth a peek to see what you think for yourself.

I Love My Clitoris

I love it.

That is all.

(Photo taken from this blogger who borrowed it from Gray's Anatomy.)


I said in my post on the third wave that I would discuss my feelings on the word feminism later. Well, I've decided it's time to bit that bullet, much as it's a topic that makes me squirm a little in my combat boots.

I identify as a feminist because it's the only word I have in my vocabulary to describe a person who devotes a lot of time to creating equality between the sexes. I do not like the word "feminist." I don't like the word "feminism." The whole concept bothers me.

It's not because I think women haven't been oppressed by the patriarchy. I believe that an important part of making men and women equal is empowering women. I am not afraid of the stigma the label carries; I do adopt it and I'm ready and raring to fight against that stigma at any opportunity.

However. I do not think that the empowerment of women--the "fem" in the word "feminism"--is the be all and end all of my personal quest for sex equality. I do see ways in which society's gender roles oppress men. Granted, in some ways they're oppressing themselves, but that doesn't make it any less real or any less of a problem. I strongly believe that until men are willing to--hell, until they really, really want to--throw off their gender roles, the patriarchy will not go away.

I see my mission as breaking down gender roles and creating personal freedom for people regardless of their sex (or class, or race, or religion). I do not feel that the word "feminism" adequately describes this mission. It is too focused on women. Its popularly understood meaning has become too narrow for people to understand what I actually mean when I say I'm a feminist.

I've noticed that the backlash against feminism--as a word and a movement--has meant that men are now openly opposing empowerment of women without negative PR consequences. They can claim that we feminists are trying to take over the world with our schemes for female empowerment, and nobody fights them very hard when they take steps to push women back down. They're just ensuring equality, making sure those women don't get too uppity.

We need to stop this. We need a new way of describing ourselves. If we construct a new term carefully enough, we might be able to get away from some of the negative connotations our opponents have managed to give to "feminism." I think the whole cause could benefit from this: a new label might bring a breath of fresh air to what really is a fragmented and feuding movement.

I want a word that connotes equality, not just female empowerment. I want a word that doesn't exclude half the population of the world simply through its root meanings. I love male feminists, and it would be nice to have a word that included them instead of making their maleness an oxymoron.

I want a word that nobody can argue with because it simply stands for a person who seeks equality. I want us to be crafty and smart in choosing this word, so that when we go up to people and ask "Are you a _____?" they have to say yes or sound like a douchebag. We can be like the Right: who wants to say no to "Do you support the troops?"

I haven't found this word yet. If I'd found one that I liked, that actually described what I'm working towards, I'd be screaming it from rooftops. When I do find it, believe me, I'll let you know.

Women and "Sex"

I'm sure you're all familiar with the myth that women prefer cuddling to sex. I think the biggest reason for that myth is that our cultural concept of sex is so skewed. We consider intercourse the ultimate and often the only sex act. Oral sex, fingering, humping, playing with toys, and a whole variety of other things that get women off (because they involve clitorises instead of just vaginas) do not count as sex to most Americans.

If the things that make women come count only as cuddling, of course they're going to prefer that to "actual sex." Furthermore, if so many people still haven't figured out how to make sex pleasurable for women and just keep ramming away with hard cocks, of course women aren't going to enjoy that.

Everyone I've spoken to who is comfortable enough to masturbate and seek her own pleasure likes sex. Sure, people have varying drives for how often or in what ways they want sex, but if they know how to make it fun, they enjoy it.

Now, I'm not indicting people who have a small or even no sex drive. I don't think that being asexual means you're unenlightened. I'm just suggesting that the only reason it's a gender-specific stereotype is that women require different stimulation for pleasure than is provided in the "accepted" idea of sex. It has nothing to do with their essential nature as a sex.
On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

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