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Friday, January 11, 2013

Feminism, Dating, Dinners, Diamonds: Is He a Cheap Prick or a Feminist?

Imagine the scenario, if you can: You’re a heterosexual/bisexual woman on a first date with a man. So far, so good. You haven’t had to use the fake “I have an emergency, I have to go!” (aka dial-a-friend-tosavemefromthisnightmare) excuse. The dinner is coming to its end and the server places the check on the table, closest to your date. Your adorable date flips it open, glances it over quickly, and says “Okay so let’s split this, should we use card or cash?”

I have to confess, I practically gagged as I wrote that. C’mon ladies, even diehard feminists- what are your INITIAL reactions/thoughts to this man?

Okay, next scenario, if you can: You’re a heterosexual/bisexual woman on a first date with a man. So far, so good. You haven’t had to use the fake “I have an emergency, I have to go!” (aka dial-a-friend-tosavemefromthisnightmare) excuse. You’re finishing up your appetizer, and the date asks you to elaborate on your research/life/job/interests/whatever the hell people ask on a first date. You mention that you’re a sex worker/sex work researcher/feminist/don’t want kids/have tattoos/whatever it may be, and your adorable date says something prickish that insults your feminist ideologies (“all women want kids, your clock will start ticking”).

Again, I practically gagged when I wrote that. C’mon ladies- what are your INITIAL reactions/thoughts to this man?

Well, I’ve been in both scenarios. My reaction each time? He’s gone from adorable date to idiot monster, and I will never see him again.

Why? Well, in scenario 1, he’s diverting away from traditional gender role norms. Norms say that men pay (especially early on), and women do not. Men are the breadwinners, and women must be taken care of. Benevolent sexism 101.

In scenario 2, he’s conforming to traditional gender role norms. Women are supposed to be chaste, stay at home raising the family. We are supposed to have biological clocks that tick, as we sit around watching Lifetime TV and brushing our hair. Well, if that asshole thinks that I’d want that, then he can go to hell. I’m a feminist, mother fucker, and maybe my clock is broken!

So, do I want a man who conforms to traditional gender norms, or who strays away? Welcome to “Why Christina Is Single Part 1.”

I’ve been giving this topic a lot of thought lately. I’m a single self-proclaimed feminist who has interest in studying the sex industry. Okay, since I’m using the “F” word, I should explore what it means to be a feminist. I know that I’ve always abhorred traditional gender roles, but WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? And, do I really hate them, or do I only hate the ones that won’t benefit me? I expect a guy to pay on the first date. I expect some chivalry, or do I actually expect benevolent sexism? I also expect a guy to “think outside of the box.” My ex-boyfriend of many years (and still a good friend to me, somehow. God bless his patient soul!) HATED when I would joke about having a penis (I don’t actually have one). He would squirm when I would make proclamations about our future child’s yellow bedroom walls; fuck blue and pink!! Even better, I don’t ever want kids! Talk about squirming.

He was SO damn traditional and it drove me nuts! This was a big part of the reason that our relationship ultimately ended. However, he was also a gentleman and I loved this. Gentleman (in this context): noun; a man who gave me diamonds and took me to lots of nice restaurants. *For the record, he is/was also an all-around nice guy.

Are you starting to see my point? When is it benevolent sexism, and when is it just being a “nice guy?” As modern day feminists (?) what do we expect?

I’m lost. Thoughts?

For the record, I find this cartoon to be offensive. Or, at least, I think I do. I did at one point...but now I'm not so sure! God dammit, being a young woman in today's world is confusing. Being a feminist in today's world is even worse!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bored Activist Needs A Life: Open to Suggestions

Yes…this blog still exists, and it appears that I am still alive. All within the last two months, I dropped out of the doctorate program that I had been in for almost two years, left an amazing practicum, applied to a PhD program thousands of miles away, and moved to South Florida. Things feel quite surreal right now, and if it weren’t for the fact that my dog vomited right into my hand earlier today, it may not seem real. The act of cleaning vomit has an interesting way of jolting one back to reality.

It’s no wonder that I have writer’s block right now.

For the most part, life is good. I never wake up before noon, I go to the beach or pool every day, and I live in one the gayest cities that I’ve EVER been to; I am surrounded by rainbow flags and palm trees. I’m ridiculously tanned, and have no idea what month it is. I work part time, and I finally have time to do some pleasure reading! You know what else? I’m getting sort of bored. Vacations are great, but all of a sudden, I’m living on vacation. I’m beginning to feel like moss growing on a rock (if moss were bright pink and covered in glitter). I went from one extreme to another; overworked doctoral student/therapist/research assistant/activist/crazy lady who drinks too much Red Bull to……………beach bum? 

Okay, so I need a happy medium. I need something to do…something to keep me from clawing my eyes out while I wait to hear from PhD programs. Something to do in the event that I don’t get into a program this year (ugh, don’t think about it…don’t think about it…distract, distract, DIVERSIONS!) This is the PERFECT time for me to get more involved in sex worker’s rights/activism in a “hands on” way. I’ve done a lot of reading, writing, teaching, lecturing, ranting, ranting, ranting on the topic. I want to do more. Now that I have the free time, I want to do something, but what!? Suggestions welcomed; that’s actually the main point of this self-absorbed article. I want ideas! I want advice! What can a bored sex worker activist with too much time on her hands who lives in South Florida do to help the sex work community? This much free time is a luxury, and I don’t want to just piss it away on lounging and hopping from one happy hour to the next.

All responses are welcome. However, constructive and helpful responses will be favored, versus the typical “You can go to hell in your free time” response.

I’ve signed on to volunteer with organizing the 2013 Desiree Alliance conference. That was the first suggestion that I got, and a fantastic one at that! So, what else?

Here’s another problem; there is NO sex work activism in South Florida. Or, if there is, I have not found it. There are no SWOP chapters; I’ve considered starting one, but if I get into the program of my choice, I’ll be moving out of South Florida in 6 months. Even if I were to stay, it seems that getting a network of people together would be very difficult. I’ve also played with the idea of starting some sort of support group for women in the industry, and not necessarily just women who want to exit. What about women who love their jobs, but feel isolated by the community, by societal stigma? What about women (and shit, what about men and trans individuals too!) who need resources such as condoms, STI testing, and tips on safe screening? I’ve located a ministry in Miami that supposedly “rescues” and “saves” sex workers, but do they offer any actual services, or do they just preach? Stay tuned for that answer. I am having coffee with the woman who runs the ministry next week. I plan to arrive with an open mind and a list of ideas, much like the ones above.

So, I’m open to suggestions. It’s nice to post in this old dusty blog again, even if it’s just an article filled with fluff and whining. I’m even open to suggestions for topics that people would like to see researched/written about.

Since we’re on the topic of writing, I have a 30-page undefended dissertation proposal on the topic of exotic dancers & rape myths. It’s basically a literature review of the topic, and a plan for a future study (which at this point, is obviously on hold). Perhaps I should do SOMETHING with that. Oh boy, scattered life fragments everywhere…suggestions welcomed.