Monday, July 26, 2010

Verizon--Emblem of Girl Power?

Hey all,

So while being very productive at work and watching Bones on Hulu, this ad from Verizon came on. I've included the video below:

I'm torn on my thoughts about this advertisement. On one end, it screams for girl power, also racial equality. But the reason it's doing it, isn't to empower young women of all races, it's to get young women to buy their product.

This is where things get ugly. They are acknowledging injustices within our society, and blatantly exploiting them for profit. They talk about how "air" doesn't discriminate, well, I'm pretty positive phones don't discriminate, but the people on either end of them do. This message provides this false hope that this right wing corporation actually cares about their thoughts, ideas, and dreams regardless of gender, age, or race. News flash, Verizon couldn't care less about you, they just care about the money you shuffle into their hands.

The whole part about there not being discrimination based on if you're black or white is a load of crud too. What about all the racial variations inbetween? The majority of the women in this video were white--or at least had such pale skin it would be hard to distinguish any other racial identity unless you are really looking for it. I actually counted. There were 10 women who appeared to be straight up white, 2 women who could potentially be Asian-American, and 2 African American women (one of which who was used twice). I didn't see one woman with indicators of Hispanic, Indian, or Middle Eastern descent, not to mention the other races that weren't accounted for.

Why might that be? Because the Hispanics are stealing our resources and jobs, the Indians are stealing our jobs too because they "benefit" from outsourcing, and Middle Easterners want to blow us all up. It would be too controversial if you incorporated everyone, instead we'll stick to the binaries that keep us in this mess.

I think it's important to note that all of these women appear to be middle class. This sends a pretty distinct message, that the air DOES care if you're poor, because you can't afford to use it, so it doesn't like you. I think it's funny how Verizon sets it up so it seems like IT is the air. We need air to survive, to breathe. So if you're not represented in their short list of what they don't discriminate against, you're better off dead.

Also, the women of color spoke in a very typical white dialect, and had no markers of their racial identity except for the actual color of their skin. No wonder the air doesn't discriminate, all the women represented appear to have been socialized to appear and act white. I'm not trying to speculate, as I don't know the actual personal stories of the women in this commercial, but the way they are presented couldn't be any more white.

Overall, I think this commercial is a bunch of bologna. The solution to discrimination isn't getting your parents to switch cell phone carriers, and you will survive if you don't have Verizon. Wouldn't it be nice if ending hundreds of years of oppression could be solved by consumerism? I'm pretty sure it's that sort of capitalistic outlook that fuels oppression on a regular basis.

Peace, Love, and Real Girl Power,


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Intersections of Purity and Race

Hey all,

So today in class we had an interesting discussion about virginity and sexual purity before marriage. This class is a women's health class, and the people in it tend to not be very well educated on intersectionality, in particular race and gender identity. The whole conversation and movie clip we watched kept urking me. This conversation was about white, middle-to-upper class heterosexual women, straight up.

Once we began discussing the video and purity in general, folks were looking at it from a one-sided perspective. One quote really rang in my head, "If they had sex they would put a black stain on their purity."

While I think the person who said it didn't mean for it to have racial implications, but it sure as hell did. Purity is looked as being symbolized as white, clean, and wholesome (I.E. a white wedding dress), and anything not pure is seen as dark, dirty, and cheap.

How does this tie into race? Well those who are thought of to be pure in our society are middle to upper class white heterosexual folks, often times Christians. Lower-class individuals, non-Christian, non-hetero, or people of color fit into that "other" category, the dirty, cheap, and promiscuous sector of society. Women of color are looked at as being jezebels, willing to sleep with anyone. History of slavery in this country has shaped sentiments of people of color and their worth in society.

Looking back at that student's quote, it's clear. If you're white, you're pure, otherwise you are the unwanted stain and you don't belong. The same sentiment is prevalent in the common phrase "The black sheep" referencing the weird, abnormal, deviant person of a certain group. The color choice of the sheep in this phrase isn't just about sheep, it's about the acceptance of people of color within mainstream society and its values. I'm willing to bet there are just as many black sheep as white sheep wandering around out there, but white is default, it's always default. What we're doing is otherizing anyone who isn't white, forming segregated communities with little understanding.

I have a hunch that part of the reason women of color, especially those occupying lower-classes, are victims of more rape and sexual abuse due to the fact that men think they can't say no to sex, their race screams sexual promiscuity. This keeps those pretty little white girls "pure" while the boys can still have their experience. It's a disgusting cycle that needs to stop.

We need to stop looking at purity as being symbolized by whiteness. If you have a black granite counter-top, it's going to be dirty if it has white baking powder on it. When we choose to symbolize such strong moral convictions that are prevalent in society by color, we're further perpetuating systematic racism. Things aren't black and white, and there's not one perspective that should be seen as better than another. We need to start being more aware of these cultural norms that are intertwined and embedded into our lives so that we can stop using them, and start changing them.

Peace, Love, and Equality,


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Being Gay and Gender-Fluid -- Don't Expect Respect

Hey folks,

Sorry about the long lapse in blogging, I've been having 15 hour days, so extra time is dedicated to sleep. But alas, I'm here and queer, and very angry.

So today I participated in a preliminary research study on asthma and allergies. This visit was about getting my medical history, testing my lung capacity, and testing me for allergies to put my information in a bank to be drawn out for various studies (which pay big money...chachangggg). Now, usually I have decent luck with doctors. But this was not a pleasant visit on multiple accounts. For being public health representatives, these doctors had no sort of empathy or compassion, let alone understanding.

The first offense: Homophobia. So she asked me if I was sexually active, and I said yes. Then she asked me how many men I was having relations with. I told her none. She looked at me oddly and questioned my first affirmative answer. I replied "I'm gay, I sleep with women." She looked me dead in the eyes and said "Oh, that doesn't count."

EXCUSE ME? My sexuality doesn't count? If you only wanted hetero responses you should have asked "Are you sexually active in heterosexual relations?" (not that I wouldn't be offended by that either). I'm sick of society assuming that there are A. No STI's or diseases that can be spread in lesbian sex, B. There is no "real" penetration in lesbian sex, and C. Women want to sleep with men, and if they sleep with women it's not because they actually care about it or it's just an experiment and consequently doesn't count.

The Second Offense: Transphobia. While filling out one of the surveys, I told her that I go by my middle name "Rae" not my legal first name "Sarah." She looked at me and said that she doesn't do nicknames, she does legal names. Cool lady, real cool. Then I got to the dreaded "Circle one of the following... Gender: Male or Female." I looked up and said that when they print off more copies of this sheet they should change "Gender" to "Sex" since that's what they were really asking, and that they should include "Intersex."

She told me they don't include intersexual individuals in the studies. Which, HOLD THE PHONE, 1 in 2,000 newborns are intersex, I think they need asthma treatment too. Not to mention intersexuals have different biology in terms of reproductive systems, not lungs. Then she told me "You would be the type to want to not want it to say gender."

Excuse me? I look the type? What does that even mean? Because I'm gay I automatically want to transgress gender? I should note, she didn't know my gender identity previous to this. When I explained I don't identify as either gender, she said that if I didn't pick female that I wouldn't be used in the study. What did I do? I wrote in "Gender-Fluid" next to the gender. Don't ask for gender if you mean sex, and if you ask for either, you best lay out all the options.

The Third Offense: Lack of Empathy for Medical History. So here's where things get real personal. I have a history of struggling with anorexia, it was a long battle and I've been in remission for a full year and three months now. When I told her about it (part of giving medical history) she looked at me with this disgusted look and judgment in her eyes saying "Which one is that again? The one where you starve yourself?"

As a medical professional, this should never occur. Anorexia is a disease and should be treated as such. You should NEVER judge, blame, or ridicule a patient for such. But unfortunately both society and medical professionals view anorexia as a choice, something crazy people do for attention. Talk to anyone battling anorexia, it's not a choice. It's not nearly that simple, it's a crippling disorder that consumes your life and can lead to death if untreated for too long. This isn't something to scoff about.

I don't plan on ever going back to that place, helping doctors who don't have enough respect for their patients to maintain them. Doctors visits should be relatively pleasant, and shouldn't leave you with disgust, guilt, or shame. We need to rework how the medical world views diseases and social concerns. I understand they are only human, they have their biases like everyone else, but if you work in a place that helps people of every background imaginable, you should have no choice but to put judgements and bigotries on the shelf in the locker room. As far as I'm concerned, bigotry only deteriorates patient's health, never improves it.

Signed a very angry queer,


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Texas--Home of the Oppressors Part 5: Immigration

Howdy folks,

This is part 5 of 6 on the Texas GOP Platform. Arizona, a state away from Texas, has passed the strictest immigration policy to date (they are actually being sued by the Federal Government because of it), and it seems as though the Texas GOP wants to follow in their footsteps.

“Legal Immigration – One nation, one flag, one language, one loyalty; America is a country of immigrants, we should insist that any immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself/herself to the United States. He/she shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else. This is predicated upon the fact that the person is in every facet an American, and nothing but an American. There can be no divided allegiance. Anyone who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t American at all. We have room but for one flag, the American Flag. We have room for but one language here and that is the English language. We have room for but one sole loyalty and that is loyalty to the American people. (Teddy Roosevelt, 1907) ''

Alright, so this sounds all hunky dory for the first couple of lines.. then things get serious. What they are asking is that all immigrants erase their past, their native cultures, language, and lose any connections to their homeland. Is it possible to be an American and still honor your roots? You bet. How do you explain all the various German or Polish festivals we have all over the country to honor our ancestors? The way they are defining citizenship, 90% of the people I know aren’t legal citizens because they still speak their ancestors’ tongue, they root for other countries in the World Cup, and they don’t like baseball. That is afterall, trangression from the notion that every legal citizen has to uphold every facet of a real American.

America is great BECAUSE of the differences in culture, pasts, and experiences of immigrants. Yes, immigrants should learn English if they plan on being successful in the US, but should they forget about their home countries, traditions, and languages? God no. I don’t support an elitist country and the efforts to erase cultural diversity. What are they going to do next, require every immigrant to have their skin bleached in order to fit into our “picture perfect” country? Not on my watch.

“Birthright Citizenship – We call on the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of these United States to clarify Section 1 of the 14th amendment to limit citizenship by birth to those born to a citizen of the United States: with no exceptions.”

This is also bogus. So a child who is born on our soil, grows up here, knows no other country nor society other than ours, can’t be a citizen if their parents are immigrants without citizenship status? You want to deport children who grow up here because of their parent’s nationality. Some might argue that that last statement I just said is an overgeneralization, but how do you think they they are going to assume someone’s parents are citizens thus making them one? Two words, racial profiling. I have no doubt this is another ploy to dispose of non-white people, in particular those of hispanic or Middle Eastern origin. This will put more people in danger than help current citizens. If on a child’s 21st birthday they are discovered to have non-citizen parents, they risk being deported to a land they’ve never set foot on before. Not to mention it takes YEARS and YEARS to actually attain citizenship, a process children will know little to nothing about.

“American English – We support adoption of American English as the official language of Texas and of the United States.”

There are hundreds of dialects and languages spoken every second here in the US. Declaring American English (which has many different dialects for the record) as the official language is one more way of saying anyone whose first language isn’t American English is less of a person in this country, not legitimate nor wanted. This has dangerous implications. Our country was founded on diversity, we should be celebrating it rather than fighting it. Our demographic is always changing, and it has been since the human existence came to be. We took over the US from the Native Americans, altering the demographic. Humanity is fluid in shape, size, and color. It’s time to stop fighting it and start embracing it.

Immigration is an extremely controversial topic in the United States and virtually everywhere else in the world. If we only want documented immigrants in the US (which I think to an extent is a reasonable request) then we need to start expanding resources and make it easier for people to move here. When we screen people based on income, we leave thousands of people to their deaths in tyrannical, unlivable conditions. As humans we all should have the right to better our lives, that’s the American dream is it not? We need to start making this possible.

Some argue the reason it’s so hard to obtain a visa or legal immigrant status is because of all of the illegal immigrants. Well think about that, the harder it is to be a legal immigrant the more illegal immigrants there will be. People risk their lives to provide for their families or give there children futures by coming to this country. No level of security is going to prevent people coming in. We need to get off our high horses and embrace these people, allow them to be documented so we can be aware of their existence and integrate them more effectively into society.

All the above stances were taken in full context and can be found here.

Peace and Love,


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Twilight--Beauty and the Beast on Heroin


So I reluctantly just finished the first book of the Twilight series, after being forced to read it for one of my classes. It is probably some of the worst writing and editing I have ever been so unfortunate to read, but for some reason it draws you in like black magic and won't let put the dang thing down.

As this 498-page novel sucked out my soul and replaced it with a pre-pubescent girl with the intellect of an orange, I couldn't help but think about how much this story reminded me of a sick and twisted version of The Beauty and The Beast.

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the story of the Disney classic, Belle gets captured by this monstrous beast that treats her like absolute crap, but because she stays with him, he of course turns into prince charming. Well Twilight features Bella (hmm... name bearing any resemblance here?) a quiet, "ordinary" girl with low self-esteem and Edward, a gorgeous, harsh vampire. Surprise surprise, Edward makes Bella fall for him, and she refuses to leave him.

There are many times where he is down right misogynistic and violent towards her. He routinely has to fight the urge of killing her by his strong need to suck her dry. Does she leave him or run away? Of course not, because if you stay with abusers you'll have a fairytale love.

Edward saves her life on numerous occasions, which makes him seem like a hero. I want to make this very clear, Edward is NOT a hero. Yes, he got Bella out of some tight spots, but on every encounter he is condescending, cruel, and usually forceful (both physically and emotionally) with her. He uses his vampire powers to hypnotize her, to get her heart to stop beating and cause her to faint, or to beat crazily fast. He puts her in danger not only by wanting to make her a human bloody mary, but by his actions and temper with her. Like the Beast, he falls in love with Bella and is portrayed as "prince charming." Like I said previously, this is NOT the case no matter how many heart strings Stephanie Meyer (the author) pulls.

What's worse than the classic story of The Beauty and The Beast, where little girls are taught to stay with abusers, knowing that their charm and beauty can cure, change them, is that Edward isn't expected to change... SHE is. This story line has a clear message.... Men are the way they are, aggressive and violent, and women are meant to alter their motions and behaviors as not to egg them on. Throughout the whole book Bella is constantly trying to be careful of what she says or does, changing who she is in order to please Edward and hopefully spare her life. She calls this love. I call this a trance-like death wish that not only her, but many women in society get convinced to have. In the end she even tries to convince Edward to make her a vampire (supposedly an extremely painful and unforgiving process) so that she can be good enough to stay with him forever and not be in imminent danger. There is no expectation that Edward is going to always be able to control himself, as is constantly portrayed by her constant fear of his sudden movements.
I should also note that the female vampires don't treat Bella aggressively in any sort of physical fashion, it is only the males.

It scares me to think this is what our youth are reading, slowly being brainwashed by these gender roles strung through the entire book. If you're a boy, you need to aspire to be dead-looking (the vampires are wickedly pale with large circles under their eyes... much like meth addicts I would assume), harsh, and violent in order to be appealing to women. If you're a girl, you need to aspire to be frail, in perpetual damsel in distress mode, and change to conform to the aggressions your "man" imposes on you. We are setting our youth up for a pattern of domestic violence and abusive relationships.

Nonetheless, even while I was hyper-aware of the implications and messages of this book, I felt myself completely absorbed, unable to stop reading. This is a bad sign. Abuse is being turned into a pleasingly entertaining atmosphere to be sucked in with a crazy straw. What does this say about our society, and the future of our society for that matter, that this book can be written and absorbed with such delight? I would be lying if I said it didn't terrify me, the thought that our youth are growing up reading novels and watching movies with such subliminal smut, learning how to interact with one another. In a culture of terrorism against women, I shouldn't be surprised that this book exists, or even that it was written by a woman. Women have learned to take abuse as romance in order to survive, which ultimately is a terribly sad existence.

It's up to both men AND women to overcome this timeline of abuse and violence. We need to start recognizing these forms of media for what they are, harmful propaganda fed to us in order to maintain a societal hierarchy of gender. Do a bit of research before you decide to buy a book or movie, know the themes and messages. Consumer power should never be underestimated. Don't go to movies that feature rape (which is 1 in 8 of them last time I checked), don't buy books that tell you to change yourself for someone else, and don't buy action figures representing abusive characters as the protagonist.

Chilled with rage and teenage angst,


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Texas--Home of the Oppressors Part 4: Education

Hey All,

I hope you can all get out and enjoy one another's company on our Nation's birthday. I will personally be spending it in a parking booth because apparently the university like to observe holidays the day after they happen. Oh well. Anywho, I am finally posting part 4 of 6 on Education and how it is impacted by the Texas GOP Platform.

"Ten Commandments – We oppose any governmental action to restrict, prohibit, or remove public display of the Decalogue or other religious symbols."

This one is pretty obvious, they want to let the Ten Commandments be said in everyday school settings without punishment. While I 100% support freedom of speech, I see this as a ploy to get parents and church goers emphasized permission to encourage their children to evangelize in schools. This I do have a problem with, public schools are a place for learning, protected by the Separation of Church and State. I don't mind if kids talk about their religion, but when they start pressuring other students that's when I get frustrated. Every child deserves to go to public school without fear they are going to have a bible pushed at them.

"Support of Parental Authority - We support parental authority and the teaching of moral values in the home. We oppose school–based clinics and/or youth impact centers located at, sponsored by, or funded by any state agency or public school district, whether or not they dispense condoms and contraceptives or refer, aid, or advise minors to have abortions."

Yes, I believe parents should be involved in teaching their children about sex and their feelings about it. I do however resent the idea that there should be no services or help offered to these kids. They are at the ages of curiosity, raging hormones, and peer pressure. You can't expect that every kid is going to be "good" and stay abstient. STI's happen, pregnancy happens, and rape happens. If you don't have places for kids to go, you're basically isolating them, putting them on an island to get information from unverifiable sources, and leaving them to a potentially doomed fate by not giving them the resources to prevent against HIV and other STI's, among other things.

"Basic Standards – We favor improvements on the quality of education and a return to the traditional basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic with sufficient discipline to ensure learning. We support standardized testing to ensure minimal standards are met. Bilingual Education – English is the language of commerce, therefore a successful tiered language instruction program with the following provisions is recommended:

Year 1: 70% English / 30% Native language (Year 1 indicates first year of U.S. based education)

Year 2: 80% English / 20% Native language

Year 3: 90% English / 10% Native language

Year 4 and thereafter: 100% English (No bilingual education after year 3)

All students must pass recognized standard tests that verify each student’s English ability for their grade level before advancing. No research based evidence exists that a dual language program promotes the language of commerce."

As a English as a Second Language teacher, this really frustrates me. First off, standardized testing is a sham. It's geared to native English speakers and puts unnecessary pressure on students and teachers. The school years are so rushed and packed with information that students don't get much attention to really firmly grasp all the topics.

Secondly, bilingual education isn’t as simple as tiered percentages. Every individual learns language differently and at different paces at that. When you limit education based on a rigid structure, you leave students behind resulting in higher drop-out rates. Especially if you prohibit a student from moving forward a grade (even if they did well in all their classes) just because their English isn’t to a level you deem appropriate. But maybe that’s the goal, get all the immigrants out of our schools so we can reign with our American-born glory. News flash, your ancestors immigrated here, and chances are they didn’t speak English.

“College Textbooks – We support Texas’ colleges and universities use of the same or substitutable textbooks for ten or more years in order to bring costs to students down and maintain some residual value for used books. We oppose restrictions on use of textbooks for multiple years, such as requiring annual access codes.”

This is one of the few stances I actually for the most part support. I do think it’s ridiculous to force students to buy new books because of access codes. I do think that if a new textbook comes out that is infinitely better than the previous edition, it is important to switch to that book. But I like that they are advocating for cheaper textbooks for students.

“Early Childhood Development – We believe that parents are best suited to train their children in their early development and oppose mandatory pre-school and Kindergarten. We urge Congress to repeal government-sponsored programs that deal with early childhood development.”

I think this is beyond ridiculous. Yes, parents should help their children grow and develop in their early (and later) years. However pre-school and Kindergarten are extremely important. This stance is focusing on middle and upper class families who can afford to have a parent not work in order to teach their children. What about single parents, low-income families, and everyone else inbetween who need to have their children in these programs because they work two full-time jobs just to make sure that their kids can eat? By taking away these resources you will not only see a drop in literacy skills in lower-income households, but also potentially greater poverty due to childcare costs and tuition to private pre-schools and kindergartens.

“Educational Entitlement – Given that education is reserved to the states under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, we encourage legislation that prohibits enrollment in free public schools of non-citizens unlawfully present in the United States. We encourage the Texas Attorney General to challenge the Federal provision of residency verification.”

Again, this is ridiculous. Yes, these illegal immigrants need to pay taxes that will help fund schools. But it is not in the best interest of the children to deny them schooling because the citizenship process takes YEARS (sometimes more the 10). Most of these immigrants are here because their people were being slaughtered in their country, poverty destroyed their lives, or they are being persecuted by big corporations or their government. They are here to better their lives, and seeing how that’s what all OUR ancestors came here for, we best live up to our civic duty to help these people.

“Multiculturalism – We support teaching the principles articulated by Republican Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that we be judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character and we celebrate positive contributions to our society by members of all cultural groups without emphasizing their differences. We favor strengthening our common American identity and loyalty instead of multiculturalism that emphasizes differences among racial and ethnic groups.”

This is really a disgusting standpoint living in this masquerade of equality. If we are going to say everyone is the same, we’re all American and thus have the same experiences we are setting ourselves up for bigotry and lack of sensitivity. It is a fact that different racial and ethnic groups experience the world differently. When we fail to acknowledge these differences we falsely say we can relate to eachother on levels that we really can’t. This lack of sensitivity will lead eventually lead to the end of affirmative action, lack of cultural understanding, and eventually, it is this author’s belief, white supremacy to a greater degree than it exists today. In this country we are not all created equal. It’s only through education that we can change that, and if we ignore it, the gaps between races will grow larger and true equality will never be had.

“Sex Education – We recognize parental responsibility and authority regarding sex education. We support policies that mandate parental notification and consent before any sex education program is presented to their child. Parents must be given an opportunity to review the material prior to giving their consent. We oppose any sex education other than abstinence until heterosexual marriage.”

So I have a huge beef with sex education in the United States. When over 53% of middle school children are already having sex, you know abstinence-only education isn’t working. There has been studies done that prove that absitence-only education doesn’t decrease sexual activity in youth, but it does prevent a majority of them practicing safe sex or using contraception. Comprehensive sex ed doesn’t increase levels of sexual activity, but it does improve the numbers of of participants using contraception and practicing safe sex.

I do agree that parents should be notified if their child is going to be taught sex-ed, and they should be able to decide what’s best for their child. However this idea that heterosexual abstinence-only education should be the only thing taught is appalling. With teen pregnancy on the rise we need to be preparing our children to protect themselves, rather than hearing myths from their friends.

“Traditional Principles in Education – We support school subjects with emphasis on Judeo-Christian principles (including the Ten Commandments) upon which America was founded and which form the basis of America’s legal, political and economic systems. We support curricula that are heavily weighted on original founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and Founders’ writings.”

Let me break this down for you.... They want to TEACH our children the Ten Commandments in school. Last I heard, this was crazily illegal. I’ve written at length the implications of announcing that our country is a Christian nation in Part 3: Separation of Church and State. If we want to alienate our non-Christian students, this is the way to do it. And I in absolutely no way support this method of teaching.

“School Health Care – We urge legislators to prohibit reproductive health care services, including counseling, referrals, and distribution of condoms and contraception through public schools. We support the parents’ right to choose, without penalty, which medications are administered to their minor children. We oppose medical clinics on school property except higher education and health care for students without parental consent.”

No counseling... So what happens if a child is raped by their father and they have no one to talk to but the school nurse or counselor? We want to take away the only resource they have available to them? This is disgusting and just plays into the culture of silence.

Like I said above about sex education, students need access to protection. At the very least condoms are important. If kids are going to have sex (which, they are, nothing you say or do is going to prevent it) do you want them to have the option to prevent disease and pregnancy? I would hope you would. There is really no other place for these kids to get these products, and it’s important that they are available to them AND they know how to use them.

Education in this country is already severly lacking. This platform is calling for regression, not progress. We owe it to our youth to fight this and ensure that they receive the education they deserve. I think it’s also important to note that this isn’t just a Texas issue. Texas is the largest distributor of text books in this country. That being said, what happens in Texas is what happens in schools everywhere. If you don’t want your children being taught that our country is a strictly English-speaking, Christian nation, you need to help rally against this platform. Urge your local senators to take up bills like California did, asking your state government to have restrictions on what can go into these textbooks so unfair, biased sentiments aren’t woven into your children’s texts.

All the above stances were taken in full context and can be found here.

Peace, love, and the Right to Equal Education,


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Queerland--The Culture of Hooking Up

Hey Folks,

In my summer class we've been reading various chapters from the book Guyland, which discusses the rules, codes, and culture associated with being a man between the ages of 16 and 26 in American society. While reading this book I was constantly finding things that reflected how I felt queer culture worked. Despite all of the relatable characteristics, I would say the most profound one is by far hookup culture.
In the queer campus environment it seems that everyone is ranked on social status. You have the baby dykes and fags, the B crowd, and the studs and power dykes. I should note this is my own rigid description of queer hierarchy, and any other person experiences this hierarchy differently and therefor might add tiers, subtract tiers, or rename them entirely.

So let's start out by defining what these categories are. The lowest tier being the baby dykes and fags. These are the folks that are just coming to grips with their sexuality, embracing it, and/or walking around proudly trying to make sure everyone and their mom knows they are queer. Their enthusiasm is taken in by everyone surrounding them. To those of their same level they are looked at as people to experiment with, enjoy, and date. The people involved in the higher tiers instead look at them as fresh meat, the prey. I'll explain this further in a minute.

The B crowd contains the majority of queers. These folks are for the most part at peace with their sexuality and understand who they are. It has been my experience that these people date on occasion, hook up on occasion, but for the most part just enjoy life. They may be somewhat idolized by the baby dykes and fags, but not nearly to the extent of the highest tier.

The elite, top level of campus queerdom is to be a gay stud or power dyke. These folks are on top, shown as being the most desirable. These are the queers that sleep with a LOT of different partners. They truly embody the hookup culture that is found in the culture of straight white college men. Many people strive to make it to this tier, to show their true gayness. Since these folks are on top, whenever fresh meat (aka the baby dykes and fags) come into the picture, they tend to jump on them like a fresh kill. They take advantage of their curiosity and want to explore in order to continue to increase their social ranking.

I personally fit into the middle category. I'm long passed my coming out stage where I feel like I need to makeout with every woman that moves. I will admit, in the beginning I wanted to be the power dyke, the most desirable of the crowd, the one in charge so to speak. So initially, I hooked up, it was part of what it meant to be a queer in college.
So what happens when I'm sick of pointless, sloppy, drunk sex? I coast in the middle, B crowd. I've come to grips with this and am completely comfortable in this situation. I'd much rather date someone I'm actually interested in, rather than score (and really, it is scoring, you keep track of your partners and whomever has the most points wins status) with a woman I just think is attractive but have no clue what our brain chemistry is. This is all hunky dory until you realize the reality of the environment you're in when you live in a campus culture.

This makes dating extremely difficult. You meet someone you actually like, but before long it is expected that your relationship is based on sex. The concept of taking it slow, getting to really know a person is rapidly being erased. This perplexes me.

How much value can you really put on a relationship that is almost solely based on sex? I think the answer to that question varies from person to person, but overall I think that any value couldn't be whole based on the imbalance within the relationship. If we stop caring about the connections we are making with people, what does that say about us as humans? While sex is an extremely personal and intimate act, I think it is being robbed of some of its power in that regard. Rather than being a way to link to people together on a profound level, it's being used as a tool to further ones social status.. a tactic used since the dawn of time (Remember those Greeks and Romans that looked at sex as holding power over the recipient?).

The only difference I would say, is that in queer culture both parties generally get a rise in status, rather than only the "man" in the hookup. While I think the "top" in the situation generally gets more praise, there isn't as much of a stigma of being "bottom" and hooking up and being a slut as it would be in a heterosexual encounter.

I have no real solution to this, I just find it extremely fascinating. We're using each other in this large game of keeping score and seeing who comes out on top. Just some food for thought.

I also recognize I didn't discuss politics in terms of bisexuality. This is partly due to the general exclusion and mistrust of most bisexuals which possibly gives them their own tier in the hierarchy altogether. I also think that in terms of how in tune they are in queer culture, they can still rank in any of the three tiers, but this is solely based on the community and environment they are in.

I'd be really interested in hearing your views on the topic, as I in no way claim to be the expert.