Nice article by Ashely Hoffman on styleite.com about my favorite champions of literacy, the Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society. Read it here.
One of my favorite things currently in existence is The Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society. It’s a group of ladies in New York City who take advantage of the their state’s laws allowing women to be topless anywhere that men are by (among other things) gathering in public parks to read books, topless. After all, is a right that no one exercises really a right?
As someone who’s always looking for new and different clothing optional events to attend and produce, this entry about a meeting they hosted at Azya Wine & Chocolate Bar was near and dear to my heart. Rock on, ladies.
[Author’s Note: This blog started out as a quick shout-out to the folks behind Monokini, a line of single-breasted swimsuits, but has since morphed into a rant about topless equality, gender identity and body image. Just watch my feet for a minute, I promise there’s a point to all this.]
Monokini is social art project that designs swimwear collections for single mastectomy survivors who have elected to forego breast augmentation surgery. It’s also the thing that currently restores my faith in humanity.
I love this for two reasons. I have several friends who are breast cancer survivors, some have had mastectomies, some haven’t. Of those who have, some have elected to get breast implants, some haven’t. I think it’s pretty awesome that this project highlights the fact that there is a choice and it’s really the decision of the survivor (and, I suppose, her doctor, I know nothing about the medical ramications of these things).
The second, somewhat stranger, reason is that mastectomy survivors who forego implants call attention to how ridiculous it is that in so many parts of the country, it’s illegal for women to be topless in public. It begs the question, what part of the female breast is so offensive? The nipple? Men have nipples, but we can be topless in public. Is it the amount breast tissue? What about flat chested women and amply breasted men? And, if that were the case, why is it legal for women to be basically topless if their nipples are covered? It makes no sense. I think what the powers-that-be find offensive about the female breast is that they are attached to women.
To see how silly this can get, contrast the cases of Jodi Jaecks and Andrea Jones. In 2012 Jodi Jaecks was temporarily banned from swimming topless in a public pool in Seattle, despite having had a double mastectomy and electing not to get breast implants.
In 2011, Andrea Jones, a transgender woman living in Tennessee, was arrested for indecent exposure after walking out of the Department of Motor Vehicles topless. She was protesting the fact that the DMV refused to change the gender on her driver’s license from male to female. Her argument being that the state couldn’t treat her as both a man and a woman, and if she was legally male, she should be able to walk outside without a shirt on.
Two women, one with neither breasts nor nipples, the other born biologically male and still treated as such by her state, both sanctioned for doing what cisgender men do all the time: being topless in public. It makes no sense to me.
On a brighter note, photo below comes from bodybuilder turned body image activist, Taryn Brumfitt at bodyimagemovement.com.au. It’s part of a blog titled “The best reason to get naked in front of a thousand people!” and it tells the story of two total strangers, both mastectomy survivors, who met and bonded at the world’s largest naked swimming event.
Taryn is also running a Kickstarter campaign to fund a body positive documentary called “Embrace” and you should definitely support it by going here.
What do you do when the guy you believe raped your friend, calls you out of the blue?
Some of you remember this post. A friend of mine accused a guy I know of raping her. I believed her. I confronted him. He denied it. I sought no further contact with him. Fast forward six months or so, he calls me on the phone “to catch up,” and says that we never talk anymore and “that’s a shame.”
I say, “Well, that’s one way to look at it. Another way would be that in our last conversation, I accused you of raping someone. Rape accusations have a way of ending relationships.” Amazingly enough, a civil conversation took place after this. He asked me to do him a favor, and while my knee jerk reaction was to tell him to go fuck himself, the favor only required a small amount of my time and a couple dollars of my money, so I complied. I used the opportunity to encourage him to seek counseling and also to invite him to and anti-violence against women event that I am co-hosting.
I also sent him a link to this awesome post on the Captain Awkward blog about “creepers and proto-rapists” and asked him to read it. That article inspired the conversation below.
To his credit, the man in question did not oppose me posting our correspondence publically. I have removed his name and other identifying characteristics. For the sake of her privacy, I will refer to the woman who made the initial rape allegation as “Jane,” which is not her real name. The order of some comments has been changed to preserve the continuity of a conversation that took place via instant message. Without further editorial comment, here is the conversation in almost its entirety.
Him: I have read your article about the creepers.
My first thought is that you spend a lot more time thinking about my dick and what I do with it than I ever have yours, which is a little hard to do sense yours is almost a public forum.
Second was to evaluate why you want me to read it. This is coming from Jane asking to crash at my place? Or more?
Me: Yes and more. Other women coming to me (unsolicited) with stories about you. Women have told me that they don’t want to come to my events because they saw you on my Facebook friends list and question how I could associate with someone like you. Please believe, I don’t go around asking women what they think of you. They bring this stuff to me. Women I didn’t even know you knew.
So, yes, it’s more than Jane, but when one of my good friends says you fucked her in her sleep, that’s kind of significant in and of itself.
And, I can honestly say, I have never thought about your dick in anything but the abstract until just now. Thanks for that. But, come on, “you spend a lot more time thinking about my dick and what I do with it than I ever have yours” is a pretty lame response under the circumstances. Even from you.
Him: I get that a number of years ago I exhibited some of the characteristics of some of these guys. Particularly after [my long-term girlfriend] dumped me. I felt as if my entire world had imploded with the help of my instantly vanished social network. I felt that way because that is what happened.
I eventually made new friends and moved on, slowly. Ever so slowly. I worked on bettering myself but not without making cardinal mistakes to learn from.
When freshly single, I hit on everything that I had interest in. I stopped after getting negative responses and was tired of the rejection. I made my focus when going out to drink limited to just that- to get drunk and enjoy drinking.
When you asked me to talk to Jane and clear things up, and I did, and she tried to assault me, I was out on a date with a girlfriend of 3 months.
Since you have known me I have had many relationships, some good, some bad, some long term, some shorter. I have had many friendships with women that have nothing to do with sex. My motives in dating are for a long-term romance, not just sex. I find just sex, hollow and meaningless, unfulfilling. If I was the bad guy as you have painted me, would that be so? If I was a raping creeper would that be the case?
Me: In a word, yes. Having a girlfriend doesn’t render you incapable of being a creeper. Even if you didn’t fuck Jane in her sleep (as I believe you did), two other women have come to me with stories about you in just the past year (I’m sorry, but I’m not at liberty to disclose who they are). And you and I don’t even hang out in the same crowd anymore. Should I discount them as well? What are the mathematical odds that this is all a series of misunderstandings and you are totally blameless?
I think you have a problem with women. End of story. I think you need help. If you disagree with me, fine. Maybe I’m wrong. However, I haven’t tried to have any contact with you since we discussed the Jane incident. You called me. If I honestly believe you raped someone and you continue to try to have a relationship with me, what am I supposed to do? Pretend it never happened?
Him: I am not saying I am totally blameless. I did point out that I have made many mistakes prior to now. I am not asking who has said what. I do wonder why they never addressed their problem with me to me. I have been the subject of unmitigated, unwarranted attack in the past. If I am acting creepy, I do expect to be called out on it so I may correct my action.
Me: You did read the article I sent you, right? There are a myriad of reasons why a woman would not feel comfortable calling out a guy who goes over the line with her. It’s really not her responsibility to police your behavior. You are a grown man. Secondly, I have no idea if these women called you out at the time or not, but if they did, I have a hard time imagining you being very receptive to what they said.
Him: If, however, someone asks to sleep in my bed I do take that as a sign that they want to sleep with me. If we have had relations in the past, doubly so.
I understand that there is “buyer’s remorse”, but I don’t think that is justification to attack someone.
Me: “If someone asks to sleep in my bed I do take that as a sign that they want to sleep with me. If we have had relations in the past, doubly so”? Dude, that makes you sound a tiny bit rapey.
As far as “buyer’s remorse,” people don’t shop in their sleep.
Him: If you are predisposed to see me as you do, then I have no chance of you seeing me as anything else.
Me: You’re probably right. But my predisposition comes from an overwhelming amount of anecdotal evidence and personal observation. It’s not like I have a genetic disorder that makes me see rapists everywhere. And while it’s true that I don’t like you, there’s lots of people who I don’t like that I have no reason to believe have raped anyone.
Him: And this evidence is anecdotal being told to someone who doesn’t like me. And the observance is seen by someone who doesn’t like me. Someone who has prejudged me long ago because they don’t like me. Yes. I have made mistakes in the past. I have tried to learn from those mistakes and make amends. I think I am a better person for learning from my mistakes. I believe I have grown greatly sense I was that person that you decided to not like. Not that I am asking you to like me now.
Me: Fair enough. It is what it is.
This has been interesting to say the least. I hope you don’t mind, but I plan to reprint our correspondence on my blog. I think people can learn from it. I will, of course, remove your name and any identifying characteristics.
If you do decide to come to the teach-in on Saturday (and I hope you do), I will be totally professional and leave our personal history at the door.
Him: I will look at it again. I haven’t ruled it out.
Me: I appreciate that.
I read this article by Kirsten Powers on the Daily Beast. It’s being circulated on the internet by conservatives in response to the uproar over Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut. Powers’ premise is that it’s hypocritical for the left to call for boycotts of Limbaugh for his sexism when she can cite sexist comments by left leaning pundits like Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Ed Schultz, Bill Maher, and Matt Taibbi.
Surprisingly, I don’t entirely disagree. I do give Bill Maher something of a pass, because rightly or wrongly, I think of him primarily as a comedian. Howard Stern is way to the right of me and I give him a pass as well because his sexism, racism and homophobia are at least funny. I also think it’s a stretch when Powers cites Matt Taibbi calling Michelle Bachmann “bat-shit crazy” as proof of sexism. There’s nothing gender specific about “bat-shit crazy,” so it’s only sexist if all things being equal, he wouldn’t use the same language about a man. Anyone who followed Taibbi’s coverage of the Bush administration or John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign would agree that there’s nothing unique in his treatment of Bachmann.
As far as Powers’ criticism of the Matthews, Olbermann and Schultz, well, I’m the last guy to defend them. Anyone who follows me on Facebook or Twitter probably knows how useless I think the non-Rachel Maddow line-up at MSNBC is. Although, I will say, there is one glaring omission in Powers’ article. All the examples of sexism that she points to by left leaning pundits, indefensible as most of it is, is directed at politicians or other pundits: Hilary Clinton, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Michelle Malkin, etc. Not exactly shrinking violets, these ladies; all of them entered political and public life of their own free will, all must have known that taking slings and arrows came with the job and all have thrown their own jabs at their political opponents. You won’t have to look hard to find equally inflammatory remarks from right wing pundits against Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Michelle Obama or Rachel Maddow. Lou Dobbs once called Maddow a “tea-bagging queen, “whatever that means.
I think the difference in Limbaugh’s attack on Sandra Fluke is that she is neither a politician nor a pundit. I don’t think that testifying before congress is the same as entering public life in a professional sense. She attacked no one, she simple told her story and those of her classmates. For this, a young woman whose name none of us had heard before and most would have forgotten thereafter, gets called “slut” and “prostitute” by a nationally syndicated radio host with an audience in the millions. The relevant comparison here is not to left pundits insulting female politicians, but to Don Imus’ famous slur against the Rutgers University women’s basketball team.
Rush’s sin was not just sexism (most of Rush’s constant sexism is ignored by the left, less we get angry at him on an almost daily basis), but a huge miscalculation. What Rush didn’t learn from Imus’ mistake is to pick on someone his one size (metaphorically speaking). When a media giant picks on a private citizen who is a non-combatant, the game changes. It’s the difference between a boxer hitting someone who willing gets in the ring and just randomly punching an innocent by-stander on the street.
Also, Powers accusations of hypocrisy would only hold water if we look at each incident of sexism by pundits as an isolated case. Matthews, Olbermann and Schultz have all been called out by left for their sexism. They have also been champions for women’s issues. Schultz featured Fluke on his talk show to give the testimony that congressional Republicans apparently did not want to hear. Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh has engaged in a decade’s long campaign of sexism, calling feminists “feminazis” and female journalists “info-babes.”
To suggest that the difference between the response to Limbaugh’s (latest) transgression and the response to pundits on the left is hypocritical, is to divorce the incident from all historical context.
As a final aside, to my friends on the right who are defending Limbaugh on free speech grounds, I repeat my refrain: Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences. Not for Limbaugh, the corporation that broadcasts his show or the corporations that advertise on it. Rush Limbaugh can say whatever he wants, no one is trying to silence him, but the public can decide whether or not to vote with their dollars with regard to those who choose to associate their brand with his. This is the reason that Harper Collins scrapped plans to publish OJ Simpson’s book. I don’t remember folks on the right jumping to defend Simpson’s right to free speech.
I have created a new mathematic equation; I call it The Black Actress Tragedy Index. You take the number of Oscars, Emmys and Tonys that a black actress has been nominated for and you divide that by the number of years between her most recent nomination and her first appearance in a film written or directed by Tyler Perry.
Hollywood doesn’t know what to do with black actors, especially the ones who spent their formative years studying Shakespeare, Chekov and August Wilson instead of learning how to rap or tell jokes. Hollywood doesn’t know what to do with women, especially women over forty who don’t do gratuitous nudity and aren’t guaranteed the cover of Vanity Fair the month of a movie’s release. So for black actresses over forty who don’t sing or show their tits, Hollywood can be a tough row to hoe.
And yet, while America slept, Viola Davis earned two Oscar nominations in four years. The first for going head to head with Meryl Streep on screen and with her second, she went head to head with Meryl Streep in the Oscar race. With the exception of the Motion Picture Academy, just about everyone thought Davis would win, including Streep herself.
I hope two Oscar nominations for Viola Davis means a long and fruitful career. I hope two Oscar nominations for Viola Davis means she never has to be the black judge on an episode of Law & Order. I hope two Oscar nominations for Viola Davis means she never has to play the bougie black woman with the abusive, dark skinned husband, who falls in love with the light skinned bus driver in a Tyler Perry movie.
But I know that Oscar nominations guarantee nothing. If I was Viola Davis, I’d have Angela Bassett on speed dial. Not for nothing, but I’d love to see a remake of Thelma & Louise with Viola Davis and Angela Bassett, but instead of robbing banks like Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, they’d be in a drop-top caddie on a pilgrimage from Atlanta to L.A. to scatter Danitra Vance’s ashes on the “Y” in the Hollywood sign.
But I remain optimistic. Not only have we seen two Oscar nominations for Viola Davis in recent years, but a nomination for Gabourey Sidibe, and wins for Octavia Spencer, Mo’Nique, and Jennifer Hudson; four thick sisters, all browner than a paper bag. Looks like the red carpet is going to have to get used to women of color, women of size, women with kinky hair, and polyamorous women who don’t shave their legs.
Perhaps we’re on the slow road to change, which is a good thing. After all, the only person who benefits from Hollywood’s inability to create challenging roles for black actresses is… Tyler Perry.
I’m a normal heterosexual guy in a lot of ways. I like boobs and asses, and legs. I’m a sucker for a pretty face, pretty eyes and a nice smile. I’m also a bit of a star fucker, but I don’t care fuck all about money or status. I’m a star fucker, but only because I’m attracted to whatever talent made said star a star in the first place.
I’ve discovered that I’m an achievement slut.
Are you a woman with a Masters or a PhD in a subject I’m interested in? Tell me about that. Are you a writer? Have you written something that I’ve read or want to read? That’s hot. Are you a performer? Have you spent hours, days, weeks, months or years of your life honing a skill like singing, acting or playing music? Are you an artist? Can you create something beautiful that did not exist before? Have your muscles developed in unique ways due to dance, yoga or sports?
Are you an activist? Have you fought for your rights or the rights of others? Have you fought against injustice? Do you know firsthand the benefits of helping other people?
Have you raised children? Have you nursed ailing parents or friends? Have you survived an ordeal that might have broken someone else?
If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, please read on:
Do others consider you or do you consider yourself overweight or underweight? Are you too tall or too short to be a runway model? If so, you may be my type.
Do you buck the system? Are you more comfortable in jeans and boots than a dress? Cause that’s hot. Are you just as comfortable in a dress as you are in jeans and boots, cause that’s even hotter. Do you ever wear ridiculous costumes? Do you make them yourself? Have you ever shaved your head bald? Are you comfortable leaving the house without make-up? How about without shaving your legs or under your arms?
Have you accomplished all this awesomeness in spite of, or because of, being born with a birth affect, using crutches or a wheelchair for mobility, being visually or hearing impaired, or being part of any other marginalized group?
If so, then congratulations. Not only do I respect your gangsta’, but I probably think you’re hella sexy and doubt I’m the only one who feels that way.