14 August 2015

Homosexuality isn't normal - and this is why: My view

Oh, I know it 's been a very long time since I last posted here. Yet for many months LGBT politics has dominated Facebook and other media outlets, specifically with regard to same sex marriage and parenting (adoption, birthing, sperm donor rights and so on).

Today I felt the need to formalize my position which is simple (and one that has been a mainstay of my comments on Facebook in reference to related news stories): The only evidence I need to know that homosexuality isn't anything more than a person's sexual choice is the desire of so-called homosexuals for children, especially from those who opt to experience pregnancy for themselves.

Were homosexuality equal to heterosexuality, so would the desire for children be absent as present. Why? Because procreation is a rooted biological instinct that has everything to do with the preservation of a particular species. As it concerns us (the human race), that instinct expresses in the fusion of an egg (woman) and sperm (man).

It doesn't matter in what form that expression takes (in vitro, sex, etc.), it remains a biological dictate that requires two people of the opposite sex in order to succeed. This dictate, thus, is the basis of heterosexuality which seeks a complement to meet its survival instinct.

Of course, whether one has children or not ultimately depends on individual choice and biological function (e.g. a low sperm count). The issue I'm addressing is the actual desire for children.

No matter what one argues, however, there simply is no biological explanation for homosexuality because it doesn't exist. Yet the birth of any new baby continues to reify heterosexuality as a normal human function.

Let me be clear, however: I honestly don't care what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms. What I don't accept is the promotion of homosexuality as normal; it's not.

That is, in fact, the reason I don't support same sex marriages, one of the ways so-called homosexuals have sought legal protection for being different out of choice (because in no way is homosexuality equatable to race, disability or gender, though the last is more easily masked) while still performing as heterosexuals. To take this a gross step further, consider:

Man on man sex involves the penetration of a hole which is often depicted in the position of doggy sex for a man and woman (so what if we women have two holes?). As for woman on woman sex, how is this different from foreplay with man on woman sex (sex therapists repeatedly push men toward this secondary masturbation!)? I mean, what's so radically different between homosexuality and heterosexuality except that a homosexual union can never result in a pregnancy (meaning that no man on man sex can get one of the men pregnant, and no woman on woman sex can get one of the women pregnant) except in extremely rare cases (and I am thinking about the story of the married father who discovered he had a functioning womb)?

My feeling is that should homosexuality ever one day be normal, it will be a time when hermaphroditism is the common expression of the human body - and, really, you should ask yourself why it is we all start out female and don't stay that way if homosexuality were normal (this biological fact - that males are also born - is by itself enough to prove the norm of heterosexuality). Then again, if asexual reproduction were the norm of our species, would we even be interested in sex?

10 December 2013

An inarticulation against gay marriage (and abortion): A framework for discussion

So we don't come to our positions arbitrarily, and we often decide things without fully understanding what specific factors have influenced our decisions though we may point to various sources, good or bad, in support of our view. What I want to get at is the behind the brain process.

Why? Well, because I was thinking about this conversation I participated in last week and realizing that what this one person said is a large part of why I don't agree with gay marriage. Though I don't really understand why the topic was introduced, I know it was in the context of Croatia's recent referendum on gay marriage which was denied - a position I support.

This isn't about what I personally feel about so-called gay people. I've been upfront that I think homosexuality is abnormal since we're hard wired toward heterosexuality - unless you can show me that procreation isn't a defining characteristic of our species; after all, we're not like the animals that change sexes throughout their lives or can self-procreate. Before you start jumping in with hermaphrodites, I don't know if they're actually able to self-reproduce; in their case only, however - and I do support the position that they are unfairly pressured to decide their sex, often resulting in surgeries to remove their other sexual attributes - do I accept their confusion about their sexuality. (In all other cases, it's about people choosing to be deviant but in a way that makes other people think they're not.) Yes, the way I see it, homosexuality is a choice which is contrary to the normal impulses of heterosexuality; also, I think being gay has been too much politicized today that there's actually a benefit to claiming that position, financially and socially. So, however you look at it, there's no changing the fact that homosexuality isn't a natural design in our evolution - because if you accept homosexuality as normal, you also have to do it for pedophiles and those into bestiality, etc.

That, however, is my ideological position. Ask me personally what I think of gay people, and I honestly don't care (but I absolutely want nothing to do with pedophiles or people who rape animals, etc.). What I'm trying to explain is why I'm against gay marriage.

First, you have to recognize that marriage is an economic activity. Single people, for example, generally pay more in taxes than married people which means that marriage presents a financial gain. Additionally, married people often get tax breaks if they have children whether or not those children are biologically related to them. I remember, too, reading about the policies of some countries which introduced bonuses to encourage marital unions, this in response to concerns over low birth rates.

Secondly, the issue isn't about whether or not people can physically procreate. We know that problems can result from either sex: infertility, low sperm counts, etc. Similarly, many options exist to answer that need: surrogate pregnancies, adoption, etc.

What people are ignoring, however, is that marriage is partly sociological. Psychologically, though, we know that the influence of both sexes matters a great deal in the upbringing of children regardless of how actively involved the parents are. Obviously, the more interested the parents are in their children, in an environment that supports and encourages them while also defining boundaries of behavior, etc., the higher the success rates of the children. And, yes, it actually doesn't matter who raises them as long as there is at least one male and one female.

As for those from single parent households, children's chances of succeeding increase when, at some point during their development, they interact with an influential member of the opposite sex, whether it's a friend, teacher, pastor, etc. However, they have a harder time with it than someone who is raised in a household that has both a man and a woman. Obviously, a good home environment makes a big difference, too; psychopaths manage it because they're used to masking reality, I think as a direct result of modeling on what they actually experienced from their parents. There really are, in my opinion, too many people who are good at putting on acts as parents, so that we can never be sure what the actual situation is when the masks are set aside in the privacy of their homes.

At the same time, I would also argue that the codification of abortion - the legal murdering of people before we're willing to define them as people - is maybe a root cause for the increasing breakdown of the institution of marriage and the proliferation of homosexuality around the world. Homosexuals, I think, come from home environments where they weren't loved, raised (with boundaries, nurturing, etc.), etc. Some of them, of course, just want attention, to shock, etc. Today, it's about publicity.

Abortion, however, told the world that the value of human life is worthless. This isn't to say murders didn't occur before; but, by allowing the murder of babies, we created an ideological position that is now rooted in the mass violence in which people keep asking: How can people be this evil? Because when we nurture cultures where people can be exonerated for killing people at their most vulnerable - sorry, but excepting for a miscarriage which can't be controlled for, an actual person exists in its most unstable period of growth which we call pregnancy (you will not hear it or physically feel it without it surviving the birth process which goes from conception to birth) - we give permission for anyone else to die as callously. Yes, we're capable of it because we have convinced people that no life matters.

Take the idea even further, and then you understand why people accept homosexuality: As a response to the guilt they feel about killing unborn people. Yes, I've said it before: Abortion was turned into a women's rights issues when it never has been. And because of that positioning, people refuse to recognize that the unborn person is a person. Some are so extreme as to deny that a person exists at all until it's actually born. More, this refusal to recognize the unborn person as a person has resulted in the applauding of and/or commiseration for the psychopaths who kill their children.

Of course, we know that heterosexual marriages aren't perfect. We know many situations where children are raised in the worst environments. There are too many stories of abusive and horrible parents. Fewer people talk about the realities of homosexual relationships or the negative impacts of their parenting which, like heterosexual relationships, is true in some but not all instances. But homosexuality, like abortion, is a mask that's hiding the real situation: In the first case, that heterosexuality (not homosexuality) is the biological instinct toward survival (otherwise there'd only be men or women); in the other case, that a pregnancy introduces a second person whose life the first person (and others) shouldn't get to decide in terms of life or death (and many of you, of course, would deny the evidence that suggests unborn people feel their murders).

Ideally, things never stand up to reality since we tend to demand more of ourselves than others. But here are my views, anyway:

- The influence of a male and a female on a child is relevant in defining a marriage;

- Rules should be put in place to reward the raising of children in this environment, where there is a female and male regardless of relationship (in terms of whether or not the parents and/or children are biologically related to each other);

- Financial incentives should be conditioned on the following, with the presupposition that children (biologically or otherwise) are part of the package: (1) the length of marriage (with higher rewards based on the standard landmarks that celebrate a marriage); (2) pre-marriage counseling that includes education on parenting and parenting readiness; (3) successful integration of children in the marriage relationship (tax breaks dependent on their well-being, literacy, etc.); etc.

In other words, what I'm suggesting is: A marriage is an institution designed for families that requires a male and female which creates the necessary balance, when directed toward parenting, to raise children who will later lead. The quality of their leadership, however, is a direct reflection on the values, limits and support they received in their formative years. This requires informed and interested parents, a social structure that insists on their governance, and the desire for a world that is, in all respects, equitable. Clearly, this world will never exist, hence, the inarticulation.

P.S. So, that's what the other conversation participant was talking about: The need for a man and a woman in raising children.

20 November 2013

How Croatian women bully: A specific example

I'm always talking about specific instances. It happens that I rarely interact, on a regular basis, with other Croatians outside of a rental agreement.

I only decided to do this dance class because my house mother kept insisting that I "go outside" and walk. It's not something I have an interest in, especially when, since late Aug., I've gotten back into the habit of serious writing.

Anyway, it's happened during three different times over a six week period, often toward the end of this dance class I'm in, that several women have tried to bully my space from me. The first one was a girl in her twenties. The other two were older, one of them maybe the girl's mother.

Yet they behaved rather similarly. In the first and last case, though, the way it worked was: They chose, first, to crowd my space in. Suddenly, they were almost on me, or close enough that I was uncomfortable about making physical contact with them when we had to stretch our arms out.

In the first case, however, I could see her crowding in actions in the mirror, as she was behind me. In response to that, I deliberately slowed my steps down to control what space I did have, because I worried that she'd take my space and not let go of it.

In the last case, when I realized what was happening, I just decided: To hell with it. If my hands touched hers, too bad - because I had that space for most of the class to begin with!

In both cases, however, the next thing they did was wait until the next very short break (seconds that don't even come close to one minute) to ask me if I would "move to the left." Why when they could, and the space was there for them to do so?

As I told them (in English and Croatian), I need to see the instructor. This should be obvious. I don't speak, much less understand, Croatian well enough to do the steps by ear alone.

Sure, some of the steps have become more automatic that I can follow him just by seeing what he's doing through the mirror. When he starts moving his feet, however, I'm often looking at his feet to guess at the next step. Sometimes I can anticipate him, because some words (like napred) he's said over and over that I can recognize them, other things I'm still trying to remember.

Oh, right, but I forgot about the second case! Well, she not only went so far as to crowd me, but also to touch me which I hate even worse. She, however, didn't take it any further, not even trying in Croatian - as the last case did - to ask me to move, maybe because she didn't think I knew Croatian and she didn't know English.

I've noted something interesting, however. All three cases share this one thing in common: They all took their actions during one specific routine. However, the girl in the first case, starting the next day we met, took a different position which she's kept.

The last case is a woman I didn't notice before, as other women have been moving around at different times, much of them edging around the right side of me. I had one who was at level with the instructor, but enough to the right that I had a clear view of him. One came to stand behind him, a place I wouldn't want to be at since he sometimes moves backward so that we're side to side.

But what pissed me off in the last case was that the girl in the first case didn't show up that day. So there was a huge space on the left side of the room. There was also the other fat girl on that side (I'm at least twice or three times her size) which is why I think now it's about me being fat (it explains the big space, and the fact that more women were on the right side of the room than the left).

So I wonder why these women, who are small, need to try and bully the new fat girl in the class. Because this is bullying, though not invasively so. It makes me think of what I read about a book that's supposed to be about bullying behaviors between women, starting as children - and she's right, if the reviewer understood her correctly, that they tend to be a lot more subtle about it.

In this situation, though, I have no idea what to do. Because if it happens again, I am going to tell the next woman off (because they're interrupting my focus in the class with this childish behaviors) - and it's going to be loud, because I'm really annoyed, part of the reason (other than being sick, at least yesterday I was completely overwhelmed with fatigue) I decided to take off for a week. I'm somewhat certain that if I erupt verbally, I'll be asked to leave the class; after all, I'm the newcomer, they're regulars. Some points, though:

First, I, too, paid money to attend the class. Secondly, I always arrive early (a normal pattern for me - usually - regardless of what I'm doing) so I can claim my spot, a position I haven't wavered from the whole time I've been participating (it should, thus, be clear to everyone that it's where I want to be). Thirdly, it's rude to ask someone to move when you can move yourself and there's room to move (yes, I'm repeating this). Finally, it's not my problem if you can't stand being around fat people.

As I said, this is not my normal thing. So I have no idea if this kind of interaction is normal or specific to the idiots involved. And I am seeing this as an American, not a Croatian - thus, a Croatian in the same situation may hold an entirely different view of what's going on.

More, I don't know if bullying is a concept in Croatia (it's only recently that I heard the word diabetes mentioned on the news), or, if it is, how Croatians understand it. But, as an American, the behavior these women have been exhibiting is ridiculous - which is why I'm still deciding if I should continue this group class or just stick to private lessons.

I mean, for me, as a foreigner in another country, this kind of behavior is a red flag. Because there are few things that could realistically explain it: my being fat, my being American, or their just being stupid. If it's about me being an American, I have even more reason to be concerned; but, also, I am the kind of American who has and will shout when pushed too far.

So far, it's been three instances, and, yeah, I'm at the breaking point in terms of my silence. However, I think, if the shouting's going to happen, I want it to be in Croatian. In fact, this is what I've been wanting to say these last few days: Enough! Stop asking me to move when you can move and there's space to move! This is my class, too!

(It's not like it would be the first time I get kicked out of a class or program for refusing to be the better person, whatever that means but in actuality is the action of being compliant to the dictates of other people even when they're wrong. You know the expression as well as I do: "Don't mess with Texas." We take shit only so far before we throw it back - and we throw hard; ask Ozan Sula and anyone else who's ever wronged me. Hell yes I'm a bitch!)

12 August 2012

When did murder become a women's rights issue? (On the subject of abortion)

It's taken many years for me to reach this point. My view, however, is not informed by religious sentiment or politics; but my personal experience of a miscarriage I had in 2003.

I will be upfront, though, that I believe in God; but my relationship to Him is at best ambivalent, because it's easy to accept the idea of a super being. However, I belong to no religion, and suspect that less than 1% of all believers actually embrace what they believe - because saying you believe in something and living like you believe in something are two different things.

But when I talk about being against abortion, I'm often called a bible thumper, a right winger, etc. So I wonder if religion and politics are the main reasons people are comfortable being pro-choice, if that's why they refuse to see the topic as anything other than a women's rights issue.

It's relevant, then, to know that before my miscarriage I was pro-choice. I made those arguments: It's our right as women to decide what we do with our bodies. And what about cases of rape or medical issues - why should we suffer more by being forced to keep our babies if we don't want to? And why should adoption be the only option for us if we do get pregnant?

Okay, so that's easy when you've never been pregnant or known someone who had an abortion, when feminism has been telling us that we control our bodies, etc. Yet we make it illegal for people to take illicit drugs like cocaine. When someone threatens to kill him- or herself, we're supposed to call 911. Good Samaritans, too, are rewarded for saving people's lives. Etc.!

In other words, we don't give ourselves complete autonomy over our bodies. Or rather, our laws don't, social norms don't, parents don't, etc. Yet we fail to recognize that a developing fetus at every stage of its development is a human being. Sure, it doesn't start out looking remotely human; but you don't get to those moments when you first get pregnant, as the visible print of a person happens over time.

Unfortunately, miscarriages also happen; I knew it as an unmistakable loss I felt from inside me. There was, too, that feeling of certainty that what I had inside me was a life; it's nothing I can explain in words. But the circumstances of my miscarriage were unique; my ex beat me, and, I think, that, in addition to my state of malnutrition (I was practically starving as a first-year grad student away from home - enough so that I ended up in the hospital a few months later), is what led to my miscarriage.

But be clear: A miscarriage is not an abortion. Specifically, one cannot anticipate a miscarriage and, more, it can result from any number of things (hence, nonspecific). An abortion, however, is the murder of a human life, one who cannot protest and is at the complete mercy of his or her mother.

Yet there are only three main ways we can get pregnant: consensual sex; rape; insemination. However, they can all result in the maturation of a fetus which, yes, starts out as cells - but without those cells, you do not get hands, toes, a head, etc. - and then turns into a baby, hopefully one that survives to cry. So go ahead and pretend that before you begin to see the suggestion of a person, nothing of significance is happening; yet we're comprised of particles smaller than atoms.

An unborn baby, however, is the most defenseless of people, especially in its earliest stages. Women who choose to murder their babies generally must do so within their first trimesters - Why? Because it's least harmful to our bodies. Is that also the time when a baby doesn't yet begin to appear human, have a heartbeat that can be recorded, etc.? Because we seem to measure the value of a baby on those terms instead of grasping that the baby does not begin to look like a person without first being something else.

So, yes, abortion is murder. Yet we call it a women's rights issue. It's our body, we can do what we like - only it's not just our body when we get pregnant. A pregnant woman is, in fact, one body carrying a second, distinct body that, if it survives the process - and anything else (e.g. cancer, accidents, malnutrition, murder, etc.) - will grow taller over time.

However, we would arrest a parent who killed his or her child. At one point, however, children had no status; parents could do what they wanted, and their cruelties were answered by claiming children as protected animals. Sometime later we legally recognized them as people; but it wasn't until around the late 19th century that we began to feel a social impulse to protect them, especially those of the poor and working classes (in the case of Lewis Hine, by labeling images of middle class children as child laborers).

In terms of babies, however, I read about a recent attempt to legally recognize unborn babies as people; but it turned into a controversy about Republicans and their so-called war on women. I haven't been up on the issues, so I don't know what the war on women is about; however, I've heard many references to the women's rights issue, a rhetoric that defined the debates on Obamacare and birth control which, as I've argued in other places, should not be included in preventive care[1].

Except I'm not here to talk about politics. I gave that example only to point out that, if you don't support abortion, you're likely to be denounced as a bible thumper or a right winger - those even when you've made no reference to religion or politics. The word slut is the other reason I get called out on them; but my view on sexual behaviors is also not what I'm here to talk about. Let me just summarize my views on consensual sex and rape in terms of the abortion topic:

Consensual Sex
If you're a woman and not prepared to take responsibility for the possibility of getting pregnant - and that means keeping or giving up your baby - do not have sex with a man, as that's the only way to ensure you do not get pregnant. If you're that desperate, buy a sex toy, masturbate, have oral sex with a man (69 gets you both off)[2], etc. - just do not let a penis near your vagina, as even the precum can make you pregnant. In other words, there's no excuse to murder your baby because of your selfish choices.

If you're a woman and this happens to you, it's not your fault. It's also okay if you feel angry, violated, hurt, depressed, etc.; but you are a survivor. That means you're alive, and you can find the strength to continue your life. However, if you get pregnant, killing that baby does not justify what happened you - because that baby also did not ask for you to be raped; you have to rise above yourself and not murder a life as a substitute for your intense desire to kill the man who raped you. Wanting to kill and killing are two different things. In other words, there's no excuse to murder your baby because of your selfish choices.

What I wish for
- That unborn babies be legally recognized as people at all stages of development.
- That abortion be legally recognized as the murder of an unborn baby, thus making it a criminal offense for which both the mother and abortionist should be held responsible.

However, my view that abortion is murder is consistent with my feminism. Specifically, as I know unborn babies to be people, so, too, do I recognize that the issue of abortion is not a women's rights issue since no person should be able to murder another person. More, that a woman has the choice of whether or not to have sex which can result in the possibility of getting pregnant; if that happens, she has the obligation to attempt or to actually carry a baby to term because she has no right to decide if another person lives or dies.

Anyway, this is just where I am at present on this topic. But to be clear, again, with regard to where I stand on the abortion issue: I belong to no religion and have no religious motivation; I belong to no party and have no political motivation. I am, instead, a woman who experienced a miscarriage and became personally aware of what it means to be pregnant and lose a baby. This is where I stand, however; you don't have to agree with me.

[1] Preventive care is free and includes services like mammograms and postrate screenings which are meant to alert doctors to what may be wrong with women's and men's bodies. Birth control does not answer that need, and thus should not be free to women. This, however, is another issue.

[2] A woman can get pregnant from swallowing cum, but the chances of that happening are extremely slim. The risk of getting pregnant from precum, however, is much greater.

14 June 2012

If sex isn't an act of desperation, insecurity and/or dissatisfaction on your part, the word slut should have no power: Some thoughts

Yesterday, in a context that had nothing to do with me, two girls behind me were talking. One of them said something like, "If she calls me a slut, I will have to murder her" (yes, she said murder). Then the conversation continued in another language.

So, what were these girls talking about: A movie? Well, it doesn't matter; the word slut is what made me eavesdrop in the first place, especially because of a specific context that has involved me.

As a participant on various USA Today discussion forums, I've thrown around the word slut and had it become a focal point for other, mostly female, respondents. Here's how I've defined slut: Any man or woman who has sex outside of marriage with more than one partner (not necessarily at the same time).

Here's the simple concept: Slut isn't a new word. It's been around for centuries, and, in fact, has different connotations depending on where you are. In the USA, for example, we mean something along the lines of the definition I provided. In Turkey, however, my landlord said it denoted inappropriate or bad. Bottom line, though: Slut has no positive connotations attached to it, and it's almost always targeted at women.

Knowing this, thus, why the anger over the word slut? After all, this is the real world; people have negative and positive responses to anything from food, entertainment, work, on and on.

But being called a name doesn't make you that name, because words only have power - for good or bad - if you give them power. It's from this perspective that I think the word slut is saying something else.

Much like I told a Facebook friend (as a general comment), if sex isn't an act of desperation, insecurity and/or dissatisfaction on your part, the word slut should have no power. Because there are people who will say something like: Call me whatever you like, it's my body and I can do with it what I want. In other words: You don't define me.

It was the idiot female yesterday, however, who made me realize that desperation, insecurity and/or dissatisfaction must be a huge part of the anger. I mean, why would you want to kill someone over a word? Here are my thoughts:

- If sex is an act of desperation, you already feel bad about yourself;
- You feel bad about yourself because sex is empty;
- Sex is empty because you have no real connection with the person you're having sex with;
- You have no real connection because you've made your relationship hinge on sex;
- Your relationship hinges on sex because you're needy;
- You're needy because someone important said (explicitly or implicitly) you were a nothing;
- You un/knowingly believe you're a nothing because you've never learned to stand alone.

Let's be clear: I'm not presenting a morality argument, this isn't about religion, etc. However, while the various forms of sex (oral and otherwise) can be pleasurable, they also invite risks of STDs (no orientation is immune) - herpes, though, is one that can be undetectable on STD tests for years, if at all - pregnancy when the relationship involves a man and a woman (no birth control except abstinence is 100% effective), and emotional complications (intimacy is a kind of drug). More, these risks increase the more partners you have; in terms of your emotional health, this can lead to the inability to deeply connect with someone outside of sex. My personal view is: Don't have sex unless you're prepared emotionally, mentally and financially to have a baby - because abortion is murder, and no baby should die because of a woman's selfishness.

Anyway, back to my point: I think people for whom sex is an act of desperation, insecurity and/or dissatisfaction, the word slut reinforces what they already feel about themselves. As a result, they lash out, focusing on the word itself when they're really talking about themselves. That is, they're offended at the word slut because that's how they see themselves: As a slut. And, since I think that most people settle for their marriage partners, this psychological suggestion of the word slut applies also to married people.

I mean, how hard is it to deny being a slut? Because the people who don't identify as sluts don't make a big deal about the word slut; for them, slut is just a word. For those who want to go so far as to kill someone over the word, they're obviously expressing desperation, insecurity and/or dissatisfaction.

Oh, I'm sure there must be a literature on the psychological rootedness of words. But if you're going to give me power with a word like slut, well, all I can do is laugh.

16 February 2012

On human and spiritual relationships: My take on *Perfect Sense* (2011)

Well, Perfect Sense (2011) is a high end movie - high end simply referring to the artsy types of movies that deliberate about something (obvious message), though often fail for one reason: there's no real point (incomplete expression of the obvious message). You get the idea, right?

Anyway, Perfect Sense (2011) kept me in my seat because the abstract parts are generally brief and work to push the story forward - unlike The Tree of Life (2011) which not only had bad audio, but also a significant interruption from what I guessed was a story of loss (I wouldn't know since I walked out early on). Perfect Sense (2011), however, doesn't begin to lag until toward the end when it's mostly visual (there is sound like wind, at one point a touch of instrumental).

Throughout the story, though, the lead female sets the script in voiceover aided by visualization which adds a sense of urgency to what's happening. While the main thrust begins with the loss of smell, everything accelerates starting with the loss of taste (spread is significantly quicker).

But of the five major senses, Perfect Sense (2011) never gets to the loss of touch, though sex is important to the story until the loss of hearing. The ending, however, allows me this interpretation:

(1) Of the five major senses, touch is the most important.
(1)(a) Smell matters less because future is past.
(1)(b) Taste matters less because it's about flavor.
(1)(c) Hearing matters less because people lie.
(1)(d) Vision matters less because of time (aging).

(2) Relationships are about intimacy.
(2)(a) Smell is analogous to first impressions.
(2)(b) Taste is analogous to dating.
(2)(c) Hearing is analogous to commitment.
(2)(d) Vision is analogous to death.

(3) Intimacy means being completely exposed (naked within and out)
(3)(a) Grief* anticipates loss of smell.
(3)(b) Insanity anticipates loss of taste.
(3)(c) Rage* anticipates loss of hearing.
(3)(d) Surrender anticipates loss of vision.
* I believe these were the exact terms used in the movie, not sure about the other two.

I'm suggesting this interpretation on human relationships because the last thing we see in Perfect Sense (2011) is the male and female leads moving toward an embrace. This is the point we know they'll stay together, no matter what else they might lose.

In Perfect Sense (2011), though, the cause for the loss of four major senses (smell, taste, hearing, vision) is unknown but experienced by everyone everywhere; as the visuals connect across cultures, so do the losses. Further, for each loss the next pre-loss - as there are spaces of time between losses - is amplified*: taste for smell, hearing for taste, vision for hearing.
* I believe this was the exact term used in the movie, but I'm not sure.

In the context of relationships, what this says is: As relationships deepen, the more intense they become. Relationships, thus - in the cycle of Perfect Sense (2011) - arouse, inflame, are tested, then bind with forgiveness*. Now consider the spiritual dimension:
* I believe this was the exact term used in the movie, but I'm not sure.

(1) Smell is human weakness.
(2) Taste is desire for Other.
(3) Hearing is being called.
(4) Vision is acceptance.

In this way, the black screens in the opening and closing scenes of Perfect Sense (2011) can be read as birth and death. Thus presents a cycle of death (of the individual) and rebirth (unity between individuals OR between an individual and Other).

What's with Other? Well, that depends on what you call God; since agnostics accept an Other but not necessarily God, I'm ignoring only atheists and anyone who doesn't believe in reincarnation.

For me, however, these parallels between human and spiritual relationships in Perfect Sense (2011) are highly significant. Let me tell you why:

(1) Marriage is an expression of surrender.
(2) Faith is an expression of surrender.

Marriage is surrender when love is unconditional (this again goes back to the idea of knowing someone at the core: no secrets/hiding, no need for secrets/hiding). Faith is surrender when belief is transparent (the greatest missionary leads by example, never insists that others believe).

Consider, too, that before the credits roll, the lead couple - again, moving to embrace - can NOT smell, taste, hear AND see each other; so their potential embrace can be seen as analagous to an act of faith. Marriage, however, is also an act of faith: When you know the core of someone, there's nothing more to know; while love deepens and strengthens over time, everything else is just layering (because the core of something doesn't change however differently it might be expressed).

Yes, I'm aware that my interpretations may be a stretch! But look at the title: Perfect Sense (2011). So if you think the ending doesn't make sense, ask yourself: What would it mean for the lead couple to lose the sense of touch? Alienation?

I don't think so! And that's why I'm sticking with my thoughts on the movie! lol

Perfect sense. (2011). Directed by David Mackenzie. Written by Kim Fupz Aakeson. Sigma Films, Film i Väst, Subotica Entertainment, and Zentropa Entertainments. [Retrieved this info. from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1439572/]

Tree of life, The. (2011). Directed and written by Terrence Malick. Brace Cove Productions, Cottonwood Pictures, Plan B Entertainment, and River Road Entertainment. [Retrieved this info. from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0478304/]

13 February 2012

Let's talk body equality - Again

Girls and boys enjoy public spectacle when they romp around topless. One day it's inappropriate; girls learn it's shameful to show their bare torsos, boys that it's shameful to see girls' bare torsos. I'm still talking about boys and girls here, not teens or adults. Scott Metzger's cartoon below illustrates today's reality, that it's unacceptable for women to be topless in public spaces:

© Scott Metzger (http://www.metzgercartoons.com)
Cartoon used with permission from Scott Metzger.
I have suggested previously that today's reality is partly the result of the sexualization of women's breasts, as well as the erasure of women's sexuality (the explicit desire for a man's body). Let's not forget the double standard given to women's and men's bodies: A woman loses her looks with the addition of weight and time, while a man loses nothing. This is not a situation unique to the USA.

Yes, feminism has a lot to do with some of the choices women make today. There are sexually active women, and women who aren't afraid to tell their partners what they want. Sure, both men and women can be common whores; but women choose it more often as validation that they are wanted.

Once girls begin to cover up, they are told many implicit things without understanding fully the impact it has on them for their entire lives. They are told:

(1) You have something shameful.
(2) Your breasts are an important definition of who you are.
(3) Your sexuality can only be measured by what's hidden.
(4) You are a sex object.

What are some of the results? Many teens and women want plastic surgery to enhance their looks; they have no appreciation for themselves as bodies. Women also continue wearing makeup (even the natural look) to cover up their so-called flaws; I have said previously that this can be partly understood in the context of relationships between themselves and their primary female influences (bonding creates a psychological hold on people; it takes first acknowledging it to face it). More, many women need to (1) negatively criticize other women's bodies to justify their lack of self-esteem about their own bodies (because they're not satisfied with them), or (2) constantly compare themselves with other women to reinforce their perpetuating self-views that they have something to be ashamed of.

I mean, I could go on and on about the self-destructive things women do! But that's not really my point.

As I've suggested previously, men's and women's bodies are both sexually exciting to members of the same or opposite sexes. And, yes, as I've said, more men today are getting plastic surgery or, in one case that I had the direct experience to discover, a heterosexual man wore heavy foundation as part of his daily routine (because he said, he was used to being in front of strobe lights).

So don't misunderstand; there's a LOT of scholarship on men's bodies, masculinity, etc. The difference is that men grow up being more confident about their bodies because they are given the freedom to enjoy their bodies. And I'm specifically referring to the inequality between men's and women's torsos.

Because, yes, men and women are equal ONLY in relation to fecundity (the tools that give and receive fluids), which is understood in the context of fertility, which is why the gay movement is an open contest to this claim - because they remind heterosexuals that fecundity is more about sexuality than birth. And fertility is the reason why women or men who can't procreate - though it falls largely on women - may feel debased, unworthy or that something's wrong with them; fecundity, thus, is simply the interaction between bodies designed to fulfill a sexual experience. (I say this because I knew a woman once who told me that she had some kind of vaginal dysfunction that made it impossible for her to feel penetration; in fact, her boyfriend raped her knowing that, unless he told her, she wouldn't know he was inside her.)

Over the years, however, women and men have started making more jokes about big breasted men. Big breats on men generally result from either too much muscle or too much fat. I have, I think, mentioned Seinfeld and the joke about the man bra. Yet, as Scott Metzger's cartoon illustrates, it remains unacceptable for women to go around topless in public while it's okay for men of any sized breasts to do so.

It really doesn't matter if you want to call men's breasts pecs; they're the same thing (just ask a doctor if you doubt me; or, better, read the medical articles about men's breast cancer[1]). The point is that we women are also sexual creatures, so we also get turned on by men's exposed torsos - just as men get turned on by ours. (Gay men, of course, get turned on by men's chests.) The difference is that we're normalized to want to hide our breasts; in fact, there are criminal law that proscribe our doing so.

But what's really different about women's and men's breasts? I'm talking about the outer structures of men's and women's breasts. We all have curves and nipples, though ours might be softer - but men's breasts get softer (and saggier) the larger they are. More, we're encouraged to get mammograms, while men aren't - and that's why when men get breast cancer, their survival rate is significantly lower (because they don't get to a doctor typically until they're in the advanced stages)[1].

Of course, men's and women's fecundities are different, as they serve different purposes. So why: Continue covering up our torsos? Accept our being oversexualized compared to men? Ignore our own sexualities which includes desiring after a man's body? Refuse to be ashamed of our bodies?

Oh yes, I plan to return to this topic! It's just not often I find an illustration that clearly expresses what I'm thinking! So thanks again, Scott Metzger, for your permission to include your cartoon here!

[1] Many years ago I volunteered for the American Red Cross - Greater Houston Area Chapter. It was doing research for the Protect Your Back Program that I did a lot of readings at the Texas Medical Center libraries; it was there that I chanced on an article on men's breast cancer, then followed up by reading other  case histories (because I was excited to find out about something I couldn't have imagined before then).

17 January 2012

"'More Lights, Baby'": A Language Handicapped Response to *7Sex7* (2011)

Sometime in the last 1-3 years I heard or read about plans of the adult movie industry to make porn mainstream. 7Sex7 (2011), a Croatian movie with some English, may be the first of this kind.

However, I know from my own experience watching a Bulgarian movie last year - then talking with a native about it - how easy it is to misread a movie based only on its visual cues. I can say this, though: Regardless of its classification as an erotic film, 7Sex7 (2011) is just watered down (or soft) porn comprised of seven sex ("la penetracia") scenes.

Because different scenes share things in common, however, I thought an outline might be helpful. So here goes:

(1) The 2nd-7th scenes are in color.
(2) The 2nd and 4th scenes take place inside a business (photography studio; music shop).
(3) The 1st and 7th scenes take place outside (on top of a building; in the woods).
(4) The 3rd and 5th-6th scenes take place inside apartman/apartments.
(5) The 1st-2nd and 5th scenes show women's nipples.
(6) The 1st and 6th scenes include hearing women pee (behind little wall, on toilet).
(7) The 2nd and 7th scenes show vaginas (a partial shot that reveals a bikini line shave; a full view that shows an obvious fake, something like a patch of fur).
(8) The 1st-2nd and 5th scenes show men's asses (full shot).
(9) The 5th-6th scenes include smoking after sex.
(10) The 4th and 6th scenes feature a guy named Marko (as character in scene; as character off scene).
(11) The 4th and 6th-7th scenes name characters (Helena and Marko; Marko (see previous comment); Franjo (said in response to "Kako se zoveš?", but he answers his phone as Franje)).
(12) The 5th-6th scenes show men in only panties.
(13) The 5th-6th scenes show scantily clad women (wearing lingerie; in just panties).
(14) The 1st, 4th and 7th scenes feature men fucking standing up (backside, with woman also standing; frontside, with woman sitting; frontside, with woman also standing).
(15) The 2nd and 5th scenes add ambiguity to the sex (doesn't show consummation; hides women under a blanket).
(16) The 1st-2nd and 4th-7th scenes feature frenzied, deviant sex (deviant explained later in my response).
(17) The 5th-6th scenes don't start with conversations.
(18) The 2nd and 5th scenes include but show no consummation of same sex action (man on man; woman on woman).

That's most of what I remember, anyway. The 2nd scene, though, raises some interesting questions.

For example, the 2nd scene is the only one that expresses intimacy between two characters (as opposed to the threesome in the 5th scene). However, consummation of the sexual act is absent though suggested as the foreseeable outcome.

Did I mention that the characters in the 2nd scene are "gay" men? I highlight "gay" because it's part of the men's conversation, which includes references to Shakespeare and teatro/theatre.

It's possible, though, that the concept "gay" is something new for Croatians - or, if not new, little talked about; but I'm just a tourist, so I really have no clue. It's also conceivable that the scriptwriter's "gay" since the only evidence of intimacy is in the 2nd scene of 7Sex7 (2011) - because I think intimacy's an important aspect of normal sexual relationships.

Don't confuse me, as I have no interest in the politics of sex. As a heterosexual, however, I only really responded to the 2nd scene; had it not been paused, it's possible I would've been turned on - because, as I said, the only real intimacy shown in the movie is between these "gay" men.

However, the closest 7Sex7 (2011) gets to erotic (besides the 2nd scene) happens with the female on female action in the 5th scene, which, like the 2nd scene, suggests vulnerability in one of the characters. But the women - Lada and Stela[1] - make up part of a threesome with a man, and are likely prostitutes because the blonde says something to the man about "kompencacion"/compensation.

Of course, men are the obvious targets of 7Sex7 (2011). After all, the various heterosexual sex acts points to the failure of the man's imagination - generalizing here! - to recognize that women generally respond differently to sex than men. Now, this topic of sex is something I know - because these conversations are part of normal discourses in the U.S.

But I'm in Croatia. So here are two questions 7Sex7 (2011) raises:

- Is this kind of frenzied sexual activity normal for Croatians?
- Are Croatian women satisfied with their sex lives - that is, are they experiencing regular orgasms?

As an outsider, though, what 7Sex7 (2011) looks like is a bunch of strangers deciding to fuck at around the same time[2] on "Mon 9 Mar" - this date because the camera focuses on the clock at least twice in the 6th scene and, since all the scenes are thematically connected by sex, I'm guessing that it's significant. But if you also saw the movie, let me anticipate you by asking: Do you remember what happens in the 6th scene?

Let me tell you. In the 6th scene the guy turns out not to be the one in the photos of the couple; but the woman is. From what the camera does and the woman addressing her caller as Marko, it's obvious she's cheating (having an adulterous relationship). That's not the only thing to mark their sex as deviant, however.

So let me be clearer: Deviant sex is any sex that lacks intimacy. Healthy sexual relationships, thus, reflect intimacy because they're based on trust and open communication. Since I believe that real love is rare and happens only between two people at one time (I will comment on this further in another post), I obviously have a very strict view on how I define deviant sexual relations.

7Sex7 (2011), thus, bored me exactly because it presents extended performances of deviant sex. For me, an erotic film should tease and sensualize the viewer.

In fact, I once saw an excellent example of an erotic movie (just don't ask me the name of it) that inspired me to masturbate. Let me suggest, therefore, that if filmmakers want to succeed visually with eroticism, they should target women. Anything else is just porn - because it doesn't take much to excite men.

P.S. I think at least one of the three young couples sitting behind me in the auditorium yesterday were getting each other off - because I heard moaning (first from a female, later a male) during the 2nd scene. As for the other viewers, there was an older couple sitting below me and, also behind me, one solitary male.

[1] Their names can be found on the kitchen cabinet door.
[2] I'm saying this for two reasons: it's light out in the scenes where the sky's visible, while the 1st scene (in black and white) suggests light because the man appears to be working with building maintenance tools; 7Sex7 (2011) can be read as pieces of a slice of life vignette, which takes as its premise a particular time and place that's randomly chosen.


7Sex7 [Color - b&w]. (2011). Directed by Irena Skoric. Croatia: Artizana film. [I used http://www.irenaskoric.com/7_seX_7_EN.html for this information.]

04 December 2011

Croatian MAVENA group making me think: The beginning of an idea...

While in Split, Croatia, I went to see "MAVENA 'PERFORMING TERRORISM'" at the Multimedia Cultural Center[1, color added], which is located in the Youth Center; from the phone conversation I had with Xontact Festival coordinator Nela Sisarič, I expected to see a dance or other art form based on what I understood of the word performance. When I arrived on 27 Studeni/November 2011, the title had been changed to All Ideas ®eserved; but, since the description in English included phrases like "balloons of the terrorist cells 40 years later" (n.p.)[2], I paid the 25kn to see it. In the end, I felt misled; none of the less than one hour presentation[3] had anything to do with terrorism as I understood it.

For Americans, terrorism generally refers to the violent actions of peoples with ideological agendas who often target political and governmental groups based on a concept of justice that's generally misunderstood or ignored by others (e.g., many Americans support the death penalty for rapists and murderers; jihad can be an appropriate analogy when, e.g., talking about the Palestinian response to the Jews who not only displaced them from their homes and killed them, but also created policies that resulted in things like water shortages and which have forced many Palestinians to remain in squalor living conditions and extreme poverty).

But why emphasize the word understood? Because I've had more opportunities living overseas to talk with non-native English speakers, while at the same time trying to pick up words and phrases in the languages of the countries I'm in. So I'm more attuned, as an English native speaker, to the incongruences in language communication. This recent experience, however, has also made me aware that meanings of words can convey very different ideas based on the cultures in which they're situated.

Like, I can't really say that terrorism or performance were the wrong words with regard to the Mavena performance. But they are impacting my responses, not because of what I expected to see [4], but because I don't know how to frame what I saw in terms of the Croatian experience. This is one example of cultural negotiation that I find difficult to navigate because I am, in the end, just a tourist.

I think it's natural for me to want to be critical. At the same, I keep checking myself.

For example, if we take terrorism as a core concept rather than a political one, what are some of the potential generalities? I hope these aren't just American ideas:

- justice: to stand up for what's right
- redress of grievances: to overturn harmful wrongs
- freedom: to express, interact and fully live our lives without relinquishing its control to others

If I relate terrorism to those generalities, the Mavena performance fits. Because have there not been conversations about this? I mean, I didn't come up with the above on my own. Terrorism changes meaning based on the talker. At one point, I believe terrorism was termed guerilla warfare which often involved smaller armed groups who were seeking to change their governments which enabled the elite and held the poor hostage (through fear, starvation, etc.) by disrupting the exchange of goods, etc. That calls to mind revolutionaries, freedom fighters, soldiers, patriots, etc.

The arguments still abound, though: An insignificant percentage of people control the wealth of the world. Poverty, joblessness, economic inequalities, etc. have yet to disappear.

Until the real problems are addressed, people will continue to fight to change things - and violence, more often than not, gets people's attention. Can hacking be considered a form of violence? In the end, however, it's also an insignificant few who make the decisions that affect an entire city, state or country, etc.

What Mavena attempted to show was how masses of people can change things, but you can't change anything if people don't care about what you're trying to change. Every person has the right to shelter (non-squalor), food (three meals a day) and a non-toxic environment (they shouldn't get sick because they can't afford to live anywhere but where the companies have dumped their chemicals, etc.); this means they need employment, a marketplace that responds to their wages, and nondiscriminatory practices.

Terrorism for me, though, has no meaning; it's another word that fails to reflect the reality of economic inequality. And the truth is, many people support the idea of terrorism: If you kill my family, I'm going to kill you. But I don't know anymore what people are fighting for; I'm not sure that violence changes anything.

What, exactly, will it take to make sure no one's starving? Revolutions have been around for centuries, and nothing of significance has changed; there are still poor people. How do you make people care? Many people are, in my opinion, too concerned about how they look and what they have; most of these people will do nothing but complain about how the world is.

So, is that what I'm responding to? I have a lot of thinking to do before I can answer that.

[1] That's how it was listed in the Studeni/November 93/2011 issue of visitsplit city guide, p. 10/11.

[2] The original Croatian reads "baloni terorističkih čelija 40tak godina poslije." Information taken from the Xontact festival program.

[3] Again, presentation as I understood it. According to the program, there were to be "Two people, two tables, two laptops, two projectors, two speakers." In reality, it was one screen that wasn't flat (this made words difficult to read), with information on two sides of the screen (but it wasn't continuous, as pauses were taken to retrieved files or switch Internet tabs), and only at the end did the audio compete with a live person (this created competing interference). It should be stressed that, as far as I could tell, none of the content was original; instead, the presenters seemed to have pulled various pieces of information together with a specific aim, but it had to do with a real (?) group of computer hackers called Anonymous who have taken credit for WikiLeaks and are about the free flow of information unhindered by censorship.

[4] Because expectation doesn't inform anything, as I've several times been happily surprised with something (e.g. a movie or food item) that I thought would be a waste of time (or taste bad, in the case of food) - and vice versa. But it also depends how strict your attitude is; in general, I'm a very open person and take even things like my perspectives at face value until they've been validated or something else presents to reject them. In general, though, our experiences inform our flexibility.

09 August 2011

On "'loving, conscious sexuality'"

Gordon Wheeler, president and CEO of Esalen Institue, was quoted as saying: "'It's loving, conscious sexuality ... everything in one: deep love, deep pleasure, deep communication, and spirituality all at the same time'" (Matlack, n.d.). This is definitely a view of sex that I agree with.

I think sex in and of itself is boring. The unnecessary risks with unknown partners also outweigh the benefits of sex, which I believe go beyond the physical.

In many cases, people jump into sex on the first night or early in the relationship. Some decide later without really knowing how they or their partner(s) feel about each other; I think a meaningful relationship has a strong basis in trust and communication. If a connection is missing between two people (that is, if what you know of your partner doesn't extend beyond the superficial), it's too early to engage in sexual frolicking, however tempted you might be; disintegration is almost inevitable.

But let's take this point by point. What is meant by:

deep love: more than friendship, more than physical; knowing someone as a root person

deep pleasure: sex based on partnership and trust that's more than just physical but mental as well

deep communication: this is about dialogue and interaction, of being heard and the ability to listen

spirituality: core values and beliefs

This kind of sex is powerful. It's not a relationship built on friendship with benefits, because, without passion, there's no connection. Friendship love is not the same as real love; real love is rooted in core commonalities and an appreciation of differences, while also being invested in sexual energy - because sex is a communication tool that answers the unknowable (what language fails to express).

What is at the root of marriage is the concept of inseparable union: fidelity based on love of the root person whose sexual attraction is not just physical but intimate (the need to express what is limitless: love at the core). Doubt has no role in real love; marriage is a tangible commitment on which fidelity and trust are based  and these are easy to offer when you love fully and not partially.

We can't look back on history and claim that's how marriage has always been. It never really has been except in fewer cases than most. We still see it today: marriages that have less to do with real love than with pleasing families, personal interests like starting a family, etc.

Yes, more and more people choose to live together; for too many people, it's because marriage is a joke to them. In fact, they fear commitment and have become too jaded with themselves and others; they are also afraid to be alone, or want to assuage their doubts (but can't because they don't really love), etc.

Real love has no affectation, is not hypocritcal or something one grows into. Here's the difference between real love and friendship love: real love extends from the root person, friendship love from comfort. One feels safe with friendship love, real love exposes you.


Matlack, T. (n.d.). "Sh*t guys do, The: On guy rituals: Disgusting and divine." The Good Men Project Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/35040444/Sh-t-Guys-Do#source:facebook [1]

[1] Thanks to L.B. on Facebook for sharing this article.

07 August 2011

Quoting Béla Hamvas

Zoltán Danyi praised Béla Hamvas (2006)'s trees as an "essay form [or] organic fusion of philosophy and of poetry of the highest order" (p. 11), which contradicts Hamvas who claimed, "This is not an essay/this is a poem" (n.p., italics added). So how does one read the following:

"The lime tree of Koloska is a heroic tree. It is not beautiful. But it is a glorious thing, the strength of life ... It never knew happiness, not for a moment, but laughs at anyone pitying it for that ... It does not know, except in dreams, what tranquility might be ... It is ... possessing the viciousness of the evil-doer and the circumspection of a sage" (pp. 30-31).

(1) Beauty is an image concept, though it's also been claimed as an internal construct. From a religious standpoint, which Lady Gaga exemplified in Born This Way, "God makes no mistakes" (quoted in "Lady Gaga," n.d.); but this is true only for believers or those whose self-worth doesn't revolve around beauty.

(2) We are not, in the end, the product of other people. Yes, we are influenced by things external to us; but we mold ourselves despite them. For example, the best parents can't teach their children to be good; their children must want it for themselves, and that, I'd accept, can only arise from an internal construct.

(3) Life is struggle, from whatever position we might entertain it. The more adaptable of us learn from it, and failure is only a stepping stone. As Edgar Allan Poe (n.d.) wrote, "From childhood's hour I have not been/As others were; I have not seen/As others saw." Meaning: Our experiences define our relationship to the world. Ask yourself: What moments of inspiration would I have missed if I'd had a different life?

(4) If you are unafraid of who you are, you fight - because people who are afraid of themselves will always see you as a threat. In reality, there's no win or loss record; you must choose to survive; no victim is alive. Survivors must learn to speak in whatever form (because some are artists, others writers and musicians), and not back down in the face of contempt or ignorance.

The more open we are to ourselves, the more we understand ourselves. You should question, listen, and live different boxes; but know that you will never really know more than you are.

Here's what you do: Break the mirror. For too many, the mirror offers a false acceptance of their worth.

Are you the measure of someone else? Because if you accept God, beauty has no meaning; he's already accepted you. Even without that, what does beauty mean for people?

So here's why people went with the internal construct of beauty: Too many people hide themselves. They put on makeup (even men), risk their bodies for high heels, concealers (e.g. corsettes), needles, and knives (e.g. plastic surgery), etc. The only natural is what you wake up with without having put anything on.

The concept of the good isn't new, and has long been associated with beauty. This beauty is a concept: an unexplainable allure to something for which words exist beyond the periphery of the langauge(s) we know. Those of faith might call it seeing the hand/work/whatever of God, but people have corrupted that by suggesting that only the beautiful have been touched by God, which negates anyone who fails to inspire for whatever reason (different class, race, gender, status, etc.).

I've long rejected beauty. Ugly, however, isn't a criticism for me; I am ugly, which I mean in quite a different way. Ugly as in not perfect, as in not aspiring for perfection, as in accepting me for me and not what other people think or want me to be. I know how people use ugly to describe me; it was easier to laugh it off before California, and since California I wonder at the lack of intelligence. No, I'm not afraid of ugly.

I've also said: I'm not a quitter. The thorns aren't always easy to push through, but I manage. But I also see small wonders, have loved fully and continue to smile. Am I unhappy? lol I'm just me.


Hamvas, B. (2006). trees [Fák]. Trans. by P. Sherwood. Szentendre, Hungary: EDITIO M.

Lady Gaga: Born This Way Lyrics. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.metrolyrics.com/born-this-way-lyrics-lady-gaga.html

Poe, E. A. (n.d.). From childhood's hour. Retrieved from http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/~richie/poetry/html/aupoem69.html

14 December 2010

What is marriage but a commitment of real love?: Some thoughts

Marriage is the real commitment of love; the problem is too many people have married for the wrong reasons, so now stupid people are scared to get married because they think that divorce is an inevitable result. In reality, most people don't know what real love is; it's not something that happens over and over again, and it's more than just friendship.

Every marriage needs sex and friendship; both are important communication tools. But sex has no meaning today, which is why it's lost its value as a communication tool; so people are, of course, more disconnected which makes marriage less attractive since it requires constant communication.

People living together get a sense of it, but the door's always open; a marriage is a closed door, which is why divorce is traumatic - because you don't just leave a marriage, you fight over things like property (house, cars, etc.), children, pets, material asssets, etc. When you leave a lived-in situation, it's the same as breaking up; yes, it hurts like shit, but it's easier to move on from that than an actual marriage. Some states in the U.S., though, recognize the lived-in situation as something like a marriage, which is why if you live together for x period of time, you can claim half of the material goods in the house if the relationship ends (just another reason to be careful when you decide to move in with someone).

So what does it take to be married? An honest search inside to find out who you are and what you want. It's recognizing that you feel as much passion as you do friendship for the person you're with. In the end, you have to be able to distinguish between the feelings that develop as a result of friendship and those for a spouse; real love isn't something you have to think about.

Love is and has always been a gift. If you believe in God, sometimes it's about learning a lesson (especially if you're someone who's destined to never marry), a reward (for those whose destiny was to serve others first), because your future child is meant for something (a link in a chain that leads to a great person or a great person him- or herself), etc. It's a feeling that takes up the whole core of who we are as individuals; you are never the same once you've been touched, and your heart will never close as a result.

Marriage isn't just a legal contract, but one with God (whatever your beliefs). What a marriage recognizes is that you are genuinely in love with each other and ready to give up anyone else (what we call fidelity, trust, etc.) and grow together through all of the twists and bends that come with re/discovering who you are (because we all change, and marriage includes the exercise of letting go).

In other words, marriage isn't just about two people. The ideals of marriage are what make it greater than any two people. But you have to know who you are first; if you're a mask even to yourself, your marriage will break, whether or not you stay together. Real love happens when both partners are completely naked with each other in the figurative sense. There also needs to be desire that extends beyond the physical; bodies age and change, but sex is communication between souls.

If you don't really love someone, yes, you're going to lose interest in sex. A marriage is more than friendship; if all you have is friendship, it's an unbalanced relationship, and that will lead to affairs, breakdowns in the relationship, etc. Communication is the most important part of a marriage, but 50% off it is sex. If you have to overthink what you're feeling, it's not love. If you really love someone, marriage is the inevitable end; otherwise you're just scared, or don't trust or know what you're feeling.

27 April 2010

It's about owning our bodies: A tentative outlook

Okay, so the other day a Facebook friend invited me to the April 26, 2010 Boobquake event. Sure, the whole thing's silly, and it's not like the Islamist critic was the first to demonize women by suggesting some association between us and calamity. We've been demonized for centuries, after all; but I was, like, of course I'm doing it! And I did by cutting a tank top so I looked scandalous.

But I'm thinking: One day isn't enough! Sure, I'm fat and ugly. But these are the issues:

1. Traditionally - and there are exceptions; we know history included female leaders - men have exercised more power than women. To maintain power, so-called weaklings must believe they're inferior. We were weak, which resulted in our need for protection. We bled, which attracted predators. We were stupid, which meant incapable of an education. Of course these are generalizations - and the list can go on. But who defined us? Us or men? So if men want to hold on to any kind of power, yes, they need to blame us for their inability to control themselves - because guess who sexualized us? Did you notice it became so dominant we participated in our sexualization? As a result, we were made to fear our bodies, to believe that we held so much power over men that they couldn't control themselves. If men are so intellectual/higher than us, impulse control should be easy; but we fed the bs and spat it out.

2. Art recognizes all bodies as beautiful: the ugly and the pretty. Why do women who cover themselves up complain about women who don't? Because they're insecure with their bodies. Why do women who don't cover themselves up insist that fat women should? Because they're prejudiced. That's all it comes down to; but, more, the only reason too many of us buy it is because of the above: sexualization. You know what? Screw you. I'm a body - yes, a fat body - but I own my body.

Yes, let's talk about that: owning our bodies. By going out dressing scandalously, you know what I'm saying? This is my body; deal with me. I'm saying: own your prejudice - because I won't respond to you. I dare you to come up to me; you'll see I'm bored. (Oh, I've said that California broke me because of my body; but when you pull yourself together after an experience like that, what ties you is more malleable. I can stretch with hurtful words about my body, but they get pushed out because I know why: sexualization.)

But you want a conversation? Sit down with me and talk.

You can't look at my big breasts without getting a hard on? Let's talk about why.

You're a woman who thinks I'm going too far? Let's talk about the history of our bodies.

You need to act out with juvenilia? That's on you. (Believe me, where I live, this place is full of juveniles. I'm just, like, yeah, it's the very reason I'm more committed to what I'm doing.)

Let's talk about fear. Like, why do men fear our curves? Really, besides being lumps, what's so special about them? Oh, right, there's the whole milk thing - should they not be honored, then? Should a man not be able to look at us and see the potential for future generations in our breasts?

But we've given men authority to be selfish; it's about satisfying their needs. We've told them we recognize their sexual appetites, while ignoring ours - has that really changed? We've accepted their view that we have something to hide; we've given in to the idea that we should be scared of ourselves. Etc.

Uh, no! I refuse to make myself sick trying to fit a definition of beauty that meets someone else's standards. I refuse to cover up my fat because you think it's ugly. Etc.

You want to deal? Face me as a feminist. But I already know most of you are cowards. So, go ahead, insult me; when you're ready to engage with me, then - maybe - I'll pay attention.

23 June 2009

The issue of toilet paper use is an eco-feminist issue

Life has a way of forcing change on you.

I grew up knowing about toilet squatting women who wouldn't sit on a public toilet, but position themselves over the seat, pee, then get up and leave. I never mastered the technique, however; I'd always end up having to clean up the mess that was left behind, including wiping the floor. (If you're a man and think that women's public toilets aren't nasty, then you've never been in one.)

After my surgery recently - when it was painful even to sit up - I was introduced to the bedside toilet. It's a makeshift toilet with a pan underneath it to catch the pee. Later, the nurses would empty the pan in the real toilet. However, the nurses didn't leave me any toilet paper next to the bedside toilet. So I'd sit on it, pee, then wait a few moments before getting up and crawling back into bed.

That bedside toilet habit carried over in my home life. Now I sit on my toilet seat, pee, wait a few moments, then get up. This method's still new to me, so I haven't figured it all out yet; but I still wash my hands when I'm done. Sometimes, however, I get up too quickly and have to wipe the seat clear of the pee drops. Even then, I only use a square piece of toilet paper.

When I'm doing the other business that isn't pee, I have no issue using toilet paper. Once I start bleeding, I'll be using significantly more toilet paper since it's a good vagina plug; that's how I manage not to stain other people's furniture. One day, I'm going to try to see how it works to use rags that I wash; but I'm not at that stage yet.

If you're thinking this is disgusting, allow me: Men pee all the time without using toilet paper. Why do women need to?

Both genders have openings that pee shoots out of. More importantly, urine is clean. I don't think the same can be said for poop; also, men use toilet paper like women to wipe the hole feces pump out of.

But, in terms of the environment, there's a strong argument against women using toilet paper to wipe themselves after they pee: It's more stuff that gets mixed into our environment. If we're really serious about protecting the environment, as well as committed to the idea that little things can make a big difference, then we have every obligation to use less toilet paper.

Yes, women, that's what I'm saying: We're contributing more pollution to the environment than men are in terms of our toilet paper use. I don't even remember how I learned that I needed to wipe myself with toilet paper after I peed; I just know that I've been doing it for most of my life. Yet, the more I learn in my Environmental Management program, and the more I start to pay attention to the media in regards to the environment, the more I ask: What can I do to lessen my burden on the environment?

That's right, the issue of women's toilet paper use is an eco-feminist issue. It's time we stop talking about what we're going to do to protect the environment, and start doing. I'm just beginning to learn what I can do. I'll return to this subject later.

10 December 2008

Is veganism compatible with motherhood?: A question

I have no idea why this question popped into my head the other day. However, it's been troubling me, really compelling me to write about it. It should be clear, too, that I mean nothing against vegans; it's just the concept of veganism and motherhood that intrigues me.

Like, I think I get the position of vegans regarding things like milk. It's the production aspects of commercialized dairy products that's bothersome. Of course, you should know that I'm a self-proclaimed carnivore; I eat ground beef, steak, pork chops, and chicken, and have tried alligator (or crocodile; I can never get this straight) and emu sausage (absolute best). I also enjoy breaded shrimp and fish, and I've experimented with fried squid (didn't like it) and clam (wasn't thrilled by them). These are my informed choices; I've seen documentaries of slaughtered beef, as well as images of dead chickens - and I still eat meat.

The point of this post isn't to debate the issue of whether one should or shouldn't eat meat. It occurs to me, however, that if vegans - and be aware that there are different kinds of vegans, so keep in mind that I'm speaking generally - don't eat or drink anything that comes from an animal, do they apply this limitation to breastfeeding?

We are, regardless of what anyone might say to the contrary, a mammal species; that is, we're animals, too. Breastfeeding is the best milk option for newborns and older children (like I remember hearing about a woman who still breastfed her child through at least six years of age). It's also a byproduct of pregnancy; that is, it's a natural part of our female processes. (Now, this is ignoring the man who gave birth, and is currently pregnant again; I remember catching something about this on television a while back. I just didn't watch the show or whatever.)

What does it mean, therefore, for a female vegan who takes an orthodox view of animals to breastfeed? In my view, doing so represents a complete contradiction. Like, you can't say you're against animal products but also be the source of an animal product. On the other hand, if you refuse to breastfeed, then you're denying a baby important nutrients and antibodies. (This is, of course, ignoring all of the issues associated with HIV/AIDs infected babies, drug babies, etc.)

Anyway, I plan to explore this further in a later post. I'm just putting it there as something to think about: Is veganism compatible with motherhood?

21 July 2008

Live the world like a dream and break the rules: A Memoir

Years ago, as a wild child of a different era, I danced in a cage shirtless, ran naked around a neighborhood, stood outside as the rain soaked me in ... - all one time experiences. Did you really think I'd change so much in ten years?

By my late twenties, I tried new things: being public in panties and shoes, nude modeling, shaving my head hair ... Then I let go of bras, deodorants, hairbrushes.

I've never hid behind conventions, pretensions - that is, when it came to who I was, I've always taken risks. I know what real love is, but also the differences between crushes, infatuations ...

Even more personally, I've known what it feels for an egg to drop, when I came into my sexuality ... I haven't compromised myself despite the pressures.

Feminism isn't who I am; it's an expression of it. I don't break rules just to break them; I do it to test myself. There's no limit to the individual, but the sanctions imposed on by society ...

Are you so sure of yourself? That depends, I suppose, on how much you are outside of yourself as you are in. Be who you are when no one's around and when they are, and the world is yours; it's called disinhibition. My suggestion: Don't be afraid of it; the more you constrain yourself, the more you lose yourself.

11 May 2008

Addressing Radicalism: What Feminism Means

So my women's studies professor, on Thurs., used the word "radical" to describe my feminism. (It was the first time she directly addressed me; until then, she offered indirect hints - and understand that this is going on during class times, not in private). Of course, I have no idea how to read her; I just assume that I discomfit her. Regarding a class in Fall 2008 that she's co-teaching, I told her, in a one on one meeting that same day, "The only relevant issue is whether you'd be uncomfortable with me in the class." She responded, "I'm very comfortable with you." I said, "Okay," which is the same as saying: We'll see how true that is. Seriously, you can't offer me a challenge like that and expect me to walk away. It's not like I plan to be any different than I have been; rather, it has to do with seeing how well her actions back up her words. Of course, some people are very good at distancing their professional and personal selves, but since she's already slipped in this class...Personally, I suspect that if I'd said that I wouldn't be offended or angry if she were uncomfortable - followed up with, Are you sure? - she might've said no.)

As I said in class, however, "I don't consider myself to be 'radical.'" But I wasn't really paying that much attention. I mean, I've been thinking about it a while before then, but I don't believe I knew where I was going with that statement until this weekend. So while I had the opportunity to explain what I think is at the core of feminism - which by itself makes feminism a radical concept - I didn't take it. What I shared instead was that I didn't claim feminism until 1999 because I'd associated it with lesbians/bisexuals; that is, I believed that you had to be a lesbian/bisexual to be a feminist. That veil of ignorance was lifted as a result of a professor who not only gave us readings from feminists who weren't lesbians/bisexuals (though we also read a few excerpts from lesbians/bisexuals), but also introduced this radical concept: Feminism, at its core, means acknowledging that women are equal to men (and vice versa).

If you're a feminist, you might be thinking: Yeah, so what? (That is, the concept isn't new and, in today's world, women have advanced in almost every nation, including those we might be tempted to dismiss because we imagine that women are oppressed at every level. This may be truer in some instances, but too often, especially in countries like the U.S., the problem of ethnocentrism gets in the way of reading cultures otherwise; and there's really no excuse for it, given the scholarship that exists addressing the different expressions of feminisms that exist within particular contexts rather than within a globalized framework. Then again, as in my example, to get rid of ignorance, sometimes you need someone else to guide you when you wouldn't have (on your own) or haven't (because of your experiences, etc.) been exposed to information that disrupts your own knowledge base.)

It's not enough, however, for people to say: Oh, of course women are equal to men. I mean, sure, women still get paid less than men in many instances - and what would you say to the idea that if women (men) really are working less than men (women), then maybe, to make it equal, women (men) should be retiring later than men (women) to make up for the differences that raising children (biological or otherwise) may mean on women (men)? - but women can get a lot of the same jobs as men. It also used to be that women couldn't vote, obtain an education (even basic literacy), wear jeans (it used to be a legal offense in the earlier part of the twentieth century, based on what I remember a guy sharing with me), own businesses, receive any divisions of property and assets in cases of divorce or widowhood, etc. We can't, however, say that women never worked until the women's rights movement. Also, we can't ignore that those who most benefited from the major changes in policy that followed were, initially, white middle/upper class women; now, it's mostly middle/upper class women regardless of race. The focus has since shifted to the roles of women in countries whose cultural norms and historical antecedents are different, requiring the sensitivity and appreciation that many (Western) feminists ignore. [And note that I'm mostly addressing a U.S. perspective.]

What makes the concept that women (and men) are equal to men (and women) radical is that once a feminist accepts it, she (or he) will begin asking questions. For me, it may be different because, as I've said, I grew up with a single mom, lived in apartments, etc., which means that in some significant ways I've become very individuated as a person. I was also, for thirty years, ambivalent about being Hispanic; I neither fit into white culture (though I was frequently around it) nor Hispanic culture (which I rarely experienced). The way I feel is aptly expressed in one of Edgar Allen Poe's short poems where he talks about what it is to be different: always a part of something in ways that set you apart from it. My traumatic experiences in Claremont, CA, however, also made me intensely aware of what it means to be an outlier in a pool of variables that are, on the whole, the same (exempting individual differences, what I'm talking about is class status); the strength I gained from that, however, is what's made it possible for me to be unafraid of taking risks as I continue to challenge what it means to be an American/U.S. woman in today's time (from shaving my head* to not wearing bras).

What I would've said in class, had I been able to articulate it, is this: I'm only "radical" to people who've never questioned the image of how a woman is supposed to act and look. My experiments - because you need to know that I'm not only aware of what I'm doing (that my choices are deliberate and directly related to my expressions of feminism), but I'm also evaluating other people's responses to me - are based on that premise of questioning what a woman should and shouldn't look like and act. For example: Does it make me less of a woman to not have hair on my head? Surprisingly, I received several compliments that I was "pretty": a term that was rarely used to describe me before then because of my fat body. It's only recently, however, that I'm wondering how much of that had to do with people's hidden assumptions that I might've had cancer; yet I'm also seeing (African) models with shaved heads (if you watch America's Next Top Model, you'll have seen one episode in which the competitors had to wear bald caps; however, I also saw a hairless model on a CoverGirl® commercial**, which seems to suggest a social acceptance of bald women).

However, I'm also aware of the implications for other people to comment (or not comment) about my choice to be bra-less. Ignoring that I'm comfortable not wearing a bra - in fact, I think wearing a bra is unnatural; not only do the straps cut into shoulders and leave marks under the breasts, but the design of the apparatus, over time, also works to constrict the circulatory system, etc. - let's not forget that I'm not breaking any laws by not wearing a bra. Two larger issues, however, potentially affect people's responses to me - which quite possibly has to do with the problems (and perhaps occasional benefits) of a social world that is overly mindful of political correctness - if what they fear is: that they will lay the ground for a sexual harassment claim (psychologically, this may have to do with acknowledging that I have breasts and that what's attracting their notice is the size or movement of my breasts); that they will be calling attention to my perceived class status (which assumes that I can't afford to buy a bra).

I am, as I said, a direct challenge to people, even if on an unconscious level. The problem, though, is trying to set the ground for a discussion about socialization. It's almost impossible to imagine that no matter how free one's choice seems to be, the choices concerning how we (women and men) look has a social context that's difficult to disentangle depending on your significant mother figure (biological or step- or other mother, aunt, grandmother, friend, etc.), significant father figure (biological or step- or other father, uncle, grandfather, friend, etc.), friends, etc. For example, a woman who grew up seeing her mom with makeup associates that in her choice to wear makeup. A woman whose mother put makeup on her associates that bonding/intimacy in her choice to wear makeup. A woman who grew up with friends who wore makeup associates that shared comaraderie in her choice to wear makeup. And on and on.

For the choice to wear makeup to be really free, the woman who wears makeup has to question the very basis for wearing makeup. She has to evaluate herself to know if she really likes the texture of wearing makeup, if she understands the consequences of where makeup comes from and how it affects skin (in terms of aging), etc. Without any of that, however, the decision to wear makeup has nothing to do with personal choice but the pressures she has grown up with and implicitly (unconsciously) naturalized in terms of the image she has of what a woman should look like. She also learns how to behave based on those models, and even when she rebels, it's often only temporary because she doesn't know how to contextualize her struggle: Am I doing this out of my own choice, as a rejection of values/influence I don't accept, or because that's all I've really known and not doing so may be cause for rejection? Etc.

So, first, one has to not just recognize that women (men) are equal to men (women), but also act on it. It doesn't just mean recontextualizing ourselves (women and men) in terms how we have responded to the pressures placed on us since we were too young to really understand what was happening, but also asking what it means to be a feminist. Working, for instance: It's only feminism to work if you have the option not to and you're doing something you want; then again, the decision to stay at home when one has the option to work is only feminism when it's an informed choice (and not automatic based on the models one has grown up with). But don't worry! I'll come back to all of this in another post!

* I shaved my hair twice in 2006. The only reason I haven't done so since is out of deference to my mom, who asked me not to shave it again. She's come a long way, too, though; as much as she doesn't like the idea of my not wearing a bra, she hasn't asked me to discontinue that practice because she understands that it has to do with me being a feminist.

** Corporations like CoverGirl® and Kellogg's® (in the marketing of its Special K® brand specifically), among others, are using different sized women in their advertisements. However, while they're challenging social norms concerning the ideal body type for women, they're also feeding into the social norms that continue to define how women should look. The problem is exacerbated by the socialization processes involving girls, who are fashioned through the models of the women around them. For this reason, I'm surprised that there hasn't been a lot of debate concerning the sexualized images of girls in commercials; for example, I recently saw a DQ® commercial in which a girl smiles at a boy and gets a free ice cream. The mother's reaction is shock when she hears the daughter say: "It's like shooting fish in a barrel" - yet she doesn't say anything. I'm reminded, too, of the commercial involving a male adolescent (in one of the gum commercials that talks about "dirty teeth") who hits on a friend's mom, but the woman does nothing to counter it. In both instances, the audience is being told something specific about relationships between men and women; women remain objects of desire, while men continue to be desexualized.