The right-wing anti-sex “real woman” backlash seems to have hit the feminist movement this month, with the publication of books telling women to swear off the Pill and to swear off sex. I’m writing about it in the Guardian: That we’ve come a long way, baby, but gender relations remain fraught, and living with a wide variety of choices that look wide-open but end up constrained is much more challenging than having one or two paths to choose from. It’s easier, in many ways, to offer simple proscriptive advice about “real” femininity than to have to figure out how to be a woman when the definition of “womanhood” is increasingly broad:...read more
Rape is in the news again this week with another widely-publicized gang rape in India and a 31-day sentence for an American teacher who raped a 14-year-old student (she later committed suicide). In the Guardian I’m writing about how certain cultures abet rape and keep reporting rates low:...read more
Sunday night’s MTV VMAs: Miley Cyrus gets to wear and/or remove revealing clothes. She gets to put her hands and/or pelvis in assorted places. She gets to wear latex granny panties and grind up on a fully-dressed Robin Thicke. She gets to stick her tongue out — constantly — no matter how gross it is — like a cartoon dog seeing a sexy cartoon lady dog. Miley Cyrus is a grown woman and gets to use her body as she wants.
Using other people’s bodies is a different story, and a number of bloggers have commented on that crucial fact....read more
When a partner cheats, there’s always (well, frequently, anyway) a question: Why? Why, God, why? Is it something I did? Parent Society blogger Jennifer Carsen has the answer: Yes! Yes, it is. It’s probably because you got fat. Yeah, when your partner decides to have illicit sex behind your back instead of fixing your relationship or breaking it off cleanly, it’s definitely because you got fat....read more
We live in an era of unprecedented access to information about sex, imagery of sex and health care related to sex. Internet porn is ubiquitous. Sexual health information, though not always easily accessible, is more accessible online, in mainstream publications (hello Cosmo) and at doctor’s offices than ever before. Frank discussion of sexual pleasure is standard on television and in movies. There are entire university departments dedicated to the study of human sexuality. That’s all good, and we have early sexual pioneers and researchers to thank for it. But we still have quite a long way to go. I’d love to see us embrace a vision of sexuality that isn’t transactional or gendered or capitalist:...read more
Abortion restrictions are being introduced, debated and mostly passed across several states in the U.S. Texas has been the most notable, but many others — Ohio, North Carolina, Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi and North Dakota — are ramping up their anti-abortion legislation. But while the GOP claims to focus on “life,” many of the states dedicating enormous amounts of time, money and energy to limiting abortion also see incredibly poor health outcomes for mothers and children. I outline some of them over at Al Jazeera; here’s a bit:...read more
Dr. Isis has spent a goodly amount of time promoting feminism and diversity in scientific fields and, she says, met a goodly number of solid allies. But for every good’n, she says, she encounters a bunch that don’t get it — the cookie-seekers, the problem-solvers, the brilliant-idea-contributors who just don’t know why their brilliant contributions aren’t met with champagne and dancing-girls. Thus she has assembled The Straight, White Dudes’ Guide to Discussing Diversity....read more
I’m overjoyed about the DOMA ruling earlier this week. But coming on the tails of the gutting of the Voting Rights Amendment and the meh ruling on affirmative action, it tasted less sweet. And it reflected a very simplistic American idea of “fairness.” That’s what I’m writing about in the Guardian this week:...read more
In what’s actually a pretty reasonable and thoughtful piece, one woman says yes: That abortion rights given women an out from being parents, and we shouldn’t tell men that having sex means taking on the responsibility to have a child:...read more
Ezekiel Gilbert contracted for services with Lenora Ivie Frago, an escort he found on Craigslist. At the end of their Christmas Eve engagement, he paid her her $150 fee, and she walked out — which angered him, because he’d assumed that sex was included as part of the package. Gilbert shot Frago in the neck, paralyzing her; she died of her injuries seven months later. His defense before the courts? That his actions were justifiable because she was stealing the $150 — and under Texas law, he was acquitted....read more
If there had been laws to protect me from his actions—laws that forbade the use of deception and manipulation to lure someone into dangerous and unwanted sexual situations—perhaps this wouldn’t have happened to me. At the very least, if it had happened, I would have had some legal recourse. As it stands, there is no prosecutorial action I can take regarding his loathsome behavior in the state of Virginia—and I’m not sure I could take such action anywhere else, either. But we can’t let the subtlety of this issue of consent confuse us from recognizing it as the violation it most certainly is. If someone were to ask William*, even now, if I would have consented to sex with him had I known the truth, his answer would be an unequivocal, “No.” He knew it then, just as he knows it now: He was having sex with me against my will.
People lie all the time. There is no law against it. But lying becomes criminal when it is used to coerce others into sexual acts. “Why is deception tolerated in the context of sex? What protection does society provide to a person’s sexual integrity…? It is time to remove deception from the realm of sexual interaction in American society. Its tolerance promotes an unseemly status quo in our social fabric that denigrates the most intimate of relationships” (Decker and Baroni, 2012, p. 1167-1168)....read more