Thursday, May 27, 2010

On Vacation

I've decided that I'd like to spend my time in San Francisco with my family, instead of blogging.

BeccasSexBlog will return on Monday, June 7th.

See ya when I get back!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Oh Disney...


As you may have noticed, I did not post yesterday.

I am flying back to my homeland today and had a busy day yesterday.

I don't have anything too substantive, other than this excellent commentary on Disney Princes.

Keep Thinking!

-Becca

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Becca Rants About Adults Ruining Everything

Note: Link, fixed. My apologies.

Recently, the following video came to my attention.

As the title says, those little girls killed that dance. They rocked some moves that I can only dream of making look half as convincing. From what I saw, they loved doing it too.

So enjoy their joy!

End of post, right?

Wrong. Of course, there is controversy around this video.

I bet you all can guess the controversy before I even type it: Should those girls be doing those dance moves in those outfits?

This blog is a rant on why my answer is unequivocally, ‘Yes!”

As someone who spends her life swimming in the intellectual water of sexuality, here’s what I saw:

I saw little girls who are beginning to understand the power of being able to use their bodies to create art that makes people stand up and applaud. Because that applause was not for those outfits, it was for the level of skill the audience saw.

I saw little girls who possibly knew the word ‘sexy’ could be used to describe those outfits, but at that age probably understand only that ‘sexy’ means good.

I saw little girls who spent hours and hours learning how to pop it and lock it and pirouette and do a whole other host of dance moves that I could only dream of making look that good.

I saw little girls whose hopes and dreams may be someday to dance and were being trained in the craft of contemporary dance, in all its raw sexuality and power.

I saw little girls working together and sharing the spotlight.

I saw little girls having the time of their life.

I saw powerful little girls.

That’s what I saw. But there are a whole other host of people who maybe saw that, but it all took a back seat because they also saw sex.

And when sexuality and children come within range of one another, we’re living in a cultural epoch where, for most adults, shit just does not compute. Children are supposed to be ‘innocent’ and ‘asexual’ until puberty, right?

Wrong. Children are sexual from the moment their hands can touch their genitals (in utero, yo) to the moment they kick it (talking about death).

And even in saying that, the reality is while children may be sexual before they even pop out into this world, their experience of sexuality is not an adult experience.

Let me repeat that: CHILDHOOD SEXUALITY IS NOT AN ADULT EXPERIENCE.

This is where shit gets hard. Because of course, adults are terrified when they see things they think are sexual because most of us here in the good old U.S. have grown up in a world where sex is bad and shameful in most contexts. Plus, for adults, sex isn’t just sex. It has such incredible nuance, that when we see a 9 year old displaying sexuality, we automatically equate their action with our perceptions.

Let me give you a non-kid example of how this happens:

How many times have you seen someone, let’s say … eating a popsicle. Let’s say it’s one of those “big stick” popsicles. They liberate it from the wrapper. They examine it closely, and then plunge it into their waiting mouths. They plunge it deep, toward the back of their throats and you see their lips wrap around the popsicle at they bring it back out. Over and over and over.

What are you really thinking about right now?

Whether or not you’re thinking about how that person is totally blowing a popsicle, I can guarantee you, all that person is thinking about is how fucking delicious that big stick is. A BJ wasn’t anywhere in their consciousness.

It’s the same with kids. We see something, we say it’s sexual, but our perception is completely estranged from their actual experience. Those little girls were dancing, but all we see is pseudo-lingerie and some sexual movements.

So we ask, "Should they be doing those moves in those outfits?"

And in doing so, I am of the opinion that we negatively affect those girls.

I’ll say it again. We’re not protecting them from being sexualized by posing that question. All we really accomplish in asking it is shaming them.

Rather than congratulating them, telling them they did a great job, telling them that they are valuable and important and incredibly talented, we reinforce stigma.

We tell them they shouldn’t be wearing that (i.e. be ashamed of your body).
We tell them they shouldn’t be doing those moves (i.e. be ashamed of your sexuality).
We devalue all their hard work and effort in one fell swoop because we can’t see past the sexuality that I doubt they even thought about while learning that routine.

So, do I think that those little girls killed that dance routine, sexy moves and all? Hell yes.

I even think that their cutsie little outfits made me appreciate it more because I saw what their bodies had to go through to make that dance happen. Mad respect to those little ladies.

Do I think that someone should sit those little ladies down, and tell them that someday when they’re powerful adult women they can try to change all of dance culture so they can dance in whatever outfits they want to? Hell yes!

Do I condone adults continuously ruining everything for kids because we can’t separate ourselves from our own adult experiences of sexuality? Hell no.

Rant. Done.

Keep Thinking.

-Becca

Monday, May 17, 2010

Susan Faludi Figured Out Why American Dudes Don’t Feel Like Real Men

Considering I’m in school, I’m sure you all are shocked at the lack of paper translations this semester. Well, due to a number of circumstances, I didn’t have a paper returned to me until a few days ago. But here we go.

Original Title: Seeking Masculinity

New Title: Susan Faludi Figured Out Why American Dudes Don’t Feel Like Real Men.

As you know, the dudebro (aka, the “real” man according to a bunch of academics), is a dude who only feels manly when he is in complete control over money, emotions, and society AND when dudebro is dominating women and not doing anything that would get him called ladylike. Susan Faludi wrote a book called “Stiffed” which looks at how that definition hella backfired on the dudebro in post WWII society, leading to a sense that no one actually knows what it means to be a real man.

BREAK IN PAPER TRANSLATION. I realize that I need to do some summary for y’all before I can continue with my paper translation. We’ll continue in a moment.

According to Faludi, when soldiers came back from WWII, they were given these tokenized jobs making lots of money with no real purpose. (Holler at Corporate America). Rather than learning a skill or a trade, their jobs were to watch other people do their jobs, and no one could tell you what they did. Empty jobs to make money, basically. As a result of this, dudes basically became ladies.

Wait what’d you just say?

During the years following WWII, ladies were taken out of the factories and put back into the home, and told that their sense of happiness lie in raising kids and spending all this money that their men were making. It was what was supposed to define ladies as ladies.

Guess what happened? It was meaningless. Buying things didn’t make ladies happy. Ladies weren’t happy about being shoved back into the home. So guess what happened next?

Feminism happened, friends. And from then until present, women have been working to get much more meaningful roles within society.

However, dudes never had feminism. So, when their wives said “F This, I’m out” all they had left were their paychecks. Whereas before, ladies were defined by how much green their dudes brought home, and dudes were defined by providing for a family. Now, dudes were simply defined by the size of their paycheck and their ability to buy things.

Sound familiar? Dudes are now defined exactly the way ladies used to be defined before feminism happened.

BACK TO PAPER TRANSLATION

Because of this whole fathers having meaningless, tokenized jobs, there was a lot of talk of fathers not really being present for the sons of post WWII America. Dads just weren’t around either literally because they were working so much, or figuratively because they realized that they didn’t have any wisdom to pass to their sons. For the dudebro whose dads weren’t around, they had no one to ask ‘what makes for a real man?’ These are the dudes who engaged full tilt in consumer culture or celebrity seeking, only to find that they still didn’t feel like real men and still didn’t know what it meant to be a real man, despite their stuff or their fame.

For the dudebro who had a father figure, it was all about utility. These dudes who worked in this shipyard in long beach had great ‘father-son’ relationships. The older shipyard workers would pass knowledge down the younger ones, and while in the shipyard, people felt like real men. However, the shipyard eventually closed, and when it did many of the younger workers transitioned to not knowing what it felt like to be a real man outside of the shipyard.

So, basically, looking to a father figure in post WWII to figure out how to be a real man … wasn’t’ really working.

So what about looking to each other?

Still didn’t really work, unfortunately. The first reason was institutionalized homophobia (like in the government during the Lavender Scare where they made laws to fire gay people). The second reason was the rising resentment over ladies being in the workplace. The third was trying to define masculinity as anything that wasn’t feminine. These three things together made it so that dudes couldn’t be intimate with other dudes for fear of being seen as gay or ladylike. Even in groups that were supposed to be about growth and support (like this group called the Promise Keepers), the group still only found friendship around buying Promise Keepers gear and spending hella money on Promise Keeper conferences.

Even dudes who were trying to break out and find support were trapped by the dudebro style of masculinity.

So, wtf? What’s a dude to do in a world where looking to their father figures or looking to each other always leads down a path to a definition of manliness that is totally empty and meaningless?

Faludi thinks that’s it’s gonna take letting the dudebro definition of masculinity go. Instead of defining one’s masculinity as opposite of femininity, it’s time to create a new definition. One where the definition of being a real man revolves around embracing some of those girly things like being intimate with same sex peers, and caring for more than just the self, and wanting more than just lots of money to spend on empty things.

END

For those of you who have time to sit through a 600+ page book, Stiffed was actually a really engaging read with much more nuance than I was able to provide in a translation of a 2 page paper.

Keep Thinking!

-Becca

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Becca Answers D’Angelo’s Rhetorical Question

A couple days ago, I was rollin’ through Philly in Lil’ Berry (that’s the name of my car for those of you who aren’t familiar), and D’Angelo’s song “Shit, Damn, Motherfucker” from his Brown Sugar album came on.

For those of you unfamiliar with the song’s premise, it’s pretty simple. The main character of the song (we’ll call him Dudebro for the rest of the post) finds his woman sleeping with another dude, pulls out a gun, kills them, and gets arrested.

For the full lyrics to the song, you can click here.

The song is basically a series of rhetorical questions. The rhetorical question that got me really thinking was:

“Why am I in handcuffs.”

There was a bit of disbelief in that question.  And the disbelief, regardless of how heinous the crime, may actually be for a reason.

Mad props to Dr. Susan Kellogg-Spadt for doing an amazing lecture on the physiology of love during one of my classes. This rhetorical question could not have been answered in this way without her course.

Why is it that Dudebro can’t believe what he’s done?

Because his brain may have been firing off chemicals that make his decision making completely different than when he had not just found out his boo was sleeping with another dude.

It all breaks down to three brain chemicals: dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.

To explain those really simply:

Dopamine (dope -ah-mean) = The chemical that makes you want to go out and seek pleasure and reward.
Norepinephrine (Nor-ep-en-eff-rin) = A stimulant which make you energetic, sleepless, exhilarated (sound like Cocaine much?).
Serotonin (sare-oh-tone-in) = The chemical that creates calm.

When someone is in a state of love rejection (like Dudebro in the song), dopamine and noreprinephrine are hella high, and serotonin is hella low.

This means that there is no sense of chill, the person is jacked up and looking for an easy way to solve the problem they've encountered.  When the brain is all out of whack, it can cause rash decision making.

It’s why someone who really likes food but normally may be able to control their food portions will eat themselves into oblivion after getting dumped. It’s why sometime people will show up on doorsteps or stop at nothing to try to see their ex. Although there’s more to the story than just brain chemicals, they play a part in that impulsivity.

So, to answer D’Angelo’s rhetorical question, ‘Why am I in handcuffs?”

It’s all because dudebro:
a) Had a gun.
b) Probably had some socialization that taught him violence was a way to solve problems.
c) Had out of whack brain chemicals.


BIG IMPORTANT NOTE: Just because brain chemicals are out of whack, that isn’t ever an excuse to kill, stalk or otherwise do something nonconsensual to anyone else.  Brain chemicals are NOT the whole story, they're only part of it.

I’m sure someday D’Angelo will thank me for answering a question he never needed answered.

My work here is done.

Keep Thinking!

-Becca

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Chicken Man

First, my apologies for the Radio silence on Thursday. Sometimes even I need a day to recover from life. Thursday was one of those days.

But, I am back in action today with something a little different. I've found myself thinking a great deal about acculturation. You know, the process where little kids learn about how their culture works. We do it everyday by telling kids what actions are good and bad; by rewarding them for good actions and punishing them for bad ones.

We also teach kids how to act through our own actions. One of these actions being storytelling. We tell our kids stories or read them stories. The topic of the stories often have morals that we're trying to portray. A common moral for these stories is: someday you are going to fall in love with one person and be with them forever. (And a lot of them are like 'when you're a lady, you're helpless but some faceless dude will come save you and THAT will be the person you're with for the rest of your life).

It makes me stop and wonder what life would be like if we had different stories for children. So I wrote one. I'm thinking it's more a late-childhood story, but I don't usually write for people who are younger than teens, so I have no idea if they'd get the moral.  In any case, I thought I'd take a swing, and here it is.

Keep Thinking!

-Becca

The Chicken Man

Once upon a time there was a beautiful girl named Parker who grew up in a small village next to a river. Parker lived with her mother, father, and 3 brothers. Parker and her family ran a small inn where weary travelers could go to rest their heads and fill their bellies. Parker liked working in the inn because she got to meet a whole bunch of interesting people.

One time, a man with a boat full of 700 chickens stayed in the inn. When Parker found out about his cargo, she said to him “I will call you the Chicken Man”. The Chicken Man was very handsome and also very nice. He smiled at Parker and said “Then that will be my name.” Parker grinned a wide grin and noticed that her mother was also grinning at the Chicken Man.

That night, Parker thought that she would bring an extra glass of water to the Chicken Man because he had been so nice to her. She knocked on the door to his room. No one answered, so she slowly peeked her head in to make sure he was all right. Instead of the Chicken Man, her father was sitting on the bed, reading a book. She was so surprised that she dropped the glass on the floor.

“Father,” Parker said, “Why are you staying in the Chicken Man’s room? And where is the Chicken Man?”

Parker’s father looked at her for a moment. Parker was almost 13 years old. She had started her monthly bleeds over a year ago and her breasts and hips were starting to fill out. She watched her father look at her until he said “Parker, it is time you know how love really works.”

“But father” said Parker “you’ve already told me of love. Was everything you told me a lie?”

“No, child” said Parker’s father “but I did not tell you the whole story because you weren’t of an age where you would understand. I think that you are old enough now. Would you like to learn?”

Parker nodded her head and sat with her father on the bed.

“If I am in the Chicken Man’s room right now,” Parker’s father asked “where do you think the Chicken Man is?”

Parker thought long and hard. She figured he wasn’t at his boat. It was too cold and all those chickens must be really loud. She figured he wasn’t in the dining area. She had just cleaned that up and it was empty. She figured he wasn’t in the washroom. She had seen one of her brothers go in there with a book. He’d be there for a while. She thought and thought and thought, and then it finally dawned on her.

“If you are here, the Chicken Man must be in your bedroom with Mother,” she said.

Her father smiled at Parker, and she felt proud of herself for being so bright. Then, Parker got confused.

“Wait a second,” Parker said “Why is Mother in your bedroom with the Chicken Man?”

“What do you already know about love?” asked Parker’s father.

Parker repeated what her father had told her many times, “Mother is the love of your life. You care for her more than anyone. Well, except for my brothers and me. The only person that you want to share the rest of your life with is her. You like seeing her and being around her very very very much. And she feels the same way about you.”

“That” said Parker’s father “is emotional love. But there is another kind of love called ‘physical love’.”

Parker’s brow rumpled in confusion. “What is the difference?” Parker asked.

Parker’s father smiled and asked, “When you look at Jared from three cottages down, how do you feel?”

Parker’s face turned red from her chin to the roots of her hair. Jared was tall, had dark hair, and could climb a tree higher than any other kid in the village. How could her father know that looking at Jared made her heart race and her stomach do loops? She had never talked to Jared in person, but she wondered if her father knew that she thought about Jared and touched herself.

Before she could say all this out loud, her father said, “What you feel when you look at Jared are the pangs of physical love.” He told Parker that ‘lust’ was another word for physical love. Lust was when you wanted to rub and touch and sometimes have sex with another person.

“Do you and Mother have lust for each other?” asked Parker.

“Very much, Parker,” said Parker’s father. “But sometimes we also have lust for other people.”

“I always thought that once someone fell in love that they didn’t feel lust for other people,” Parker said, confused.

“I think it would be easier that way, sometimes,” said Parker’s father “But, the idea of two people falling in love and then NEVER feeling lust for anyone else is a fairy tale. Even when you love someone as much as I love your mother, sometimes you still feel lust for other people.”

“But shouldn’t you just ignore those feelings? Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when you love someone?” asked Parker.

“Some people try to be in love that way,” said Parker’s father “For some, it works and they are happy. For others, they find lust to be too powerful and they rub or touch or have sex with another anyway. When their love finds out, they can be hurt or sad or they can fall out of love. Your mother and I decided that we would rather tell each other first. This way, if we are feeling hurt or sad, we can tell each other before we fall out of love.”

“But when you have lust and you rub or touch or have sex with someone that isn’t Mother, do you love Mother less?” asked Parker.

“No Parker,” said Parker’s father, “When I have lust for other people, it is usually only lust. After I rub or touch or have sex with other people, I am still very much in love with your Mother.”

Parker thought and thought and thought and then said, “So mother is feeling lust for the Chicken Man. And that is why she and the Chicken Man are in a room together. That is why you are in the Chicken Man’s room.”

“You are a very smart girl, Parker,” said Parker’s father. “Do you have any other questions?”

“Yes. Let’s say Jared and I fall in love. Does that mean I could still lust after and rub or touch or have sex with Adrian from the market?” Asked Parker.

Parker’s father laughed loudly and smiled deeply at Parker. “Yes. But you would have to have lots of talks with Jared first,” said Parker’s father.

“What kinds of talks?” asked Parker.

“That, my love, is for another night. It is past your bedtime,” said Parker’s father.

As Parker went to bed, she thought about her mother and the Chicken Man. She understood a little better why her mother had been grinning at him so widely. She bet that her mother was still grinning.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Becca’s Gonna Valprehend You (If You’re Lucky)

val.pre.hend [vālp'rĭ-hěnd']
v. valprehended, valprehending, valprehends
1. To actively grab or seize with a vagina or rectum. When in reverse cowgirl, she valprehended his cock until he orgasmed and passed out.

Believe it or not, when I write these posts, I think very carefully about the language that I use and the way in which I say things.

Despite how much time I put into thinking about my language, I am not always perfect.

Sometimes, I’m not perfect on purpose because I feel that a less ‘pc’ phrase or statement is more powerful than one that isn’t.

Sometimes, I’m not perfect because I’m writing a blog post in less time than I should because I’ve procrastinated.

And then there are times when I’m not perfect because there is no language with which to describe certain things.

This is how the word ‘Valprehend’ came to be.

A reader sent me a message concerning how they had issues with my Yes, No, Maybe Chart. Not huge issues, but simply issues with the fact that in the section pertaining to penetrative positions, I defined all of them in terms of the penetrator. The critique was that this creates a framework where only the person penetrating gets credit for effort.

And while at first I was like, ‘I’m just trying to make things clear,’ I eventually put my ego in check and realized that my reader was totally right. However, upon examining words that exist, I could not find any that, for me, had the equivalent power of the word ‘penetrate.’

Being someone who has valprehended many a person in her day, I know how active, powerful and strong valprehending can be.

But I hadn’t found a word yet, so I turned to someone that I consider a good resource for sex language, Charlie Glickman.  He also didn’t know of a word, so he suggested we make one up.

So, being as that lots of English is based in greek roots, I scoured the interwebs and found out that Val means strong and Prehend means to grasp or seize. Imagine my joy when I put those together to make a word that has strength, agency, and the same sizzle as penetrate: Valprehend.

I e-mailed my idea to Charlie, and he dug it. He breaks it down in a really great way, so you should check out his post on Valprehending too!

So here’s why I think actually using this word is important, and although there are many viewpoints that could back me up, I’m going to use the one I’ve heard most often from the dudes I’ve been chatting up lately.

A HUGE complaint that I get from lots of these dudes is that they have to do all the work during penetrative sex. They’re the ones thrusting and grinding and riding and whatnot, and their partners are just laying there receiving. While this is okay part of the time, these dudes that I’ve talked to often mention that it would be nice (and hot) if their partner would put in a little more effort.

Although there have been many folks who have valprehended in the past, many who are velprehending right now, and even more who will valprehend in the future, up until this word they were simply ‘receivers.’ Regardless of the work the valprehender was putting in, their actions were reduced to passivity because of the limitations of language. No matter how hard they worked, the receiving partner is never seen as active in language.

Until now.

The word Valprehend is a word that is meant to make people feel powerful (val does mean ‘strong’ after all). It’s specifically designed to bring up the idea of a person doing work, being active, and putting in effort.

And if we all begin to use a word with that meaning, it makes the concept real and makes the activity more likely to occur in reality.

So for all you ladies and gents who identify as penetrators, you should use the word to help your partners get on equal footing and maybe get those passive partners to step up their agency. And for all you receivers out there who have been grasping and grinding and putting in effort, you should use the word to give all your effort meaning.

Although Valprehend may not be a word you shout during sex (unless you’re me and love nerdy sex talk), using Valprehend in everyday conversation can make a world where there is a possibility that anyone can be the active partner.

So go out and have some consensual valprehensive sex. You deserve it!

Keep Thinking (and Valprehending)!

-Becca