Having Queer Thoughts: Buzzfeed is Trying Really Hard to Include Dyke Moms

The header to Buzzfeed's gender-neutral mother's day post.

The header to Buzzfeed’s gender-neutral mother’s day post.

A little over a month ago, Buzzfeed came out with an article entitled “21 Gender-Neutral Mother’s Day Gift Ideas”, with the subtitle “because not all moms want perfume and jewelry.” When I saw this, I was at first blush very excited to see some diversity encouragement coming through such a dominant media source. I thought of the non-binary parents I know, most of which who identify as butch lesbian, and imagined that they too would be thrilled to see this Buzzfeed post. Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I immediately had a mental flashforward to when I will undoubtedly help my future kids pick out birthday and mother’s day gifts for my future partner (who will most likely fall into the category of “butch” or “dyke”, because lezbehonest). I got all the warm and fuzzy feels, and then scrolled down to peruse Buzzfeed’s suggestions. All of the ideas are cute and totally on-point. As I read, a thought on my mind was that I am a fairly femme-y individual and I would love to receive any of those gifts!


Once I had scrolled through the whole post, I went to the bottom of the web page to take a look at the reader’s comments. I found a lot of really interesting dialogue on the concept of non-binary gifting and parenthood, and I thought I’d share my favorites (I highlighted the one I most agree with):

“Since when were perfume and jewelry gendered? (I thought all objects in English were naturally gender-neutral.) Why couldn’t this be called something like “Gifts for Mother’s Day You May Not Have Thought Of: Because there’s more than just perfume and jewelry”?”

“I think this article is long overdue in a society that often stereotypes women by locking them into having traditional female interests and tastes. As a mother, I appreciate the nontraditional gift ideas that suggest I may like grilling, driving my car and traveling over the stereotypical flowers and perfume. It is time to break the box of labels and stereotypes and allow both women and men to follow their interests without being locked in by their gender.”

“why isn’t this just titled “Fresh Gift Ideas for the Mom in Your Life” or “Alternative Mother’s Day Gifts” or “Things Everyone Likes, TBH, but Our Editor Said We Need to Use a Buzzword in Our Next Article”?”

“Gender neutral? Why add that to the title? Awesome gifts for Mother’s Day. End of story.”

“Poor word choice for this article. Gender neutral doesn’t work here because the word mother already has a gender implied. If you are a person who identifies as female and has kids, you’re a mother. I honestly would have even preferred to see the word butch used here, at least it fits with the female-identified word ‘mother.'”

“Am I the only person who finds it ironic that you would write an article about gender neutral presents them use gendered pronouns? Also how about people just put thought into presents. Presents should be individualized to the person, and should be something you know that they want, need, or will appreciate.”


Personally, I think that “non-traditional” or “butch” could have been used in the place of “gender-neutral” for this list. The concept of gender-neutrality, as mentioned in some of the comments above, is completely shot in the foot when the whole article uses she/her pronouns to refer to the giftee. All problems aside, however, I appreciate Buzzfeed trying to incorporate some gift ideas for people whose preferences and identities fall outside the dominant narrative!

The F Word: Top 5 Quotes from Alveda King’s 5/21/15 Anti-Choice Talk on WWU Campus

Let me start by highlighting the fact that I do not like using the term “pro-life”. Here’s why: The term “pro-life” suggests that the opposition (“pro-choice”) is “anti-life”, which is completely incorrect. The pro-choice movement celebrates and empowers all people’s reproductive decisions, whether this includes choosing to carry a pregnancy to term or not! THIS IS BECAUSE WE BELIEVE IN THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO CHOOSE. Hence, pro-choice. To put it simply, pro-choice is not synonymous with anti-life, but pro-life is certainly synonymous with anti-choice. 


I feel incredibly lucky to be a student of Western Washington University, where countless workshops, lectures, seminars and discussion panels on the progressive topics such as reproductive rights, queer activism, feminist theory, and trans justice are offered each quarter. Just last week, I sat in on a fantastic trans workshop lead by one of Seattle’s most prolific trans activist, contributing author of Trans Bodies, Trans Selves and co-founder of Seattle’s Gender Odyssey, Aidan Key. Unfortunately, I also attended another event last week that wasn’t quite so progressive: a talk by Priests for Life’s Alveda King, sponsored by the WWU on-campus Students for Life club.

Alveda King, smiling because she is a

Alveda King, smiling because she is a “reformed murderer”.

Alveda King is the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and an avid anti-gay and anti-choice activist. I went to the lecture out of curiosity and because I tend to take any opportunity to hear the logic of individuals who oppose reproductive and queer rights. Above all else, I wanted to know what messages the Students for Life club is choosing to promote on our university campus. This post is not meant to discount the opinions of those who do not chose abortion for themselves or to subsume the entire anti-abortion movement into one person’s words, but rather to highlight some of the more problematic and arguably hypocritical talking points of Alveda King’s speech. So, without further ado, here are the top 5 most ridiculous quotes from Alveda King’s 5/21/15 Anti-Choice talk on WWU campus.


1. “A woman has a right to choose what happens to her body, but the baby is not her body.” – King, on her “pro-life feminism”

This statement is so scientifically inaccurate that I hardly think it even needs debunking, but I’m going to do it anyways. Clearly, Alveda (and whoever else agrees with this statement) has never heard of the placenta and umbilical cord. Let’s do some review: Upon fertilization an egg it divides into two components: the embryo, which develops into the fetus, and the placenta, which grows along the lining of the uterus. The umbilical cord develops from embryonic tissue and connects the placenta to the fetus so that it can carry oxygenated blood from the placenta to the baby through one vein and deoxygenated blood from the baby to the placenta from two arteries. (source) I’m not entirely sure what world Alveda King and her supporters live in where the placenta and umbilical cord, the lifeline of the fetus while it grows within the womb, are somehow not a part of the woman’s body. Personally, I call bullshit.

2. “Let GOD plan parenthood!” -King, birth control and barrier methods

This idea is absurd, especially because it completely eliminates the concept of safe sex and STI prevention. If a woman really has a right to choose what happens to her body, as King so proudly asserts, then why wouldn’t she be allowed to choose whether or not to get pregnant or use contraceptive methods?

3. “We are not animals, so we can choose not to give in to our desires. For example, I love fried chicken. But a few years ago I found out I was gluten-free, so now I don’t eat fried chicken anymore! Well, actually I’ve found a great gluten-free fried chicken recipe that I use now instead.” -King, on why girls should choose celibacy instead of birth control and barrier methods

Let’s take this statement sentence by sentence, because there’s a lot of problems here.

  • Alveda King's oral contraceptive to protect her from unplanned conception of celiac food babies.

    Alveda King’s oral contraceptive to protect her from unplanned conception of celiac food babies.

    “We are not animals” We are animals. Kingdom of animalia, phylum of chordata, class of mammalia, order of primates, family of hominidae, genus of homo, species of sapiens (source): yes, indeed, we are animals.

  • “I love fried chicken” Really Alveda, fried chicken? Way to go completely off-topic and perpetuate racial stereotypes in the same sentence!
  • “I found out I was gluten-free, so now I don’t eat fried chicken anymore” Alveda is out of her mind if she thinks that not eating fried chicken because you are gluten free is in any way akin to giving up sex because you do not feel you are ready for motherhood.
  • “I’ve found a great gluten-free fried chicken recipe that I use” Oh, the irony. If not eating fried chicken because you are gluten free is equivalent to not having sex because you do not want to get pregnant, then what is the sexual equivalent of finding a gluten-free recipe so that you can have fried chicken without getting sick? Using contraceptives and barrier methods, so that you can have sex without getting pregnant.   

4. “You can choose to only have sex when you’re not ovulating! It is physically impossible to get pregnant when you’re not ovulating. And plus, it is empowering to choose not to have sex!” -King, on “natural family planning”

This person is EMPOWERED AS HELL because she has the right to choose.

This person is EMPOWERED AS HELL because they have the right to choose.

To some extent, I do agree with the notion that it is empowering to choose to not have sex. On the other hand, I agree far more strongly with the notion that it is empowering to choose whether or not to have sex. As in, either one….so, a choice. Also, it is most definitely possible to get pregnant when you are not ovulating. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Ejaculated sperm remain viable for several days within a woman’s reproductive tract. Fertilization is possible as long as the sperm remain alive — at least five days.”

5. “It’s only 9 months, it’s not permanent!” -King, on why a woman should always carry her pregnancy to term

This cute lil babes would like to politely remind Alveda that they exist after being born.

This cute lil babes would like to politely remind Alveda that they exist after being born.

I genuinely think that Alveda forgot that a fetus becomes a baby which becomes a real life person that can live well into a century after leaving the womb. Yes, a woman can give her baby up for adoption. But either way the baby is still a permanent fixture in the world, whether or not they live with their birth parents. Adoption is a wonderful thing because it provides babies with loving families and provides families with loving babies, but this does not discount the problem of overpopulation and the amount of children who go into the foster care system because their bio-parents were under the misconception that the outcomes of pregnancy were “not permanent!”


So there you have it, peoples and folks! My top 5 most ridiculous quotes from Alveda King’s 5/21/15 anti-choice talk on WWU campus. Feeling a little miffed by what you just read? Go spread some positivity in the world by getting involved with your local Planned Parenthood!

PlannedParenthoodFEATURE-300x202

Non-Binary Pronouns Presentation Cheat Sheet

I am in an LGBT Experience class taught by Kate Miller of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at Western Washington University. We were tasked with a group project than incorporated research and activism on a specific issue pertaining to the GSM community. My group decided to explore non-binary pronoun use! Here is the cheatsheet to our presentation, as well as a link to our GoogleDoc Presentation and our survey video!


Video Survey:

Cheat Sheet:

Non-Binary Pronouns DocumentPresentation Link: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1jJ201kh4C5xs9tV273sPW5rqP-PpmDTulE7PB1y3e4M/edit?pli=1#slide=id.g890a4f753_0_10

PROJECT PRONOUN: “Ask Me About My Pronouns” Day

My partner is non-binary and often times finds herself in situations where she is speaking to someone who is obviously unsure or curious about her preferred pronouns. In situations like this, my partner and many other non-binary folks wish that others would feel comfortable enough to just politely ask “What are your preferred pronouns?” but such is not always the case. Conversely, my partner and many other non-binary folks would like to be able to easily and casually announce their pronouns of choice but do not feel comfortable doing so. My thought is that increasing comfortability around discussing, asking, and announcing preferred pronouns starts with the simple act of opening a dialogue about pronouns by announcing your own, even if you, like myself, are cisgendered and consider your pronouns of choice to be easily recognized.

With this idea in mind, I am declaring May 28th to be ASK ME ABOUT MY PRONOUNS DAY! 

2329lem-w800h800z1-39558-ask-me-about-my-pronouns

If you want to get fancy, you can order this shirt from www.lookhuman.com!

My call to action is simple: Before Thursday, May 28th, find an old t-shirt and a sharpie and write (in big letters so that it can be easily read from afar) “ASK ME ABOUT MY PREFERRED PRONOUNS”, or something else along those lines. Then, on May 28th, wear the t-shirt in public! When people ask you about your preferred pronouns, announce them with enthusiasm and ask about theirs. Hopefully, this will help folks get more comfortable with the concept of pronoun asking/announcing!

Or this one, also from www.lookhuman.com!

Or this one, also from www.lookhuman.com!

If you’re up for the challenge, please share this link on your Facebook and tell all your friends so we can get as many participants as possible!

On May 28th, take a picture of yourself wearing your t-shirt and post it with the hashtags #projectpronoun and/or #funforeverygender, so that we can get the whole world on board.

Let’s do this!

Having Queer Thoughts: Lesbian Beauty Standards (Through the Ages and Now)

My partner and I are taking the same LGBT Experience class, which is tons of fun because we just get to eye-flirt constantly and expound off each other’s comments during class discussions. Their name is Kade, they are the most intelligent/beautiful/talented/compassionate/handsome/hilarious person on the face of the planet, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get enough of them. Anyways, they wrote an article for the class that analyzed Lesbians, Levis, and Lipstick: The Meaning of Beauty in Our Lives (1999) in order to explore the lesbian beauty standards and stereotypes within our own queer community. It’s a fantastic article, so I decided to post an excerpt!


My partner, Kade, (lookin' dapper with the bow tie) and I (the one in the dress), fulfilling butch/femme stereotypes like never before.

My partner, Kade, (lookin’ dapper with the bow tie) and I (the one in the dress), fulfilling butch/femme stereotypes like never before.

The lesbian identity has been historically marked by the stereo-typification of masculine and feminine expression. It emerged more prominently around the 1920s, when women in the Harlem and Greenwich Village areas began forming concentrated lesbian communities, in which style of dress was used to identify one another. This became more expressly enforced in the ’50s, when the queer community entrenched themselves further in the effort to be distinguished from hetero-dominant culture. During this era, a lesbian not dressed in either a butch or a femme fashion was subjected to alienation and even suspicion of being a police officer. This suspicion wasn’t unwarranted, as raids and arrests were commonplace in the homophobic social climate of the time. By the ’70s, the lesbian beauty standards had evolved to include androgyny as a more accepted presentation, lending to the notion that a woman’s function was not to simply look good for a man. At this point, it seemed that beauty standards within the lesbian community were already deeply engrained as a direct response to those of the dominant culture. Pride and recognition of the lesbian identity were integral factors to this response. Whether or not these beauty standards were intentionally created or come with oppressive side effects is open for interpretation.

Androgyny is undefinable, unique to each individual that embodies it, and incredibly sexy.

Androgyny is undefinable, unique to each individual that embodies it, and incredibly sexy.

The authors of Lesbians, Levis, and Lipsticks: The Meaning of Beauty in Our Lives (1999) state several variables that effect lesbians’ self-perceived beauty, including weight, age and time elapsed since coming out and membership in certain subcultures (butch, femme, etc.). Their conclusions of these factors in relation to the surveys and studies done on North Californian lesbian communities go as followed: the older the lesbian and the longer she’s been out of the closet, the more comfortable she feels in her appearance (“I love my aging body!”), the younger the lesbian, the more pressure they feel to conform to lesbian beauty standards in order to assert their queerness (“They [lesbians] want to make sure that people in their group meet all their requirements. It’s very excluding”). Heavier lesbians tended to express their feelings of acceptance within the gay community, but “still struggled with trying to accept [her] own body size due to [her] socialization within the dominant culture”. Finally, different subcultures within the lesbian community tend to feel differently about beauty standards; butch women falling more on the liberated end of the spectrum, and femme women falling more on the constrained end. All of these factors have one thing in common: dominant culture standards are still pervasive within the lesbian community. The examples also present a paradox in which lesbians either feel freed from heteronormative expectations, or confined by those of their own community.

Breaking news: lesbians love curves.

Breaking news: lesbians love curves.

Elaborating upon the prevalence of dominant beauty ideals within lesbian communities, the authors explain how thinness standards carry over into these communities: “If the expectation is that ‘lesbians should accept and love large bodies’ yet their inner experience of their own bodies is quite the contrary, then there is little room for lesbians to seek support for negative body image, which thus remains hidden”. This may explain why there is a misconceived idea within society that all lesbians are empowered by their body image, or that lesbians are free from dominant standards, when it is really lesbian beauty ideals that make the contrary invisible. “Fat acceptance” may indeed play a roll in silencing many women who may not feel completely comfortable with their own body image because they are told that any body size is beautiful, while subconsciously internalizing the dominant culture’s expectation of thinness. The butch beauty ideal may also be put under the microscope when pertaining to dominant culture beauty standards. Due to lesbians’ desires to unsubscribe to the standard “feminine” expression, or in order to identify with each other, many choose to present masculinely. Within the larger lesbian community, this can sometimes be seen as a point of judgement, dykes being viewed as perpetuating a patriarchal dominance or a “‘natural look’, which is masculine”. Within both of these examples, broad strokes of dominant culture expectations can be identified, contributing to the ways in which lesbians view one another as well as themselves.

Textbook butch. Okay, maybe I just but this picture in the article because Laura Cramer is hot as hell.

Textbook butch. Okay, maybe I just put this picture in the article because Laura Cramer is hot as hell.

Why do lesbians feel freed from societal expectations of beauty but confined by those of lesbians? The two extreme sides of expression in the lesbian community, butch and femme, may help explain this.  From my own experience, the positives that come from being a part of the butch subculture of lesbians includes visibility, confirmation of identity, and freedom from standard ideals of femininity. However, I can also understand where many butch lesbians could feel pressured to conform to their own community’s standards. One of the lesbians that was surveyed by the authors cited that “there is also so much suspiciousness about traditionally ‘feminine’ norms of dress”, suggesting that judgement will pursue within lesbian communities if you are not easily identifiable as one. For example, one woman in the book thought of femme expression as being an “erasure of homosexuality”, saying about another lesbian she had gathered with at an event: “She wasn’t dressed like a dyke at all. She was dressed like a straight woman.” This overarching lesbian beauty standard could cause much pressure in terms of expression when all a person desires is to fit in with people they identify to be like them. Thus, butch lesbians may feel as if they cannot express any feminine sides of themselves. The same goes for femmes, who, due to the same pressure to “look like a lesbian”, can feel constrained by such a mandate, feeling as if they are invisible or “not lesbian enough”. It seems as if both ends of the gender expression spectrum within the lesbian community can feel significantly held back by constructions of beauty. However, this is not the case for all women within the community. In the studies included in Lesbians, Levis, and Lipstick, many women reported feeling liberated from beauty standards in general. In the essay “Confessions of a Butch Straight Woman”, the author explains that before she was out, she never felt particularly beautiful, having grown up abhorring feminine beauty standards and instead presenting more masculinely. This seems backwards, but she describes it perfectly: “ I realized that in my world masculinity was equated with power and femininity with submission.” By coming out, the writer was able to take control of her own expression and explore the more feminine sides of herself, as well as the masculine, thus being liberated from dominant beauty standards. Her story is just one example of how lesbianism does not have to constrain women, much like dominant culture does, but can serve as a mode of liberation and self-love.

5 Tips For Changing Your Gender Pronouns

This a fantastic and very informative post that I highly recommend reading!

Today I Am A Man

Source.

Pronouns–those tiny little words that can hurt like a broken bone or be as delightful as a birthday present. For many trans and gender-nonconforming people, gender pronouns are an important aspect of self-expression. Whether you want different pronouns because of your gender identity or your views on the gender system, it’s a challenging task. If coming out is safe and feasible, you might be ready to ask your loved ones to start using a new pronoun. How do you go about getting other people to call you by the right words?

1. Ask for what you want. Requesting different gender pronouns can be a nerve-wracking prospect. You might be wondering whether people will take you seriously as a she or a he, whether people will play grammar police when you request singular they, or whether friends and family will be willing to learn a new…

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The F Word: Sex-Positive Resources for You and Self/Parenter(s)/Bedfellow(s)

As a Sexual Health Promotion major, intern with Planned Parenthood, and a general sexuality enthusiast, I come across a lot of cool materials, articles, and websites that are worth passing on. You may have seen a few of these and a few may be new to you, but perhaps you haven’t actually used them as communication tools to promote sex positivity within your personal relationships. Well, I think you should! Whether this personal relationship is with yourself, your partner(s), your bedfellow(s), or whoever else, a little bit of sex-positive communication can go a long way in beginning healthy and fun dialogues about sexuality and gender identity.  Have fun sharing these resources with those lucky somebodies! And remember, the keys to happy/healthy sexual relationships are CONSENT and COMMUNICATION!


1. The Genderbread Person Genderbread-2.1

May I introduce to you The Genderbread Person, presented to us by itspronouncedmetrosexual.com! This little friend is the key to explaining the differences, flexibility, and sliding scales of gender identity, gender expression, biological sex, and who one is attracted to. Print this picture out, make a cup of tea for you and your self/partner(s)/bedfellow(s), and go through each section. Have some fun with it! We all land somewhere different on each scale and we don’t always land on the same spot each day. Spending some time learning, using, and discussing The Genderbread Person can be a great tool for strengthening your sexual relationship between you and your self/partner(s)/bedfellow(s)!


2. Babeland’s How-To Guides

Babeland's

Babeland’s “Silk” dildos. Check out their “How to Choose a Dildo” guide to find out which one is right for you!

Let me just start by saying how much I fucking love Babeland. They are the most adorable, queer-friendly, and informative sex toy company I have ever encountered, and their online store is just as fantastic. Along with the variety of sexy toys and accessories available for purchase on their website, they also have an entire page devoted to how-to sex tips and information. The how-to guides are step-by-step instructions that lead you through many different sex-related topics, such as achieving orgasm, buying a dildo, performing cunnilingus (funny story: my girlfriend just learned this word), and lots more! Cozy up with your laptop and surf through these guides with your self/partner(s)/bedfellow(s)!


3. Autostraddle’s Sex Worksheet 01-what-i-want-to-do-1-494x640 This worksheet is pure genius. I have seen it used in multiple sex workshops and I think it is a wonderful tool for opening up communication about your sexuality and preferences between you and your self/partner(s)/bedfellow(s). You can download the whole worksheet using this link!


4. Crash Pad Queer Feminist Porn

Nikki from Crash Pad!

Nikki from Crash Pad!

Porn can be a super fun thing to watch with your self/partner(s)/bedfellow(s), but if you’re anything like me, the sexism, degradation, and misogyny of normal porn gets in the way of you enjoying the show. But good news! Crash Pad Series is a site full of amazing queer feminist porn that won’t make you cringe! The site is (rightfully) proud to say: “Here you’ll find real dyke porn, lesbians, femme on femme, boi, stud, genderqueer and trans-masculine performers, transwomen, transmen, queer men and women engaging in authentic queer sexuality, whether it is with safer sex, strap-on sex, cocksucking, kink and bdsm, gender play and fluidity, and always-authentic orgasms.” Crash Pad memberships start at $22/month, which (if you ask me) is money well-spent on supporting the queer feminist porn industry and your libido!


5. Everyday Feminism’s Sex Articles

Everyday Feminism knows that awesome sex is the result of communication and consent!

Everyday Feminism knows that awesome sex is the result of communication and consent!

Everyday Feminism is an amazing blog that posts all sorts of articles relating to intersectionalism, queer and sexuality issues, and feminism. They have a section entitled “Sex”, where they have compiled all of their sex-related articles. Honestly, I think they are all worth reading, but here are a few highlights for you to peruse with your self/partner(s)/bedfellow(s):