Welcome back to the Future Feminist Librarian-Activist, year three (dear gods and goddesses of all shapes and sizes, I can’t believe it’s true, but it is). More posts to come over the Labor Day weekend, catching y’all up on the state of my Future Feminist life, but meanwhile I’m taking the poor woman’s route out of blogging silence and offering a links list of August internet reads. Because, predictably, while I took a break from blogging during the month of August, I didn’t take a break from blog-reading. Lots of interesting stuff came across GoogleReader in the past four weeks, and I offer here a selection of those that I particularly enjoyed.
p.s. pirro composed a haiku poem about taking time off from blogging.
Simon Callow wrote a witty and surprisingly moving piece in the Guardian about the awkwardness of on-screen sex.
One of my favorite authors has a new biography out, and I’m itching to read it!
Guest-blogging at feministing, Jos wrote a piece about the folly of trying to make spaces ‘safe’.
indexed provides a succinct diagram of the relationship between cultural standards of ‘beauty’ and the real world.
Which brings me to the next link: we are all ‘plus-sized’ now. As Hanna pointed out, this proves we aren’t crazy when nothing in the clothing store seems made to fit real women’s real bodies.
News flash from the UK: teenagers love sex. whodathunkit?
This has been out there for a while, but Bonk author Mary Roach gave a great talk at TED: ideas worth spreading called 10 things you didn’t know about orgasm.
Thank you, Senator Barney Frank.
Via Adventures of a Young Feminist, I really like this post about the way the word ‘privilege’ has evolved into a cavalier way to shut down discussion about issues important to us all.
Via Amanda Marcotte’s podcast at RhRealityCheck, I give you Deflowered Memoirs, an ongoing project collecting personal narratives of sexual awakening.
One of my alma maters, the University of Aberdeen, has just received £600,000 in donations toward the funding of a new university library. As a librarian-in-training, may I say there are few ways in which money can be better spent than on libraries.
Melissa McEwan of Shakesville has a piece up at the Guardian about her experience dealing with misogyny in personal relationships.
via Amanda Marcotte (whose analysis of the original post is worth the read) comes a piece by Will Wilkinson on one common conservative gripe with the left: “liberal equality is just too confusing!”
And finally, second image, third definition down: an 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue finds it necessary to use no less than three foreign languages, two asterisks, and self-referentially vague phrases to define a certain word for female genitalia. The reader is left wondering whether the compiler of the dictionary knew what, in fact, the word meant! (thanks to Hanna for the link)
image above by dakokichidekalb @ Flickr.
News flash from the UK: teenagers love sex. whodathunkit?
Thus you see the one and only time that a liberal will ever put the word “love” in the same sentence as the word “sex.”
Consider again what you're defending so stridently, Anna…. Ask yourself if you would actually apply the “feminist” label to it if your political allies didn't tell you to.
My own experience belies your sweeping characterization of “liberal” folks as uninterested in meaningful conversations about love. The way self-defined liberals in my circle of acquaintances, as well as in broader public debates, talk about love and human sexuality is much more aligned with my values than the conversations I hear taking place among social and political conservatives. If nothing else, the majority of those on the left recognize and support my right to take pleasure in my sexuality and my right to a loving, sexual relationship with the enthusiastic partner of my choice. I feel no similar respect coming my way from most of those who identify as conservative.
Given our history of conversation about these issues, I am seriously pissed that you suggest I identify as a feminist because I'm being “told to.” I choose to claim feminist politics because I find the values of feminist activism most closely aligned with my own values and political priorities. While I disagree (yes, often stridently) with your political positions and your views of the world, I have never implied that those views were merely unthinking allegiances. On the contrary, I have always tried to respond to your ideas in good faith, assuming that you deserve to be taken seriously as a human being who has good reason to believe what she does. I'm disheartened that you are unwilling to reciprocate by extending the same courtesy in my direction.
I'm sorry if I upset you.
First, on love and sex: yes, you might talk about love without sex, but about 90% of the liberal conversation that I hear (many of which come from you or from sources that you are familiar with) treat teen sex, in the abstract, as akin to drinking alcohol or eating good food.
Perhaps the best explanation for the distinction is that liberals, when discussing themselves, will discuss love as being a fundamental component of their own sexuality, but somehow think that sexuality in the abstract is independent of love.
I feel no similar respect coming my way from most of those who identify as conservative.
First, many people – not on my side of the political aisle – are frighteningly intolerant of my choices, so I do understand how you feel.
I do not want to disparage your viewpoint, but will point out
a) the idea that conservatives don't think that you have a human right to sexual enjoyment is unbelievably wrong, and
b) that no one wants to deny you your rights.
Conservatives are actually really hard-core about female sexual pleasure; this spans the entire conservative spectrum, from Catholics to evangelical Christians to libertarians. More later, via email, if you would like.
The one exception to that rule is Dennis Prager; he's a uniter, not a divider, but not in the way he would like. 🙂
On to rights: no, we don't intend to deny you the right to a loving, sexual relationship. The question isn't about rights, but about the wisdom of the second without the first; of how old one ought to be before engaging in this loving, sexual relationship; and about what to do if the loving, sexual relationship results in a pregnancy.
That moves us into the “feminist” issue. My point, again, was that the pro-sex (or pro-sex-without-love or sex-as-pleasure) mentality is not inherently feminist. I didn't say that you aren't a feminist, or that you don't hold feminist beliefs; my comment was simply about the feminism (or lack thereof) of certain beliefs.
I find it strange that you mention your own personal views of sexuality, not because the personal isn't the political, but because the way you live your life appears to be (emphasis on that!) fundamentally at odds with your ideology. Certainly, your ideology is pro-choice (and not just about abortion), but you do not live your life as a woman who has simply made one of many equally valid personal choices: you don't treat sex as callously as does Planned Parenthood, Jessica Valenti (see, “The Purity Myth”), or any of the other people or groups on the left. I will go so far as to say that it seems to be not just inconsistent, but fundamentally so, but that is due largely to what I've seen as the logical conclusion of those ideologies.
Frankly, I don't have a great deal of time, interest, or energy to argue these issues with you. The phrase that comes to mind is, “on what planet do you spend most of your time?”
Since I'm not straight, and am currently in a lesbian relationship, there are plenty of conservatives who absolutely want to deny my girlfriend and I our human right to sexual pleasure as we choose to express it as two consenting adults. The majority of conservative politicians in America, for example, are actively legislating against same-sex marriage and other legal rights for non-straight folks. Last I checked no liberal politician was campaigning on legislation that would deny you the right to abstain from sex until marriage, or your right not to take birth control or have an abortion if you don't want to. Until that happens, the “frightening intolerance” you've experienced on a personal level — while undeniably real and painful — is qualitatively different from the political discrimination people of non-straight, non-conservative sexuality face. Even if I were a perfect 0 on the Kinsey scale and married to a man with whom I had only procreative sex, I would still not be okay with putting folks in political power who sought to deny anyone who didn't fit their narrow definition of sexual purity the right to sexual expression and consensual sexual relationships.
Above all, you certainly have not earned the right to talk as if you have intimate knowledge about the way I live my life–or to pass judgment on its degree of consistency with my political and moral values. If I sensed an openness to truly understanding and valuing my perspective, I might be willing to take this conversation further. As it is, you have clearly already formed a condescending opinion about the legitimacy of my values and identity. So if my actions and beliefs appear inconsistent to you, well, you're just going to have to live with that.