Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Public service announcement:

"...if you speak to a woman who is otherwise occupied, you’re sending a subtle message. It is that your desire to interact trumps her right to be left alone. If you pursue a conversation when she’s tried to cut it off, you send a message. It is that your desire to speak trumps her right to be left alone. And each of those messages indicates that you believe your desires are a legitimate reason to override her rights."
--Phaedra Starling, guest post here

Words to live by:

"...no matter how many people I’ve slept with, having sex with me is a privilege, and anyone who wants to be in bed with me but is going to make me feel uncomfortable can get the fuck out."
--my very good friend, Choosing Pancakes, in a post inspired by a post here! Yay mutual inspiration. <3

"We were not born critical of existing society. There was a moment in our lives (or a month, or a year) when certain facts appeared before us, startled us, and then caused us to question beliefs that were strongly fixed in our consciousness-embedded there by years of family prejudices, orthodox schooling, imbibing of newspapers, radio, and television. This would seem to lead to a simple conclusion: that we all have an enormous responsibility to bring to the attention of others information they do not have, which has the potential of causing them to rethink long-held ideas."

- Howard Zinn

(via Street Etiquette)

Why do I talk to uninteresting/creepy guys that are talking to me?

Just read this on a blog about rape culture:
Women who are taught that refusing to flirt back results in an immediately hostile environment will continue to unwillingly and unhappily flirt with somebody who is invading their space and giving them creep alerts. (source)
And though I try to be good about recognizing stupid things I have been socialized to do and not doing them just because it's more convenient in the moment, I do this all. the. fucking. time.

Okay, well, at least a lot. I can think of a few examples off the top of my head.

Most recently: So I have a new guy's number in my phone. His name is Matthew. He is a grown man. Thankfully, he's pretend-to-be-classy-enough to have given me his number instead of asking for mine, so our interactions will not continue, but let me explain how I came to have Matthew's number.

It was a little before midnight last Monday night. I was standing on the platform at Trenton Transit Station, waiting for my train to take me to Princeton Junction, on my long trip back to campus from my interview in DC. There was a tall pretty cute guy standing to my left, and he caught my eye and I smiled a small smile at him. (This habit of smiling at strangers is something I picked up from my years of working in customer service, and I'm conflicted about whether it's a habit I need to try to break.) I sat down on the train and he sat one row behind me, to my left. As he's sitting, he asks me if this is the local train, and I know it's starting. But then he gets a phone call! He picks up and it's muthafucka this, nigga that, and I have decided that I have no interest in talking to this man. But then he tells whomever he's talking to that his phone is dying and he needs that last bit of juice to last him to NY, so he'll call him back later. Damn. I was almost free from talking to this man. We sit in silence for a minute or so, and then he starts again. I must commend him for his opening line: "Why you got all that hair tied up like that?" (We naturals are known for pride in our hair, I suppose.) I explained that I was coming home from an interview, and he asked me about the position and whether I wanted to move to DC and why and why not Philly or NY? He explained that he splits his time between Philly and NYC, has apartments in both places (the rent for the Manhattan apartment, which is only a few blocks from Penn Station, is $2k a month), and he owns a recording studio and sells cars. He didn't go to college, but his sister went to UPenn. He thought there were 5 Ivies (Cornell, Brown, and Dartmouth weren't on his list. Go figure.) He was talking about how great it is to be able to call himself a success without being in the drug game, and how much satisfaction that gives him, that he makes money cleanly and legally, and I respected that. He was kind of re-vamping my opinion of him until he mentioned that he has a son and he's really cute too. Yes, sir, it's great that you have a kid and evidently like/take care of him, but you are a grown-ass man who runs businesses and has a child and why are you interested in a 21-year-old college student? My answers had gone from being succinct and designed to express non-interest to semi-conversational, but at this point I was just like, wait, why am I talking to his man? Okay, he said I was pretty and he complimented me on my smile and my grey nails and the way I said "they match my suit...which is also grey." So what? (Side note: he also busted right out with "What are you mixed with?" And then seemed dubious of my "nothing recently..." This bothers me on multiple levels and will probably get its own post, so I'm going to move on.) We got to Hamilton and he asked when my stop was and I said next, and he said something that expressed dissatisfaction at this. Later he said, "So how are we gonna do this? You gonna take my number or what?" (Sir, you are not entitled to me. There is no guarantee that we're going to do anything.) I paused and may have "Hmmm"ed, which threw him off guard; he said, "What, you considering it or something?" "Am I not allowed to consider it?" "Well you, like, actually stopped and thought about it. You had me a little worried." I took his number, knowing I would never call it. 

Why did I do this? I have done this before! As long as the guy wasn't rude or legit calling me out on the street like this is an appropriate means of communication, I will generally entertain their advances, regardless of my own disinterest. I suppose I've always just interpreted it as, hey, I'm a nice person, and he doesn't seem to be an asshole, so I'll let him spit game as long as it doesn't seem like it's going to definitively lead anywhere I don't want it to go. Or as you know, I should work on my communication skills, or on talking to "regular" people (yes I know this term is all kinds of problematic; I just don't know a better way to phrase what I mean. Please volunteer one if you have one.) I don't give such guys my number when they ask--"I just don't give it out. It's just a rule I have."--and I won't volunteer to take theirs. But what's making me feel obligated to talk to them? Why do I feel the need to justify why I won't invite these men into my life by giving them my number? Operating under the rule that any men who do not seem like total and complete disrespectful creeps are allowed to occupy my time is...basically wrong on every level. When a guy calls out to me on the street, I will either ignore or flat out reject him (click here and here for interesting stories from my summer in New Brunswick), but on a train I feel like I'd be being rude by not allowing conversation to happen. But this is RIDICULOUS and I need to stop, like, immediately.  

Tell me it's not!

Reblogged from Street Etiquette

I wish my squinty face were this cute:

Reblogged from It's a Go on the Fro

“Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference—those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older—know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those others identified as outside the structures in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.”
--Audre Lorde (via Choosing Pancakes)

Whoa, an ad campaign explaining white privilege?

Reblogged from el odio por amor


“To protest a bill that would require women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion, Virginia State Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) on Monday attached an amendment that would require men to have a rectal exam and a cardiac stress test before obtaining a prescription for erectile dysfunction medication.”

Style crush

Reblogged from Currently Obsessed with...
Reblogged from Treasured Tresses

Her eyeshadow is ridiculously amazing.

Reblogged from 18° 15' N, 77° 30' W

I'm still thinking about sex/sexuality

or I guess, like, myself as a sexual entity. 

Snippet from a post I just read over at Met Another Frog that got me thinking more about this: 
When you get naked with someone and sleep with them, you not only let them see your body. You’re also letting them see you at your most basic level. The part of you that you spend a lot of time trying to pretend isn’t there. We’ve been taught to separate our hedonistic sexual selves from our demure, proper, tax-paying selves, and to keep the sexy part under wraps. To borrow from the ineffable Lil John, we are all supposed to be “a lady in the street and a freak in the bed.”
So when you get intimate with someone, you’re letting that part of yourself off the leash. You’re introducing another person to a side of you that even you don’t even always see. And that’s a scary prospect. It becomes much easier if we embellish our sexual selves and mask those drives we have with a more theatrical approach. If we distance ourselves from our sex lives, then maybe we won’t be held responsible if we do something wrong...

We become the embodiment of who we think our partner wants to be with because it’s safer than being ourselves. We act out a script in our head that’s been successful in the past, or we embellish our moans and cries of pleasure because we think it’s what our partner wants to hear. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad strategy. Sex can be stressful and each new partner presents unique challenges, preferences, and learning experiences. Retreating behind a sexual persona can make it a bit easier to have confidence in yourself.
This only becomes negative, in my opinion, when our obsession with being “perfect” prohibits us from enjoying ourselves. Even though having sex with another person is a shared experience, it is still a way for us to express ourselves. Becoming a caricature can alienate us too much from what we want and need. I think this tends to fade naturally when we develop a long-term sexual relationship with a partner, and this facilitates the development of those lovely little layers of intimacy.
As I've mentioned before, I have streaked my eating club. Twice. I also regularly go around shirtless for varying lengths of time, usually on Thursday evenings but sometimes other days of the week too. No one is really sure how shirtlessness became a rule of Middle School Drinking Game night, but it is one we hold people steadfastly to (unless they're realllllly uncomfortable with it, because violating people isn't cool). Occasionally I will lose my bra too, for various lengths of time. This Thursday night my pants eventually came off too and I watched (really really terrible) porn with a bunch of my friends from my eating club while caressing and being caressed by a female friend (which was turning me on way more than the porn, which was legitimately horrible for reasons we don't need to get into). And I was entirely comfortable in this situation. I like these situations because they help me get comfortable with my sexual self, in the context of hanging out with a group of my closest friends whom I feel will accept all of my selves. 

The problem is, I don't think I'm that same sexual self when I'm actually in hooking up with someone. At least, not necessarily or not always. I'm always wondering what that person is thinking, or what they'll think about me if I do Thing X or don't do Thing Y. If my partner suggests a different position or that we do something else, I comply; at least, when this has happened, I have always complied. And that's not to say that I've never initiated anything or taken control, because that's entirely untrue, but...how much of my compliance is me wanting to be exposed to other things, and how much of it is wanting to please my partner, and how much of it is for my own pleasure, and how much of it is me letting myself be bent (pun very much intended) into a sexual mold that is not my sexual self? How much of it (a large part, I fear) is me being terrified of doing something wrong or not being able to do something and being judged for it? 

How do I determine who gets to see which parts of my sexual nature? Is that an intimacy I should give to people I'm only physically intimate with? What do I lose by letting people see that side of me?

How do I learn more about who that side of me IS without letting people see/participate? But how do I know that I like what I like in the act BECAUSE I like it, rather than because the person I'm with wants me to like it and I want to make that person happy? I suppose that I know that the things I recreate when I'm having private sexytime are things I know that I like. But then I also suppose that I don't necessarily have to like the same things with Person B that I like with Person A. Different personal relationships can (and maybe even should) engender different sexual relationships, right?  And I also suppose that the first time or even first couple times you get intimate with someone, you're doing more figuring out what they like and the ways in which you're compatible than you're actively expressing yourself. And I've never really been past those first few times.

It's becoming clear to me that many of my sex-related questions/concerns/thought experiments can't really be addressed until I have a longstanding sexual relationship with someone. Boo my sex life.

Monday, January 30, 2012

TFA needs to hop up off my metaphorical dick.

My response to some TFA recruiter guy's FIFTH email asking me to meet and/or talk on the phone with some other TFA recruiter: 
Hello again Joseph,

My opinion regarding Teach for America hasn't changed. I greatly respect the work you guys do, and I know that a great teacher can change a student's entire life, but while I will always support teachers, I could never be one. I have not the patience, the interest, or the ability to know that my actions will have, at best, a localized effect. I just had my final interview for a position that would allow me to help conduct survey and observational research for the US Department of Education; I am all for the cause, just through a radically different means. I am flattered by your additional outreach, but remain uninterested in joining my friends in TFA's corps.


Translation: see post title.

Contrary to what I said a few days ago,

sex is evidently NOT the one thing I really wanted for my birthday, because a somewhere-between-acquaintance-and-friend of mine came to celebrate my birthday with me, proceeded to finish the last few shots of a bottle of cake vodka straight from the bottle after he was already drunk because we'd just won two games of three-on-three beirut (which some of you may inaccurately refer to as "beer pong"), walked me home, and then asked if I wanted him to come in, and I sent him home. He's slightly taller than me, not unattractive, and I've known him since I was a freshman. But as soon as he started getting flirty last night, I started repeating a little mantra in my head: 'Do not sleep with ****.' 

The question is, why? 

  1. Okay, well, he used to date a friend of mine. And before you say that that obviously hasn't stood in my way before, I mean with a good friend of mine, and it ended badly, rather than with an acquaintance who later became a friend and after a situation that ended at least somewhat harmoniously. And he had a weird interaction with the good friend of mine whom he used to date once last year after getting similarly drunk at an open bar at Quad and from what she told me was kind of harassing her. And he may have been in a relationship then, because he was dating a girl seriously enough to be sharing a car with her when I ran into him on the train like a month later. (Hmm. There may not need to be more reasons after this, but I will continue anyway.)
  2. I once hooked up (though only 2 bases worth) with his current roommate, who had also been at my little birthday celebration, but left before he started getting all touchy-feely. But feelings had actually been involved in that hookup, and I wouldn't want the guy I didn't do anything with to brag to the guy I did stuff with, because though we were never anything but friends, guy-I-did-stuff-with matters to me.  Though attractive somewhere-between-friend-and-acquaintance is like, the perfect level of knowing someone to develop a buddy, which is not unappealing to me at this time, I'm just uncomfortable at the idea of becoming involved in any way with roommates, particularly roommates for whom my level-of-caring-about differs so greatly.
  3. There was neither pretense of romance or lust. In the past, I have been fine with one or the other leading to sex, but just we're both drunk and we're both single is insufficient reasoning. I'm not necessarily against doing something just because it's there, but...idk. It just didn't feel right in this case (though this was heavily influenced by reasons 1 and 2). Changing the terms of a relationship is a tricky situation, and I felt no need to introduce sex into ours, I suppose. I have learned that I can be physically intimate with people I am emotionally intimate with, either in the course of romantic relationships or friendships that won't be complicated by seeing the person often, and that I can be physically intimate with someone with whom I have no emotional connection at all, but anywhere between these sections of the spectrum is dangerous territory, it seems. In retrospect, it almost seems like he felt entitled to hooking up with me because I have established a capacity for casual sex, and no one is entitled to the wonder that is me but me. Forever fact. 
Anyway, five minutes after I'd sent him home, I was opening YouPorn and preparing for a little private birthday fun with The Conqueror and wondering why I didn't let him stick around to be part of it...but when I put it like this, that wondering ceases and I'm glad I don't lose my ability to be rational and make smart decisions when I've been drinking for hours. Important life skills ftw.

Question for furthering pondering that this analysis prompts: I have firm beliefs about which practices constitute safe sex from a physical standpoint. Should I establish a similar set list of situations/things that constitute safe sex from a personal (or even emotional) standpoint? I conceptualize overall safety in more ways than just physical...thus it seems like I should conceptualize other things for which I have developed specific ways of being safe in terms of more things than just the physical too. Does that make sense? This was a situation in which I was uncomfortable hooking up, and I want to think more about other such situations. To a hypothetical better understanding of safe sex! 

Things that make me feel like I'm winning:

A friend (and fellow blogger) said to me on Facebook chat, "...youve definitely been talking about ish that i think about but dont usually talk about with people"
To which I replied, "yeah that's kind of what i'm going for. like, why don't we talk about this stuff? it's IMPORTANT."
And she said, "haha so much agree!"
So if you're wondering where the giant smile on my face came from...

I do research for quotes like this:

"...the people of the African Diaspora are a biogenetically diverse category of people who have an identity derived from common experiences of exploitation and racism. It is far more accurate and more fruitful to scholarship, and possibly to the future of humankind, to define African American people by their sense of community, consciousness, and commitment than by some mystical 'racial' essence. It is the Community into which they were born and reared, a Consciousness of the historical realities and shared experiences of their ancestors, and a Commitment to the perspectives of their 'blackness' and to the diminishing of racism that is critical to the identities of the Thurgood Marshalls and Hazel O'Learys of our society."
--Audrey Smedley, "'Race' and the Construction of Human Identity"

Friday, January 27, 2012

Challenging a Broken Educational System (in Cartoon!)

I, for one, am not (particularly) mad at VSB.

I want to come out and say that, loud and clear, for everyone who happens across this little slice of the internet to hear. I'm uncomfortable with responses I've read that suggest that, as a man, all he is allowed to say about the subject of rape is "it's bad. Don't do it." I will say that people who have little to no background in a particular subject should do their homework very thoroughly before talking about the subject at length, which is why I hate when dominant groups try to wax poetic on the experiences of marginalized populations, but in this particular case I feel like that mindset suggests that the only people allowed to talk substantively about rape are rapists and rape victims, which doesn't seem healthy for the overall development of our society. I don't think I've ever been involved in a sexual act that was not enthusiastically consented to by both parties (though I occasionally wonder about the first time with my ex, because in the last seconds before we crossed that line, he asked me if I was sure I was ready, and I told him I was positive, and I didn't ask him in return before we continued), but I don't think that invalidates my opinions about rape and rape culture. And I don't think my opinions are any MORE valid than The Champ's just because I'm a woman.

Now he could have approached the subject more delicately, I'll give you that. Saying that the tone of Zerlina Maxwell's article:
seems to shift from “men need to take full responsibility for their actions” to “men need to take full responsibility for their actions…and women have carte blance to act as recklessly and stupidly around men as possible without any trace of accountability.” and I just can’t agree anymore.
[And] why can’t both genders be educated on how to act responsibility around each other? What’s stopping us from steadfastly instilling “No always means no!” in the minds of all men and boys and educating women how not to put themselves in certain situations? Of course men shouldn’t attempt to have sex with a woman who’s too drunk to say no, but what’s wrong with reminding women that if you’re 5’1 and 110 pounds, it’s probably not the best idea to take eight shots of Patron while on the first, second, or thirteenth date? Yes, sober women definitely get raped too, but being sober and aware does decrease the likelihood that harm may come your way, and that’s true for each gender. (emphasis added) (source)
is  decidedly insensitive, but as I understand it, he was never trying to say that women who get themselves into less-than-safe situations deserve to be taken advantage of. THAT is victim-blaming, and I didn’t see any of it in his post. All I saw was the same advice my momma gives me whenever I’m going out: be smart, and be careful. Know your limits. We obviously need to switch from being a culture that teaches “don’t get raped” to being a culture that teaches “don’t rape,” but I don’t think that promoting safety amongst women is necessarily antithetical to that endeavor, ESPECIALLY when we take non-forcible rape into consideration. (By that I mean, like, A and B meet at a bar, get drunk, go home together, and shit goes down without enthusiastic consent and neither A or B know what to think about the situation in the morning.) I think that suggesting that the entire onus of responsibility for that situation falls onto the responsibility of the man (if we assume this is a heterosexual encounter) is JUST as dangerous as the female-blaming society we’re trying to grow out of. 

I think that the most productive step our society could take towards rape prevention and overall healthy sexual living would be to promote responsible sexual conduct for people of all genders: that means more than just drilling into people’s heads that “No means no,” but rather introducing more nuanced understandings of consent, and the ability of persons in various conditions to give consent. If, for example, due to excessive amounts of alcohol consumption, neither party remembers what happened after a night of sexual activity in which enthusiastic consent wasn’t given (because enthusiastic consent can’t really be given if you’re blacked out), why is one party any more responsible for the night’s events than the other? OBVIOUSLY when one party forces him/herself onto another party, the victim bears zero responsibility for the situation, but there’s a lot of grey area between forcible rape and consensual sex. I think it’s perfectly healthy to suggest that, if it takes two informed persons to have consensual sex, all persons should assume at least a little bit of responsibility for making sure they can make informed decisions regarding sex.

So yes, his article is far from delicately written. Yes it presents a heteronormative, cisgendered, and somewhat sexist (in his presentation of men as aggressors and women as victims, because women can rape men too; an erection is not consent) understanding of rape and rape culture, and I wish the post had taken more nuance into account along those lines, BUT I don't think his basic premise of promoting sexual responsibility for ALL people is off the mark. 

Feel free to fight with me in the comments. I don't mean to have offended anyone, so if I have, please enlighten me as to alternative viewpoints/understandings and I'll take them into consideration and we can all learn and grow, okay? 

Lest it be forgotton that I listen to music by White people

Check out this video I discovered via addicted 2 etsy today by The Staves.

The Staves - Mexico (Official Music Video) from The Staves on Vimeo.

I was going to say that the majority of the music I listen to is by White people, but this feels untrue even though it may not be. The majority of the music in my music library is definitely by White people, though. And I have no less appreciation for it than I do for more Afrocentric music, even if I might be in the mood for more soul/funk/world kind of vibes these days. 
Reblogged from A Winding Road...

"Confidence to be oneself exudes radiance from within. No one else has the right to tell you how you should or should not be."

Style Crush:

I'm loving the color-blocking and the way she layers so successfully. I often have issues layering things that aren't cardigans without unflattering bunchiness. But I just bought a red skirt, and I might have to pair it with a dark dollman top like that in the future. Also, boots. Love. And a simple high puff? Nothing about this outfit is over the top or even particularly fancy, but it all comes together so well.
This is Tamia, of The Style Sample

Thursday, January 26, 2012

NSFW: Sex is on my Mind (AND on my reading list)

My dad and my older sister kept bugging me about what I want for my birthday and I finally just told them to get me hair products so I don't have to buy them myself, but fact: I want to get laid for my birthday. No, like seriously. It's been a month and a half = too damn long.
^Statements like that are a testament to how much I've developed as a sexual creature this year. Fact: 9 months ago I was a virgin, through a combination of choice and circumstance (I didn't really care about/trust the guy I dated between high school and college enough and then there was a big giant dearth of opportunity that wasn't entirely self-imposed until last Spring). After that relationship was over in June, it came to my attention that I had already had and greatly enjoyed sex with a man who didn't love me, and as such saw no reason not to do it again, provided that we didn't try to make it into anything more than that. This lead to various sexploits already discussed in earlier posts, as well as to streaking my eating club a few times and increasing the number of people (note the gender ambiguity of that word) by 200%. I have said it before and I'll say it again: I'm on a quest for liberation. I feel like people had this image of me as this innocent good girl which maybe I technically was, but I didn't want to be. So, I am taking control of the situation and actively working to lose that image. 

R and I were talking with our friend A about the streaking society our eating club has, and I was explaining to A that I'd streaked as a part of this quest for liberation that I'm on. R asked me if I think I've found it yet. Parts of me instantly said, "Duh." But other parts that even I don't talk about very often reminded me of their existence, prompting me to say "I'm working on it." And maybe I'll be working on it for the rest of my life. 

Documented proof of the fact that I'm still working on it is the fact that I recently bought a new book:
Lidia-Anain of SexLoveJoy posted about this maybe two and a half weeks ago, and as soon as I started reading her post, I broke away to Amazon to buy the book. One of the book's first exercises is to "send your future self a message about why you're committing to this process, what you want to get out of it, and what you want your future self to remember when things start to feel hard." I'm supposed to be writing these exercises in a notebook or a Word document or something that isn't going to be shared with other people, but fuck rules I do what I want. And when I want to share with you guys, I will, because I think the things this book is going to make me think about are REALLY. FUCKING. IMPORTANT. That's why I bought it. And I mean, hey, I'm just no longer a private person, evidently. haha

And so, okay, I had some thoughts that are pretty similar to the quiet parts of me that made me acknowledge their existence and not say yes I am liberated.

1. Despite being a pretty forceful person in my everyday life, I find it difficult to be direct about what I want and what is/is not working for me in the bedroom. In fact, I rarely speak at all unless spoken to first, and this uncharacteristic quietness concerns me deeply.
2. I have no regrets about my recent sexcapades, but I am not unsurprised by this lack of regret/guilt/shame. I am equally not unsurprised by my ability to detach emotions from sex, and want to make sure that I'm okay with that on a fundamental non-reactionary level.
3. I find it difficult to get out of my head and lose myself in the actual act of sex. I highly doubt this is unrelated to either of the first two points, and lets throw some body image insecurity into that mix too. 
4. (Very strongly related to 1) I have faked an orgasm rather than actually help a partner to satisfy me fully, because it seemed easier/less demanding and I am disgusted by this every time I think about it. 
5. I've never really enjoyed cum from receiving oral sex and I'm unsure whether this is due to the partner from whom I've received it or due to some potentially deep set socialization I have to not actually want people spending that much time exploring down there. As a matter of principle I don't stop it if it's going to happen, because I don't actively dislike it (sometimes I even enjoy it fleetingly before getting bored) and intellectually I appreciate that my partner is doing it, but I can't never quite shake the feeling that I'd rather be being penetrated, and I would like to be sure that's not for bad reasons.
6. A post I discovered in a friend's blog archive has made me question the overall quality of the sex that I have had. Before you think I'm throwing shade (Twitter is keeping me up on the popular lingo, lol) on anybody, let me say that I'm positive I've never had shitty sex. I've never just been laying there wanting it to be over. I've never felt used. I've never felt like my partner wasn't interested in pleasing me. All the sex I've had, I've found pleasant and satisfying (this is not contradictory to number four: I believe sex can be satisfying even if I don't cum). But even in relationship sex, I've never felt anything like the connection I feel like she's describing. And maybe this is just because I've never had a particularly lengthy sexual relationship with anyone (if you're counting oral I don't know the exact numbers, but straight up sex, my record is four distinct occasions with the same person...not much to write home about), but reading that post makes me want more from the sex in my life.
7. I'm still working on getting comfortable just being naked around an individual outside of moments of intimacy. (A few months ago that would have been on the list, but I think I've since accomplished it. I would like to recognize it as at least a recent concern, though.) 
8. I want to make sure that the means, methods, and manifestations of my quest for liberation are actually what I want. I know that I don't currently see any problems with the way I've been living, but I still think I could benefit from sitting down and really analyzing my sex life and my sexual desires to make sure that what I'm doing is what I want to be doing and is leading me on a path towards satisfaction, not just gratification. 
9. I suppose that generally, I find it easier to talk/joke about and reference my sexuality than to actually act on it in a lot of situations. I want to learn how to be sexually courageous in ways that are more important than proving to myself that I can do certain things, like fuck someone I legitimately couldn't give two shits about. I want to develop the courage to actually hook up with a girl, rather than just tentatively and exploratorily kiss a female friend of mine during the course of Spin the Bottle when we play middle school drinking games. I want to not blush--well, do that shy smile and tilt my head down in a way that people who know me well or who are familiar with the blushing tactics of people who can't physically blush will recognize as a blush--when someone calls me pretty or beautiful or sexy or whatever. I've embraced my sexuality in forums like this blog, and when talking to my friends, but I don't know if I own it yet inside of me all the time. That needs to change. 

So I guess I want to know that the sex I'm having is good (or at least decent) sex, and I want to be satisfied by the sex that I'm having. I want to develop the voice to not be mute in the bedroom, in terms of expressing pleasure that I'm being given, dictating what I want to be done differently or what I like, and generally to be able to talk about sex WHILE I'm having it. I want to feel like I've ACCOMPLISHED things with regard to my sexuality, rather than just done things that are supposed to represent sexual growth. I want to never ever fake it again. I want to get into my body and out of my head during sex. I want to understand exactly what I am and am not comfortable with sexually, and I would like to have some sense of why. I want to act on my sexual desires more often and more fully. And I want to be physically, mentally, and emotionally safe during all of that. [And the book demands that I include this part:] I, Maya Reid, am making a promise to myself: I won't quit this process. I'm starting it for a reason, and I'll see it through to the end. Because I matter to myself. My desires matter, my pleasure matters, and my safety matters. What I really really want matters. This process is a gift to myself, and I promise to accept it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"I’m not writing to be included in the canon. I’m writing to save something precious. I’m writing to get my pencil dimensionally around my little idea and work it out. Waiting for somebody to invite me to belong to something or be included in something was never my idea of being a part of this thing amazing journey called life. I just want to continue being a creative thinker and doer. I want to keep saving things and making history more inclusive by way of my particular alphabets and word arrangements."
--Nikky Fenny

Reblogged from Sister Outsider

On Nicki Minaj.

I listened to/saw the video for the first half-ish of Nicki Minaj's "Stupid Hoe" last night. I say the first half because I actually couldn't bring myself to sit through the entire thing. It was like torture; I love myself too much to subject myself to such foolishness. Some things can't be unseen/heard. 

It's like, okay, from an academic perspective, I would really like to like Nicki Minaj. Or at the very least, to be able to appreciate her and what she's trying to do. I want to embrace her like I embrace Rihanna, for owning her sexuality and putting herself out there with an agency not often afforded to women, and particularly not to women of color, even in 2012. I want to applaud her for being the only female member of Young Money, and on an even greater scale for like, reintroducing the female rapper, whom we haven't really seen since Eve and Lil' Kim disappeared a while back. I want to commend her for being unashamedly and unabashedly herself in the face of an entertainment system that tries its damndest to mass produce creativity.

I want to have all this respect and maybe even some love for Nicki Minaj. I really do. But I just...find it hard to. I have three songs by the Black Barbie in my music library, "Fly," "Your Love," and "Super Bass". She is featured in three other songs in my library: Gyptian's "Hold Yuh," Sean Kingston's "Letting Go," and Trey Songz's "Bottoms Up." I have few major issues with any of these songs, but they're but a fraction of Minaj's work overall.

It's like, okay, first off she just kind of freaks me out, with her ridiculously colored wigs/makeup and her incessant tics in her music videos. But, as my blog description proclaims, I believe in the power of making audiences uncomfortable to inspire change, so I'm not going to knock her for freaking me out. And as a full-figured woman, I definitely appreciate a nice rack, but...she's just got too much artificiality going on there for me. But that's just a personal preference and I'm not gonna come out and say I'm like, against cosmetic surgery entirely, because it really does change some people's lives for the better. I just kind of wish she embraced her natural body, but hey, this isn't enough to write her off entirely. 

It's songs like "A$$" and "Stupid Hoe" and "Did It On 'Em" that get me. It's not that "A$$" is "too sexual" or that any of these songs are "too aggressive" or "too aggressively _______," it's that they're just too damn vulgar for my tastes. (And the fact that "Stupid Hoe"'s entire chorus is "You're a stupid hoe, you're a, you're a stupid hoe" is just problematic on all sorts of levels.) It might not even matter what your message is if it's so buried in seemingly unnecessary vulgarity that people can't find it. I am dubious of the idea that intent matters more than consequence. 

And then, okay, can we talk about this Barbie thing? Sure, people should be allowed to create their own identities and embrace them and yada yada. That's all well and good and I generally support it, but can we take a moment to analyze the identity she's putting forward? She's the "Black Barbie." Pause. Barbies, by definition, aren't real. They're toys, children's playthings to be used in whatever way the play-er wants and then tossed into some dark box, only to see the light of day again when the play-er decides. They have no will, no volition. They make no choices. They are only used and thrown away, used and left to collect dust. I wasn't really upset if Barbie's head came off because I combed her hair too hard or if my teething little brother chewed on her feet, because Barbie was a thing. By aligning herself with that image, Nicki's objectifying herself, and I can't really see any reason why doing it to herself should be any better than a man (or a patriarchal society) doing it for her. And to add another level, Barbie dolls represent anatomical impossibilities and are one of the first ways in which society indoctrinates young girls with standards of beauty they'll never be able to meet, which it could be argued that Nicki is also playing into by modifying her body with implants. 

So many women have so much love for Nicki Minaj, but it's not really clear to me that she has love for us, or even for herself.

And rather than sharing any of Nicki's music here, because I'm not sure how comfortable I am with it on my page even in a critical sense, I'm going to share this poem by Jasmine Mans, whom Josh Bennet told me to check out way back when I met him at the Mellon Mays mixer in December:

The best job interview ever

So I might have mentioned that I was going to DC yesterday for an interview that I was really nervous about. I was so nervous because my interview had its own schedule that was four hours and fifteen minutes long and involved meeting eleven different people--where they do that at?! And I was going to have to get up at 5 in the damn morning to catch a 6:28 Dinky to make a 7am Amtrak and none of this sounded like it was going to be fun.

Oh, how wrong I was. I may have had more fun at that interview than I would have between the hours of 11am and 3:15pm on campus. Let me explain:

First off, omg Amtrak has wi-fi. I was totally tweeting and catching up on Facebook and whatnot while I was on the train...before I got a good hour and a half nap in, because did I mention it was 7 in the damn morning? haha And the train was running late, but that just meant more naptime so I wasn't really complaining.

I grabbed a muffin and some delicious hot chocolate from a place in Union Station and then set off to find the place I was interviewing. It was only a 5 block walk from the station, so I wasn't about to pay for a cab, and I got turned around a little in the beginning, but figured that out quickly and made it to the building with 10 minutes to spare. Step one, check.

So, the first person I was meeting with was a woman who had phone-screened me back in December. She was just as friendly in person as she was on the phone, and just went over a bunch of stuff we'd talked about before and told me some more about the benefits of the position and the work climate and whatnot. We finished talking with a few minutes to spare and she let me finish eating the muffin I was too busy wandering around trying to find the office to munch on. I asked what makes that particular policy research company different from its peers as my "Do you have any questions?" question, and her first response was, "That's a good question," which made me feel like she was a little bit impressed.  Best thing about her: she asked me again what my minimum salary requirement would be and I didn't know what to say again, so I was saying thirtyyyyyyyyyyyfive? And she cut me off and said that "the salary for this position is in the 40s." (woot!) And then she walked me to someone else named K's office. 

K was a senior researcher in the survey department and worked on a lot of really cool projects, including the National Survey of Recent College Graduates, which of course fascinates me. And we were joined by T, who phoned in because she was working from home that day because her kids' schools had a 3 hour delay due to an ice storm or something. (And even though I'm not a family-oriented person AND I'm not planning to stay wherever I get a job for any longer than 3 years at the most, I took note of the fact that she could work from home and that that seemed perfectly fine. It means the company as a whole takes the work-life balance very seriously and recognizes that its employees are people.) And T majored in Sociology for her undergrad work so we talked about that for a while, and she sounded young-ish and bright and bubbly. I liked talking with her a lot. 

After that half-hour block, I went on to meet TB and L. TB would be my direct supervisor if I got the position, and he started off in that very position right out of undergrad and worked his way up, so he was a great person to talk to about both the position itself and growth/development as an employee of the company. By the time L asked me to talk about my JP, I'd pretty much refined my little speech about it, and she seemed genuinely interested in my findings, whereas T had seemed more interested in how I like, had measured things and what I'm doing differently in my thesis survey because of my JP survey. TB and L both work in K-3 education primarily, and were telling me some of the other cool things associates get to do besides work on surveys, like go on site-visits to school districts and do classroom observations and stuff. 

Then it was off to D and J, who both work primarily in Health. They both told me a little about the projects they're working on, and then J asked for my spheel and seemed to like what I said about my JP. When I was done, she said she was going to ask why I decided to major in sociology, but that she could tell by the way I'd answered the previous question that I'm really passionate about it. (+2 for me) D asked me questions about time management and working in teams and being involved in lots of things at once and said what she was most impressed by was all of the leadership roles I've had, so I talked a little bit about balancing different kinds of work and showed how I can take the initiative by talking about having gone from never having acted in my life to being on the BAC|Drama board, writing and co-writing two one-acts, and directing two one-acts in the course of a semester. 

Then E, KM, and JB came to take me to lunch. KM and JB both hold the position I'm applying for, and E had just been promoted to the next level up from that position. They were SO MUCH FUN and seem like they'd be really fly coworkers. They seemed really interested in my thesis and offered their opinions based on the various schools that they'd gone to (Northwestern, Dartmouth, and...I'm not sure where JB went.) They were telling me about how they've been involved in various projects--E just got to go to Africa for three weeks in August for something work related, how cool is that?!--and how they like TB and the company overall. They all had great things to say, even when I told them to be real with me. And they were telling me about how fabulous a city DC is and how it doesn't feel overwhelmingly large like NY but is still full of stuff to do and lots of free stuff (who doesn't love free stuff?). And they were saying the company has a really social atmosphere, both professionally because everyone goes by their first name regardless of their position and everyone's door is always open for questions/advice, and personally in terms of there's a softball team, an ultimate frisbee team, an a capella group, a gym on the premises, parties when projects are finished, holiday parties, they go out to happy hour together a lot. And OH MY WORD I had the absolute best macaroni and cheese of my life. It was a good southern-style baked mac with shrimp baked in. E ordered it first and it just sounded so good when he was saying it that I instantly switched from what I was originally intending to order, and that was the best decision of my day, because it was orgasmic. We had to fist bump at the awesomeness of our meal (and later at our love of Waffle House) and kept talking about how good it was to the point that KM and JB wanted to taste. (Restaurant was called The Watershed, if anyone in the DC area wants to check it out. On First St. NE, about 6 or so blocks from Union Station.) 

After lunch they took me to meet D, the Director of the department I'd be working for, and within two minutes of me being in her office, she was telling me how fascinated she was by my writing sample (an excerpt of my junior independent work) and asking if what she had was the whole thing or would she be disappointed when she got to the end. I told her it was just an excerpt and she leaped up to get me one of her business cards so I could email her the entire thing, and she was saying how a) she was interested because she does a lot of work with college-aged students and b) it's more well-written than any writing samples she's seen in a long time, and writing isn't usually such a strong suit of their applicants. (+100 for me) We talked a little bit about how my day had gone so far and I told her how surprised I was that I'd been enjoying the entire thing, and then she asked more about my interest in the company and my future plans and yada yada a lot of the same stuff other people had talked about. Then she explained what happens from here: they've done this four hour interview with a few candidates, and then they'll have a big group meeting with everyone on the interview team to talk about how people vibed with the candidates and who has the skills they're looking for, and when they make a decision Human Resources will reach out to the lucky candidate.

And then the woman from Human Resources who had met me first met me again, and gave me a big packet full of information about various benefits, took my receipts from my train tickets so that I can be reimbursed (in 2-3 weeks, not cute for broke college students, haha), and sent me on my way. I unfortunately didn't get to see Pariah because everything went right according to schedule rather than ending early, but still I didn't know it was possible to enjoy yourself during an interview like this. 

I want this job. I want it so bad(ly). So keep your fingers crossed for me, please!
Reblogged from Treasured Tresses

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wish I'd seen this around Halloween, but reblogging anyway:

Reblogged from Racialicious

How I Feel About: The Term "Bougie"

I get called bougie sometimes, or stuck up, or whatever. My little sister was telling me when I was home for Christmas that "I think that just because I go to Princeton, I think I'm better than everybody else." I tried to explain that no, because I go to Princeton, I'm realizing that things I never thought were possible are within reach, and I want other people to have the same epiphany, but I'm getting off topic...

I get called bougie. It used to bother me, but this semester I had a professor (Imani Perry) tell me that no matter how much we (Black Princeton students from humble backgrounds) try to distance ourselves from the Black elite, just by virtue of being here and eventually being in the places being here will bring us, we have become the Black elite. And that kind of rocked my entire worldview.

But even if I don't let professors (even really cool ones I want to be like when I grow up) dictate my life, I have observed that people usually throw around the term bougie (and its synonyms) when they want to address the fact that you're not living like they're living, not in the same mindset or coming from the same place. So that's all I take it to mean, because it's usually true (even if only with regard to the specific context you're dealing with at that moment), and I let whatever insult they were trying to throw at me roll right off.

(In response to this post from Clutch Magazine)
"When you say to a person of color, 'When I see you, I don’t see you as black! I just see everybody the same.' People, think about that. You don’t have the right to say to a person, 'I do not see you as you are, I want to see you as I would be more comfortable seeing you.'"
- Jane Elliot on the absurdity and invalidation of claims of “Color Blindness” by white folk (via Choosing Pancakes)

I love this earring...

Reblogged from It's a Go on the Fro
But I don't know if I have the swag to pull it off. I mean, it looks great with her head to the side and it nestled in her cleavage like that, but how would it look when she's looking forward? Would the air resistance as you're walking be a drag? (haha See what I did there?) Also, one earring though?

Dubious that I could actually wear something like this.

But then again, I did make SWAG on a Triple Word Score in Words With Friends the other day, so..


Reblogged from It's a Go on the Fro

Monday, January 23, 2012

This woman believes orgasms can change the world.

Idk if I'm entirely with her, but I might just have to try, haha. 

On a serious note, I'm in this year's rendition of The Vagina Monologues on campus in like 3 weeks, and if you want to know why VagMos (and vaginas and orgasms) are important, watch this:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fro love

Reblogged from As far as i'm concerned...

"Black women don’t need to be taught how to love. Despite what the common narrative may tell you, we are loving beings–no more or less so than any other group." -- Tami Winfrey Harris, who is currently working on a project on Black women and marriage

New Estelle!

Some music to provide a nice background amidst the activism:

I support LGBTQQI rights and marriage equality to the core of the core of my being.

Call me controversial (please, it would make me happy), but I honestly don't understand how I, as a Black person, could think otherwise. Well, okay, I don't understand how anyone as a human could feel otherwise, but that's beside the point. 

Monday was Martin Luther King Day, and I didn't post anything mainly because it was the day before all final papers were do and I was writing my heart out about Awkward Black Girl, but also because my feelings on him and his day haven't really changed since last year's post.

So, even if it's a few days late, what I want to say is this: our people and our allies in other communities dedicated (and dedicate, present-tense) their lives to ensuring that we would not be classified as "second class citizens," as lesser than anyone else on the basis of something as artificial as race, and that we wouldn't be subjected to the oxymoronic (is that a word?) standard of "separate, but equal." We know that separate is inherently unequal. It's the basis for life as we know it today. 

So how can we have the audacity to have demanded such rights and recognitions for ourselves and to work towards or even wish for the exact same rights and recognitions to be denied to others on the basis of their sexual orientation? Anyone who cries that race is a social construction must also recognize that normative conceptualizations of sexuality are just as socially constructed. 

So if you want to live the words of King and other civil rights leaders this week, next month, and in your daily life, watch this video. Cry like I did. And do. the. right. thing. Support marriage equality. Support non-discriminatory citizenship. Support love and family and justice.


SOPA could destroy people's perfectly legitimate livelihoods:

source: xkcd (aka the greatest webcomic of all time)
(Cool stuff under the blackout I got to see for a second when I uploaded the pic: Guy in hat saying "Seriously. Don't screw with DNS. If you break this internet, we are NOT making you a new one!") 

(Bonus points: the alt-text on the website says Randall's getting blackout drunk to support the protests. Always the way to go.)

(jk blacking out seems scary. i've never done it. please don't die.)

Wiki is gone. It sucks. I know.

But before you whine and complain about how stupid/inconvenient/unfortunate it is, I really need you to understand that we're facing the end of the internet as we know it if the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate are passed. The internet was designed around free exchange and the idea that users should be able to determine the content they want to see and access it freely and openly. I was born in 1990, y'all. The only thing I really remember about a time before the internet was the fact that I had this cool Encarta Encyclopedia CD-ROM, which suggests that I didn't have THE ENTIRETY OF EVERYTHING THAT EXISTS AVAILABLE TO ME WITH THE CLICK OF A FEW BUTTONS. I once wasn't able to instantly access music by people in various other countries, or read the innermost thoughts and advice of people around the world. I am a Millennial girl. I am a child of the internet. I spend more hours interacting with it than with anything else in my life on a daily basis. 

And I refuse to let it be overtaken by corporations. I refuse to sit idly by while my source for free information and access to programming and media I might otherwise never see disappears. I refuse to accept the idea that the internet could, for all intents and purposes, be owned by corporations who could sit around in board rooms deciding what they think I should and should not be able to see. Why do you think I don't own a television? Content determined by anyone other than users is SO 15 years ago.

This guy from the Washington Post explains it better than I can. SOPA (and it's Senate equivalent, PIPA):
gives content creators the power to force ISPs, search engines or payment services to shut down access to a Web site that the owner believes violated its copyright. On its face, the bill is designed to stop access to foreign Web sites that are profiting off of stolen content. (U.S.-based business can simply be dragged into court.) In reality, it’s much more insidious than that.
Say a French company just started a social networking site in which users can upload videos of themselves singing. Now let’s say some kids upload a video of themselves singing their favorite Britney Spears song, not even playing back the original recording but simply singing along innocently to a song they like.
In the eyes of Spears’s record label or any number of parties associated with her continued cash flow, that might very well look like an instance of piracy — and indeed, major labels have had content pulled off YouTube for similar “violations.” All the label has to do is send a letter to someone such as your ISP and request that the service stop routing traffic to the offending site, and, boom, no more French-sharing site for U.S. Internet users. And what’s really scary is that U.S. Internet service providers have immunity when it comes to what they can pull from their networks, so that French site might not even have a clear path to resolving the issue.
Now take that concept and begin to apply it across all the places you could potentially find “infringing” material. Sites about art, sites about movies, sites that let users generate content of all types — some of that content containing pieces of other work that should be considered fair use by any modern standard. Suddenly, a lot of destinations on the Internet will begin to look like island vacation spots — that is, they’re really hard to get to. And the impact won’t just be cultural or legal; the technical workings of the Internet itself will be dramatically affected.

I have a doubled interest in stopping these crazy laws as not only an internet user, but as a content-creator. This blog has become more important to me than I could have ever possibly imagined, but under SOPA, corporations could decide that some of the things I do on this blog, like posting images I don't own (even when I cite my source) or uploading unofficial YouTube videos, are felonies worth up to 5 years in prison. Not to mention that YouTube would cease to exist...or at least, to exist as anything other than VEVO. Google and other search engines would be forced to remove sites that are deemed to host unauthorized content from their search results. Blogging as both an industry and a pastime could be wiped off the face of the internet. Voices would be silenced. The internet serves as the ONLY platform for honest and open discussion of many issues. Modern-day activism could come to a grinding halt.

And so, more than just writing this blog post, I'm taking an active stand. I changed my Facebook and Twitter profile pictures to an image meant to represent government-sponsored internet censorship (and so did a quarter of my Facebook friends who have recently changed their profile pictures!). I'm sharing articles like a mothafucka. AND, most importantly, I sent the following letter to my local Congressional representative: 
Net Neutrality is the cornerstone of innovation, free speech and democracy on the Internet.

More than 2 million Americans have expressed support for Net Neutrality at Congress and the FCC. They want control over the Internet to remain in the hands of the people who use it every day.

Please stand with the public by protecting Net Neutrality once and for all.

As a 20-something in today's society, I've grown up on the internet. I trust it as a source of free information and use it for many hours a day to meet many of my needs. I also publish lots of my own content, and my father runs an online business, and it would be truly unjust for either of our sites to be affected by the end of Net Neutrality. People of my generation and every generation depend on the internet; don't let it be fundamentally and irrevocably changed. Don't let the American values of free speech and free commerce be trampled on. Please support Net Neutrality. I recognize that very serious infringements are regularly being made possible by the internet, but there must be other, less potentially damaging, ways to protect corporations against such infringements and punish wrongdoers. Please vote against SOPA and the PROTECT IP Act, which could very well do more to censor legitimate free speech than to control the illegitimate spread of intellectual property. Please protect American consumers and maintain the free, open, user-determined nature of the internet by supporting The Internet Freedom, Broadband Promotion and Consumer Protection Act of 2011.

I'm begging you.

Maya Reid
Princeton University, Class of 2012
I contacted my representative via this site: http://www.savetheinternet.com/

And I'm asking you to spare 30 seconds of your time to do the same. They have a petition you can sign, or a pre-written letter (the first three paragraphs of the letter above) that you can just attach your name to and send.  

Your actions will help save life as we know it. I'm not going to lie, it's ANNOYING. AS. FUCK. to have Wikipedia, Reddit, xkcd, Wordpress, Mozilla, Colorlines, and other major websites down today. But imagine if they were gone forever.

(And before anyone criticizes me for not doing my own blackout...I wanted to. I just didn't know how.)    

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


This dude who so perfectly explains white privilege and why Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls ISN'T FUCKING RACIST. It's just the first time white people see themselves being stereotyped and misappropriated in something this popular.