Tag Archives: gender

processing thoughts on girls

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My sexuality goes through phases. Since acknowledging that I was bisexual about five years ago or so, I’ve noticed that I go through times when I feel more into women than men. That usually happens when I don’t feel as close emotionally to Chris, so I don’t explore it at all or look at it as anything more than just a passing thing. My interest is also always on a celebrity or other person who I don’t actually know, so there’s never any temptation to act on anything.

Lately though, the “gay phase” has lasted longer than usual. I’ve been confused by it. Chris and I have been very emotionally close lately, we’ve been through pretty intense counseling, worked very intentionally on communication, and I don’t feel like I’m missing anything in the romantic area of my life. What’s the deal?

Yesterday, as I was watching interviews with my latest celebrity obsession, I realized that none of my thoughts were sexual. I was honestly just daydreaming about hanging out, having tea with this person, being gal pals. Okay…so this really doesn’t have anything to do with being bisexual. This is something else.

Studies have shown women are “hard-wired” for friendship. When women become stressed, their instinct is to seek out other women because of biological factors like hormones and oxytocin. They don’t seek out men because men’s brains handle stress differently. Harvard Medical School even showed that women with a close group of female friends develop less physical impairments as they get older. Not having friends is bad for your health, and can have a similar effect on the body as smoking.

*None of this is to say that men don’t need friendships. The studies are also obviously pretty black-and-white in terms of gender, which gender is not, but I think the point is true: humans need friendships. I’m just especially interested in the girl-girl dynamic, because I’m cis, and that’s what I know and experience.*

None of this is surprising to me. When I was in counseling and struggling with my sexuality, one of my counselors suggested it was just because I didn’t have girl friends, so I had started seeing them like I did boys, as unfamiliar, and that triggered my brain to believe it was a sexual thing. I know that wasn’t what it was, but I’m sure it was part of it. I’ve always been more interested in girls than boys; most of my crushes have been girls. I’m sure some of it was sexual, and some of it was just wanting that close friendship.

I think that need for female energy and company has become especially strong because I’m pretty isolated here. I work from home. I’m building friendships from scratch. I have one close girl friend here, but one person can’t be everything, and I have a lot of close girl friends who are further away who I miss a lot. The last few attempts I’ve made to make more friends have not been successful. I think I’m discouraged. So I turn to interviews and TV and movies and music to hear female voices that I like, watch interesting women and imagine they’re talking to me. It sounds really pathetic when I write it out, but it hasn’t been a conscious thing, so there’s not much I can do about it.

Eh. This was a really personal post, and maybe no one else feels this way, but I wanted to put it out there, mostly to process. Thanks for reading.

What To Read About: The Bathroom Bills

This issue has been all over social media and the news. For those who haven’t had the time or energy to follow every development, the issue is this: North Carolina and other states have passed bills that forbid people from using a bathroom that does not match the sex stated on their birth certificate. Essentially, it means transgender individuals must use the bathroom that goes against their gender identity. The reasoning: it “makes bathrooms safer.” Proponents of these bills say it isn’t about transgender people, but to prevent cis men from using the transgender label to get into women’s bathrooms. However, it was never illegal for men to enter a woman’s bathroom anyway, which has led opponents of the bill to say the laws really are about transgenders and the misconception that they are all “perverts.” North Carolina has not clarified how its bill will be enforced.

Various businesses and public figures have condemned bathroom bills, earning support and boycotts alike. Target, who reiterated its policy about allowing people to use the bathroom of their choice, has gotten a lot of publicity.

I have zero personal experience with these bills, and being a cis woman, I don’t want to talk over transgender people who are affected on a daily basis by this issue. Instead, I want to present some of the best articles I’ve found on the topic, along with good pull quotes for those who don’t want to read an entire article.


Sexual abuse happens. I wish it didn’t. I wish it hadn’t to me. But creating laws about where someone can or can’t pee isn’t going to prevent abuse. Let’s hold accountable those who commit crimes when and if they commit them, instead of asking trans people to sacrifice bathroom safety to pay for crimes that non-trans people might possibly commit someday.  –  “What I want you to know about being a sexual abuse survivor and Target shopper” by Anonymous

Transgender people have said bathroom access is one of their “most pressing challenges,” Seelman writes in the study, which was published in February in theJournal of Homosexuality. Trans people have reported getting stared at or being asked to leave, something that causes them “great stress,” according to researchers. Seelman highlights an earlier study of 93 trans people that found 68 percent had been verbally harassed in bathrooms, and 9 percent were physically assaulted… “This suggests that there may be a distinct relationship between the stress of not being able to use bathrooms or gender-appropriate campus housing and one’s mental health,” Seelman writes. – “The True Harm of Bathroom Bills” by Olga Khazan

As is explained in the lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s exclusionary bathroom bill, forcing transgender individuals to use a bathroom that does not correspond with their gender identity and outward gender expression outsthat person as transgender each time they use the public restroom….. But unfortunately, as much of the political discourse surrounding transgender bathroom access demonstrates, our society is rife with misunderstanding and, at times, animus toward transgender individuals. Transgender people are subject to high levels of violence, poverty, incarceration, and employment discrimination. And since comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for transgender people are lacking, maintaining privacy over one’s trans status may be critical to a range of activities from obtaining a job to keeping safe. – “Bathroom Bills and the Battle Over Privacy” by Scott Skinner-Thompson

“If you walk in and you’re presenting as female, even if you have passing privilege, you walk into the men’s room and you’ve immediately identified yourself as a lost cisgender woman… or you walk in and you stay and that immediately marks you as transgender.… Last year, we had 22 or 23 trans women murdered. And we’ve got North Carolina legislators… having beat the drum that transgender people are perverts and have no rights. You walk into a bathroom, you’ve announced yourself as transgender and everyone in that bathroom has been told that you’re a child-molesting, subhuman monster. Whatever compunctions they have against violence have been significantly lowered.” – “What It’s Like to Use a Public Bathroom While Trans” by Nico Lang (story by Brynn

I’m telling you that no trans or gender non-conforming person wants to use the bathroom for any other reason than you do. I’m telling you that this has never been about sexual predators (who don’t need bathrooms to hurt people, and who won’t be discouraged by an anti-trans bathroom law), but about harming trans people. I’m telling you that I’d like to spend a whole lot less time thinking about bathrooms than I do…The other night I read about a woman who has decided to bring her gun into restrooms from now on in order to “protect” herself from “perverts” who come in. To be clear, that meant anyone that she thought didn’t belong in a women’s room. Shoot first. Ask questions later. I joked with my wife, “So, that’s how I’m going to die. I’m going to go into a Target bathroom with that woman and she’s going to think I’m a dude and shoot me.” This time my wife didn’t laugh. – “On Restrooms, Gender, and Fear,” by Emily C. Health

Read more:

http://www.rageagainsttheminivan.com/2016/05/what-i-want-you-to-know-about-being_16.html#ixzz49E5yToVm

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/05/transgender-bathrooms-suicide/483351/

http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2016/05/10/in_the_battle_over_bathroom_privacy_transgender_people_s_needs_matter_more.html

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/what-its-like-to-use-a-public-bathroom-while-trans-20160331

On Restrooms, Gender, and Fear

 

Spare Them: The Objectification of Women Through Violence

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Stop cutting women into pieces for a man’s tears. Stop hacking us apart to spur men into action. Stop choking us, stop beating us, stop slitting our throats in our sleep. Be interesting. Let the woman live. Give her her own strengths and weaknesses, and flaws and motivations, instead of a knife in the back.                                                        -http://johteague.tumblr.com

*Contains spoilers of the two seasons of “The Following” and “Hannibal,” and also descriptions of violence against women* 

I loved the first season of Kevin Bacon’s “The Following.” It was filmed like a movie, it had twists, and it had fantastic female characters. There was Claire, the ex-wife of a serial killer who was raising their son, who pretended to still love the cult leader Joe Carroll only to stab him (not fatally, unfortunately), and who stopped at nothing to keep her son safe. There was Emma, the devoted cult member who murdered her emotionally-abusive mother and maintained a calm exterior which hide a terrifyingly unpredictable nature. And my favorite, Debra Parker, the cult specialist working to stop Joe Carroll. Raised in a cult herself, she has deeply personal inside knowledge of how cults work, and plays alongside Kevin Bacon’s Ryan Hardy note-for-note.

Then it all went to hell.

First, there was the kidnapping of Ryan’s sister. We had never heard of her before. We were granted a brief flashback of her visiting Ryan in his darkest, booze-soaked days, but then it was back to her being strapped to a gurney in a warehouse by one of Joe’s sadistic followers. Ryan rushed in to save the day, nearly killing himself, and then his sister disappeared. She was literally a prop to provoke Ryan.

Then it got worse. In the final episode, Debra was kidnapped and buried alive with a cell phone. She called the FBI, triggering a frantic search. Ryan was beside himself. In her last moments, Debra urged him not to blame himself. When they found her, I was praying that she would be brought back to life. But no. She was definitely dead.

And then the last few seconds of the finale and season 2 opener. All is well, Joe is dead (yeah, right), and Ryan is at his apartment with Claire, who he has loved for years. They small talk, order Chinese, and Ryan turns on some tunes. Then, out of nowhere, comes one of the last followers, Meg. She stabs Ryan. Claire saunters out, making a comment about the food, and is literally stabbed from behind. She collapses and Ryan screams. Cut to black.

I read interviews with the actress and writer, hoping for a hint as to Claire’s fate. They said something about “Claire’s story being told.” Ok…that could mean a lot of things. She could recover, and go into witness protection with her son, and Ryan couldn’t see her anymore. Sad, but realistic. Or she could just die, leaving her son orphaned.

Guess what they went with?

Oh no! Poor Kevin Bacon! Now he has all the deaths of these women hanging over him! How sad! How complex his character is!

Then they decided to mess with Emma. In the second season, she is just plain obsessed with Joe. She has no other interests going on. When they run away to meet up with some old cult members, they discover that a new order has been established, and Joe is viewed with suspicion. During a ritual, Emma is chosen “randomly” to be the blood sacrifice. She screams for Joe, who is restrained, as the new cult leader slits both of her wrists and she begins to bleed out. She recovers, but the damage was done in my mind. Joe literally says, in outrage, that the cult choose Emma on purpose to mess with him. Now even the villain of the series is being made more “complex” through the pain and abuse of women. Awesome.

“Hannibal” is an incredibly well-written show. It features a cast of movie stars (Lawrence Fishburne, Hugh Dancy, and Denmark’s most popular actor, Mads Mikkkelsen, as Hannibal) and has some of the most gorgeous cinematography I’ve ever seen in television. It cast a woman as Freddie Lounds, a character played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the movie, and has a dynamic Asian-American actress as a mortician. The show is also extremely brutal.

In the first few episodes of the first season, the focus is on a killer who targets young women, eats some of their organs, and then mounts their bodies on antlers. Eesh. The camera seems to linger lovingly on these bodies, following to a T that old film adage of filming your murders like love scenes, and your love scenes like murders. When the murderer is revealed, the FBI show up at his door to find his wife bleeding out on the doorstep, and him inside with a knife to his daughter’s throat. Our twitchy hero, Hugh Dancy, manages to shoot him, but not before he severely injures the young woman. She goes to the hospital, where both Hugh Dancy and Mads become fascinated (obsessed?) with her as a kind of surrogate daughter. Yeah, it’s weird. When she comes to, Abigail attaches herself to Hannibal (bad choice), who seems to think he can create a kind of family with her, since she has a tendency for killing and being haunted by her father’s victims. Alas, it is not to be. I guess she figures out what Hannibal is (like #1 on the AFI’s list of villains) and so he “has” to kill and eat her, after embracing her and regretfully wishing he could have “protected” her. Hmm. Ok. Abigail was actually developing into a super interesting character with manipulation skills right on par with Hannibal, but I guess that wasn’t meant to be.

There’s a bunch of other stuff that goes on, like a flashback episode where Hugh Dancy’s boss is tormented by phone calls from a former student he thought was dead, who turns out to have been murdered by Hannibal. We watch her scouting around, Clarice Starling-style, only to discover some drawings by Hannibal in his office that prove he is a serial killer (cause Hannibal the mastermind just leaves these things out). She is surprised by Hannibal from behind because wearing only socks can fool even the most adept FBI agent. Hannibal makes her make a panicked phone call to her boss before he kills her, but he saves the recording, and later uses the message to mess with the FBI. Another woman as a prop. To give Lawrence Fishburne’s character more depth. Oh, also, his wife in the show is also dying of terminal cancer. So there’s that.

I’m super concerned for all the female characters. I’m pretty sure Freddie has to stick around, because the character appears much later in the canon, but that doesn’t mean she’s spared from horrible things happening to her. Gillian Anderson had a recurring role as Hannibal’s psychiatrist, and actually succeeded in outsmarting him and running away before he decided he had to off her, too. Her story might not be over though. WHO KNOWS??

It’s not like I want women to be treated like delicate flowers who shouldn’t be touched or hurt in any way. What I do want is women to be treated as their own persons, not as props to build up the characters of men. What happens to women most directly affects THEM, so let’s see their characters evolve from that. Or, heaven forbid, just spare their lives. A woman’s story doesn’t always have to end in death.

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Lez Be Honest: Why I Actually Don’t Agree with A&E’s Decision to Suspend Phil Robertson

By Erin Schulz

There are already a lot of thoughts about this floating around in my Facebook newsfeed. If your friend demographic is anything like mine, you’ve seen posts violently defending Phil’s right to speak his mind and arguments pointing out that A&E’s decision doesn’t violate first amendment rights. There’s been plenty of arguing. The most moving arguments, to me, are based around faith. It doesn’t represent a caring, loving Christ to make these comments offhand. As this post: http://intheparlor.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/what-you-believe-about-homosexuality-doesnt-matter/  us, peoples’ lives are at stake. The compassionate thing to do is surrender some of your right to always express your own opinion in favor of giving a beloved child of God a hand at, you know, not dying.

But I don’t think A&E should have suspended Phil Robertson. Why?

The premise of Duck Dynasty makes me angry enough. I haven’t watched the show, so let me join a whole host of people expressing an opinion on something I have limited knowledge about. But I have lived in a rural, redneck community all my life, with the exception of the three and a half years I’ve spent at college. And I know that whether you like it or not, Phil’s views are representative of a lot of people’s.

Just because a view is representative doesn’t mean it needs to be spouted off, I know that. But what is A&E attempting to do with Duck Dynasty? I would love to have feedback on this from people who have seen the show. My feeling is that Duck Dynasty is cultural appropriation at best, and more likely an attempt to make a spectacle of redneck culture.

As I read the GQ article that set all this off, I recognized a lot of myself in the author. After spending time at an extremely liberal college in the Twin Cities, I have a sort of outsider view on my home culture. I welcome my returns home because I am finally able to see the stars again, because I’ll be able to walk in the back pastures and track deer, and because I am back to a family and community that gives generously.

I am also back to fighting with my brother about whether women deserve equal pay in the workplace. Racist jokes. Offhand anti-gay comments.

You are welcome to be a part of my community. You get the benefit of breathtaking beauty and satisfying hard work. But you cannot have this without facing the ugliness that’s also here. You do not get to turn on your televisions once a week and watch the mindless antics of men with bushy beards, but ignore the oppression that is still alive and well in these communities.

People need to know what Phil Robertson thinks about race, sex, and gender, because city people need to face the facts that there’s a whole different country in the pockets of earth where you didn’t build skyscrapers. It’s complex. It’s filled with kindness and love and deep, deep ignorance. Explicit racism and hate crimes are still real.

I don’t agree with what Phil said, but I’m not mad at him. Okay, maybe I am a little mad at him, in the frustrated way I am angry at my grandfather, or my neighbor. And I’m not upset that A&E considers this speech hateful and doesn’t want it representing their station. What I’m upset about is that A&E is trying to edit life and paint the picture that nothing is wrong in redneck America, when that is not true.

Nor Is There Male And Female

Feminism is considered a sin in the modern church. It is hurled as an insult. Despite its evolution from the radical second wave of feminism to a more moderate, global movement, It is still associated with rebellion and rejection of Christian values. It’s been described as “an old, old heresy meant to destroy God’s design on every front…an ancient form of paganism.” John MacArthur has taught extensively on the evil of feminism: “Godly women don’t impact the world by putting on a suit and by carrying a briefcase; they impact the world by raising a Godly generation of men and women.” I’d be curious to hear what MacArthur thinks about Mother Theresa, who didn’t exactly wear a suit, but she definitely wasn’t a mother in the traditional sense either. And why couldn’t Godly women impact the world by entering it? Does God have limitations like that? What about women who can’t have children, or who just don’t like children, who would rather interact and work with adults? Is there something seriously wrong with them, something EVIL?

If Christian men are intimidated by strong women, that’s their problem. If they don’t know how to deal with their intellectual equal, that’s something that men need to deal with. Men have been conditioned to believe a woman needs to be “meek” and “quiet,” forgetting that men are given the exact same directive. When a woman doesn’t meet the standard, she is shamed and men are encouraged by other Christian men to deal with the situation. Instead of discussing with men how to treat women as their true equals, the church tells strong women to “step down.” Isn’t this a suppression of who a woman is? Some women have aggressive personalities, that’s just who they are. As women, we’re told constantly to “find our identity in Christ,” not in men, but apparently our identity in Christ is defined by men. For the sake of “making a man feel like a man,” strong women have to water down who they are in order to feel like they’re following God’s will. What about Deborah? She was ordering men around all the time, she was literally in the highest position possible in her society. People like to treat her as if she was a fluke, but what if she wasn’t? What if other women had been judges? And even if she was the only woman who became a judge, what was it about her that makes her so special that she could override “God’s law” about gender roles? Churches don’t talk enough about Deborah.

What is at the heart of not liking women to be leaders or pastors? I’ve heard different concerns, such as, “A woman is more emotional, less stable, and doesn’t possess the self-control necessary to manage a church.” If that’s a problem for women, it’s just as much a problem for men. How many male pastors have been caught having affairs, many times with minors who they have spiritually manipulated into sex? How many churches with male leaders have been caught misusing funds? Men and women are equally vulnerable to all kinds of problems with stability and self-control. It’s an issue of character, not of gender. Another concern I’ve heard is that men will be distracted by a female pastor, perhaps even led to impure thoughts. This is not a compliment to men. Are men so weak that they are unable to look past the physical differences of a pastor and actually listen to them? I’ve heard people say that men don’t like to be taught by women, because it makes them feel like “less of a man.” I’m sorry, but how about some humility? This woman – this pastor – has gone through training for her job. She knows more about the Bible than the average Joe sitting in the congregation. If he thinks he knows more than her, just because he’s a man, he is incredibly naive and frankly, stupid. It’s a calling back to the old days where it was thought women just had smaller brains than men, that no matter how much education she had, she could never be smarter than a man. We know this is false. What we also know is false is that God assigns gifts based on gender. So, do only men get the gift of teaching? Prophecy? Pastoring? And if women do have these gifts, what right do we have to decide they should only use them in a certain arena – the home – and not in the church? Where is that in the Bible?

I believe at the heart of this mistrust of women in spiritual leadership, is a fear of women. The church still has this belief that all women are evil. Eve took the fruit. She ushered in the age of sin. Therefore, engrained in the gender, must be some darkness that doesn’t exist in men. How is this Biblical? All have fallen short of the glory of God. There is no verse that says women are worse than men, simply by being women. People point to Jezebel, her name is the symbol of evil womanhood, but she was evil because of her hatred of God, not because she was a woman. God could have become flesh in any way he wanted, but he chose to come through a woman. It was the perfect beginning for Jesus, whose ministry is saturated with treating women as equals, and not shaming them simply because they were born. Why does the church ignore this? Why does the church still cringe and squint with skepticism the second they see a woman standing in front of a congregation, before she has even opened her mouth to speak?

I haven’t experienced aggressive sexism, but I’ve experienced the “nice” kind, which drives me crazy. It’s the kind of sexism that treats women like children. In high school, boys I knew disliked me for various reasons, would hold the door open unnecessarily. It was a small thing, and I never said anything because I knew I would instantly be ridiculed for being a “crazy feminist,” but it was knowing they were only being nice to me because I was a girl. They disliked everything else about me, but because I’m a woman, they have to treat me a certain way. No. Stop. We don’t like each other. You let me open that door myself and I will close it on your face. Funny thing is, boys who did this had no problem making “get in the kitchen and make a sandwich” jokes when Hillary Clinton was in the 2008 election. Hmm. Charming. Teachers were sometimes the same way. I make a point and they explain it back to the group, as if I didn’t do a good enough job. Thanks, sir. Thank you for making my feminine incoherence understandable. I kept track and it only happened with the girls. These things were small, but they grated on me. It’s a popular thing now to say that “men need respect” and “women need love.” Uh, no. Ideally, we all need both, but I would much rather be respected. I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be to make a well-thought out argument and then to have a man pat me on the head, and say, “Aw, I love you so much,” and nothing else. I’m not a dog. I’m not a pet who doesn’t care if you treat me with dignity, who just wants to sit on your lap and be “loved.” That is humiliation at its finest. It’s like I’m a babbling child all over again. Treating women like children is believing they need protection from the cruel world, that being at home with the kids is the safest place. Going to a job, having a career, is just too much pressure for a woman to handle. I have no problem with women who stay at home, if it’s their choice. If they feel pressured by Christian society and their husband to stay at home, that’s when I have a problem.

I think a big reason for men being angry about women being in the workplace or in positions of leadership is because it proves that women (by nature) do not need men to protect and provide for their every need. Men have been taught that that is their role, and when suddenly, that role is not necessary, they have an identity crisis and blame feminism. It’s time to reconsider gender roles. It’s time to think about what feminine and masculine mean. It’s time to actually believe the words in Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, NOR IS THERE MALE AND FEMALE, for you are ALL ONE in Christ Jesus.”