“Sexual trend spotting makes for big business. Want to give it a try yourself? First, you’ll need to make some sweeping generalisations: what a popular novel, for example, reveals about the fantasies of “working women” or, as an article in the UK Times declared, how “no one” (literally no one!) “under the age of 40 seems to have pubic hair”. Second, you should avoid doing too much actual research to prove your claims – forget the joke that “three examples makes a trend”, and instead try no interviews with flesh and blood human beings at all. Third, it must have broader implications. Your story isn’t about a single erotic novel, cult TV show, or video you saw on YouTube, but about the dark and hidden underbelly of human sexuality. Et voila! Instant internet traffic gold.”—
Frantic ads like this did not begin with the global downturn, nor with the Internet. You can find them in the back pages of newspapers, scrawled on toilet walls, probably even etched on stones flung into rivers by anguished Romans centuries before Christ was born. The Internet has made the process less furtive, formalizing it within the antiseptic human catalog of online dating. And the current crisis of capitalism is altering gender and sexual relations further, not only by obliging more poor men and women to sell sex to survive, but by bringing financial desperation into our most intimate socio-erotic fantasies. (Salon.com)
When your mother is essentially siding with society that something’s wrong with you, girls don’t have a safe haven to go to when they’re home. You’re being watched and that creates a lot of self consciousness; and the message the girl is receiving quite widely is that when you’re overweight, “I’m going to be on you and you’re going to need me to take over for you because you’re unable to take care of yourself.” And when you’re thin, you’re going to get a lot of accolades and, “I’m going to put you in Vogue and I’m going to cheer you on and be proud of you.” That can backfire. (Buzzfeed)
This is a guest post is by Tonya Vrba, a passionate writer, whose commentary and reporting on health, career and dating issues has been published on various blogs and newspapers. You can learn more about Tonya’s work here.
Last week I rode my bike to the gas station. As I hadn’t ridden it since the beginning of winter, the tires were as flat as I had ever seen them. At the station, I pulled my bike up to the rusty machine that would pump air into my tires. Previously, I had used my parent’s little foot powered air pump. This was my first experience trying to fill at a gas station.
I felt like a stereotype. Look at the helpless maiden in distress try to use the easy machine. I didn’t stand there long before a young man pulled up and graciously offered to help me. Still embarrassed, I accepted. Turns out the machine was far easier to use than I had thought it was.
The thought struck me then that this situation was only right. A man should come to help a woman. Yet, what if I had been a man? Would the same help have been offered to me? To make the situation a bit more gender equal in my head, I offered him two dollars payment – one for each tire. He refused, saying, “my mom would kill me if I took that.”
I bet he would have taken my dollars if I had been a man.
This situation stuck with me as I thought about all the benefits women still draw from stereotypes. Why is it only proper that a man open a door for a woman? Why should the boyfriend or husband take the responsibility to fix her car instead of teaching her how to do it herself? Why does society feel the need to provide us with extra protection based on our gender?
There is no harm is having doors open or receiving assistance when you need it, but in the name of equality, don’t men deserve the same?
Here is an example from my college life at the University of Iowa. In the past, the university has had problems with sexual assaults on women. A service was created in 2007 through the university police called Nite Ride. This offers women free safe rides home, no questions asked. This service has made the college and bar areas safer for women at night.
Should we stop and think about why there is no similar service for men? Granted, there’s not a wide spread problem with men being raped, but that doesn’t mean they are in the clear. In the spring of 2009, there was a series of unprovoked attacks on men. Groups of men would gang up on one, punching and kicking him into unconsciousness. A man can feel physically threaten walking around the bars at night as easily as a woman. While police numbers were increased, no thought was given to adding a male Nite Ride.
What will a future where men and women are equal look like? Will people be just as open to helping a man with car problems for no fee? Will programs similar to Nite Ride have a unisex vehicle? Perhaps it will be just the opposite - and men will treat women the same way they treat other men, expecting them to fix their own cars and to defend themselves when assaulted.
Personally, I hope for a world where we all help each other, open doors for another, help others in need and provide adequate protection when necessary regardless of gender.
From birth we’re taught that we’re owed a beautiful girl. We all think of ourselves as the hero of our own story, and we all (whether we admit it or not) think we’re heroes for just getting through our day.
So it’s very frustrating, and I mean frustrating to the point of violence, when we don’t get what we’re owed. A contract has been broken. These women, by exercising their own choices, are denying it to us. It’s why every Nice Guy is shocked to find that buying gifts for a girl and doing her favors won’t win him sex. It’s why we go to “slut” and “whore” as our default insults — we’re not mad that women enjoy sex. We’re mad that women are distributing to other people the sex that they owed us.
Yes, the women in these stories are being portrayed as wonderful and beautiful and perfect. But remember, there are two ways to dehumanize someone: by dismissing them, and by idolizing them.
”—David Wong, 5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women (via chirart)
Hannah’s parents are rich enough to have footed the bill for her to live in New York without pay for two years. But! She works in an industry where no one will actually pay her. But! She could always at least apply for other jobs during the day, while freelancing/working on her novel during the evenings.
“That’s never been my focus. My sister was always very motherly, babysitting and stuff. I like kids, and I like being around kids - but it was never an ambition, something, like, I need… I like working. That’s what I like doing. I like to work.”—Zooey Deschanel on motherhood.
European interviewees wanted: book on sex, culture and identity
Today I fly back to London after 5 weeks travelling the US and Canada doing interviews formy book (click the link for more info). In that time I’ve hit up Washington DC, Baltimore, the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill research triangle, Asheville, NYC, Boston, various parts of Maine, Toronto, Winsdor, Detroit, a frat house in rural Ohio, Maui, LA, the Bay Area, Portland, Seattle and finally Houston, from which I am writing this missive.
Now, I’m looking to do the same in Western Europe, and I need your help. I’m looking for people of all genders, classes, ethnicities, religions and political persuasions to share their thoughts and experiences on all matters sex related. The book mostly focuses on people aged 16-30, but I’m interested in older and younger interviewees as well.
The book is a one-fifth pop culture, one-third academic and one-half personal story driven look at the hidden assumptions that shape our beliefs about sex and relationships- and how those assumptions impact us as individuals and as a society. It will be published by Simon & Schuster and Penguin in the second half of 2013.
I’m especially interested in speaking to people DON’T usually put up their hands for conversations about gender and sexuality (I’m looking at you: men, conservatives and people who haven’t been to university).
All interviewees featured in the book will be given pseudonyms, and other identifying details will be changed upon request.
If you’re interested in helping out, drop me an email at email@example.com with your age, location and a bit of information about yourself/why you’re contacting me, and we can work towards setting up a time to speak.
“Perhaps it is that fact that asexuality is, for many, so unfathomable that makes it so potentially powerful. “Asexuality draws attention to the complete fixation we have on sex, and really brings it to the surface for all to see,” says Ela Przybylo, a sexual cultures researcher at York University in Canada. “Sex has become so fused with our sense of self that we can’t even imagine how it might be any different. This is why asexuality is compelling, because it does imagine how it could be different.”—
The Atlantic has been one of my favourite magazines ever since I was introduced to it as wee think tank intern. Today I have a story on their website, looking at some of the issues I’ll be exploring in my book, through the lens of asexuality.