Tag Archives: gender

GENDER | open queer library

2017-05-31 14.00.58

GENDER | open queer library

it’s no secret how much i hate how elitist queer academia is. i think it’s a bunch of bullshit that these highly educated academics preach about how we need to destroy class and gender and all other unfair structures prevalent in our society, but make it virtually impossible for anyone without a university degree to be able to read those revolutionary works they take so much pride in writing. posh language is one thing, but it’s also about access to those works; which is often very rare.

and i say, what a crap. i’m sick of information being available only to those who are approved by the academic circle. and because i don’t wanna end up like those dear academics, complaining about this and that but staying in my educated bubble without actually doing anything to change it, i’ve set up a lil online open queer library for anyone interested. it’s all the PDFs i have saved on my computer, some real classics of queer studies, some more niche studies. i’ve done PDF giveaways on my Instagram before, so why not make it available for everyone all the time?

it’s not much, but it’s at least a little step forward to making the stupid academia a bit more accessible, isn’t it? so just click the link below and read, read, read, my dears, there sure is a lot of interesting stuff!

online queer library open to all

here’s what you can find there so far (will keep on updating):

Sandra Lee Bartky – Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power

bell hooks – Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism

bell hooks – Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics

Simone de Beauvoir – The Second Sex

Leo Bersani – Is the Rectum a Grave?

Judith Butler – Bodies That Matter

Judith Butler – Gender Trouble

Judith Butler – Undoing Gender

Judith Butler and Performativity for Beginners (worksheet, summary of Butler’s theories)

Tim Dean – Mediated intimacies: Raw sex, Truvada, and the biopolitics of chemoprophylaxis

Michel Foucault – Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison

Michel Foucault – The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction

Jack Halberstam – Gaga Feminism

Annamarie Jagose – Feminism & Psychology

Toril Moi – From Femininity to Finitude: Freud, Lacan, and Feminism, Again

Laura Mulvey – Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema

Juana Maria Rodriguez – Queer Sociality and Other Sexual Fantasies

Gayle S. Rubin – Thinking Sex

have fun, educate yourself, and make academia queer again!

GENDER | menstrual cups – a blessing or a curse?

(this is an unpublished article written for a sex-positive, educational platform)

IMG_0791

GENDER | menstrual cups – a blessing or a curse?

sure, cups are an awesome invention helping the planet, your wallet and your own vaginal health all at once, but perhaps they’re not for everyone.

based on the media coverage, it seems like all menstruating folks gotta love menstrual cups. but do they really? is really everyone so happy about this so-called wonder of menstrual hygiene? does no one else spend a lifetime trying to get that stupid thing in? is it just me who’s slightly terrified of the size of the cup (even though i have possibly the smallest one available on the market)? or… am i the only one who’s got problems with that silly silicone cup? suffering from vaginismus, i’ve struggled with using any form of menstrual hygiene you’re supposed to insert into your vag ever since i started menstruating. even putting the smallest tampon in my first year of menstruating was an incredibly difficult challenge, which i—thank god, because i am not really a fan of pads to be honest—eventually managed, so it took me ages before i felt brave enough to try the cup for the first time. i knew it’d be hard, but as so many people around me kept praising their menstrual cups so much, i still wanted to try it; especially as i am an eco-conscious gal who cares about the environment. long story short, i bought my first one from a tiny, local brand, and when it arrived, i almost burst into tears. i tried, tried, and tried some more, but no matter what i did, i just couldn’t get it in. i felt awful. i felt failed by my own vagina, once again. i happily resorted back to the normal-sized tampons which, by then, fit just fine and caused me no pain or anxiety.

i kind of wanted to forget about this whole menstrual cup mishap, but i couldn’t. being very interested in feminist topics, the discussion about cups seemed to be thrown right at me almost every day. even my Facebook ads were, for some reason, all about cups. my friend, a happy cup user, kept on giving me advice on how to insert and take it out and encouraged me to keep on trying (thanks hun), even though each attempt just resulted in more and more tears. years passed by, during which the pro-menstrual-cups movement has only been growing steadier. cups were now popping out of mainstream media, words of praise and fascination flying everywhere.
The menstrual cup is the best sustainable solution for everyone!
Not using the cup yet? Here are 10 reasons why you should start straight away!

cups, cups, cups. while i cannot deny that the eco part of my soul was very happy about media picking up on this alternative, eco-friendly solution for menstruating people, the i-suffer-from-vaginismus-and-i-hate-my-vagina-for-it me wasn’t that excited. in fact, i felt horrible. if everyone can use them just fine, why the hell am i not able to do it too? even though these articles and ads were meant to do good, they only perpetuated the “i’m broken” feeling of not being enough, of having a vagina that’s somehow faulty goods.

soon after I got more involved with feminist and queer groups that were—let’s put it this way—considerably more inclusive and progressive, i realized that it was not me that was wrong or faulty here – it was the very normative, almost ableist discussion surrounding the cups instead. the thing is, most often, cups are talked about in relation to “normal” bodies. any sort of disability, personal beliefs, or simply experience is disregarded as not so relevant, which, unfortunately, can cause of a lot of harm. once we include all these factors in the debate, the conclusion is clear – cups sure are awesome, but they’re simply not for everyone. and that’s fine too. let’s only hope that soon we’ll have other sustainable menstrual hygiene options so that literally any menstruating person can find whatever fits them, without destroying the beautiful planet we live on.

oh, and before i finish this off, here’s a little tip from me – don’t be like me and a) don’t order your cup online when you cannot see the size irl, b) don’t give up so easily. after almost three years, i decided to give the cup another chance after i saw a different brand on display at a local pharmacy, and, hallelujah, it worked out! when i later compared the two cups i had (see yourself on the pic above), the new one was almost twice as small and from a suppler, nicer material – so maybe it wasn’t all fault of my clenched up vag, but just a wrong cup from the very beginning?

GENDER | on menstrual hygiene, cups, and “well-intended” pressure

2017-03-16 12.38.33

GENDER | on menstrual hygiene, cups, and “well-intended” pressure

tampons and pads are toxic!
tampons and pads are unhealthy!
tampons and pads pollute the environment!
tampons and pads are expensive!

yes, yes, yes, and yes; that’s all true and most of us are already informed about that. and we’re also told what measures to take to reduce or prevent all the risks. yes, there are menstrual cups that are cheap and eco-friendly and safe and so on and so on, and there are natural alternatives to regular tampons and pads – so, how the hell, aren’t you woke yet and throwing all the harmful menstrual hygiene products out of the window? how can you be such a disgraceful beast that’s just destroying our beautiful planet?

well, as many things, it ain’t that easy.
we’re told to use menstrual cups but our physical (dis)abilities, religious views, or personal beliefs are overlooked.
we’re told to opt for natural, non-toxic products but our budgets or access to those items are not taken into account.
yet again, even though this is supposed to be an alternative to a certain oppressive mainstream way of dealing with one’s period, one’s that’s more sensible and in certain ways queerer too, it adopts the same methods of oppression in the sense that it, again, pushes one approach to everyone regardless of their different needs.

now i am talking about my own experience; even though i have been a fan of menstrual cups and bought one several years ago, only recently i really started using it. unfortunately, the first one i got was not suitable for me at all – i had problems inserting it, its size was too big (even though it was supposed to be the smallest one, “suitable for virgins”), and the material was not comfortable either. i kept on using regular tampons, and even though i would have loved to be able to buy the natural, eco-friendly ones, i had to stick to the cheapest ones from a local drugstore because of my budget. articles about the toxicity of bleached menstrual hygiene products would be popping up all around my social media, my eco-conscious friends would give me weird looks, and the never really used menstrual cup would always be laying around in my closet, making me feel strange anytime i’d stumble upon it. i’d feel angry, and embarrassed of my own body for its inability to accommodate a cup everyone seemed so ok to be using. the more i felt pushed into using it, by both people around me and the endless media pressure, the more i felt stubborn not to use it again and quite sceptical and generally opposed to the whole menstrual cup hype. i really got excited about the period panties, but again, money was the issue.

well, after quite some personal trauma, i decided to give the cup another try, as you can buy them in pretty much any DM drogerie markt in Germany. when i first saw it, i noticed it was way smaller and much softer than the one i had, and after a bit of thinking, i got it. and, surprise surprise, it was absolutely ok this time! even though, due to certain physical restrictions i have, it’s still not the easiest to insert it, it’s definitely better and i stick to my own nice and smooth cup now.
here are two morals from my own story:
no. 1: it’s better to check how the cup looks when you’re buying a new one. the first one you buy might not fit you, and you might have to invest into another one. no vagina—and no body, per se—is the same and there are hundreds of sizes to choose from. the first one might not be working for you, but one eventually will, or maybe not, and that’s fine too.
no. 2: never ever think there’s something wrong with body if it doesn’t fit a certain standard or doesn’t do all the things it is “supposed” to do.

here’s the deal:
menstrual cups might not be for everyone, and that’s ok.
not everyone can afford natural menstrual hygiene products, and that’s ok.
some people might not want to stick anything up their vags, and that’s ok.
etc. etc. etc.
menstruation is already a lot of a unpleasant hassle thanks to how our society perceives and treats menstruating people, so putting them through even more shit is, in my opinion, just plain bullshit.

so, perhaps instead of trying to persuade everyone that there is only one (or just a few) eco way(s) to deal with your menstruation with no regards to one’s limitations and boundaries, we could rather demand those big brands to go more sustainable, and encourage more research on and development of new products that would be more ecological, safer, cheaper, and suitable for all bodies, ages, and so on.
let’s not turn something that’s supposed to liberate us from the pressure of commercial brands into just another thing that uses manipulation and one-size-fits-all approach to achieve its goals.

GENDER | menstruation talks

TW: menstruation

menstruation

GENDER | menstruation talks

the taboo surrounding talking about menstruation is definitely loosening up, which is absolutely great, but i would still like to address a somewhat problematic issue related to it.

menstrual health, just like any other health-related thing, is a topic the pharmaceutical/beauty industry is milking till the very last drop, and thus there’s a lot of nasty marketing incorporated to make us feel like we have to use exactly this specific product or else we’ll suffer through the every single minute of our menstruation. however, this is not only a thing of the commercial, capitalist world of the tampon and intimate wash (did you know that these actually cause more harm than help?) brands, there’s also a certain policing coming from within the feminist/eco community.

what the hell am i talking about? the fact that there’s way too much discussion about what the ‘best’ menstrual hygiene product is, yet there is nothing like that. there are a lot of lowkey-shaming articles about how much you destroy the planet when you use disposable tampons/pad, which is of course true, yet there’s very little acknowledgement that menstrual cups are not the best fit for everyone, being it due to comfort, shame, religion or any other personal belief. menstruation politics, however liberating it might appear, still tends to police menstruating bodies heavily, which is not progressive at all.


thus, i would just like to say one thing:
no matter if you let your blood flow loose or collect it via any kind of menstrual hygiene product, it is your body and your menstrual blood, and you decide what you do with it. of course, there needs to be a certain responsibility in (all) our consumerist choices, but your own health and comfort should be the most important in this case.

GENDER | feminism is not for women only

GENDER | feminism is not for women only

this weekend, i randomly stumbled upon a Facebook event called ‘Feminist Unite Party – Feministisk Fest!’, organised by Kvindehuset, which literally means ‘The Girls’ House’, here in Copenhagen. sounds cool, right?
but then, i scrolled down and noticed a disclaimer: ‘The party is a separatist event for transpeople, lesbians, bi, a, poly and heterosexual- and all other women.
wait, what?
you want to unite feminists but exclude all of them who do not identify as women? (also, how do you judge who passes as a woman? who are you to judge that?) the question now is: do the organisers really think that only female-identifying people can be feminists and therefore misunderstood the whole concept of feminism or do they simply use the hip f-word to promote their event? to make it straight, in my opinion at least, the main issue does not lie in throwing a separatist party for cis / trans women (even though i am definitely not fond of that concept), but in naming it a feminist party; and according to the comment section of the event, i am not the only one.
that is because feminism is about fighting for equality of all genders; and you simply cannot promote it by excluding or even preventing certain gender from participating in it.


but here we come to another issue connected to feminism – the quite widespread belief that feminism is for women only. well, no wonder, when the name itself immediately reminds you of words as ‘femininity’, ‘female’ or ‘feminine’. if you think of these words, in the gender binary framework, you have the ‘masculine’ as the opposite to ‘feminine’, and both terms come with a set of opposing characteristics (active x passive, strong x weak etc.), it naturally comes to your mind that perhaps men are not really welcome in the movement. i have already tackled this issue in a previous article, and i’ll repeat myself a bit – pursuing gender equality and using a term closely attached to only one of the genders to call the movement just seems a bit off to me. however, i do realise that it is a term with a lot of history behind it, as well as it is a name now commonly used (and often misused), and therefore it is quite impossible to replace / get rid of it. quite a situation we have here, right?

this whole name thing might be a reason why some people might have a problem with feminism as such. another issue is what some (again, some!) feminists falsely promote feminism to be. i have come across self-proclaimed feminists who quite actively diss both cis and trans men and, instead of smashing kyriarchy in pieces (read more about the concept of patriarchy vs kyriarchy here), simply urge that women are ‘better’ than men, through which the great gender divide just stays the same, perhaps even worse. there’s also the whole wave of young feminist digital artists, like Petra Collins for instance. in articles about the works of these artists, words like ‘reclaiming girlhood’, ‘cute’ and ‘feminine’ (again) go hand in hand with the word ‘feminism’. (and here, i have to admit, i am partially guilty of doing that too in my own work, at least previously) sure, such art is very important and does have a lot of impact, but it should not be advertised as if this was the sole meaning of such complex movement as feminism.

feminism should not be seen as a private girls-only club.
feminism needs to be inclusive and intersectional, it needs to be welcoming and educating and supportive in order to really achieve its main objective – to do away with oppression. 
it’s about time.

GENDER | ‘feminism’ is not enough

GENDER | ‘feminism’ is not enough

i have noticed something:
everytime i say ‘i’m a feminist‘, it leaves a bitter aftertaste in my mouth.
it’s not that i would not want to stand for a great movement fighting against oppression, it’s actually just the word ‘feminism’ that makes it hard for me.

the first issue with the term ‘feminism’ that bothers me are all the misconceptions of it. one of my friends recently told me that he ‘identifies as a feminist only in front of people who know what it actually means’. i love how the author of this article puts it:
And yet, in my professional and personal life, I increasingly find myself talking about feminist ideas without actually using the word “feminism.” Why? It is exhausting to preface every conversation about combating misogyny with winsome, disarming anecdotes about how I actually do like men—enough to even marry one!—and how I actually haven’t burned any bras (and probably never will, because they are so expensive). I’m tired of doing this myth-debunking dance, and, weirdly enough, the conversation often goes more smoothly if I just avoid the “F-Word” entirely. … When I speak, write, and talk about feminism to a non-feminist audience, I often feel more like a beleaguered PR rep than someone creating productive discussion about how to cultivate social equality between men and women.
see, that’s it, many people think it’s somewhat of a female-exclusive club collectively hating anything men do, which, sadly, some self-identified feminists might actually even be. in fact, feminism is ‘the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes’. (according to Merriam-Webster) feminism as a movement, nowadays, is much more intersectional in terms of race, gender (yes, there are more than just two genders), sexuality, religion and so on.

but isn’t the term ‘feminism’ already emphasizing / privileging (through acknowledging the existing non-privilege of) one specific stereotyped gender? i mean, everyone probably connects ‘feminism’ to words as femininity or female. yet, now in 2015, many have come to the conclusion that those stereotyped gender divisions used in the past are not that accurate anymore; and that all the definitions of what is supposed to be ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ or which traits you should have to be of certain gender are being blurred out. some really good remarks related to the issue were raised in the ‘Do you think that if the name was changed from Feminism to Gender Equality people would quit confusing it with male hating?’ online debate, for example:
‘I personally think describing “gender equality” with the word “feminism” is like describing “humanity” with the word “mankind.”‘ (so on point!)
‘Yes, if the title was changed from feminism to gender equality it may not come off as so anti-male. I must say, though, a title should not make that much of a difference, but it does.’

furthermore, there have been studies that prove that most people believe in gender equality, but many do not want to identify themselves as feminists because they think the term is negative. (source) that is extremely saddening, yet not that surprising, taking in account, for example, the recent transphobic comments by a certain renowned ‘feminist’.

another thing is that ‘feminism’ has sort of become an umbrella term for believing in many egalitarian ideas. simply, it is somewhat of an identifier for standing for something else than what the stereotyped social norms tell us to do. it is not about gender equality only, it encompasses a broad range of movements / ideologies, at least in my opinion.

to be more specific,
when i say ‘i’m a feminist‘, many people decode it as that i think women (= cis women) are oppressed and that i only blame men (= cis men) for that.
what i mean in fact is that i strongly disagree with all the sexism, gender stereotyping (in fact, i pretty much disagree with the whole concept of gender being an identifier of who / what we are), racism, human trafficking, hate crimes towards different sexualities, slut / virgin shaming, ableism, social injustice, body shaming etc.
when i say ‘i’m a radical feminist‘, they just think that i pretty much want to kill all men and be an ‘ugly lesbian’ for the rest of my life. (lololol)
what i really mean is that i believe that there is so much of all that listed above deeply ingrained in our society that i refuse to stay silent and i want simply want to preach about the importance of eliminating all that.

but does the term ‘feminism’ really mean that? to be honest, i don’t think so. yet i still use the term to sort of indicate that i have an ‘alternative’ view on many things, including the gender roles in our society, but not only. i expect that people understand it that way, but i’m not actually sure it really is like that.
__________________________________________________________________________________

and that’s the problem – when i say ‘i’m a feminist‘, it does not really communicate the meaning.
i feel like there is a need for a new word, a new holistic term that would cover all those broad issues.
but what should it be?
‘egalitarianism’ always pops up in my head, but that’s too social-status-related to fit.
one person suggested the term ‘equalism’ in a Reddit thread (source), which sounds pretty reasonable to me.
but if i suddenly started calling myself an ‘equalist’, would anyone actually have a clue what i mean by that?
no, right.
what to do then?