According to this experiment, it’s easier to identify sexual orientation in female faces than in male faces. Not sure I totally buy it, but I found the methodology intriguing to say the least.

All the Single [Straight] Ladies

You know that feeling when you like the initial idea of something and then it’s execution is so terribly offensive (but arguably well meant) that you can no longer support the idea? Subsequently, the terrible execution makes the mere mention of the idea irritating to no end. For me, Kate Bolick’s recently published piece, "All the Single Ladies" in the The Atlantic is a perfect example of that feeling. 

The article starts off with an interesting premise: what are the socio-cultural and economic reasons undergirding the trend of single females? A larger philosophical question about what it means to be single as a woman has the potential be a really interesting, insightful and engaging piece, even if the author’s arguments are not points I agree with. Needless to say I read this article excitedly with the aforementioned hope in mind. What I ended up reading was, frankly, five webpages of a relatively privileged heterosexual white woman bemoaning the state of her love life, looking to the blacks and the dutch for an explanation (or solace?) for her singledom. I won’t spend too much time discussing how racially insensitive Bolick’s discussion of single females in the African American community was, as others no doubt have already done so - a former graduate school classmate of mine, Ali, has a nice post about this article. I did, however, find this particular passage horrifying:

But the non-committers are out there in growing force. If dating and mating is in fact a marketplace—and of course it is—today we’re contending with a new “dating gap,” where marriage-minded women are increasingly confronted with either deadbeats or players. For evidence, we don’t need to look to the past, or abroad—we have two examples right in front of us: the African American community, and the college campus…Given the crisis in gender it has suffered through for the past half century, the African American population might as well be a separate nation. [emphasis mine]

What troubled me beyond the biologically deterministic, Gloria Steinem obsessed feminist rhetoric was an absolute disregard for what being single woman means outside of a heterosexual union. Bolick gives a hat tip to gay men and how homosexual marriage creates an opportunity to rethink the notion of marriage. But nowhere in her article does she discuss non-heterosexual women and how they too might be freaking out about being partner-less.

This is a missed opportunity because discussing queer women would have been a chance for Bolick to tackle a larger philosophical question about the social function of love, of intimate connections between two human beings without the immediate reference of a biological ability to reproduce (e.g., “love is just a precursor to making babies”). Singledom, whether self-imposed or an undesired by-product, is a very pertinent issue in the queer community, especially so because being queer for many means a life in the margins or being ostracized by family and friends. I promise you that there are as many queer single women freaking out about being single as there are straight women worried about the lack of ‘marriageable men.’

But instead of treating the discussion as an analysis of the marketplace of marriagable men, maybe we could talk about the marketplace itself. Why is there a marketplace at all? Why frame love in a capitalist model, relegating it to a mere transaction between two beings? Is marriage or partnership the only acceptable outcome for love between two people? What does it mean to feel like you’re not ready to “settle down”? What forms-life-does love take on in the context of connecting to another person whether they’re “the one” or a future ex? Anything would have been better than “I have so much privilege thanks to second wave feminism and now all this agency has left me single.”

Meet Charli and Alex. Charli is German. Alex is American. They may have boys’ names, but Charli and Alex are girls. Straight girls. But they love each other, or at least working with each other.Charli’s visa expires on october 9th and she will have to return to Germany, unless she gets hired or married. Alex needs a job too and doesn’t want her partner to leave. Charli and alex love working together so much that they might have to resort to getting married to do so. But you can save them years of feigned lesbian interest by hiring them today or by granting them an interview.” [Emphasis Mine]

I appreciate that this effort is probably earnest in its attempt to help keep one member of a creative duo from being deported, but it’s incredibly insulting and offensive to LGBTQ people. As someone who is employed at a marketing agency, I understand that the industry forces people to pull inventive and creative stunts to get noticed. Some people do this with flair and outright camp, like Mathew Epstein’s efforts to get hired by Google. Others, like Alex and Charli, choose to mock queers, being incredibly offensive in their efforts to get jobs. 

Oh, they’re just being funny, you say? They’re just trying to get jobs and keep Charli in the country. Where’s the harm in that, you say? See, here’s the thing: there are LGBTQ couples that can’t get married in their state of residence and face deportation as a result. I personally know a couple that had to negotiate a partnership across two countries because they couldn’t get married. Recently there was a story about a gay couple, one of whom had AIDS, that had to face deportation. Not funny at all. A job wasn’t on the line. Fear about losing one’s partner, one’s life, was on the line. Losing a friend to another country is sad but losing a life partner is, frankly, sadder.

Stances on gay marriage and deportation aside, Alex and Charli’s efforts to keep Charli in the country are a perfect example of the kinds of homophobia that are allowed to slip through the cracks because they’re perceived as harmless or in jest. It’s an egregious display of heterosexist privilege. It’s just a joke, but at whose expense? The gays shouldn’t just “lighten up.” Wasn’t it just a week ago when another queer teen killed himself, one who even made an “It Gets Better” video? Most of us know it doesn’t get better for everyone in the same way. And it can’t better if stunts like “Hire Us So We Won’t Have to Marry Each Other” are allowed to exist without any push back, without some kind of self-awareness from Alex and Charli. 

If Alex and Charli were truly serious about getting jobs, they’d post parts of their portfolios on their FB page not pseudo-lesbian gal-pal cuddle shots. Their work would speak for itself. They would dream up some kind of campaign that would get them noticed and wouldn’t come at the expense of a politically, socially, and economically marginalized group. On a side note, have these two ever worked at a creative agency? If they did, they’d know that there are lots of LGTBQ folks in the industry. It’s not smart marketing strategy to potentially piss off the group that might be responsible for hiring you. I say this to you as a professional marketing strategist at an agency. 

But judging by this stunt, they’re not creative “out of the box” thinkers because homophobia vis-a-vis straight dude fantasies of girl-on-girl action is as tired a marketing trope as they come. So, creative agencies, don’t hire these two women. They won’t have to marry each other and insult the gay and lesbian couples that actually want to marry one another. 

Dear Tumblr Friends:

I’m going to do something uncharacteristic of this blog and ask those of you who can afford to consider sponsoring my participation in the AIDS Run/Walk. Each dollar you donate will go to Chicago’s Center on Halsted, a LGBTQ community center and one of the largest of its kind in the United States. What some of you may not know is that I am on Center’s Associate Board.

The Associate Board is comprised of young professionals, educators, and graduate students between the ages of 22 and 35 who donate their time and skills to highlight the services and features of the Center on Halsted in order to engage and connect the city’s young queer and non-queer population with the Center. Not everyone on the board is LGTBQ identified but most of us are. What we do share is a belief in and respect for what the Center can provided to the LGTBQ community and the rest of Chicago. So what are those services, you ask?

In brief, here’s what the COH currently provides (this is not a comprehensive list): 

- Youth centered programming (coming out, mentoring, mental health services)
- Elder centered programming (daily meals, in-home and in center programs)
- 24 hour crisis hotline
- Daycare
- Technology and Skills Training
- Anti-Violence Programs
- Cultural Activities (Music, Fine Arts, etc)
- Workout facilities and team sports

Although you may not need these services, someone you know might need them. And even if no one you know may need these services, appreciate that they exist because there is a demand, a real need for them. Any contribution you can afford to make helps the Center continue to be a resource to those in need. Yes, there are opportunities for the Center to improve the scope of its programming and political mission. By no means is it a perfect organization, but it cannot improve if it does not have the money to continue functioning. There are very good people doing very real and important work within its walls, so help them out if you can.



P.S. Reblogs are greatly appreciated!

Ke$ha is the Divine of contemporary pop music. 

My colleague Ed made a pie chart of my “gender performance.” 

Image from “Strike a Pose: Chicago’s Thriving Underground Ball Scene

An introduction to Chicago’s underground ball scene. I found this educational. The post also makes me want to rent Paris is Burning (again) and re-read Judith Butler’s essay about the film “Gender is Burning.”

Via Gapers Block 

This is academic satire at its finest. The article is a riff on the DSM  and (jokingly) classifies lesbians by type. My friend and I got into a quite an amusing little email exchange about all of the other categories that were missing from the article. Based on our conversation and personal experiences, I am going to add a few categories that ought to be in the DDM (yes, I’m being sarcastic):

I. The Intellectbian: The academic, intellectual lesbian that renders all of her personal and political relationships in terms of post-modern and critical theory. Prides herself on her ability to articulate any and every form of oppression or privilege in her personal relationships. Can critically analyze and assess the most complex of power relationships. However, due to her inability to connect to people in an emotional, non-theorized manner, she often behaves like a misogynist in the context of her romantic relationships because her dependence on Judith Butler has left her emotionally retarded. 

II. Teenage Boi Lesbians "Bieber Lesbians": Perhaps the most self-evident of the lot, these lesbians look and act like teenage boys/bois. They often congregate in large groups and are seen wearing hoodies and side swept bangs. The least fashionable of the lot can be seen wearing puka shell necklaces. Their primary mode of communication involves the 'lesbian nod' and some iteration of ‘sup.’ They’re also the reason you have to endure at least three remixes of Timberland’s “The Way I Are” at your local lesbian bar.

III. Holistic Healthbians: They like it raw. They like it organic. They’ll make you feel like shit for wanting a steak. They work in the field of holistic health. On a first date they assess you in terms of your vegetable intake and the color of your auras. All of their talk of personal cleanses makes you wonder if they’re empty inside or some kind of walking Freudian joke. Despite their constant discourse of ‘well-being’ and personal happiness, they’re probably seething with intense amount of rage and misanthropy. It’s probably a lack of protein and B12.

IV. Incestbians: Are they a couple? Are they sisters? They’re incestbians! The ‘other’ to their ‘subject,’ these ladies complement each other the way a reflection comforts a narcissist. The lines of sisterhood in the literal and figurative sense are blurred with these ladies. They are the literal celebration and post-modern union of the Platonic “Other Half.” 

Any other categories that should be included in the DDM? 

This exists and it’s called the “Teenar” because, you know, it’s a combination of a teenage girl AND a guitar. This “thing” is the embodiment of every misogynist (or misogyny in general) comment I’ve ever encountered playing guitar in a band or walking into a music store: “You play good for a girl.” “Isn’t that Les Paul you’re playing a bit heavy for you? There are lighter guitars for girls.” “Shouldn’t you use lighter gauge strings?” “Let me get that for you, I wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself.” There are only so many ways you can tell the staff at Guitar Center to eff themselves. 

I very rarely feel a violent reaction toward an inanimate object but I hate the “Teenar.” I want to destroy it in a heated rage while listening to Le Tigre’s “Deceptacon.” Sure, I could create a male parody of the guitar and name it “peenar.” Wouldn’t that be so cute? Me playing a guitar that looks like teenage boy and has a strategically placed fretboard. I could post pictures of me with “peen” all over my blog like the one above. How culturally feminist of me. “I don’t date men but I play one.” What a great tagline. But no. I’m not really interested in some ridiculous heterosexist, gender binary parodying guitar. 

I hate you, “Teenar,”  but I hate the culture that gave rise to you and valorizes your builder for creating you even more. 

Although this is new and a start in the right direction, the battle for complete socio-legal equality is FAR from over.

If any good can come out of something as unfathomably horrible as Saturday’s mass shooting, let it be that it shakes up a few preconceptions. That it shows the world that a hero can be gay or straight, can speak English or Spanish or both, and that stupid laws can exist in places full of good people. And anyone who has any doubt of what kind of person deserves to serve next to him in battle, or stand before their community and declare their love, or go to school, or walk down the street without being asked for paperwork needs to hear that and remember that, again and again until it sinks in. Yes, the “gay Hispanic American” saved a life on Saturday, and yes, it does matter.

From The Giffords shooting’s gay, Hispanic hero: Daniel Hernandez helped save the congresswoman’s life — and yes, his sexuality and ethnicity matter

It’s saddens me that this argument even needs to be made and yet here it is and I agree with it.

Via Salon

Four Notes:

1. So this is what Blur was singing about all those years ago.
2. This is IN FACT worse than the Teen Vogue article about gay boys being the new accessory for high school girls. More importantly, this is the evolutionary trajectory of those high school girls. 
3. Jack Halberstam and the other writers at Bully Bloggers are going to have a field day with this show. 
4. Why can’t I keep a straight face when I read this article? That note is really more about my amusement than yours, dear reader.

Ultimately, the best part of the viral explosion of Savage’s project is that so many have chimed in to explain how and why it doesn’t just get better. The very technological platform of the phenomenon allows the project to be critiqued from within. As the reactions demonstrate, a number of complicating concerns have emerged as a result of the viral explosion of the It Gets Better campaign.

Jasbir Puar, "In the Wake of It Gets Better"
Via The Guardian

 The above article is a simplified distillation of Puar’s arguments in Terrorist Assemblages. The general gist of Puar’s argument is that there are segments of the queer American mainstream that are complicit with certain racist, liberal and xenophobic ideologies; by adopting these discriminatory perspectives, these queer segments become part of the “nation,” the “us” in “us versus them.” Basically, it’s like acting like a bully to keep from being bullied. She refers to these queer bullies as homonationalists.

Puar elaborates on these points in a sharper, more articulate way than I did. I recommend her book, but be forewarned that it is dense and can be very difficult to read, especially if you’ve never read any post-modern and queer theory.

When Moustaches Make a Difference

Via Buzzfeed