Coming, Part I

On paper, Chu seems to be a good catch. Formerly a fraternity president at a large city university, he decided to move to the Deep South post-graduation in order to work with children in some of the poorest towns in America. His coming out story is the stuff of movies: he came out just before he was elected as the leader of his brotherhood, subsequently inspiring eight other brothers to also step forward more openly with their sexuality. Blurring lines between being stereotypically gay and being a stereotypical frat boy, he’s been catching up on college ball while accompanied by a cat he owns, loves, and spoils with its own room in his house. According to those who’ve worked with him, he is organizationally crazy; he’s so on top of things that—and this is no exaggeration—he’s about a year and a half ahead of where he should be as far as work he’s accomplished. He’s close with his family, has ambitions to rule the world (or at least pursue graduate work at Harvard), and seems also, from what I hear, to be the life of the party at social events.

So when someone with such a strong personal resume enters your life in the most random and unexpected of ways, it’s a little jolting.

The first time we met was actually more than a month after we first spoke. Or really—in our case—instant messaged. In February, he found me on The Facebook, his excuse being that I worked last year for a non-profit’s summer venture, and he was in the final interview stages with the same program. He said he wanted an insider’s guide on the job I had, as my profile made it clear that I had moved upward in the organization. I was more than willing to help someone who was proactive enough to reach out.

It turns out, however, that he was interested in a little more than my job.

Our online conversation about my non-profit organization turned into a month of chatting back and forth—good conversations that provided a much-needed diversion to long, stressful days in the office, punctuated by friendly cracks and jibes that could’ve been construed as coy had I the knowledge that he was gay. It wasn’t until three weeks into our G-chat dialogues that the all-too definitive g-word surfaced in conversation, and I was able to put two and two together and realize that maybe he was flirting with me. Which, in my current drought of male-to-male gay relations, I didn’t mind.

Just as I realized he was coming on, I found out that he was coming to my city for a conference.

And so, intrigued by this work-turned-online friend-turned- flirt, I decided to give him a try. After all, we had talked for a month—hadn’t it been past time to put a face and voice to the screenname?

Unfortunately, by the time the weekend of his visit arrived, we had forgotten the most important key to actually meeting up—an exchange of our phone numbers. Oops. The meet-up did not seem to be in the cards.

On the weekend of his arrival, my friend Jen gave me a call after my Friday happy hour routine and said that a dinner event she had been organizing wasn’t going so well—only 2/5 participants had shown up to the restaurant on time. She thought she’d invite me to fill in the gaps and inject some additional conversation to the meal—and because I could get there in a jiffy; the restaurant was five minutes away. I thought: eh, why not? I enjoy meeting new people anyway. I asked if I knew either of the two folks, and she replied that I probably didn’t—a girl named Beth from Hawaii and a guy named Chu from Arkansas…

Now, if his name had been Joe or Jeff or Matt or Chris, then I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought. But Chu? Really? The cards were such a tease. A meet-up was apparently going to happen, whether we had set it up or not.

Despite the fact that this was anything but a first date, I somehow felt this first impression to be important. I decided to change into first date-appropriate clothes—casual, but flattering. A splash of cologne. Carefully molded hair. Ready to go.

I arrived at the dinner event and immediately found Jen, and with her, Beth and Chu. The problem of how to first greet someone you’ve been talking to for a while—the awkward handshake or hug dilemma—solved itself, as the group was busy digging its fingers into a bucket of crawfish. Over the course of dinner (and for me, two Shiner Bocks), I learned about Chu in a different way: by seeing him interact in a group setting. He’s a storyteller. The type that throws out humor and drama that either flies or fails. He’s friendly, social, and—despite being in a group setting—managed to pay some extra attention to me, referencing previous conversations we had had. Though this may have alienated the rest of the party for a few moments, for me, it showed me that he was attentive—a listener.

At the end of dinner, Jen had to take Beth and Chu back to their hotel, and closure took the form of “see you all later”; as it turns out, all of us—myself included—would be attending another conference in two weeks. Part of me wished Chu and I had one-on-one time, but I figure that the chance meeting Jen arranged was more interaction than we would’ve gotten otherwise.

Five minutes later, I turned on my computer and checked Gmail. Within a minute, a GChat beep: Chu. We talked for a bit, and though it was 11:30pm, he asked if I wanted to get some ice cream. And underneath that request, the subtext: You. Me. Midnight.

I decided to take him up on his offer.

To be continued….

(...to the full post)

Lots going on at BTB. First, a belated welcome to new writers silverscreened and [f]embody -- terrific first posts. Silverscreened will be writing about movies & tv with a genderlens, and [f]embody is our resident queer/female/feminine/gender/lived experience columnist. A few more writers are also in the works, and they're definitely going to be wicked.

This month also marks Below the Belt's one year birthday! It's definitely hard for many of us founding editors and writers to believe, but a year has passed since BTB started kickin'. Looking back, we began as a largely self-reflective community of 6-7 friends talking about gender...and now we represent a community of over 20 writers and podcasters, and a readership history of over 15,000 unique individuals from around the world. For a bunch of gendery geeks, that's pretty amazing!

So please join me in celebrating BTB's birthday, and join me in congratulating both our writers and our readers for their amazing work and ability to start informed, constructive dialogue about important issues facing our world and its people.

For you readers out there, please also take this opportunity to consider your place as a member of the Below the Belt community. We'll be doing a lot of growing in the coming months, and I know that this forum can only operate successfully when its members decide that they have a voice that needs to be heard. Apply to serve as a contributor! We <3 you.


(...to the full post)

The Rev. Debra Haffner joins us from Sexuality and Religion: What's the Connection?:

Earlier this week, a Vatican representative announced a new list of the seven mortal sins for the 21st century. As I understand it a mortal sin without accompanying confession is the route to hell. I asked my colleague Dr. Kate Ott, Associate Director of the Religious Institute and a Roman Catholic theologian, to share her thoughts on the new list:

After reading the list of new mortal sins, I wanted to applaud the Catholic Church, of which I am a laywoman and trained academic moral theologian. For the first time in years, there seems to be a focus on the systemic nature of sin. And then, I read the finer details. Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti named these at the close of a week long Vatican conference on confession. Why create a new list of mortal sins that recognize the scope of globalization and systemic oppression, all in an effort to revitalize individual confession?

A mortal sin “is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent” (Catechism, #1857, © 1994). But “inflicting poverty” is not done by one person, but global capitalism in which we all participate. “Environmental pollution” is the result of individual choices, but also fixed social systems of waste disposal, water treatment, and energy distribution. The confession booth is either going to be overflowing . . . or people will soon exempt themselves from these sins. Who can claim full knowledge and consent for global markets? I’m feeling sloth creeping into our psyche.

The traditional seven deadly (or mortal) sins – pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed, and sloth – already seem to cover the modern evils. Isn’t gluttony, greed, maybe even pride and envy at the foundation of “accumulating excessive wealth.” It is the intention behind the sin that classifies it as mortal. Of course, Girotti does not fail to mention abortion and pedophilia as two of the greatest sins of our time. I assume he puts those under “violation of fundamental rights of human nature.” Somehow, the social nature of sin is lost on these remarks. Why not note patriarchy and the devaluing of women’s reproductive rights, instead of abortion? And why not own up to the gravity of pedophilia as a sin of power and pride motivating years of shuffling priests instead of holding them accountable?

I want to place my vote for keeping the age old sins. Most of the new sins are a result of the original list. Shaming folks into confession because they drive their cars too much, won’t result in a reversal of global warming. But people understanding how greed affects their daily choices could result in real conversion on multiple levels. Penance is intended to bring about a conversion of heart through God’s grace . . . Recognizing the fundamental rights of every human being, especially women around the world, means we take environmental, racial, economic, sexual, and reproductive justice seriously – in their systemic entirety.

(...to the full post)



Remember "poser"? That overused, generic, definitely not a good thing late-90's term that kind of just went away? I was thinking about it today. And how it really irritated me in its pompous, demanding, and condescending way. How when someone used it that person immediately became immune to its damaging effects and made the other person subject to its wrath whether or not they truly did fit the definition. Which brings us to another question- what did these post-mullet yet not quite out of the big-hair stage young folk really mean when they used the word? And more importantly- why was it such a negative label to give?

Eh we all know what I'm talking about. Someone who pretends to be someone he or she isn’t. Is there anything more irritating? Not only someone who wants to be someone or something else but who tries too hard, ya know? I've come across a few of those while living in Mexico. People that come from the U.S. and feel the need to prove something while they are here. Maybe it's that they know how to use Spanish slurs (i.e. using the same two swears every other sentence- just in case you forget that they know two swears in Spanish) or constantly referring back to the week they spent in Chile during their second year in college and how now they really feel like "one of the people". Or hanging out with certain people while spending time here just to be able to say they "did that" once they're back in the states. Women who become sexy only when they step off the plane and until they step back on. Men who whistle and cat call, but only to Mexican women, not other foreigners- this is what they take from such a rich culture. I'm not knocking immersing yourself completely in a culture to really understand it (swear words and all) or negating the fact that a week out of the U.S. can truly teach you things you wouldn't learn in a lifetime. I'm talking about using those experiences and adventures to spice up your own life and impress yourself, not others.

Fast forward a few years when the most likely situation is that I'm not living here anymore and someone turns right around and says the exact same thing about me when I order my enchiladas rojas at the Mexican joint down the street with a slight accent- crap, I'm caught. Am I just reminiscing about the time I lived in Mexico? Making the clerk feel more comfortable by speaking in his own language? Or am I just fluffing my feathers like a peacock on mating day? Thinkin' I'm the shit and letting everyone know it. I mean in this description I'm being a little more dramatic than necessary but this is genuinely a concern. To what point is it ok to flaunt your pride in another culture? When you are born in it? When you live in it? When your parents are from it? When you study it in school? When you live there? For how long? With whom? When I don't live in Mexico anymore will part of my relationship with the country and its culture slowly dissolve? It's a double-edged sword because here I am saying I am irritated by "posers" yet maybe I want to be one?

What if when I'm in the states I'm in the same relationship I'm in now? Is the accent I used in the Mexican joint ok now because at home I speak Spanish with my partner? To what extent is it ok to flaunt my lifestyle that I have here when I live in the States again? Being part of a culture in the U.S. is a very different thing from being part of the culture here in Mexico. In the U.S. it's the culture-less and it's everyone else. For example, first generation Mexican-Americans. Many who I know just don't feel Mexican and they don’t feel American. Why? Because Mexicans say they're not Mexican and people in the U.S. say they're not "American". So what are they? Why can't they be just Mexican? Or just "American"? Or why can't they consider themselves both? It goes back to the post I had about label, people just don't know what to do if they can't put you in a certain box.

Moving back to the states is a very plausible thing. But when I do, I'm worried that not only will I miss my life here more than I understand right now but that I will struggle with combining what I now consider to be the two cultures that I am part of.

(...to the full post)


Fussy Old Foucault

Sometimes, it seems impossible to have a healthy relationship with the work of Michel Foucault. In academia, worshipful adoration mixes with utter derision to produce a frustrating bifurcation: fawning love for the seminal philosopher or absolute disdain for the fussy French sophist. At the heart of this polarization is Foucault’s conceptualization of ‘power’. Unlike many philosophers (and the vast majority of political theorists), he does not theorize power as something that an individual or institution actually has. For Foucault, power is not the ability to make others do what they otherwise would not have done. It is not limited to the accumulation of material and social capital that individuals and other entities can use to cajole others. Rather, Foucault views power as a productive force that is constitutive of people’s identities. Power is a particular discourse that creates the person, simultaneously liberating and imprisoning her. It constructs who we are and sets the conditions under which we can operate in the world.

For instance, a woman who gets plastic surgery in order to look more ‘beautiful’ may think that she is empowering herself. And, in a sense, she is. By tailoring her body according to the perceived exigencies of heterosexual men, she is more likely to get jobs and be sought for marriage. She is acquiring the social resources that have the potential to incite others to do what they otherwise may not have done. Nevertheless, she does not choose the terms on which she acquires this power. She is the product of gendered social discourses that force her to perceive ‘normative beauty’ as her only ticket to success. She is produced as a gendered subject by these discourses, and thus, it is the discourses that have the power – not her. They can exercise this power because they are ultimately productive: they produce an identity for the person (in this case, ‘woman’) and a ready-made blueprint for how to ‘get on’ in life based on this identity (‘beauty’, pleasing men). But, at the same time, they fundamentally limit her. She is a slave to the discourses that constitute her identity: she is not her own person. This is why power is so effective. It provides tangible benefits for those who succumb to it, while, at the same time, profoundly entrapping them. Power gives its subjects the illusion of control over their lives, while defining the very essence of their being.

There are generally two sets of objections to this kind of analysis. People who perceive themselves as beneficiaries of the status quo find it particularly disturbing because the terms of their success are exposed as not being their own. On the other hand, those who fight against the status quo find it maddening that Foucault does not seem to view anything as truly emancipatory. Their proposed revisions of the status quo have the potential to be just as oppressive and limiting. There is always ‘something’ (power) lurking in the background, constituting, constraining and limiting everything that we are and everything that we do. The discursive power behind any new identities that we create for ourselves is bound to enchain us in some way. People, thus, write Foucault off as a hopeless non-conformist, a radical revolutionary for whom the world will never be radical enough. A Foucauldian analysis (such as the one below) of the oppressive implications of the gay rights movement often comes under particularly strong criticism.

In Foucauldian terms, the modern gay rights movement is a direct product of the post-Enlightenment medicalization of homosexuality. Sexuality was transformed from something one does to something that one is for the purpose of classifying homosexuality as a psychiatric disease. Modern LGBT identity politics owes its existence to this transformation. Without it, it would be impossible to make appeals to human rights for people who are homosexuals. And while this new discourse, which produces sexuality as an identity rather than an action, has definitely contributed to ‘liberating’ some people, it has also placed them in a new spider’s web of limitations. The classification of people into homosexuals or heterosexuals creates restrictive identities that limit the polymorphous potential for sexuality. The medicalization of homosexuality has, ironically, provided the key resources for liberationist homosexual politics, while locking people in a new set of chains: those of binary, fixed, stable and consistent sexuality that somehow forms of the essence of their being. Critics of Foucault complain that this attitude is far too pessimistic and disrespectful to the successes of the liberationist gay movement.

This objection is perfectly understandable. What is the point of political engagement if it is just going to lock us into another set of discursive chains? Is any political effort not going to end up imprisoning people in some way? For a healthy engagement with Foucault, we should take this part of his philosophy with a grain of salt. Rather than automatically assuming that whatever ‘new social arrangement’ emerges must be oppressive in some way, it would be more productive to be on the lookout for potential anti-emancipatory effects of all political activity (no matter how emancipatory it claims to be). Foucault’s caution with emancipatory politics should be taken as a warning about utopias. He demonstrates the foolishness of the notion that, at some point, all oppressive politics will stop and we will all live happily ever after. For a healthy engagement with Foucault, we should understand his doubts about ‘emancipatory politics’ as a warning against illusory utopias, not as a definitive statement that defines all political efforts.

***For More Information***
Foucault’s The History of Sexuality (Vol. 1) is a great read and provides an interesting starting point for exploring his reconceptualization of ‘power’. Power/Knowledge, collection of essays and interviews, is also very useful. Also, check out my previous post on Foucault and fetishism here.

(...to the full post)

Recently, I got out of one of those "unofficial" kinds of relationships. For the past six months or so, I'd been going back and forth with this woman who was in another relationship and yet, she told me, would rather be with me. Still there were a bunch of other complications, like the real fact that there were other people she'd rather be with, too, and not in the sense of setting up a polyamorous sort of deal where we'd be honest with each other and upfront and all that practical and necessary stuff. It was more like every time I turned around when we were out together, she'd be hooking up with someone else, and occasionally even a friend of mine. My begrudged and broken heart notwithstanding, I found it really difficult being in this pseudo-relationship without actually being able to answer in the affirmative whenever anyone asked if she was my girlfriend, and not just because I really wanted to say she was (there, I admit it!). Rather, as a feminine-presenting woman, my sexuality is often made invisible when I'm single.

I've struggled with this for some time, even going so far as to try to attempt to genderfuck, but what ends up happening is that a) I feel ridiculous and uncomfortable, like I'm acting out a part and b) well, I kind of look like a feminine woman trying unsuccessfully to genderfuck. Furthermore I feel like this totally negates the entire reasoning behind genderfucking; namely, that in playing with gender roles, we interrogate their limitations and why they exist in the first place. Interestingly, in the queer community I currently belong to (downtown Toronto), genderfucking and androgyny have become the standard to which queer women are expected to measure up. Thus it's not surprising that those who don't fit the paradigm (i.e. me) feel like this supposedly supportive community that is so rich in and tolerant of diversity might not be all it's cracked up to be.

I find it very interesting that our gender presentation and our sexuality are so inextricable, and I wonder why that is. Historically, this isn't really new in communities of women who sleep with women. This isn't the first time that the ways we express our gender have been used as "evidence" of our sexual behaviour. For instance, I think it's important to note the history of butch/femme identities, which supposedly denoted what kinds of sexual practices a woman might be into. However, many butches and femmes have argued that their outward identities had less to do with sexual roles than simply finding comfort in one's own skin. So why, then, if that's where our history lies, are we homogenizing a queer identity?

Something in me wants to cry out, perhaps naively, "This isn't supposed to be happening amongst queers!! Aren't we all about self-definition and a radical dismantling of the rigidity of sex and gender?!" Still, in the Toronto scene, it seems there is a pretty small margin of people who fit into what a queer woman is "supposed" to look like. Recently I attended a workshop on queerness and body image. While I was expecting a discussion that largely focussed on body type in terms of size, I was necessarily reminded of my white privilege when the discussion turned to racialized bodies. Many of the participants were people of colour who began to articulate the concern that for them, Church Street (the downtown strip that used to be known as the gay village, though increasingly less so), and other queer enclaves in the city are actually pretty inhospitable environments. Someone mentioned that while we homos like to believe we are inclusive and progressive by virtue of our sexual marginalization, our communities are by no means immune to the many other forms of oppression out there (ie. racism, ableism, etc.). One of the participants spoke about how this racism is often hidden under the guise of "preference"; he said he couldn't even count the number of times someone he was hitting on had responded, "Sorry dude, I'm just not into Asians".

There is absolutely a problem of representation and a lack of a sense of inclusion in these spaces, especially considering that this is a community that rallies around the word "diversity" as a way of getting the hetero world to acknowledge and accept us. There is evidence of this everywhere. How often do we see queer characters of size, of colour, and/or with disabilities in television and movies? How often do we see these people having any kind of sexuality at all, for that matter? Sexuality is sort of a tricky thing to be unified by. We aren't understanding of marginalization overall by virtue of our sexualities, as much as I'd like to believe that's possible. So I'm rolling up the sleeves on my girly shirt, because we've got a lot more work to do.

(...to the full post)

TLC has a new show, The Secret Life of Soccer Moms, that “celebrates stay at home mothers” by giving them a chance to leave their families for a week to live the dream careers that they gave up to be a stay at home mom. The pilot episode featured a would-have-been fashion designer who was able to spend a week working for a designer, creating three dresses that were shown in a small fashion show. In the end, the designer offered the mom a full-time job, which she accepted, even though that means getting outside care for their kids. Yay, episode ends and women rejoice. Right?

Upon perusal of the TLC website, I came across the message board for the show. Whoa, stay-at-home-mom backlash! The majority of the posts proclaimed the show to be a horrible encouragement of ripping apart the [wonderful nuclear] family and branded this mother as utterly selfish for choosing her dreams over her children. Accusations flew – including that their hired sitters/day care workers will probably beat their children, and that there’s something wrong with this woman for not finding total fulfillment through raising her children. And yes, someone even blamed the feminist movement for all the world’s problems today. OK, maybe just violence in schools. Yes, that’s the feminist movement’s fault.

Uh, what?

Why doesn’t anyone ever point out that fathers also “abandon” their children when they work full-time outside of the home? Just because the female births the babies does not automatically mean they are the only ones who are capable of raising them. Perhaps it is a generational thing, but when I look at my married/coupled friends (mid-to-late 20s), in over half of them the woman makes more money. Will we ever stop automatically assuming that the woman is in the better position to be the primary care giver? Because at this rate, when my friends start making babies, from a financial perspective, if anyone’s going to stay at home, it should be the fathers.

Moving on … why am I even surprised that the feminist movement still gets blamed for personal shortcomings? The feminist movement gave women choices – to focus on their career, motherhood, both, or neither. But at the end of the day, it’s all about choice. Yet reading this message board, it sounds like women have the freedom of choice – but something’s wrong with the women that don’t choose to be stay-at-home mothers, because that’s the most rewarding thing a woman can do. What would these women say to a woman who chooses to never have children? That she’s ignoring her natural instincts? That there’s clearly something biologically wrong with her?

Oddly enough, only one person on the message board pointed out that these women (as in the women on the show, no finger pointing to the other women on the message board) were privileged to even have the choice to be a stay at home mom, and suggested TLC instead do a show helping out mothers who have to work outside the home. But, other women came right out and said that regardless of your financial situation, mothers shouldn’t work outside the home. If you can’t afford one income, be creative! Find a paying job you can do at home. As if it were that easy.

Newsflash: some families can’t afford to live on one income. Some mothers have no husbands to help them out. Work-from-home jobs are hard to come by, and unless you luckily have a combination of degree and on-the-job experience, most work-from-home jobs won’t support a family.

But believe it or not, some women don’t feel complete satisfaction when focusing 100 percent of their energy on raising children. But this isn’t a feminist issue. This is an issue for all people, regardless of gender. We all should have the freedom to figure out what makes us happy, and pursue those dreams, regardless. Millions of children go to day care or have baby-sitters during their youth while their mothers work, and believe it or not, they turn out fine. I happen to know many, personally. Some women who can afford to stay at home choose not to because they see the benefits in pursuing their own dreams – not only for their personal enrichment, but to set a good example for their children. Don’t you think a child would turn out much better if the child had happy, fulfilled parents, even if there parents were away at work half the day, than a stay at home parent who was unfulfilled, sad and possibly ultimately resentful? I think well-rounded, happy parents are much more beneficial than having someone you share DNA hovering over you 24/7 just because someone thinks that’s their “natural” role.

(...to the full post)

karnythia joins us from The Angry Black Woman:

Hillary Clinton: Bow to the man, and take the vice presidency. Let our country heal. You will run in eight years and be unstoppable as a visionary world leader. You must pass through this filter first though: bow to the man.

Now, I’ll bet reading that made you want to reach for a hammer right? You’re thinking “What kind of sexist BS is this?” and possibly questioning my sanity. You’re right. It is sexist and I would sound insane if I were typing something like this with any serious intentions behind it. Of course it would be even more ludicrous if this was actually being widely disseminated and had people agreeing with it, but that’ll never happen right? Right. Except…something like it is being disseminated and people are agreeing with it. The message is a little different though. It actually reads:

“Barack Obama: Bow to the woman, and take the vice presidency. Let our country heal. You will run in eight years and be unstoppable as a visionary world leader. You must pass through this filter first though: bow to the woman.”

and there are people that actually think this racist drivel has some validity. Now, I know at least a few people are thinking “Well it’s Roseanne Barr, who cares what she has to say?” and that’s probably a pretty valid response for most things. But right now she’s actually just voicing the thought a lot of white feminists are harboring as they spout things like “Black men had the vote first” or when they start talking about those pesky brown women putting their skin before their gender and then have the temerity to start trying to chastise us for not operating in sisterhood. She left out the word “white” before woman, but the subtext is there for all the world to see.

Perhaps this is one of those things that hasn’t been made clear in previous years so I’m going to make it clear now. I’m not going to side with a bigot against a black man. I’m not going to side with a bigot against a black woman. In fact? I’m not going to side with a bigot period. SNL had a sketch this week that is (I think) meant to be lampooning Hillary’s desperation, but if you only catch the middle of the sketch? It’s pretty damned racist. And it’s not like this phenomenon is restricted to entertainers. Gloria Steinem, Erica Jong, and Robyn Morgan have also weighed in, and in some really ugly ways all while claiming to be looking out for all women. Meanwhile Hillary’s campaign has given them no reason to stop as she can’t even be bothered to say that these tactics are unacceptable. On the contrary, her official campaign has been busy indulging in similar behavior, and then insisting that Obama is playing the race card when there’s even a hint of protest at the egregious displays of race-baiting. Shockingly, racism is visible well before someone sets a cross on fire in the front yard and claiming to mean no offense while repeatedly using bigotry as a campaign tactic isn’t going to fly.

It’s been very clear throughout this election cycle that racism was going to be a factor even as people swore up and down that sexism was worse than racism. There’s this underlying idea that gender and race can be separated and that when people speak of women that umbrella means that all women (regardless of ethnicity) have the same concerns and so in this election getting to see a woman in power is far more important than any other consideration. Yet when you sit down and look at the history of the feminist movement and the transition to women being in the workplace? You’re primarily talking about white women. WOC were already working. Usually in low paying jobs with no future and only a guarantee of the work being physically and emotionally draining. In fact that transition of white women to the workforce took place in large part because white women were able to hand over the care of their children to poor WOC who were shut out of even pink collar jobs for years after white women were free to pursue the dream of having it all.

That same attitude is still prevalent with so many white feminists who are willing to insist that WOC should support this grand achievement while ignoring the reality that putting a bigot (and before someone fires off an angry comment or email insisting Hillary’s background is proof she isn’t racist, think about that old adage with the ducks) in the White House isn’t exactly in the best interests of WOC. Being a feminist doesn’t make you immune to racishttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifm, or classism, or any of the other ‘isms that are so frequently discussed in feminist circles. But, it seems to be one of the few ‘isms that is accepted as long as it’s displayed with a (thin) veneer of being about fighting the patriarchy. Look at the rhetoric from Marion Wagner, a regional director of NOW:
“The issue that’s not being talked about in this campaign is the blatant sexism,” Wagner said, her words echoing off the granite walls. “There are some people who promote Barack Obama because they want anybody but a woman. Would they like a white man instead of a black man? Of course. But they’ll take a black man over a woman. I never thought, in 2008, that we’d still be dealing with this.”

who then goes on to say that Obama pulling out Hillary’s chair is evidence of his sexism just to make sure we know she’s not upset that he’s a black candidate. Which would sound great if it weren’t for the part of the article where she (like so many other white feminists) is quick to jump on the bandwagon that a vote for Obama from black women couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the issues. No, it’s all about them choosing race over gender which I guess is an easy assumption to make if you can’t be bothered to listen to black women that aren’t willing to follow your lead. After all, it’s not like they have the capacity or the right to think for themselves. Oh wait…

There’s an ever growing gap in the feminist movement, and I’m sure the argument is going to be made that WOC aren’t willing to do what it takes to bridge the gap while ignoring that the prospect of dealing with the internalized racism of so-called allies just isn’t an attractive proposition. It’s not sisterhood if the movement insists on treating WOC alternately like mules, children, or part of the scenery unless it needs their support. Would I like to see a woman in the White House? Sure. But I’d really like that woman to be someone who doesn’t think she has a right to my vote. Who recognizes me as an intelligent person with valid concerns even if they are different from her concerns. Who can grasp the idea that my skin color and my gender are a part of who I am; but they are not all that I am, and thus listening to what I have to say is necessary and important in order to help me achieve MY goals. I want to vote for a female President because I believe in her, not because she’s Miss Daisy.

(...to the full post)

So I know a lot of my friends wouldn’t believe me if I told them, but I was totally the coolest person back in school. I was friends with everyone, and everyone wanted to be friends with me. Sometimes people knew my name before I knew theirs. I think I even remember breaking a couple girls’ hearts.

But it all ended in 7th grade. In 7th grade something weird happened. It wasn’t anything particularly isolated; there was a wide-sweeping change in how we organized ourselves and related to each other. I think it was puberty. But the bottom line? Well…I was placed at the bottom of the line. I was no longer cool. And particularly among men, I became a target.

As I’m sure my parents can attest, I was a very energetic little kid. In terms of gender performance, I was just like I am now – a healthy mix of femme, mostly andro, and the occasional spout of earnest butch – except that when I was little I acted as if I was constantly wired on caffeine. This meant, I think, that when I was femme, I was really femme. I would roar around with my trucks just as much as I would dance little pirouettes in the hallway. I was so energetic that everywhere I went it felt like a production. Maybe that’s why, in elementary and middle school, I was so popular. A big part of my self was bouncing around and having fun; I was a fun magnet. Lots of little kids are.

So you’re probably wondering why this loser is talking about how he (used to be) cool in elementary and middle school (and you’re also thinking: no wonder he’s not cool anymore). Well, it’s because of this age thing, I think. I wasn’t cool anymore because my way of behaving as a male – at our around the time when everyone else my age hit puberty and began reorganizing according to gendered expectations of sexuality and resulting behavior – no longer became acceptable. What was interesting was that, even despite my gender variance as a kid, I had a ton of male friends growing up. At puberty, however, a gender mechanism initiated; “appropriate men” actually had to reject the company of gender variant boys. So, at or around 7th grade, no longer was I (in the confident, gender-variant way I behaved) an appropriate kind of boy for another boy to be friends with. In the company of women, I don’t think the rules were necessarily the same; there were complications when it came to romantic interest that set up a standard of rules and regulations for how to interact, but most of the time that wasn’t as big of an issue.

I’ve been reading some stuff lately by Nancy Lesko, and she’s really awakened me to issues of age when thinking about the construction of identity in adolescence. She advocates for a reorganization of primary and secondary education (and, I’d argue, child-rearing) that transforms the child-parent/child-teacher relationship into more of a mutual educational relationship as opposed to this slave-master relationship whereby information and rules about behavior are funneled one-way into the child. I really don’t think, in most schools, there’s enough done to encourage harmless, deviant behaviors from the norm. Shouldn’t that be encouraged? I guess it’s easier said than done. But I do think it would neutralize some of crazy moments of behavior shifting and make middle school a tiny bit less horrifying.

(...to the full post)

Dear Fannie,

One of my best friends just got with his new boyfriend, who's much older. They've been dating for only a month or two, and now they're moving in together. While I want to be really happy for them... I'm not. My friend's boyfriend is absurdly rich, and my friend is well... not. He's actually kind of a sap on resources, and I can't help think that he might be taking advantage of the guy. I'm also pretty sure that he's cheated on his boyfriend, but the boyfriend doesn't know. Should I do anything?

Fearing for Friend


While it sounds like your bud may be a grade A gold digger, all of your evidence is a shade or two south of hearsay. It won't hold up in court nor will it here. Being "pretty sure" and "think[ing] that" is a whole lot of speculation into something you might not have a full grasp on.

Just because your friend has "wifed and wealthily" (though not in Padua) doesn't mean he's out for his hubby's hedge fund. And even if he is, it's not an invalid reason to be in a relationship. A little pathetic? Maybe, but morally reprehensible? Not so much. Sure it's easy to feel sorry for the old bloke who looks like he's getting flinched by your friend. But, it's also important to remember that the ol' bastard is getting a hot young 20-something eye candy. People get together all the time for a vastly variable array of reasons, and who are we to decide which reasons are valid?

Sure it may be noble to find your one true love, in sickness and health, your soulmate, your sky, your stars, et al. But frankly, I think that love down on earth is far more complicated than a fairy tale. Every person comes with a package (pardon the double entendre): personality, sexuality, family, and of course... economy. To disregard any one of those parts of the package deal is being irresponsible.

Long story short, unless you have some more concrete evidence of your friend's infidelity, and also a firm grasp on both of their opinions on monogamy... mind your own fucking business.

Note: To all those would-be-gold-diggers out there. While I absolutely affirm and support your right to your penthouse and lexus package. Take a word from the wary: You'll never have the moon.


send your questions to askfannie@belowthebelt.org

(...to the full post)

Most writing about bug-chasing and gift-giving is dominated by sensationalism or absolute condemnation. This previous post by lewdandshrewd is an example of the latter. Although the need to condemn bug-chasing is understandable (especially in the cases when gift-givers are passing HIV to unsuspecting non-bug-chasers), we lack a deeper understanding of the phenomenon. Why do some people get a thrill out of getting HIV (or other STDs) and giving it to others? What kinds of gender and sexuality dynamics are at work in gift-giving and bug-chasing? Also, given that it is such a minority phenomenon, why are we so obsessed with it?

The sociological and anthropological literature on the subject has identified bug-chasing/gift-giving subcultures as ‘carnivalesque’ spaces in which social roles are thoroughly reversed and forbidden or impossible relationships are given free play. This is an analogy to Medieval Carnivals, which featured stunning role reversals, such as pictures of women beating their husbands, pigs slicing up butchers and serfs lording over their masters. Similarly, the bug-chasing/gift-giving subculture reverses the social discourse on HIV – everything about the illness is turned upside down and previously impossible social arrangements are imagined. For instance, as a potentially fatal illness, HIV is associated with death. However, the discourse of gift-giving reconceptualizes HIV as productive by allowing Poz men to ‘give birth’ to new Poz offspring. It also subverts social norms about the body: the healthy and fit body is no longer seen as socially desirable. Bodies that show visible signs of illness (such as lesions) are seen as particularly sexually attractive in the bug-chasing/gift-giving groups. Overall, the subculture seems to invert all practical reason and revel in threatening social order.

But is this the reason why people want to become bug-chasers and gift-givers? Oddly enough, even though we may perceive the subculture as particularly subversive and non-conformist, people get involved in it for somewhat ‘conservative’ reasons. The literature identifies the revival of masculinism in gay male communities as one of the reasons that people engage in risky and dangerous sexual practices (such as barebacking). Safer sex practices are perceived as effeminate and ‘unsexy’ ways of controlling men’s sexualities. ‘Real men’ should approximate the ‘Marlboro Man’ image, never shrinking from danger and sometimes actively seeking it out! Thus, gift-giving and bug-chasing are in some cases attempts to revive a thrill/danger-seeking sexuality that fulfills norms of masculinity. Others have cited an interest in belonging to some kind of ‘community’ or ‘brotherhood’ by finally attaining HIV status. In this case, bug-chasing and gift-giving is a method of forming social bonds. By getting the ‘gift’ of HIV, people are initiated into essentially a new culture, with new privileges and responsibilities. Finally, there are also men who perceive becoming HIV Positive as a ‘relief’. Gripped with fear about becoming HIV-Positive, they perceive actually getting the virus to be the only way of overcoming that fear.

Overall, we view bug-chasing and gift-giving as profoundly subversive activities. And yet, the sociological literature suggests that people get involved in them for fairly conservative reasons (masculinism, forming social bonds), or because their fear of getting HIV is too intense and they would rather ‘get it over with’ by catching the illness. Given that bug-chasing and gift-giving are minority phenomena, why is it that both straight/normative and LGBT popular cultures are so obsessed with it? It has been found that about 14% of gay men engage in barebacking, and a very small amount of those are bug-chasers or gift-givers. They are, essentially, a minority within a minority – why all the attention, then? First, there’s definitely an element of right-wing propaganda against LGBT people. In a 'Human Sexuality' class taught at my old university by a very conservative Professor, she handed out an article on bug-chasing during our discussion on gay marriage, claiming that it was ‘relevant subject matter’. What sexual fetishes about HIV and STDs have to do with same-sex marriage is beyond me. She was clearly trying to show that queer people are immoral and not deserving of anybody’s sympathy. For those not trying to spread the conservative message, bug-chasing appeals as a topic because it has the macabre sensationalism that sells magazines and newspapers. It is simply one of those ‘out-there’ topics that is bound to get anyone’s attention.

***For More Information***
I found the following article very useful: Michael Graydon’s “Don’t Bother To Wrap It,” from the journal, Culture, Health and Sexuality (Vol. 9.3). David Moskowitz’s “The Existence of a Bug-Chasing Subculture,” from the same journal (Vol. 9.4), is also quite good. Otherwise, there are quite a few more sociological/anthropological articles out there. Just search for ‘bug-chasing’ on Google Scholar (scholar.google.com) and you will find plenty of information!

(...to the full post)


On The Move

In October, I began to think about moving. As an organizational nerd, I formally brainstormed the pros and cons of the possibility on a Microsoft Word document, weighing factors like job satisfaction and professional development, cost of living and contact with friends and family. Among these attributes, I listed under pros: “perhaps better dating scene elsewhere.” I sent the list to some of my closest friends here in Texas and asked them for additions, revisions, and feedback.

After analyzing my list, one of my friends replied: Your personal life is something severely lacking, apparently, and you seem to really want to find someone to date.

No shit.

And so, when I applied for jobs, graduate programs, and other transfer opportunities in the following months, I looked at the potential to not only move forward professionally, but also, with the extra fuel (read: slap in the face) from my friend’s reply, move forward personally.

In February, gold: I heard about a new offer. Although I’m still in the process of making an official decision, it looks like when my contract with my current employer is up in July, I’ll be packing my bags, selling my current IKEA furniture, and leaving the Texas heat for the breezy liberal bastion of the San Francisco Bay Area, a new five-year opportunity to work with great leaders in my field, and, hopefully, some sort of reinvigoration to my personal life.

Indeed, my friends wonder if this move will actually revolutionize my dating life. I haven’t been a California resident in years—and never for an extended period in Northern California. Picture it: Gay men everywere. Asians everywhere. Rainbow flags and left-wingers galore. Five years in the homosexual heartland literally would mean fishing in the biggest, gayest sea on this side of the Mississippi. The larger the menu of men, the more likely I’d bite or be bitten. Think of it: The nights! The romance! The fodder for this blog!

Pause. While I’m excited about the possibilities, I really wish I were that enthused about my chances. Instead, I remain hopeful but not completely convinced that my work-centric personality will burst onto the San Fran social scene with a bang; I remain optimistic but not cemented in the idea that, within these next five years, I will meet someone with whom I, by the time I’m thirty, will be in a long-term—if not very long-term—relationship.

I worry that being in a big city means finding the reality of stereotypes. In the Bay Area, this means being engulfed by the Castro and its nightclubs, bars, and bathhouses, none of which are completely up my alley. I may not be “fabulous” enough for the hordes. I may find that the racial boundaries I’ve observed in other gayborhoods will become bolder and more delineated; I almost feel like it’d be easier to be the only minority in a small town rather than being lumped as “one of the minorities” in a huge city. It means being faceless and blurred.

I worry that I’ll be drowned among the masses. The larger overall population will mean a larger population of hotties and a larger population of non-hotties. I foresee less of a premium on being average and rather, a push toward reaching for and mimicking those at the top of the heap. Because there are, in fact, masses, it may be more important to assimilate and fit in than to actually retain individuality.

I worry that this will be exacerbated by the cost of living in the Bay Area. Imagine the standards of class: perfectly-styled hair atop a faux-tanned Adonis robed in an outfit from Rodeo Drive. I like nice things, but that level of high maintenance isn’t going to align with my tastes so well. It’s just not me.

I know, I know—I shouldn’t be doing some much analysis upfront. I haven’t even given the place a chance. And really, come on—I’m currently in Texas. If I had stopped myself from making a move to Texas simply based on my pre/mis-conceptions of the Lone Star State, I never would have realized how fun it actually is down here. My dating scene anxieties are definitely not going to stop me from going after my professional aspirations.

Yet I can’t ignore the fact that I’m from Southern California. And on each return visit to West Hollywood, it hits me how plastic and manufactured things can be—the fashion, the vernacular, the music. I’m not saying there won’t be exceptions, but if the Bay Area is anything at all like that, then I’m going to have to do some digging to find my niche. And I don’t really feel like moving for work, only to find more work on my plate.

(...to the full post)

Cathy joins us from Against the Glass:

What is it about the ability to openly make fun of boys and men?

If I were to get the same number of “joke” emails that I get about boys and men, but the subject were African-Americans, or gays, or girls, or women, or name-your-disempowered group, I’d be considered a bigoted jerk.

In my time in the Unitarian-Universalist tradition, I remember that even among enlightened liberals, a public joke about a husband or a son, usually implying they were somehow (wink-wink) abnormal or hard to live with, was considered okay. Public chuckles about socks on the floor, or lifted toilet seats, or hilarious incidents of a lack of common sense on the part of the men we supposedly love, were considered okay.

But catch Andrew Dice Clay, or some other obvious jerk, making a joke about women’s periods, or date rape, or any other number of women-hating topics, and the result is liberal-minded derision.

I am not naive. I know that men and boys are fair game because men have traditionally been the ones in charge of the power structures we’ve created. I know that, historically, minorities and women have had to struggle to obtain parity, and still do, and will for some time. However, I do wonder about the “compassion stops here” mentality that we seem to have when it comes to expressing our resentment, indirectly, through mean-spirited humor about the men and boys in our lives.

You can argue forever about whether Susan Faludi has it right. But, the point is, if you are after a world of compassion, either through Buddhism, Christianity, Secular-Humanism, or any other ethos to which you subscribe, why do we stop the compassion with respect to those that oppress us, in reality, or in our minds?

I read an interview with the Dalai Lama years ago in the New York Times Magazine. He was asked if he was angry at the Chinese, and he said he wasn’t. He said he was sad — sad for them, sad for his people who feel their oppression.

Recently, I was told that in a post here I was attacking someone, and that was not my intention. For reasons of compassion, I took the post down, just in case ANYONE could be hurt by what I said. What I was attempting to do, but apparently did not succeed in doing, was expressing how my vitriole against a particular oppressing group — in my world, any father figure will do — was based in historical emotional experience, and not in fact. I had a visceral response to someone, and wrote about how historically this was based on my reaction to my father.

What I was attempting to do was to dig down below the fearful reaction, to view it as information rather than fact, and discover something inside myself that was keeping myself from feeling compassion for this person whom I experienced as an oppressor in this particular situation.

I am clearly not anywhere near where the Dalai Lama is in this regard. But, I will continue to try to express my struggle with giving compassion to those for which I feel, natively, the least compassion. It’s not really about loving my enemies so much as living with a clear mind and taking responsibility for my reaction to my own oppression.

My first husband, many years ago (25 — gulp!) had an interesting reaction to me once that I’ve always held onto. I complained about his never putting the toilet seat down. He said, “You never put it up for me!” I remember that to this day. Oppression cuts both ways, and mean-spirited humor is not the rightful spoils of the losers of the gender wars. It’s just more ways to keep them going, and to keep from knowing each other in a deeper, more meaningful way.

(...to the full post)

So... after a very long hiatus, AskFannie is back! Enjoy!

Dear Fannie,

I'm gay and have been out to my whole family since I was a teenager. I'm very close with my cousins, and lately I've been getting an inkling that one of them might be a lesbian. I've never heard her talk about boys, or even crushes on boys, real or celebrity. She's vegetarian, hippieish, and wears a lot of male clothing... I don't know... I'm just saying... But, the thing is that she's visiting me soon. Should I ask her about it? How do I bring it up?

Questioning Questionable Cousins

Dear QQC,

It's good to hear that your family is loving and sane enough to have accepted your sexuality at such a young age. But it's important to remember that just because your parents may be okay with your fey ways, doesn't necessarily mean the rest of the clan is as cool. To your face it may be one thing, but with their own families, it may be a different story. So, assuming your lesbi-dar is correctly callibrated and your cousin is indeed a lesbian, her reluctance to come out to you may be due to her own family situation.

Also, coming out is a very personal and extremely variable experience for each queer person. Everyone has to come to coming out at his, her, zir etc. own pace. The worst thing to do is to force an outing with an awkward, "So... boys or girls?" Also, I should note that while her vegetarian status, and gender non-conforming attire may be convincing evidence to you, they are far from definitive markers of lesbianism. My advice is to let your cousin's visit be a warm up to the topic. Take her out with some of your gay (and lesbian) friends, watch some of your old Margaret Cho DVDs (I KNOW you must have some Margaret stashed away somewhere. And if you don't get some. No gay man's library is complete without her). Basically, make it very comfortable for her to come out, if she needs or wants to. Let her do it on her terms, not yours.

send your questions to askfannie@belowthebelt.org

(...to the full post)

Earlbecke joins us from definition:

Expanding a little more on my comparison of queer sexuality and kink yesterday, I really have to say that, for me, the two are inextricably intertwined.

When I talk about my “sexuality” or “sexual orientation” I’m not just talking about what genders/sexes I find attractive. I’m a pansexual submissive with a preference for “feminine”-leaning (whatever that means) people who blur gender/sex norms, who are extremely dominant. In the particular case of my current relationship, that’s a bisexual cisgendered man. (I don’t think I could relate to a cismale who wasn’t a little queer.)

My strong attractions have always been for charismatic people. Those people who have an inexplicable draw. They might not even be anything to look at or they might be drop-dead gorgeous, but that’s not why people like them. They exude confidence and charm, whether they’re particularly charming in the conventional sense or not. They’re the kind of people who generally have dozens of suitors they don’t really care for who just seem to accumulate with no effort on their part. For whatever reason, they make friends with everybody, and everybody they meets likes them. These people have a charisma that makes everyone around them eager and willing to pretty much go along with whatever they say.

These are the kind of people who compliment me. (It’s ironic; because other people would probably say that I, myself, am really charismatic. And while I’m glad I come off that way, that’s not really who I feel I am inside at all.) I’m shy in unfamiliar situations and tend to be voluntarily withdrawn. I don’t party. I don’t make small talk. I have a difficult time really relating to people and making friends (but I like the ones I do have, thank you very much). I don’t really like talking to most people at all. I prefer to stay at home, cook a nice meal, read a book, paint. I’m an introvert. I don’t like to try new things unless someone else is trying them with me. I enjoy being challenged but don’t challenge myself unless pushed by other people or circumstance. I’m incredibly indecisive. I like people with a more extroverted, commanding presence, who aren’t afraid to just make choices and stick by them.

There’s other elements at work, too. I’m very short: I stand at about 5′1″. I’m always attracted and have always been attracted to taller people. This is not hard to do, most people are. But I mean much taller. My boyfriend is about 13 inches taller than me. The power dynamics are that physically evident in my choice of partners. I also have a strong attraction to men and women who are physically stronger or larger.

And trust is very important. When I mean trust, I don’t mean it in a casual sense. I mean that the more someone has the capability to harm me, the more pronounced the power disparities, the knowledge that I can trust that person makes them exponentially more attractive. I’ve known plenty of guys who were very nice men who I felt safe around to whom I felt zero attraction because they’re weren’t dominant or otherwise wouldn’t/couldn’t have the potential to exercise power over me. And my ability to trust is definitely gendered.

I’ll try to explain. It sounds terrible, but it’s true: by and large, I do not trust men. I go with my gut instinct, and it’s always been right, so I don’t give people the benefit of the doubt anymore. And it’s only ever been men who attempt to intimidate, harass, or threaten me. Because trusting men, especially men who are taller or stronger than me, is such a difficult thing for me, when I actually have met guys that I like, the attraction is much more intense than that for any of the women I’ve liked, even though I like women in general much more. The painful knowledge of how imbalanced power relationships already are and will always be between me and men actually makes them more attractive, even though physically I’m less into them. As my feminist awareness has grown, so has my attraction to men, where when I was convinced the world was totally egalitarian as a teen (or egalitarian enough) I wasn’t really interested in guys at all.

Then there’s the fact that I have a tendency to attach myself to people with more experience (and therefore, often, age) than myself, which is definitely the biggest power imbalance involved in my attractions as far as I’m concerned. (You think the height difference between me and my guy is a lot? He’s two decades older than me and has had more sexual partners than I can even really imagine or grasp in more than an abstract sense, he being my second, ever. Now that’s a power imbalance.)

And I find arguments “against BDSM” (since I don’t see how you can really argue with someone’s sexual orientation; it’s not going to change) kind of weird. The whole idea that no one can enjoy a consensual D/s relationship because of the patriarchy strikes me as a little strange. (Of course, feminists who argue “against BDSM” are really only arguing against Dominant male/submissive female power exchange because they think that’s the only dynamic that exists.) First of all, it’s the person and personality that matter most to me, not sex or gender; I don’t really think about it that much and even if it’s a factor, gender is not even close to being the deciding factor in my attraction. Second, like I said before, I admit to getting a bit of a naughty thrill out of the pre-existing male/female social power imbalance. That doesn’t mean I think it’s right, and if the world were less sexist, I’d probably be even more lesbian than I am.

But the point is, arguments about kink based on the existence of patriarchal power imbalances are kind of moot. I am queer. Even with a man, I remain a dyke. More importantly, I am genderqueer — I don’t think of myself as a “woman” in anything other than a strict anatomical sense, and I definitely do not adhere to gender roles. I have trouble with the cognitive dissonance when someone does something as innocent as refer to me with gendered pronouns. The very idea that I only submit because “I’m a woman and I’ve been taught to” is bizarre to me — no, I really wasn’t, I had kick-ass feminist parents, and I have always had a difficult time squaring my sense of identity with my anatomy and how it caused people to treat me. That, and I’m the kind of obnoxious rebellious person who does pretty much the opposite of what I think people expect of me just to be stubborn.

But, well, these musings have all been well and good, but the most important aspect of my sexuality is this: whether or not society says men should be dominant and women submissive, whether or not I am a woman, whether or not I am with a man, whether or not I am genderqueer or queer… There is no rationalizing it. Trying to be a less submissive person — not even dominant, just normal — is deeply, deeply upsetting to me. I can’t do it. The very thought makes me feel sick. I can’t physically bring myself to act that way. It doesn’t come naturally. It doesn’t make sense. I have no idea how to even try.

On the other hand, being with the kind of partner who has power over me and uses it wisely and compassionately… That’s the best thing in the world. It’s the only thing that really feels right. I don’t care what anyone else thinks of it. It’s just what I need.

(...to the full post)

Creative Commons License