"The women of Bikini Kill let guitarist Billy Karren be in their feminist punk band, but only if he's willing to just "do some shit." Being a feminist dude is like that. We may ask you to "do some shit" for the band, but you don't get to be Kathleen Hannah."--@heatherurehere

Monday, May 20, 2013


Rachel Kramer Bussel's Best Sex Writing 2013 is a particularly strong member of the pretty solid series where folks write about sex.  This edition has some of my favorite folks writing about sex (Patrick Califia, Melissa Gira Grant, and Madison Young!), but the piece I thought readers of this blog might be most interested in is Seth Fischer's Notes from a Unicorn, a memoir piece about being a bi-identified man.

Fischer's piece runs the gamut from sweetly comic to heartrendingly tragic.  He covers the traditional responses that bi-folks have to deal with upon coming out ("I don't believe in that! You're just not ready to come out as gay yet!"), and shows with personal experiences just how much harm such responses cause:

A year later, I sat at my desk with a knife, poking at my wrist. I had an impossible crush on a boy. Frank Martin and I were on the same basketball team. His locker was two over from mine, and I couldn’t help it—I was twelve or thirteen years old. I had twenty boners a day. It’s just the way it was—so when he changed, I kept sneaking a peek because I just wanted to see, because I could smell him, and it was amazing, and was it too much to smell and see?
And he caught me looking. But when he caught me, he wouldn’t look right back at me. Instead, he looked at the locker in front of him, and said, quiet enough so no one would hear, “I don’t give a fuck if you’re gay. I know it’s not your fault, but you better not fucking look at me like that ever again.”
I decided that day that I would choose to grow the part of me that liked women and kill the part that liked men. I poked at little parts of my wrist until they turned bright red, then I pulled the blade up and watched my skin turn back to its normal color, and then I pressed down again harder. But I couldn’t make myself do it hard enough, because I couldn’t stand blood, because I was too afraid to die right then. I tried to spell out words with the little red dots but they disappeared too quickly. I tried to spell out Frank. I tried to spell out tired. I took out a pack of stolen Kools and snuck outside and smoked cigarette after cigarette after cigarette.
Like several bi- or queer-identified folks that I know, Fischer even tried to convince himself that he was gay, since so many people kept telling him that was the only real possibility. Really, this article is worth the price of the book. 

What does this have to do with feminism?  I think that at least some of the difficulties that are thrust upon bi folks in general, and bi men in particular, are directly related to outdated notions of sex and gender norms.  (Of course, a lot of people reject "bi" as embracing traditional gender norms, and opt for a "queer" identification instead.)  And some feminisms are clearly pointing out that these sex and gender norms are often bogus, and aren't seen to be as malleable as they, in fact, are. 

 Fischer's heartfelt stories sadly show that both gay-identified folks and straight-identified folks are buying in to some of the traditional sex and gender roles when they reject the idea outright that anybody could be bi-identified. Stories of our actual lives are so powerful--how could anybody read this piece and still say "I don't believe in that" when someone they know comes out as bi?

Full disclosure:  I was asked by Cleis Press if I would consider promoting this book. I am totally happy to, since I was reading it anyway, and would have likely put something up about it in any case!

Some linky goodness:
Find the book at Cleis Press:

Rachel's personal website 

Friday, May 17, 2013

International Women's Football

Did you know there are women's football leagues in the United States? Neither did I, until I met an awesome woman (she was briefly my personal trainer) named Jen Deering, who plays as a defensive end in the WFA (Women's Football Alliance), who recently tried out for and got on the U.S. Women's Football team that will be competing in the Women's World Football Championships.  

So:  Badass. 

Like a lot of women who participate in high-level sports that have traditionally been male-dominated, she has to pay her own way, which is kinda patriarchal bullshit.  So, y'know, fight the patriarchy and help her pay her way, by checking out her Indigogo campaign:

I coach/train cross-training at The Perfect Sidekick - an LGBTQ gym in Oakland, CA and play football with a local WFA team - The Bay Area Bandits. I love playing football and earlier this year I attended a try-out for the U.S. Women's Football team to participate in an international competition as a defensive-end (that's the one on the end of the D-line that gets to tackle the QB!). And...I made the team, yay!!! 3 other friends and women who play football with me on our local team also made the roster! I couldn't be happier to share this experience with a few of my favorite people in the world.    Please help me make a life long dream of mine come true...to win a gold medal representing the U.S.A. as an international athlete in the 2nd International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Women’s World Championship. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pink Gun Oil

NOTE: Pretty much every link in this post is NSFW.

If you're not reading Erika Moen's new sex-toy review comic, Oh Joy, Sex Toy, you're missing out. (And, of course, if you haven't read her original memoir comic, DAR, you're doubly missing out.)  She recently reviewed her favorite lube, Pink Lube. Lube is a tricky, personal thing, and it was interesting to read about how much she likes this particular one.  One of Moen's strengths as a writer, especially as a person who writes about sex, is that she is fairly inclusive of various sexualities, genders, races, and body types, and she doesn't disappoint in her new comic about Pink lube.  But I'm not here to talk about how rad Erika Moen is--that would take up too much time.

I'm simply fascinated by the gendered marketing involved.  I went to the Pink site that she linked to (hey look, the comic WORKS, advertisers!), looked around a bit, and discovered that Pink is owned by Empowered Products, which also has a line of products marketed as Gun Oil.  Pink = for women, Gun Oil = for men.  Got it?  

Comparing the sites is a fascinating exercise in gendered advertising.

The logos:

The "Company Story":
Founded in 2001, Pink was created by Empowered Products Inc, an international sexual health and wellness company. Using the feedback and life experience of women, Pink was designed to offer a unique line of intimate lubricants that could be used safely and effectively by women who desired added lubrication for intercourse, toys and foreplay, and also to provide products women could feel confident and eager to use to increase intimacy with their partners or for their own personal pleasure. From intimate lubricants to arousal enhancers, Pink provides a selection of differing weights and uses of lubricants, so each woman can find the one that best meets the needs of her body. All Pink product packaging is presented in stylish feminine bottles that complement the bedroom and invite use by both partners.
Following a return from Kuwait, U.S. Marine platoon leader and founder of GUN OIL recalled soldiers using CLP liquid, that keeps firearms and other weapons clean and firing accurately, as a perfect personal lubricant when relief, better known as masturbation, was necessary to relieve stress. Knowing of CLP's long lasting properties, the founder greatly improved on this concept by changing the ingredients to a hypoallergenic, topically safe, user-friendly formula, ideally suited for heightening sexual pleasure when used for intercourse or personal use.
Working closely with scientists to come up with precisely the right look and feel, this team formulated a selection of unsurpassed GUN OIL products that always deliver a highly satisfying experience and elevate the vital expression of masculine fulfillment.
 I love that the "story" of the company for Gun Oil is about ONE MAN creating a company, and the story about Pink is that it was created FOR women, using "feedback and life experience from women".  At least the company story explains (kinda?) how lube for sex = GUNS. The sexualized-military stuff isn't hot for me, though I understand that I may not be their intended audience--it should be noted that Gun Oil is often marketed toward gay men (though this isn't really the case on their site).

 Also, apparently women want "education"...

While men want "Tecnical FAQs":

I'm not really bagging on Empowered Products --sounds like they make some awesome lube, and are marketing it toward men and women in the way that they think will make them the most money. I'm certain there are women who buy lube from the Gun Oil site (the silicone lube, which seems to be the same product, is available in greater quantities on the Gun Oil site, vs. the Pink site), and it's a positive step in a lot of ways to have lube marketed toward women; used to be lube was something you could mostly buy in a poorly-lit sex store, and now here is a site focused on selling products to women for their own pleasure. Can't complain there.  Also, I'll probably try the Pink lube because I like the packaging better than a big, penis-shaped fake bullet.  But still, I can't help but feel the the company is missing out on a bunch of us who would rather just buy lube.  Smitten Kitten does a good job of this--lube as lube for any gender.  And they sell Gun Oil and Pink lube!  Wouldn't it be cool if we lived in a world where the marketing of this stuff was more often as inclusive as Moen's wonderful comics?