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29 Nov

I love libraries. They are quiet and warm and full of stories. I am relaxed when I walk through the dark stacks of books on the third floor on a dark Sunday evening.

It feels kind of like a treasure hunt – looking for a book. When I finally find it, and open to the title page, I can smell the age. Older books have a musty, worn through scent. Newer books smell like fresh ink and paper. Covers tell me how many times the book has been opened, skimmed, read, loved, used.

If I could, I would just sit down in the middle of an aisle and read for hours, days, weeks. Reading feels like eating, and I’m so hungry lately. Hungry for new words, characters, stories. Hungry for anything that isn’t Sociology or Anthropology.

I think I’ll spend more time in the stacks. It’s quiet there, and smells like books. They make me calm.

Quick hit: GWSS reading

2 Nov

“Because emotional intimacy is about self-disclosure and revealing oneself to others, when people are intimate with each other, they open themselves to vulnerability. In the process of becoming intimate, one person shares feelings and information about her-/himself, and then the other person (if that person want to maintain and develop intimacy) responds by sharing too. In turn each gives away little pieces of her-/himself, and, in return, mutual trust, understanding, and friendship develop. Given the baggage of gender, however, what can happen is that one person does more of the giving away, and the other reveals less; one opens up to being vulnerable, and the other maintains personal power. The first person also takes on the role of helping the other share, drawing that person out, translating ordinary messages for their hidden emotional meanings, and investing greater amounts of energy into interpersonal communication. The first person has taken the role prescribed by femininity and the latter the role that masculinity endorses. The important point here is that intimacy is about power. Men who take on masculine scripts tend to be less able to open themselves up because of anxiety associated with being vulnerable and potentially losing personal power.”

– Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions by Susan Shaw and Janet Lee


7 Oct

on the blog for my Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies, which unfortunately you can’t view unless you are a member of the class. This post also relates to and includes some information I posted in one of my first entries after restarting my blog. The original entry can be found here, and this is an expansion of those ideas:

This summer, I read “Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity” by Julia Serano, an MTF trans woman. Besides being an incredibly eye-opening book, which I recommend to everyone, Whipping Girl also addresses certain vocabulary often mistakenly used when discussing trans issues. In the Introduction to Chapter 3 in Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions, the editors mistakenly use the terms “transwoman/transman” and “transgendered.” In her book, Julia Serano explains why these terms are incorrect, and how they perpetuate negative ideas regarding trans people.

First, using the word “transwoman” (or transman) is inappropriate. The two words should be separate (trans woman), as this phrase functions kind of like “Jewish man” or “black woman”…it is a descriptive phrase, not a summation of an entire identity, like “transwoman” might suggest. Serano says using a phrase like “transwoman” third-sexes or third-genders (both verbs) a trans person, thus “relegating [them] to [their] own unique categories that are separate from ‘woman’ or ‘man.’” Additionally, MTF and FTM are adjectives, not nouns, so using the adjectives MTF (male-to-female) or FTM as nouns is equally offensive. As Julia says, “I do not identify as a ‘male-to-female’ – I identify as a woman.”

Regarding the word “transgendered,” the addition of the -ed at the end of the word suggests being trans is something that is done to trans people, rather than something they choose and identify with. People are not transgendered, any more than they are straighted or Jewished. Transgender is a trait, not an action.

Finally, I’d like to draw attention to how important it is for trans people to be consulted whenever something is being written about them, or whenever trans rights/issues/definitions are being discussed. While I am not sure how Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions was constructed, it seems that the editors did not, in fact, consult trans people when writing the section on transgender and transsexual identities. Cissexual people cannot pretend to understand the nuances of trans people’s lives and identities anymore than straight people can fully understand gay people’s lives and truths, or white people can understand the lives of people of color.

I’d like to reiterate how strongly I recommend this book. Absolutely worth your time, money, energy.


16 Aug

Books I’ve read this summer:

  1. Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano
  2. Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape edited by Jessica Valenti and Jaclyn Friedman
  3. Nobody Passes edited by Mattilda
  4. South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami
  5. Lethal Logic: Exploding the Myths that Paralyze American Gun Policy by Dennis A. Henigan

Books I checked out but didn’t have time to read:

  1. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
  2. Nickel and dimed : on (not) getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich.
  3. Columbine by Dave Cullen

Books I’ve put on my Amazon wishlist:

  1. The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You by S. Bear Bergman
  2. Butch is a Noun by same as above
  3. Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation by Kate Bornstein
  4. Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism (Live Girls) by Daisy Hernandez
  5. Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center by bell hooks
  6. Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire by Lisa M. Diamond
  7. Undoing Gender by Judith Butler
  8. Rent Girl by Michelle Tea
  9. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  10. Texas Tough: The Rise of America’s Prison System by Robert Perkinson
  11. Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity by Tim J. Wise
  12. Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks
  13. The Color of Violence: The Incite! Anthology by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence
  14. How Nonviolence Protects the State by Peter Gelderloos
  15. Genderqueer: Voices from beyond the sexual binary by Joan Nestle

Books I hope to (miraculously) finish by friday, when I leave for school:

  1. The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

If I can’t finish it, this book will also go on my wish list. I love the library because it gives me access to so many books, but also hate the fact that I can’t keep them/read them at my leisure/highlight or otherwise mark in them.

Books I would recommend (both from my summer reading, and past reading experiences):

  1. Whipping Girl
  2. Yes Means Yes
  3. Nobody Passes
  4. Lethal Logic
  5. Give Me Liberty by Naomi Wolf
  6. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (the entire series. also, watch the movies. See Dan’s post here about that.)
  7. The Book Thief
  8. Blindness
  9. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (and all other Haruki Murakami books)
  10. The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf (it’s a little old, but still contains a bunch of messages that are really important, especially for young women)

I wish I could give more recommendations, but you’ll just have to wait until I get more of those books and have time to read them.

I LOVE BOOKS ALL THE TIME. In case you hadn’t noticed. If any of you would like to buy me any of these books or others you think I would find interesting, go right ahead.


Currently reading: Lethal Logic – Exploding the Myths that Paralyze American Gun Policy

12 Aug


  1. “Democrats rated the NRA the ‘most effective’ interest group on Capitol Hill; Reuplicans ranked it number two.”
  2. “Of gun owners, 61 percent favor mandatory registration of handguns”
  3. “a gun in the home increases the risk of suicide by nearly five times”
  4. firearms account “for 60 percent of suicide deaths among youth under the age of nineteen.” the claim that, without firearms, kids would just find other ways to accomplish the same thing, may be true. however, in a study, “suicides by gun were successful 92 percent of the time” vs. “carbon monoxide (78 percent), hanging (77 percent), and drowning (66 percent)…lethality of poison (23 percent), drugs (11 percent), cutting with a knife or other sharp object (4 percent).” The point of all those statistics is that, though adolescents might try other ways to commit suicide in the absence of a gun, they would be much less successful. Guns, simply put, are more lethal.
  5. “From 1993 to 2001, an average of 846,000 violent crimes were committed each year with firearms. More crimes were committed with firearms than with knives, baseball bats, or any other products.” Again, this speaks to both the greater lethality of guns, as well as the fact that criminals perceive guns to be more lethal, and therefore use them more frequently.
  6. “As to felonies involving threatened or actual bodily injury – homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault – the involvement of guns increases fivefold, to 20 percent. For homicides alone, gun involvement jumps to 70 percent. …Guns don’t kill people. They enable people to kill people.”
  7. “The gun homicide rate in the United States is sixty-three times that in England and Wales.”
  8. “About 40 percent of gun sales occur in…transactions” between private citizens; those sellers are not required to run background checks on those to whom they are selling. These private sellers often sell at gun shows, and claim that they are simply selling from a personal collection. The boys in the Columbine shooting obtained their weapons from a gun show.
  9. The Supreme Court’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller prohibits guns from being outlawed. Although this seems like a loss for gun control advocates, what it really means is that the gun lobby cannot argue that smaller instances of gun control (like background checks on everyone who purchases a gun) are just the beginning of an effort to outlaw guns (what a stupid slippery slope argument). Because of the Supreme Court’s ruling, guns cannot be outlawed. So, gun control advocates cannot possibly be aiming for the outlawing of guns.
  10. The argument that gun control will not keep guns out of the hands of criminals – and therefore we should not have gun control – makes no sense. If we  were to subscribe to that belief, that we shouldn’t have any criminal laws, because criminals would disobey those laws no matter what. Most (sane) people agree that we need laws against assault, homicide, rape, etc. Those laws exist even though there are clearly people determined to ignore them.
  11. “A study found that denial of a handgun purchase [because of previous felony convictions] is associated with a reduction in risk for later criminal activity of approximately 20 to 30 percent.”

Okay. That’s a lot of facts. And hopefully the next time you argue with someone who opposes gun control, you will be able to pull out these facts/refute their arguments. But actually, I’m only 45 pages into a 200 page book, so look forward to more writing about gun control as I get further into Lethal Logic. In future posts, I will probably imitate the construction of the book, and present each of the gun lobby’s bumper sticker slogans (i.e. “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”) and tell you how the author, Dennis A. Henigan, completely destroys the logic behind those arguments.

Daily Whipping Girl quote

7 Aug

“I am attracted to people, not to disembodied body parts. And I would be a selfish, ignorant, and unsatisfying lover if I believed that my partner’s genital existed primarily for my pleasure rather than her own.”

So, so true. Her point, with this quote, is that one is not defined by his/her/hir genitals. We can be attracted to people, no matter what genitals they have. That’s why the argument “trans women are not real women” is bunk. If we argue that a woman’s penis is what makes her a “fake” woman, then we are putting way too much emphasis on one small part of a much greater, more complex person. And isn’t the central tenet of feminism that we are all more than the genitals we were born with? That what we do and experience is so much more a measure of who we are than our individual body parts?

A little of both

20 Jul

Something I learned today:

  1. Using the word “transwoman” (or transman) is inappropriate. The two words should be separate (trans woman), as this phrase functions kind of like “Jewish man” or “black woman”…it is a descriptive phrase, not a summation of an entire identity, like “transwoman” might suggest. Julia Serano, author of Whipping Girl says using a phrase like “transwoman” third-sexes or third-genders (both verbs) a trans person, thus “relegating [them] to [their] own unique categories that are separate from ‘woman’ or ‘man.'” Using the adjectives MTF (male-to-female) or FTM as nouns is equally offensive. As Julia says, “I do not identify as a ‘male-to-female’ – I identify as a woman.

Beginning again

20 Jul

Alright, so I caved. Once you have a blog, it’s hard to stop having one. I’ve been sticking mostly to my tumblr these past few months, but I’ve been doing so much thinking and exploring on my own about lots of stuff (things like where I want to be in one year and what my gender identity is) and it’s driving me a little crazy that I don’t have anyone to talk to about them. So here I am, back in the blogosphere, spewing personal thoughts into the nether. I hope you guys will help me sort through some of the things I’ve been wondering about, and maybe propose new ideas for me to spend a lot of time contemplating.

Just started reading Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano. (I can never remember if you’re supposed to underline or italicize or put quotes around book titles, so I just picked at random) Anyway, I’m only 2o pages in, and I’ve already marked three quotes that stuck with me:

1. “Even feminists buy into traditional sexist notions about femininity – that it is artificial, contrived and frivolous; that it is a ruse that only serves the purpose of attracting and appeasing the desires of men. What I hope to show in this book is that the real ruse being played in not by those of us who happen to be feminine, but rather by those who place inferior meanings onto femininity.” Love this, because although I’ve been a self-declared feminist for as long as I can remember, for a long time I regarded a shift toward stereotypical masculine tendencies as the only way for women to be seen as equally important members of society. Now, I believe that there is strength in any and every way a woman chooses to express her gender, sexuality, self, life. I’ve re-embraced the femininity that, as a feminist, I have occasionally called into question. This idea leads into the second quote from the book:

2. “No form of gender equity can ever truly be achieved until we first work to empower femininity itself.” Yes yes yes, all the time, yes. Femininity is not inherently weak, vulnerable, emotional (although it can be all those things). Femininity is strong and beautiful and thoughtful and rash and everything that we believe masculinity is and more than what we believe masculinity is.

3. “We make assumptions every day about other people’s genders without ever seeing their birth certificates, their chromosomes, their genitals, their reproductive systems, their childhood socialization, or their legal sex. There is not such thing as a “real” gender – there is only the gender we experience ourselves as and the gender we perceive others to be.” I disagree with nothing she writes here, but would like to point out that our tendency to make assumptions goes beyond gender. One of the biggest problems with our world is that we tell people they are what other people think they are, rather than what they think of themselves. Telling someone she isn’t a woman, when she very clearly lives and identifies as one, is a way in which we communicate that our perceptions of ourselves are inferior to other people’s perceptions of us. Telling someone (through words or actions) they are unwelcome in this country because they are immigrants, when they know themselves to be an American citizen is another way we do that. Yet another way is the judgments we make about a woman’s sexual activity because of the way she dresses. And what right do we have to make any of these assumptions? Appearances often don’t tell you any (or most) of what a person might want you to know about them. Thus, I’ve been trying to stay away from making judgments about people. Partly because I don’t think anyone could know anything about me based upon my appearance, and partly because I think being open to learning about someone organically, through interacting with them, makes my relationship with them much stronger and purer than it would be if I made judgments based on nothing.

More thoughts will come as the book progresses. Any of your thoughts are super appreciated, always.