Month: January 2015

Carleton University’s Black History Month Calendar

Carleton University Black History Monthhttp://cusaonline.com/rechall

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Papi Pacify- The Gaze, Consent and Kink and why I Love It

I first discovered this song when I searched up Top Feminist Songs of 2013 and it ranked very high on the list. By just looking at screen shots of the music video one sees an almost violent encounter between a man and woman, as he chokes her and forces fingers into her mouth. Yet upon closer investigation the video combined with the lyrics show a unique intersection between consent, kink and feminism. In fact, Twigs “tops from the bottom” in many ways as she expresses her desire to be dominated to the point where her tongue seeks his fingers to be put into her mouth.

What makes this video a visual representation of feminism and kink is her explicit use and awareness of The Gaze. Throughout the video, she is continually looking at the viewer in a purposefully and interactive kind of way. Women in popular culture mediums like music videos or advertisements are often the objects of the gaze and experience a dehumanizing objectification. Men are often portrayed as directly gazing back at the viewer, as if they are aware of the viewing relationship and they are refusing to be objectified by it. In Twigs’ video, this gendered dynamic is switched, where she is the active viewer/viewed and her male partner is objectified by the viewer’s gaze. He is, in a sense, a tool for her pleasure and she demands his and the viewer’s attention. This is not to say that in order to achieve equality, we must objectify men but I am in fact acknowledging the pattern of The Gaze within popular culture and how Twigs uses and challenges the conventional gaze.

This song and video also looks at the relationship between consent, kink and race. Both Twigs and her male pattern appear to be racialized persons and yet, their race doesn’t really matter. By no means does it appear that the video is relying on racist stereotypes of the sexual beastly black male. It instead looks to the sexual and sensual relationship between bodies. While still focusing on Twigs, as she is often in the centre of the frame or appears alone, the relationship between Twigs and her partner is powerfully real. With the aspect of kink involved, the cardinal rule within the community: Safe, Sane, and Consensual, is paramount within the video. While not everyone digs getting fingers put into their mouth, Twigs obviously wants it and expresses in multiple ways that she is consenting to this kind of play. The same goes for the breath play (or choking) involved in the video.

Note: Breath play is dangerous and is considered extreme within the kink community. Do not do this kind of play without researching techniques and does or don’ts (like never wrap rope around the neck). Safe is the first part of the cardinal rule, and make sure you discuss any kind of play you are interested in with your partner before the fun stuff.

In my opinion, FKA Twigs’ video Papi Pacify is a wonderful popular culture representation of the relationship between consent, kink and feminism. You don’t have to be into kink to be a feminist but it is a lot of fun!

Lilith Out!
Want more on Kink and Feminism check out another blog post here!

To check out the lyrics click here!

My Feminism Plays Nice with BDSM

Femme Fatale

As a feminist I struggle with what i feel is objectifying and counter to my feminist philosophies daily, as I encounter various television shows, movies, books and hashtag activism online. I’ve even struggled with how i interact with pornography. As a staunch sex-positive person, I feel that embracing pleasure as a right and exploring one’s body in whatever way (consensually and legally speaking) pleases oneself is healthy and wonderfully fulfilling. Yet, one cannot deny the truth, some pornography (I will not generalize and say that all or even most) is demeaning and perpetuates the very sexist patriarchal institutions that we (as a people) must negotiate for our very safety and equity everyday. This brings me to what type of porn can I personally watch which is less offensive and gets me off still. There is in fact feminist pornography which uses many sex-positive tactics and consent-based platforms to show conversation…

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We wouldn’t accept actors blacking up, so why applaud ‘cripping up’? | Frances Ryan | Comment is free | theguardian.com

We wouldn’t accept actors blacking up, so why applaud ‘cripping up’?

Eddie Redmayne, who won a Golden Globe for playing Stephen Hawking, is the latest in a long line of non-disabled actors to portray disabled characters

“If you do a film about the Holocaust, you’re guaranteed an Oscar,” goes the famous Kate Winslet joke in Extras. The same can be said for an actor doing a film about disability. Unless you’re a disabled actor, that is. Then you’re lucky to even get the part.

This week, when Eddie Redmayne won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, he became the latest in a long line of non-disabled actors to portray disabled characters. And to walk away – literally – with an award for doing so. From Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot to Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, the ability to play “disability” is a definite asset for an actor, a source of genuine acclaim.

But is this as harmless as mainstream audiences seem to see it? While “blacking up” is rightly now greeted with outrage, “cripping up” is still greeted with awards. Is there actually much difference between the two? In both cases, actors use prosthetics or props to alter their appearance in order to look like someone from a minority group. In both cases they often manipulate their voice or body to mimic them. They take a job from an actor who genuinely has that characteristic, and, in doing so, perpetuate that group’s under-representation in the industry. They do it for the entertainment of crowds who, by and large, are part of the majority group.

Daniel Radcliffe, centre, with Sarah Greene and Pat Shortt in The Cripple Of Inishmaan
Daniel Radcliffe, centre, with Sarah Greene and Pat Shortt in The Cripple Of Inishmaan at the Cort Theatre in New York. Photograph: Andrew Toth/Getty Images

The explanations for “cripping up” are obvious. The entertainment industry is a business, after all, and stars sell. When Daniel Radcliffe played a disabled orphan in The Cripple of Inishmaan this won more headlines for the production than if a disabled, lesser-known actor had been cast. On a practical level too, perhaps hiring a non-disabled actor is easier. The ability to walk allows Redmayne to portray Hawking before being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. But I can’t get away from the fact that, if these arguments were made for white actors “playing black”, our outrage would be so great that the scenes would be left on the cutting room floor.

There’s a theory of why non-disabled actors playing disabled characters leads to success: audiences find it reassuring. Christopher Shinn, a playwright who had a below-the-knee amputation, describes the act of watching a disabled character being played by an actor who we know is really fit and well as allowing society’s “fear and loathing around disability” to be “magically transcended”.

When it comes down to it, Shinn says, “pop culture is more interested in disability as a metaphor than in disability as something that happens to real people”.

Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot
Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot. Photograph: ITV/Rex Features

After all, disabled characters create powerful images and sentiments for audiences. They can symbolise the triumph of the human spirit over so-called “adversity”. They can represent what it is to be “different” in some way, an outsider or an underdog who ultimately becomes inspirational. These are universal feelings every audience member can identify with. And there is something a little comforting in knowing, as we watch the star jump around the red carpet, that none of it – the pain or negativity we still associate with disability – was real.

Perhaps that’s part of the problem. Perhaps as a society we see disability as a painful external extra rather than a proud, integral part of a person, and so it doesn’t seem quite as insulting to have non-disabled actors don prosthetics or get up from a wheelchair when the director yells “cut”. But for many disabled people in the audience, this is watching another person fake their identity. When it comes to race, we believe it is wrong for the story of someone from a minority to be depicted by a member of the dominant group for mass entertainment. But we don’t grant disabled people the same right to self-representation.

Perhaps it is time to think before we next applaud “cripping up”. Disabled people’s lives are more than something for non-disabled actors to play at.

 

We wouldn’t accept actors blacking up, so why applaud ‘cripping up’? | Frances Ryan | Comment is free | theguardian.com.

The Backlash Against African Women – NYTimes.com

The Backlash Against African Women

 

The Backlash Against African Women – NYTimes.com.

My Feminism Plays Nice with BDSM

As a feminist I struggle with what i feel is objectifying and counter to my feminist philosophies daily, as I encounter various television shows, movies, books and hashtag activism online. I’ve even struggled with how i interact with pornography. As a staunch sex-positive person, I feel that embracing pleasure as a right and exploring one’s body in whatever way (consensually and legally speaking) pleases oneself is healthy and wonderfully fulfilling. Yet, one cannot deny the truth, some pornography (I will not generalize and say that all or even most) is demeaning and perpetuates the very sexist patriarchal institutions that we (as a people) must negotiate for our very safety and equity everyday. This brings me to what type of porn can I personally watch which is less offensive and gets me off still. There is in fact feminist pornography which uses many sex-positive tactics and consent-based platforms to show conversation, expression of desires and needs, and the mutual fulfilment of both (or all) parties involved. What about if you just want to jerk it, quick and dirty so you can go to sleep quickly? Maybe watching porn with no volume, no English subtitles, what about Henti? That way you don’t have to worry about those people being real. The jury is still out for me about porn, but I don’t judge others (nor myself at times) for watching it.

As I mentioned, feminists have it hard sometimes because it seems like wherever you turn, there is something wrong. To be clear, I am not suggesting that feminists should stop being so easily offended or that being politically correct is really being overly sensitive and wanting to be offended. When you open your eyes to the world around us, you start to see a lot of ridiculous and wrong things around you, and just because you happen to not let your friend get away with that HILARIOUS racist joke, does not mean that you are intolerant of intolerance (in a bad way).

So what does a feminist do when they are into kink or BDSM? Well, the first step is research. In some ways, kink is a wonderful expression of core feminist ideology because the proper exploration and enjoyment of kink is dependent on trust, conversation and consent. A popular saying within the BDSM community is Safe, Sane, and Consensual. In a Dominant and Submissive relationship or a Master and Slave relationship, the conversation on what each person is hoping to get from the interaction, what each desires and the hard lines they do not enjoy nor they want to explore is key to a successful and fulfilling relationship. BDSM is honest and enjoys the power dynamics which exists between people in today’s society but instead of men dominating women (which some are into for kink), power dynamics are amazingly diverse within the community. Women dominate men, LGBTQ+ individuals dominant/submissive others, and everything else one can think of. Power in the BDSM community is not the privilege of a select few determined by the sex assigned at birth or the colour of one’s skin but rather it is earned, respected and given within a circle of trust and communication. Furthermore, power does not lie solely in the hands of the Dominant or Master but instead, much of the power is controlled by the Submissive or Slave. This is achieved by the use of a safe word, which if used properly, immediately stops whatever the individual is uncomfortable with or does not enjoy.

A true Dom or Master does not want to abuse (i use this word deliberately) their Sub or Slave, in fact, many of those kinds of relationships are ones of friendship, and love. Partially this is because BDSM and Kink are still viewed as deviant and undesirable sexualities within the larger mainstream culture and therefore, sharing part of one’s true sexual self and sexual culture can be intimate and wonderfully liberating. The image the mainstream society has of kink and BDSM as a Sub crying in the corner, beaten and bruised is not a true representation of the culture and community but is instead a horrible backlash to an alternative of the sexuality we are taught to have and the sex we are taught to participate in. The variety that one sees in the people around them can be seen in the kind of sex people have, kinky or otherwise. Furthermore, not all are into pain, and those who are, experiment in a safe and educated way.

It must be said that while I love kink and BDSM, there are those who abuse the culture and community and those who do not in essence, follow the rules. There are predators, just like anywhere you go (sadly), one must be careful when entering any new community with little knowledge and people to look out for you. There are abusers which say they are Dominants or Masters, just look at the Jian Ghomeshi. I won’t sugarcoat it and say that everyone respects the core ideology of BDSM but I will say that there are by far (by far far far) more wonderful, inclusive people in the community than there are predators (the male, female or otherwise kind). Because of the core ideology of BDSM the support within the community is overwhelming for newcomers or longtime practitioners. I love Kink and BDSM for that, it and its community members gives me a kind of power built on trust and communication and I give power back. The kind of feminism I believe in and practice everyday, feels totally great about kink because its what I enjoy and what many others do as well. You don’t have to be into kink to be a feminist, you don’t have to be into whips and chains (though they can be a lot of fun), but in my kind of feminism; you can’t hate or discriminate against someone who practices Safe, Sane, Consensual fun just because you don’t enjoy the same thing.

Lilith Out!