Archive for March, 2009

27
Mar
09

It’s definitely time to find a new sex advice columnist…

I did say in the wake of Prop 8 that if Dan Savage kept it up with the racism I’d have to stop liking him altogether. And while I haven’t seen that kind of overt racism from him since, a) I’m sure it’s still there, b) he’s been terribly offensive about bisexuals more times than I can count, as well as not having a good record with fat folks and people living with domestic violence, and c) this week we have some equally shocking transphobia. There will be no more “He’s a good sex advice columnist, but…” from me anymore. I’m flat out of patience and excuses. If anything, it took me too long.

In response to a reader who doesn’t know how to tell his girlfriend that he paid a trans woman for sex, Dan writes [heads up: offensive words for and thoughts about trans women below the cut]:

Continue reading ‘It’s definitely time to find a new sex advice columnist…’

25
Mar
09

What I’m Watching: Steam

Have I mentioned that I’m pretty much incapable of writing movie reviews without spoilers? Do I mention it every time? Good.

I went to see Steam last Friday, the day after it opened. I had read promising things about it from the New York Area Bi Network and AfterEllen, and slightly less promising things from The Bisexuality Examiner. I was excited about a movie made by a bisexual director (Kyle Schickner, who also wrote it), and by the film being “presented by FenceSitterFilms.” Adorable.

Steam is a movie about three women have have “nothing in common,” according to reviews, other than steaming in the same steam room. Of course, I can spot things the women have in common — they’re single at the beginning of the movie, they’re cisgendered and female, and they appear to be from at least similar class backgrounds. My guess is that they live in similar areas, too, and if they don’t the movie doesn’t explain how they came to be using the same stream room. But anyway. We have Laurie, a divorced single mother trying to do right by her son and deal with her overbearing asshole of an ex; Elizabeth, a college freshman getting out from under her overbearing (I know I used it twice, but it’s kind of a theme in the movie) conservative, religious parents’ thumbs and discovering her interest in women; and Doris, a recently widowed old woman who’s grieving harder than the people around her think she should (she’s played by also recently widowed Ruby Dee, and the depth and power of her performance had me by the throat.)

While I won’t join the rumored clamoring for Schickner to turn in his bi card, I also wasn’t terribly happy with how the one bi character in the film was handled. Elizabeth falls hard for Niala, a gorgeous fellow student who identifies as bisexual (Elizabeth then proceeds to write creepy love poetry for one of her classes — I definitely liked her least when she was going on about being opened up to life by her “dark-skinned lover”). Niala is far from perfect in ways that have nothing to do with her bisexuality. She’s aggressive and predatory and controlling, and seems to go for women who are new to same-gender attrsaction and push them to go further and faster than they’re comfortable with. But all of that is about her as a character rather than her as a bisexual. My main problem was when she and Elizabeth were having problems and she hooked up with a man at a party, and continued to sneak around with him for the next month until Elizabeth caught them.

As Shickner points out in his own defense, there are plenty of bisexuals who act this way. And I don’t necessarily think it’s wrong or biphobic for him to portray one doing so. But I think it’s a questionable choice. Movies, books, celebrity “journalism,” etc. are full of bisexuals leaving their partners for someone of a different gender. We’ve heard this story already. I wonder why Schickner chose to tell a story that’s already so tired, when he could have told a new one. Or had Niala be a lesbian, or a bisexual who cheated on her girlfriend with another women, without changing the impact it had on the movie at all. Or had Elizabeth discover her identity as a bisexual rather than as a lesbian, for that matter. Though that could have had an impact on the film, at least in so far as inviting reviewers to suggest that she’s really a lesbian and  hasn’t finished her process of self-discovery yet, just like all other women who identify as bisexual.

I like to hope, at least, that Schickner would not have had other characters in the film itself suggest that. I was pleased to see that, while the bisexual-woman-cheating-on-her-girlfriend-with-a-man trope did come into play, no one in the film spoke about it that way. When Elizabeth called Niala on her behavior, it was “You’ve been lying to me for a month and now you want to talk?!” not “How could you sleep with a man?!” Same with Niala’s dykey housemate, who tells her she’s a shit but doesn’t berate her for betraying the movement. I was relieved to see the situation treated as it would be any time one person cheated on another, rather than being some special and atrocious crime because the person doing the cheating was bisexual and doing it with someone who didn’t share their partner’s gender.

Aside from taking that exception with it, I pretty much liked the film. I thought it was worth seeing. If it has a common theme, as the friend I saw it with pointed out, it’s a movie about women getting stronger and learning to stand up to and get themselves away from abusers. And that’s awesome. I somewhat resent the way we followed all three of the women over the course of a love affair, though. Given the relationships involved, it might have avoided the “Love is the be all and end all and will fix everything else that’s wrong with your life” trap. But it still felt to me like it fell into the similar “All of the significant events in women’s lives involve their relationships.” Unlike men, who can have a variety of sources of joy and pain, love is the only worthwhile narrative in women’s lives. That might be my own issues talking — I’m tired of the stories that I hear telling me that what I have and treasure shouldnt be enough, that the ways I do relationshps are wrong, that I have no worth and my life no meaning unless and until I find someone who wants to be my primary partner and make me the center of hir world — but if we’re following three stories, do they all have to be some form of love story?

Still, Steam is worth seeing. Its run in LA is already over, and I don’t know where else it will be playing. My best guess would be queer film festivals. Its run in New York City goes through this Thursday. I am bad and didn’t write up a review soon enough to be really helpful, in part because I think all of my NYC readers are already friends and saw my post on LJ looking for someone to go with, and the theater decided today not to extend its run for another week. Still, if you get the chance, it’s a good evening. Particularly with a friend discuss it with afterward over dinner or dessert.

19
Mar
09

What I’m Reading: The Salt Roads

I sat down to write this tonight and spent two hours following links in RaceFail09 instead. Oops. But I’m glad I did it, even if it did come directly out of my sleepytime. There’s still a lot of good stuff happening out there, and the best thing I read tonight is Cat Valente’s piece on the power and importance of stories. (Yes, I am seriously author-crushing on Cat Valente right now. And what? I just wish I hadn’t lost my brand new copy of Palimpsest on that otherwise extremely awesome trip to Hartford.) There are also lots more things open in tabs. I will look at them tomorrow. Yes I will.

And speaking of RaceFail09, one of the things it brought to my attention is this LJ challenge to read 50 books by people of color in a year. There’s no way I’m going to read 50 in a year. My adolescent self would be appalled to hear me say it, but with all of the time I spend using my Eee PC on the train and being glued to the computer most of the time that I’m home and awake, there’s no way I’m going to read 50 books total in a year. But reading reviews of books by authors of color led to thinking “Hey, that sounds like something I’d enjoy!” and adding things to my library list, and I am being more conscious about where my attention goes and reading more stuff by people of color. And it is good.

Last week I read Nalo Hopkinson’s The Salt Roads (this part cross-posted to 50books_POC). I’ve been meaning to read Nalo Hopkinson for ages, particularly but not only because every time SF/F authors of color come up in conversation, her name is one of the first mentioned. I borrowed Brown Girl In The Ring from a friend last year and loved it. And even knowing I liked Hopkinson’s writing, The Salt Roads blew me away. Continue reading ‘What I’m Reading: The Salt Roads’

05
Mar
09

Round-up

All of my time and energy for writing right now is going toward processing in my relationships. (It’s always something, isn’t it? I will never not be busy, and there will never not be something of that moment that I point to and say “It’s this, soon I will be less crazy.) It may be a few more days before I can sit down and write something thoughtful about anything else. Also, I dropped my Eee PC and cracked the screen today (apparently the world was trying to see how much hard stuff it had to throw at me to kill my high from an amazing Saturday night — okay, world, you win!), so blogging on the train and bus will be out until I come up with money to get it fixed or replace it. So in the meantime, a look at the things I might be blogging about if I were doing so at all…

Girlfriend, Esq. pointed me to Greta Christina’s response to Dan Savage’s latest insensitive comment about bisexuals. I’d missed it somehow, but as always, Greta Christina does a thorough and brilliant job of responding. I don’t think I have anything to add. Other than that Dan Savage may make his reputation on his snark, but the occasional columns where a dozen questions get brief answers really help no one. They just let him showcase his wit without giving actual advice. Even he could probably have done a better job of answering that one if he’d fleshed it out more; at least we’d know which fucked up thing exactly he was getting at.

Alex at Bilerico is doing a week-long series on abstinence-only education, looking at a new report on how abstinence-only education is actually implemented in Texas (the state that receives the most federal funding for it). Two days ago he wrote about homophobia in abstinence-only, yesterday about religion as part of the curriculum; today it’s sexism. Keep an eye on that one; it promises to be interesting and important.

Meanwhile, Bil at Bilerico posts about the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders filing a challenge to DOMA that they seem to hope to bring to the Supreme Court. He has a lot of really persuasive things to say about how the push for marriage actually harms the push for more basic rights in places other than the two coasts. I’m a coastal dweller myself, so I can’t say anything other than that it sounds about right, and lines up with/complements a lot of my reasoning on why pushing for marriage is not where our energy should be going. He also left a heart-wrenching comment on a different post by someone who supports the move. And Nancy Polikoff points out that it will only benefit couples with income inequalities, and talks about how the queers shouldn’t be shoring up heteronormativity — and you know how I love that.

HRC has announced some long-overdue changes to its Corporate Equality Index. I’m not best pleased with how long these changes will take to kick in and how long employers can continue to skate by while treating trans employees in really fucked up ways, but I have no way of assessing HRC’s claim that companies need that long to bring themselves into compliance. Of course I’m less concerned than HRC is about employers who don’t treat trans employees well getting to keep their perfect scores for a couple of years while they fix that, but they may have a point that companies are more likely to comply if they’re not ticked off. Since after all we’re not hoping they’ll do this out of the goodness of their hearts; we know they have to be shamed into it/get something out of it. And it is a positive change. Also, because he wins all of the links today, Bil talks about his disappointment that HRC will still not be assessing companies on their behavior internationally and factoring that in.

Have a lovely week!




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