Elmhurst College, a private liberal arts school located in the western suburbs of Chicago, this week released a new undergraduate application [PDF] for its 2012-2013 academic year including a reportedly historic question: “Would you consider yourself to be a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) community?”
The question is an optional one for prospective students to fill out on the newly designed application, and also offers a “prefer not to say” option. It appears in a series of questions asking applicants about their religious affiliation, languages other than English spoken in their home and other questions school administrators hope will help identify students’ needs and potential interest in campus programs and resources, according to Campus Pride. In this case, students could be put in touch with a student club called Straights and Gays for Equality (SAGE).
I don’t know how to feel about this. My knee-jerk reaction was “wtf?” but they’re apparently doing it for a good reason, rather than a discriminatory one? All the same, I think Common App’s objection:
"any potential benefits to adding the question would be outweighed by the anxiety and uncertainty students may experience when deciding if and how they should answer it,"
Is a valid one. If they’re going to include such a question on an application, they should definitely explain upfront why it’s being asked. Otherwise I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only person with that first reaction. At any rate, it’s good to see a college publicly doing something for LGBTQ students.
Btw—sorry for the dashboard flood, all. I just got internet at my house after a week of being without because we moved.
I like the idea of the It Gets Better Project, but sometimes I just feel annoyed when straight people, even straight celebrities I love, make a video. It makes me happy that allies want to be supportive and want to let young queer folks know that we have allies, but even though bullying is obviously a universal concept, the Project is centered around bullying due to sexuality. It’s not that I don’t believe straight people can’t relate to being bullied for sexuality, though that is a factor. Rather, my issue is that I don’t need a straight person telling me as a young gay person that my life is going to be better; I need straight people to fight for me, to defend me, and to teach other straight people, and to be responsible for not perpetuating in heterosexism and bullying.
I would rather see straight people make videos about what they as my allies are actually going to do in order to get to “Better.” I get it allies, celebrities included, that you want me to know that you’re on my side. However, tell me how you’re going to make that happen. Are you going to speak up for me more in front of your straight friends/acquaintances? Are you going to organize and participate in rallies and protests? Are you going to lobby Congress? Or will you just be silent? I understand that not every straight has the means, power, courage, or reside in a safe environment that allows them to be outspoken and to be supportive with more than just say that they support me. But I don’t need a bunch of straight folks telling me, “It gets better,” I need them to say, “I’m going to help make it better.”
This kind of makes me want to make an “I’m going to help make it better video.” But even if I did I couldn’t upload it right now because the internet where I’m staying is shit. At any rate…I am going to speak up for you in front of my straight friends/acquaintances. I am going to use the degree I get in Women’s and Gender Studies and the feminist group I’m a part of to try to make a difference. I want to help make it better.
Vivint.com is giving away $1.25 million to local charities and The Trevor Project stands a chance of winning $250,000.
The Trevor Project is the nation’s only 24/7 suicide lifeline for LGBTQ youth, and provides life-saving services to queer youth all around the nation. You can vote for this cause every day through August 27th by logging in through your Facebook account.
Worried about LGBTQ teens? Looking for some net activism that has a direct chance of doing something? Go vote. The Trevor Project is pretty far behind. :(
The recent “Gay Girl in Damascus” hoax has a lot of people wondering, “how can we get men to understand homosexual women?” Or even the bigger question of, “Do they even care?” Especially the Damascus hoax, which turned out to be a heterosexual man from Scotland, it seems to bring a negative light on lesbianism. Then, maybe it’s quite flattering that there are lesbian impersonators out there. More likely, however, men just don’t understand homosexual women. It takes a “real man” to look past the sexual fascination of lesbians and into the humanity of each one. How can we get men to do this? The media portrays women who have sexual contact with each other as mere symbols of men’s desires. The media has very few realistic images of lesbians for the public to rely on. This is partly to blame for the disillusion. Society has constructed lesbians in a completely different way than gay men. In general, society is more accepting (which isn’t saying a lot since they are both still marginalized) of gay men than lesbians. So, why are heterosexual men imitating lesbians? And how can we get realistic images of lesbianism out in the open so that there is a better understanding?
I would say it less takes a “real man” to look past sexual desire and perceive lesbians as humans, but just “respectful human beings.” I guess part of the reason this is a problem is that women on the whole are generally embodied—you know, objectified, evaluated by our appearance, etc. You pointed out that
The media portrays women who have sexual contact with each other as mere symbols of men’s desires.
Well, I would say that the media often portrays women period as symbols of men’s desires. So when you get the idea of two women together, it’s like objectification squared. I know that sounds weird, but that’s the most I can make of it at the moment.
I talked to one of my friends about this a while ago and she pointed out that it could also be a power thing. Watching lesbian women or being a man in a threesome with two women, you have an awareness that these women are performing for you. And that makes you powerful. But in order to combat the idea that maybe they’re not performing for you, maybe they’re legitimately enjoying themselves together and don’t really give a shit about you, you have to have this idea that at the end of the day what they really need is a nice big cock. And in that way you’re still in power.
I mean, I’m not a man, and I wouldn’t say that all men think like this, this is just my theory as to what may in some cases be behind that issue.
I couldn’t tell you why heterosexual men are imitating lesbians. Maybe they want attention from a lesbian crowd and pretending to be lesbian is the best way to do this.
As far as realistic images of lesbianism…I really don’t know. I think books and TV shows would be helpful. I can think of some shows I’ve seen with gay men that are portrayed with some degree of realism (I’m going to ignore Glee in this scenario because let’s be real, Kurt Hummel started out as a sassy gay friend stereotype, and I don’t think that’s realistic) such as Marco in Degrassi, but the only lesbian women I can think of are on reality shows and Glee. (Maybe there was one in Degrassi later on, too. Admittedly I don’t watch that much TV.) In the reality shows I’ve watched, the lesbian women are usually butch or just assertive and mean. And on Glee, well, the whole Santana/Brittany thing seemed to start out as a “hey look, these girls are so slutty they even have sex with each other! Isn’t that hot?!” thing than a serious attempt to portray lesbianism or even bisexuality accurately. Glee in fact kind of has a bad habit of bi-erasure.
Sorry, went off on a bit of a tangent there. Point being, I think you’re right, and I think maybe the best way to get accurate portrayal is either to be someone who cares about these issues and write stories and create media yourself, or hold other media creators responsible for what they portray.
To me what is most conspicuously missing from prevailing conceptualizations of female sexuality – including from a lot of typically reactionary Feminist discourse – is a frank acknowledgment of the ways in which having multiple sex partners benefits women.
The author, Persephone’s Miz Jenkins, then goes on to detail what these benefits are. This article is really excellent, probably the most effective sex-positive piece I’ve ever read (and I’ve read Jessica Valenti’s The Purity Myth) so definitely read it. I would go so far as to say it’s kind of empowering.
holy shit. anytime i read a story about a trans person i just start crying… for some reason trans stories in particular bring out the waterworks.
While young people are being taught to simply be “abstinent” here in the good ole’ US of A, there is a small village in Cambodia doing it right.
The only thing I find most magazines good for is cutting up for collages. I am not a fan of the negative body image they impose and the paper they waist on unrealistic advertisements. However, I found an old Marie Claire that I decided to flip through for any thought provoking images. As if the sex-education-angels sprinkled awesome dust on the mag, I opened to a short article on the Kreung tribe in Cambodia.
The Kreung people build “Love Huts” not far from their own houses in preparation for the sexual explorations of their daughters. Once a girl hits an appropriate age, she moves into the hut and is allowed to have as many boys over as she pleases. In this small village, women are respected and wield much of the power.
Journalist, Fiona Macgregor, travelled to Kreung to interview these fascinating young girls. Nang Chen, who was 17 at the time, elloquently stated that ”the huts give us independence and are the best way to figure out which boys we really like.” She continues, “when a boy comes to stay the night, if I don’t want him to touch me, he won’t. We’ll just talk and sleep. But if I have a special boyfriend and we’re in love, then I’ll be intimate with him.”
The young people talk of the importance of the huts to their independence. Since the huts are only given to female members of the family, it provides a even displacement of gender power within their community. The Kreung women are not objectified but respected.
I was happy to read that non-government groups have begun to supply the Kreung people with condoms which, according to those interviewed, are readily used. The villagers did complain of western influences though. Television has brought new cultural influences to the perception of women. Cell phones have also made their way into the village, allowing the young men to download porn. Because of this, the women no longer feel comfortable being topless. Despite the negative influences, most of the girls in the article continue to plan on building the love huts for their own daughters.
Could you imagine such a thing taking place in your hometown? How different would your sexual development have been if you had a love hut? How different would women be perceived if we had the cultural rite of a love hut? I imagine an entirely different country.
Although love huts will never be built in the United States, the Kreung people are a leading example of how beneficial open sexuality and sex education can be to developing men and women.
But if you could, would you build a love hut for your child?
ask questions. wear a condom. don’t be stupid.
A couple more links for those interested in reading or participating in more discussion of Rihanna’s Man Down video (trigger warnings, although I’m sure you can tell by the titles):
“Rihanna Speaks: Who Gets to Talk About Rape?" from Persephone Magazine
“Man Down: On Rihanna, Rape, and Violence" from The Crunk Feminist Collective
Old Navy sells Gay Pride 2011 shirts [in some stores]