When Queer Inclusion Becomes All Inclusive: Thoughts and Takeaways from the 2017 MBLGTACC Conference

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A few weeks ago, I had the honor of being chosen by the Residence Hall Association (RHA) to attend the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference (MBLGTACC, affectionately pronounced mum-bul-tech) in Chicago, Illinois. This was a trip of many firsts for me—my first conference as a student at U of M, my first time in Chicago, my first road trip with friends (as opposed to family).

The conference itself was informative and inspiring. The first keynote speaker, Patrisse Cullors (yes, the Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Movement), set the mood for the conference with her moving words, “Our resistance has always been queer.” Peter Staley and Jannicet Gutierrez were also keynotes for the conferences. I will not deny shedding a few tears during Staley’s powerful speech, or when Gutierrez shared her story. All the speakers were empowering and emotional, giving everyone hope for a brighter tomorrow, and the strength to continue resistance and existence during these hard times. One of the most poignant quotes that remained with me even weeks after the event was “Mi Existir es Resistir”—“My Existence is Resistance.” There was a very powerful moment at the conclusion of Jannicet’s speech, where she had the crowd repeat those very words after her.

But the conference wasn’t only filled with powerful words and emotional moments. Throughout the weekend, participants attended workshops oriented towards the LGBTQIA+ community. Some were more fun and visual (such as the Kink 101 workshop which I actually attended), and others were more serious and mission-oriented (like the Direct Action 101 workshop), but all were very informative. The entire weekend was filled with action, knowledge, and history; it was an amazing opportunity and experience for me and many others.

However, the MBLGTACC made me realize two very important things. One, that contemporary curriculums are still lacking in LGBTQIA+ education, as well as representation. Of course, this is a fairly apparent realization. Because of the marginalization and oppression of the community, especially in regards to intersecting identities (fun fact: despite what popular culture and mainstream media might have told you, the first stone at Stonewall was not thrown by a white gay man, but by a black trans woman, Marsha P. Johnson), it’s fairly easy for even the most liberal of college campuses to assume heteronormativity and gloss over people and movements crucial to not only the community, but to US history as a whole. While U of M does offer a Introduction to LGBTQ Studies class, there is only so much a professor can teach within a 4 credit course. And on top of that, isolating all that knowledge into one queer studies class assures that only those seeking that knowledge will find it. The histories and needs of the LGBT community and their contributions to society should be the focus of not just Women’s Studies classes; they should be included within topics such as English, History, and Political Science. Medical students should be aware that not everyone fits the neat little boxes the medical community loves to sort people into, and it’s about time we start to find ways to make medical care easier and more accessible to transgender, nonbinary, and intersex folks. Those studying politics and public policy should be aware of the innate and multidimensional struggles of the LGBTQIA+ community to properly advocate on its behalf. Students of history and anthropology should be made aware of the historical social constructs of sexuality, and how these impacted the identities of many historical figures, and shaped cultures around the world. It’s 2017, it’s time schools recognize these changes need to made, and started taking action to make them, rather than just giving the issue lip-service.

Another thing this conference made me realize, is just how inaccessible conferences are to so many others. I was lucky enough to be sponsored by the RHA, and so I basically only had to pay for food and souvenirs. But the conference, even though it was one of the more inclusive I’ve attended, also had its faults. Not even considering the obvious factors such as travel and boarding expenses, there were still so many obstacles standing in participants’ way. As lovely as the city is, Chicago is expensive as hell. I know of a few people who were forced to stay at the hotel because they couldn’t afford to eat out. And the conference itself was about a 15 minute walk away from the hotel, which might pose a serious problem for those who who deal with chronic pain, or have issues with mobility due to disability. And while, granted, these are not issues everyone has to face, I believe it is important to not generalize participants’ experiences and stories for the sake of having a nice backdrop for your conference. And I don’t mean to single MBLGTACC out here, because this is an issue I see at virtually every conference I’ve ever been to. It takes more than trigger warnings in the program booklet, or gender inclusive restrooms to make a conference truly accessible.

But I digress, and will take a step down from the soapbox now. I truly had an amazing time in Chicago (even though I somehow managed to spend $30 on candy), and I learned many important things at the conference (from how to properly use ropes in a sex scene to femme history). And if I seem passionate over minuscule things (although I would argue that these are not minuscule issues at all) such as a lack of queer tidbits in classes, or a 15 minute walk, it’s because I truly believe it to be important to have takeaway points and criticisms of even the most inclusive environments so we can strive to do better in all aspects. I sincerely encourage anyone, from all walks of life and who embodies any identities to participate in next year’s MBLGTACC. I know I’ll be there for sure.


Alexandra Paradowski

Event Coordinator, What the F Magazine

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God Forbid

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I was never allowed to be angry
or at least, I didn’t want to be
how could I tell myself that I was superior
if I was just like everyone else?
I used the bible as a weapon
and I wasn’t angry

and I wasn’t lost

“why do I still feel empty?”

God created the world in a week
while my perception of it changed more gradually
from an explosion to a new world
a bang, and then slow realization
bruised hands healing
a dusty bible on a bookshelf
I am selfish
and my thoughts are mine

God, has it been 4 months?
God, has it been 4 months?

In July, everything was different
or, it was that month that birthed a difference
the staircase was a new chapel
their kisses a prayer
and holding hands made it all worth it
they’re Sodom and I’m Gomorrah
and I’d ask for forgiveness but that would be misleading
because God, they’re worth it
my new communion
and maybe I should feel like something is missing
but it’s more like
something has been found

I’m still in church but my heart is 1,128 miles away
I am going to heal and
forgive myself
so no one else has to
how can I be forgiven
for something I’m not sorry about?

I am allowed to be angry now
I am a tornado in an empty field
I am an earthquake building
I am a slow fall of rain
I am in love
I want my voice to be a hurricane
my tears a rapid that takes everyone with me
I want my pain to be felt
because this time I am not the one repenting


Poem submitted by anonymous

Art by Paige Wilson: Assistant Art Director, What the F Magazine

12 Transgender Artists to Keep Your Eye On

In honor of Trans Awareness Week (November 14-20), I present to you a handful of my personal favorite up-and-coming transgender actors/models/fitness experts/reality TV stars that you need to know about. Obviously you know about big name transgender stars like Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox (because doesn’t everyone?), but here are twelve lesser-known artists that demand your attention. They’re going to be huge.

Hari Nef:

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Actress and model Hari Nef made history in 2015 when she became the first transgender model signed by a major modeling agency. Nef is repped by IMG Worldwide, the same agency that reps Julianne Moore, the Hadid sisters, Gemma Ward, Gisele Bündchen, and Kate-fucking-Moss. Nef graduated in the spring of 2015 from Columbia’s theatre program and signed with IMG shortly after. Her writing has appeared in Dazed, Vice, BLACKBOOK, and more. She also has a regular sex advice column in Adult Mag. Nef most recently landed a role in season 2 of the Amazon series Transparent (which, if you haven’t watched, I highly recommend. Everyone in it is flawless). Nef is outspoken and hilarious (seriously, follow her Twitter). She’s also smart as hell. Says Nef in Out Magazine’s Out100: “Triumphs for trans women have been directly proportional to an increase in violence against less-privileged trans women, particularly black trans women. It’s not all up to us, though — there needs to be more focus on the cisgender men who are killing us, and their prejudice.”

Trace Lysette:

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Trace Lysette is a New York-based actress best known for her role in Transparent. Lysette plays Shea, Maura’s (Tambor) yoga-instructor and friend (she’s amazing in the role). Prior to her role in Transparent, Lysette never disclosed that she was trans. In an interview with Advocate, she says, “I never disclosed I was trans to anyone in the casting process for fear of being discriminated against. I wasn’t living out loud yet,” she reflects. “I hadn’t seen another trans woman in a nontrans role on TV before. … It was uncharted territory for me and I remember being a nervous wreck on-set, hoping that no one would ‘clock’ me [as trans].” In 2013, though, that changed, and Lysette says she became “free” after seeing Laverne Cox’s OITNB character Sophia Burset as well as being friends with the inspiring Cox herself. In an interview with GLAAD, Lysette says that since coming out, she has been able to play roles that “allow me to access parts of myself that I had kept censored for years.” Lysette also has recurring roles in the Starz comedy Blunt Talk and NBC’s The Curse of the Fuentes Women.

Laith Ashley De La Cruz

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Laith Ashley De La Cruz is a model and LGBTQ advocate who landed a starring role in Barneys New York’s landmark advertising campaign, Brother, Sisters, Sons & Daughters in the spring 2014. Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters was shot by Bruce Webber and featured the stories of 17 transgender models. Says De La Cruz, “It’s been an eye-opening experience for me to work with Bruce Weber. I’ve met so many wonderful trans people, good people, all of them. I’ve talked to them a lot. They have helped me understand that I am finding my identity.” De La Cruz’s mass following on Instagram led to his casting. He graduated from Fairfield University with a degree in Psychology and currently works with the LGBTQ community at New York’s Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, a health facility for LGBTQ people living with HIV/AIDS.

Mya Taylor:

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Mya Taylor is the breakout star of director Sean Baker’s Tangerine (if you haven’t yet, watch it) alongside longtime friend Kiki Rodriguez. In Tangerine, Taylor plays Alexandra, a transgender prostitute in Los Angeles. Tangerine was shot on an iPhone 5S and has received a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. In an interview with Vogue, Taylor accredits her survival to her sense of humor: “When you’re going through life, and you come out to your family as gay, and they say, “You’re going to hell.” And this and that. They say all this shit behind your back. And then you leave because you know they don’t want you around, and you’re out in the streets and you’re homeless, you don’t have nothing to eat, and you have to go eat at the youth center. You know, all that stuff. Even for the people that do sex work because they can’t get a job, you know, do all this crazy stuff, all you can do is laugh to try to keep yourself floating. Otherwise, you’ll commit suicide.”

Kiki Rodriguez 

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Kitana “Kiki” Rodriguez stars alongside Mya Taylor in 2015’s Tangerine. Playing the role of a transgender prostitute in L.A., Rodriguez’s performance in the film landed her on the Out100 list (with co-star Mya Taylor). When asked about the state of the trans community at present, Rodriquez responded, “We have to remember to stay together as one, as supporters, as lovers, as sisterhood and brotherhood. It’s going and nobody can stop reality. This is what is making waves in the industry. For me, it’s tidal waves.” Rodriguez is also a trans advocate and a health educator at an HIV/AIDS research center.

Aydian Dowling

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Aydian Dowling is a 28-year-old from Eugene, Oregon who became one of the 10 semifinalists in 2015’s Ultimate Men’s Health Guy Search (he’s currently #1). He won the readers’ voting portion of the contest, and says of the contest, “Having a trans person on the cover would tell people that no matter who you are, you can be the man you want to be. It’s fully possible if you put the time and effort and balance it takes to find the man in you.” Dowling is also the creator of the YouTube Beefheads Fitness channel, telling Men’s Health, “There was no one on YouTube making fitness videos for trans people. Most females train to build a female body, and most men train to get a more masculine body. So when you’re a biological female trying to gain a masculine physique, you’re going to train a little differently. I wanted to provide a space where we can encourage each other at the gym, even if we might not know what we’re doing.

Andreja Pejić

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Andreja Pejić  is the first transgender model to appear in Vogue. Pejić is 24-years-old and a Bosnian refugee who grew up in Australia. She made her first appearance in the modeling world in the early 2000s as an androgynous model, capturing the attention of Jean Paul Gaultier. She went public with her transition in 2014. In the Out100 list, Pejić says, “As a woman who was born trans, I know what it’s like to be different, to be an outcast and to be defined only by ‘that thing’ which makes you a little different. However, I care more about inclusion and equality than feeling special. The future is fluid, and nothing adds more to progress than humanity united.” You can also find her in a major beauty campaign, Make Up Forever’s “Be You,” as well as Kenneth Cole campaigns.

Michelle Hendley 

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Michelle Hendley is the star of the critically-acclaimed film, Boy Meets Girl (if you haven’t seen it, PLEASE do so ASAP. It’s available on Netflix). In the film, Hendley plays a transgender girl named Ricky, who lives in a rural, southern town. The movie, which explores the nuances of gender and sexuality, is adorable, insightful, and impactful. It features an especially poignant full-frontal nude scene that Hendley describes as, “me showing the world what a trans body is.” The role feels familiar for her, as she grew up in a small town in Missouri. Thankfully she had the full support of her family. Hendley says when she came out to her family as gay, her mother asked, “Are you sure you’re not just a girl?” Besides Boy Meets Girl, Hendley also has a vlog, which landed her the role in Boy Meets Girl. You can view it here.

Dezjorn Gauthier

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Dezjorn Gauthier is a model for Trans Models New York, as well as the CEO and founder of I am here, I am he LLC (forthcoming). Says Gauthier in an article in the opinions pages of the New York Times, Since elementary I knew, but I did not have the correct term. In the early 2000’s things became more clear as I matured. In 2009, I confirmed the term ‘transgender’ described me the best. As college approached fear gathered around me, but I did not let that stop me and I started to physically transition.” Transition has not been easy for Gauthier, but it has been worth it: “I have lost family and friends, struggled with health insurance, jobs and societal norms. I continue to try to strive as a transman of color. Not just in modeling but in giving back to the community, advocating, and in education.” Gauthier was founded on Instagram in 2013 by JV8 Inc. and was subsequently cast in the Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters campaign alongside Laith Ashley De La Cruz.

Jazz Jennings

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Jazz Jennings is a 15-year-old superstar. She is a YouTube personality, a spokesperson, and an LGBTQ activist. Jennings first began making TV appearances at age six. She received national attention at the age of 7 when she appeared in an interview with Barbara Walters in 2007. Jennings is a co-founder of TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation, along with her parents. They founded the foundation, which aims to assist transgender youth in all facets of life, in 2007. Jennings is also the star of the 2011 documentary I Am Jazz: A Family in Transition. She also fought a two-and-a-half year battle with the United States Soccer Federation to allow her to play on a girls’ team (she won). She has co-written a book, appeared on Time’s The 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014,” been a Clean & Clear spokesmodel, and starred in her own TLC docu-series, I am Jazz. Says Jennings in an interview with Metro Weekly, “I don’t know if I would consider myself a role model. But really, in sharing my story for many years, I’ve seen a lot of positive feedback and people who I’ve impacted, it’s just so encouraging. And it really motivates me to continue sharing my story. I’m proud to be a representation of transgender kids for people to see, but I feel that I’m just doing my part in trying to achieve equality for all.”

Jamie Clayton

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If you’re a serial Netflix binger and you haven’t seen Sense8 yet, what are you even doing? Jamie Clayton plays Nomi Marks, a transgender, San Francisco-based blogger and hacker, in the Netflix original series. The show does an amazing job at depicting eight different and intricate characters, and Nomi is one of the most complex. Says Clayton in an interview with The Wrap, “I love Nomi, I love the character. She really represents something we’ve never seen before. It’s empathy. People come together to help each other. It doesn’t matter that they don’t speak the same language, it doesn’t matter their genders, their sexuality.” Just like Phelan, Clayton is able to create such an honest depiction of a transgender woman became she herself is transgender. “There has never been a trans character in a movie or on a show before whose story didn’t revolve around the transition,” says Clayton. “Nomi is the first. She’s living her life, she has a job, she’s in love. No one cares, because at the end of the day, we shouldn’t care that she’s trans. She’s a human being.”

Tom Phelan

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Tom Phelan stars in ABC Family’s (soon to be FreeformThe Fosters as Cole, a teenage, transitioning young man. This is a huge accomplishment in itself, as The Fosters actually casted a trans actor to play the part. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Phelan says of the role, “A lot of kids who are 14 or 15 have been telling me their stories and telling me that it’s been great to see someone like them on television. I feel really lucky to be that and share that with them. When I was 14 or 15 I didn’t know this thing existed. Characters like Cole and characters like [Laverne Cox’s] Sophia on Orange Is the New Black are really important, especially for trans kids who are coming into their own and just realizing that this is something that they might be.” He also feels that the role is authentic and individual. Says Phelan, “There’s really no way of knowing if this depiction is accurate because everyone is going to have a different experience. And I think that Cole is one of thousands and thousands of ways to depict a transgender person.”


Hannah Gordon

Blog Editor, What the F Magazine

 

 

 

Michigan Religious Freedom as an excuse for ambiguous discrimination

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Rep. Jase Bolger (R) source: http://www.freep.com

House Bill no. 5958, also known as “Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” passed the house on December 4th, 2014. Introduced by Representative Jase Bolger (R) and still in the process of being passed by the Senate as well as signed by Governor Snyder, this bill is known to all my friends as the bill that allows EMTs to refuse service to LGBTQ people. I decided to read the bill:

 “Exercise of religion” means the practice or observance of religion, including an act or refusal to act, that is substantially motivated by a sincerely held religious belief, whether or not compelled by or central to a system of religious belief.

There’s the kicker: “including an act or refusal to act.” So I ask myself, what were Rep. Bolger’s intentions in proposing such ambiguous discrimination into law? Although Bolger claims that this is not mean to permit discrimination, he cites possible protections to religious acts as a baker refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. While I think an easy solution would be for that same-sex couple to choose to support a baker that values their lives as whole and moral human beings, I still see the refusal to service based on sexual orientation as an act of discrimination.

Bolger uses phrases like, “practice their faith in peace,”2 to lie to the public about the extent of harm this bill may allow. On top of this manipulation, HB-5958 was passed in the house on the corpse of the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act amendment, which would have expanded civil rights acts to those in the LGBTQ community. While I live in the almost-utopia that is Ann Arbor, I can’t ignore the fact that Michigan ended up 5th in the Rolling Stone’s “The 5 Worst States for LGBT People.”

This article highlights the high rates of hate crime in Michigan towards, in particular, transgender women of color as one reason for Michigan landing on their list. It claims Detroit is the most dangerous city for gay travelers. Michigan bans adoption for LGBTQ families, it bans surrogacy, and it has no statewide protections for LGBTQ people in employment or housing. The end of the article eludes to hope in the Elliot Larson Act amendment—which I must remind you died in the house the 3rd of December. Michigan made the list totally independent of the RFRA bill that was passed on the 4th.

Let’s backtrack, though. What do I mean when I say, “the extent of harm this bill may allow?” This bill would in fact allow people on the basis of religious freedom to discriminate against LGBTQ people. The age-old question still remains in my head, how will they know if we’re LGBTQ people?

It makes sense for a baker to be able to pinpoint not wanting to service two women getting married because if two women are getting married they are clearly in a queer relationship. But, what happens when I call an ambulance and they pick me up? Will they smell the queerness on my skin? Will they check my laptop for a rainbow sticker? Will they look me up on facebook and see if I’m too close in pictures with too many women? How will these religious freedom junkies know that I am “against” their religion?

They won’t know for me. I pass incredibly easily. When I come out of the closet, I get men refusing to believe me and women telling me well you don’t look like a lesbian…what does a lesbian look like? How will they know?

The truth about discrimination is that it isn’t truly based on membership in a particular group. Discrimination is based on stereotypes, being able to pinpoint “tells” that tag certain people as a member of the LGBTQ community. The people refused for service by an EMT will be the same transgender women of color who face high rates of crime all across Michigan, the same gay boys who were bullied for being gay before they knew what gay meant, and people all across the state that ‘come off as gay’ without true membership in our community.

This is the meaning of discrimination. These are the consequences of exercising religion by acting or refusing to act. EMTs will not know if they will be discriminating against the LGBTQ population because no one knows how to correctly identify LGBTQ people. Shall we tag ourselves with pink triangles? This is the harm of the “Michigan religious freedom restoration act.” It must not pass the Senate. It must not be signed by Governor Snyder. I know I won’t be the first LGBTQ person from Michigan to leave if our rights fall to this level of disgrace. Only bigots will stay. What a loss that would be.


Gabrielle Kirsch

University of Michigan

The Incarceration of Avery Edison and Why it Matters

We in the US like to think of Canada as our non-threatening and much more liberal cousin to the north. This week, however, they are making headlines for a human rights violation: detaining a transgender woman in a men’s prison.

British comedian Avery Edison arrived at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Monday morning with the intention of visiting her partner and picking up some things she left behind before she moved back to London. Because she had previously overstayed her student visa, she was denied entry and interrogated by immigration officials. Though her passport identifies her as female, the officer regularly switched between male and female pronouns when talking about her on the phone. She even overheard him say that he had “one male ready for pick-up.”

Instead of sending her home to England, Edison was sent to prison. Before the officers determined where to detain her, she was forced to undergo a medical examination to determine her sex. When they saw that she was a pre-operative MTF (male-to-female), they decided to send her to Maplehurst Correctional Complex, an all-male facility. Never mind that her passport identified her as female and that there is a trans* unit at a nearby women’s facility. Her genitals were the only factor in this decision.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened in Canada. According to the Ontario Human Rights Convention, it is completely legal.

“Transgendered people may be placed with those of the sex with which they do not identify,” it states.

Since violence against the transgender community is widespread in the general population, one can only imagine the conditions within the prison population. If an inmate’s gender presentation is different from the rest of the population, they are far more likely to be abused by staff and inmates alike than their cisgender counterparts. Most people would consider this a cruel and unusual punishment. Not to mention that the law does not even get the terminology right (transgender is widely considered correct, not transgendered) Being humiliated and de-humanized before being sent to a violent environment the way Edison has is something that no one should ever have to experience. Hopefully this awful situation will provoke change in the way the legal system treats transgender offenders.

For more information and updates, check out the #FreeAvery hashtag on Twitter.


Lauren Harsh
University of Michigan

Featured Fem: Gayle Rubin at the University of Michigan

I know it isn’t Thursday (and this isn’t Instagram), but I still think it’s the perfect time for a #throwback. One of the most amazing women who attended the University of Michigan did so in the late 1960’s. But wait! This isn’t purely a throwback! She still teaches here in the Anthropology, Women’s Studies and Comparative Literature departments.  Who is this mystery Michigan woman, and why is she this week’s Featured Fem?

Gayle Rubin attended the University of Michigan in the late 1960’s and early 70’s – in the heat of the American Feminist movement. Rubin wrote feminist articles for the Ann Arbor Argus in 1968, and co-founded an early Lesbian Feminnist group, the Radicalesbians in 1970.

Well what else did she do?

In 1975, Rubin published an essay called “The Traffic in Women: Notes on the ‘Political Economy’ of Sex“, and it really put her name on the map. This paper is one of the most quoted essays in contemporary Feminist history. In 1984, Rubin wrote another groundbreaking essay, “Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality“.

What do these revolutionary essays say??

“The Traffic In Women”

[33] Rubin, G. (1975). The traffic in women: notes on the ‘political economy’ of sex. In R. R. Reiter (ed.). Toward an anthropology of women.

In this essay, Rubin investigates the origins of female oppression. Is capitalism to blame? This was a hugely popular idea of the day, but Rubin notes that it’s important not to forget that women are oppressed in societies that are not capitalist as well. As she searches for the source of a “political economy” in sexual systems, she also examines Lévi-Strauss’s writings about kinship. The idea of kinship notes the distinction between the roles of “gift” and “giver”, such as how women are given as “gifts” by their fathers, the “givers”, to their husbands in marriage. The kinship system turns biological males and females into the roles of “men” and “women”, and allocates a different set of rights to each, directly contributing to the oppression of women. Kinship helped Rubin come up with her innovative thesis on the distinction between sex and gender.

Gayle Rubin talks about this in her now classic theoretical essay, Thinking Sex. In fact, she has a whole graph designed that shows what is deemed “good” and “bad” types of sex. Heterosexual vanilla monogamists—are good. Not being married, doing it for non-reproductive reasons is like middle ground but not bad. Via http://krystalfawn.com/

“Thinking Sex”

The thesis of this essay is that the sexual is political.

Basically this means that a person is treated differently and inferiorly solely based on his or her gender or sexual orientation. Rubin defines a few specific terms that build up her argument. The first is “sex negativity”, the idea that if marriage, reproduction or love are not involved, sexual behavior is considered bad. Stemming from the Christian hold on Western culture, sexual activity is seen by the public as sinful. The second term is the “misplaced scale”, which is the idea that anything considered sexual is given an excessive amount of significance. For example, sentencing a man who engaged in child pornography to 50 years in jail and giving a man who murdered a woman 10 years jail time. Not to say that both crimes are not worthy of lengthy punishment, but looking at an example of the “misplaced scale” means that our society sees actions with sex involved as more intense than any other action. Both legally and culturally, a person cannot express sexuality without being scrutinized, while that same person can talk about religion or politics as much as he or she would like.

What else did this brilliant woman do?

In 1978, Rubin was living in San Francisco and she helped found the first known Lesbian SadoMasachism group, Samois. She became a sex activist and spoke at the 1982 Barnard Conference on Sexuality. In 1994 Rubin completed her PhD in anthropology at the University of Michigan.

Rubin recently published a book, Deviations: A Gayle Rubin Reader, on lesbian history, the feminist sex wars, sadomasochism, prostitution and pornography; it’s the next thing on my reading list and should definitely be on yours.


Tori Wilbur
University of Michigan