An online space for queer, questioning, lesbian, bi, trans and everything else in between women at Yale

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Where did I put the set of directions for my sexuality?

From the moment that I saw Whenever Wherever for the first time at age ten, I knew I liked girls. I didn’t know to what extent and, given a rather sheltered/evangelical background, I didn’t even properly understand what it meant to be queer, or to be some variation thereof.

From my pubescent fantasy of Shakira gyrating in the mud to a recurring dream of Billie Piper as a naughty teacher, I have definitely always had a Sapphic-shaped space in my heart. Even so, it never occurred to me until recently that “coming out” might be something that I should do.

From middle school to the present, I’ve toyed with the labels bicurious, bisexual, and—currently—queer. I’ve come to terms with this, however, in the context of an opposite-sex relationship. My boyfriend of four years has been there for every label change, for every tearful late-night phone call where I thought I was going to go to hell for liking girls, and he’s always had the same sweet reply: I still love you.

And I still love him.

He’s wonderful and sexy and sweet and even though I now identify as queer, I don’t see myself with another woman any time soon. Which raises the question: should I come out of the proverbial closet to my family and friends?

A handful of people know how I identify, but beyond a tight circle of family and friends, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know who to tell.

I hear about people throwing parties, giving announcements, celebrating their sexualities to the fullest extent in regards to coming out. But when I think of doing this sort of thing, I’m terrified: if the majority of my family ever found out about my sexuality, I’m pretty sure they’d hit the floor in prayer so hard and fast that they’d leave bruises on their knees.

Should I even come out, given the background of my family combined with my relationship status? I am happily in love with my boyfriend and don’t see my relationship with him ending any time soon.

I don’t know if I should tell my family or my wider circle of friends that I’m queer. I also don’t know how much longer I can keep my sexuality (mostly) to myself.

I realize this is a common issue. But, even so, there should be a handbook for this.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Femme Happiness

Femme, for me, is more a performance than anything else. I have just as much fun "doing" high femme for a party as I have "doing" drag--both, for me, are gendered costumes rather than representations of whatever inner self I have on that given day. In my everyday life, I tend towards what I might call "soft femme"--varying day to day with my level of femininity, but always leaning towards femme rather than butch (not that these are the only two options. They're just common ones).

In any case, I've recently gotten back to my femme roots. I've picked up certain rituals of American femininity which I'd dropped in the past three years, but with a newfound confidence learned in the queer community. I'm now confident that I can be read as strong, queer, AND feminine. Specifically, I've learned that performing femininity need not say anything about the ways in which I fit (and don't fit) into modern gender schema.

I'm overwhelmed with femme happiness. I've gotten off on this tangent about performance, but what I basically want to do is just list a few of the really femme-y things that make me happy, and that I've missed.

Painting my toenails while watching TV.
Wearing black eyeliner that turns up at the side.
Skirts that "Marilyn Monroe" when you twirl around.
This is pretty much what I look like.
Sequins. Lots and lots of sequins.
Dangly, funky earrings.
Lacy, matching underwear.

Sure, there's a lot I don't miss about being completely femme. Five-inch stiletto heels, for example. Lip gloss. Uncomfortably short skirts. And there's no way I'm going back to using ladies' shampoo/conditioner. Not when men's two-in-one is so much easier.

But these are just some of the many femme things that make me happy. And I just wanted to share the happiness with all of you! What are some of your favorite rituals of gender performance?

...and could that last sentence have been any geekier?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Work: An Eternal Cock Block

Ok, maybe not an eternal cock block (or the feminine equivalent... taco block-o?), but sitting here at 9:30pm on a Tuesday whilst there is a queer girls meet and greet certainly makes it feel as such. Granted, my student job is far from difficult, but with the combination of classes, homework and workwork, I'm beginning to feel socializing with fellow queer people has fallen by the wayside.

This little forced anti-social factoid is becoming increasingly worrisome to me. As an official upperclassman this year (egads!), I am realizing that my window of opportunity is shutting on me while I'm still only half way through it. All things considered, Yale has a pretty fantastic gay culture. Back home, not so much, and when I try to imagine my awkward self trying to meet a woman in the big wide world after graduation, I shudder with future embarrassment.
Ah, the awkward hug...

At the very least, I would like to leave Yale with enough experience to carry through into my adult life. So, next gay event, I am clearing my calendar. It's time to get out more.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Is she or isn't she?

So recently I've come up against something I think most of us have experienced: the dreaded uncertainty in determining the sexual orientation of a new crush. She's witty, sarcastic, liberal, confident, but ultra femme. The context of our interactions, being the classroom, doesn't help much either. I've tried to observe who her friends are, overhear any plans for the upcoming weekend, and pick up on any "vibes" that may be forthcoming. But alas, I am still left with an ambiguous reading.

This has always been a HUGE problem for me. Not because I'm completely lacking in gaydar skills, but due to the fact that I've always been attracted to very feminine women. Seeing as I'm fairly feminine myself, I don't help matters either. I usually have to let these ones go, mainly to avoid the possibility of making a move and dealing with the resulting awkwardness (if she's not) for the rest of the semester. I mean the class itself, Women, Food, and Culture, could offer a nice platform for making assumptions, but I've learned that's not a good place to start from (at all). And she's very outspoken on feminist issues, but again, that's another easily misinterpreted territory.

So, what to do? No, really, I need some advice here. How do you all proceed in these murky lesbian waters? Any and all stories are welcome!!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Celebrate Bisexuality!

Hey everyone! I don’t have any deep insights or thoughtful musings, but I do have something fun to share.  September 23 is Celebrate Bisexuality Day!

It’s been nine years since I first had “thoughts” about a girl, eight years since my first girl crush, and seven years since I told my mom about the “feelings” I was having. It’s been four years since I suffered from depression and hated myself every day because of my budding sexuality. It’s been three years since I first used the word “bisexual” in my head, two years since I first said it out loud, and a beautiful year and a half since I came out to my best friends and my parents. Now it’s been a year since I came to Yale, "out and proud," and had my first glorious girl kiss.

Bisexuality is not a stable identity for me. Depending on my current feelings, I use the term bisexual interchangeably with pansexual, queer, and a variety of other terms my friends and I have invented. But even when I’m not using “bisexual” to describe myself, the word means a lot to me.

Speaking the word—to myself and later to others—has allowed me to come to terms with a part of my identity that I promised myself, four years ago, I would never acknowledge. So I’m using today to celebrate bisexuality, and everything that it has allowed me to be. And I think everyone else should join the festivities. J

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

John Donne: He Had It Wrong

Happy Tuesday everyone!

As I was contemplating what to write about tonight, my brain went on an interesting tangent. I thought of Sappho, our blog's namesake, her writings, and the numerous writings about her (say hello to the English major), and I recalled a poem I had read freshman year entitled Sappho to Philaenis” by John Donne.
Sappho! (or possibly just some ancient Greek chick)

This poem stayed with me for numerous reasons, one of which being the fact that Donne seemed to have a very particular view of homosexuality; he believed that homosexuality was entirely based on narcissism. See as follows:

And, oh, no more; the likeness being such,
Why should they not alike in all parts touch?
Hand to strange hand, lip to lip none denies;
Why should they breast to breast, or thighs to thighs?
Likeness begets such strange self flattery,
That touching myself, all seems done to thee.
Myself I embrace, and mine own hands I kiss,
And amorously thank myself for this.
Me, in my glass, I call thee; but alas,
When I would kiss, tears dim mine eyes, and glass.
(full poem at http://www.angelfire.com/moon/sweetbitter/poetry.htm)

For Donne, men and women attracted to members of their same sex were infatuated with themselves. Needless to say, he was incredibly wrong. I am not attracted to girls because they look like me. Quite frankly, that's creepy (as is Donne's poem. The more you read it, the creepier it gets).

All that being said, I am glad I live in the age that I do. An age in which, yes, LGBT people still face horrible harassment and prejudice, but at least a time in which people are fighting for equal rights and recognizing that being gay is not "self flattery." An age in which Don't Ask, Don't Tell no longer exists. An age in which there is hope for great and positive change.

Monday, September 19, 2011

To Pee, Or Not To Pee?

It is the never-ending question in the queer community: to use the restroom, or to not use the restroom? For some of us, restrooms are a part of our daily lives. We go to the mall, drink 5 quarts of coffee, and pee every 10 minutes. For many of us queers, we mold our day around restroom use, dancing around with our legs crossed looking for the nearest family/handicapped restroom in the vicinity.

Restrooms are no place for a queer, or a perceived queer. Apparently, a heteronormative female is uncomfortable with a lesbian or transgender person entering the facilities. This is the place where she defecates and urinates into a porcelain bowl, washes her hands, and applies make-up. Rumors say that a grunting woman on a toilet tickles our fancy. I don’t know where they get this information. I don’t find myself standing on my tippy-toes to see every Martha Stewart fan pulling down their granny panties and letting one rip. I do find myself, however, being screamed at and threatened when I’m just trying to take a piss.

Unfortunately, there is also a lack of compassion for the environment. Toilets in public may be found clogged with used toilet paper and tampons. Sinks are full of hair and dirt. Spots of pee and puddles of water cover the tile. I would rather take a squat behind a dumpster and pee there. That would be much more sanitary.

Everybody poops, but not everyone has a place to poop. Awww.

On the flip side of the toilet paper, we can find relief in what public restrooms have to offer. Relief. Just walk in, ignore the wide-eyed women and screaming mothers, enter a stall, and pee. Curl your toes at that idea! If they call the manager, who cares? If you’ve got an I.D. to prove that you have a vagina, they have nothing on you. Behold, if you are further harassed, you can do the American thing and sue the queer-phobia out of those ignoramuses. It might make national news; therefore you’d be a martyr for the queer community and receive a lump sum of cash. Everybody poops, everybody wins!

I have never experienced this myself, but a public restroom is a popular place for hookups. Just dial that number on the side of the stall and Pat McButch will meet you there in no time, strapped up and ready to go. There’s an app for this, too. Type in your location and you will have people lining up at the door to get it on at the poop chair. If you use this app, comment below.

The choice is yours: to pee or not to pee. I choose not to pee. What about you? Let us know if you pee and why!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Checking Her Out

Something strange happens when you start working or living in a major city. Something stranger than the fact that you get used to using public transportation that smells like pee, and stranger than the fact that you recognize (by NAME, not just face) the Bible-beater in the fedora who stands outside your train station.

You notice—perhaps for the first time, if you’re me (and/or recently out of the proverbial closet)—just how many girls there are. Tall, skinny girls in funky dresses and heels. Short, curvy girls in tight jeans and colorful tops. Athletic girls in tank tops and shorts. Businesswomen in tailored suits (and sometimes ties). Your jaw gets tired from hanging open in awe of all the ladies casually passing you on the street.

And then, if you’re me (and/or overly self-aware), you feel like a total creep for staring.

I spend a lot of my time doing feminist activism, and even more time thinking about what it even means to do feminist activism. And I feel like on some level my objectification of random women on the street is strangely out of balance with the rest of my life. I spend my time fighting against objectification; I resent when I feel people have objectified me. Yet I spend my time on city streets giving random women the old up-and-down glance. And I won’t kid myself. I’m not exactly walking down the street and staring at these women for their personalities. This is a situation in which I am objectifying, whether I want to admit it or not.

I feel similarly about my reaction to mainstream images of womanhood—scantily clad, unnaturally thin women plastered across billboards, buses, and absolutely any ad on the internet. I mean, hello, have you SEEN American Apparel ads? I appreciate and enjoy these images on a purely visual level, but I feel massively uncomfortable with the fact that I’m buying into the commodification (and commercial alteration) of women’s bodies.

Perhaps my not-so-subtle glance at the cute chick in the bomber jacket who rides my train isn’t as harmful as actually plastering half-naked, digitally altered images of women on the subway walls in order to sell a product. But both are aspects of the objectification of the female body.

Maybe this is an overreaction. But maybe it's some food for thought.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lessons taken from an age of bomber jackets, Salt 'N Pepa

Let's talk about sex, baby. Let's talk about you and me. Let's talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be. Let's talk about sex. Let's talk about sex for now to the people at home or in the crowd. It keeps coming up anyhow. Don't decoy, avoid, or make void the topic because that is not going to stop it. Now we talk about sex on the radio and video shows. Many will know, anything goes. Let's tell it how it is, and how it could be, how it was, and of course, how it should be. Those who think it's dirty have a choice- pick up the needle, press pause, or turn the radio off. Will that stop us? I doubt it.

Hot to trot, make any man's eyes pop. She use what she got to get whatever she don't got. Fellas drool like fools, but then again they're only human; the chick was a hit because her body was boomin'. Gold, pearls, rubies, crazy diamond- nothin' she ever wore was ever common. Her dates- heads of state, men of taste, lawyers, doctors. No one was too great for her to get with or even mess with. The Prez she says was next on her list. And believe me, you, it's as good as true. There ain't a man alive that she couldn't get next to. She had it all in the bag so she should have been glad; but she was mad and sad and feelin' bad, thinkin' about the things that she never had- no love, just sex, followed next with a check and a note “that last night was dope.”

I don't think they're gonna play this on the radio. And why not? Everybody has sex. I mean, everybody should be makin' love. Come on, how many guys you know make love?

Let's talk about sex, baby

My mom nor dad has ever had “the Talk” with me. I have never been seated in a room and given an extended metaphor that was passed down from the frail generation that came up with comparing this intricate process to the “birds and the bees.” I have never been told that true love waits and that if a guy is worth it, he will wait for sex until we are married. I have never had generalizations and tidbits of Christianity shoved on my finger in the form of a promise ring. I have never been told the wonders of sex and the joys of finally being able to love someone completely and physically.

Instead I have been told to not worry about guys- they will come. I have been told that I need to support myself. I have been told that my priorities are my school, my family, and my career. I have been told that boys are not worth it.

From these slivers of wisdom, I have formed my own twisted view of what it means to talk about sex. My parents’ experiences were only based out of moments of passion and molded their scars over their hearts which peered through and terrified them when they tried to talk to us.

Their relationship was one of passionate embraces and bursts of lust. Out of their lustful ashes, my sisters and I were birthed. We are all just a little burnt.

Thinkin' about the things that she never had- no love, just sex

To be honest, I haven’t had either. I have never loved anyone fully and as a result, I have never had sex. I want to make love with someone I love and not just have sex. It may be the burn I got as a baby that reactivates itself every time I get in these situations. It is a weird sensation that ends in a brief pause and a sudden jerking away from whomever. I am always paralyzed by the sensation…

And there you have it, my biggest cock-block- fear. People react differently to fear and I just happen to let it overtake my romantic prospects. My bad? But each encounter helped me to see the situation clearly, to really evaluate what I wanted from them and what I wanted to give up. I never loved them but kept them for stories, for nostalgia, for experience. I am not cold-hearted just bruised. I am the one losing, I know; but, these things come when we least expect it right?

Sometimes I have the urge to give into my animal instincts- to be in a drunken state and start dancing with whomever wants to dance with me, to dance long enough to turn slightly and kiss them, to start a huge make-out session on the dance floor that leads to someone’s room, and to let be what will be. What stops me is my mind, the walk of shame, the feeling of insecurity that comes after, the explanation at the brunch table of where I was last night, the lack of love. If I have never had sex, I don’t know what I am missing and I don’t have the urge for that part of physicality- but I do.

Come on, how many guys you know make love?

Making love is an intricate process that, from my experience, very few get to really have. It involves confidence, faith, and trust. However, it is unfair to say that all guys don’t know how to make love. I can name a few guys I have met in my life that would make love and not just have sex. It is not to say that they wouldn’t fill the other moments with cheap thrills or tequila-breathed kisses and shivers but they are capable of embracing the anchored love with returned love. I wish I could fall in love with these men or at least experience their love. These men who have been taught correctly what love entails and who have learned how to treat people well deserve to be given congratulations.

To all others, I don’t want to settle for someone who cannot take responsibility for any of his actions and be honest. If you don’t love me, fine; but please be honest with me and be honest with yourself and your emotions. I know love doesn’t come from having sex x amount of times; I know that love is something that takes time; I know that love is probably something that you won’t have for me nor I for you after our consuming encounter. But please let us be honest with each other. Honesty is the first step to taking responsibility and to making love. There are times to be delusional and to believe whatever you want to believe; use those times wisely because eventually you have to come back to reality. Be open with your consent and your expectations.

To those who know how to love, thank you.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Take Your Clothes Off!

The summer before my junior year of high school, my co-counselor at this camp for foreign Chinese students told me that I would make an excellent stripper. As a slightly more mature twenty-year old thinking back, I suppose I should have questioned his motives behind the statement, but as a naïve sixteen-year old who had just learned the definition of confidence, I was overfilled with pride that he considered me cool and outgoing enough to pull off the perfectly respectable career choice of professional stripping. For some reason, over the years, his proclamation had always stuck with me, while his name, his appearance, his voice, his personality—everything else—have all slipped my mind. Originally, I thought that I remembered it because that was the first and only time someone had told me I would be a good stripper; thus, it was worth documenting in my memory bank. But when I thought more about it (yes, I spent time sitting down and analyzing this), I realized that perhaps, something about this statement had really struck a cord with me. And perhaps that something is related with my distaste for wearing clothing.

Really, all of this dislike for having cloth covering my body has been with me since my wee bit toddler years. In fact, my first memory is of a three-year old me starring in a spontaneous strip show in front of my grandpa and his mahjong buddies. I had decided that day that clothes were cumbersome and wholly unnecessary, despite my grandma’s best efforts to convince me that I looked fantastic in a red tank top and white leggings with pink polka dots. At my first chance, I squirmed away from her and snuck into the room where my grandpa was playing mahjong. Free at last! I tore off all my clothes and flung them away from me, relishing in the sudden breeze that tickled at my tummy. I wondered: Why didn’t everyone do this?

Apparently, my grandpa did not share my love for the nude, because he picked me up, slung me over his shoulder, and brought me to my grandma, who was waiting with a dress. She shackled me with the blue-gray short-sleeved dress, tight at the neck but flowy at the bottom. The sleeves bit into my skin (I felt), preventing me from moving my arms freely. She smiled at me, as if putting the dress on me solved all my problems. Obviously, that was not the case, since I immediately ran away and tried to break free of my new prison. The dress was longer than my arms could extend, and I could not get it off. I wiggled. I jiggled. Hell, I performed an entire dance routine, but it refused to come off my neck.

I finally gave up and collapsed on the ground crying with my dress flipped inside out over my head, at which point my grandma decided that it was naptime. Naptime was great because I did get to sleep naked. Problem solved…for that day.

In the process of growing up, I always preferred wearing the least amount of clothing possible (especially when at home and alone), even through those awkward years when body parts don’t fit together correctly (I just avoided mirrors). Even now, one of my favorite (secret) pastimes is hosting a one-person underwear-only dance party to my current favorite Youtube playlist.

I am not saying that I don’t like clothes. I’ve gotten over that silliness. I mean, clothes make a person look fabulous and hide all the “yucky” bits of the body, and like many people, I very much enjoy (read: love) shopping for clothes. Still, there is just something so liberating about letting my bare skin rub against the air. I don’t mean liberating in the sense where I feel like I’m freeing myself from societal pressures or customs, which is what I presume the naked runs/naked parties are more or less about. I mean liberating in a purely physical, even animalistic sense: I’m casting away these extra, unnecessary weights on my body and running around free and wild. It is as if I opened my sense of touch to the max, where every molecule of skin on my body is participating in the feeling of touching—whether it be my back flinching at the cool and glossy paint on a wall or my stomach and thighs nestling in a plush carpet. It is electrifying and sometimes almost frightening to feel a texture never before touched.

I like clothes. I like the idea of clothes. But no matter how beautiful or comfortable the shirt, the skirt, the dress, the pants, they cannot capture the pure joy of bare skin.

The Men's Section Makes Me Sad

There are many things I’ve wished for throughout my life.

I’ve wished for birthday presents, relationships with crushes, that cute puppy in the pet store, and good food in the dining hall tonight, among other things. Unfortunately, dear Sappho readers, some wishes remain unfulfilled. Sometimes, your relatives will not give you iTunes money, but rather will present you with eclectic tea cozies or nonfiction books. Sometimes, she (or he) just isn’t that into you. And sometimes the dining halls just have to serve “tofu apple crisp,” whatever the hell that’s supposed to be.

And sometimes—who am I kidding, ALL THE FREAKING TIME—the sexy-as-hell men’s jeans you’ve been ogling JUST. DON’T. FIT.

note: not a picture of men's jeans

I used to fit into boy’s clothes, I swear. Until the age of 12, I pretty much refused to wear anything but hand-me-downs from my older guy cousins, as well as whatever clothes I could steal from my brother. With the exception, of course, of an incredibly classy pair of neon floral leggings of which I was particularly fond. I’m super cool, I know. BUT ANYWAY. I loved my boy clothes, is the point.

And then…they came. Boobs. Hips. And an ass that seems determined to define (and stretch out) every single outfit I wear. When I happen to wander the men’s section now, I’m confronted by sad rows of jeans (and shirts) that are simply never going to fit me.

Hope lies in the new trend of “boyfriend” jeans, of which I grabbed a few pairs at Eddie Bauer during their denim sale. They fit like men’s pants, but have extra room in the back (and less room in the front…) for my bod. They may not have an ideal name (“boyfriend”? really?) but they certainly make me happy.

Peeps, have you had this problem with men’s clothes? Or am I not looking in the right place?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Feminism isn't just for your momma anymore

What is feminism? Is feminism something that only one type of person can be? To be a feminist, does one have to be a woman? Or even feminine? I suppose the definition of feminism depends upon the individual’s perspective.

I know that the media often displays feminism as a crazed phase, or even a mental illness. It is talked about as if it is a disease, something your children can catch in college. It’s a state of mind where a woman aborts her husband and family, sleeps with and/or schemes with other female conspirators, and is never caught without a megaphone. This is the stereotype, and (living in the ever so infamously red state of Arizona) I see this portrayal more often than not.

Growing up with constant brainwashing like this is quite a challenge, especially for someone who is queer. I was born in a female’s body with a man’s mind that is attracted to women, so that really set me up for an interesting life, right? My point is that feminism to me might be something unique.

I dwell in a body that is not mine. I do not like to have boobs nor a vagina. This is certainly not because I do not appreciate boobs and vagina. Let’s make that clear. They are simply not mine and they do not belong on me. In my mind’s eye I see myself as a short stalky guy with muscle definition, some fluffy body hair, and a tan to die for. Really, think about yourself as a female identified person with a penis between your legs and hair on your flat chest. How is that working out for you? It is not a hate thing, simply a gender identity thing.

I have been told that my thought process is more along the lines of male. I also have some physical male traits. I desire to do many “male” things, according to society. This is not a choice, rather a biological setting that creates a physical, emotional, and mental tension in my life. This tension causes me to ponder gender itself, how it relates to every individual on Mother Nature’s earth, and how it relates to our complex society.

Despite my contradictions, I am undoubtedly a feminist. I believe in equality (socially, economically, politically, etc) for all genders. I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I believe in a woman’s right to whatever relationship a woman desires (monogamy, polygamy, hetero, homo). I believe a woman can be involved in whatever dynamic she chooses (top, bottom, or both). I believe in a woman’s right to choose her path, and walk along that path safely without some chauvinistic pig to stand in her way.

My advocacy for women and queers, I believe, stems from a long battle of masculinity and femininity within myself. I began life labeled as a stereotypical girl. I was taught by chauvinists to be quiet, passive, gentle, and beautiful regardless of any pain it might bring me. As one reaches each milestone in life, life may call to be the opposite of one or all of these things. Make-up and dresses were also forced upon me (quite physically sometimes), and though I would protest for a moment, I would rebound to be what I was taught to be.

At one point in my life, this caused me to move into the completely opposite direction. Thus conjuring my “tomboy stage.” I did everything I could to portray myself as masculine. I began to wear boy’s clothes, cut my hair short, and eventually confess my crushes on other girls. Though I did not understand this at the time, this was the most natural thing I could do for myself. Unfortunately, I went too far. This masculinity that I was experimenting with turned to anger. I could not fathom to look at myself anymore. I had become cold, turned off emotionally to everything. No sensitivity. Not even for myself.

In my first year of college, it dawned on me that I am transgender. I figured out what I really was, and that there was a name for it. An amazing artist came to my school to tell his story of what being transgender was like, and I immediately identified with him. I noticed that though he had a beard, sounded, and looked just like a biological man, he was also sensitive and kind. He carried himself with confidence and strength. He was love and war wrapped in one. A wounded soldier who had survived his battles. He had emerged as a greater person. He had peace and balance in his life because he accepted who he is. He found a balance of masculinity and femininity and discovered his own gender. He accepted equality and individuality.

I am now along that similar path. Still battling to balance my gender, but still acknowledging my biological sex and what that means in relation to my mental and emotional health. Am I an entirely different gender between man and woman? Possibley. But does being just a man or just a woman mean that one or the other is wrong? No.

To me, feminism is about coming to terms with your own individual gender, struggling with it, and emerging as a more equal and loving person because of it. It is about acknowledging your own sensitivity and becoming stronger as a consequence of fairness.

Go off, ponder your gender and how it relates to the world around you and to feminism. Tell me, what makes you a feminist?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Coming Out at Yale (to family back home)

Ah, Yale. It's good to be back after three and a half months of a severe lack of queers. I must say, I have already had quite a (n unintentional) bang to the beginning of the semester. Prior to a few weeks ago, I was not out to any of my family back home. Because of their conservative beliefs, I decided not to bring up the subject of my sexuality and hoped it would simply be a non issue, something we didn't discuss- like a crazy aunt you keep in the attic or something.

Anyway, my brother, the member of my family with whom I have the closest relationship, came down to visit me one weekend. Due to a splendid game of "Never have I ever," he soon learned about some of my past behaviors. I was conscious of this, and watched his face during the game. He was surprisingly, in my opinion at least, non reactionary. When the night was coming to a close and we were walking back to my room, he turned to me and asked, "Hey, do you like girls?"
"Yeah," I said, partially because I love my brother and hate lying to him and partially because I was God damn sick of hiding.
"That's cool," he said, "I do, too."

And that was the end of it. Simple. Much easier and less dramatic than I expected. I still talk to my brother almost every day and nothing has changed. Coming out to him has given me hope that the rest of my family will be as calm about it and realize that the person I am and the person they love does not become some entirely different person the moment her sexuality is revealed.

Welcome back!

After living in serious queer desert this summer, I couldn't possibly be more excited to be back into to Yale bubble. Seeing obvious queer folks all over campus, and gay couples walking around holding hands still gives me warm fuzzy feelings! Im excited to meet all the new queers and allies on campus, and read all the lovely new sappho posts!
After living in a place where i was told that being openly queer would probably not being safe, and where I was the first lesbian most people had met me, Yale is the biggest contrast imaginable. By the end of the summer I was fed up of people telling me "no matter how hard you try you'll never be a boy" or "what's wrong with being a girl?" or my personal least favorite "you have a vagina don't you?". So, I was/am excited to be back where my gender presentation is a non issue, and is largely left up to me to decide.

Welcome Back

Hey Sappho!

First of all, thanks to our fabulous writers who have either already posted or have signed up to write! You are obviously what makes this blog a success and we couldn't do this without you... but actually (for those of you at the co-op meeting last night.)  That being said, WE STILL NEED MORE WRITERS!  If you are interested in writing, please email sappho.blog@gmail.com or email Claire Kelly or Lindsay Davis. You can post weekly or every other week and you can be completely anonymous if you so choose.

To the rest of Sappho, many of you have asked, so here are your answers:

yes, there will be gayme nights.
yes, there will be pregames.
yes, there will be parties.

Will they be as legendary as other parties that have happened in my room?
.... well, that will be for you to decide.

Keep an eye out for more info coming soon and welcome back!

The Age Question

I must admit that in my lesbian life I have always been attracted to older women.

...my idea of a hot date.

No, no. Actually that's not what I mean. I literally just mean women who are older than me.

In fact, every relationship (or hookup) which had a real connection was with someone at least 5 years older than me. Maybe it's because I feel I am rather mature for my age, maybe it's because, frankly, Yalies don't interest me, but for whatever reason I always find myself looking outside my peer group for something more.

I've gotten some odd reactions surrounding the topic of age and what is an "acceptable" difference and I'm interested to get more opinions. Here's a poll to let you to share your opinion:

create a free poll on pollsb.com

Monday, September 5, 2011

That Haircut Problem

You know what’s a hard summer activity? Finding the perfect haircut.

I had medium-long hair for a long time. I had a boy-cut when I was in elementary school (and refusing to wear anything but boy-clothes), but since then I’ve kept my hair at least shoulder-length. I decided last year that I wanted to finally try something approximating a pixie cut. After sifting through hundreds of haircuts online, I found the perfect one. I took the picture to my hairdresser and BOOM, all my hair was on the floor.

I LOVED it. There was no more hair on my neck, and I didn’t have to use a blowdryer. Plus, I got to explore a whole new section of the hair products aisle, populated by spiking gel, mousse, and hairspray specifically for short hair. I finally felt like I looked right. This would require much more self-analysis to explain, but my fashion sense changed too. After I cut my hair off, I went back to dressing like I had in high school—dresses, eye makeup, and all that nonsense I had done away with in the past year.

But. There was a sticking problem. This haircut definitely gave me queer visibility in a way my old hair hadn’t. But I couldn’t help but wonder if it gave me too much. I didn’t expect that cutting my hair would change the way EVERYONE looked at me. I found myself being approached by other queer women much more often, while straight boys didn’t look twice in my direction. As a gal with interest in all genders, I was a bit disappointed. More importantly, I felt myself being put in an identity box by people who wouldn’t have bothered categorizing when I had long hair.

A post-haircut, lesbian-identified new friend said to me, casually, about another girl, “I think she plays for our team!” I felt like protesting, “but I’m not on a team…” I almost wish I’d known that a short haircut apparently serves as a team uniform. I wouldn’t take back the haircut even if I could, but at least I’d have known what I was getting into.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Apparently, Feminism = VULGAR SEXUALITY

So if you haven't read THIS ARTICLE yet, you really should. Meghan Clyne's review of the Title IX suit in the New York Post has been all over Facebook today, provoking almost unanimous fury from the queer and feminist who come up in my News Feed. Whatever you think about the Title IX suit -- and I understand people who are totally conflicted about it -- this article is completely uncalled-for and offensive.

In case you don't want to read the entire article, here are some highlights:

"Before you shed a tear for Yale or its feminists, consider the role that both have played in saturating the campus with vulgar sexuality. In an effort to foster "dialogue" and "acceptance" of every possible sexual choice or act, they've drenched students, faculty and administrators in images and vocabulary of graphic sexuality."

Really, Meghan Clyne? Vulgar sexuality? The incidents cited in our attempts to hypersexualize all of Yale include hosting drag workshops during Trans Week and discussions about intercourse and its relations to patriarchy. OH GOD PEOPLE WEARING DRAG! OH GOD PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT SEX! VULGARVULGARVULGAR. This just seems ridiculous to me. And frankly, it's incredibly offensive. Heteronormative reactions like Clyne's are prohibitive to constructive dialogue and completely criminalize alternative sexualities. I don't personally see how drag workshops are a legitimate provocation for the "We Love Yale Sluts" incident. But what do I know? I'm just a little girl feminist. I don't know anything.

"When every taboo around sex is systematically eradicated, aren't cries of "We Love Yale Sluts" inevitable?"

Inevitable? Yes, please, please, PLEASE tell me that eradicating heteronormative, discriminatory, exclusive practices of sexuality is a cause for misogynistic chanting. Please, please, PLEASE demonize any form of public sexuality that isn't "inoffensive" to your poor eyes. I truly, TRULY do not understand how having discussions of masturbation or demonstrations of the use of condoms makes that incident okay. I also don't understand why we would want to keep taboos about sex that are clearly outdated, unhelpful, and offensive. You think that the administration should "insist on the basic norms that govern life outside the academic bubble"? Those norms are excluding of a large portion of the Yale student body. They cause problems throughout the United States for queer, feminist, and sex-positive people regardless of gender. The institution should work to eradicate harmful norms, not reinforce them.

And, perhaps the most ridiculous claim of all: "The people who truly must suffer in Yale's climate are those who disagree with the Women's Center's agenda."

The Women's Center. Is not. A majority. They are not the loudest voice on campus. And these incidents of harassment being protested by the Title IX plaintiffs are real incidents that occurred regardless of the Women's Center's attempts at advocacy. Sexual culture at Yale is not dictated by the Women's Center. In fact, my experience has been that--outside of the LGBTQ Co-Op events--sexual culture is far more dominated by hegemonic, heteronormative ideas of sexual interaction. Who in that culture is suffering because of the Women's Center? Should we feel bad for the members of Yale's campus who "suffer" because sexual harassment is becoming an increasingly public and less tolerated issue? NO.

Honestly. I want an answer from this lady. Who's really suffering? The members of campus culture who follow the norms of Yale sexual interaction? They seem to be fitting in just fine to me.

What does everyone else think? Am I overreacting? Or are Meghan Clyne's accusations of "sexual exhibitionism/vulgar sexuality" completely out of line?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Vagina Love

So if y'all didn't make it out to see this weekend's production of The Vagina Monologues, you missed out. Big time. And I'm not just saying that because I was in it.

"This is a story about how I came to love my vagina."
While it may seem weird, prior to the Vagina Monologues, I did not appreciate having a vagina. Don't get me wrong- on other people they were fine and dandy, but I could never reconcile general vagina love to self vagina love. As a woman who grew up in a conservative household, performing in such a feminist, liberal play was somewhat nerve wracking. I came from a household in which "naughty bits" were not mentioned unless someone was doing a biology project, and even then it would be in hushed tones as if we were speaking about something forbidden. Needless to say, saying "vagina" in front of a crowd of people seemed intimidating and, frankly, embarrassing. How was I supposed to yell about vaginas, profess vagina pride, when I had been conditioned to think of my own as merely a biological (and awkward) commodity? I can safely say that I have since been desensitized from that embarrassment, and I am eternally glad about that fact. Post VagMon, I have a new love for what I previously thought was just a weird anatomical thing stuck between my legs like an afterthought.

Love your vagina, love yourself.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Vagina Monologues

Since tech week has rendered me unable to write a legitimate post this week, I plan to shamelessly use this space to once again tell everyone that YOU SHOULD COME SEE THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES! Read the post below for details.

C'mon, ladies. It's going to be AWESOME. You can't miss this :)


Monday, March 28, 2011

Want to be thoroughly entertained and support the Rape Crisis Center of Milford at the same time?! Then this is for you...

This weekend Sappho is organizing a trip to see The Vagina Monologues together on Saturday at 6, and having a discussion after the show! 

A benefit production of
Eve Ensler's
The Vagina Monologues

Friday April 1 @ 7 PM
Saturday April 2 @ 6 & 8 PM
Sunday April 3 @ 2 PM
Crescent Underground Theater, Morse College Basement

Directed by Lindsay Davis.

Starring Carolyn Farnham, Naima Sakande, Becky Aston, Hilary O'Connell, Martine Powers, Shelby Davis-Cooper, Alexis Cruzzavala, Hayden Mulligan, Katie Aragon, Dilan Gomih, and Carmen Chambers.

Produced by Kendra Dawsey.

Sponsored by the LGBT Coop.

Email: VMticketing@gmail.com to reserve tickets

Students $5
Adults $10
to be paid at the door
100% of ticket proceeds benefit the Rape Crisis Center of Milford

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Defining Virginity

First things first: I am a virgin. Depending on your personal views and experiences, this may be shocking to some people, but there you have it. I am not, nor have I ever been, ashamed of my virginity, but upon entering college, there certainly were added pressures and influences. Nevertheless, my doctrine remains no love, no sex, and I'm planning on sticking with that.

I have reached a point in my life, however, at which my v-card is in a confusing state. As a bisexual, I can easily imagine myself with a woman or a man, but I never know how to define "sex." With a man, it's easy: sex is simply sex, and if I have sex, I am no longer a virgin. Simple, clear cut, to the point. With a woman, it's more complicated; I've talked to experienced lesbian and bisexual women, and their answers differ. Some have told me fingering can be considered sex, others say oral, and some said that a sex toy needs to be used. I guess my confusion comes from the fact that I can (and at some point probably will) sleep with a person of each gender, but if I sleep with a woman first, how will I know when my virginity is nulled? I highly doubt there is going to be some lightening bolt of knowledge or some cosmic vision or something, and I find the hymen argument silly (I mean, come on, it can break riding a horse. Does that mean Stanley the Stud has taken my virginity?). And if oral or fingering is sex with a woman, do those actions carry over to being sex with a man if one is bisexual?

For me, at this moment, I define sex as the most intimate moment you can share with another person. I don't know what that necessarily is, but I'm willing to bet it's going to be an interesting journey finding out.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Lesbian" Movies

Being a Film Studies major, I can't help but look for queer or queer related films. If you're in the mood for some lovin' but don't have any of your own, some of the films mentioned below might help fill the void (unless you're going straight to the hardcore stuff). Otherwise, if you're interested in lesbian depictions on screen, I'd recommend taking a look at some of these (when you're not saving the world, securing an internship, helping endangered gorillas, or whatever it is you incredible, superwomen are doing out there).

Some of my favorite "Lesbian" films (in no particular order):

High Art (1998) Dir. Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids are Alright)

Synopsis: A young female intern at a small magazine company becomes involved with a drug-addicted lesbian photographer, both of whom seek to exploit each other for their respective careers, while slowly falling in love with each other.

It's dark and sometimes unsettling, but the chemistry between Ally Sheedy and Radha Mitchell is palpable and raw. Very raw.

Water Lilies (2007) Dir: Celine Sciamma

Summer in a new suburb outside Paris. Nothing to do but look at the ceiling. Marie, Anne and Floriane are 15. Their pa
ths cross in the corridors at the local swimming pool, where love and desire make a sudden, dramatic appearance.

An intimate portrayal of what it means to come of age as a woman. It is in the subtle tensions and visual juxtapositions that the film makes its greatest impact.

Saving Face (2004) Dir: Alice Wu (Holler!)

Synopsis: A Chinese-American lesbian and her traditionalist mother are reluctant to go public with secret loves that clash against cultural expectations.

Hilarious and awkward and real. Explores the process of coming out within professional, personal, and cultural circumstances.

My Summer of Love (2004) Dir. Pawel Pawlikowski

Synopsis: In the Yorkshire countryside, working-class tomboy Mona (Press) meets the exotic, pampered Tasmin (Blunt). Over the summer season, the two young women discover they have much to teach one another, and much to explore together.

The cinematography and soundtrack alone are reasons to see this film, but the performa
nces are equally compelling. Blunt is especially seductive, and the screen loves her. One of my favorite scenes is after the girls take mushrooms and crash some type of geriatric ball, and they start dancing together. It's eerie and a little psychedelic, but also intense and intimate. The story is not about being gay as much as it is about love and the self-serving function it can have. It's a bit melancholy so I'd suggest saving it for the upcoming rainy spring days/nights.

The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love (1995) Dir. Maria Maggenti

Synopsis: An adventurous love story between two young women of different social and economic backgrounds who find themselves going through all the typical struggles of a new romance.

So, were you a fan of Tina on 'The L Word'? Been trying to find anything and everything that features Laurel Holloman? Well, this movie is for you. In one of her debut features, Laurel plays a shy, butch, and guitar-playing lesbian, who falls for a relatively conservative, well-educated, and ostensibly straight classmate. There's some Riot grrrl happening in the background and some terribly awkward but beautifully authentic scenes between the two. It's not a groundbreaking film by any means, but one that captures the self-consciousness and uncertainty that comes with any first real love.

But I'm a Cheerleader (1999) Dir. Jamie Babbit

Synopsis: A naive teenager is sent to rehab camp when her straitlaced parents and friends suspect her of being a lesbian.

It's definitely campy and loses some laughs along the way, but overall, it has plenty of momentum and comedic gems to keep you interested. It's also one of the only films to deal with rehabilitation centers for gays, despite it's satiric approach.

Kissing Jessica Stein (2001) Dir. Charles Herman-Wurmfeld

Synopsis: Jessica Stein is a hard-to-please journalist/artist who is constantly plagued by people trying to find the right "one" for her. When her ex-fiancée tells her she's too picky, she answers Helen Cooper's personal ad looking to make a friend, but gets more than she expects. Jessica doesn't think there's just one person out there for everyone, because plenty of people are kissing Jessica Stein

This is more of a traditional Rom-com, but one that's full of witty dialogue and a brilliant neuroticism. Jennifer Westfeldt, who plays Jessica, is adorably self-critical and anxious, but tender and sexy at the same time. Watching her relationship unravel with the other woman is everything you want it to be: suspenseful, intelligent, and unpredictable. You'll leave this one smiling.

That's all for now... I'll post more at a later date, if more is wanted :)


- A