Category Archives: Culture

Homosexuality and Anti-Colonialism: How Homosexual Frenchmen Are Actually Colonialists

Miklos_Vadasz_-_L'Assiettte_au_Beurre_-_Les_p'tits_jeun'_hommes_02

(Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:LGBT_history_in_France#/media/File:Miklos_Vadasz_-_L%27Assiettte_au_Beurre_-_Les_p%27tits_jeun%27_hommes_02.jpg)

 

Before the conquest of the colonies many non-Western, indigenous, societies did not believe in a heterosexual/homosexual binary. In lieu of this binary, many indigenous societies had some notion of a third category for a person’s sex: a man, or woman, who would dress as the opposite sex but sustained same-sex relationships. The indigenous populations viewed these same-sex relationships as something natural, not perverse. Conversely in Europe, the production of the homosexual was well underway with the coinage of the term in 1891. Many of the men in the imperial army were aware of their colleagues who had “those” tendencies: certain men that enjoyed having sex with other men. Yet once in the colonies, the soldiers met with indigenous men whom were willing to have relations with them. The soldiers believed it was a “situational” homosexuality, as coined by Aldrich. But how was the knowledge of a “situational” homosexuality produced? In the words of Bernard Cohn, this “situational” homosexuality came to be through investigative modalities. (more…)

Kissing Strangers

Source: http://intothegloss.com/

 

Last summer, I was sent a message from a complete stranger through OkCupid, asking if I would like to meet him for a no-strings attached snog*. The message went like this:

You know when you’re sitting on the tube, on a bus, or even at your desk at work and someone walks past and you think: god damn, I wish I could just snog them right now. I mean, it happens on the screen all the time doesn’t it? People are always just randomly snogging strangers in the street and then walking off.
And I got to thinking, that looks like fun. But I don’t think I’m brave enough to actually ask anyone for a snog in the street in real life. And probably asking ruins it, anyway – in the adverts they just *know* that a snog’s about to happen, don’t they?
So I was wondering: would you like to meet me for a no strings attached snog? The way I see it, a day with a snog in it is almost always better than a day without. And snogs are good wholesome fun – no mess in your head or your bed.
We could choose a bridge in London and each walk from the opposite side to meet in the middle at an arranged time. Then we’d smile at each other, say hello, check that there’s some physical attraction (you sort of instantly know, don’t you? If there’s nothing, we can just turn around) and then have a snog.
Then just walk away again, like in a diet coke ad or something – have some fun and make a fantasy a reality? Don’t tell me you’ve never thought about kissing a perfect stranger…

 

Being a sociologist, and obsessively interested in relationships and sexuality, (and, partly, a hot-blooded woman) I couldn’t resist the opportunity to be part of snoggy a social experiment. Already it raised questions in my head about the nature of online dating, romance, and gender norms. Would it be perpetuating romantic ideals to do something ‘just like a Diet Coke advert‘? Was saying ‘yes’ to him asking for a kiss an act of consent? It felt like it might just be replicating typical gender norms (man asks woman for a kiss, how very Jane Austen…) Or maybe it could be empowering and agentic to admit that I we want to kiss a perfect stranger. (more…)

Considering Big Data Analysis as a Social Science

By ENERGY.GOV (Delphi Automotive Systems) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By ENERGY.GOV (Delphi Automotive Systems) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In early April, 2015, a self-driving car completed a 9 day cross country tour from San Francisco to New York City.  During the 9 day adventure, the car was fully automated for 99% of the trip – relying on its humans only to enter and exit the interstates.  The Audi car supported technology made by Delphi which uses a combination of advanced features already on the market including collision mitigation, integrated radar and camera systems, forward collision and lane departure warning.  While the company certainly used the trip to promote its products the more pressing purpose was to collect data – a lot of data – more than 3 terabytes of data over the nine days (about 30% of what’s on record at the Library of Congress) because the car’s technology needs to learn. (more…)

The Art of Consent: Sexualities on the Periphery

Love_Hurts

(Source:http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Handcuffs_in_BDSM#/media/File:Love_Hurts.jpg)

For the past few months, I heard much criticism, and trepidation, about the Fifty Shades of Grey series, and its first movie. The novel’s graphic scenes, the descriptive language, and the overtness of sexuality, or a specific sexuality, laden in the text have appalled many people. Why is that? I know the majority of my academic friends, as well as personal friends, will give me much flak about my attempts to theorize, and parse out the intricacies of “such” a novel; but I feel there many cultural undertones the novel deploys that people can learn, from the series. (more…)

How to Not Lose Your Sense of Self in a Graduate Program

411px-Colonial_Students_in_Great_Britain-_Students_at_the_City_of_London_College,_London,_England,_UK,_1946_D29304

(Source:http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Colonial_Students_in_Great_Britain-_Students_at_the_City_of_London_College,_London,_England,_UK,_1946_D29304.jpg)

So, you’re interested in pursuing a graduate program? Great! Before you start applying you have to; research which schools have the best department to fit your specialties, you apply to as many schools as you can to ensure at least one acceptance, and then you wait, and wait, and wait. The days turn into weeks, which turn into months, and then, you finally get an acceptance! You jump for joy; you cannot hold in your excitement. You want everyone to know that you got accepted into a graduate program. Upon acceptance, you submit your intent to register. Once you get into your program, you start to second-guess yourself, and your ability as an academic. What do you do to maintain your sense of self? (more…)

Difference and Support: To be a (Queer) Scholar of Color

Class

(Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AStudenti_ULBS.jpg)

 

For many (Queer) scholars of color (Queer is in parentheses because not all scholars of color identify somewhere on the Queer spectrum), including myself, attending graduate school is an enormous milestone. In my family, I am the first to attend college, let alone a graduate program. It was weird growing up, and to know that no one in your family could help you with your homework. When I was in 8th grade, I helped my cousin with her 12th grade math homework, so she could graduate high school. Although I knew my family would provide moral support, the support I actually needed would not come from them. I went through my undergraduate career without any role models with whom I could identify. Majority of the professors who provided me with opportunities, believed in me, and/or provided what support they could, were, majority, cisgender white women. I am thankful for all the opportunities and countless references these professors have provided for me. Statistically, I knew the amount of (Queer) scholars of color in graduate programs would be minimal: but, I had no idea about the trifling amount of support, or community, I would find in my graduate program. (more…)

Generational Changes in a Time of Evolving LGBTQ Rights

1280px-Russian_Embassy_in_Helsinki,_LGBT_pavement

(Source:http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Demonstrations_and_protests_in_support_of_LGBT#/media/File:Russian_Embassy_in_Helsinki,_LGBT_pavement.jpg)

In an age where millennials are starting to take primacy in the visibility of political change and its climate, especially in regards to LGBTQ advancements, the older LGBTQ generations are realizing that soon enough the millennials will need to take command of their political positions. Many of the older LGBTQ generations have been trailblazers from the start of an era known as the long 1960’s: having been there at the Stonewall riots, to now holding office positions in politics and creating juridical changes. A common thought amongst many LGBTQ activists is once the United States passes Marriage Equality at the federal level, there is nothing left to fight for in regards to LGBTQ rights. I would beg to differ. Once juridical amendments and changes are made, the battle is to secure its practice and implementation. Furthermore, to secure such practices, the LGBTQ community at large needs to orchestrate as one. (more…)

He, Him, His, She, Her, Hers, They, Their, Theirs, Zi, Zir, Hir…: Pronoun Use and Gender Policing

https://texaslynn.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/transgender-pronouns.jpg

https://texaslynn.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/transgender-pronouns.jpg

Have you read the recent New York Times article about Bruce Jenner and about their transition? While their gender identity is not yet confirmed, media has picked up this story and gone wild with the concept of olympian turned family millionaire turned media star is now “turning” into a woman. Every time, however, that I read a new headline about this story, I get shivers up and down my spine, not to mention the amount of pure rage and disappointment on how the media not only misrepresents, but actually oppresses the trans community by mislabeling these individuals with the use of the wrong pronouns. Simply put, refer to the person using the pronoun they identify with.

(more…)

Closing Gender Stereotypes

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Briar_Rose_in_flower_(6498552641).jpg

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Briar_Rose_in_flower_(6498552641).jpg

 

Sweet Briar College’s Board of directors announced last week that the college will close its doors at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year.  Sweet Briar is a liberal art’s women’s college located outside of Lynchburg, Virginia.  Current enrollment is estimated at around 700 students.  300 faculty serve those students and the faculty to student ratio is listed as 8:1.  Rising tuition rates and declining enrollments were the reasons cited for the demise of the prominent women’s college.  As alumni, students, and faculty rally to rescue the struggling college with fund raising campaigns pundits race to comment on turnaround plans. (more…)

Love and Homonormativity: One in the Same?

450px-Gay_wedding_a_by_Stefano_Bolognini

(Source:http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gay_wedding_a_by_Stefano_Bolognini.JPG)

What is love? Does everyone understand love as how Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines it? Starting from birth, everyone is taught to love: whether it is a family member, the family pet or a close friend. However, we are never socialized how to love an individual not related by kinship. Amorous love between two individuals is more like a trail and error process. Yet, American society would have one think falling in love is as easy as one, two, three: one only needs to watch a romantic movie. With the recent advancements of Marriage Equality, now extended to thirty-eight states, majority of LGBTQ individuals have adhered to a homonormative ideology. Homonormativity, as defined by Lisa Duggan, is, “…a politics that does not contest dominant heteronormative assumptions and institutions but upholds and sustains them while promising the possibility of a demobilized gay constituency and a privatized, depoliticized gay culture anchored in domesticity and consumption” (Duggan 2002). Is this what LGBTQ rights have resulted in, mimicry of heteronormative ideals that subjugate their everyday experiences? Is there only one specific way to love? (more…)