Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I really want to put this image on my business card

but G. says it's "too depressing" and "not commercially viable enough"

Any thoughts?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

the ejaculate fairy

The other day I did a presentation for my History of Sexuality class on the female prostate. I began by quoting 17th century Dutch physician Regnier de Graaf. In 1672, he was the first to recognize the prostate as the ejaculatory source in women. He observed: The urethra is lined internally by a thin membrane. In the lower part, near the outlet of the urinary passage, this membrane is pierced by large ducts, or lacunae, through which pituito-serous matter occasionally discharges in considerable quantities. Between this very thin membrane and the fleshy fibres we have just described there is, along the whole duct of the urethra, a whitish, membranous substance about one finger breadth thick which completely surrounds the urethral canal…The substance could be called quite aptly the female prostatae or corpus glandulosum. Here too it should be noted that the discharge from the female prostatae causes just as much pleasure as does that from male prostatae.
I also provided the class with visuals taken from Female Ejaculation and the G-spot by Deborah Sundahl, which was referencing Dr. Milan Zaviacic's The Human Female Prostate: from Vestigial Skene’s Paraurethral Glands and Ducts to a Woman’s Functional Prostate. Dr. Zaviacic studied the female prostate extensively from 1982 - 1999.

These illustrations are courtesy of Dr. J.W. Huffman who created molds of prostates removed during autopsies.

I meditated on why this information has been suppressed/ignored. Sexologists Sevely and Bennet believe the debate began as a semantic confusion. They outline the debate as follows in their 1978 essay "Concerning Female Ejaculation and the Female Prostate" Initially, the generic term semen was used to describe sexual fluids both male and female. "Galen and Hippocrates argued that a fetus is as much like its mother as its father; mothers therefore, as well as father have child producing semen."

Aristotelians differed. They claimed “If ejaculation of semen for generation never takes place unaccompanied by pleasure, it must be true that women do not contribute semen, since they sometimes conceive without experiencing pleasure.” Furthermore: “a female sometimes becomes pregnant without having excreted any of her own fluid, but never without having gone through the monthly cycle; menstrual blood is therefore essential for generation, but not female semen.”

Once the Aristotelians won the argument, the language used describe both sexes was left to the male alone.
With no words left to describe female ejaculate, it disappeared right along with female semen.

I segued into Dr. Zaviacic's research. Zaviacic confirms that the female prostate is a functional genitourinary organ with a specific structure and function.Compared to the male counterpart, the female prostate has a similar structure, expression of prostate markers and enzyme equipment.He identified two functions: exocrine (production of prostatic fluid, ie female ejaculate) and neuroendocrine (production of hormones)As of right now - only the production of serotonin has been established.

Then to illustrate the way science is often used to prove what one already knows seen through the lens of particular ideologies I listed these conflicting quotes concerning female ejaculation:

“…sometimes described as being emitted in a jet which is thrown to a distance.” -Havelock Ellis (1937)
“If there is an opportunity to observe the orgasm of such women, one can see that large quantities of a clear transparent fluid are expelled not from the vulva but out of the urethra in gushes.” -Grafenberg (1950)
“Since the prostate gland and seminal vesicles are only vestigial structures in the female, she does not actually ejaculate.”- Kinsey (1953)
Man does this at the moment of pleasure, so presumably that little passive counterpart of himself which is the woman does the same. We wonder now how this can ever have been believed…”- Wayland Young (1964)

The last one got some rather amused chuckles from other women in my class.
Then I sited tests done by Dr. Zaviacic and one done by Shannon Bell that prove ejaculate is not urine. It has a higher pH, more gravity, less urea, less creatine and a much higher concentration of glucose.
(And on a personal note - which I most certainly did NOT include in my presentation, I can personally attest to the distinct difference between ejaculate and urine.)


I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised that my presentation raised some ire but the whys still upset me. My prof really took issue with the fact that female bodied folks could have a prostate. He could concede that we ejaculate, but only men have a prostate. Since ejaculate has to come from somewhere and using the term prostate has come up against so much resistance - I propose we start telling people that in female-bodied people ejaculate is delivered by a fairy. That's right the ejaculate fairy. And since several parts of the female genitals already have already been named by the men who "discovered" them (Thanks Grafenberg! Thanks Skene! -even though you came up short) we can dedicate the ejaculate fairy not to me but to the lovely sexologist whose name I erased from my memory, who when comparing the vigor of the male orgasm to that of the female said: the woman's orgasm is a flimsy thing, a gossamer nothing. C'mon -everybody knows fairies love gossamer. See it all makes sense.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

in seeming contradiction and in a chase for beauty

I have been in an ongoing dialogue with a mentor of mine concerning the nature of photography and the responsibility of the artist. This is a portion of said dialogue which stemmed out of our reactions to the Richard Prince exhibit at the Guggenheim and Kara Walker's exhibit at the Whitney.

To begin to answer your questions because these are issues to which I have given a great deal of thought and most likely will continue to do throughout my life as they always need re-examining:

1. I begrudge what I see as Prince's white universal given the context of the show - I do not mind that it is distinctly white I mind that it is not consciously white. I don't think work needs to be explicitly political or didactic - I want things to be beautiful as much as I want them to be smart - but the way Prince leaves race hovering almost imperceptibly in the background feels insulting at best.

2. Moreover - have you ever read Langston Hughes' "Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain"? He addresses these issues and I have always found that essay particularly inspiring - not without a hint of irony however given the closeted nature of his male-male sexual relations. In any case, I don't think that black artists have some sort of moral imperative or responsibility to create didactic art or anti-racist propaganda. I would certainly hope that you wouldn't situate me in that camp. I strive to create things of beauty that often elicit exploration of issues considered to be political....let me put this a different way. I think some of the difficulty I have had in trying to explain my work has come from the fact that I have been making a separation between emotion and intellect. This separation is artificial. Take my pictures of Mik for example - I photograph him because I find him remarkable, one of the most beautiful people I have ever seen. On an intellectual level - I know the two-sex model to be a construction, but I've seen and known many trannies before and not felt the urge to photograph them. It is my attraction to Mik that inspires my pictures not some desire to educate people on gender fluctuations. A million years from now, I would hope they still stand as strong images, inspired pictures taken by a lover - no matter what the current belief system is. I aspire to be like James Baldwin - the lush beauty of his prose is unparalleled and yet he was sharply political. I don't see any contradiction in that. Furthermore, I think that if you hit people with emotion, well crafted explorations of the complexity of human experience this is what moves people, keeps us connected. I don't want to teach anyone a moral lesson or show them that queers and blacks are people too. I would like people to first enjoy my pictures and then hopefully think about them and whatever my images may or may not mean to them is fine by me. Yes - I often have a point but I just as frequently take a picture because it is pleasurable to me, because I want to see what something looks like photographed.

Also - I think that being a person of color or a queer or working class or whatever will inform a persons work and they shouldn't run from it however it comes out. The best work is honest work I think. Whether it is didactic or not in my world is irrelevant. I just think that denying one's subject position is poison to an artist as it results in work that is sterile and detached. I think in your choice of subjects and the dignity with which you photograph them speaks volumes about you as a person - making a beautiful picture of someone that is not considered beautiful can be a strongly political act but at the end of the day we both want to make images that outlast whatever political relevance they may have, no? I am thinking now of a novel like "The Well of Loneliness" - what an important historical document but what a chore to read - I would never want someone to assess my work in that manner and I don't think you would either. Our thinking may be more in line than you realize...

You are right in your observation that these beliefs exist and they do merit additional exploration for sure. I have experienced it personally during my poetry performances it is often only during my pieces that are explicitly about "the black experience" that I receive hoots and hollers from brown folk and I do find that sad.

I would love to discuss these issues further if you have the time. I have to finish getting ready to leave the house now.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Mississippi River, August 2007 Fire Island, June 2007

Swamped with work, no time to finish any new posts so you guys will just have to settle for some photos I took over the summer. At work right now and I can't focus enough to write with constant interruptions so I was re-editing stuff I shot over the summer. I noticed these two that I originally overlooked and I like the way they work together. An art rep came to my class on Monday and we looked at a lot of photographer's books so I have been thinking a lot about pacing lately. I am excited to start work on my book.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Sometimes I take a picture and I don't even know why I do it except that I saw something I wanted to hold forever.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

Art is....(a freewrite)

Art is whatever the artist says it is Art for arts sake Duchamp Rimbaud blah blah blah Art is whatever whitey says it is ha! you call my art propaganda 'cause its got a point or you ask me do you really talk like that? your dialogue is so intellectual so analytic or you stare blankly say what's your lifestyle like? as if life came with style and I do have style it just doesn't fit your design school me if you must give me my 5 years my receipt I mean degree oh but I'm not bitter I'm just playing you know I love you Parsons I managed to find some folks hiding in bureaucratic cracks who finally don't wanna break my back but lift me up to where I need to be where I'm reaching to be Look Out, Whitey! Black Powers Gon' Get Your Mama! and its coming through in subtly didactic poetry and pictures and places you'd least expect it to be its in that beautiful story you just read or that portrait I took you look and you might not see but its seeping into you taught me one thing - I already knew how to listen but now I know you don't I know how to slip meaning into songs you think you're only dancing til you start to sing along follow the beat here we go something to break it down to before you know it you start to question all that you've been taught these thoughts where did they come from and you finally see me in all my beautiful complexity
or you don't
in either case its fine by me 'cause I'm loving what I see and seeing what I love at the tip of my pen or behind my lens its here its always been here whether you listen or not whether you care or not whether you dare or not you don't have to dare me I've already told the truth be told you've already been sold but thats good 'cause I'm not here to buy

Puff the Magic Tranny: A Morgan/Danger Production

To be sung to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon" of course

puff the magic tranny lived in St.Paul
and frolicked in the chilly mist of weather that felt like fall
little brkln grrl loved that flaming puff
and brought him books and photographs and all that glittery stuff

oh puff the magic tranny lived in St.Paul
and frolicked in the chilly mist of weather that felt like fall
puff the magic tranny lived in St.Paul
and frolicked in the chilly mist of weather that felt like fall

together they would snuggle on a bed with bright green sheets
puff he always reveled in b-girl’s amazing feats
local Minnesotans would gawk when ere they came
genderqueer interracial love would never look the same

oh puff the magic tranny lived in St.Paul
and frolicked in the chilly mist of weather that felt like fall
puff the magic tranny lived in St.Paul
and frolicked in the chilly mist of weather that felt like fall

trannies live wherever but not so brklyn grrls
winding streets and fargo speak gave way to the NY world
so when that day did come b-girl had to head on home
puff he packed his papers and books and his favorite garden gnome

with his lifelong love, puff could now be brave
he felt like he could take the world no matter what it gave
they would live forever in a house without a stove
summers they would make their way to play in Cherry Grove

Oh! puff the magic tranny left little St.Paul
to dance down the city streets never afraid to fall
puff the magic tranny left little St.Paul
to dance down the city streets never afraid to fall

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Destroy Heterosexual Privilege: Abolish Marriage!*

Another day, another argument, Ok debate if you will. I made a failed attempt this morning to explain the nature of the divide within the queer rights movement concerning the issue of gay marriage. I was trying to convey to my History of Sexuality class that there is a split between those (and I align myself with this camp) within the LGBT rights movement that are calling for a radical revision and those with more assimilationist aims. The push for gay marriage is at the front of the assimilationist movement. I am not suggesting, as I fear I may have been misinterpreted this morning, that gays or anyone should not be allowed to marry. But rather, I am trying to impart that the pursuit of the right to marry as a primary concern comes from a privileged place. Moreover, it approaches the debate from an assimilationist perspective in that it seems primarily interested in proving that gays are just like straights and therefore deserving of the same rights and privileges.
It is this tactic with which I especially take issue. Why should I have to prove that I am just like you in order to be protected under the law? Is my life only of value insofar as I can prove that I am you? Why cannot my own culture and beliefs be respected and valued if they do not mirror your own? Assimilationism does not go to the root of the issue, which is that people are oppressed because of difference. We are dehumanized, othered, referred to as “it.” It is this line of thinking that allows for acts of brutality – after all, if someone is not even human what’s the harm in assaulting them? If you do all you can do to erase or downplay that difference, you do nothing to repair the source of the problem. So you find more mainstream gays doing all they can to distance themselves from us queers less we embarrass them and hurt the movement. Their goal is to fit in, gain access to the American Dream, live a “normal” life, replete with all the consumer driven creature comforts and freedom to exploit others which are the god-given privileges of those in power.**
I don’t want that. I see nothing radical about reinscribing myself and my relationships with bourgeois values. I am reminded of wise words once spoken to me by an old school feminist activist and my former professor: “The presence of women does not indicate the presences of feminism.” So too – the presence of LGBT folks does not indicate the presence of revolutionary acts or thinking. If LGBT folks merely perform identical actions to those previously in power, they are no better. Having some queer faces in high places hardly bespeaks revolution, merely assimilation. And I for one would like to think we have better to look forward to than the queer version of Condaleeza Rice.
The reaction to the stripped down version of ENDA does give me some hope, however. Shockingly, Democratic leadership in congress decided to strip protections for gender identity and expression from the proposed Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act. What actually did shock me was the way in which all these LGBT orgs rallied around the cause to keep protections surrounding gender on the bill. I thought for sure that this would be used as another excuse for mainstream gays to leave genderqueers and trannies by the wayside. For once, I am quite ecstatic to be wrong. The bill, if it passes, would protect LGBT folks as well as anyone whose gender identity or representation does not conform to generally accepted expectations. Hold your breath kids, it hits the House floor this week.

*Even though I originally titled this post as a joke, I sometimes think we would be better off without marriage, in the legal sense anyway. I am all for lifelong partnerships and ritual celebrations. But nowhere does our alleged separation of church from state seem more fallacious than within the institution of marriage. Even if everyone could marry whomever they wanted – marriage would still be a bourgeois institution designed to facilitate allegiance to the nation-state. In looking at the history of bourgeois sexuality, the kind that is supposed to only occur between a married man and woman procreatively, – it is nothing more than the establishment of heteronormativity as it benefits the nation-state and reinforces Judeo-Christian values. It has little to do with fostering and encouraging love. Rather, it is a system of control. If you want to be contractually obligated to someone under the law – why not go to a lawyer and draw up a contract instead of incorporating it into a ceremony that is supposed to be about love? Answer – because if your way of loving was not tied to the government how would the government exert such powerful control over you? It is in their best interest to keep the American Family alive and well. Not because if we didn’t our country would be peopled with degenerates and nancy boys gone soft and queer because of feminism. No- it’s because this country needs to give you a reason to go off to war, to keep the wheels of commerce grinding away as you grind your life into powder working to afford all these things you don’t really need. We are a consumer driven economy after all, which makes it our moral imperative to buy buy buy. I would even argue that bourgeois notions of propriety and prudery function to indoctrinate people into a system of paternalism that prepares them to become unquestioning allegiants of the nation-state. Being made to think that certain things are unspeakable shames folks into silence and deference to a higher authority.
**Can I just tell you how my heart was warmed by encouragement from a fellow student who insisted that gay marriage would lead to greater acceptance and safety? To paraphrase – It would protect you, not from like gay-bashing but you know having a partner and you know gay marriage will lead and help out with things like employment and healthcare and stuff. Hunh?
So if you already have good healthcare you can share it with your partner. That’s all fine and good – but what about discrimination in healthcare and employment? What about queers that are assumed to have STIs and therefore are not given appropriate testing or proper treatment? What about trans folks who are denied treatment at all? I sincerely doubt that getting married would suddenly wave away all employment and healthcare prejudices. Not even ENDA is gonna do that, but it does give us stronger grounds on which to stand when our employment rights are invariably violated.
Our South African LGBT family is dealing with that right now. In 1996, South Africa became the first country to include protection of discrimination based on sexual orientation in its constitution. Same sex marriage was legalized in South Africa in November 2006. Despite this anti-gay violence remains rampant. The preceding link comes from Behind the Mask which is an amazing non-profit media organization that publishes a news website which covers all things LGBT throughout Africa.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Boi's Glory is in his Hair

I remember the first time I noticed them - these little black hairs sticking out from his chin. It was karaoke night at the Otter. It was our first extended conversation and we were talking about Alice Walker and different feminisms in between locking eyes and grinning and turning away, laughing at our awkwardness even as our discussion was serious. It was also our first interaction under reasonably bright light. I remember remarking on how odd that a bar should be so bright. My eyes traveled from his naturally ink black hair to the hunter green of his eyes and to these little whiskers on his chin. I figured he was genderqueer but I didn't yet know how he felt about transitioning. In any case, I found his gender transgression as evinced by the presence of those hairs to be beautiful and brave and incredibly hot.

Whiskers I, St. Paul August 2007

The next afternoon, I saw them even clearer as we stood kissing on his porch, the unseasonably warm February sun glinting off them. Sadly, the next time I saw him they were gone. I could tell by the little red swellings on his chin that they had been plucked. I didn't say anything because I didn't think we were at that stage yet. I hoped inside that he had not done this for my sake and I cursed myself for not praising his whiskers sooner.
A few months went by and I began feeling comfortable so I dropped some subtle hints. What happened to your little hairs? And when he would mention plucking - You know, you don't have to do that for me. Until finally, once I grew comfortable - I love your whiskers! Bring them back!
So the whiskers made a glorious come back. It turns out my love liked his whiskers, but felt like other people would find them weird or problematic as they misgender him as female.

Whiskers II, New York October 2007

My love told me that people stare at them. I stare too.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I am so in love it is ridiculous

Sunrise, New York June 2007

Dangerous, New York October 2007

I have been photographing my lover since before I knew him, before we spoke a word. Its weird to think about. I love it - I have never photographed someone so extensively before. I've never been inspired to. We have a whole record of our relationship in photographs. What a gift! To have that - you can watch us falling in love.
I think of my photographs as a tribute to him. When I first saw my love, I felt so overwhelmed by so many different things. I felt like suddenly I understood what Alfred Stieglitz saw when he saw Georgia O'Keefe. But I never imagined it could be this good.

Identity Politicking Part II: Who am I and why should I care if you know?

All the reading I’ve been doing got me thinking further about how things would have been different if identity hadn’t been set up around sexuality. What if queers hadn’t been forced to create our own subculture in reaction to being classified as perverts? How would humans relate to each other sexually then? Would it be more free flowing with people acting on their attractions without identity crises since who or what you did wouldn’t define you?
All musings on sexual utopia aside, I’ve thought about this before of course. I am well aware of how segregated our social networks are and how identification can be limiting even as it is liberating. It’s so easy to give in to the pressure to de-emphasize or deny parts of yourself that do not fit within given rubrics. Or you have to advocate for a new identity or way of being known so you don’t feel invisible or unknowable, outside the matrix of intelligibility, if you will.
I had all this in my head as I was talking to a close friend of mine about how he seriously has to start consistently using male pronouns with my partner. This wasn’t something we had strongly emphasized until recently. Over the summer I introduced him as my girlfriend after a discussion of what terms we would use and we gave folks the option of using whatever pronouns they want. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, a few people switched between male female and gender-neutral pronouns, but mostly they just defaulted to female.
My friend G. conceded that he realized his fuck up when he said “Goodnight, ladies” and saw the look in my partner’s eyes. Oops, shouldn’t have done that, he thought, but it was too late and would have been socially awkward to apologize at the moment.
G. went on to say that it was complicated for him and the other Conchitas*, which is not to absolve him of responsibility by any means, because even though they can see my partner is a boy, “He certainly looks like a boy, a gay boy.” G. says, he’s with me and the Conchitas see me as a dyke. So it seems my dykeyness is canceling out my partner’s faggyness. How’s that for a brain twister?
G. and I spoke further about my identity and my partner’s identity and how the perceived relationship between the two generates a variety of confusion for folks as we challenge existing concepts of gender and sex. I tried to explain to G. how my partner felt left out that evening and that, no matter how we look to them, we are not lesbians. I think he got most of it. At least I hope so. But then he asked a question for which I did not have an answer, not least of all because I am loathe to explain someone else’s identity – I don’t kid myself into thinking I know exactly how it feels to move in the world in another’s skin, even my lover’s – G. said, “I understand that you’re not lesbians, but why does he want to be a fag like us when he can be his own special thing?”

My love and I have had quite a few conversations now as to how to maintain queerness in our relationship as his transition progresses and more people start to see him as male. We’ve tried to anticipate how this will affect how we relate to each other. Will I want to be less affectionate with him in public as people start to identify me as an object belonging to some man, as they are wont to do when a guy has his arm around a lady? Will I have an increased need to assert my autonomy in public as people try to ascribe traditional gender roles upon us? Will they hand him the check? Acknowledge him first? See me only as his property? And though it will be less stressful not having to worry so much about anti-queer violence – we don’t want to lose our queerness. We may lose the hostile looks on the street – but what about when we lose the friendly conspiratorial gay eyes as well?
We came to the conclusion that what was most important was our friends. I assume the folks that know and love us will know who we are and see us as such, in all our lovely complexity. We will still be living in a very queer world. We are both adamant about not being absorbed into some sort of heteronormative existence. I think the most issues will arise in public spaces and from meeting new people. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little anxious and scared.
Even though I’ve passed as straight out of fear during various intervals of my life, I really hate being seen as straight. Having been in relationships with straight identified males, I remember well the claustrophobia, that feeling of being completely cut off from myself as my identity was absorbed into another’s. As heterosexuality was assumed and my partners pressured me to stay silent and straight lest their family and friends think I was sexually depraved and socially and emotionally maladjusted, (Just for kicks, I recommend trying to think up all the bisexual characters you’ve seen in pop culture and see how many you can name that weren’t slutty or half crazy.) I literally felt like I was dying. It’s a god-awful feeling, being forced to hide who you really are. Disassociation ensues as you wonder if these folks who fawn over you and tell you how great you are for their son would feel the same if they knew you. You begin to feel like they are praising someone else even as they look into your eyes. You wonder, what do they see? You get scared – am I a disgusting freak? A monster? Someone who has to hide their obscenity from decent god-fearing folk?
Thus the importance of having community support. Being perpetually surrounded by heterosexism distances you from yourself and you start to forget, or at least I do, that you are worthy of being loved for who you are. And nothing will ostracize you faster from your queer community than a soul-sucking straight boy who demands all your time. Having said that, I am happy to say I don’t have to worry about that with my partner, as he is a queer identified trannyboi. Oh lord, never bioboys again. I could do a thousand joyous jumping jacks just thinking about it. Anyway, my love and I have no intention of leaving the community that has nurtured us and makes us feel at home.

Not long after all these discussions, the boi and I were talking on iChat, when one of my coworkers looked at my computer screen and asked, “Oh, is that your boyfriend?”
Without hesitation, I answered yes. I looked back at the screen and my partner and I grinned at each other. The self-confessed nosy girl kept looking over at my screen throughout our conversation, even interrupting to tell us that she thought my lover looks like one of the characters from that 70’s show. It was the first time I had been read as straight in a long time and I still haven’t unpacked how it made me feel. I wasn’t bothered by it per say. Though I did get a little nervous fearing that one of the Conchitas would stop by and use the term girlfriend or make a gay joke at me. Thereby promising a particularly awkward scene with this girl with whom I have to sit at a desk once a week for four hours a minimum of two months more at least.
I have to say it was weird though – because once I logged off of iChat, having now seen proof of my boyfriend and hence my heterosexuality, she proceeded to bond with me over her own dating woes. I notice this rarely happens when I am seen as queer, as if I could not relate otherwise. This has always been odd to me. But then again, any investment in maintaining sex difference always has.
*The Conchitas are a group of gay men with which I hang. I, of course, am a "Conchito."

Identity Politicking Part I

Tuesday in my History of Sexuality class, I had to introduce the day’s reading and give some points for us to talk about. The selections were under the heading “Sexology/Perversions” and came from Sexuality Ed. by Nye and Foucault’s The History of Sexuality: An Introduction. I prepared two main points knowing full well that in all likelihood the first would be met with quiet diffidence.
The first point I raised concerned an excerpt by Sander Gilman taken from his book Difference and Pathology: Stereotypes of Sexuality, Race, and Madness. This excerpt, I noted, was the first selection we have read this semester in which sexuality was racialized. Gilman introduces the idea that in the 19th c. we began to view sexuality as occurring in progressive stages. This inherently racist evolutionary worldview reinforces the system of Cartesian binaries (under which we still operate) in which the white European male is seen as the most advanced stage and the black woman is seen as the primitive stage. Thus a binary is set up between self (white) and other (black) in which the Other is seen to embody the lower more primitive type. This, of course, is a paradigm which continues today. For further investigation in which the man continues to exploit and profit off of fantasies of the hypersexualized black person see Byron Hurt's documentary Beyond Beats and Rhymes or simply look around you and pay attention.
To my professor’s credit, he was very excited that I had raised this point, encouraged me to speak further, and tried to provoke the class to join in the discussion. However, as I predicted, we were met with a sea of placid speechless white faces and my black friend on my right staring down into her notebook. Of course, it is not the responsibility of the two sole people of color to take up the topic and preach to a bunch of disaffected white liberal arts kids so I hold no ill will for her silence. Especially since as of late I have been too tired to speak up and out in class as well. As one of my mentors once said, “I get tired of educating whiteness.”
So I moved on to my second train of thought in which I recapped another overarching theme of the readings. In the 19th c., we witness the advent of sexology and hence the medicalization of sexuality. Instead of religion defining the correct way to have sex (heterosexual missionary procreative married) we now have sexology. Not surprisingly, medicine was in collusion with the Judeo-Christian ethic in terms of the proper way to relate sexually to one another. Therefore, previous sinful sexual acts were now medically defined as perversions. Not only that, but those who practiced these acts were classified and identified as perverts. (There were some exceptions of course as Krafft-Ebing explained. According to him, depending on what led up to the perverse act(s) one could be classified as a dyed in the wool perv or not. He wrote: “In order to differentiate between disease (perversion) and vice (perversity), one must investigate the whole personality of the individual and the original motive leading up to the perverse act.”) Thus began the process of sexual behavior defining ones identity and therefore step one in identity politics as identities were formed by the so- called perverts (see also homosexuals, masochists, sadists, etc) around these classifications in resistance to the power held by the medical establishment.
What is also interesting about this moment in history is the shift from so much attention and analyzation of hetero married relations to a sole focus on the classification and specification of perversions. Suddenly, “legitimate couples”, as Foucault calls them, have more right to privacy and discretion. I see this continually manifested today in terms of the ways in which desire is codified and negotiated within the queer community. (Tops, Bottoms, Switches, Bottoms, Daddies, Ponies, etc, etc.) Moreover, in the ways in which straights will not even hesitate to ask us who puts what where and who gets on top, in such a way as they would never off handedly question a fellow straight person or expect a queer to ask of them as if they had some sort of right to this information. I find it so odd and not at all enviable that there is such a silence concerning what straights actually do. Outside the realm of kinky sex or BDSM there doesn’t seem to be any explicit declaration of which sex acts one prefers or what end one would prefer to be on and certainly there is no identity formed around these preferences, as if “straight” covers the entire plausible expression of sexuality in terms of what happens between hetero lovers. Honestly, I don’t know how heteros who like the same kind of sex manage to find each other. I’ve had a total of one straight identified male-bodied lover with whom I really got on with sexually.
Although I have a problematic relationship with identity politics – I’m not so sure that I want the sum total of my being determined by what I like sexually- however there needs to be a way of identifying and negotiating desire that will facilitate pleasure more easily for everyone. I am all about bringing the hanky codes back. Even for straights. C’mon guys, let’s all get in on the fun!