Exciting! This is my first piece on AfterEllen.com, and here’s the clip of the front page to prove it.
For as long as I can recall, I have been obsessed with butches. Whenever I spotted some type of female masculinity on any character, on TV or in films or a performer or comic, I couldn’t help but to take note. My chest tightened and I held my breath a little. Their very presence can be a surprise, stopping me in my tracks.
I used to think it’s because I wanted to sleep with butches, but now I know better. I suppose it was that Do-Be-Do-Be-Do Complex, the question of whether I wanted to do her, or be her. Now I know: I wanted to be her.
Five Ways to Improve Your Sex Life
February 10, 2010
Mr. Sexsmith’s Other Girlfriend for SexIs
I won’t lie: Sex has saved me. From myself especially. From going so deep into the spirals of my own brain which could drive me crazy. But when everything is perfect, there is no mind in sex. There is just feeling; just the body, moving, stretching, pulling, reaching, opening, pulsing, listening, taking, giving; just sensation.
And that’s precisely what I need on days where my mind is racing and I’ve spent one or two or eight too many hours in front of the computer screen, the only sensations being my ass going numb, my eyes getting tired and sticky with lack of lubricant, and my fingertips tip-tapping away at these little lettered keys. I live in my mind. Don’t most of us, these days? Most of us, anyway, who would be readers of a sexy intelligent site like this one.
Sex has saved me from that inward spinning. Palming the responsibility of someone else’s bruises jolts me up and out of my brain and reminds me that I am connecting; I am pounding out ripples with everything that I touch.
If New York City was on Facebook, our relationship status would say “It’s Complicated.” I love her, I do; I have idolized her since I was a kid, watching all my favorite cheesy eighties movies like Big Business, The Secret of My Success, and Big, over and over again. Our culture mythologizes her, paints her as the place to be, so full of potential. She might even be The One.
Everyone comes to New York seeking something very similar: belonging. Especially in the communities in which I run—the queer, the kinky, the subversive, the social change junkies—we have all come from other places, other more small-minded, limited, restrictive places, hoping that the Great Mythology of New York will hold true for us, too: “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free …” wrote Emma Lazarus in her famous poem “The New Colossus,” printed on the Statue of Liberty.
When Men Wear Skirts
December 31, 2009
Radical Masculinity for Carnal Nation
At a bar last week, catching up with some feminist queer old friends, I began discussing my ideas around Radical Masculinity and the theories I am putting forward about the ways masculinity needs work. I drunkenly argued that women have surpassed men with some of their access, range, and gender acceptance, only to be met with dismissive pshaws.
“Come on,” they said. We all come from a feminist, women-are-oppressed-in-this-patriarchal-hierarchy background. “Men aren’t oppressed!”
“It’s true!” I drunkenly argued. “Can women wear pants, acceptably, with no consequence?”
They laughed. Yes, of course.
“And can men wear skirts?” I pressed.
“The word you’re looking for is no.
“Can men have long hair and still be considered manly (outside of the heavy metal scene)? Can men bake cupcakes or needlepoint or grow sunflowers without taking shit from his buddies? Can a butch order a vanilla vodka and cranberry without getting sneered at? Can you name five positive, good traits about masculinity? Can you point to positive masculine role models? When men wear skirts, with no consequence, with no backlash, with full acceptance, then I’ll accept that we’ve reclaimed and revalued femininity and masculinity to the same extent.”
I was ranting, it’s true. But the point still remains: masculinity has a long way to go. Masculine people still need social permission to be able to pursue the wide range of interests or activities or personal tastes that are (for the most part, though not without caveats) already available to women.
How to Make Masculinity Stop Hurting
Radical Masculinity column at Carnal Nation
November 11, 2009
My dad’s best friend died last week. Heart attack. He was 60, barely older than my dad, not old enough for his heart to give way. They’ve been friends for 35 years, longer than I’ve been alive. I got a heartbreaking email from my father about how they met, where they’d traveled together, and his favorite joke (What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor? Make me one with everything).
In his eulogy, his son wrote that he was “a devoted family man, one who extended the term to cover a great many individuals, supporting and caring for those who needed him.”
And I thought, that’s radical masculinity.
How does one learn how to be that? How do you grow up into a masculinity, a maleness, an adult manhood, despite this culture’s obsession with bad boys and lunkheads, to be a caring protective provider, to make effective, positive changes in this world, to build something that will last, to be generous with your heart and mind and love and time?
Traditional, limitational masculinity says don’t talk about your feelings. That masculinity says be strong all the time. It says a “real” man is tough, and the worst thing you can be is a sissy, a pussy, a girl, feminine, weak.
Radical masculinity says: I am listening. Who do you want to be?