Monday, December 3, 2012

Discipline Ain’t Just Academic, or Why All The Buzz Around Kink Clubs on College Campuses?

Maybe it’s just because I follow CAPS on Twitterbut I've been noticing quite a few articles lately about the presence of BDSM (bondage & discipline, domination & submission, sadism & masochism) clubs popping up on “elite” college campuses. More recently, new sites have been talking about the Harvard College Munch, which has been around for more or less a year but is finally being recognized as an official student group by the school. Reactions to this story have been a mixture of “schools shouldn't support this!” and “okay, no one cares?” But, despite our culture's attachment to the Puritanical attitudes of our past, kinky sex has pretty much always been a hot topic. I cannot think of a single female pop star who hasn't utilized some form of BDSM imagery into her career, and then receive grandiose kudos and judgments for being edgy and sexually liberated. Somehow, that conversation seems to always stop at performance and doesn't quite translate to ways folks explore and define their sexualities. Talk about kink in popular media really sparked earlier this year due to the travesty that is 50 Shades of Grey, but this isn't a post about the failure of glorified fanfiction to accurately portray a nearly invisible community. But just thinking in terms of mainstream culture, there has always been a somewhat secretive interest in kinky sexuality.

Given the anxiety and frustration folks can experience due to their sexual kinks, the approval of a group that gives kinky folks an opportunity to discuss and explore this aspects of their lives with their peers by an institution like Harvard provides a kind of legitimacy to the importance of these topics. And Harvard isn't the only university that have established groups for these conversations, Yale, MIT, and the University of Chicago have similar groups established on their campuses. The news around this breaks conventional perceptions that students in these kind of schools do nothing more than sweat over course texts in libraries. But I'm going to take a wild guess and assume that linking educational entities with the kink community won't do much to change public discourse any more than allowing people to say, "well, now we know there are freaks at Harvard too." Isn't it nice to dream, though? 

- Che J. Hatter ‘13

Thursday, November 29, 2012

27 Nov BB Response: Women and Catholicism Through the Ages

Tuesday's brown bag was facilitated by a panel of self-identified or formerly-self-identified Catholic women: Candace Bemont, Maura Tumulty, Sylvia Roe, Margaret Wehrer, and Caroline Williams '13.  They discussed the place of women in Catholicism from the 30s through today, how women's roles and voices have been constrained or expanded from the world wars through Vatican II to the present.  The presentation brought up several streams of discourse from identity to the perception of closedmindedness and illogic as Catholic, and how that contrasts with vibrant feminist communities within Catholic thought.

I identify as an atheist, but through my Colgate career, specifically as a Music major, I have learned a great deal about Catholicism and various ideological streams within it.  I was then not surprised by their assertion that there was vibrant feminist thought in Catholicism, because I've seen that first hand in the works of Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th century nun whom I've done research on for music history classes.  Hildegard was a composer, writer, dramaturg, theologian, lecturer, and alleged prophetess.  Her works valourize the feminine and the place of women in the church.  It is argued that her Ordo Virtutum is the first opera.  She interpreted the scriptures very differently from how they were commonly interpreted in her era, and she made her ideas known.  Her creation story does not blame Eve, but emphasizes her being tricked by the serpent, who contrary to common assumption was the most beautiful and beloved, indeed feminine of the animals in the garden, and this guise of trusted animal is what makes the Devil's trick all the more horrible.  She had a concept of viriditas, "greenness", that was a feminine creative force enveloping all things natural and living.  Her convent was sanctioned by higher up orders of men for their venture into political affairs, and she challenged them and their prohibition of song in her convent.

What this shows is what the panel was talking about: Catholicism is a tradition, like any other, and in any tradition there are those inside of it preserving things as they've always been and policing its standard narrative, and there are those inside of it working for reform.  It is dangerous to assume that any tradition is opposed to progress; progress is often most poignant when coming from within a tradition.  The rich subtradition of feminist movement in Catholicism from Hildegard to the present is a fascinating and helpful one that I'm delighted to have encountered in my time here.

Xavia Publius

Response to "The War on Men"

While procrastinating from my work on Facebook, I came across an intriguing article that has now circulated around Colgate (at least in my limited circles). This highly talked about article, “The War on Men,” was posted on the Fox News website by Suzanne Venker. If you don’t have time to read the entire article I’ll offer a short synopsis: Venker claims that fewer men are marriage material because feminism has emasculated men by denying men their biological need to be breadwinners. In a nutshell, feminism endangers men, women, family structures, and American society at large. Women need to return to their place in society (the home) and stop taking away opportunities from men in order to be marriage material. Whew, that’s a lot to take in. Here is my composed response…

I could pick apart every one of Venker’s claims and present contrary data or opinions, but I found that analyzing her first claim took enough time out of my day. So, I will mainly focus on her interpretation of how many women and men prioritize marriage. Venker starts off by citing research done by the Pew Research Center that shows more women but fewer men want to get married these days. However, when you look at the data that is only one way of interpreting it. The questions asked whether having a “successful” marriage is one of the most important aspects of their lives. 37% of women believe it is, whereas 29% of men believe it  is. However, when one actually does one’s research and looks into the full survey, the data show that 66% of young women (ages 18 to 34) say that having a career is one of the most important things in their lives whereas only 59% of men said a career was high priority. For both sexes, being a good parent and having a successful marriage rank higher than a successful career. Thus, women are simply striving (not asking) for more. They want a good career, successful marriage, and to be a good parents and they are doing something about it. Women make up almost half of the work force (46.7%) and have higher rates of enrollment and completion of college (44% of women and 38% of men between the ages of 18 to 24). There is something very wrong with the fact that having aspirations make woman unmarriageable. I wouldn’t want to marry someone either who kept me from achieving my goals or didn’t love me because of them (which has the unmistakable likeness of domestic abuse).

Luckily, most of the population doesn’t seem to agree with Venker’s argument or logic. What Venker fails to mention is that 73% of the general public today believes that society has benefited from women participating in the workforce. Furthermore, 62% of the public believe an egalitarian relationship in which the husband and wife (note the heterosexual privilege) share not only the responsibilities of work but also childrearing is more satisfying than the traditional husband as the breadwinner relationship. The public hasn’t come to a consensus on how this change in the family structure impacts children.

In conclusion, I mostly see benefits from this article becoming viral. Most of the people I have talked to about this article have been outraged and are talking about it. But more importantly, this article reminded those who don’t talk feminism 24/7 that sexism is still very alive and well in our society.  So I challenge you to keep the conversation going. Go out and have a conversation about this topic to someone who might not otherwise think about these issues. Apathy won’t get us anywhere. This article is just the spark we need to get people moving. 

- Michelle Van Veen '14 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"What's she wearing?" - women in politics

The other day as I was sitting in the Case Library cafe on campus, enjoying a grapefruit (they're surprisingly delicious this time of year) and reading the Colgate Maroon News: Special Election Edition. I leafed through the paper skimming through articles about the economy, the emphasis (or not) on education in our current political agenda, how students have engaged themselves in the election on campus etc etc. until, on the second to last page of the paper, I stumbled across something that raised one or both of my eyebrows. It was an article about Michelle Obama and Ann Romney on "Who wore it better?"; "it" being the color hot pink. I quickly went back through the rest of the paper and, sure enough, there were no articles that spoke about "Who wore it better?" - Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?

Of course, being involved in politics - or any position scrutinized by the public eye - image is of utmost importance and, unfortunately, can not be avoided. Especially in politics, millions of campaign dollars are spent on how a candidate looks to the public eye. But it does not seem that men and women are being held to the same standard. I think back on the ads I've seen about Obama and Romney; policies aside, they drew their appeal on highlighting the candidates' character, their leadership skills, their steadfastness, their integrity. I'm not sure I encountered even a single conversation about what they wore on their bodies. True, one argument for this could be that "normal" professional attire for men is generally not too varied and would not make for as interesting of conversation as that of women's attire. Ok. But why is it more "interesting" to talk about what women wear than men? Perhaps talking about the outer shifts focus away from the inner, perhaps summing Michelle and Ann by their outfits keeps them confined to the role of ornamentation to their husbands, perhaps if we think hot pink is the most interesting thing they have going for them there probably isn't much else they have to say. It is easy to write this off as a fault of the fashion industry, but this is an incomplete assessment of the power behind fashion: what we wear is important because it can provide an entryway into what we have to say - it is not meant to start and end with the outer.

My mind jumps to the snarky comments that are often made about Hillary Clinton's outfit choices and the condemnations made about her seemingly lack of femininity in outfit choice. A recent SNL skit following the election showed several images of female Senators while stating that we have more women in the Senate after this recent election than ever before... which means the pantsuit industry is probably thrilled.

I salute the women who are brave enough to be in politics - a world that is still largely compiled of men and, unfortunately, one that still adheres closely to patriarchal standards. I salute their constant negotiations of femininity and masculinity in a field that will not take them seriously if they are too feminine, and laugh at them if they are too masculine. I salute them for speaking loudly through their messages, not their attires.

- Christina Liu '13 (intern)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Women in Science: Colgate and Beyond

                Tuesday’s Brown Bag opened with the topic of women in the science field nationally and moved to women in science at Colgate. It was interesting to see statistics on how women who are pursuing science are doing in terms of success in their careers and what we can expect to see in the future.  This presentation was followed by a panel discussion about women’s experiences in their science careers at Colgate. The panel was made up of Colgate professors Catherine Herne, Krista Ingram, Rebecca Metzler, and Kristin Pangallo. Catherine Herne is a visiting Professor of Physics, Krista Ingram is an Assistant Professor of Biology, Rebecca Metzler is an Asssistant Professor of Physics, and Kristin Pangallo is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry. They spoke about how their interest in science began and when they decided to pursue it as a career. A few of the women had parents who were science professors themselves and cultivated their love of science while others discovered their talent while studying in undergraduate school. The professors also discussed instances of gender based discrimination they faced and lack of support from their peers. With the exception of Professor Ingram’s experience in her biology grad program, they all said they were largely outnumbered in the classroom and were at times underestimated because of their gender.
               I thought it was interesting to hear that although these women are all very accomplished and successful, they still have to re-assert their credibility at times because science still remains a largely male-dominated field. All of the members of the panels spoke highly of the mentors and advisers that they have had and highlighted the importance of forming connections and relationships with other women in the field. The professors’ discussion about the sort of comments they receive on their set forms at the end of the term was also interesting and a little disheartening. It did not surprise me that some students would underestimate how smart their Physics, Chemistry, or Bio professors are solely based on their gender, but it did surprise me that they would go as far to write it down on their evaluation forms. I think this just speaks a lack of self-awareness and privilege that those who have not experienced structural discrimination sometimes have and it was a good example of how much more work there is to be done.Overall, this was a great event and it was very interesting to hear about these professors' experiences.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Body Health: Negotiating a Disordered Eating Culture

As I attended the November 8th Brown Bag, Body Health: Navigating a Disordered Eating Culture, I was impressed with the number of people who attended as well as the type of speakers that had assembled to talk about body image and eating disorders on our campus. There was one student who discussed her personal struggles and an athletic trainer who has experience with students with unhealthy eating and exercise routines. There was a professor who has had her own personal battle with body image and who has also seen the progression of the campus’ attitude towards body types, and a counselor who helps students who are seeking help for body image health issues. Overall, I think the panel gave a very well rounded view of the topic. The speakers discussed how the image of the perfect body on this campus is unrealistic and unique to Colgate. As one panelist described, its not normal to only eat almonds all day. Another important topic that arose was how exercising too much is as destructive as an eating disorder.The speakers discussed how it is not healthy to work out 3-4 hours a day, everyday; yet that is a common occurrence at Colgate. I think that the take home message from this brown bag was that its important to talk about these issues and be supportive of each other because you never really know how other people are feeling, especially about their own body image. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Breast Cancer Awareness Film Screening

The screening of the film Pink Ribbons, Inc took place on October 23rd, 2012 in the Women’s Studies Center. It was a collaborative event hosted by the Center for Women’s Studies, Sorella Society, Kappa Kappa Gamma, BCAC, and Colleges Against Cancer. The event also featured a small bake sale for SHARE Foundation, which offers support to both Breast and Ovarian cancer. Pink Ribbons, Inc is a thought-provoking film about the corporate exploitation of breast cancer. It did an amazing job of unearthing the unsavory and unethical operations of breast cancer fundraising that is not easily recognizable. I had plenty of people come up to me after the movie and say that they never knew that this was going on and just blindly trusted that these companies were raising money to help end breast cancer. However, in the movie, we saw that most of the funds do not go to research that could help different races of women with the disease and it does not go to target-specific research such as less-damaging treatments. It was apparent that most of the companies were “fighting” for a cure; however, the products they invested in and sold contain carcinogens that lead to breast cancer. It was a scary paradox that I think all people should be aware of. PLEASE watch this movie if you can. It is available in Case Library for rental and if you cannot watch the movie at least watch the trailer or visit

~Natalie George 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Reflection of Motherhood

Being a mother is something I've always envisioned in my future. When I was a little girl playing with dolls I frequently played the mother “role.” When I started having play dates with other kids I would often play the mother. Even in high school I loved working with kids and would often feel that “maternal desire” to have a kid of my own some day. But, more recently I have questioned the root of this desire. When I came to Colgate I started taking women’s studies and sociology courses. I learned that I have been, to a certain degree, socialized to be a mother ever since I was given my first doll. When I finally embraced my feminist identity in college, I started thinking about what was expected of me as a student, woman, and feminist. I questioned whether my desire to become a mother someday was something I learned or something ingrained in my biological makeup. I questioned whether it was acceptable for me to be a feminist that would love to be a stay-at-home mom in the future. Furthermore, I wondered at what age and at what point in my career would it be best or acceptable for me to become a mother. All these questions and more have been swirling in my head regarding what it means to be a feminist mother.
One thing I don’t think we talk enough about is what it means to be a feminist father. I attended a Women’s Studies Brown Bag in which there was a panel of fathers who to a certain degree identified their parenting as feminist (see Gloria's post below). One of the prominent observations I made was that none of them had really given much thought into what it means to be a feminist father. In fact, it was mentioned a few times that they were unsure as to why they were asked to be on this particular panel. They all talked about how they were more involved in their children’s upbringing than what is “expected” of fathers in our society and that was looked upon favorably. However, they all realized that even though they didn't do much in terms of child rearing, they did more than what was expected of them, which is not something mothers get praise for. One of the dads brought up a cartoon that highlighted the fact that dads these days are doing more than their fathers and they are getting praise for that. Moms, however, are doing “less” than their mothers and are made to feel guilty about it. I thought this was a very interesting observation about the privilege fathers have in our society. Fathers get praise for the things they should already be doing, whereas mothers get very little acknowledgment of all they things they should and already are doing. If a father is absent in a child’s life because he is working that is socially acceptable. If a mother is absent in her child’s life because she is working that is socially unacceptable. I think this speaks a lot to the emphasis we place on motherhood that should in reality be placed on parenthood. 
All this information keeps on swirling in my head and questions keep forming as I try to look towards the future. Should I look for a partner that will actively engage in equal parenting? What am I willing to compromise on if that isn't possible? Should my career search be based on whether or not I can have a family in the future while working? Is it alright if I want to be a homemaker? That being said, the thing I want the most are options. I want the option to either find a job or stay at home. I want the option of having a family when I want a family. I want my options to make the best and most informed decisions on what will eventually shape my future. I want a life with a partner that will support me in terms of my career and play an equal role in parenting. Am I asking for too much?

-Michelle Van Veen '14

Sunday, October 28, 2012

10/23 Brown bag response: Feminist Fathers

In many families, kids are raised with gender roles playing a big part in the daily activities within the home. Girls help their mothers with chores within the house like cooking and cleaning while the boys and fathers do the work that requires more physical energy such as mowing the lawn, taking out the trash and shoveling the driveway.

On Tuesday 23 October, a panel of feminist fathers, 3 of whom are Colgate professors: Chris Henke, John Palmer and Andy Rotter together with Dominik Pangallo who works with the partnership for community development within the village of Hamilton led a brown bag discussing how they practice feminism and embed it into their parenting skills and techniques.
One of the feminist fathers, Prof. Chris Henke, mentioned that being a feminist father starts with being a feminist oneself and embracing feminism within one’s personal life. As they shared different stories as to the different ways each of them raise their kids, they did mention the difficulties they face at times especially when trying not to affirm to societal gender norms for example not wanting their kids to “throw like girls”. Despite this, they discussed the different ways they try not to affirm to the norms that dictate parental roles and behavior of a father within a family. Sometimes, they consciously see gender playing its roles within the family, as Prof. Palmer said, but at least he wants to see his kids grow up aware of  the existence of feminism and be able to incorporate it in their lives. They encourage their kids to do things that they enjoy and also expose them to a variety of toys, colors, clothing to enable them make the choice as to what they feel most comfortable with.
It’s great to have feminist fathers so kudos to all the men out there practicing some extent of feminism- be it first, second or third wave feminism!:)
For more information on feminist fatherhood, check out this website:

-Gloria Kebirungi ‘15

Thursday, October 25, 2012

10/25 Brown Bag Response: "Identifying as a Mormon Feminist"

                Today’s Brown Bag was titled “Identifying as a Mormon Feminist” and featured Joana Brooks, author of Book of a Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith. Brooks is an award-winning scholar of religion and American culture and is a twenty-year veteran of the Mormon feminist movement. She describes her book as a coming of age story. It is a story of how she came into her feminist consciousness. Oftentimes, she says, she was made to feel weird by mainstream culture and felt marginalized because of her Mormon faith.  I found it really interesting to learn that there is a century old tradition of feminism in the Mormon faith. In fact, women once commanded priesthood powers in the Mormon Church.  I went into the lecture pretty clueless about the Mormon faith so a lot of what was said was really enlightening. One of the most interesting things I learned was that God is a mother and a father in Mormonism.  Joanna also highlighted the importance of the Mormon Church talking openly about controversies within the Church like racism, sexism, and polygamy. There were and still are a narrow set of voices that are the spokespeople of the community, she says, and this needs to change.
                One of Brook’s ideas that resonated the most with me was the idea that we don’t do feminism just for us, we do feminism for a just world. Another message that I found interesting is that it is possible to push beyond the secular models of feminism. Meaning, although some of the Mormon Church policies do not align with Joana's feminism, she is still able to work through them and do great feminist work while maintaining her faith. Joana talked a lot about many of her Mormon feminist professors and role models at Brigham Young University. Several of these women were excommunicated from the church or fired from BYU in the late 70s. However, the internet has allowed these women and Mormon feminists in general, to communicate and share their thoughts and ideas in a safe place. I think the work that Joana is doing is really great because there does not seem to be many Mormon feminists telling their own stories, at least not in mainstream American culture.

-Stephanie Rameau

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

10/16 Brown Bag Response: "The Road to Seneca Falls: Who Came and Why?"

                Tuesday’s Brown Bag was titled “The Road to Seneca Falls,” and was the third installment in Judith Wellman’s series of talks on women’s rights history in New York State. Judith is a professor at SUNY Oswego and is the author of The Road to Seneca Falls: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the First Woman’s Rights Convention. She is also the Gretchen Hoadley Burke ’81 Endowed Chair for Regional Studies. Her areas of specialization are U.S History: Nineteenth Century, Social Work, Women’s History, and Underground Railroad History. Judy’s talk was especially interesting because many of the historical sites she discussed are local. For example, the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls where the convention took place is only two hour’s drive from Hamilton. The 1848 convention drew in a crowd of three hundred people to discuss women’s political rights. Over one hundred of those who attended signed the Declaration of Sentiments which asserted “that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inaliable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
                It was interesting to hear a brief biography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton because it really underscored how much of her life she had dedicated to this movement.  It was also interesting to hear that besides the prominent figures of the movement like Lucretia Mott, Frederick Douglas, and Stanton, the majority of the signers were just ordinary people willing to make public their belief in equality for all. The three movements that converged and linked these members into the women’s rights movement were Quaker abolitionists, political abolitionists, and legal reformers. All three of these reformer groups championed equality and rights for society’s oppressed so it only seems natural that they would come together at Seneca Falls at the start of the women’s rights movement.  Judy also discussed the break in the women’s movement that resulted from the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment, which gave African-American men the right to vote. Some members of the movement felt slighted because while they had worked closely with the abolitionist movement, they would not see the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, until the year 1929.A video of the lecture is available on the WMST Facebook page for those who are interested!

-Stephanie Rameau

Friday, October 5, 2012

10/02 Brown Bag Response: Coming Out Stories

This week’s brown bag is another favorite. The first Tuesday of October is always in honor of National Coming Out Week and members of the Colgate community recount their experiences with realizing, revealing, and processing their sexual and gender identities. Our panels always consist of a range of identities and experiences. The take away from these different narratives is the extent of difference among those within the queer community. Each of the four speakers on this year's panel expressed different views about the ways their queer identity affected their lives and how being honest about who they are has shaped the ways they navigate the world and interpret their interactions with it. The thing about coming out stories is that they're highly individual, which is part of what gives them power, because our supposedly enlightened society would much rather overlook these experiences under the guise of "not caring" about someone's personal identity because "we're all the same." But the public disclosure of these coming out stories rejects that impulse of secrecy and devaluing difference by reminding the audience that these events in folks' lives are significant and are worth sharing.

This brown bag is one of several events that will occur this month in the spirit of encouraging openness and enthusiastic acceptance of personal identity. Look out for fliers and emails from the Office of LGBTQ Initiatives that provide more details about campus happenings this October.

- Che J. Hatter 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

September 25th Brown Bag: Women as Healers

The Brown Bag on 9/25/12 was entitled Women as Healers. This Brown Bag was particularly special because Sandy Garner, who is the mother of the Center’s Program Assistant, Kimmie Garner, hosted it.  Sandy is a Certified Healing Touch Practitioner. She gave a complete history of women as healers, explained the healing technique, “Healing Touch, and she also talked about her efforts to combine Western medicine and energy healing at a North Carolina hospital. A highlight of this Brown Bag was learning about the Chakra, which are seven primary human energy centers in our bodies. 
There is a Crown Chakra (top of head), Third Eye Chakra (center of forehead), Throat Chakra (throat area), Heart Chakra (center of chest), Solar Plexus Chakra (above navel below chest), Sacral Chakra (between navel and genitals), and Root Chakra (base of spine). All of these centers have energy flowing through them if they are fine-tuned and working correctly. Sandy taught us simple and easy ways to fine-tune your Chakra and it consists of various meditation poses to really focus and relieve pain and anxiety.
Another highlight was hearing a story about a woman who was placed into a medically induced coma for a dangerous surgery and when she was taken out of that coma she could recite word for word conversations that took place between the doctors and nurses! I always get chills when I hear remarkable stories like this one. It just teaches us that there are so many mysteries in life and that we should be open-minded and tolerant of things we sometimes cannot explain. I stayed after the Brown Bag and a few people and I asked to have our energies read with her pendulum. It was an eye-opening experience because the pendulum would actually stop and have virtually no movement if something was wrong or off with your Chakra. Sandy gladly did a tune-up for those who needed it and it was inspiring to watch.  I highly suggest that everyone watch the Brown Bag and even do some research about your own Chakras.  Have a great break!
~ Natalie George

Saturday, September 22, 2012

"Yes to ALL of This": A (Not So) New Perspective on Consent

This morning, as I processed the events of last night, I had a rather surprising (to me at least) epiphany.  For those who aren't well-versed in my personal life (and sorry if you really don't care), perhaps some background is in order.

Last semester I went to the Jug alone and started hooking up with this guy, R.  We were going at it on the dance floor for like an hour before we decided to go back to his place.  When we got there, instead of hooking up he went to the bathroom to vom, so I just waited awkwardly in the living room with his roommates to make sure he was okay.  Now, whether or not R could tell my identity at the time, we'll never know, but his roommates clearly could.  It was hella tense, and when R came out of the bathroom and passed out on the couch, I took that as my cue to leave and booked it out of there.  I heard later from a friend that he was blackout and didn't know what was going on, and that everyone in his toho refused to talk about it.

Last night, I went to the Jug with a friend of mine and we found a bunch of our gurlfraands and had a good time.  Suddenly, these two guys come up to us, and one of them, A, introduces himself to me (which is precedent-breaking in itself for me at the Jug) and asks if I want to dance.  We start dancing together, and then we're making out, when his friends come over.  They're patting him on the back and making cat-calls, and I'm starting to feel a little like a slab of meat.  One of A's friends, Red Plaid Boy, then gets in front of me and starts grinding with me on the other side.  He stops and goes around to A and tries to pull him off of me, saying "that's a man..."  I hear this and panic, grabbing my friend and fleeing from the Jug.

Now, at the time, I thought of it only from my perspective.  I ran like hell because I didn't want to get beaten up, which a lifetime in rural Pennsylvania has taught me is a distinct possibility.  I thought, what the fuck?  Why was it any of RPB's business how I was born?  And worse, I was upset because I didn't really have the chance to justify myself, or to educate them that, no I'm not a man.  I wasn't born female, but that doesn't make me a man.  And it made me very depressed, because it feels like everytime I get close to a guy, my gender identity gets in the way.  As I transition and I'm able more and more to pass, it gets harder and harder to explain my identity, and the stakes get higher and higher.

And it occurred to me this morning that part of the problem was that I had stumbled into a realm of dubious consent.  If we look at the Colgate Sexual Harassment Policy (apologies if I haven't quite precisely named it), there is a section that says that hooking up with someone without disclosing any STDs you have violates consent.  I am NOT comparing transsexuality to an STD, but I am taking the spirit of that clause to mean what we call in the social sciences "informed consent".  If your partner doesn't have all the possibly relevant information, ze may consent, but it's not very informed consent.  There could be a piece of information withheld that had ze known it to be true, ze would not have consented.  STDs are one example.  And it occurred to me that perhaps my identity is another example.  If R or A had known from the get-go that I was born male-bodied, would they have hooked up with me?  To what extent do I conform to the popular conception of the entrapping Shemale?  The gender outlaw in me thinks that that's bullshit, and that it shouldn't matter what's between my legs; if you're attracted to me, you're attracted to me, get over it.  But, I have to recognize the fact that for some guys, that is a hang-up, and not giving them the chance to provide informed consent, or run away screaming, is not fair.

The hook-up culture is not designed for me, and it's certainly not designed for consent.  As a senior (shudder), I think it's time I grew up and started looking for a guy that isn't only saying yes to what he sees, but who takes the time to get to know me and says, "yes, yes to ALL of this".

Xavia Publius