EDIT: Somehow I forgot to actually POST this. My apologies.

I will try to be somewhat brief here, as a heartfelt message means more when it cuts to the chase. WGSS 491 is drawing to a close, and I’m sad to see it leave. I loved the class, and I am now very seriously considering going for a WGSS minor along with my degree. I really liked the small, more personal atmosphere and the discussion-heavy class style. I didn’t really feel like I was going to class so much as going to spend time with seven people who I now consider friends. Were I one to wear hats, then I’d say hats off to all of you for making this class one of the best academic experiences of my life. It really is a shame to see it go, and I would absolutely love to meet up with former classmates for more gendery sexuality-y discussiony goodness. It’s been fun, 491-mates. It’s been a whole lot of fun. If any of you ever see me around campus, never hesitate to walk up and say hello.

-Daniel Taylor Flink-

So, the presentations are over and done with, and interesting topics were in abundance. I particularly enjoyed the two different takes on childfreedom from different perspectives; it was interesting to gain insight on a movement with which I had basically no familiarity. I can only hope that my presentation on gaming (which really just turned into a three-way discussion among gamers) could have given similar insight on one of my interests. I have been playing video games since I was 4, so I have a large amount of attachment to the medium. And now, the presentations as a whole are complete. Indeed, the class itself is almost over, but I’ll save my thoughts for next week. Instead, I’d like to do one more of those link shareamajigs.

First up, the Tennessee legislature is at it once again. Just when I thought that Tennessee couldn’t get any more ridiculous, this happened. Ugh…just ugh. The number of obscenities in the original version of this post were extremely high…this is just absolutely ludicrous. This legislation is one of the biggest “fuck you”‘s I’ve ever seen.

Here’s a cool “genderbread person” look at the various sexes, genders, and sexualities out there. It’s not completely all-encompassing, but it’s a pretty cool look at the spectra of gender and sex. Any time someone out there is willing to challenge perceptions of gender and sexuality, I wholeheartedly approve. Less restriction, more understanding.

Tax-funded CPC’s are a thing, and they need to go away. I’ve never really understood why churches are tax-exempt in the first place, but that’s another issue. The big issue here is that CPCs, besides discriminating based on religion, are also misleading women and withholding useful medical advice. Ugh, these new stories are too painful for me to keep commenting on. At least the genderbread story was cute.

Heya 491-mates! While browsing the Shout Out! blog we were told to look at a few days back, I stumbled upon this little piece of gaming-related talk regarding gender and the game-o-sphere-o-blog. Namely, the piece discusses how EA has been handling LGBTQetc issues lately…and EA has been remarkably progressive about the whole thing. I’m not a big fan of EA and their business practices (and their DRM…ugh), but I even I have to admit, this is actually pretty cool to see. Ideally, we’d reach a point in gaming where same-sex relationships are commonplace enough to no longer be noteworthy…but I’d say that’s still a long ways off.

Tennessee has decided to add hand-holding and kissing to the list of “stuff we must protect our children from because God forbid they learn about things” category. Holding hands and kissing? Those totally lead straight to unprotected, unholy premarital fuckin’, so I can see how this law is justified. In fact, this needs to be taken even further: kids shouldn’t even be allowed to be in the same room as two people who might be flirting. After all, flirting can lead to kissing, and kissing is the number one cause of ungodly boning for pleasure rather than procreation. Won’t somebody think of the children?!

Last up is a long one from Geek Feminism that discusses the sexualization of “geek women” and whether or not this is a good thing. The final point made in the article is one I wholeheartedly agree with: the problem is not whether or not women are choosing to dress or act sexual; the problem instead is the perception of women, both inside and outside of geeky fandoms. How women dress really should be a moot point; as long as no laws are being violated, what right does anyone have to shame someone for dressing skimpily?

The second week of presentations is fully underway, and since last week I didn’t write a blog post (since we didn’t have to and I’m kinda sorta really lazy), I haven’t had a chance to comment much on the four presentations that were done, so heeeeeeere we gooooooooooooooo!

First up, yes, I’m going to talk about the porn presentation. Since I was considering talking about it myself, of course I was interested in seeing what would happen. The presentation as a whole (and all of the presentations, really) was very good, and I like seeing how discussion springs up during and after the presenter shares their input. Since we had to cut discussion short due to time, I will go ahead and raise a point here that I meant to during the presentation: what of feminist/women-run pornographic ventures? There are a number of sites out there dedicated to the empowerment of womens’ sexualities, and I feel those are important to mention. But then, the theme of the presentation was the unseen and unknown harms that pornography can inflict, so of course I’m not going to fault the presenter for that. I do think it’d be an interesting thing to bring up in class, though.

Social networking is a good subject to talk about, since the overwhelming majority of people on the Internet use it in some form. I think I said most of what I had to say about it during class, so I won’t dwell on the subject much, except to say that I really hope Google Plus has overtaken MySpace. It is kinda a shame to see that G+ fell by the wayside so quickly, but then again Twitter is a whole lot more user-friendly. Ah well.

Cyberbullying is a topic that really needs to come up more, since it’s an evergrowing issue facing kids today. I wish I could say there’s an easy solution to the problem, but clearly something needs to be done if kids are killing themselves over the harassment they receive online and in person. As someone who was bullied (admittedly not to life-ruining levels) a lot as a kid, I have absolutely no respect for the kind of people who would do that to another human being. Less bullying, more love, people.

And fourthly, childfree…ness. I have no idea whether I want children or not in the future, so the childfree movement is something I watch from afar with mild interest. As someone who supports readily-available contraception (and education) methods, I can certainly understand the political aspects associated with choosing to be childfree.

It was this or a cat, and I decided NOT to go down the cat route this time.

I can't help but think ''Om nom nom nom'' every time I read something about NOM.

In pleasant human rights news, an Oklahoma law requiring women seeking abortions to get ultrasounds wherein the doctor gave a detailed description of the fetus to the likely already-emotionally-distraught mother was recently ruled unconstitutional by a state judge. This led to a rather brilliant quote by Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, who had this to say on the matter:

“The court has resoundingly affirmed what should not be a matter of controversy at all — that women have both a fundamental right to make their own choices about their reproductive health, and that government has no place in their decisions,”

I’m glad to see such a ridiculous law struck down with finality.

PETA, the extremist “animal rights” group, is at it again, this time combining heteronormativity with the idea that violent sex is good sex in a move that trivializes domestic abuse and rape while simultaneously promoting the idea that heterosexual sex is the only kind of sex that matters. It’s fun for the whole…well, no one, really. I think it kinda goes without saying at this point that PETA is a fairly effed up group of people, but this only helps further the idea.

In a shocking twist of events, Rush Limbaugh is an asshole who thinks that the outrage over Trayvon Martin “isn’t real”. How this man is still on the air, still has listeners, and still has a job is completely beyond me. Rush Limbaugh is a hateful douche of a man, and I really hope we’ll soon see the day when this spiteful ass is no longer able to spew his nonsense to a far-too-large audience of sycophants.

Anime pictures? In my blog posts? It's more likely than you think.

This is pretty much how I feel about the Todd Stave story.

The National Organization for Marriage (or NOM, one of the greatest acronym names of all time) has played the race card in their neverending struggle against human rights. Apparently they are seeking to drive a wedge between gay rights activists and the African-American community. Something tells me this message wasn’t supposed to get out to the general public. Oops.

Fed up with insane anti-abortion protests and personal harassment, Todd Stave, landlord of a Maryland abortion clinic, has come up with a brilliant solution to get back at the most radical of anti-choicers: by taking down the phone numbers and information of those who make threatening or harassing calls, Stave then gives this information to an organization of his own creation. This organization, “Voice for Choice” and its volunteers with then call the harassers, leaving calm, non-violent, non-threatening messages. Stave’s logic in this case is a matter of giving what he gets, albeit on a much larger scale and in a much less threatening manner. I doubt any of the Voice for Choice members have personally threatened or attacked any of these so-called “pro-life” (a term I despise, by the way) protesters.

And so, my linkspam draws to a close.

So, I’m still having some trouble trying to decide on a presentation topic. I am currently leaning most strongly towards gaming, but I’m not 100%. I am definitely looking forward to the women in STEM discussion, since I am going into IT as a career and all.

Now, with that done, I feel like sharing links and such. I don’t have much to say of my own, unfortunately, so here, links!

First up, Tennessee is seeking to make abortion even more heavily stigmatized than it already is! Since the procedure isn’t difficult enough, let’s make information about doctors and patients publicly available so that we can endanger their lives! Yay! No, wait, that’s actually really fucking stupid. My bad.

Next up is some shocking news: Women make less money than men! I know, I know, shocking. I think it’s worth pointing out though; this issue should be brought forward again and again so we as a society can try to fix it.

Last up, a bit about a bot someone built to counter “that’s what she said” jokes online. Thought the idea w as amusing, figured I’d share.

Anyway, on topic: I am open to any and all ideas for presentation topics, even ones not yet mentioned. If you’ve got any idea or suggestions, 491-members, by all means please share them with me, I’d appreciate it.

I’ve been giving some thought to potential presentation ideas, and here’s what I’ve come up with, roughly in order of likelihood:

The light bulbs are a nice touch.

Brainstorming, get it?

Women in STEM: Being in IT, I think this one would be good for me to talk about. The biggest issue is filling time, really.

Pornography: In all seriousness, porn is a huge part (pun kinda intended) of Internet culture and Internet usage, and discussion of pornography from a gender/sexuality viewpoint is one that I feel is an important part of the subject matter the class covers. Big issue here is being able to bring myself to talk about this for 30+ minutes, and not wanting to be “the porn guy” in our class.

Women in Gaming: This could be female characters in video games, or female gamers, haven’t decided which yet. Problems here include deciding what specifically to discuss, and the fact that most of the class probably isn’t interested in or knowledgeable about video games or gaming culture(s).

Portrayals of Women/Gender/Sexuality in Animation: I feel like I’ve beat this subject into the ground, but I love talking about it. This’d likely include discussion of shows/movies that I feel have done things right, and wrong. Again, the biggest issue here is interest. I don’t want to pick a topic that my classmates aren’t interested in.

There are a few others (religion, contraception, men in feminism), that I could do but probably won’t. Religion and contraception will probably be covered by other classmates, since they’re big and relevant issues. Men in feminism is not a bad idea, and thinking more about it now, I may consider it. I’ll add it to the “maybe” list.

I do love the way it subverts the traditional gender symbols.

This is the symbol for ''transgender''. I did not know this was a thing.

The Internet enables easy communication across geographical boundaries, so it only makes sense that marginalized groups take the Internet and use it as a means of communication and community bonding. As this week’s discussions have shown, the transgender community is no exception. Transgender people on the Internet are in a fairly interesting position. The Internet, and its various communities and forums, allows transgender people an opportunity to present themselves as their preferred gender without many of the dangers of doing so in the real world. As with so many other examples, the transgender people scattered throughout various places have a chance to come together and share stories, both with transgender or gender-unsure people and with cisgendered individuals with questions they would like answered. Getting to learn about some of Aaron’s experiences with her gender was a great educational tool, and as I’ve said before I’m really grateful to both Aaron and Benny for taking the time to make the video for our class. The most surprising thing to me was definitely the differences between small-town Illinois and big-city California; I, like most of my classmates, would have assumed a liberal city would be much more accepting and welcoming to someone transgendered than a small town in southern Illinois. It just goes to show the effect that bias can have on one’s assumptions, and I certainly stand corrected.

Santorum really wants to semen-t a position at the top of the GOP.

Because we all needed to be reminded that this happened.

But now, with that, I would like to move on to some link sharing:

First up, it turns out (as though there were an doubt) that Rush Limbaugh is actually a giant asshole, claiming that, if taxpayers are to pay for birth control, then women should be posting sex tapes online as a way of paying the community back. I don’t think I need to explain why this is wrong, and talking more about it will just make me angry at the arse of a man who made this comment.

In other asshole conservative news, Rick Santorum is at it again, claiming that women are dangerous on the battlefield because their emotions will endanger missions. Again, I don’t really even want to waste time trying to refute this claim or argue against it, because doing so means I have to be reminded that Rick Santorum is in politics.

I love this .gif, I really do.

My reaction when I read Senator Lautenberg's quote. Click it for motion!

Finally, I will leave this post with something more positive. From Feministing, and originally from CSPAN’s congressional hearings, we have this quote from Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey):

“When it comes to women, they don’t get rights. They get restrictions… I have five daughters and eight granddaughters, and the one thing I worry about more than anything else is their health. I like to see their happy faces. I like to see them feeling good… So I want them to have doctors making decisions, not some employer who has a self-righteous moral view that he wants to impose on my daughter, my granddaughter, my wife. Nuh uh. On our side of the aisle, we believe that women are capable of making their own healthcare decisions.”

So, I rather foolishly didn’t sleep last night, and am very tired as a result. Expect another blog post from me, 491-ies, some time later tonight. But now, it is time for this post!

Major, major thanks to Benny and Aaron for taking time out of their schedules to make a video and share information about their experiences with queer and trans life with our little class. Getting to see a little bit of the world from the perspective of someone who is transgendered is something I definitely am glad to have been able to do; this week’s discussions and materials have proven very educational. The willingness and courage to ask someone their preferred gender pronoun is something I will definitely work on, as I can see how it would be the better way to deal with non-traditional gender identities. I suppose it is better to ask and seem ignorant or unknowing than to assume and be insensitive to a person’s identity. Here’s hoping for an ideal world, where everyone is willing to ask about people’s preferred pronouns and to accommodate everyone’s desires. Unrealistic, perhaps, but I can dream.

In other news, I am looking forward to the paper and the presentations. I definitely am excited to see what the other 491-mates are going to come up with for their presentations, and I know that my classmates will have interesting things to say about various Internet-related Gender/Sexuality issues.

I realize this one’s super short, but like I said, I am very tired and will try to write something more substantial in a little while.

I don’t really feel like sleeping right now, so here, have some links!

First up is a hilarious and fairly depressing take on the birth control debates, courtesy of Jon Stewart and the other comedians over at the Daily Show. Because hey, if anyone’s qualified to talk about a women’s reproductive health issue, it’s men.

In fact, because I like the Daily Show so much, have another link! I’m not gonna lie, I laughed pretty hard at “Punanny State”.

And finally, on a more serious note, there’s this piece from the Root wherein Byron Hurt describes why he is a feminist. Particularly poignant is his story about rape culture and his eyes being opened to the kind of privileges that men have in our society. Your thoughts, WMST 491-er-ites?