Culture

Recent posts

Pickup Artistry In Denmark

We reviewed Clarisse Thorn’s book on pickup artists here on MSP a while back, and based on that look at the “culture” of pickup artistry, it’s intriguing to note that it doesn’t go over so well in Denmark. According to this account of a frustrated pickup artist’s visit, Danish women aren’t receptive to pickup artistry because… socialism? Apparently Danish women don’t put any energy into learning to please men “because the government will take care of her and her cats, whether she is successful at dating or not.” It’s interesting to consider that certain courtship techniques might succeed or fail based on how the rest of the social system treats individuals. Continue Reading →

Why Telling Women To “Just Close Your Legs” Isn’t Good

Every so often, I run across arguments about women in poverty or other difficult situations who should just, like, stop having babies already. The message “just keep your legs closed” is a prevalent one… but I don’t think it works, or that it’s remotely a good idea. First, until we get closer to universally accessible (meaning affordable) contraception, it makes no sense to berate women for their choices. Any “choice” made within an oppressive environment is not really a choice at all, or at least, not a freely-made choice. Continue Reading →

Transgender Character In A Fantasy Role-Playing Game

I’ve posted in the past about how gaming and geek culture can be sexist, even leading to extreme cases of harassment. Some game companies, however, are making an effort to include greater diversity among their character options, though, in terms of race, gender, and gender identity. Paizo, the creator of Pathfinder (an open gaming-licensed D&D spin-off), has included many more non-white characters in their rules books, though some have criticized their representation of women. Notably, though, Paizo recently released a character who is a transgender (male-to-female, a transition facilitated by a magic potion) half-orc paladin. Unlike other RPG characters in the past who have switched gender, largely by means of spells that unwillingly change the character’s gender, this paladin, Anevia, is apparently happy with her gender status, and is a pretty powerful character. Continue Reading →

Taking A Stand About Sexual Harassment At Conventions

Novelist John Scalzi has announced that he will not attend conventions without strong sexual harassment policies. This is an important step in combating the misogyny present in geek culture, but also that which is present in mainstream culture. I completely agree with author Rosenberg’s analysis of the situation: “Scalzi is saying one of the most important things men who want to be feminist allies can say: that sexual harassment affects and offends him personally, even if he’s not the subject of it, that if someone he cares about is hurt or humiliated, he’s going to be offended on their behalf, and stand with them as they report their experiences and look for ways that things could be different.” We need more feminist allies, not just in subcultures, but everywhere. Taking a stand publicly is a wonderful way to demonstrate that you support making a space safe for women (and in doing so, making it safe for all). Continue Reading →

Systemic Racism, Systemic Sexism

The consequences of racism, sexism, and other intolerant attitudes are far-reaching and deep in America, and yet they also result in everyday acts that wear us down, battering at our sense of self-worth and value as a human being. Many of these acts are systemic, meaning that they are the results of a social system that has been in place for a long time and goes largely unquestioned. These daily acts of racism and sexism mirror each other in strange ways, and yet each brings with it unique circumstances. When I read Michael Twittty’s open letter to Paula Deen (regarding the accusations of her racist speech and acts), it resonated with me. Not because I am African-American; no, my ancestors were largely European, and I recognize that I come from a place of privilege. Continue Reading →

Gender Roles And Sexual Roles

In one of my posts in the informed consent series I wrote, I explained the idea behind the Zimbardo prison experiment: that in a normal population of college students, roles were randomly assigned so that some students became prison guards, and others became prisoners. The guards quickly began acting abusive, as though the roles became their identities. I was discussing this experiment with a friend in the BDSM scene, and she pointed out that maybe the same thing is happening with American gender roles and sexuality. That is, because so many men are conditioned to become aggressive and forceful, this could be one reason why there is both anecdotal evidence and statistical evidence for there being many more men than women who prefer the dominant role in sexual encounters. If mainstream society is molding men to express their sexuality (indeed, their overall identities) in terms of acquisition, conquest, and violence, then perhaps that also accounts for the sexual roles that many men prefer. Continue Reading →

Magic: In Paper or People?

As a sex educator, therapist, and Magic: The Gathering player, I almost gasped out loud when I was forwarded this Buzzfeed quiz that has you guess whether a phrase is a Magic card or a position from the Kama Sutra. I never really put these two things together, but I’m glad someone did. Try it out, see what you get. I got 100%. Well, almost. Continue Reading →

What If We Took Every Marriage Proposal Seriously?

When I made Caesar salad from scratch, my dinner guest proposed to me on the spot. Fortunately, we already happened to be married, so we didn’t really have to do anything about that proposal. But what if I had someone else over for dinner, and the same thing happened? What if it happened again and again, because my Caesar salad recipe is just that good? Obviously it’d be ludicrous to suggest that I should take every marriage proposal seriously, since I’m already married. Continue Reading →

Clarifying Sex-Positivity

My post on supporting consenting adults doing whatever they want sexually articulates one facet of what’s known as a sex-positive outlook. And yet there are actually a number of ways to interpret what it means to be sex-positive; some people think of it as “yay, orgasms solve everything!” while others use it to mean having a non-judgmental attitude toward sex. For that reason, I’m a big fan of Pervocracy’s What I Mean When I Say I’m Sex-Positive post. The post presents a clear and comprehensive explanation of what the author means when the term sex-positive is used. Continue Reading →

American Vs. Other Parenting Styles

While I lived in Estonia, I observed that (along with the prevalence of condoms in stores),  there were always children walking around in public, often unaccompanied. Kids as little as 5 or 6 could be seen walking or riding their bicycles down the sidewalk (at least, during the parts of the year when the sidewalks weren’t covered in snow). This puzzled me – but as more Americans are realizing, our style of parenting is perhaps a tad too overprotective. This essay on international parenting styles points out that many behaviors that American parents take for granted are not universal. Young kids in other cultures climb trees, use knives to carve wooden figures, and are even allowed to feel pangs of hunger from time to time. Continue Reading →