Art & Culture

Recent posts

And Then I Brought Up Flesh Hooks.

One of the topics I discussed with my fall college-level class on non-monogamy is BDSM and kink. I deliberately introduced the topic at the end of the semester, when we’d already studied sexual and gender configurations around the world, past and present, with an eye toward how gender, sexuality, and relationship models inform one another’s construction. Our purpose was to critically evaluate how these things work, not to judge them. My goal was to give my students a vocabulary for discussing various sexual practices, and then to have them turn that critical gaze on subjects closer to home and happening in contemporary America: swinging, polygamy, polyamory, and kink. But there I was, on Day 1 of discussing BDSM, mentioning extreme examples of kinky play like flesh hooks and blood play. Continue Reading →

Academia’s Hostility To Women

The Guardian documents a new study reporting on why women in the sciences are leaving academia at much greater rates than men. According to the study’s results, the number of women in science PhD programs who report wanting to remain in academia plummets the longer they spend working on their degrees. Women learn, by observation and experience, that their gender will be an impediment to their progress, and they reported more than men did that the great sacrifices demanded of them were too large. While this study focused on the sciences, I think it might apply in the social sciences and humanities as well. Academia is full of gendered micro-inequalities, though women have largely made progress over time. Continue Reading →

5 Reasons Why You Should Be Watching Masters of Sex (Photos NSFW)

Within the span of three days, I received text messages from each of my (divorced) parents insisting that I watch “the new sex show” on Showtime. Mind you, my parents assume that my newly-minted bachelor’s degree in Sexuality Studies grants them permission to send me a daily smattering of sex-related articles, which I usually find sort of endearing and only slightly annoying. For whatever reason, I decided to give this particular suggestion a go. And oh. My. Continue Reading →

If I Can’t Change My Conditioning, How Can I Expect Others To?

I’m fascinated by what makes people change their minds, as demonstrated in this post about a self-identified misogynist who ultimately became sympathetic to women’s positions. I like to see this process happening when people’s beliefs become more tolerant rather than going in the opposite direction, even though I recognize that these are subjective values. In my ideal world, everyone who holds beliefs that are misogynist, transphobic, racist, homophpobic, and so on would realize, eventually, that they’ve been wrong this whole time. We’re all human, and we shouldn’t discriminate against anyone for who they are, right? But then I had a sobering realization. Continue Reading →

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 →

Genitals in the Wild: Labia and Art

My boyfriend and I went to a Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit at the local art museum, and as we were climbing the stairs to get to the display—I noticed this painting on the staircase. The artist, Ryotaro Tokita, left the piece untitled, so you cannot take away any clues or insight from the name. But if it were up to my interpretation, I would guess that Tokita was inspired by a rather symmetrical pair of labia majora. Follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor or follow Madeline Haller, the author of this post @madeline_haller. 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 →