Femme FATale

fail: kanye west
February 21, 2009, 5:49 pm
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i’m going to start this off by saying that i love kanye west and his music. i appreciate a lot of the politics he incorporates into his tracks. i think he has an incredible knack for combining wit and truth and packaging it up with some beats that you never, ever want to leave your head. i’m a long-time kanye fan from back in early 2000 when an indie hip-hop boy from a neighboring college attempted to woo me with the promise of mix cds featuring “unheard of” artists. kanye was on there and i instantly fell for him and not the hampshire boy who thought i could be so enamored with the new music he was giving me, that i’d forget he was a male-born dude. it might have killed him a little to know that his very cds became the soundtracks to the makeout sessions with my handsome then-gf. oh, the irony and sadness of unrequited collegiate love!

have i convinced you though of my fondness towards kanye west? because i require this preface in order to say that he managed to piss me off this week and in a really backhanded way at that. i say backhanded because i initially found his praise of gay folks as “really, really extremely dope,” a nice show of allied support. this awesome tidbit is, however, couched in an article focusing on how kanye west is, single-handedly, taking steps to “reinvent” the word “gay” from one that is, supposedly only negative to one that is positive. as a response to mainstream straight folks’ use of the word “gay” to describe anything that sucks, again, i appreciate the effort.

but kanye west wants to do more than just make “gay” positive again. he wants to, as i said earlier, “reinvent” it to be a positive portrayal of good taste in fashion, specifically. why? because all us homos can dress ourselves well, apparently. he’s been quoted in a pink news article as saying:

“I haven’t gone to a gay bar, nor do I ever plan to. But where I would talk to a gay person, the conversation would be mostly around art or design, it’d be really dope. […] From a design standpoint, kids’ll say, ‘Dude, those pants are gay.’ […] If it’s good, good, good fashion-level, design-level stuff, where it’s on a higher level than the average commercial design stuff, it’s gay people that do that. […] I think that should be said as a compliment. Like, ‘Dude, that’s so good it’s almost gay.'”

i don’t know about you, but i don’t want any words that people use as identifiers, especially marginalized identities at that, to be “reinvented” by a) someone who doesn’t ascribe to that identity and b) detaches it from its original meaning and attaches it to something as, trivial in comparison, to fashion. truly being an ally would, in this case, be kanye west stopping after calling gay folks dope and speaking out to reclaim gay as positive and to thwart those who use it to describe something as stupid or bad. defining a whole new meaning and interpretation to an identity and distilling it down to a superficial quality of some gay folks, is not only arrogant and appropriative, but just insulting. i much more appreciate the ad council commercials (two of which feature wanda sykes and hilary duff!) that specifically target the bogus and rampant “that’s so gay!” with some wit and snark.

kanye, i heart you and your music and, as a queer, i appreciate you aligning yourself with queer struggle and calling out folks for repeatedly equating “gay” with “bad.” i’m thrilled to have such a high-profile powerhouse on our side, but dude, don’t be stealing identities, introducing new meanings, and simultaneously erasing an entire history of struggle for folks to proudly call themselves “gay.” you are the leader of the hip-hop world, but your reign doesn’t allow you to be appropriative. we’re not forever on the outs, kanye, but this week, you get a fail.

Babeland Review: Womolia
February 17, 2009, 4:40 pm
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Being the third toy I’ve reviewed thus far for Babeland, the Womolia was my biggest success to date. Another toy from Emotional Bliss, the Womolia, like the Isis, is made of really good quality materials. There’s weight to it, substance, and a suggestion that perhaps orgasms will be possible with such a vibrator. Womolia is constructed of hard plastic, which I’ve previously warned against for toys meant to be inserted, but the Womolia seems more to be constructed for stimulating the clit and surrounding areas than for internal use (I suppose one could insert the tip of the toy 2 or 3 inches). The three or so inches of tip are composed of a softer, more slightly malleable material than the plastic of the handle and I really appreciated this part’s curve that culminates in a raised ridge that applies pressure and vibration perfectly. The head of the Womolia also has a number of grooves which aid in increasing pressure and creating friction when using it on your clit.

The other end of the Womolia, the one which you hold, is where the on/off button and increase and decrease vibration buttons are. I prefer this location so that increasing the vibration as needed is an easy and quick process. However, because there are three buttons and I was a Womolia novice, I kept accidentally shutting it off and then fumbling to turn it back on again. If my mind hadn’t been in other places and if I had been paying closer attention to how the vibrator was working and not say, the naughty nasty things my mind is capable of creating, I’m sure it wouldn’t have been so difficult to figure out. Though, when I think about it, the Womolia was a little hard to manage from the get-go.

When it arrived, I was so excited to spring it from it’s packaging and try it out that I was pretty disappointed it, at first, needed to charge a full *twelve* hours. I exercised all the patience I could manage and waited nearly 24 and then tried to turn on the Womolia without success. I spent a whole day thinking it was broken until I broke down and read the instructions and realized you had to press the on button twice for it to work. After trying this, the Womolia came to life and has been working well since.

At the end of the day, I really like the design of the Womolia (and appreciate its quality as well as, like all Emotional Bliss products, it comes with free lube!) and I found its shape and its three levels of vibration to get the job done. I also appreciated the fact that it was easy to hold onto and wasn’t all that noisy – virtually silent on its lowest setting. The buttons were a little difficult to navigate, however, and the fact that it needs to charge up can take the fun and spontaneity out of using the Womolia. Overall, though, it’s the nicest toy I’ve reviewed thus far for Babeland and the only one that I can see, at this point, staying a part of my repertoire…if I can remember to keep it charged, after all.

fail: jerry lewis.
February 8, 2009, 11:37 pm
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jack assi’ve been writing a post for the past 3 days, on and off, trying to articulate what i’m feeling these days about the overall reception/treatment of femmes in some parts of the queer community and trussing it to some experiences of my own lately that have left me feeling pretty raw and dissatisfied. i’m hoping to finish it up tomorrow and to hear back a bit from my extended femme family and allies about our experiences.

in the meantime, though, my very dear, very brilliant friend emily and i wanted to help get the word out on legendary problematic comedian jerry lewis and the petition that is circulating to protest the anticipation of his receiving a humanitarian award at the oscars on feb. 22nd. lewis is well-known for his telethons for kids with muscular distrophy, which are really, truly eye-raising (in bad, bad ways). here’s more on that from emily:

Jerry Lewis has long been protested by disability activists for his infamous telethons for “Jerry’s kids,” children with muscular dystrophy. Though Jerry Lewis may have good intentions, his telethons are deeply problematic, as they encourage pity for people with disabilities and paternalistic charity. Many in the disability rights movement have come together to protest the telethons, but Lewis refuses to listen to those he supposedly seeks to help, and Lewis once responded to a protest, “You have to remember they’re sitting in chairs I bought them…. These 19 people don’t want me to [raise money]. They want me to stop now? Fuck them. . . Do it in caps, FUCK THEM.” Yet, he will be honored this year at the Oscars and receive a humanitarian award. Check out http://thetroublewithjerry.net/ to sign a petition and find info about how to protest the event. Pity is not progress. It is especially relevant that people support this protest in the name of Harriett McBryde Johnson, a disability activist and writer as well as one of Jerry Lewis’s earliest and loudest protesters, who passed away this year. Here’s one more offensive Lewis quote to leave you with: he said that a disabled individual is “half a person,” and snapped, “[If] you don’t want to be pitied because you’re a cripple in a wheelchair, stay in your house!”

clearly, jerry lewis is the last person who should be receiving a humanitarian award. we’ll connect the dots some more by noting that as if his pity partying of disabled folks isn’t problematic enough (and oh, is it ever!), lewis is vehemently homophobic, having used the word “fag” derogatorily and repeatedly in on-screen appearances in the past few years. need even more? he’s also an old misogynist to boot, quoted as having once said: “women should be having babies or naked, oiling themselves up at home. they should be waiting with bated breath for their man, the rightful heir to the throne and ruler of all mankind. only a strong man in a bear-skin bathing suit back from a long night at the clubs can rescue the weak, docile, female of the species.” barf. go sign that petition, no?

Babeland Review: Orchid G
January 31, 2009, 8:30 pm
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0180000-bI was snowed in at a hotel on the southern coast of Maine when I said I’d review the Orchid G. Maybe the problem was that I responded to the Babeland “Products to Review” email on my iPhone that I had a different impression of what this particular toy would be. On my phone’s small screen it seemed streamline, svelte almost and like one of those fancy, high-end sex toys. Needless to say, when the box arrived the next week, I barely had the toy in my hand 2 seconds before I rushed to the website to try and make sense of things. The Babeland website gave, of course, a true description and accurate photo. Note to self: 3″ of iPhone screen vs. 15″ of Macbook screen = a world of difference.

The Orchid G is clunky. There’s no other word define it, as it is exactly that in size, shape, and overall presence. I’m not being dramatic with the last word either. It truly is a pretty garish and visually obtrusive toy. Granted, I received the hot pink version so maybe that has something to do with my overall experience. When I first eyed it, I was reminded of childrens’ playrooms where all of the furniture is made of that hard, hollowed out plastic, is sort of bulbous in shape, and where all edges are rounded. The only characteristic the Orchid G does not share with that kind of Fischer-Price style furniture is that those chairs and tables are usually pretty stumpy and at 8″ in length, the Orchid G is certainly not that.

Performance wise, I also wasn’t too impressed. I’m always skeptical of hard plastic toys because their mere existence implies that there is only one way for all female-born people to be shaped and sized; that we all have the same assembly-line produced bits ‘n pieces and that they react the same way and do the same things. We all know that what works for you, might not work for me, yet a lot of sex toy manufacturers seem to ignore that fact. Because of this, we wind up with toys like the Orchid G, which seems to suggest that all g-spots are located at the exact same angle. Forever and ever. Amen.


The good thing about the Orchid G is that if you are of the variety whose vagina is one from which the mold was cast and you, thus, have no problem navigating your innermost parts with a hard plastic, unyielding g-spot stimulator, it vibrates! And unlike the rest of it, the vibrations are customizable to what you enjoy – starting at a very soft purr to a very intense roar. Sadly, the roar is exactly that. Loud.

All hope was not lost though. While my g-spot remained unstimulated, I used the vibrator on my clit to get off and then all was right with the world. Not right enough to write a glowing review, but right enough to say hey, at least the Orchid G comes in some really nice colors!

Babeland Review: Emotional Bliss’ Isis
January 30, 2009, 7:30 pm
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This is the first product I’m reviewing for Babeland and I feared, a true perfectionist, that I wouldn’t know what to write or what to say as I cast my sex-toy- review virginity out the window. Luckily, there’s a lot to say about the Isis, even if it may well be the smallest vibrator you’ve ever laid eyes on. I decided to review this vibrator because I’ve seen similar over-the-finger style vibrators before and have always been curious about them, but more in a novelty way than anything else. In short, I’ve always doubted their ability to get me off. I blame this initial doubt on my early lesbian years. A time when I had a lot of awkward girl-on-girl sex with first-timers. To say the least, there was a lot of one-finger probing, pushing, and pulsing that got me nowhere except for frustrated and, sometimes, sore. Years later, obviously still scarred from these experiences, one-fingered anything piques my curiosity, but more in the “How can that work?!” kind of way.

I’ll put all my cards out on the table right away: the Isis, as I suspected, didn’t get me off. It got me about halfway there and then I realized my mind was debating whether or not to reach for my tried and true, no-frills vibrator or abandon ship altogether and go watch Jeopardy. The reason for this is because with only one speed, it was too much intensity for starting off and then too little as I got more and more warmed up thinking about a handsome butch and a NYC, New Years Eve rendez-vous (stories to come later, readers!). I will say, in defense of Isis’ somewhat lackluster performance, I am a person who requires a good deal of pressure on her clit if the aim is for me to orgasm. Isis, in that case, might be better suited for those who require less intensity or who are very sensitive. I also imagine that combined with vaginal stimulation of your choice, it might be a nice added touch. Especially for twosomes, threesomes, and thensomes.

Aside from the crucial point that Isis did not manage to make me wake the neighbors, there are still a number of really good things to say about it. For one, it is so incredibly small and discreet; it measures in at only 2.5″ total and can easily be tucked into a purse or pocket. It’s also relatively quiet. Throw a comforter over yourself and the only one who will know what’s going on is you. In fact, first-time, college lesbians who are fans of the aforementioned one-finger stimulation? This is a toy you could easily use on your girlfriend when her roommate is passed out on the other side of their dorm room fast asleep after Friday Night’s Dyke Row frat party. She’ll never hear a thing. Just saying.

All kidding aside though, the thing that most impressed me about the Isis is that it is a really quality toy. It’s made by Emotional Bliss, a U.K.-based sex toy company and it is obvious, from the moment you open the box that arrives from Babeland, that you’ve purchased something that is truly well-made and well-crafted. It’s smooth, sturdy, and the pieces that fit over your fingers, that come in three sizes, are made of strong plastic. No part of this toy is flimsy. It comes charged and ready with an A/C adapter that is equipped to run with both U.S. and European electrical adapters, a U.S. adapter for a standard two-prong outlet, two 1-oz bottles each of Emotional Bliss water based and silicon based lube (which is also really nice; not sticky or gummy at all), and a glossy 30-page catalog of their products that includes a personal note from the co-founder and ideas for “Setting the Scene”. Emotional Bliss seems to be a pretty pro-woman, feminist kind of company, too; their tag line is “Every woman has the right to experience sexual happiness in their lives!” This enthusiastic message, while feminist is, of course, very far from gender neutral or all-gender inclusive, but it’s also a far cry from a friend’s new dildo I saw just last week (purchased from some grimey, roadside sex toy shop) that came in a box covered in scantily-clad cartoon girls with word bubbles above their heads that were drawn shaped to look like blobs of jizz. Fail.

Overall, the Isis was a disappointment for what it did not deliver physically and for the fact that it managed to further bolster my fear of one-fingered stimulation encounters. That being said, however, it really impressed me in terms quality and craftsmanship; two things the sex toy world could use more of.

Also, did I mention you get 2 free oz. of really nice quality lube with the Isis?! Call me easily impressed. I’m new at this.

that was quite a hiatus.
January 30, 2009, 5:27 pm
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i can’t believe it, but it’s been over a month since i’ve even logged into wordpress let alone wrote a post. can you believe i had to sit for a second and remind myself of my password before i typed it? just this afternoon i was lamenting how i missed blogging and how it wasn’t that i hadn’t wanted to blog while i was on vacation traveling the east coast seeing friends and family between the semesters or since i’d been back in minneapolis, i just hadn’t found the impetus to get me going again. surely i could’ve found something to write about. after all, there are holidays to be discussed, drama to unfold, world happenings to lament or celebrate (hi there, mister president!). but before i knew it, there was a syllabus to write and a class to attend and a suitcase to still only halfway unpack. i hate that life has kept me away so long.

there is, at the same time, so much to say and not much to say at all. for now, i’m just gong to keep this short and say hi, friends. i’ve missed you. i’ll be back to blogging now (with babeland reviews to boot!).

hussy red

R.I.P. Bettie Page
December 12, 2008, 1:44 pm
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Such sad news that Bettie Page has passed away. She has always been, in my head, a bit of a femme icon – at least aesthetically. Though I’ve never heard or read of her having partners other than cisgendered men, she knew how to work fishnets, thick-cut bangs, and stilettos better than most. Bettie, if not in her own personal sexual practices, was a bit queer because of the nature of her work that started out as mere pin-ups, but quickly transitioned to fetish modeling that included bondage and spanking shoots. Most of these latter photos were of her with other women.

Last summer, I was on a road trip with my family. My dad was passed out asleep and my mom, grandma, and I were playing a game in order to pass time. One of us chose a famous person they would embody and the other two would have to ask questions to find out who they were. I chose Bettie Page once and my mom and grandma were guessing for nearly 30 minutes before they gave up. When I enthusiastically yelled, “Bettie Page!” they both looked at me all confused. Neither had any idea who she was.

For someone so “notorious,” it seems that Bettie Page’s revival and now legacy will go on living in the hearts of very particular subcultures. I’m glad that she’s a little bit part of mine.

R.I.P., Bettie Mae.

the moratorium is over.
December 9, 2008, 11:48 pm
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the title of this post should say it all. the moratorium on blogging and other fun and enjoyable things is officially over! monday night, i took my oral preliminary exam and passed! i am now an official ph.d. candidate and considered “all but dissertation” (ABD)! resuming normal life starts now!

blogging is not the only thing that has been put on the backburner in the last few months because of these horrific exams. socializing, laundry, moving generally beyond the 625 sq. ft. of my apartment (or library), are all other examples. seriously, i leave to see my family and friends back east in a week and my apartment has never been messier. life has been on hold far too long because of these things.

i miss being physically around my friends here in minneapolis. i’ve seen folks here and there and i’ve been to others’ houses for dinners and movies and thanksgiving, but no one’s been in my apartment since october. i realize that sounds pathetic, but when things got intense with writing my papers, my whole way of keeping up my apartment just took a nose-dive. i think it’s because it’s the one thing i *can* allow to slip, so it does. alas, i’m preparing to teach my last class of the semester tomorrow and then, for days on end, i will be armed with laundry detergent and pine sol in order to get this place livable again.

in the midst of all this stress and letting my apartment go to hell, i’ve never been closer connected to friends and family. there are folks out there in this world who, no matter what time of day and no matter with what frequency, high or low, allowed me to call them excited and hyper after too much coffee or crying and sniffling over what i assumed would be my academic decline. i owe so many thank you’s to the folks who got me through. allow me a few shout-outs, no?

my post-exam acceptance speech: (ahem!)

* to my parents, who don’t read this, but who i absolutely must acknowledge. i think we’re closer than we’ve been in a while because i called you nearly every day for weeks just to hear the encouragement and support in your voices even when we were talking about banal things like christmas, living wills, and the downstair bathroom renovation. mom, i’m sorry i bugged you so incessantly, but you make me feel better when no one else in the world can. knowing i make you proud is what’s most worth it. dad, i know you’ll never understand that what i’m writing is a dissertation and that it’s a lot different than my undergraduate “thesis,” which is how you repeatedly refer to it. still, the best part of passing monday night was calling you right after, when you were working on the trucking dock, and you yelled and cheered so loud that all the other guys on the platform knew i passed and they beeped the horns of their 18-wheelers and forklifts in congratulations. i will never forget the pride in your voice.

* to kelley, i’m finally getting around to giving you the address to this blog and with perfect timing. now i can say ‘thank you’ without breaking down into tears on the phone. i’ve never doubted the power of our friendship almost 10(!!!) years old now, but you reminded me why you will forever be so important to me. thank you for letting me sing entire songs to you that night i was losing my mind. thank you for telling me silly stories and rehashing all four years of college in order to take my mind off of the present. thank you for nearly getting into a throwdown with your boss monday night when you squealed with delight over my exams during the office holiday dinner party at a fancy pants restaurant. you’re the best surrogate sister a girl could have. family indeed, genius OF MY LIFE. xo.

* to emily, for being supportive and loving two time zones away. thanks for allowing me the occasional freak out phone call, my bombarding questions over gchat, and for not allowing me to wallow or be as self-deprecating as i probably would have liked to have been at times. you’ve always taken such good care of me – from first year to now – and you somehow still manage to do that even all the way over there in san francisco. i miss you way more than i can ever say. thanks for my surprise celebratory dinner. nothing says “you passed!” like pizza luce. you’re truly the best.

* to e, i’ve said it once and i’ll say it again, for all of our drama, you still know me more than most and know how to comfort me truly as a result. thanks for the much needed distraction of your neverending shoe dilemma, the oh-so-helpful and last minute study session over this past weekend and the reassuring phone call right before i went in. you are the only person i texted when i was waiting for the verdict to hear if i passed. that must mean something, no? xoxo.

* to all the other folks, some who read this and some who don’t, but who nonetheless i’m so grateful for: grandma, katie b., jasmine, porter, becky, uncle david & john, ricky, kandace, diane, bevin, and victoria (who sent me the most amazing femme-inspired care package ever!). special thanks also to leo, freedomgirl, kyle, sublime femme, and others for keeping me in your thoughts and leaving comments/sending emails of support and encouragement. love, love, love to all of you.

i worked harder than i’ve ever worked before these last few months and for all the effort i passed an academic milestone and simultaneously was reminded of the epic amounts of love and support i have in family, friends, and community. i am so thankful for all of you.

i’m sure that to some this whole post is going to seem dramatic and maybe it kind of is, but i’m too elated to really care right now. i’m happy and excited and *relaxed* for the first time in weeks. i’m savoring all of this and making it last as long as i can.

…in fact, until further notice, you can all refer to me as ph.d.-elect, hussy red!


keyboard obstruction
November 24, 2008, 4:37 pm
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Lula Bodeen

…and you thought the reason i wasn’t posting as much
was because of school. silly readers!

November 21, 2008, 6:32 pm
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for the “butches in the a.m.” news crew and for those of you who just, generally, love some nerd porn,
i offer you a photo of my life right now.
hussy red, femme’ing up academia all day, every day.