Frequently-Asked Questions

Beauty Level-Up #11: When People Harsh the Make-Up Mellow

While it’s true that much of mainstream Western society enforces beauty norms, including the wearing of makeup, there is a backlash against wearing visible cosmetics (and I do mean that — wear only “natural” shades well-blended into your skin and no one will say anything).

Women and people seen as women often find it hard catch a break from the body-policing that permeates so much of society. Dare to affix bold colors to your face and people may take your look as an invitation to tell you about their feelings.

Someone saying to a full face of makeup that

Warning: This gif is only the first of many.

And make no mistake: This is about their feelings and has nothing to do with the made-up person’s choice of facial attire. [Read more…]

Withdrawing My Endorsement of Sunday Assembly Los Angeles

When I was invited to be the main speaker for the first-ever Sunday Assembly Los Angeles, I felt very optimistic. The people with whom I worked were so incredibly helpful, I got to cover an awesome topic that gave me an excuse to further educate myself, and the event went swimmingly. The press coverage wasn’t bad, either. I later spoke at the first Sunday Assembly Orange County as well.

As rarely happens, I had hope about something. But, as always happens when I do have them, those hopes were dashed. I have recently found out that this April, Sunday Assembly Los Angeles is hosting Michael Shermer. His talk is promoting the latest of his many books.

The topic? Morality. Yes, really.

Based on all that is at hand, as well as a promise I have made before, I have no choice but to not only decline the offer they have given me to emcee a future event but also to withdraw, with regret and apology, any form of support or endorsement I have ever given to SA-LA.

Contact information for SA-LA can be found here. I especially encourage you to reach out and share your concerns if you are local to Southern California.

I reached out to them already. Details of that below the jump. [Read more…]

Dan Savage: Always & Forever a Mixed Bag

Thanks to a recent interview he did with Playboy, as well as talk of him getting a sitcom from ABC, my old hero Dan Savage is on my mind.

When I was a baby sex-positive feminist with polyamorous inklings, Dan Savage was the breath of fresh air I was looking for. I had spent much of my adolescence reading advice columns and self-help. In contrast to the heteronormativity and primness that most advice columnists both believed in and promoted, he was brash and frank in a way that made his occasional tenderness and compassion seem far more meaningful. After listening to many years’ worth of his podcast and reading his column regularly for a long while, however, I found I could no longer in good conscience promote or endorse him or much of his work. [Read more…]

FtB Con Postmortem: Racism in the Kink Scene

This past weekend was FtB Con. On Saturday, I was on a panel about kink for those who were beginning to explore it. I brought up issues of racism that I have faced online and off in the scene and specifically described a situation where I was nonconsensually fetishized for my skin tone at a kink event. Another panelist compared the situation to being followed and harassed at a mall and advised that people ought to firmly say “Stop!” to anyone who was doing such a thing.

As the panel wasn’t about exclusively my experiences and I felt a little flustered, I didn’t cover all the reasons why the situation hadn’t been that simple for me. The idea that it would have been easy for me to halt what had been happening is based on the assumption that the only power dynamics at play in kink spaces are pre-negotiated ones between consenting adults. [Read more…]

Beauty Level-Up #10: A Face Only a Webcam Could Love

FtBCon(science)3 is going on right now. I was on the ex-Muslims panel this morning, naturally, and will be on the kink panel that’s on at 1 PM PDT today as well as the poly one that is tomorrow also at 1 P PDT.

I’ve done quite a few Hangouts-on-Air-driven panels and vidcasts at this point, including FtB Con. While a full makeup routine looks great on webcam, there’s really no need to spend that much time and effort. This is especially true when the panel is at a certain time of day in order to accommodate multiple time zones. As a person of the PDT (and sometimes PST) persuasion, I often am the one obliged to wake up rather early to make it to a panel. I don’t always have the time and energy to do a full face and one isn’t really all that necessary anyway.

The results of a webcam-specific makeup routine might look silly in a selfie and even more so in the flesh, but it works for its intended purpose.

Picture-heavy tutorial below the jump.
[Read more…]

Wit Against Misogyny & Various *-isms: A Beginners’ How-To

Don’t you just hate it when you think of the perfect thing to say after the fact? There’s a term for that: esprit d’escalier (or “staircase wit”). Then there are times when you can’t think of anything to say at all, which can be just as annoying. This can happen with friends, family, or strangers, online or off.

Nearly no one is born issuing snappy comebacks at the drop of a hat. It’s a skill that can be practiced and improved upon and worked on over time. If you want to join in the war of the wits pitted against oppressive jerks, you can, no matter how unfunny or dim you think you are (because you probably aren’t that bad). Getting started means training yourself to more quickly recognize situations ripe for a comeback, surrounding yourself with people who can inspire your courage and give you ideas, and practicing your newborn-to-newfound skills in lower-stakes spaces.
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Everything I Know About Monogamy, I Learned From Polyamory

For most people and most relationships, the mainstream monogamous relationship model fits and there is no need for them to question it overmuch. The mistake is not doing what works for you if monogamy is what that is, it’s assuming that mono-to-poly relationships are the only ones where the terms of the relationship change.

I’m not just saying this because I’m poly and tired of my relationship style being treated as the only one where painfully-common problems arise (though yes, I rather am, thank you). I’m also saying this because a lot of wholly-avoidable issues come up in relationships of all kinds when people don’t acknowledge those changes for what they are. [Read more…]

How Shocking It Is to Be Believed

Content notice for ableist slurs, food-policing, and gaslighting.

A while back, I critically commented on a friend‘s post; I brought up how some people seemed to sincerely believe that racism wasn’t a problem with Ferguson and that all things could be resolved via body cam use. A friend of his commented and called my statement into question. I replied to him by saying that I didn’t have the energy to compile direct quotes and citations and was accordingly leaving the conversation (and I did, as I’m not one for the false flounce).

A few days later, I was curious and decided to peek at the thread. The friend-of-a-friend had said that if I could confirm that I knew of at least three people who truly thought what I said some people did about Ferguson, he would be satisfied. After all, he joked, he had seen me around the Internet and I seemed to pass the Turing Test.

I realized that I had expected him to consider even the evidence that I didn’t have the energy to gather to be inadequate. I had expected him to demand a peer-reviewed scientific study on the matter. I had expected him to call me a liar, in some way or shape or form.

Oversensitive. Overreacting. Crazy. Making things up. Provoking. Prove it. Your proof is the wrong kind. Shut up. It’s nothing. It never happened. You’re wrong.

I hadn’t expected him to believe me based on something as flimsy as my mere humanity. This is not an exaggeration. [Read more…]

Against Jokes, Expressions of Attraction, & Free Speech for Men

I must have hit some sort of critical tipping point, because I can’t seem to go a week without a man getting angry at me for not agreeing with him when he comes into my online spaces and says something contentious. The excuses are usually based on the alleged humor of the remarks (often retroactively applied), the particular man’s sexual preferences, and Freeze Peach.

If “jokes,” “expressions of attraction, and “free speech” mean “they must agree with me at all times” in men’s minds, then I’m very much against all three.

[Read more…]