How Gay am I?

According to this test (which must be scientifically valid, as it’s on Scientific American‘s website) I’m equally heterosexual and homosexual. How will I explain that to my parents?! [Continue reading]


Bitch|Lab’s post on how the current argument about whether feminism or technology have done more to free women from the “drudgery” of housework ignores dimensions of race and class as well as the historic construction of notions of cleanliness and morality brought to mind an essay I wrote long ago. At the turn of the 20th century, middle-class women engaged in what was essentially a missionary effort directed towards poor immigrants, establishing “settlements” in poverty-stricken areas like the Lower East Side and offering instruction on diet, hygiene, and good citizenship, all with a healthy dose of moralizing. [Continue reading]

Bottoming from the Top, or: Do FemDoms Dream of Electric Toasters?

Twisty of I Blame the Patriarchy offers the flipside of my recent discussion of BDSM in two posts about the patriarchy-affirming nature of even the safest, sanest, and consensualist BDSM sexplay. [Continue reading]

Disability and the Male Gaze

Via Shrub comes this post by Mahlia Miles, a self-described “pretty woman in a wheelchair”, who writes of the way her physical condition feeds the male body, both as a physically limited female body (and thus simply an exaggerated version of the female body’s helplessness in general), and as a (with a nod to Sarah Jones) 3-foot blowjob machine, a twisted version of the “grateful ugly girl” whose mouth is forever set at groin-height: [Continue reading]

Social Construction

As part of my class preparation, I often write essays about the topics I plan to lecture on. I don’t read them directly in class, but it helps me get my thoughts together to write out what I want to talk about. This is the essay I wrote for my upcoming lecture on “social construction”. [Continue reading]

Gender and Sexuality Reading List

This is where I, the blogger, ask you, the reader, for your input. I’d like to put together a booklist of works relating to sex and gender. Not non-fiction — that’ll come later — but works of fiction that deal with these issues in interesting and useful ways, the kind of stuff you might assign a class on “Sex and Gender in Literature”. For instance, Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God explores the the way blackness and womanhood shape the lives of both men and women in the rural South, as well as offering at least one avenue towards empowerment (as I recall — it’s been over 15 years since I read it). Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises deals with a particular kind of (Hemingwayian) emasculated masculinuty. [Continue reading]

Elyce Elucidates: The Gender Politics of Housework

The Gender Politics of Housework

One key concept to understanding how housework is political is to grasp the concept, developed by sociologist Arlie Hochschild, that housework is work. It is valuable yet undervalued labor because it is unpaid. And the bulk of this unpaid labor, even in dual-career marriages, is done by women, without recognition of this fact.

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Sex: It’s What’s for Dinner

Originally posted at Savage Minds on December 14, 2005. [Continue reading]

Categories Worth Questioning, Part I

Categories are arguments. The process of putting “things” (objects, people, ideas, places) into categories involves several claims: first, that the things in category x are meaningfully similar to each other; second, that the things in category x are more like each other than they are like the things in category y or z or simply non-x; third, that the similarities that define the things in category x as members of that category are more important than the differences between them. Good categories appear pre-given to us — who can argue that a ripe Rome Beauty apple or a traditional fire engine doesn’t belong in the category of “red things”? [Continue reading]

Compliment-ary Strategies

I have a healthy dose of respect for Hugo Schwyzer, and find myself paying closer and closer attention to him as I enter a situation much like his, a male instructor in a Women’s Studies program. I don’t always agree with Hugo, but I’m always impressed by the way he deals with often sensitive and often highly personal topics. In this post, “But you’re pretty”: a pro-feminist musing on why compliments don’t help, Hugo responds to the targeting of Jill at Feministe on a bulletin board at her school, where students posted and then viciously attacked photographs of her. [Continue reading]