The one where I talk about why I talk about toys.

“Why do you talk about sex toys so much?” I have heard this question in some form or another more times than I’ve cared to answer it, but I will. Again. [I won’t even address for now the slut-shamey tone this question is often accompanied by. Or rather, the “are you a perv or something?” question behind it. Because DUH, goes without saying.] Now. My first instinct is to answer: “Because I can.” I know my shit decently well, for one. I also try to flutter about in social circles in which I am safe and accepted enough regardless, or at least in spite of, talking nonstop about brands and materials and how to clean them properly and “that new adorable thing that just came out”. Not every social circle or situation makes me feel equally safe and okay with talking about sex toys, of course *insert mental image of me putting the Leaf line as centerpieces for Christmas dinner*, but I know how to filter, most of the time. But really, why are you asking me that question? You’re probably asking because you’re not used to hearing much about sex toys, except for jokes and hush-hush anecdotes of friends going into sex shops and looking at dildos (because every sex toy is a dildo, DUH). You’re probably even less used to a woman talking so freely about sex. And there is part of your answer. I talk about sex toys because people joke about them out of shame-y feelings, out of guilt for being actually interested underneath that nervous laughter.I talk about them, too, because a lot of people want to and yet most people don’t. You might also associate sexuality education with some powerpoint presentation featuring pictures of genital warts, or at the very least a silver-bullet Cosmo article by an “expert” who is there to tell you the single best tecnhique to please your person. That’s another reason. I talk about sex toys because pleasure should be a part of conversations about health and a part of sex as much (or more, I would argue) as STI prevention & contraception. Sexuality education often fails to acknowledge or discuss the most common sense thing about sex, which is that IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN.  I talk about sex in general because there is no silver bullet to pleasure, we have to find it ourselves, and what better way than to play and flick around stuff? I talk about toys because they can help people have more fun, alone or with others. They can help with body image, with technique, with confidence, with dysfunctions, with disability, with intimacy, with libido. Hell, they can even help those teenagers that some adults SO want to deter from having sex “too young” by giving them a fun gadget to hump instead of each other. I also talk about sex toys because sometimes someone has to. People often don’t know about all the possibilities, the variety of aides and positioning devices and applications for them, or where to get them, or how to distinguish safe from unsafe toys, or how to clean & store them. And people often don’t know these things because we won’t talk about them. We are scared to ask, or don’t know who to go to, or even what to ask. Not only that though. It isn’t even about the toys. They’re often expensive and sometimes tricky to get (if you live with and depend on your parents for money, for example) and some people don’t like them. All of these things are legit and I don’t just talk about my undying platonic love for the Stronic to make you all want to run to your local (please, buy local) sex shop and spend a third of your month’s rent on a pulsating product of sexy wizardry. I like bringing up stuff that is good to say but people feel uneasy or shame-y or guilty about. I like helping provide the space for conversations about toys, sure, but more importantly about pleasure, about ways to make our (sex) lives better, about what works and doesn’t work for us and why. I have had a woman tell me that after I brought up anal beads in a random conversation – that’s how I make friends at parties – , her girlfriend told her she would like to give butt play a shot. That’s awesome! Communication – and having the tools and the will and the space for it – is awesome. Like Megan says, our hands are our free, first sex toys that Jimi gave us, and they are wonderful. We don’t NEED sex toys (but then again, I also don’t NEED Nutella, but want it most days anyway), but we do need better communication skills and tools. We need to be able to say the words for things. We need better sexuality education, we need more conversations about pleasure and how important it is. We need to talk about shame in order to be able to deconstruct it. Why do some people still think that sex toys are just for pervs, or for single women (thanks a lot, Carrie Bradshaw)? Or that they replace your partner? Or that strap-ons are just for lesbians, or that butt play is not for straight men? Or that BDSM is for “dysfunctional people”? Or that there are no toys for penises? Or that certain bodies can’t have certain kinds of sex? Or that porn is just for men? I know I am getting into a lot of questions (and a lot of inaccurate ideas), but they all come from the same problem: we are not talking about these things enough.

So tell me, why AREN’T we talking about sex toys enough?

Do you have a question about sexuality? Where to find particular information/how-to guides/porn/ toys/ workshops? About feminism, gender, sex-positivity? Ask here on the comments and I will try my best to answer! Or ask me on my Tumblr! (Or if you know me and feel comfortable, ask me on Facebook or in person. I love talking about sex toys, hence this entire blog post.)  

OH HEI HERE ARE SOME (NOT ALL) ONLINE STORES THAT ARE SEX-POSI AND FANTASTIC: Canada: Ohhh Canada, Joy Toyz, DNA Toys, Good for Her, Come As You Are The US: Smitten Kitten, Good VibesBabeland Mexico: Erotika Lovestore *I don’t feel comfortable recommending stores from other places but if you have a strong recommendation for your country, let me know and I will check it out & add it.

You want a blog post on consent? Yeah?!

I have talked – and heard, and read – a lot about consent in the past few months. I am starting to give workshops on it, too, which is great experience. One thing that I have noticed most people struggle with is the practical part.

I will explain myself. Although a lot of people still have the concept of consent itself still a bit fuzzy, many people know what it is, textbook-definition-wise.

For those of you a bit unsure, or if you think you know but you really don’t, here are some characteristics of consent:

– Mutual: That means everyone involved in whatever is going on is giving it.

– Continuous: That means that it is not a yes at the beginning and then you are good to go forever and ever. It also means the people involved are responsible for checking in with the other and making sure everyone is enthusiastically into whatever is happening. AND it also means that it can be withdrawn at any point.

– Act-specific: This goes without saying if one truly understands the previous point, but consent to one thing does not mean consent to every (or any) other thing that follows. Consent to one thing now does not mean consent for that one same thing forever. This also means that relationship status does not mean consent: just because you are married does not mean both people consent to everything the other person wants.

– Freely given: This means that if a “no” carries with it negative consequences (of any kind – blackmail, emotional or physical violence, financial trouble, getting fired), then a “yes” means nothing. The space has to be a safe one in which a “no” can be said and received. (We’ll get more into this later.)

– Enthusiastic: This means many things: that a lack of a “no”, or silence, do not mean “yes”. That “not sure”, “not tonight”, “I am tired”, “could you not?”, “stop”, “I feel weird about this”, etc should be checked in and discussed and anything that is going on should STOP.

– Explicit: That means that, although non-verbal cues help, and the body should definitely (ideally) match the words, explicit verbal consent should happen. If not verbal, how can one be sure? (Hint: You can’t.)

 

Now, many people will say this list, or a variation of this list, but when it comes down to it, they will object that explicit consent is kind of unrealistic or boring or awkward or unnecessary even. I think it is in that last point, the point about being explicit and verbal, that many people get stuck and scream IMPOSSIBLE! and leave me broken-hearted.

Many people will say it is boring to explicitly ask and give consent. I find this kind of funny because I have thought this way too, until I realized what explicit, enthusiastic, consent can actually look like: dirty talk. I think people who see it as boring think of a very dry police-questioning kind of interaction: “Would you agree that now is a good time to perform manual stimulation on each other?” “I agree, certainly. But perhaps we could start by osculating for 5 to 15 minutes before proceeding” OF COURSE THAT THIS WOULD BE BORING AND UNREALISTIC.

Other people still will argue that it is often unnecessary. The “c’mon, dudebroman, I’ve got mad game! I know when a chick wants the D, y’know?” argument. Well, dudebroman, and any other person reading this: you don’t “just” know if another folk wants the D or any other letter you might want to give at that point in time. No one does. You gotta ask. The one initiating any sexual contact should always check in with the other person. Of course I don’t mean a ridiculous play-by-play “can I touch your left butt-cheek? Can I touch your right one? Can I touch both simultaneously?” so don’t be the jackass who makes that joke when someone is explaining consent to you, okay?

Many other people will argue that it is awkward and therefore unrealistic because you’d kill the mood or scare the person away.

First of all, as I like saying about any other situation that certain people see as awkward: it is only so if you make it or think it so. Furthermore, it is only awkward the first couple of times you do it – like anything else. We get this idea from the media and other people that sex “just happens”, and that there is no need for verbal communication. People are not born with this knowledge of what goes where and how fast or slow and how every D and P and A likes it and what to do with your genitals to help them become the very best they can be. People aren’t – usually, anyway – born good at sex (whatever that even means). You get good at your own, and you get good at communicating in such a way that the other person gets good at doing you and you at doing them. Same with consent, people aren’t born good at it. People are often raised to be bad at it, actually (not because they are raised to sexually abuse – although that point is arguable -, but because they are taught that you don’t need to ask, because “game” means you just intuitively know stuff). You have to learn consent, and practice it, though.

Now, let’s go back to the dirty talk. I love talking about dirty talk because it is literally what sex ed activists mean when they say this clichéd “Consent Is Sexy” line. “Do you want my dick in your mouth?” Giggle all you want, and take your time to blush and do a backflip if you need to, but that shit’s hot.

Dirty talk, furthermore, works for both questions and checking-in (“Do you like it when I do this? how much do you like it, huh? or this?”) or initiatives (“You know what drives me nuts? When you do this”). Initiatives are great because you can use them to both state what you want but also check in (“I would love to kiss you right now”). And, call me crazy, but there is no sexier thing than having someone saying to you that they really want you. As one of my faves sex educator /magic person, Megan Andelloux says, you want someone pulling towards you, not pushing and stopping you every step of the way (which is the kind of rapey “playing hard to get” model, btw. Let’s save that convo for Christmastime, though).

Now, of course dirty talk and consent (beware, I am not saying they are the same thing, and dirty talk should be consensual and checked-in for too) take some time to get used to and good at. Hell, I am speaking from no high horse of ultimate-consent-power (can that be a superhero? one that jumps into bed – or wherever consent is needed – and hits offenders with a sparkly dildo-hammer?) here. But anyone can get up there.

It takes a lot of unlearning, for sure:

Unlearning our shame with wording body parts (if you can’t say the word for it, how can you ask if someone wants something in/around/on it?) and with verbalizing desire (especially those raised as women, who are most often taught that wanting something sexual, or to show it, is slutty and shameful). Unlearning that to tell someone (or hear someone tell us) what they want means they (or we) have failed as lovers. Unlearning that “kinky” (whatever that means to every and any one of my readers) is a bad thing and that certain behaviours are inherently bad, or of this and that kind of people or orientation or gender. Yes, I am talking about guys that are still scared of their butts because “homo!” or whatever. You don’t know what you are missing (or so would a prostate-owner say).

It takes a lot of learning: about our own bodies (how are we supposed to instruct the other/s if we don’t know ourselves?), about communication, about the body (do you know that a penis-owner can have an orgasm without an erection? – if you did, a cookie for you! If you didn’t, well, there you go. Something I know (and you didn’t) about your gens.

More often than not, too, I hear arguments towards it being awkward to explicitly ask/give consent when you are starting off with someone, and arguments towards it being unnecessary when you have been with that person/people for ages. It seems then that it is never truly a good time to explicitly ask for consent, when it is ALWAYS  a good time to do so. Not only because it makes you an actually decent human being (which should be enough of a reason), but it can also make you a better partner in crime.

When you are starting off with someone, asking if they want something or other can give you a better sense of what makes them go nuts in a good way, and what is a definite OFF switch. If you have been with someone/s for ages, it spices things up a bit: you can see if they are willing to try X or Y, you can tease them about things. And c’mon, dirty talk is fun, and surprisingly new for a lot of “old” (time together-wise, not necessarily age-related) couples.

I guess what I want to say is, learn and practice consent. I would say “it’s not that hard, for fucks sakes”, but for many of us it is, because of what we’ve known all our lives, and because it takes time and willingness and thought. But hey, on the plus side, it makes you a non-rapist. And it can make sex much better. And it can make your relationships (both the one-night-stand and the lifelong partnership) much better too. Is it awkward at the beginning? Sure, but so is sex, and yet you did it anyway (that time with the sweaty palms and the parked car that was way too small and uncomfortable and the is-this-supposed-to-go-here’s ), didn’t you?

Hopefully not ON the car?

Or maybe you did do it on top of a car in January, in the Yukon. And with practice you learned that that was shitty and now you do things in ways that are better? In ways that are sexier in a way you thought that maybe on top of a car was sexy but was really just a bad idea? Right?! Okay not the best example, but there ya go.

FYI: to my one-day-to-be teenage nephews

Today I read this one article that pretty much forced me to throw away all responsibilities and get to writing on this blog again (which is great!). The first thing I thought was “those poor boys”, quickly followed by “OH MY GOD WHAT IF MY NEPHEWS GOT THESE HORRIBLE IDEAS FROM SOMEONE?”, and, while I would like to think they are being and will continue to be raised better than that, I also wanted to write a letter to their future teenage selves.

Granted, I am not a parent. I may or may not become a parent. But I swear to Jimi, my intentions towards those gorgeous, amazing little boys are parent-like. Plus, anyone with half a sense of what is actually wrong with the world can tell what was wrong with that article, with or without having given birth.

 

Now, for the sake of this letter (and how heteronormative the original one was) I am going to assume my nephews are heterosexual. They are 1 and 3 now, so I have no idea and I don’t really care who or what they do in that respect. I am also being quite sarcastic in how I mimic the original letter’s structure and content. But all in all, it is pretty much what I would say to them.

 

Dear boys,

I have some information that might interest you. I don’t creep on your social media – and really hope your parents don’t either, because that shit’s creepy and wrong and not even beneficial to anyone – but I know we trust each other and so I have seen some of your pictures with your teenage gal friends.

You are teenage boys, and you may or may not have a lot of lady friends – you don’t have to in order to be a man’s man, and there is no “naturally” in how you define your own masculinity and boys will not be “boys” if they don’t want to, I hope you know that. If you do like having a lot of gal friends, though, that is cool too. You own your own body and mind and goddamn Facebook profile.

Anyhoo, back to the pictures. They have cute bedrooms, don’t they? I noticed and you noticed too because I really hope we are past stupid stereotypes of boys have dirty rooms and don’t even see color and “girls have pink everything and basically smell pink” by the time you are in your teens. They are also really clean rooms, like yours. I don’t even need to say this to you, that hygiene is not a girly thing, it is just good sense, and that having somewhat dirty rooms is not a guy thing, it is a teenager thing.

Look at all the interesting books and magazines and fun things they have, though! I know you notice because, contrary to what media often portrays, men are capable of seeing beyond bra-less breasts. Perhaps she could recommend you a book? She seems really smart and wonderful and I know you know this as well.

Now, you may notice other things – I am not assuming that because you are a boy (hell, I notice breasts too from time to time, although I don’t really look at that in teenage girls’ photos), but because you are into girls (not all girls, of course, like all human beings you have preferences and choices) and there are girls in those pictures. Some pictures have girls posing in their pj’s, some pictures have boys and girls hanging out in their swim suits, some pictures have people dancing at a party.

 

Now, you may have heard an unhealthy amount of talk about teenage girls and women and how they should act and dress and talk.

So, here’s the bit that I think is important for you to realize: those pictures are not about you. The poses they make and the clothes they wear are completely independent of you, and me, and everyone other than themselves for that matter. As such, they are not yours to judge or try to dictate over. Women are not yours to judge or dictate over.

What you do own and dictate over is your own behavior towards those pictures and towards those women. It is fairly normal that you notice their lack of bra or their curves or their pretty eyes or their pose. You have eyes – we all do. What is not okay is for you to reduce them to their bodies and their poses and choice of attire, because just like you and your parents and me and everyone else, they are complex and whole people and you should respect them and treat them as such.

Speaking of complex and whole people – you are such complex and whole individuals. You have the ability to see someone dressed one or another way and know that that means nothing about their personality, their intentions, their character, their intellect, their sexuality, etc. You have the ability to be attracted to someone – sexually or not – and act or not act on it depending on how appropriate, consensual, convenient (or whatever) it would be. You – as any other human being – have will, reasoning, and self control. To sum this up, and to clarify – given all the ideas that the media and crazy mothers around the internet will have you think – WHAT YOU SAY OR DO OR THINK IN REGARDS TO A WOMAN AND A WOMAN’S BODY IS ON YOU, NOT ON HER. And before another crazy person on the internet says anything: unless a girl/woman comes up to you and verbally, explicitly asks you “can you please view me sexually?”, nothing else she ever does is asking for you to do so. So, I am sorry to break it to you, buddies, but it is on you.

Please know that I genuinely get what you see in those pictures and all of that. We are sexual beings, and you boys are raised (hopefully not too much) to think that sexualizing and objectifying women is what boys do, and that it is a woman’s fault when you do it. I believe in you, though, because you are insightful, smart, and very, very funny. It is a unique lens you have, that of a teenage boy, because your hormones are all over the place and you think of things you don’t know much about yet. It is okay, it is even fun! But that does not mean that your teenage gal friends are responsible for your erection.

Which is what makes this such an important topic to discuss.

Those messages in the media don’t reflect who you are at all, though! I think you guys are lovely and interesting and usually very smart. I cringe and wonder what the people saying these things are trying to do or who you are trying to reach by blaming women for men’s behavior. What are they trying to say? That you are incapable of discerning between clothing and character? That you lack self-restraint? That you are a primitive monkey who is governed by his boners and who cannot unsee nakedness? I know you would be insulted by this, and I know you are more than that.

And now – big bummer – we have to sit here and talk about crappy messages being said to you. Because, the reason we have these (hopefully not too awkard) family conversations around the table is that we are not sex-negative slut-shaming assholes (assholes are actually very smart organs, but that is another subject for another future time) like so many people all over the world. I would never block any of those messages from you though, because that is a violation of your right to information (as false and ridiculous as it may be) and because I trust you to make your own decisions regarding the messages you get. I can only hope you continue to trust me enough to bring those messages to the table to discuss openly about.

I care about you deeply, just as I know that teenage girls’ families care about them and would like their friends to be decent human beings who take responsibility for their own behaviours.

I know their family would not be thrilled at the thought of you teenage boys making inappropriate jokes or comments about these girls’ bodies. Did you know that once you see a role model slut-shaming or making horrible jokes about women, you start thinking it is okay? And that once you say one such thing and no one calls you on it, they start rolling off your tongue? You don’t want people you care deeply for to see you as an ignorant, sexist, dudebro, do you?

Neither do I. I know you are much more than that.

And so, in this house, in our relationship with each other, there are always second chances, even if you say something you’ve heard somewhere that is kind of sexist or demeaning of other people in any way. But we would talk about it, and talk about it a lot. I know, so lame. But, if you want to be a decent and respectable human being, you will listen and keep an open mind. Or maybe you won’t, but I will say these things anyway, because I care. I also hope you grow up to know your privilege as a guy and know that with great power comes great responsibility – is that still a reference for you? I hope it is – so, yeah.

I know this sounds weird because I might (hopefull not) be the first one to tell you these things, but I am hoping to help you guys be great men with a strong moral compass, and men of integrity don’t linger endlessly over pictures of women, and if they do, they take responsibility for it.

Every day I pray  – nah, I don’t pray, who are we kidding – think about the women or men or whomever (because love is not just romantic love) that you will love and who will love you. I hope you are drawn to people who are beautiful and who know beauty is everywhere, not only on the outside and especially not only in clothing. I hope that you complement each other and make each other the best each of you wants to be. I don’t like the term “worthy” because it assumes some people aren’t , but I hope that you inspire respect because you give it too.

Guys, it is not too late to unlearn shitty messages! If you think you’ve made an online mistake – telling a girl she is a slut or that she looks fat or joking with your friends that her ass looked a certain way and that she is better/worse for that – you don’t have to run and take it down “before I see it”. I am not the CIA, a creepy mother, or the boss of you. Just acknowledge that it was wrong and apologize if necessary, and learn about ways you can become a better man in those respects. You don’t want to make comments or remarks that make it easy for people to assume you are a disrespectful human being, and see you in that dimension alone.

Will you trust me? There are girls out there waiting and hoping for men of character. Plenty of young men and women are fighting the daily uphill battle to keep their minds free of sexist, slut-shaming BS, and their thoughts praiseworthy – just like you.

You are growing into a real beauty, inside and out.

Act like that, speak like that, post like that.

 

Your loving aunt Lui

I show you mine, you show me yours.

I want to share a deep, dark, secret with you guys: I am privileged. Another deep dark secret? You are very likely privileged too.

privilege-and-prejudice

Neverrrrrrrr

I am also oppressed and non-privileged in more than one way, and probably so are you.

I want to address a couple of conversations I have had and comments I have received (thanks you guys! you make me love my blog and feel obligated to write in here even though I have finals coming up, and I like the feeling), most of them relating, directly or indirectly, to privilege. I have mentioned it but, true enough, haven’t really explained it or said too much about it. The point of this blog (or part of it) is making information accessible, and I haven’t been doing that all too well.

So, first of all, what is meant by privilege?

For those not too familiar with social justice or feminist blogs or literature in general, privilege is a set of unearned benefits society bestows you due solely to one fraction of your identity, whether it be race, gender, sex, class, sexual orientation, physical ability, etc. What does this mean, in reality? That there are things that I don’t have to think about, daily nuissances that I will not be target of, worries that I will not have, and disadvantages that I do not need to consider because I am a person with no physical disability or impairment of any kind, for example. Privilege makes our lives easier in ways that we tend to take for granted, and so checking our privilege is, for one, realising how good we have it in many ways. Privilege also makes us think, say and do things that may offend others simply because, in our position of privilege, we do not “have to” think about others, as the default way of thinking in that area in which we are privileged supports our own.

This is too broad and abstract though, I believe. Most talk about privilege is fairly abstract because it intends to apply to as many people as possible. I will talk about it in more concrete terms. Big, huge, monumental disclaimer, though: I am not speaking for anyone other than myself. I do not know or pretend to know everything. That is another thing about privilege: even if you’re oppressed in some other way, no two oppressions are the same, so do not pretend you empathize, because you cannot possibly know what anything other than your own experience is like. That said, here is an attempt to further explain what privilege is.

For example, I am a ciswoman (as in, my gender identity happens to match the sex assigned to me at birth; this, as opposed to transgender, which is when the gender identity you’re comfortable with does not match the sex assigned to you at birth). Based on that one little fraction among all the complexities of human beings, I have certain benefits – ranging from relatively small nuissances that I don’t have to deal with, to relatively big ones like not having to choose between a birth certificate that reflects my identity (and save myself from more nuissances, confusion and harassment) and having children. I am not harassed and stared at and whispered about when I go to public restrooms, I am not constantly asked really invasive and STRAIGHT UP NONE-OF-THEIR-BUSINESS questions like what my genitals look like or how I have sex, my gender identity is plenty represented in mainstream media (without it being only as the punchline of a joke). If I am in need of medical care, my gender identity will not grant me an unnecessary psychological examination; if I am in need of a shelter I do not have to fear for physical abuse in there. People don’t ask what my real sex is, as if I was lying or as if my gender identity was not valid, as if they were entitled to decide who I am for me. [I am taking these examples from this blog post, but the list goes on and on.]

Now, another thing I have heard and have read is pretty common (and fairly understandable) is that whole defensive ‘ttude of “but I am not like that!” or, “what do you mean I am privileged? I have had it bad in life!”

Here’s the thing, when someone (for example me, through this blog) tells you to check your privilege, they (or we) are not blaming you. Privilege is not about individual behavior or douche-baggery. It is not about you.

Privilege is not about blame, but it is about responsibility. Of course I know you cannot help but being white, or male, or cisgender, or able-bodied, or economically well-off, or heterosexual. I know, also, that you are probably a nice, well-intentioned fella. Most people are, I truly believe that. Thing is, we are part of a patriarchal society which values and reinforces and benefits some groups of people while oppressing, discriminating against, dehumanizing and invalidating the experiences and identities of other groups of people. That is a fact [If you are unwilling to accept this fact, I am sorry we’ve wasted each other’s time. Go about your business now].

Furthermore, society is built in such a way that dominant discourse, mainstream media, formal education, law, medical discourse is meant to represent and reinfornce the views and interests and needs of the privileged and ignore or reject or misrepresent those of the non-privileged. For a quick example, see what is meant by “flesh-tone” in most products: whose flesh tone is that? It sure as hell is not mine, it sure as hell is not the majority of my hometown’s flesh tone, it sure as hell is not the majority of most countries’ flesh tone. And YET…

Now, as I was saying, privilege IS about responsibility. Sure, as much as you read a checklist on male privilege and you think to yourself “yes, that’s right, how have I never thought about this”, you’re still a guy. And that is okay. Don’t do like I did the first time I read that I was privileged in so and so ways and be paralized by liberal guilt and by “omg I have been such an asshole!” thoughts. I mean yes, reflect on the fact that you may have been an asshole enough time so that you try not to be an asshole ever again, but accept that you probably will. Move on, though: we all make mistakes and will continue making them, just hopefully not the same ones.

A friend, reasonably, asked me, what the hell do I do with that, though? What do we do with that privilege?

Be extra aware of it. Be aware that you are already over-represented everywhere else, so you should allow non-privileged groups to have the chance and the space and the voice: help them create those spaces, those times.

Be humble. The rest of the world thinks you are more entitled to talk on behalf of others already, so don’t. No matter how much you read about their history, their needs, their interests, their concerns, their oppression (which you should, by all means); no matter how active of an ally you are. You are not them, you cannot explain their suffering for them, you cannot answer for them. So shut up, listen, and learn.

Learn their terms. They should not be the ones teaching you how not to be offensive, you should be able to do that yourself. It is valid to ask questions, of course (RESPECTFUL questions). Just do not feel like you can correct us on how you can refer to us (if I personally find you calling me ‘baby’ offensive, dude, drop it). Short confession: I once thought I was entitled to judge if I were to call a transwoman a woman or a man based on how much she “passed” as a woman. I cannot even begin to say how ashamed I am of that mentality right now, how sorry I am for it. Completely unacceptable.

Learn their history, their oppression, their concerns. We learn the white, heterosexual, able-bodied male history since we are kids, even if it does not represent most of us or OUR history. Now it is time for you to do the same.

Be an active ally. Do not try to lead the way, but try to walk with them, supporting their struggles. Call bullshit on the guys for catcalling, intervene when someone is bullying a person on a wheelchair, correct a person who you know got your friend’s pronoun wrong [See: Trans Etiquette for Non-Trans People | Matt Kailey]. To be an active ally you have to be an active listener, willing to accept your own mistakes, willing to take the heat of being an ally of an oppressed group, willing to shut up when you have to and speak up when you must.

And, honestly, why not? Use your privilege for good. Respectfully, carefully, checking yourself closely.

While cismen speaking up against violence against women might be seen as problematic because it should not take a cisman’s voice for other men to listen to it and pay attention (a woman saying “stop raping us” should be just as effective and respected of a claim as a man saying “let’s stop raping women”), today’s world works in such a way, unfortunately. Cismen speaking up against violence against women or against sexism in general, provide men with a role model they can relate to (on the basis of genitalia similarity, which I find quite odd and arbitrary), and they can listen up. They cannot say the guy is speaking to his own benefit or personal interest, and human brains work in such a way that we think that fact makes their claim more valid – whereas, as Tim Wise speaks about in his ‘Pathology of White Privilege’, who is more of an expert on oppression than the victim of that same oppression?! – and it may be more effective. An ally is an ally. If I am talking to a friend about sex work, about transgender issues, about disability, I will use my privilege in those categories to speak of what I know, with as much care and tact and humility as possible, and I will try to change someone’s prejudices and misunderstandings. I will point out when they say something offensive, even if it is not specifically offensive to me.

Why? Firstly, because I would like a guy to do the same thing about rape culture and about slut shaming and about wage gaps, I in fact love it when I see it happening. It does not make them or me a better person, or more entitled to friendship, a relationship, sex or ANYTHING with the group we are an ally of, needless to say. But I love it. Secondly, because part of knowing you’re privileged in some way is knowing that people are more likely to listen to you (unfortunately, and we must of course fight to change that fact as well: referencing non-privileged authors or sources of knowledge, explicitly noting that your word is not any more valid, etc). People are less likely to dismiss you, or get defensive, or offend you with their denial. It sucks, but it is true, and an ally is an ally (again, a respectful, non-entitled, humble one). I don’t know about you, but I’d take it as it is.

So yeah, that sums it up I think. Checking your privilege is 1) realizing you haven’t got it so bad after all, so stop bitchin’, 2) taking into account that what you say might come from that place of privilege and ignorance and you may need to apologize, correct yourself, do your homework, etc, 3) taking responsibility for your words and actions, and owning that privilege by becoming an active and supportive ally, 4) realizing some spaces are not for you to take over with your privilege-splaining (I think I just made that up, but see mansplaining to check out what I mean) or your over-representativeness: you have the rest of the world to have role models, topics relevant to your needs and interests, categories and terms that are consistent with how you see and like the world, etc., so back off when, for once, it isn’t about you.

That is all, for now. If you have any thoughts or things to add, please tell me. I love knowing more and more and more. And sharing it all 🙂

If you feel like talking about privilege to others and are not sure how to start, or are not all convinced by what I said just now, check out How To Talk To Someone About Privilege Who Doesn’t Know What That Is, and An Anthology of Privilege Checklists.

Words that matter.

I have said before how I love language. I love it because it can empower or disempower, create or destroy. It frames issues, gives them direction. It is part of your identity, of how others see you and how you see yourself.

It can be incredibly intimate – with secret codes and made-up words to have with someone, with words of encouragment every morning in front of the mirror – and it can be incredibly political. It IS always political, in that it includes and excludes, offends or supports, ALWAYS. Even when we are not paying attention, language comes up behind us and stabs us in the back, letting everyone know our true sentiments, our deepest-held prejudices, our privilege, our ignorance. I believe that we ought to pay more attention, as our choice of wordscan make a great deal of difference in which conversations happen, who we include instead of excluding, who we stop hurting.

Language (not just English, although the literature I have encountered has been vast on this particular one) as an inherently racist, inherently sexist, inherently homophobic, inherently classist thing is too broad and too complex and too damn long a topic to speak of right now. For now, I just wanted to share some terms I have been trying to use or stop using and why. I of course, invite you to also check yourself – as a privileged ally, that is the least you can do really – and evaluate your language use and do your homework about it and change some habits too.

Some of the terms, dichotomies, standard-versus-other stuffs that we should all be changing:

– First of all, that whole “my gay friend/cousin/teacher” when sexual orientation is not relevant to the conversation (which if you ask me, is almost all the time). It makes me and others think 1) the gold standard is being heterosexual and that one person is the weird one in your world, 2) our (and your) judgment of the rest of what you’ll say should take the ‘gay’ bit into account (for some bizarre and homophobic reason) and 3)  that – sorry, I gotta say it – having a friend who happens to be gay somehow makes you a better or cooler or special person and we should take notice of that fact.

Also, some funny kind-of-true stuff

– Same thing goes with “my black friend”, “my trans friend’, ‘my disabled friend’, ‘my midget friend’. Unless that part of their complex, full, awesome being is relevant, saying it only marks it as a difference. And yes, differences do exist, but I do not hear you saying “my white friend”, “my straight friend”, “my cisgender (I’ll come back to this one) friend”, “my fully-physically-abled friend”.

– Start using cisgender to refer to people who are not transgender, who are privileged in this society for identifying with the same sex they were born with, when differentiating from transgender people. Do not mark the difference by saying “men and transmen”, as if the normal thing was to be cisgender and the other, the alien, the abnormal was to be transgender.

“Oh, but I only mean normal in the statistically-normal kind of way”, you say? We humans do not talk in statistically-literate terms, in case you have not noticed. In a hypothetical situation, almost anyone would be more likely to say it is more normal to run into an English-speaking person in Argentina (or almost any country) than it is to run into someone who speaks Chinese, even if Chinese is more statistically normal. Because language is about politics, about visibility, about access. I know the analogy is not perfect, but you get the point.

“Oh, I don’t know anyone trans so I’m not offending anyone”, you say? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t (what makes you assume you know, anyway?). Even if you don’t, language works like a forest fire. If you say cisgender, someone might ask you what cisgender is, maybe they’ll too be convinced and use it, and so on: somewhere (if not everywhere) along the line, you just stopped someone (and yourself) from – possibly unintentionally – hurting, discriminating against, and offending some one else.

While we’re on the subject of cisgenders and cisgender privilege, it is time for a check-list. I know I have been guilty of more than one horribly offensive, transphobic thing, and some of them stem from not fully acknowledging cisgender privilege, so check it out and stop being a twat 😉

– Saying something/someone is “so gay” as a way of saying silly/dumb/ridiculous/flamboyant/cowardly/boring/cheesy/over-dramatic. You are literally equating those negative or at the very least stereotyping adjectives to being homosexual, and an = sign goes both ways. It is as simple as not being lazy and use any of the above adjectives or any other instead of saying “gay”. Even Hilary Duff agrees with me on this one.

– The same thing goes for “stop being such a girl”, “you’re such a pussy” (for an anatomically-accurate word for ‘sensitive’, try “glans”, as in the tip of your penis), “he plays like a chick” or the like.

run like a girl

You are saying, first of all, that whatever attitude the person displayed was a feminine (girly/womanly/chick-y) thing to do which is 1) stereotyping and further reinforcing gender roles that block both men and women from being however the fudge they want to be without fear of ridicule; and 2) saying, literally saying, that being equated to a woman is wrong or undesirable or humilliating or inferior. Actually, all of those things. It goes like this: “playing like a chick” is saying (most commonly) that that person is playing badly or poorly or too delicately, right? So you’re saying that a girl plays badly and poorly and too delicately, and because you are saying it to demean a person, it is saying that being called or compared to a girl is supposed to be demeaning. It is very easy: say they are playing poorly. Say they are being over-dramatic, say they are being too high-maintenance. Don’t equate those bad attributes and offensive stereotypes to women and do not equate “woman”/”girl”/”chick” to an insult.

– Using the word ‘retarded’ or retard. Something is not retarded: something is either ridiculous, or dumb, or bad, or annoying, none of which describes or equates to intellectually challenged or disabled individuals. Do not use that word to describe people who are not intellectually disabled as a way to insult them: it should not be an insult because intellectually disabled people are not inferior or wrong or less worthy than non-disabled people like yourself. Do not use that word to describe intellectually disabled individuals either, it is offensive. You are not charged by the vowel, so I am sure you can use intellectually disabled instead.

– Oh, OH. Please, stop using the word ‘rape’ for anything else than rape itself. Ohhh this makes my blood boil. You did not “rape that exam”, you ‘rocked’ it or you finished it no-problem. The football team did not “rape that tournament”, they embarrassingly outperformed the other teams.

Using the word minimizes the actual pain, suffering and trauma of survivors. It hurts them, and it can bring back the pain of the actual rape that happened to them. It makes survivors feel unsafe and rapists feel safer in a world that trivializes and jokes about what they do. Here’s another more elaborate take on this.

– Relevant to recent events, debates and blog posts: gay marriage vs marriage. I am guilty-as-friggin-charged. I think this is not cool because it makes it as if marriage between heterosexuals is the whole deal and the other one is an alternative version. So I will start saying “straight marriage” or “heterosexual marriage”. This is a pledge.

So yeah. These are some easy ways in which we can change our habits to be better and to make others feel better and safer. By recognizing the prejudices that we carry with us and by correcting the language that promote these same prejudices, we make it less okay for people to say racist, homophobic, sexist, ableist things whether it is on purpose or not.

THIS. If you have to start the sentence with "I'm not racist, but", YOU ARE BEING RACIST.

THIS. If you have to start the sentence with “I’m not racist, but”, YOU ARE BEING RACIST.

I also invite you to check out this test. It is related to my blog post in that our word choice is one of the ways our prejudices leak out, but there is so much more to look at inside our socialization. The test was created by Harvard researchers in order to assess some of the unconcious associations we make and makes us reflect upon them in order to make our concious attitudes meaningful ones. It is also super simple and interesting and enlightening [I got some scores that embarrass me, honestly, but that make me think and try to tackle internalized ideas I hold].

Any other terms/phrases you think we should change in our vocabulary?

Es de viejas escribir chido.

Me encanta el lenguaje porque es moldeable, porque es poderoso. Pero como es esas dos cosas, puede moldearnos y ejercer poder sobre nosotros y otros. Es parte de nuestra identidad, de como nos ven otros. Es como vemos el mundo y cómo lo acomodamos y qué jerarquías permitimos o no. Puede ser súper íntimo – con códigos que sólo dos personas entienden, con palabras cariñosas que te dices frente al espejo cada mañana – o puede ser súper político. ES súper político, siempre, en a quien incluye y a quien excluye, a quien ofende y de quien es aliado. Aunque no estemos prestando atención, el lenguaje nos cae por detrás y nos apuñala en la espalda, evidenciando nuestros sentimientos, nuestros prejuicios más internalizados, nuestros privilegios, nuestra ignorancia. Creo que debemos prestar más atención, pues nuestra elección de palabras puede marcar la diferencia y dirigir qué conversaciones se tienen, a quiénes incluimos en vez de excluir, a quién dejamos de lastimar con lo que decimos.

El idioma como algo intrínsicamente sexista, racista y homofóbico es un tema demasiado amplio y complejo para abarcar ahora. Lo que quiero por ahora es compartir términos y frases que he estado adoptando o sacando de mi vocabulario, y porqué. Por supuesto, también los invito a explorar su propio uso del lenguaje y evaluarlo, investigarlo y cambiar hábitos a placer y necesidad. Son cosas pequeñitas que podemos hacer para mejorar nuestro entorno más inmediato, una interacción cotidiana a la vez.

Y pues algunos de estos términos y dicotomías que creo deberíamos de cambiar, son:

– Eso de “mi amigo gay” o “mi amiga lesbiana” cuando la orientación sexual no hace ni debería de hacer diferencia alguna en la conversación (o séase, la mayoría de los casos). A mi me parece como si el estándar es ser hetero y esa persona es la “rara” en tu círculo. También me hace pensar que tu juicio y el nuestro debería ser tomando en cuenta su orientación sexual, como si hiciera diferencia en el resto de su persona y experiencias automáticamente. Si estas usando eso como su identificador, estas poniendo esa parte de su persona por encima de otras características. Me hace pensar, de algunas personas, que lo están diciendo como si tener un amigo homosexual los hiciera más cool o mejores o más abiertos de mente o especiales, y todos debemos tomar nota de ello. Tener un amigo, gay o no, está chido, pero no te hace especial. Tener un amigo gay, igualmente, está chido, pero no te hace especial.

– Lo mismo va con “mi amigo negro”, “mi amigo transexual”, “mi amiga gorda”, “mi amigo sordo”. Son más que eso, en primera. Es como cuando dices “mi amigo guapo” (si te atraen los chicos, sobretodo), das a entender que eso es lo que más te importa o lo que primero pensaste para describirlos. Y no te oigo decir “mi amiga hetero”, “mi amigo cisgénero (volveré a este en un momento)”, “mi amigo sin problemas auditivos”. Usa otras cosas como referentes de preferencia, o no uses nada si lo que estas diciendo no tiene nada que ver con el adjetivo.

– Puedes intentar como yo usar ‘cisgénero’ para diferenciar de una persona ‘transgénero’. No digas ‘mujer de verdad’, o ‘mujer’ en oposición a ‘mujer transgénero’. Decir ‘mujer de verdad’ es más evidentemente ofensivo y transfóbico ya que estás quitándole validez al género e identidad de la persona transgénero, pero lo mismo pasa si dices solamente ‘mujer’. Estas marcando cual es el estándar y cual es la abnormalidad.

“Pero, yo digo normal como norma estadística”, ¿dices? Te tengo noticias, usamos esa excusa de normatividad estadística cuando queremos. Si decimos que es más normal que alguien hable inglés en Francia que Chino, estamos hablando de política, de visibilidad, de acceso, de recursos: eso es lo que nos hace pensar que es más normal. En una muestra aleatoria, considerando las probabilidades, sería más normal estadísticamente que hablaran chino, ¿que no? Mi analogía no es perfecta, pero creo que me hago entender.

“Pero, no conozco a nadie transgénero así que no estoy ofendiendo a nadie”, ¿figuras? Pues primero que nada, el león cree que todos son de su condición, a tí, ¿qué te hace pensar que sabes que hay bajo las pantaletas de todo mundo? Y aunque sea así, el lenguaje es como una bola de nieve. Tú usas el término cisgénero, dos personas de todas las que te escuchan se convencen y lo usan también, y ellos convencen a alguien más, y así se va. En algún punto del camino (o en todos), le diste voz a alguien que conoces y quieres, te separaste de la máquina que promueve la invisibilidad de la comunidad trans, detuviste a alguien que pudo haber lastimado, discriminado y ofendido a alguien más.

– Decir que algo es (y puede ser que esto sea más de la ciudad de la que vengo, pero existen términos así para toda latinoamérica, y casi podría decir que el mundo occidental) “súper marica” o “bien gay” en lugar de decir absurdo/estúpido/aburrido/cursi/molesto es 1) decir que esa actitud de la que se habla es de homosexuales lo cual es un estereotipo dañino, y 2) decir que esos adjetivos (aburrido, absurdo, etc) son equiparables con la gente que es homosexual. Es dar un juicio negativo a gente que es homosexual, tan simple como eso. No “te sientes super gay escribiendo esa canción”: te sientes ridícula, cursi, infantil, absurda. Que no son la misma cosa.

Asimismo, el que te digan “gay” como hombre o mujer hetero no debería ser un insulto, y no debería ser utilizado como insulto. Estamos diciendo que es malo ser gay, y no lo es.

Igualmente va para decir que “meter falta” (en fútbol) es “de putos”, ni hacer menos pesas es “de locas”. Meter falta es de gente cobarde, de gente abusiva, de gente grosera: adjetivos que no describen a gente homosexual (ni hablaré por ahora de esos insultos homofóbicos por sí solitos); hacer menos pesas es de personas con menos tono muscular, más delicadas, menos fuertes de brazos, menos experimentadas en el gimnasio, qué se yo.

– Lo mismo va para decir que algo es “de viejas” o que alguien está siendo “muy nena”, o portándose como “princesa” (dirigido a un hombre, usualmente). Estamos diciendo que algo (usualmente malo) es estereotípicamente de mujeres lo cual es en sí un prejuicio basado en roles de género arcáicos, y estamos diciendo que ser llamado mujer es algo malo y humillante para un hombre. Porque somos inferiores.

Mejor di “esto es de gente superficial” (que es en sí un juicio bien arrogante, pero ya mejor ni hablo), “estás siendo muy dramático” o “estás portándote demasiado demandante y quejumbroso”. Tan lindo que es el lenguaje y tan feo que es el sexismo.

– Relevante a recientes debates en Estados Unidos, y es algo que de ahora en adelante haré más esfuerzos por hacer: podríamos dejar de usar “matrimonio gay” en comparación con “matrimonio”. Voy a empezar a decir “matrimonio hetero”, pues ninguno debe ser más importante que otro, ni visto como más normal que otro. Son diferentes, como todos somos diferentes, pero no por jerarquía de normal vs anormal.

– A esta le voy a dedicar una entrada completa, pero déjense de decir zorras o putas o perras. ENTRE USTEDES. 1) Hacen que parezca bien que los hombres se refieran a nosotras así también, 2) ese insulto viene de un lugar sexista que pretende controlar nuestra sexualidad, y hacer de toda mujer que no cumpla con ciertos requisitos de “pureza” una “mala mujer”, la misma que obtiene lo que se merece si la violan o abusan de ella de alguna forma. 3) “Puta” se refiere a trabajadora sexual, y no debería ser ofensivo porque ser trabajadora sexual debería de ser tratado con dignidad. No son “menos” o “malas mujeres”. Pfft. y 4) si además del maltrato físico, económico, sexual, político de parte de hombres y el sistema misógino que los crió, nos vamos a estar tirando pedradas entre nosotras, estamos más de su lado que nunca.

Pues sí. Son unas cuantas maneritas en que podemos hacer del mundo un lugar más sano y más seguro para todos. Reconociendo prejuicios que tenemos bien por debajo de la piel hacemos que el ser racista, homofóbico, sexista sea menos aceptable para otros también.

"No es por ser racista, pero.." no es excusa para ser racista en el resto de la oración.

“No es por ser racista, pero..”, ESTAS SIENDO RACISTA.

En fin, los invito a cambiar hábitos de lenguaje, en serio. Es muy fácil y es un primer paso para quitarnos de muchas cosas que – créanme, no lo digo desde un pedestal, sé que es bien complicado – nos han enseñado muy probablemente desde peques.

Pues así es. Para otras cosillas chéveres acerca de prejuicios, lenguaje y otros:

Una propuesta para evitar el sexismo en el lenguaje

Nuestros prejuicios y la asociación implícita (o “controle a sus monstruos”)

Mulher Alternativa: 30+ exemplos de privilégio cisgênero

Cuando “zorra” no sea un insulto

I would say ‘mea culpa’ but I hated catechism.

Dear readers: I have been talking about marriage equality from a very privileged and ignorant POV so far. I apologize for that.

The internet is a powerful, addictive thing that makes us think we are not harming anyone, but sometimes we are. That being said, I explicitly recognize that I am just this tiny person on the big mess that is the Internet. I am voicing opinions as informed as I can make them and your comments, criticisms and support are awesome and always welcome.

I have been getting plenty of comments both regarding my blog post on marriage and regarding my Facebook profile and regarding my Internet sharing habits and regarding feminism in general. My head is exploding at the moment with many things I want to say but feel too weird about saying because I feel like the more I read, the more I need to read and the more I think I know the more I might need to re-evaluate what I have said and written and thought. Also, because I don’t like sharing an opinion until I’ve read as much as possible on a matter. Clearly, I hadn’t done that, but here goes.

I will tell you, first, why I did not change my profile picture to the HRC “equal” sign.

This sign.

This sign.

When I first thought “no, I don’t want to” it was because people were calling marriage equality the biggest human and civil rights issue of our time. And I shouted out loud: “Really?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?”

There is human trafficking in practically every single country in the world,

Modern-day slavery in the hands of capitalism is a thing for millions and millions of human beings on the planet (in our backyards, too),

Palestinians are killed, tortured, raped, harassed in their own homes every day,

and I don’t even need to travel far:

Trans* people are forced to be sterilized if they want to be legally recognized,

Women have been murdered systematically and with impunity in Juárez for over 20 years,

Aboriginal peoples everywhere are still being systematically ignored and impoverished and culturally erased,

Women constitute approximately 70% of poor people in the world,

Rape culture IS A F*CKING THING, everywhere in the planet,

(this list goes on f o r e v e r)

and you’re telling me that marriage equality is the biggest human and civil rights issue of our generation?! In all seriousness? I’m not even going to start a conversation with you about this, your barricade of privileged whiteness is way too high even for me.

Now, of course, the fact that it is not the biggest civil rights issue does not mean it is not an issue or an important issue to address. I guess it is just that that common phrase around the days of the Supreme Court ruling were enought o gross me out of the profile-picture business.

Another issue that I have with the marriage equality craze is that it still holds marriage as this ultimate, most legitimate institution that grants legal, social, political and health benefits to those who comply over those whose lifestyle and choice and possibility is not marriage. Now, I still think that the two struggles – the one for same-sex marriage and the one to de-throne marriage as a conservative and oppressive institution – are not mutually exclusive and that society is not equally ready for both. And that peeling the “heterosexist” layer – albeit partially – off the rotten apple that is the institution of marriage is a step towards a healthy apple, somewhere far far away down the line. But the way the marriage equality debate is framed is that marriage is this precious precious thing that we should allow fellow LGB (I am joining in taking out the T and the Q, and I will explain this later) people to have too.

And I repeat, I think LGBTQ* (all people, really) should be able to get married. But it should not be a precious, precious thing. It should not be the only way to access privileged civil rights – hospital visitation rights, survivor benefits and pensions, death-bed decision-making, health insurance transference, etc. It should not be the only way to protect your family or loved ones. It should not be the gold-standard for social legitimacy as far as relationships go. Allowing everyone to get married in order for them to have equal legal rights is reinforcing (even more so) that if you want those rights you should get married. That you’re less worthy if you’re not, and your family is less family if you’re not, that you’re harming your children and your country if you’re not. Don’t know exactly what I am talking about? Single parents, polyamorous partners who have children, partners who choose not to marry, etc. A family, to me, is measured in love and support, not in papers signed or not signed.

There’s much more, though. This is where my ignorance had kicked in.

What I wanted to share with you, because I know some of my readers, and some of these readers I know have the HRC logo on their profiles – not that Facebook is real-life, or has much consequence, but it kind of does – is some of what I did not know and feel sorry I did not know. I will not re-write what the blog post says, though, so here it is.

Why I almost defriended everyone who had an HRC logo as their profile photo this week

Now, I don’t agree with everything the blog post says, but I do agree that supporting their campaign – even if your intention with the profile picture is to support of marriage equality, not their campaign specifically – is supporting them and their donors and their discriminatory pick-and-choosing of groups of people to support and their transphobia and their white privilege-d way of dealing with the money they have and spend. I also agree that supporting marriage-equality without making this about every other group whose needs are not being addressed and whose status as second-class citizens is even more blatantly obvious and offensive too, is putting a band-aid over a very bad bruise that are human rights worldwide, and not addressing structural problems at all. It is, by virtue of ignorance possibly, reinforcing the status quo.

Now, I am not saying you should absolutely not support marriage equality. First of all, this is a free world, and you can stand up for anything and everything that you believe in. You can agree with me on one, or two, or all the claims that I make, or none at all.

I could suggest, if you want to make your support of marriage equality known, for example, that you change your profile picture to something that represents marriage equality (a picture of a wedding between members of the same sex, a sign that says I am all for marriage equality, I don’t know: be creative) but is not the HRC sign. I could also suggest that you talk broadly about LGBTQ* rights as human rights, with a sidenote on marriage, instead of marriage front-and-center. I could suggest to drop the profile picture madness altogether and do actual things in your community to promote equal rights.

I could and absolutely suggest that you do better than me and do as much research as you can before even barely supporting any cause. As much as Facebook is just an informal thing on the Internet where duck faces are a thing, it does slowly but steadily shape public opinion and where conversations are headed; it does tell corporations and politicians what we are into and what we are not into. You may think my blog post is now almost irrelevant, but it is not. Us social-media addicts get caught up in trends and campaign-ish efforts of every shape and size. Let us PLEASE reflect upon them better. [Want to hear a quick coming-out story? I was one of the stupid-ass people sharing Kony 2012 shit like I was going to save the world with it. I clearly did not save the world or change it in any way whatsoever, and I may or may not owe people money for sharing that dumb campaign with them].

So yeah, sharing is caring (always always). But sharing-with-care is what should happen. Let’s make it a thing, yes?