April 24, 2012

Media Monday: The "F" Word: Feminist

Well it's Monday somewhere...

You will forgive us for our excitement, it is not everyday that we take on the challenge of reading much less writing about what we consider the apex of "your doing it wrong" social theory. But feminism persists, even as most regard it with disinterest or distain.  Something to be feared for it implies the topics you are about to engage in may make you feel insecure about how you live your life. People may want the world to change, but they generally hope that it will all change around them, leaving them blissfully unaffected because they consider themselves fine just the way they are.

No insufferable joke will provide you escape its encompassing reach, and no manner of  of ignoring will make it go away. There it is, to liberate everyone equally even if you don't like it.

and this equal access to all regardless of their grouping includes sex!

(not that all we should have access to everyone's sex, but that everyone should be able to own their own sexuality

But fear not landowning white, right-handed, middle class, Protestant, heterosexual men, there is good news for you too (which is great to write as I am pretty solidly in that class) -  feminism will mean better sex for you and your partners!

It is just that talking about sex is already kind of intimidating. Annoying opportunity for awkward misinterpretations lurk at every double entendre, and make it feel safer not to talk at all.

So you could imagine the pause of concern that followed our whipping out of our advance copy of Momentum: Making Waves in Sexuality, Feminism, & Relationships to our favorite gathering of jocks caused. But if you expected more disinterest and disdain you would be wrong, because we play bike polo in Portland Fucking Cascadia.

The groups gathered to watch bike polo on the hottest day of the year and between the cheers, jeers and laughter they took to the topics presented like a duck to water, casually plopping right into the conversation, gregariously offering opinion and experience on queer culture, sex and agism, Fetlife and social media, and reproductive rights like they had been training for it their whole lives. I was proud of my friends and I felt lucky to have them.

The book, Selected Essays by 2012 Speakers Advocating Change in Current Sexual Dialogues
Edited by Tess Danesi, Dee Dennis and Inara de Luna opens up all sorts of exciting paths to more understanding of most disenfranchised people, but eventually we were forced to ask the next obvious question: Does it include bikes?

Not to be a transportationist, but these are the kinds of tools that are simple and obvious that they feel generally overlooked. And there is a reason.

"Those child's toys don't belong on the street" might be a fair rebuttal. Most of the bikes sold in the US won't have lights attached to them. This is because they are designed for recreational purposes, not "real travel" Can you imagine if auto makers tried to sell cars without headlights?

And yet the young are not abandoning their bikes for cars the way they used to. According to this article in the Grist (which is quoting Advertising Age, so we have no reason to expect they are deceiving us) over the past 30 years the share of 17-year-olds with a driver's license dropped by a third. Several other stats follow explaining the rising cost to the growing social-financial inequality. The social status that car ownership offers is diminishing as well, as the culture of cool shows fixed gear bikes in every conceivable form.

After a few hours in the park we were putting down the book with a somewhat comfortable "well, it's great that someone said this but can we add an expectant "…and?!?"" We were cocky. We felt so assured of ourselves and our place. We have the all answers, if only everyone would just do what we say it would all be better!

It was only in picking up the collection of essays that we realized our folly. But it's late, in fact there is barely a time zone left where it is still Monday, so learning about the rest and perving out on the hot biker bodies will have to wait.


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