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blueprint magazine

gender & sexuality

volume 9, issue 3 october 2009


the

gender & sexuality in this issue issue

A person’s right to define their own gender is usurped as soon as they exit the womb, or sometimes before that point, when a doctor declares a baby a ‘boy’ or a ‘girl’. As we grow up we’re given gender “appropriate” toys, and treated in gender “appropriate” ways. This puts our definition of gender into the context of culture; it is something that is dictated to us, rather than decided on by us. This ultimately creates the illusion that gender is static, that it is set, and that it is objective. Anyone who exists outside these parameters, whether through the lens of androgyny, being transgendered, or identifying as queer is suddenly outside of the norm, beyond the binary. Existing in this realm, beyond ‘normalcy’, all too often results in reactions of fear, and distrust, and, in extreme cases, violence. Because gender seems to rely so heavily on culture and context for definition, it is certainly a topic that merits discussion. Maybe if it is explored collectively—discussed openly and safely—our notions of gender and sexuality will evolve past the dichotomy of boy and girl, gay and straight. All of the pieces in this issue go beyond the idea of a gender binary and beyond the dichotomy of sexuality. While it can be painful to be deemed abnormal, and while there can be negative repercussions stemming from this fear of the unknown, it can also be fun. Some of the pieces in this issue deal with the pain, either self inflicted or culturally inflicted, of existing outside the dichotomy of gender or outside a heteronormative standard. Others, though, deal with the joy of determining one’s gender, discovering sexuality, and being free. I hope that this issue creates room for thought, room for empathy, and room for celebration; after all, gender and sexuality are more interesting and more joyful when they are opened up as dynamic concepts to be discussed and explored, rather than imposed and dictated.

Essays 4 5 6 10 14 16 Art 16

Poetry 3 Dedication Andrew Posen 10 Skin Lindsay Davison

Gender Benders Alex Hayter On the Defense Maeve Strathy Seeing Red Gabriel Rose I Refuse Adam Lewis The Sexual Paradox Greg Sacks

Literature Clitoris 8 Saint Sarah Colleen Dillon

Evening on the Ground Judith Brunton

11 12

Beholder II Nuno Texixeira Emmanuel Xerx Javier

Witch Rave Ellie Anglin A Subway Exchange Matthew Smith

new content • every thursday • blueprintmagazine.ca

Erin Epp

Editor-in-Chief

blueprint magazine Volume 9, Issue 3 October 2009

75 University Ave W. Waterloo ON, N2L 3C5 (519) 884 0710 x 2738 (519) 883 0873 (fax) blueprintmagazine.ca Next Issue Thursday, November 19 Theme “Food” For advertising info contact email: angela@wlusp.com phone: (519) 884 0710 x 3560

Management

WLUSP Administration

Editor-in-Chief Managing Editor: Print Content Managing Editor: Visual Content Promotional Director

Erin Epp Morgan Alan Carly Lewis Kelly Grevers

Contributors Ellie Anglin Judith Brunton Sarah Colleen Dillon Lindsay Davison Kelly Grevers Alex Hayter Wafaa Jawed Dale Langford Adam Lewis

President General Manager/Advertising Chair of the Board Vice-Chair Treasurer Director Corporate Secretary Distribution Manager Web Manager

Bryn Ossington Angela Foster Jordan Hyde Luay Salmon Suhail Hafeez Kyle Muizelaar Maeve Strathy Nicole Weber Jonathan Rivard

Colophon Hayley Lewis Matt Mousseau Andrew Posen Gabriel Rose Greg Sacks Matthew Smith Maeve Strathy Nuno Teixeira Emmanuel Xerx Javier

Blueprint Magazine is the official student magazine of the Wilfrid Laurier University community. Started in 2002 as Bluprint, Blueprint Magazine is an editorially independent magazine published by Wilfrid Laurier University Student Publications, Waterloo, a corporation without share capital. WLUSP is governed by a board of directors. Opinions in Blueprint Magazine are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the management team, Blueprint Magazine, WLUSP or WLU. Content appearing in Blueprint Magazine bears the copyright expressly of their creator(s) and may not be used without written consent. The circulation for a normal issue of Blueprint Magazine is 3,000 copies.

cover by madeleine lee inside front cover by yusuf kidwai inside back cover by hayley lewis back cover by hayley lewis


Dedication We’d like to dedicate this one, this one here, to you. To you, the daughter whose childhood is an entire spectrum of pain, and who endures both tortuous abuse and harrowing neglect because they are indeed the same evil. To you, the teenaged realist, obtaining her first taste of the bitterness of life and wanting desperately, so desperately, out. To you, the young lover who has never known love, but who has found a tolerable form of admiration and misery and dwells simultaneously in both. To you, the wife-on-paper whose marriage is the cruelest form of slavery, and who has met the devil in person, though the term ‘person’ is used lightly. To you, the solitary woman, smoking her cigarette after midnight between collect calls refused and unanswered in a parking lot phone booth. To you, the caretaker watching her own death played out years before its rightful occurrence, and whose every step down a hospital corridor is simply one closer to the morgue. To you, the adored artiste whose brain travels in airport hotel rooms, assisted by a thousand narcotics unnamed and unnamable, and whose joy in creativity has been usurped by its reception. To you, the suicidal model whose beauty is a curse bringing unending insincerity, deceit, and the feeling turned fact that you are yourself the poster. To you, the victim of some despicable animal unfit to run the human race, lying weeping in torn clothing and shattered elegance on the pavement of too many cities. To you, the hidden populations of lands growing less and less distant, forced to surrender your identity yet unable to escape it. And to you, the romantically unrequited, whose suffering is no less in relative magnitude, but whose struggle is forgotten amongst the tragedies and evils of our time. Darling, the world is an ugly and terrible place. But we will survive it with you. Kelly Grevers

Andrew Posen

3


Gender Benders Why is androgyny not found in Canadian popular culture?

D

avid Bowie. Boy George. Eddie Izzard. Quentin Crisp. Nicky Wire. Antony Hegarty. Most of these men are household names in the United Kingdom. And they all have one thing in common: they’re ‘gender benders’. Whether it’s by style, mannerism or personality, they as androgynous symbols challenge the gendered norms assigned to society. Regardless of their eccentricities, they’re respected artists and creative types, the kind of celebrities regarded as forward-thinking example-setters. I’ve called them ‘gender benders’ to give them a vague group label—but their reasons for transgressing expected performative roles are far from synonymous. Manic Street Preachers bassist Nicky Wire, for example, simply enjoys wearing dresses on stage because they remind him of his mother, who he is very close to. Comedian Eddie Izzard dresses in drag during stand-up routines, simply calling himself “a lesbian trapped in a man’s body” rather than identifying with any fixed orientation. And Bowie - who has referred to himself both as “bisexual” and a “closet heterosexual” - used androgyny as a device for social change and creative expression. None of these men are freak-show attractions. They’re just people. In the UK, the media accepts such celebrities - because they’re talented singers, actors, and artists. Canada just doesn’t have this. Popular celebrities in our country are rigidly on either side of the line: homosexual or straight. There’s no ambivalence. The Canadian characters that do push boundaries are either kept to the side or presented in a box with a familiar label. Transgendered folk singer Rae Spoon - well, have you even heard of him? And Peaches, though outspoken about her open mentality towards sexual orientation, is packaged more as a titty-sucking shock-value pornstar than a talented artist. But why is this? While Canada has a proud artistic culture, the creative side of its personality is overshadowed by the consumerist conservatism of the States - where Janet Jackson can’t flash a bit of boobie and androgyny is to be mocked, not accepted; where labels are expected on people just like products on a shelf. In the same way that your average Canadian pays more attention to the MTV Video Awards than the Polaris Prize, too many eyes are diverted away from the freedom of expression we could have in Canada. It’s important for pop culture to not only give these figures a stage, but to present sexually ambivalent individuals as a welcome part of our society.

Alex Hayter

Alex is the Editor of SocietyEye.com, an online arts and culture magazine.

4


On the Defense:

Why we should be asking questions when we don’t know the answers

I

recently had a discussion with some fellow students about Diversity at Laurier. I write that buzzword with a capital “D” because I truly believe that at Laurier, we strive to respect and honour the diversity of our student body – the many paths each of us took to get here, our backgrounds, our unique experiences. We’re even fortunate enough to have our very own Office for Student Diversity, an office that is committed to fostering diversity by offering a welcoming, safe, and supportive environment for all Laurier students. The university certainly has its faults in terms of achieving true equality among students, faculty, and staff alike, but I feel better knowing there are dedicated people working towards that ideal. With all that being said, my peers and I discussed a pressing issue: the lack of conversation between people. I’ve been to many Rainbow Centre discussions but, for the most part, it was the same people attending week after week. The topics changed and I learned something new each time I went, but I started to feel like saying, “Well I know all this! Where are the people who don’t understand why calling your buddy a ‘faggot’ is wrong? Where are the people who see no need for single-use, gender-neutral bathrooms on campus? Where are the people who don’t get that Tila Tequila set bisexuals back a few years?” My fellow students told me that they don’t see the point of going to Rainbow Centre discussions. They said they felt intimidated by the Women’s Centre. Having been involved with the RC, I know how hard they work to make it a welcoming environment for everyone, and I know the Women’s Centre does the same. So what’s the issue? I don’t believe students lack a lust to learn, so why isn’t everyone taking the initiative to meet new people and learn something new about a topic you’ve misunderstood, or maybe never even heard of ? There were two other important things I learned in this discussion that may shed some light on these questions. Firstly, as a group we agreed that so often we censor ourselves when discussing some aspects of diversity because we’re afraid to offend people. One member of this group asked me if it was okay to use the word “queer” when referring to the LGBTQ community. He was really afraid to use this word because he wasn’t sure if he would offend someone, but more than that, he was hesitant to even ask. Secondly, there was a moment during this discussion when someone said something that I interpreted as homophobic and suddenly I was in attack-mode, ready to strike. However, once I took a moment to really think about what she said, I realized that she was just looking to learn, not trying to offend. Without thinking, I was on the defense. This is a frightening combination: people outside of a particular group don’t ask questions for fear of offending someone, but when they work up the courage to ask, people inside that particular group suddenly get defensive and assume they’re being attacked. No wonder we aren’t discussing diversity, asking questions, and educating each other – we’re all on the defense. So here’s my challenge, to anyone who reads this article and myself: challenge yourself to ask questions when you want to know the answers, even if you’re reluctant because of fear. The only way you can find out is by asking. For the person being asked the question? Take a deep breath after being asked a question that might initially offend you, take a moment to think about what the person is asking, and instead of assuming they’re attacking you, assume they’re just looking to learn. Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do?

Maeve Strathy

5


Parda | Wafaa Jawed

Seeing Red M

y religion professor asked us to write 1500 words on the role of suffering in our lives. The paper is due next week. I’ve got more words than that just for the suffering I’ve endured this week. To start off with, I’ve got cramps that could take down the state of Texas. Let me explain something to you: I am a transgendered male going without hormones, and there is no pleasant, red-lipsticked lady following me around throwing supplies at me to help me with my monthly gift. No one is around to buy me tampons if I need them. Sometimes I can’t even work up the nerve to get them myself. Instead, I get to skulk into a variety store, pull my hood up, slink to the correct aisle and carry my purchase to the front with all the delicacy of someone carrying a bomb. The cashier says nothing as he rings in my purchase. He probably thinks I’m buying them for my girlfriend, and I really wish I were. My friend has agreed to play the girlfriend role, but it’s still embarrassing. Even if she is the only one who knows that the skinny, awkward guy wearing the hoodie that looks like a dinosaur is bleeding through his boxer shorts, that’s enough. It’s enough to make me feel awkward and feel ultra-sensitive whenever I have to speak and hear that voice that doesn’t match my appearance. Having mood swings worse than the weather here doesn’t help things. It didn’t come for five months before this. To be honest, I nearly forgot what it was like to menstruate. Now, I am lying in my bed, folded neatly in half from the pain, trying to come up with something to write. And it’s not enough simply to be trans – there are far more cards in my deck than just that. I’m also gay – meaning that I like guys. Kind of confusing, considering I don’t have the equipment most other guys would expect. Explaining the kind of relationship my boyfriend and I have can be a tedious process. To reiterate: I am a transgendered male, who isn’t on hormones, that is gay and has a boyfriend. Just to throw another card in the mix to make it more complicated, my boyfriend is trans as well. He’s on hormones, and has been for months. It really doesn’t help that he has the libido of a thirteen year old boy, and I’m on my rag. Something tells me he’s not too enthusiastic about cuddling, but the idea of sex in my current condition isn’t exactly appealing. Even though he’s been through all of this already, the suffering gets a little worse when I have to remember that I still go through it and he doesn’t. It doesn’t seem fair. There’s this tendency I see in the trans community to compare the length of time we’ve been on hormones and the changes we get, or in my case, don’t get. It gets really uncomfortable sometimes when we meet new people and have to explain our respective situations. Usually, I end up sitting and staring at my feet while my boyfriend spouts the joys of testosterone for half an eternity. He doesn’t understand the dichotomy it creates between us. I can tell that some people gender him male and me female, simply because he’s on hormones. It doesn’t matter that I could be the son of Sasquatch or that I used to have to shave my toes. That little prick every week makes all the difference. Sometimes, I really resent him for it. I especially resent him for it right now, as I am curled up in my bed with painkillers and chocolate, trying to find a story to tell the world. He doesn’t understand how good he has it now that he doesn’t bleed every month. I feel like a stuck pig, bloating and craving sugar and chocolate. Even though he went out and got me my favourite candy, spent half an hour picking out the yellow and green ones I don’t like, and then bussed half an hour here to bring them to me, I’m not sure I can forgive him. At least, not until the last tampon comes out and I spend a good long time in the shower. Something tells me we’re going to be spending a lot of time in next week. I’m going to need to work off all this junk food and sugar, and he knows the best way to burn calories without ever leaving home. That is, if he doesn’t make me too crazy whining about how much his injection site itches. Hopefully, this suffering will end soon. I’ll get to stab myself in the leg every week instead of spending one week every month wanting to stab everyone I see, and things will be right in the world. Once I get my first shot of testosterone, I sincerely promise that I will go out and hug every single person I’ve ever cursed out while menstruating. I will take back every dirty look I’ve given, and every nasty thought. I will be the nicest guy you’ve ever met. Until then, though, stay out of my way.

Gabriel Rose

6


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he clitoris is the only sex organ who’s only known function is the experiencing of pleasure. Clitoris derives from the Greek word kleitoris, which means ‘hill’ or ‘slope’. It receives its name from the manner in which it slopes upward in the shaft and forms a mound of spongy tissue at the glans. The clitoris is a sex organ consisting of a shaft and glans located above the urethral opening. The clitoral glans is a smooth, round knob, resembling a button. Not to be mistaken for a button, mind. It may be covered by the clitoral hood, but is readily revealed by gently separating the labia minora and retracting the hood. It is extremely sensitive to the touch because of its rich supply of nerve endings. I worship the clitoris. I praise the clitoris. The clitoris is mother Mary. Alms for the clitoris. In the name of the mother, the daughter, the holy clitoris. The clitoris is a sacrament. The holy clitoris. I sing a new song unto the clit. I confess to the clitoris, the body on my tongue. The clit will forgive my sins. The clit will come again. The clit will judge me. There are five stages of arousal - desire, excitement, plateau, orgasm and resolution. The first is the desire phase. This stage is marked by a noted “horniness”. A want, a craving, a hunger. A person might feel “vaguely sexy”. They may also feel interested in sex, open to sex or just plain restless. Genital ticking. This is not my first time. I am very drunk with friends. The very good kind of drunk. A pleasant, grinning mess. I tend not to pay attention to anyone on these drunk-mess nights - but tonight you are there. And in this scenario and every other possible scenario, you are different. Unparalleled. You stand out. The crowd opens and closes. Tide in, your face, tide out, a hand. Those blonde ropes bobbing up and down and up again. I stand on the tips of my toes; I watch your thigh peeking out from your skirt. You are happy. You are dancing. And I am being a total perv. We lay eyes on one another and that’s it. Those clever eyes. Those elusive, smooth operators don’t fool me. You soft step across the room, balancing on the threshold of me and disaster. You, all tooth and grin and jutted hips, you will make a mess of me. You say: “I love your hands.” I say: “I love you.” You’re a thrill. This is not my first time. But I feel like I’ve never done this before. We dance. Well, I don’t know what we’re doing, is that dancing? We’re moving. Kind of shaking? It goes like this for ages. Then you’re straddling me in a chair. I’ve got my hands running up your thighs, retracting again, then up your back and down around your waist and ass… back to your thighs. I don’t know what I’m doing. Your arms are resting on my shoulders; your fingers are curled and playing with the hair at my neck. I press my feet into the ground, pushing myself up further in the chair. I pull you against me. As I do…you let out the slightest groan of surprise, purse your lips, raise an eyebrow. I smile huge. This is not my first time. But I’m pretty sure I look like an idiot, smiling like that. And then we kiss. Just like that! Symphonies and fireworks. You know how it is. It’s fucking perfect. This is a kiss that’s been waiting too long. The second stage of arousal is the excitement phase. It’s a little ache, a little punch, a little heartbeat between my legs. It’s been going on since I first saw you. It’s called vasocongestion. It’s called myotonia. Vasocongestion is the swelling of genital tissues with blood. It causes engorgement of the area surrounding the vaginal opening (the introitus). The vaginal wall will thicken due to the inflow of blood – the vulva also reddens a bit. The uterus begins to elevate. Where it goes, I have no idea. The vestibular bulbs – those cavernous structures along the sides of the introitus, they puff up when aroused. Then there is the sex flush, a rash-like appearance on the chest or breasts. And those breasts, they will swell. We don’t see or know all of this is happening. We just know it feels good. We just know what we’re getting into. You pull away, you’re looking down at me, I can feel your breath on me, I can feel your weight on me pressing discreetly. Your eyes are telling me secrets. You tilt your head to the side and laugh and it’s started long before I knew it. You say, “I’m coming home with you.” I don’t have to say anything; this is not my first time. I just follow you outside and then lead you to my place.

8


We want to say that this is just going to be sex. It will just be fun. But we know better. So we say nothing and let it just be sex. Let it just be fun. Even if it isn’t just that. The third stage of arousal is the plateau phase. It isn’t nearly as dreary as it sounds. The excitement of the previous stage remains constant. The uterus is now fully engorged and elevated. I still don’t know where it goes, but this is a hallmark moment of this phase. The pubococcygeal muscles that encircle the entrance to the vagina will also begin to slowly contract, thus preparing it to grasp… the penis. In our case, you will not grasp a penis. But you will clutch, hold, breathe in, seize or clench my fingers. Not yet. But you will. The clitoris will also withdraw. Blessed, Saint clitoris. Retracting beneath the hood. Finding sanctuary. Vasocongestion peaks, causing the outer third of the vagina to swell. The Bartholins glands, which lie just inside the minor lips and just slightly to the left and right of the vaginal opening, will secrete relatively minute amounts – one or two drops – of fluid just before orgasm. It sounds clinical. It is anything but. When we make love for the first time, you say my name softly, over and over for the longest time. We touch each other’s lips, we trace everything, kiss everything. We are in and out of it…breathing hard. In and out. In…I am walking you backwards into my room, you are fumbling with my belt and I have your face in my hands, bruising your lips with mine. I taste blood. I don’t care. Out… you take my hand and slip it through the opening of your skirt. You gasp and clutch the back of my neck, still holding my wrist as I press deeper inside of you, my teeth grazing your shoulder. In… you lay over me, your hair drizzled over my face. You pull our shirts up so our bellies can touch. You shove your hand inside my jeans and smile when you touch me. I see colours. How we undress can only have been attained by a series of pulls and wrenches. As a result, something hurts. But I don’t care. Your hips pouring waves over mine. A wetness on my belly, on my thighs. We are soaked in sweat. I breathe in… your lips and tongue, when they lay against me, I want to fold up around you, and I want to swallow you inside of me. I want to offer myself up to you. Gratefully, graciously, heartily yours. I have seen the light. This is not my first time. But it certainly feels like it. It feels like an episode of Stendhal syndrome. I breathe out…you taste like honey heaven sweet. A bite at the tip. Soft, slowing molasses. My lips parted, they say… come in, come in…the skin of your strong thighs have been telling me stories of you. O, clitoris, soft warrior, screaming face of all. O, clitoris you free, hot satin sphere. Sweet pit, stuffed core, royal clitoris, our lady. My lips and tongue are so happy to meet you. You. The most exquisite, aching, blushing, dazzling you. I press my lips to you, just so. And you gasp and sink. In and out. Glory be. The fourth phase of arousal is called the orgasmic phase. There are 3-15 contractions of the pelvic muscles surrounding the vaginal barrier. The uterus and anal sphincter will also convulse rhythmically. Uterine contractions occur in waves from the fundus, which is the top of the cervix. Those pubococcygeal muscles I mentioned will spasm. This is caused by myotonia – muscle tension. That causes involuntary muscle contractions, which produce facial grimaces, spasms in the hands and feet and of course, the remarkable spasms of orgasm. Blood pressure and heart rate peak at levels of 180 beats per minute – that is 40 breaths a minute on average. Orgasm lasts anywhere from 3 seconds to 3 lifetimes. Descriptions of orgasm are a feeling of euphoria, time stopping, flooding, building, throbbing, suspension. Heaven. Dying. Everything. A panacea. A cure-all for madness. Absolution. I breathe in…you magnificent thing. We come hard against one another. One after the other. Tidals clashing. A holy war. The holy clitoris resurrected. Praise thee. Blessed be. Saint clitoris. I breathe out… this is a new world. The fifth and final phase is called the resolution phase. I might have resolved to lose your phone number. I might have resolved to forget your name or to avoid the place I met you. I might have made a little post-sex resolution. Something like, “well I’ll never do that again”. But, as I said before: in this and every other scenario, you are different. But really, it goes a little like this: The resolution phase shows the body returning to its pre-aroused state. Within 5-10 seconds, the clitoris, sweet mother Mary clitoris descends from her sanctuary, she rests. The inner fleshy labia lighten in colour. Muscle tension - that’s myotonia remember? - dissipates slowly. Relaxes. Exhales. Within five minutes, it’s like it never happened. Clitoral amnesia. After, we lay staring. We touch fingers on our lips. We kiss and our lips are raw. We stay up until sunrise.

Sarah Colleen Dillon

9


I Refuse. “I am a man”…the quintessential definition that seeks to describe the essence of my sexual orientation and definition, and yet what does that actually mean. What does it mean to be a “man” or “male”? This is not some concrete, value-free, precise definition or a rigid of binary of which a polar opposite is to the other side. Nor is this a definition that may be easily passed off, and have no consequences whatsoever. This is not a given, this is not something that is matter of examination and biology. This is not a procedural explanation of ones life. This is a definition that exists with a specific system. This is a definition that holds power, that is placed on a pedestal of humyn relations, that is placed as the pinnacle of all categorizations. This is something that dictates a social status, and place, mindset and range of “acceptable” behavioural traits. This definition is both a framework and a set of requirements for all those that are inherently with its category. This is a value-laden framework that has a specific history and historical narrative. This is something that informs norms, and actions of all that it touches and influences. The definition of male carries a certain weight, one that oft denotes superiority, strength, “manliness”, leadership, a lack of emotion and a degree of physical confrontation. “Male” implies that I must act within a specified realm, and that to break from the realm is to forfeit the definition and its privileges and convert to an inferior characterization. It means that I am the patriarch, the protector and proprietor and breadwinner. That I am the one who decides and who dictates and who has the ultimate and final say. It means I am the norm of society, that I quietly accept the position that I have been granted, that I look to history to inform my place. That...I am the perpetrator of a systemic form of oppression. If the above is what it means to be “male” then where are those of us who seek to work for social justice permitted an entrance? For, as soon as I break from the above dictated mould I am deemed inferior, attacked, marginalized, but still I carry a degree of privilege above those who are “othered” because they are not “male” at all and are relegated to never being so. Even at the worst, I am still above many others. Even a vague association to “male” is enough to continue privilege and a position within a privileged system. This is my reality, and if I choose to not act, to ally complicity with the system that grants me my privilege, then I will be a force that maintains the oppression of others. The other option is refusal. Refusal to perpetuate, to maintain and to comply. It is my refusal to bend to the mould of society that can break the system of oppression. It is my refusal to step outside of the stereotyped patterns of “required” masculinity. Refusal to adopt sexist modes of interaction and relations. Refusal to simply accept, while turning away from a critical gaze. If we are actually interested in creating a society of equality, mutual aid and community, this refusal must be a starting point. Breaking from the cages of gendered conformity is a starting point, from where we may move forward to engage the culture and society we live in. We must engage. To do else is to comply and persist in the injustice that affects the majority of society. My place in the power hierarchy cannot, and will never be justified. I refuse to be a “man”. Adam Lewis It’s time to be an equal.

skin

Illustration by Dale Langford

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In the undoing sliver of a glance or by the wholeness of your hands against my kindling skin, you ignite me. And the fire that burns us up burns up our air, leaves us smoky-voiced and ember-eyed, is hungry and thundering and still, I haven’t had enough of you. Lindsay Davison


Witch Rave I walk just behind her into the forest. Her tangled black hair looked like a Value Village wig – long and straggly in the back, short and choppy in the front. There are places on her skin where you could see actual dirt. There is a ring of grey residue around her neck. She has some missing teeth, and those left were yellow as a harvest moon. Her eyes are glittering. I can tell she’s really psyched to be inducting me tonight. “Alright,” she says, “this is your initiation. You can’t tell anybody about what I’m about to show you. If you do I’ll hex you and I’m not afraid to do it!” Tonight I will trade in my broomstick – that ancient manacle of domesticity, used by us to transport and transgress – for a glow stick or two. “Listen,” she says over her shoulder to me, “we don’t just go to any raves. Yeah, I’ve heard of Burning Man, and the name alone brings back terrible memories.” She shudders. We hitch our brooms to the rusty gate at the end of the gravel road, clamber through the woods and peer around trees like feral children. We get to a clearing where there is an illegal rave going down... for witches only. There are no phat pants flopping in the moonlight. Only flabby bodies, wearing nothing but candy necklaces, sweaty and flailing to the thumping beat of techno, green-tinged and peppered with warts. I look to my tour guide - she’s grinning wide too. “Living in the coven, our periods are perfectly in synch. We’re all PMS-ing large, man! It’s time to blow off some steam!” We snatch off our clothes and trample into the fray. We are swallowed by the crowd. I am touched everywhere. We party hard in secret like this ‘til dawn. We wouldn’t be able to sleep if we tried. Some of us will take pills that we hope are E, others will snort coke up their hooked noses. I even choked down some dried toadstools that were being passed around in a Ziploc baggie. We drink cauldron-fulls of water (safety first!). And then comes the contest - they piss standing up, using their pubes like puppet strings, in steaming arcs of neon yellow, to see who can propel their pee the furthest. “You should try it,” she turns to me, not noticing that she’s pissing down her leg. “It’s not as hard as you’d think!” Some of the witches are stone sober. She tells me that those are the hard-core witch ravers. They’re just there for the music and the energy of the throbbing crowd of weird women. I watch them toss their pointed hats towards the full moon, cackling along with the happy-hardcore. “I personally come for the S-E-X.” my guide brags to me. “I’m horny as hell and this is the best place to score witches. And I like my women as witchy as they come! Like... green skin, you know? Like, kelly green, with long-ass noses, pointed shoes, the whole deal. I do it right out in the open. Oh yeah, on the ground, with twigs and worms and dirt getting all involved. Shit, and it isn’t like anything you’d find in any sex manual. No way. It’s wicked!” I wonder how she’ll score anything cause she dutifully hasn’t left my side, but sure enough, towards the end of the night she slips away for half a second and the next thing I know I see her making the beast with two backs, right out in the open, just as she had said. Their physical contortions are truly spectacular for such arthritic-looking women. The witches start crashing after about 8 hours of partying. I’m tired but in that buzzing, warm way. When we leave we collect our familiars, mostly black cats but also a couple of toads and a newt, who were milling around the perimeter surrounding us. They’re on the lookout for any non-witches, and will attack if they have to. “But the irony is that usually superstition keeps them from crossing the kitties’ paths!” My witch-friend explains to me. “It’s just a brilliant system! Those yuppie fucks will never admit that it’s their backwoods beliefs that keep them from checking out the noise – but right they are to stay away! Ha! Ha! Ha!” Then I go: “Ha! Ha! Ha!” Ellie Anglin

Egg | Dale Langford

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A Subway Exchange In the Metro | Hayley Lewis A dark night, probably around 1 o’clock. You’re sitting in a subway car that’s mostly empty. You and about seven other people commuting home from whatever, wherever. It doesn’t matter, as long as you get home soon, exhaustion is setting in. Walking for dozens of kilometres does that to you and the fast food “nutrition” you ate earlier didn’t help, just ebbs away the pangs of hunger eating at you. And in the dark we will take off our clothes and they’ll be placing fingers through the notches in your spine. Suddenly you’re inexorably lonely, and as the train pulls into the next station a boy walks on, not a fantastic boy, nothing spectacular. He has ruddy brown hair cropped above his eyes, a blue shirt, a black hoodie, and a pair of jeans. He’s plain. He’s ordinary but this boy that otherwise you wouldn’t even glance at with any sort of meaning is now everything. You want him, your eyes follow him needily, your heart catches and you hope with your entire being that he sits next to you, that he says hi, that you have a conversation, that you get his name his number his email, anything. And you hope that later, he kisses you, that he wraps himself around you and allows you to breathe into his plain blue shirt and melt into his skin. As he walks onto the train, he glances along it and he sits six rows of seats down from you, nearly at the opposite end of the train. And I’m watching spirals of white softly flow over your eyelids and all you did will wait until the point when you let go. And there he is six rows, 9 metres, 15 seats away from you. You could easily walk over there, sit down next to him, start the conversation yourself. It could happen, you could still talk and touch and kiss and get everything you need right now. Yet, you sit there staring at him, staring at his unspectacular dark brown eyes, his mud coloured unoriginally cut hair. You sit there needing human contact. Watching him, one, two, four, six more stops and he stands on that sixth, and you almost stand with him but you don’t. You watch him as he walks off the train and hugs a girl on the platform there, a girl as delightfully plain as he is himself who just happened to be waiting for him. Then press yourself against whatever you find, to be beautiful and trembling with life. Now you hate this, you hate everything, you hate the fact that you were never given the chance to be that girl, that you couldn’t have had a chance to know who he is and to love him, you hate the fact that even if you had, you aren’t a girl and he wouldn’t be interested. You hate that you have to search through barely 10% of a gender to find someone to love, you hate that you live in a world where everyone is so adamant on denying and condemning you for trying to find one of the most basic needs to live and be happy; as a person as a member of the species. And I want to shoot all the superheroes from your skies, watch them bleeding from your ceiling. As their empty anger falls out from their eyes. And now you’re wondering, was there ever a perfectly plain boy who was watching you on a train and thinking the same thing. How many times had someone wanted you to sit next to them on a train and say hi, how many times had an opportunity passed you by. You’re lonely again, no longer angry, just lonely and sad at how many times you could have sat next to a boy in a blue shirt and jeans and didn’t say hello. You have no more animosity for this hateful, intolerant world. You’re simply sad and you want a plain boy of your own to hold you, like any other human in this world would want. Two-headed boy, she is all you could need, she will feed you tomatoes and radio wires.

Matthew Smith

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Opposite: BEAUTY is unachievable ideals | Matt Mousseau

The Sexual Paradox: An Outsider’s Perspective

T

wo things: I am not are a scientist (in the literal sense – I hold science itself in the highest regard) or a feminist (too much baggage). Fortunately, one need not be either to see the flaws in Susan Pinker’s 2008 book, The Sexual Paradox: Extreme Men, Gifted Women and the Real Gender Gap, in which Ms. Pinker explains away today’s gender gap as an artifact of human evolutionary biology, using her experience in psychology as a starting point. Raise your hand if you detected the problem with that last statement. In scholarly terms, Ms. Pinker’s book occupies roughly the same space as Jared Diamond’s popular Guns, Germs and Steel, with many of the same strengths. Both concern themselves with intriguing questions that everyone has asked themselves at one point or another. And both purport to provide answers so simple as to appear self-evident upon casual reflection, probably the key factor in each work’s continued position on bestseller lists. They share many weaknesses too. Both suffer from an overreliance on ofttimes personal anecdotes and a tendency to extrapolate from highly specialized examples into sweeping general laws. Such habits reduce their conclusions and sub-conclusions to syntheses of the convenient, rather than affirmations of the demonstrable. While Ms. Pinker at least avoids Dr. Diamond’s spasm-inducing refusal to include even a single citation, her choice of sources is highly selective. A quick glance over the endnotes will confirm this – the vast majority of sources cited take positions that affirm Pinker’s conclusions, including those that she uses as charitable examples of the opposing view. This is a very sneaky way of committing the straw man fallacy – contrary arguments that were never supposed to stand up in the original material are smuggled into the work at hand to create the appearance of balance. Possibly the book’s biggest fault is also the one thing that differentiates it from Dr. Diamond’s work. While GG&S is far from an airtight work of academia, it does launch a sustained assault on some of the fundamental assertions of (pseudo-) scientific racism, and taken in that context is as useful on a social level as it wishes it were on a purely scientific one. Ms. Pinker’s book, on the other hand, satisfies neither appetite – she gives us at best an incomplete explanation for the gender gap, and then skips right past any opportunity to address the cultural-structural component of the problem (which, by the way, she almost totally ignores) and ends with what amounts to a shrug, a passive acceptance of biological predestination that is about as bad as what phrenologists tried to accomplish two centuries ago. So given these, and other transgressions, is The Sexual Paradox a complete waste of time? Well, no, not exactly. Firstly, although the method is flawed, not all of the evidence is bad and some of it is actually quite interesting. Secondly the question posed – “Are men and women fundamentally different?” – is an important one, and must continue to be explored, although preferably in a more precise manner than Ms. Pinker’s. And finally, for those of you on a gender-equalizing crusade, it provides a useful window into some of the popular arguments being used to sustain discrimination against women. Know thy enemy, they say.

Greg Sacks

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Evening on the Ground: An Excerpt A man and his son are working in the woods when a woman of divine beauty appears before them. “I can grant you long and happy lives if you promise to never tell anyone of this encounter,” she says. The man decides this sounds like a good deal, agrees, and the woman disappears. Their lives carry on and improve enormously; the man becomes wealthy and lives a long life before passing away peacefully in old age. The son becomes a skilled and successful worker, marries a woman he loves passionately, and raises a happy and healthy family. Many years pass like this until on a cold night, while son and wife are sitting blissfully by the fire, the son suddenly remembers the curious instance in his childhood. He tells his wife of the lady in the woods and laughs at its absurdity. His wife looks gravely at him and says only “I told you never to tell” before crumbling before him. Sound familiar? You’ve probably heard this one before too: One day, a man is going about his daily business in his small town. He sees a woman he has never seen before, she is beautiful beyond anything the man has ever seen and he stops to stare at her; but to his surprise she is staring back at him! The two of them carry on like this until the man gathers the courage to go speak to her. One thing leads to another and she agrees to meet him at his house later that night. Upon her ar-

rival the man wastes no time, “You must come to bed with me and become my wife!” He proclaims. The woman concurs but under conditions, “You must give me all of your possessions.” “Sure” he says. “And all of your wealth.” “Fine” “And your business.” “Yes anything!” “And the money you have saved for your parents funeral.” The man is becoming desperate, here she is, in his house, shimmering, and they just continue to stand talking. “You can have all of it! If it’s mine, it’s yours!” She then turns into a hideous monster, deprives him of all his possessions, strips him, and castrates him. Jinkies! Babayaga, Morgane Le Fay, Lilith, demon seductresses, witches; living in the background of western folk tale history is a pattern that connects women to magic in a strange and scary way. There is an eerie familiarity about this motif. Something about the understood nature of women in western society places them on the precipice between humanity and the unknown. Read the rest of Evening on the Ground at blueprintmagazine.ca

Judith Brunton

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Profile for Blueprint Magazine

The Gender & Sexuality Issue  

Volume 9 Issue 2 October 2009

The Gender & Sexuality Issue  

Volume 9 Issue 2 October 2009