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Friday
Jun132014

We've Never Redefined Marriage... Except When We Did

Yo' dawg, I heard you like marriage equality... Photo by Adam Bouska - www.noh8campaign.com

“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

Justice Leon M. Bazile, Virginia, 1959

Forty-seven years ago this week, in a unanimous decision, the US Supreme Court made it legal for interracial couples to marry in all of the fifty states.

Forty-seven years ago, or seven years before I was born.

Apollo 11 launched in the summer of 1969, so to put it another way, in 1967, in a country that was just two years away from putting a man on the moon, you could still be sent to prison for being in an interracial relationship.

Unlike the current state of same-sex marriage, where states that have not legalized it simply ignore marriages between gay couples that took place in other states, prior to the Loving v. Virginia decision, states where interracial marriage was illegal most definitely recognized interracial marriages that took place elesewhere. The Lovings’ marriage certificate was the smoking gun in the state’s criminal case against them.

I’m black and my girlfriend is white. It blows my mind that seven years before I was born, we could have been sent to prison for the crime of falling in love with each other.

Next week I’ll be officiating my first wedding. It will be a marriage between two men. If you’re reading this, you probably agree with me, but there is simply no credible argument against gay marriage. None. I’ve been listening intently for one my entire adult life and I haven’t heard it yet. Anyone who says that opposing marriage equality is about not redefining traditional marriage is either a liar or ignorant of history. And being ignorant of history that’s younger (or not much older) than you are is a special kind of ignorant.

Perhaps an institution with a fifty percent failure rate should be redefined, as it has been several times over the years (from its roots in this country as a transfer of female property from a white father to his white son-in-law) to accommodate the expansion of freedom to slaves, women and ethnic minorities.  

In a non-legal sense, I hope that everyone who gets married “redefines” marriage on their own terms. Why should anyone outside of the relationship dictate what the relationship should be? Have the relationship you want. Marry the person you want. Fuck the haters. Fuck ‘em in the ear. 

Tuesday
May272014

Single-Breasted Swimsuits, Topless Equality & Body Image

 

[Author’s Note: This blog started out as a quick shout-out to the folks behind Monokini, a line of single-breasted swimsuits, but has since morphed into a rant about topless equality, gender identity and body image. Just watch my feet for a minute, I promise there’s a point to all this.]

Monokini is social art project that designs swimwear collections for single mastectomy survivors who have elected to forego breast augmentation surgery. It’s also the thing that currently restores my faith in humanity.

I love this for two reasons. I have several friends who are breast cancer survivors, some have had mastectomies, some haven’t. Of those who have, some have elected to get breast implants, some haven’t. I think it’s pretty awesome that this project highlights the fact that there is a choice and it’s really the decision of the survivor (and, I suppose, her doctor, I know nothing about the medical ramications of these things).

The second, somewhat stranger, reason is that mastectomy survivors who forego implants call attention to how ridiculous it is that in so many parts of the country, it’s illegal for women to be topless in public. It begs the question, what part of the female breast is so offensive? The nipple? Men have nipples, but we can be topless in public. Is it the amount breast tissue? What about flat chested women and amply breasted men? And, if that were the case, why is it legal for women to be basically topless if their nipples are covered? It makes no sense. I think what the powers-that-be find offensive about the female breast is that they are attached to women.

To see how silly this can get, contrast the cases of Jodi Jaecks and Andrea Jones. In 2012 Jodi Jaecks was temporarily banned from swimming topless in a public pool in Seattle, despite having had a double mastectomy and electing not to get breast implants.

Jodi Jaecks photo by Kelly O./The Stranger

In 2011, Andrea Jones, a transgender woman living in Tennessee, was arrested for indecent exposure after walking out of the Department of Motor Vehicles topless. She was protesting the fact that the DMV refused to change the gender on her driver’s license from male to female. Her argument being that the state couldn’t treat her as both a man and a woman, and if she was legally male, she should be able to walk outside without a shirt on.    

Two women, one with neither breasts nor nipples, the other born biologically male and still treated as such by her state, both sanctioned for doing what cisgender men do all the time: being topless in public. It makes no sense to me.

Andrea Jones - Photo from WATE-TV

 

On a brighter note, photo below comes from bodybuilder turned body image activist, Taryn Brumfitt at bodyimagemovement.com.au. It’s part of a blog titled “The best reason to get naked in front of a thousand people!” and it tells the story of two total strangers, both mastectomy survivors, who met  and bonded at the world’s largest naked swimming event.

 From bodyimagemovement.com.au

Taryn is also running a Kickstarter campaign to fund a body positive documentary called “Embrace” and you should definitely support it by going here


Friday
May232014

HuffPo Falls for Naked CrossFit Hoax

This year as an April Fools’ Day prank, Spartan Mentality Gym in Denmark announced it was offering Nude CrossFit sessions. They even provided photos showing some rather bicepsual gentlemen working out at the gym completely naked.

Well, almost two months later, and outside the context of April Fools’ when our bullshit detectors are highly active, a website called the Gaily Grind re-ran the photos and presented the nude CrossFit gym as a real thing. That was enough for the titans of fact checking at the Huffington Post to pick up the story. Now the internet is buzzing as the nude CrossFit gym story makes the rounds on the blogs and even YouTube, with almost everyone presenting it as a real thing.

Thankfully, the Copenhagen Post actually contacted the gym to confirm that it was in fact just an April Fools’ joke and no one from their staff had been contacted by the Gaily Grind.

I think the moral to the story is that a great opportunity is going to waste. I don’t do CrossFit myself (I prefer my workouts with a lower risk of inducing nausea, incontinence and kidney failure), but it seems someone should step up and fill this void in the market place.

Until then, there’s always Ami Amore’s Clothing Optional Yoga class

Tuesday
Apr222014

What Type of Facebook User Are You? 

Are you going to take this quiz?

Are you going to post the results on Facebook? 

If you answered yes to both questions: 


 

Wednesday
Jan222014

On Public Speaking

Presenting on power exchange at Hustler Hollywood.

I have an unprecedented number of speaking engagements lined up for the first three months of this year. I feel like I’ve gotten pretty good at public speaking in the last few years, but I’m always looking for ways to kick my skills up a notch, so I’m currently in the process of doing research on being a better public speaker, and I thought I’d share for those who are interested.

On his blog, Tim Ferriss, author of the “The Four Hour Work Week,” suggests pre-speech caffeine dosing. He always drinks a 16 ounce Diet Coke 45 minutes before a speech and another 20 minutes before the speech, for energy. He also suggest peeing before taking the stage.

Perhaps more helpful, Ferriss takes the amount of time he is expected to present and allocates half of it for questions and answers with the audience. He divides the remaining time into five sections: A short opening, a short closing, and the remaining three sections are divided equally and allocated to introducing and explaining a single point each. I think that’s a pretty good format.

So, worried you might forget one of your three points or the order you want to introduce them in? Try building a Memory Palace. A Memory Palace is a series of highly visual and often ridiculous images in a highly visual and ridiculous sequence of events. Each image represents a point or concept you want to remember and the sequence of events represents the order you need to remember them in. This is how competitive memorizers (yes, that’s a thing) prepare for competition. There's a TED Talk on the subject: here.

Get nervous in front of crowds? Practice adopting confident body language for twenty minutes or so before giving your speech. Not only will you appear more confident to your audience, but you can actually trick yourself into feeling more confident. Here’s a TED Talk on that subject.

We’ve all heard the advice about about imagining your audience naked to feel more at ease in front of a crowd. In the book “Psycho Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz and Dan Kennedy, there’s a story of a woman who takes this concept to the next level. To get over being self conscious in front of an audience, she practiced her speeches completely naked while standing before a full length mirror. The logic being that when she could get through the entire speech, naked in front of a mirror, without feeling self conscious, being on stage fully dressed and unable to see herself would be a breeze. This technique could really come in handy for me, since it’s not rare for me to give presentations while almost naked.  Unfortunately, I don’t own a full length mirror, so I guess I’ll just have to invite some people over and practice my presentation in front of them in the nude. If anyone is interested in helping me out, just let me know.

Presenting on body image at Shameless Grounds.