How have you deconstructed class, and what have you learned as it relates to your sexual orientation or gender expression?
Do you agree or disagree that subjects of race, socio-economics, class/privilege, and oppression must be addressed together to achieve understanding and acceptance of diversity?
Make a video, write a poem, song, or an essay — or even create an original work of art — and express your thoughts. If we feature your contribution on the site, we will send you a free VenusPlusX t-shirt to thank you.
Our round seal, in English and Spanish, portrays “Columbia,” The Statue of Freedom atop the U.S. Capitol. The original sculptor chose a two-spirit (transgender) First People model to create his ideal of freedom. In both English (Sexual Freedom . . . You Are Born With It) and now on our Spanish site, it has become our ideal symbol of a peaceful post-gender world.
We call for a New Age of Sexual Freedom, asking sincere people to devote themselves to sustainable changes that guarantee everyone’s inalienable personal sovereignty, and freedom to love as they see fit, without fear of being overridden and perverted by presumptuous governments, religious hierarchies, greedy corporations, and blind social custom.
We also want to urge our sister organizations and websites to consider making some of their resources available to the greater community in languages other than English in demonstration of our shared dedication to worldwide change. This enhances the global celebration of common ideals, and demonstrates to everyone what is important (of love) and what must be left behind as no longer useful to people’s health and well-being.
To be any sort of movement, we must advocate first and foremost for the most vulnerable in any community, the sexual and gender minorities. In the U.S., this especially includes those people whose skin color, origins, and/or or economic and immigration status further diminish their fair access and happiness, and expose them to extreme social violence. In most of Latin America, the rate of murders and assaults is far higher, social tolerance of sex and gender nonconformity far lower, and the vulnerable population far larger, for reasons beyond the concerns of race and immigration.
The very integrity of any movement depends on addressing global evils wherever they appear. From our point of view, the voiceless and least able are our “boss,” the people whose stories stir us, who fuel our passion to get up each morning and work hard on their behalf. Because when we direct our educational efforts, advocacy, and activism to those who need our help the most, we sleep better at night knowing we have have done everything that day, the very best we can do, for the largest possible number of people.
We hope you will take a look at both our sites and let us know what you think. And, please follow us on Twitter (Lady Gaga does!) and Like us on Facebook.
Creative Common image (modern Furoshiki gift wrapping, from 6th Century Japan) by: Wolfgang
Editor’s note: This post was written by one of our interns, Jamor Gaffney.
It was the summer before I began 5th grade when I got my first relaxer. I was curious, nervous, and unsure of whether I was making the right decision. Not because of what I now understand to be a deeply rooted, oppressive standard of beauty in this country, but simply because I didn’t know how my hair would turn out. The morning before I went into the hair salon, I wore an Afro; I walked around my neighborhood so everyone could see my hair, and they would surely see the “new and improved” Jamor once I returned from the salon.
I later arrived at the hair salon, sweating bullets as I sat in the chair. The stylist parted my rough, kinky Afro to base my scalp with grease to protect my skin; soon, I felt the cold, heavy relaxer on my head… there was no turning back now. A few minutes in, I noticed a tingling sensation on my scalp, then, a burn! I started tapping my foot against the floor to signal to someone that I was uncomfortable and was met with the response, “Beauty is pain, beauty is pain”.
Now, I knew I couldn’t say this out loud but I wanted to scream, “That makes no sense! Get this out of my head!”
The hair washing person eventually rescued me and the rest of this seemingly stupid process was fine. Seemingly stupid turned into genius because the finished product was in fact, a new and improved, Jamor. I had shiny, silky, straight, long hair… I never looked back.
Today, I am more conscious of the implications of the relaxer in the black community and I wonder if my mom and I made the right choice in having my hair chemically straightened. The new BET original television show “Reed Between the Lines” about a black family deemed “the new Cosby Show” has an episode that speaks to my questions about perming my hair at a young age. Kaci is a young teenage girl who wants to perm her hair because a boy she likes at school prefers her hair straight. Her mother Carla tries to talk her out of the decision, explaining the potential consequences of putting a perm in her hair. A conversation like this would have been very helpful for me when I was younger.
Black Hair, Still Tangled in Politics articulates my thoughts on my hair, and the ways that black women present themselves. For black women, myself included, their hair is a performance of both their race and their gender. How I present my hair to others is in many ways, a statement or declaration of my race and gender. I’m pressured to keep my hair long and straight by men, black men!
I find it disheartening that within my own racial community, I’m not comfortable enough to present my hair, as is, how it grows from my scalp, without being considered less beautiful. This stems back to the Great Migration when blacks moved from the South to the North looking for better job opportunities and an overall better way of life. There were pressures by both whites and Northern blacks for this new influx of people to appear elegant, polished, and classy and “taming” their hair was the first step to maintaining that appearance. Today, similar pressures are put on blacks to appear more professional and approachable. All of these adjectives are just indirect ways of telling me to try to look white and be friendly, and that the efforts I make toward doing so will impact my success.
What’s unprofessional about a black woman washing her natural hair and putting a little holding gel on it for work in the morning? Some white women do just that, and no one is uncomfortable or appalled. For a country with such racial diversity as America, it should be considered highly problematic that our standard of beauty is still so sourly, solely skewed toward whiteness. How is this affecting young black girls today? Based on how perming my own hair as a 5th grader changed my perspective on black hair, I can’t imagine other young girls not wanting to feel new and improved too.