Readings on Sexuality and Racism

Readings on Sexuality and Racism

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Readings on Sexuality

As I begun to read chapter four I thought that it would be one of the most interesting and informative for me. The further I got in to the reading I realized I couldn’t relate too much of what was said. The first concept I chose was a basic for the chapter, sexuality is not instinctive but learned from our families, our peers, sex education in school, popular culture, negotiations with partners, and listening to our own bodies. I have never thought about my sexuality in that way. As I read I was asking myself, where did I learn to be so sexual, where did it come from? I never realized what I had learned along the way or who from.
The second concept I found interesting was that of the word “vagina.” As the book has said, for many women the word vagina is associated with shame, embarrassment, and silencing, even violation. As I remember I saw a version of The Vagina Monologues at Portland State a few years back and as comfortable as I thought I was with my gender and sexuality I did feel embarrassed. I felt a little ashamed, but as the production went on I found it entertaining. I grew more and more comfortable as the play went on. I also found interesting V-Day College Initiative, a nationwide project to celebrate women and oppose sexual violence. I have never heard of this “V-Day,” a day for women to come together.

One fact I found very interesting was that of the law passed in the state of Alabama on the ban on the sale or distribution of vibrators and other “devices designed or marketed as primarily useful for the stimulation of human genital organs.” Politics, religion, and other social institutions put limitations on women’s sexuality and sexual expression. It’s not fair for old men passing these laws to tell me what I can and cannot do with my own body; it disgusts me and it hard to think that it still happens today.

The third concept happens to be a definition that struck me as interesting, virgin. The word virgin did not originally mean a woman whose vagina was untouched by any penis, but a free woman, one not married, not bound to, not possessed by any man. A woman who is sexually and socially her own person. Why has that definition changed into something held to such high standards?

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Men value a woman who is a virgin; some hold it as their fantasy to marry a woman, one untouched by any other man or penis. Why can’t we be free in who we are and however we want to express that? If that chooses to not be a “virgin.” People hold religious figures to the same regard. I like the old definition of virgin; it’s a little freeing to be sexually and socially your own person, instead of untouched by any man. I do feel though there is a negative tone to the original definition, like if you choose to be free you were considered less than…?

One is not born a woman, but, rather, becomes one. This is my fourth concept that gender is neither biological nor natural but learned. This goes hand in hand with my first concept. I was taught to be a woman. When I was young my parents wanted me to improve my manners and such, I was sent to finishing school. I was taught to walk like a lady, eat like a lady, put makeup on the correct way, wear the right clothes, and behave like a lady. I was taught to be a “proper young lady.” But I don’t understand why we are taught to be so embarrassed or ashamed of our gender and sexuality. Why don’t we have schools to teach us on how to accept our sexuality and become sexual and embrace being a woman.

The fifth concept is the idea that sexuality can be a source of power, affirmation, and self-definition for women, not just vulnerability and danger. Many women are exploring their sexuality and claiming the right to sexual pleasure on their own terms. This is the new generation, more and more women are embracing what they have in terms of their eroticism and sexual self.

The first reading was Guadalupe the Sex Goddess, by Sandra Cisneros. I found this reading very interesting because I never knew or never even thought about the trials and tribulations of growing up in a home where you were never informed of what was “down there.” Cisneros, a Latino, was able to finally come to terms with whom and what she had and is as a female, a woman. She had to discover her sexuality and what she understood to be a woman, a sexual woman. Once she explored a bit her sexuality became a great source of power not something to be embarrassed over and defiantly nothing to be ashamed of.
The second reading was Radical Heterosexuality, by Naomi Wolf. I read this reading twice over and still cannot comprehend what the main point or the “moral of the story” might be. I understand she was trying to make the point that radical heterosexuality does exist, as new of an idea as it is. She talks about how the “men we love” will learn and will begin to accept what you believe as long as you put them on the right path. Radical heterosexuality is taking your women’s and feminists ideals and taking it to that next level… a step up to the radical side. For me I thought most of her ideas were a little to extreme especially for myself but it is interesting to hear another’s’ perspective.

Radical Pleasure: Sex and the End of Victimhood, by Aurora Levins Morales was a fabulous read. She talks about reclaiming sex for herself and why she has decided to do what she wants to, to help herself and how. She talks about aliveness and what trials and tribulations she has gone through to recover and be where she is now. How the pain and suffering has helped her to feel alive. The path of reclaiming her sexuality was not boring but pain and that pain made her feel alive. Morales reclaimed her sexuality as she reclaimed her life.

The fourth reading A New Politics of Sexuality, by June Jordan was herself. She is Black and a female and a mother and bisexual and a nationalist and an antinationalist. She is free to be all that she is, and she is proud. When she spoke at Berkeley at a rally against racism and they had asked her to speak at a rally the next day for bisexual and gay and lesbian rights she found it disgraceful, there should have been just one rally. One rally: freedom is indivisible. She has brought up the point that we should stand united against and for our causes, why are these causes so different form each other.

The fifth reading, Uses if the Erotic: The Erotic as Power, by Audre Lorde was about how eroticism was generalized and there is more to being erotic and sexual. The erotic has often been misused by men and then used against women. Eroticism is a source of power and information and how most confuse it with the opposite, the pornographic. Lorde also talks about how it is empowering to be erotic and be in touch with your erotic self. Being comfortable with who you are makes you more comfortable in your life. You can be erotic and sexual and it is nothing bad or nothing to be ashamed of.

As I said in the beginning, as I begun to read chapter four I thought that it would be one of the most interesting and informative for me. The further I got in to the reading I realized I couldn’t relate too much of what was said. I can’t relate to racism, having a disability, or being a lesbian or gay or bisexual or transgender, but what I can do is listen and learn from their experiences. Until I came to that conclusion I couldn’t really get into the reading. I had a hard time understanding some of the readings, and some concepts in the chapter. I can’t relate to most of this chapter but I did learn from most of it. I learned about my own sexuality by reading this chapter and I became more aware of what I should know and how to become more educated about being a women. Maybe if I accepted my sexuality to the fullest I would be more comfortable in being a woman and I too could then feel the aliveness.
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