Saturday, December 31, 2011

Big Big Love

So it's Big Big Love time! The book is "a sex and relationships guide for people of size (and those who love them)"; Hanne Blank is the author. I really liked it, even though a lot of it didn't apply to me personally. I'm what's awkwardly known as an "inbetweenie" i.e., I am somewhere between thin and fat. A lot of the book, of course, is targeted towards people who are larger than myself. But, most of us have loved ones of varied sizes, and if you want to be an ally to all of them, it's important to know some of the issues your fat peeps may contend with.

Certain sections might seem skim-worthy if you're not actually having sex. Some of it also seems a wee bit basic...I would assume that if you're going to pick up this book, you probably know that fat people don't all smell bad or are desperate (there's a section debunking common fat myths). But, I could be wrong about that. Here are my favorite parts/parts I found the most interesting:
  • Section on asexuality! It's well-done, it includes quotes from asexuals ourselves, and it's included in a chapter with all the other sexual orientations. YEAH!
  • What Hanne says are her two main take-aways: "Stop putting your life on hold" (until you're thin...or anything else, really) and "Don't expect love and sex to heal your entire life" (pgs 26 & 27).
  • A discussion of weight distribution/shape, and how this affects perceptions of someone's sexuality and gender. For instance, a pear-shaped man is quoted as saying that people just assume he's gay because his shape is traditionally considered "womanly". Apparently, apple-shaped women (that's me, I guess) "may feel like they are sexually invisible" (36). You know...I think there's some truth to that. I do have breasts, but I don't have much in the way of hips, butt, or thighs. When I was slightly heavier, I had no defined waist. I am rarely approached by anyone in a sexual manner. From hourglass-shaped asexual women, I hear different stories.
  • Good stuff about body image and acceptance. Hanne suggests this exercise: "Try finding something to compliment in every fat person you see (72)". (You don't have to say the compliment out loud unless you want to.) I can tell you, this kind of exercise really works, and it can improve your whole mood for the day. We can often be really judgmental of other people's appearances, sometimes without even realizing it ("she's wearing that?"). To change that casual criticism into something positive can be a powerful thing to do for ourselves, even (especially) if the other person doesn't know what the heck we're thinking.
  • Responses to rude comments about size. This one amused me the most: "Why am I so fat? Because every time I fuck your mom, she bakes me a pie." Of course, it hinges on someone yelling, "Why are you so fat?", but in the event that it'll be ready. (More comeback ideas...and I want all her clothes.)
Happy 2012, folks! My resolution will be to not end posts with bullet points.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Here to say I'm not here

I'm taking a brief holiday break, but I do have Big Big Love on hold for me at the library. I'd heard of the book before, but Mary convinced me to read it with her video of appreciation. I'd also been taking a hiatus from sexuality books, but I guess we can only be kept apart for so long. Whether or not you're religious, I know this can be a stressful time of year. So, I want to wish everyone a peaceful December.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Understanding + Resistant Aesthetics

Here's an interesting essay: Dress to Kill, Fight to Win, by Dean Spade. Somehow he manages to tie together both fashion and trans surgery in a fairly short piece. It ends with a question:

"Why would we want to do things that don’t require explanation, that are obvious, impervious to critique because no one even notices we’re doing them?"

Well, to fit in, of course. I've always had such a strong desire to be understood and to avoid misunderstanding. Confusing people on purpose is something that hasn't really occurred to me. Although...I like the idea of it. Don't get me wrong, understanding is an incredible thing. But it isn't always going to happen, and it's heartening to know that there might be some value in the alternative.

Spade also talks about "resistant aesthetics", which I think is a helpful term. I do want to resist, through my appearance, the sexual and gender norms of our culture. But I don't think anyone is going to figure this out just by looking at me. For women and those read as such, dressing "entirely outside of the sexual dimension" is virtually impossible. (Either we're sexy...or the absence of sexy.) I recently read a post called "Femme Visibility". The writer says that "femme presentations are often done to queer the idea of women as objects of men’s desire. It can be done to parody traditional ideas of women’s gender roles and dress." While these femmes are coming from a place of aesthetic resistance, they're often not perceived as queer or transgressive by society at large. I can relate to that dissonance, because I keep trying to dress outside of sexuality and gender. Spade seems to maintain that there's importance to these efforts, as imperfect as they may be. In some ways, my style does require explanation, even though it isn't unusual enough to draw much questioning.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Things Asexual Like: Tea

Silly post ahoy!

So, is tea an asexual stereotype yet? Damn, I hope so. The more posts I do in this series, the more I see that the stuff we like is interrelated. Like, it just makes sense that an anglophilic, teetotaling dandy would be drinking a lot of tea. I've done a bunch of these posts now, and I feel like an archetypal person is actually starting to emerge; one who was not premeditated by me at all (but seems to resemble...a large proportion of the Transyadas--rock on folks, much respect). This stereotypical asexual, if ze even exists, has no relation to what the haters say we are. And, I dig that.

So, if you drink tea, what kind do you like? I'll basically drink anything. I even like yerba mate although I kinda think it tastes like dirt (aka, "earthy"). Can I PLEASE have a lifetime supply of these:

[Image: Bottle of Guayaki Yerba Mate]

I used to say rooibos was my favorite, but I was disappointed one too many times by rooibos that was too weak, despite steeping it for a super-long time. Tea has got to be strong, that's all I ask. Oh, and chai...always, chai.

Anyway, tea made it onto my self-care list for a reason. There's just something about it that puts me into relaxation mode. As a child/teen, I used to only drink it when I was sick, but then I spent a few months working in a London office where I was constantly being handed tea. I started to enjoy it and kept drinking it when I got home--although not in such large quantities, or with "three sugars" (which was apparently a large number, but what did I know?).