Men and their junk…and sharing their junk in the 21st century

Like the vast majority of women, particularly those on social media and cell phones for a couple decades or so now, I am no stranger to men being overly—shall we say—“generous” with displaying their dicks for me when I didn’t ask to see their junk…and often when I don’t even know the person.

Hell, I was even repeatedly harassed by a guy in the town I used to live in when I was still hitched to the coparent. A guy who humped lampposts and benches and did other assorted oddities. Yes, before you point it out to me, I know he had mental illness issues. But he also targeted and low-key stalked me in a way that was pretty structured and deliberate. It’s possible both to be mentally ill and to be skeezy. He was both, and I had to involve the police eventually as things got increasingly creepy and dangerous for me.

I’ve had more than my share of unsolicited dick picks, including in recent memory from someone whose dick I was actually occasionally intimate with. That wouldn’t be so bad, except one time when I was in a bad patch with family health issues and such, he sent one to “comfort” me. Why he thought his penis shot was what I would need at a time like that is beyond me.

We women have had to put up with this juvenile, insulting and frankly abusive behavior for a long time. When I was a kid, it was flashers showing their block and tackle publicly. Now we get them still in person and dudes texting their junk to us.

I am not kidding when I say this is abusive. Sexual assault. Let’s not mince words. Whether in person or digitally, if you are shoving your dick at me without consent, you are assaulting me. We already have to worry about even seemingly upright and polite guys turning dangerous on us on dates or in relationships, given the rather high propensity for men to engage in sexual assault without a second thought because “they deserve it” or “it’s no big deal.” So the added disgusting displays of peen are not welcome to most of us and you need to stop it.

And now dudes have a couple high-profile white guys to model and to defend.

I’m sure most of you know that famous lawyer and legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin exposed himself during a Zoom call. A business-related Zoom call to do some kind of election simulation. With multiple people on it, including women. And he was rubbing one out right there.

I don’t care that he says he thought he had muted himself and wasn’t visible to anyone else. To be really honest, I don’t even believe him. Regardless, though, one should not be jacking off during a business meeting, particularly where video connections are involved. There’s just no excuse. You shouldn’t wank your junk under a conference room table during a meeting; you shouldn’t rub one out during a video call either. It’s unprofessional, gross and like I said before, abusive.

Now it seems he’s lost positions at the New Yorker and CNN at the very least, and I’m glad. If you can’t wait until after the Zoom call to do your business, you have no business doing public business and making a mint off of it. Crawl back to your hole.

But the really shocking thing was how many other guys—mostly other white guys because who sticks together better than white men?—defending him. Saying how those of us complaining are shaming men for having needs and shaming the act of masturbation.

Look, me and a lot of other women love masturbation. Hell, we and our male counterparts have in many cases had to really go hard on that during pandemic isolation. Most of us are fine with jacking off.  Sometimes when its consensual we even like watching you do it. But this wasn’t consensual and it wasn’t the time or place. And to defend Toobin’s actions is to defend sexually inappropriate and abusive BS. You have needs? Great! Fulfill them on your own time and in private.

A lot of y’all men need to snatch up and correct your peers if you want to go spouting “not all men” stuff because you as a group are notorious for this kind of stuff. Clean your houses and collect your wayward men-friends…and their wayward peens. Then maybe we can stop looking at men as a sketchy collective.

This being the 21st century, and being 2020 in particular—a year that needs some serious therapy to get its shit together—we couldn’t even go a full week before another prominent white guy stuck his hand down his pants when he shouldn’t have: Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor and idiot pundit and Trump lawyer.

In Sacha Baron Cohen’s upcoming sequel to his 2006 film Borat (which I adored), Giuliani does a number of inappropriate things while thinking he’s being interviewed by a conservative female reporter (actually an actress portraying the daughter of the Borat character). Reaching down into his pants to touch his junk before “Borat” (Cohen) jumps in and confronts him is just the grossest thing apparently.

Rudy can argue it was a “hit job” all he wants. That’s Cohen’s main schtick, all right? You got caught being skeezy. Simple as that.

All I can say is that while many of us ladies (and men) like some dick, y’all need to keep your dicks in your pants and out of your hands more often. Keep it private, unless we damn well ask for it. Mind your manners and keep it professional. Stop being dicks, and leave your dicks out of everyday interactions where they have no business being.


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Image by Andrew Leu via Unsplash

Loving v. racism in gay sex and dating in Maine and beyond

People often wonder why Maine remains one of the whitest, least diverse states in the nation. I could talk about how politics, policies, and systemic racism, but there are also less obvious things that have an impact on whether Black and brown people choose to stay and make their home here.

I’m talking about the sex and dating among gay men in Maine. It’s an issue that doesn’t quite get as much attention given recent police shootings and focus on systemic racism, but for the many white people wanting to join the anti-racism movement, dating and relationships also need examination.

Personally, this was one of the reasons I almost stayed in Washington, D.C., in 2016. Compared to Maine, both the people and the dating scene was vastly more diverse. It was completely different energy and I felt my body, heart, and mind alive in a way I haven’t felt. Professionally I was doing better. Academically (I was a visiting student at Howard University School of Law), I excelled. And personally, I felt that there were those around me (Black and brown gay men, for the most part) who understood what it was like being a queer person of color.

I didn’t realize how constrained my dating life was in Maine until I lived a year in D.C. And only upon returning to Maine in 2017 did I have some measure to go by.

But first, a little housekeeping.

For this particular piece, I will be focusing on racism in the queer sex and dating scene in Maine (a lot of the research I reference are studies of gay and bisexual men). I use queer as an umbrella term to refer to LGTBQ+ people. For readers who have only known “queer” as a slur, there has been movement toward reclaiming the word and using it positively and proudly to refer to the LGBTQ+ community.

This piece will also refer to “white standards of beauty,” which has its roots in scientific racism in the 18th and 19th  centuries. In a nutshell, some of the founders of scientific racism, like Johann Blumenbach (who counted Karl Marx among his fans), proclaimed the skulls of white people as the most symmetric and beautiful. If you’d like to learn more about scientific racism, listen to NPR’s Code Switch episode Is Beauty In The Eyes Of The Colonizer?

Now, let’s face the facts.

Stonewall survey in 2018, for instance, found that 51% of queer people of color experience racism in the LGBT community. This is one of a number of studies that show that racism is prevalent in the queer dating scene, especially in an age when we are reliant on dating apps like Tinder and Grindr (a dating app for gay, bisexual, and trans men). Recent studies take it further in showing the real, harmful effects racism is having on Black and brown LGBTQ+ people.

One of the ways in which racism manifests in queer sex and dating is through “personal preferences.” In in-depth interviews of gay males in 2015 revealed that some men applied filters that showed them mostly white men while excluding men of color, especially Black men.

In data published by OkTrends (an OkCupid blog), a look at the reply rates show the trends in terms of response rates by race. White, gay men are the only ones who are more likely to respond to someone of the same race, clocking in at 44%. They are least likely to reply to Black males, with a reply rate of 32%. Gay men of other races are more likely to respond to males who are not the same race. Both Black and Asian gay men, for instance, are more likely to respond to Middle Eastern men. Black, gay men also are more likely to respond to “other males,” which I assume are mixed-race or biracial men.

In a 2019 study of gay and bisexual men, researchers broke down sexual racism into four categories, exclusion, rejection, degradation, and erotic objectification, and found that objectification (i.e. seeing Black men as more dominant and aggressive or Asian men as submissive and compliant) led to elevated levels of both depression and feelings of lower self-worth. This was somewhat surprising to the researchers because erotic objectification on its surface seemed to provide an opportunity for Black and brown gay and bisexual men compared to outright exclusion and rejection.

This goes to further the argument made in Robinson’s 2015 law article, in which he states that “sexual racism does not exist simply as a categorical exclusion, such as ‘no Blacks or Asians,’ but may permeate long-term relationships. For instance, a man of color may be deemed desirable only insofar as he adheres to sexualized racial stereotypes.”

In many ways, the real, harmful effects of erotic objectification aren’t all that surprising because it is rooted in white supremacist ideas centered around the colonization, subjugation, exploitation, and exoticization of Black and brown people. Consider, for example, an instance when a white, gay male refers to Asian men as “rice,” Black men as “chocolate,” or Latino men as “spice.” Consider also that Black men are usually confined to being “tops” (code for more masculine) and are seen as larger, more aggressive, and dominant, while Asians are confined to being “bottoms” (code for more feminine) and seen as more submissive. White, gay men, however, are free to choose a top, bottom, versatile without being confined by racial stereotypes doled out to gay men of color.

What about lesbian, bisexual, and trans people of color?

While these studies mostly examine gay online dating and sex, it does not erase the fact that racism and discrimination exist for lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people of color. In the Stonewall survey referenced earlier, one respondent commented that “it’s not just white cis abled people who are LGBT+. I am an Arab, ex Muslim, autistic, mentally ill, poor brown girl who is also bi. No LGBT+ supports me or accommodates, I am invisible to you.’” There is also a small but growing body of research on trans people of color. One study on youth revealed an alarming trend showing that racism combined with transphobia correlated with more than half of trans youth of color experiencing forced sex and nearly 60% having traded money for sex and resources.   

The fact remains that more research needs to be done specifically on racism in sex and dating among lesbian and trans people of color.

So what do we do?

To be honest, I am not entirely sure. As pointed out in the VICE article How Queer People of Color Are Combating Sexual Racism, the answer isn’t simply for queer people of color to stop dating white people.

“No matter how they go about accomplishing it,” the author writes. “[M]ost QTPOC share the same goal: finding politically and racially conscious partners who will validate them as people. And that doesn’t always mean writing off white people altogether.”

And as Per$ia, a San Francisco–based Latinx drag queen, put it in the same article, “Be more open. Don’t let societal bullshit prevent you from trying something new. There’s more out there than Cliff, who works at Google and takes selfies hiking with his dog.”

With that said, what we must do is continue to recognize, unearth, and uproot racism in all its forms. The answer is not passivity or silence.

As Kimberle Crenshaw succinctly stated, “We are a society that has been structured from top to bottom by race. You don’t get beyond that by deciding not to talk about it anymore. It will always come back; it will always reassert itself over and over again.”

Links to Learn More

BIOGRAPHY

Marpheen Chann is a Portland, Maine-based thinker, writer, educator and speaker on social justice, equity, and inclusion. As a gay, first-generation Asian American born in California to a Cambodian refugee family and later adopted by an evangelical, white working-class family in Maine, Marpheen uses a mix of humor and storytelling to help people view topics such as racism, xenophobia, and homophobia through an intersectional lens. Marpheen is the Development, Communications, and Education Associate at the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine. Marpheen holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Southern Maine and a law degree from the University of Maine School of Law (but does not practice law).


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Free Black women and WAP

From the moment that enslaved African women were brought to the United States until this present moment, Black women have had to endure painful stereotypes that seek to define us and to dehumanize us. 

As a result, for Black women, finding the space and the freedom to exist as our own fully actualized and authentic selves is a continual struggle. All women—regardless of race—have to deal with misogyny but for Black women, there is also misogynoir, the anti-Black misogyny that is directed specifically towards Black women. What makes misogynoir even more painful is that it is not unusual to encounter it from other Black people. 

This thought popped into my mind this morning as I was doing my morning scrolling over on Twitter and discovered that rappers Cardi B. and Megan Thee Stallion had released a new single titled “WAP” overnight. After reading about their new release and seeing numerous tweets from conservatives clutching their pearls about how these women were corrupting the youth and from Black men saying less than complimentary things about the song and the artists—well, I had to check it out. 

Disclosure: I am a 47-year-old member of Generation X; my first concert at age 14 was Public Enemy. I raised my eldest child, the rapper formerly known as milo (now going by his actual name R.A.P. Ferreira…yes, fate granted him those actual initials, apparently knowing what his career trajectory would be), on rap. Even now, I still listen to rap and I am a fan of Cardi B. and I say that as the mother of a 15-year-old daughter (who is responsible for first turning me on to Cardi B). 

Anyway, I found the song on Spotify and I listened three times in a row. “WAP” (Wet Ass P*ssy)  may not be for everyone, but as a middle-aged woman who likes sex and is a sexual being, as the young folks say—well, it slaps. Let’s keep it real: For those humans with vaginas, who engage in penetrative vaginal sex, wet ass p*ssy is optimal for enjoying the experience. More importantly, I expect my partner to do the work to create the conditions for WAP to occur. 

Upon each listening of the song, I heard two sexually empowered and free Black women speaking and reveling in their truth. Hell, if Cardi B is happily married and isn’t cooking or cleaning but still has the ring, who am I to argue with her? But in a world that only puts women (and Black women) in particular in boxes, boxes where we are either sexless beings or hyper-sexualized corrupters, then listening to this song is probably jarring. 

White women and white-passing women have been given a lot more freedom to embrace aspects of their own sexuality. But for Black women, for generations we were staunchly raised to not be sexual because our sexuality might play into stereotypes. Gather a group of Black women over the age of 45 together and you are almost certain to hear tales of sex education in the family that included such gems as “keep your skirt down and your drawers up.” Even in marriage, sex was never quite for us in many cases; we were simply to be of service to our male partners. 

There is an especially twisted irony for Black women. Due to stereotypes around Black female sexuality, we were often raised to be conservative in sexual matters, lest we bring shame upon our families.  These views, while “conservative,” are also part of the respectability politics of playing to the white gaze—and, frankly, just another example of how white supremacy and patriarchy create lasting harm. 

To be honest, I am glad to see the younger generations, including my own teenage daughter, push back on this anti-Black, anti-woman, puritanical bullshit. 

The world simply isn’t comfortable seeing a Black woman own her own sexuality, which is why two Black female rappers joyously, and I daresay magically, rapping about good sex makes both white conservatives and Black men uncomfortable. When Black women own both our lives and bodies with full agency, we are free. Free beings cannot be controlled.  Everyone loves Black women, but only when we are in service to others, not ourselves. And a song like “WAP” makes it clear that we are capable of loving ourselves enough to define pleasure on our own terms. Either you give us what we need or not, but in a world that has made Black women the mules and expect us to be in service to everyone but ourselves, this is hard to grasp. 

However, we are no longer your mules and joyless receptacles. Black Girl Magic also involves Black Girl Pleasure. 


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