The Purity Complex: Are Men Really Less Affected Than Women?

Women’s bodies continue to receive an inexhaustible amount of attention. As a society, we have glorified, scrutinized, degraded, hypersexualized, underrepresented, and misunderstood the female body. Purity culture has orchestrated a movement around the management, perception, and regulation of women’s bodies. As a former Pentecostalist, I grew up knowing there was more focus on my body versus those of my  brothers in Christ. There was a bodily divergence between men and women that I did not fully comprehend but felt obligated to adhere to; the ideological basis of this difference was filled with much ambiguity.

Read more at Feminism and Religion…

Purity Culture

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How to Stop Perpetrators Like Ariel Castro From Victimizing Innocent Women

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Cleveland Police Department/AP Photo, Tony Dejak/AP Photo

The man who held three women captive for over a decade in Cleveland, Ohio has been sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years without parole. Ariel Castro claims he is not a monster and that he was a victim of child abuse. Castro also admits to being addicted to pornography before a court room of people who found it difficult to show sympathy for the perpetrator.

As a society, the time has come where we have an important question to consider: what can the mental health and criminal justice systems do to prevent these types of crimes from occurring?

The problem is two-fold:

Firstly, we have a society that rewards and promotes isolation and privatization along lines of family, religion, and even roles in the workplace. Secondly, the thought of seeking mental health assistance is still seen as taboo – sharing feelings and emotions have been marginalized by a patriarchal system – leaving individuals feeling alone in their treatments.

Castro apologized for kidnapping the women, but denied “beating and torturing the women and insisted that most of the sex was consensual” as reported on Huffington Post. Castro’s claims and statements are symptoms of a person with a mental illness.

According to CNN, Castro tells the jury: “I’m not a monster. I’m just sick. I have an addiction, just like an alcoholic has an addiction,” he said. “God as my witness, I never beat these women like they’re trying to say that I did. I never tortured them.”

While some have passed this off as Castro playing the victim and pretending to have cared for his captives, it’s evident this man is mentally and emotionally disoriented.

If society had a better understanding of how to detect deviant behavior or anti-social personality traits in others and what to do about it, we could help prevent crimes from being committed. An article on the Daily Beast describes “sociopathy as not simply a disorder of serial killers but one that exists on a spectrum, plaguing to varying degrees a large portion of successful, apparently well-adjusted people.”

To sociopaths like Castro, morality and social behavior are skewed which is why professional help is required. By identifying the signs early on, we can prevent the victimization of innocent people.

There has been much clinical research conducted around psychopathology dating back to 1980 when criminal psychologist Robert Hare developed the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). However, most individuals with a predisposition to deviant behavior are not likely to book an appointment with a psychiatrist anytime soon.

Depending where they fall on the sociopathy spectrum, perpetrators like Castro lack impulse control and remorse, and have a relentless need to inflict pain onto others. A central theme affiliated with this disorder is power – Castro derived a sense of power by keeping female prisoners. It gave him pleasure to know he was in control of the prisoner’s lives through the imprisonment, devaluation, and abuse he executed.

With 12 million Americans considered sociopaths, mental health professionals, the criminal justice system, and governmental bodies need to work together in educating society on how to detect a sociopath; develop prevention programs in schools that reach out to potential sociopaths; and create a non-judgmental, encouraging space for sociopaths to seek help for their deviant behavior. This will not eliminate all sociopaths but preventative programs must be implemented to mitigate causes of such damaging effects on society.

Polyamory – A Modern Perspective

     Monogamy can get so monotonous so why not love many? There are many forms of non-traditional relationships emerging in modern society with polyamory being at the forefront. In the last decade, there has been wide-spread coverage of polyamory in media, films, academic journals, and law. However, society is still in the dark on what exactly constitutes polyamory. It’s common for society to clump a group of people together with a singular label; however, that’s not how social and relational dynamics typically work. In this post, I aim to provide basic insight and clarification into the constructs of polyamory and eliminate harmful stereotypes that have developed around the concept.
A revolutionary book I recommend is, The Ethical Slut, which examines non-traditional forms of relationships, with a focus on polyamory. It aims to shed light on common misconceptions of multi-partnered relationships. Polyamory can be defined as, “The open acceptance of multiple romantic/sexual relationships.” A feminist perspective is further elaborated, “whilst it is often seen, from the outside, as fulfilling men’s fantasies (representing the possibility of infidelity without guilt and having sex with more than one woman), many within the polyamorous community regard it as a more feminine way of managing relationship, with much emphasis placed on the importance of open communication, the expression of emotion, and support networks” (Hot bi babes and feminist families: Polyamorous women speak out, Barker and Ritch, 2007). Whilst this may be a shocking discovery to some, it may also resonate within the poly community.
     ‘Poly’ is many. ‘Amory’ is love. Polyamory is ‘many loves.’ To mention, I am not promoting one relational construct over the other. What I am suggesting is that each relationship consists of participants with similar relational goals in mind. Many of the differences lie in perception and execution. For example, most poly individuals accept their jealousy as a natural inclination, but strive to remove it from their relationships. In the article, Whatever happened to non-monogamies? Critical reflections on recent research and theory, “A great deal of the research on non-monogamies concentrates on the rules, contracts and boundaries employed by non-monogamous people in order to manage their relationships. Generally the aim of such arrangements is to ensure the stability and security of the relationships and to minimize painful emotions, notably jealousy.”In mony (monogamous) dynamics, ‘break-ups’ usually result in the diminishing of the relationship; whereas poly defines this as a ‘transition’ where the interaction is still alive, but sexual intimacy may be removed. Also, in poly relationships, there can be primary and secondary lovers, along with hierarchical constructs present.
     Those who strive to eliminate barriers such as jealousy in their relationship/s tend to have healthier outcomes. Whether you’re in a mony or poly relationship, it’s important to realize both forms of relationships strive for shared relational elements such as intimacy, open communication, honesty, maturity, and growth. It’s easy to identify a concept better or worse than the normative model; yet the challenge lies in deconstructing relational components of a dynamic despite sexual orientation or organization. In my next post on polyamory, I will take on a feminist theoretical framework in relation to poly constructs and how it impacts female sexuality.
Tell us what you think about Polyamory below!
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The Hostility Effect: Just Conform

We all know who you are. The ones who always have to be different. Deviate from the norm. Stand up for alternative rights. Educating themselves far more than necessary. Appear different. Disrupting society. Vagabonds as my grandpa says. Let’s take a moment to reflect on these individuals and their relationship with society. What are the philosophical and psychological implications of their deviation from societal norms and standards? Do they wish to lead more seemingly difficult lives? Most people choose the path of least resistance so it doesn’t make a lot of sense for these individuals to take a path of most resistance. Essentially, there is a chief answer as to why non-conformity is prevalent amongst certain groups. What is it? Lack of benefit.
Change is necessary to those who realize their marginalization. Admittedly, some do continue life in a state of disbelief or depression, but not everyone is capable of being silent after knowing they are a marginalized group in society. Why does society blame them? Society blames and devalues these individuals because though their rebellion, they confront those who adhere to the standards set before them. Modern society is created through a hierarchical order where a marginalized presence must exist in order for the dominant group to reign. Through a modern capitalistic framework, values taken out of a corporate handbook, and the hierarchical order of humanity; we have created globalized inequalities.
Theses inequalities manifest themselves differently depending on the economic condition, political positioning, and social conventions of the cultural landscape. The subservient group knows their place and should remain there. In certain locations, the marginalized groups are given barely enough to survive, presenting the illusion that there is always more to gain if they work hard enough. In other areas, people are starving on many levels, replacing any hope for improvement with daily survival. The ones who dwell in the dominant group will rarely deviate from their habitat. Why would they? Even if an individual acknowledges the social processes that take place and the atrocities of globalized inequalities, they cannot defy their group so profoundly and possibly end up empty-handed. In this case, the issue at hand is one of motivation. What motivates those who do fight for a more productive, egalitarian society?
Simple: Death vs Survival.
Once you know what group you inhabit and who your master is, you ultimately have 2 choices: Death or Survival. I don’t mean this in a fatal, mortal sense. With enlightenment comes a fierce passion that induces a fire within you. At your core, you KNOW you can either fight the rest of your life to educate, create warriors, heal others, advance society, reap fulfilling benefits in order to survive. On the other hand, you can choose Death. Death is knowing everyday and deteriorating internally through complacency, apathy, and chronic emptiness. Most people will subside these feelings with substances, addictions, disorders, poor health, negative relationships and so forth in order to cope with not surviving. Most people believe it’s hard to survive, i.e. fight for an egalitarian system, but the reality is that it’s far more difficult to conform and prevent yourself from reaping the benefits of what it means to be human through our interconnectivity with the earth. Those who embark on a journey of most resistance do it because it reaps the most rewards, and frankly, there is no other way once you know.

A Journey Through Corporatism

The corporate workplace – logic, reason, informed opinions. A democratic forum for every working citizen. What attributes are not acceptable or welcomed in the workplace? A deviated intellect? A seemingly radical notion to improve society? Anything that is not in accordance to corporate standards as outlined in every vague mission statement? Most activists liken to the idea of the first amendment, but let’s be realistic, the first amendment does not specify where you can have these beliefs, expressions, and/or opinions that deviate from what is expected of a corporate identity within that infrastructure.

Join me in voting for the reconstruction of corporatism

I began to work for corporations when I finished my masters from a reputable university in London, England. Given I didn’t have much work experience besides internships and part-time work during my undergrad, I was very limited in my choices. I began applying for entry-level positions. So here I was – an intelligent, driven, ambitious individual with an array of skills, abilities, strengths whose only choice was to apply for entry-level roles. Despite what every recruiter and ‘how to get a job’ website was telling me, I still applied for mid-level positions. Much to my dismay, I was ‘academically over-qualified and professionally under-qualified.’ My journey through corporatism started in the cosmopolitan heart of London, England. I underwent an excruciating process of interviews and dealing with recruitment agencies who did everything in their power to sell you – from editing your resume (CV) which in my case meant ‘dumbing me down’ to providing me with a generic script of ‘what to say in interviews.’

I had a master’s degree from a top university in the UK and a load of work experience throughout my undergraduate career; yet I did not possess substantial, long-term professional experience in one particular job. Really? That’s the ultimate indicator for someone starting ‘at the bottom’? So I began my gradual descendence into boredom, dumbing myself down, and working in non-stimulating environments. I continued to ask myself – is this really what I independently worked so hard for? To end up in a position and environment which did not support who I was and where I was prevented from utilizing the acquired intellect, skills, abilities, and strengths? I desperately had to believe there was a viable alternative. I wanted to be a professional, to work in a position where I could fully tap into my potential. Throughout my professional journey, I had people ‘reassure’ me through statements such as:

-It’s just a job. (Right, so where I dedicate and invest 40+ hours a week shouldn’t really matter that much).

-You will never find a perfect job. (It’s a meaningless comment that people who have seemingly ‘given up’ say).

-You have to adapt to the corporate environment. That’s real world living. (So if your boss enjoys going to strip clubs, go along for the ride…a new promotion awaits)! <<true story.

Most of the corporations I worked for involved a typical organizational structure including:

-Mostly white men on the board of management/executives

-All the mission statements and company vision sections were similar if not oddly identical

-A peculiar social conditioning process which occurs through the illusion of financial profit/gain.

-An outright lie that your earning potential can exponentially increase if you’re competitive with colleagues, professionally manipulate clientele/customers, and demonstrate an obedient attitude towards superiors even if they’re unprofessional.

The recruitment agents trained me on how to correctly ask and answer questions during interviews. I soon realized it’s a game and you learn how to play but for what gain? Most people work to live. Most people feel they are deserving of a higher salary. Most people work far more than the 40+ hours they’re initially scheduled to work and not paid overtime in some cases. So why are we trying so hard to get our foot into these facilities, and become robotic assets to people drinking mojitos on their islands who we rarely ever meet? Because we’re given the illusion that we could also be drinking mojitos on our island, but this is not reality and we all know it internally. So what’s the real answer as to why we are conditioned and trained to work in these types of organizational structures? Because there is no viable alternative.

When I researched all the companies I interviewed with along with the companies I actually worked for, I was disappointed to see a few quirks. There is absolutely no reason as to why a company in a westernized society should have far less than a proportionate amount of females working in head management (based on overall percentage of management who is female). One reason I believe this exists in many corporate infrastructures in both the USA and UK is that corporations are believed to be boys’ clubs where men develop partnerships. In other words, when women join, they appear as a sore thumb.

By keeping one race and gender at the top of the corporate ladder, we are blindly accepting and conforming to a bias, designated socialization process, and being deceived into believing that freedom of expression, equal opportunities, and discrimination laws are actually sufficient and intact. We are again disillusioned because we are given a piece of the corporate pie which silences and leads us to a professional life of self-deprecation and inequality. Most of the companies I researched in the UK typically had the Chairman take the place of his father. Well, how convenient is that? A continuation of the patriarch passing down his wealth and business of inequality to his one and only son.

The main purpose of corporatism is to make a profit. To use and train humans into being robotic minions to bring in millions for their own selfish desires. The top 1-3% of CEOs, Chairmen, and owners of these large corporations can care less about your well-being (unless you’re profitable human capital). The equal opportunity and anti-discriminatory disclaimers is simply a clever approach to appearing democratic and avoiding lawsuits. However, lawsuits are already rare among entry-level, junior, associate employees. The immediate solution to restructuring corporate infrastructure and identities is realization, discussion, and execution. Execution of alternative plans. Let’s find one because we’re all worthy.

The Historical Deconstruction of the ‘C’ Word

Get the Book!

I remain hopeful in thinking most people have wondered why the ‘C’ word, also known as Cunt, is such a vulgar, contemptible term in our society. A few years back, I stumbled upon the book Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio. Yes, the book does exist. It has spectacularly shattered the sweet, safe way I used to live. I traveled with this book, once on an airplane. As the book, Cunt, passed through security, one of the female workers nudged her female co-worker whispering, “Did you see the cover of that book”?! In a lower whisper, making sure no one was looking, she said, “It’s called…cunt.” I was both amused and disappointed. Why were these womyn ashamed of a word that referred to their womanhood, femininity, femaleness, beauty, empowerment, independence, VAGINA?

The etymology of the word cunt was previously unknown to me. How did cunt become such a detestable, abhorrent word, and silently unravel itself in such a negative form within dominant discourse? Here are the historical findings. His name is Eilert Ekwall. Honestly, with a name like that who could blame him for being a misogynist? He founded a street in London called ‘GropeCUNTelane’ where cuntlovin prostitutes and their prospective clients would gather. What year was this? 1230 anno Domini.

“The Germanic and now English word cunt has verbal relatives all the way back in Egyptian hieroglyphics. Ka-t in hieroglyphics meant vulva, vagina, mother, and women. Qefen-t, another ancient Egyptian word for vagina, even has the letter n infixed in the root. Consider the Hittite kun ‘tail of an animal.’ In Persian kun is the ass, the bum, the posterior. So this is not only a Proto-Indo-European root word. It looks like a very early borrowing from a Mediterranean rootstock or language now lost. The Greek reflex of the cunnus root is gunē ‘woman’ usually transliterated in Latin and English as gyne and supplying a large number of English scientific and learned words like gynecology, misogynist and androgynous. Absolutely cognate with the Greek gunē is the Sanskrit yoni, an artistic representation of the female organ of generation, an object of veneration among Hindus” (Cunt History).

Inga Muscio, the author of Cunt: A Declaration of Independence, mentions that “cunt is related to words from India, China, Ireland, Rome, and Egypt. Such words were either titles of respect for women, priestesses and witches, or derivatives of the names of various goddesses: In ancient writings, the word for cunt was synonymous with woman though not in the insulting modern sense…” She further expresses how “cunts were anathema to forefather types. Literally and metaphorically, the word and anatomical jewel presided at the very nexus of many earlier religions impeded phallic power worship.” So now that you know. You can put this enlightening knowledge to use by acknowledging that it’s OUR (females) word. It’s our core. Our essence. It’s mine. Hers. And that womun sitting next to you. Her word. Her ‘anatomical jewel.’ History tells us that non-progressive men, especially religious men, couldn’t handle our overpowering sexuality so they had to silence, vulgarize, and repress womyn in any way they could to minimize their own sexual insecurities.

Knowledge is power. It’s your cunt. Your power. Your anatomical jewel gosh darn it. Say it. CUNT. CUNT. CUNT. That’s right. Keep saying it. In front of a mirror with your womanly, cuntlovin friends. It’s liberating. It was ours in the first place. It still is. Reclaim it. This is more than just about the etymology of a word. It’s about questioning certain discourse which we accept as the norm. Men: quit conforming to patriarchal values and liberate yourselves as well. Cunt is a beautiful, powerful, self-centered, womanly, loving, dominant, influential, dynamic jewel we should all discover. It’s where we bleed, orgasm, reproduce. “Negative reactions to cunt resonate from a learned fear of ancient yet contemporary, inherent yet lost, reviled yet redemptive cuntpower. Look between your legs ladies. The cuntpower is waiting anxiously to illuminate, to radiate, to emanate all sorts of treasures” (Inga Muscio).

The curse of the proper lady: Conceptualizations of purity and the slag

The conceptualization of purity. The definitional phenomena of this term has perplexed me in a way that transcends the performative, stylistic form of language and co-existence. Essentially, purity has formed a social hierarchy, a subjective oppression and repression, and a convoluted ideological framework of sexuality. The convergence of sexual identity and purity has culturally and socially produced a ‘polluted danger.’ Mary Douglas, British anthropologist who focuses on ritualism, comparative religion, and feminism “attempts to clarify the differences between the sacred, the clean and the unclean in different societies and times.” I will primarily be referring to her work in this particular post. I intend to address the intersection between sacred sexuality, womyn’s agency, and the theoretical and historical implications of purity.

Deconstructing body symbolism is crucial in the analysis of the hierarchical order and configuration of gender and sexuality in terms of the social taboos of what is considered ‘pure.’ We’ve all heard – be a proper lady! Sit up. Close your legs. Just sit there and look pretty. Hack up your skirt a little more (many thanks to Dave Matthews), bend over, more make-up, less make-up, shave, trim, wax, shorter skirt, longer dress, more cleavage. My point is we are consistently bombarded with a cacophony of messages which create an absurd imbalance of our perception of purity and something of utmost distaste. So why does this occur? What prompts such a contradictory mess? Firstly, it’s wanting the best of both worlds. These binaries are both desirous and expected unconsciously. But why? Well, because we are not linear, categorical creatures of reason. Humanity thrives on the complex opposition of humane traits and characteristics.

So in terms of gender construction, what is a proper lady? How can we know for sure when we’ve been consistently harassed with an imbalance of messages telling us what is sacred, clean, unclean, unholy, impure, etc.? History and post-christian beliefs have taught us that womyn were only sacred and holy in terms of their sexuality and how they were possessed. Biblically, womyn were unclean during menstruation, pregnancy, post-pregnancy, and in general. They weren’t allowed to enter holy temples (that was only for men). King Solomon mentions it’s already difficult to find holy people in the book of Ecclesiastes, but there is definitely no upright, holy womyn.  The historical, social, economic, and political implication is that womyn are mainly used for mass consumerism, sexual objectification, as commodities, for reproductive reasons, etc. So how are we supposed to view ourselves? Are we clean? Dirty? Does it matter? Of course it does. Even if consciously we don’t want to accept the societal standards placed before us in a distorted way, it produces confusion. Confusion then creates hostility, warfare (on all levels), and inequality. Possessing a clear view of oneself in accordance to societal conformity is crucial to healthy development. So how do we achieve this?

Pre-christian religions like paganism, wicca, etc. revered both the Goddess and God – a balance of both female and male. That’s a start. Capitalism, inclusive of the commodification of womyn, the profit of human capital, the unnatural sexual exploitation of humankind, indulgent, mass consumptive behavior, the obvious lack of viable alternatives are some of the reasons as to why humanity is struggling with identifiable options. A postmodernist view would be that sex, gender, race, class, etc. would not influence the social and economic system as a whole. The de-centering of the subject if you will. The dismantling of the social and economic infrastructure we have become complacent with.

There is no direct solution; rather a plethora of ideological frameworks we can begin to implement in order to advocate change. There is no subjective definition of who and what is clean, dirty, sacred, etc. It’s a matter of perception dependent on history, economics, and social processes created in order to maintain a social hierarchy. Be radical. Start the change. Wear the dress.