The Picture Perfect Trans American Family: Mainstream Media’s Representation of Trans Relationships

When you’re looking for representation of marginalized groups in mainstream media, you’ll likely be disappointed by the lack thereof. And whatever little representation you find tends to lack diversity and intersectionality and overtly attempts to homogenize an entire group or subcultural phenomenon. One such phenomenon is the abundance of intra-transgender romantic relationships; or put simply, when two or more trans people are engaged in romantic relationships (trans cisgender people). I find these relationships beautiful and interesting, showing that even though we’re constantly made to believe that we’re not beautiful, desirable, or loveable, we are in fact all of these things; we are enough for one another. And when we’re looking at romantic relationships between trans binary folks (trans men and trans women), another interesting characteristic is that, from my personal experience/observation, it is much more common to find trans men dating other trans men and trans women dating other trans women. But when we look to corporate media networks to mirror the reality and commonality of intra-trans relationships, what you will find are relationships between trans men and trans women.

Let’s take a gander at an example, shall we? The popular, online, British newspaper, Daily Mail, published an article titled, Trans or not we would make great parents’: Married couple who are BOTH transgender share their dream of starting a family as they desperately search for a child to adopt” this year containing a video produced by Mode.com from their My Life series, with this video titled, My Life: We’re A Trans Couple. In said video, we are introduced to Clair Farley (a trans woman) and James Howley (a trans man), who are a married couple living in San Francisco. Right from the get go, it’s easy to tell why Clair and James were selected, to be the public face of the trans community and represent what a trans couple looks like. They’re white, straight, middle to upper class and professional, monogamous and married, adhere to traditional gender expressions of manhood and womanhood, and want to have children. They’re practically the picture perfect American couple, complete with heteronormativity, with the only thing setting them apart from the American ideal is their failure to adhere to cisnormativity. I call this: transnormativity. They even want to recreate the cookie cutter nuclear family! How respectable and wholesome they must be! You think the editors at the Daily Mail should have titled the article “Trans People: They’re Just Like Us!” or “Trans People Can Assimilate Too!”.

And while this is but one couple’s story and narrative, it fits within a larger scheme of very similar representations being regurgitated to straight, cisgender audiences in hopes that these similarity politics will help cishets be a little less horrible to their fellow non-cis human beings. And while I wish these couples the best and feel no ill will toward them, I’m sick of the role that respectability politics and palatability plays into this broader narrative that erases the existence of trans couples who aren’t straight, who aren’t white, who aren’t rich, or who don’t want children, just to make cishets feel more comfortable. This type of thinking is along the lines of, “Well, if you can’t be cisnormative, then you can AT LEAST be heteronormative! Being a decent and open minded human being is hard, so let’s not add too much queerness or complexity in the mix so that it’s an easier pill for cishets to swallow! Let us get used to you one identity at a time! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!”

And while I understand the neoliberal politics behind presenting the most respectable and ”normal” faces of trans couples, my radical and punk leniencies let me know that this form of slow, incremental change is hog wash, and it’s not enough to achieve trans and queer liberation. I want to see trans lesbians, trans gay men, trans bisexuals and pansexuals, trans people of color, poor and working class trans folks, polyamorous trans folks, non-binary people and genderqueers; basically trans couples of varying intersecting identities and marginalizations instead of almost the exact same story recycled over and over again until it cannot be recycled any more. Not all of our love looks exactly the same; and a lot of times it’s super fucking queer, and cishets need to get over the misconception that the dynamics of all forms of romantic love must perfectly model their own or it’s somehow invalid, strange, or illegitimate. I’m here to tell you that our love is diverse, unique, and sacred, despite the fact that we almost never get to see our romantic realities reflected in mainstream and corporate media. It takes place all around you, despite the fact that some would rather have us be invisible. We’re too creative and imaginative to follow society’s scripts, so we write our own. We know it makes a lot of people scared and uncomfortable, but they’ll just have to learn to accept it.

 

Sources/Points of Reference:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3618450/Trans-not-make-great-parents-Married-couple-transgender-share-dream-starting-family-desperately-search-child-adopt.html

http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/meet-bowsers-transgender-parents-raising-sons/story?id=28228493

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/23/transgender-teenage-couple-arin-andrews-katie-hill_n_3639220.html

Photo:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3618450/Trans-not-make-great-parents-Married-couple-transgender-share-dream-starting-family-desperately-search-child-adopt.html

 

 

andy-blog-photoRuth Sybil May is a junior undergraduate student at SCSU, studying Gender and Women’s Studies, Human Relations, and Film studies. Ruth is a transfeminine, non-binary person from a poor, working class background with a passion for feminism, fashion, film, and rad tunes. 

The Invisible Queer

Someone I know recently looked at me in surprise when I mentioned that I have decided to start using the word queer to describe my identity.  “But you aren’t a lesbian,” she said, “why would you want to identify as one?”  I can certainly understand her confusion.  After all, my partner is a man, and my pronouns are she/her; to the world I look like a cis-gender, straight, white, 42-year-old.  I am an invisible queer person.

I was 20 years old when I acknowledged that I was attracted to women, and I came out as bisexual.  Anyone who knows me is aware that I am a person who isn’t afraid to share her beliefs in loud and boisterous ways; some people even call me (gasp) confrontational.  I immediately came out to my friends and family, without really thinking about any of the consequences that could come with this revelation.  Surprisingly, (at the time) most people ignored it.  I thought I was being accepted for my bisexuality.  It took me a long time to realize that it was something completely different.

Bi-erasure has been a part of my life for the last twenty-two years.  And it isn’t just from straight people, even those in the LGBT community have looked at me and told me that I can’t be bisexual.  This is super confusing to me, since the B stands for BI-SEXUAL!  For some reason, the idea that I am attracted to people on any part of the spectrum seems to be scary to just about everyone.

In twenty-two years, I have heard every stereotypical response to bisexuality, and they always make me feel angry and hurt.  When I discovered the LGBT community in Minneapolis, I thought that I was finding the community that I belonged to, and instead there were many times when I didn’t feel as though I belonged in any community.  I’m in no way saying that every experience I’ve had with LGBT folks has yielded this pain, but there have been enough of them that it’s made an impression on me.

In 2014, even the LGBT Task Force made a mistake when the leadership program director wrote about saying “bye-bye to the word bisexuality.”   And, she made the statement on Bisexual Awareness Day.  The organization later apologized, but that statement shows that there is a real problem when it comes to the idea of bisexuality within the context of the LGBT community.

what-contributes-to-bi-erasure-bham

It’s as though, because I can “appear” to be straight I really don’t exist as a queer person.  But my queerness shouldn’t be tied to outward appearance.  I read a great blog once that talked about Queer Theory which said queerness is freedom from norms.  It used to be that “normal” was described as heterosexual.  Through the years homonormativity has become a way for the LGBT community to move into some of the laws that have given rights to an entire community, and I am definitely thankful for that.  But it doesn’t mean that it isn’t problematic and we shouldn’t look at it.

I definitely have some privilege that I have to take a hard look at because of this invisibility.  I don’t have to currently worry that someone is going to be negative towards me if I hold hands with, or kiss, my partner in public.  I don’t try to be, but I can be someone who can walk around with all of the privilege of heterosexual people.  But on the other hand, I have experienced all of the negative effects of heterosexism in my life.  That is the reason that I chose to identify as queer; I felt the need to step away from both heterosexuality and even homosexuality. After all, I am neither of those things, and I’m both of them.

 

Photos:

http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/12/bi-erasure-hurts/   

http://www.glaad.org/blog/dear-prudence-telling-bi-people-stay-closet-bad-advice 

 

 

melissa-anne-frankMelissa Anne Frank is majoring in both Women’s Studies and English Rhetoric at St Cloud State University.  She plans on continuing her education with a Master’s degree and then a Doctorate.  Melissa is a white, cisgender, pansexual who is proud to be part of the Social Media team at the St. Cloud State Women’s Center.  Melissa also writes a personal blog called Musing with Melly on WordPress. Melissa loves reading, writing, video games, spending time with her partner and two children, and crushing the patriarchy! 

Loving Yourself in a World That Wants You to Hate Yourself 

I used to think that even though racism still exists we really had made great strides as people away from racism. That was until this year’s election. Prior to this year people were still racist, but it was kept behind closed doors. Being racist was shameful, not something to be proud of; you wouldn’t shout your bigotry from the rooftops, until now.

A few weeks ago, I was sadly reminded of the reality of racism on multiple occasions and just how loud and proud people are really getting about it.

The first incident was when I was enjoying a nice dinner that my friends had made for a group of us. We were laughing, catching up, and listening to music loud enough that you could realistically only hear the person next to you. I had picked to sit near a friend and her mom who was asking me about my family.

I of course started off with my dad’s side of the family, partially because my mom doesn’t have any family that is alive anymore and also because I am proud of my Mexican heritage. I managed to get out about six words which were “Well my dad’s side of the family is Mexican…” before my friend’s mother abruptly cut me off.

She looked me deeply in the eyes before saying, “I am so sorry for any of your Mexican relatives; I hate all Mexicans,” the same way you may tell someone that it’s raining out or today is a Thursday.

I am and have always been an outspoken woman, but this is the first time in my life I found myself stunned into silence. I could feel my cheeks flame up with a combination of blotchy anger and shame. But I couldn’t find any words to defend not only my family but my entire existence.

Due to the music, the only one who heard was my friend whose mother had just apologized for my entire race. I was hopeful that in this moment where I couldn’t find the words to stand up for myself, someone else would, but I was sadly let down again. My friend’s only response was, “Oh she didn’t mean it like that. She married a Mexican man and it didn’t end well.” That was it. That was the closest I got to an apology. A half assed excuse.

I decided I would brush it off to the best of my ability because I’ve learned it’s futile to try and change the mind of a middle aged racist. I figured that was hopefully the worst of my week or maybe even the worst of my month. But yet again, I was mistaken.

The second incident was in my natural hazards class, which happened to be just two days later. We were doing an online poll survey where people can input their responses and it shows up on the screen to, “What could you put along the rivers banks to mitigate risks from flooding?”

At first, a flood of answers you’d expect appeared on the screen slowly: a dam, a levee, and rocks. Then appeared an answer I literally couldn’t even fathom. In bright red letters was the response, “MEXICANS.” Someone in my class honestly thought a humorous suggestion to prevent flooding was to put Mexican people in the way.

I can feel the words, “What the fuck” slide off my tongue as if it were just a reflex. I reread it just to make sure I was seeing what I think I was along with the rest of the class. The girl next to me actually laughs. In my classroom taught by three different professors not a one seem to even consider commenting on the giant red “MEXICANS” for an answer on the screen; they ignore it.

Perhaps maybe they thought it wasn’t a big deal. Or even worse, maybe they thought it was a “joke.” I made a list of excuses for them as to why they chose to not shut down that comment just as fast as it appeared on the screen, but I needed them to step up.

 I am so tired. Tired of being the angry Mexican girl who is just “a little too sensitive.” So I said nothing and everyone pretended like it wasn’t happening.

But I cannot pretend I didn’t see it. I cannot ignore it or choose to overlook it because I carry it with me everywhere. I feel that shame in my bones (that feels similar to concrete).

I have been forced to take a thousand steps back in my journey to self-love that I have been working so hard on.

But fuck that, honestly.

How dare people make me feel so small and ashamed of something I have felt proud of my whole life.

I refuse to allow that because I am honored to have brown sugar skin and all the wonderful values and world views that come along with it. I will continue to find ways to love myself in a world that thrives off my self-hate because I owe that to myself.

To all my Chicanx people:

With the next month unfolding and the presidential election closing in, I urge you to not lose sight of yourself. Do not let go of your pride or your resiliency. Keep people close to you who remind you of everything there is to love about yourself. People who will not make excuses on racist’s behalf but will breathe fire down their necks for their ignorance. On the days where the weight of shame is too much to bear: cry about it, scream, or rant to your best friends for hours. Don’t ever begin to feel like you bring it up too much or that you’re oversensitive because you are not. Your feelings are valid. You are valid. Never forget.

 

grace-espinozas-blog-pictureGrace Espinoza is a junior undergraduate student at SCSU, majoring in Social Work. Grace works at the Women’s Center and the American Indian Center on campus. Grace is a straight, Mexican Portuguese/white woman with a passion for social justice, feminism, and poetry. She has been a published poet several times beginning in the seventh grade and is honored to contribute to Collective Feminism. 

 

 

 

 

Self-Love

Self-love is hopefully a word you hear a lot about these days. It’s a word that should connote positive affirmation and appreciation of one’s self in every form- mind, body, and soul. I firmly believe that as human beings, we are born with the innate and essential knowledge that we are whole- and we are enough. But growing up in a highly Westernized culture systematically teaches you to hate yourself- mind, body, and soul- through interlocking internalized oppressions that wiggle their way into our unsuspecting minds and take hold and distort our self-image, and more generally, our sense of self. That is why learning to love yourself takes us down a long and winding road filled with menacing obstacles that keep us from feeling whole and centered. It requires just as much unlearning as it does learning: unlearning all of the lies in which we have come to hold self-evident, that we are not worthy, not beautiful, not enough. But these are lies. And in order to successfully untangle these destructive thoughts, we must take care of ourselves.

Self-love and self-care go hand in hand, because in order for us to love ourselves, we must practice what that love looks like on a continuous basis. And self-care can look different from person to person. Some acts of self-care include, but are not limited to: dancing, singing, biking, yoga, good hygiene, healthy eating (for what’s within your means), meditation, reaching out to others, being emotionally honest, sexuality, etc. In this post, I’m going to share my ongoing journey to self-love and fulfillment, and what self-care tools are working for me in the hopes of bringing about radical vulnerability- meaning that I’m going to be vulnerable with you in the hopes that readers can relate to my experiences and feel less alone; to feel a sense of belonging. Now, all aboard the love train!

When beginning to think about my own relationship with self-love and self-care, I feel that it is important to be honest with all of you and share that I am a person who lives with mental illnesses. My mental illnesses take shape as depression, a social anxiety disorder, and the scars of an eating disorder that still haunt me to this day. My mental illnesses have brought me almost unfathomable pain and misery, driving me to the brink of suicide when I was only a teenager. This lived experience provided me with an acute sense of my own mortality, and through healing has left me a heightened awareness of just how precious and valuable life is. Having brushed lips with the angel of death galvanized me to start rebuilding my self-love and sense of self from the ground up, and I’m continuing to learn a lot about what it means to really love yourself along the way of this restoration project.

For starters, I have learned that mental health and physical wellness are deeply interconnected. Having dealt with deep seated body dysmorphia and negative self-image, I first took to yoga to get my body positivity back on track. And wow, I can hardly believe what a profound impact yoga and mindfulness has had on my life. Beginning my continuous yoga journey has helped forge a relationship between my mind, body, and soul. It livens and opens energy channels of my body that I hadn’t realized I had! It reminds me that my body is a good place to be because of how great it can feel when mind and body are aligned, or in sync with each other. I’ve learned how to send loving thoughts to those parts of myself that I haven’t always known to love. It fosters a deep sense of calmness that reverberates throughout my whole being, helping me finally feel at home in my own skin. The thing about bodies is that you don’t get to control which one you’re born into, and you can’t just wrinkle your nose and do a switcharoo if you feel dissatisfied. I’m going to be in this body for the rest of my life, so I want to nourish and sustain it in ways that make me feel good and energized. This newfound connection to my body and yoga practice inspired me to quit abusing substances and become totally sober (besides the occasional boost of caffeine). I feel happier and much more lively because it of it, by guiding myself to establish good sleeping and eating habits that help me sustain energy and feel engaged.

And speaking of cool things bodies can do, let’s talk about sex. Sex, whether you’re flying solo (masturbation), or with other(s), is a great form of self-care that is important to most sexually mature people, though there are plenty of asexual people with varying expressions (or non-expressions) of sexuality. I, however, am not asexual. My sexuality has been a formidable and irreplaceable force in my self-care routine. Don’t worry though- I’ll spare you the details. Sex and sexuality helps me feel loveable and desirable, both for myself and for others. It’s a way of enacting the belief that I deserve to feel good and loved, and my sexuality is a crucial component of that. In public discourse, sexuality is viewed as dirty or shameful, but sexuality can be such a healthy, pure, spiritual, and sensual experience that I hate to see it reduced to such vulgar and degrading terms. Let’s break down sexual taboos and start enacting sex positivity! Also, where are my bisexuals and pansexuals at?! MAKE SOME NOISE!!

Moving on- another integral part of my self-care and self-love is my gender expression. Being able to express my gender through what I wear and how I style myself is one of the most liberating experiences I could hope for. Every day, I wake up and am (more or less) excited to greet the day because one of the first things I get to do is choose my outfit. Adorning my body with different sorts of garments (of which I love to mix and match), jewelry, and some cosmetics give me the feeling that I am in control of who I am- self-determined, creative, and way too queerly punk to conform to society’s standards. It’s a daily declaration to the world that I get to define and decorate my body on my own terms. The empowerment I feel by resisting transmisogyny every single day is both rewarding and exhausting- sometimes the threat of danger can feel crushing and demoralizing. In face of this everyday form of trauma, I equip myself with as much love and compassion as I can muster- giving myself time every day to look into the mirror and appreciate the beauty I see gazing back at me. And you know what?! I LOVE the femme that I am. Knowing that no matter how much others tear me down, I’m more resilient than they are cruel. To really love ourselves, we must also recognize the humanity and dignity in everyone else, or else we are acting in opposition to our own humanity.

One other form of self-care that I practice most days is making time for me to be totally immersed and swept away by music. As a lot of people with mental illness will attest, music brings me so much joy and solace and can put me in a very happy and blissful state of mind. Listening to music and dancing can heal and provide nourishment for the soul- I love to get lost within the sounds and give myself over to the feelings and sensations it brings forth. I have an incredibly emotional connection to the music I listen to, and it assists me in feeling deeply without hesitation. Listening to and appreciating music helps me stay open and not close myself off from feelings (a symptom of depression). It helps me stay present and live in the moment.

Loving and caring for oneself is essential in our well-being and survival. In fact, as inspired by Laverne Cox, it is revolutionary. I show myself love through self-care in many different ways, from doing yoga to flossing my teeth. It is in no way selfish, and in every way self-fulfilling. To quote the great Audre Lorde, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Caring for and loving yourself in a world that dehumanizes people around every corner is absolutely beautiful and necessary. That’s not to say that it’s easy, but is worth it. As cheesy as it may sound, you really are your own best friend, and you need to treat yourself accordingly. And though I have my own adversity, I really do love myself, and that’s powerful. I’m powerful, and so are you.

 

Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/demibrooke/4168508990/

Artist credit: Demi-Brooke on Flickr

 

andy-blog-photoRuth Sybil May is a junior undergraduate student at SCSU, studying Gender and Women’s Studies, Human Relations, and Film studies. Ruth is a transfeminine, non-binary person from a poor, working class background with a passion for feminism, fashion, film, and rad tunes.

Battle of the Bodies: Learning to Accept Ourselves

Why is it okay to call me skinny (generally accompanied by a disgusted face) and it’s inappropriate for me to call a heavier woman fat? Both comments are equally hurtful (depending on the individuals’ insecurities). And of course, this incessant debate stems from the current expectation that women should be thin and not weighed down by extra weight. But why is extra weight deemed unattractive today? Why is being thin shameful and envied? Why can’t both be mutually accepted and admired?

What people tend to forget is that no one has the same body structure or metabolism. We all come from couples that have unique body chemistries and even our siblings have different characteristics than us. For instance, I have three siblings and each of us have dissimilar body types than one another. Body diversity is a beautiful thing and it’s time that we all embrace it because no one’s body will ever be the same and fit into the mold society has set out before us. It’s not fair or rational to be upset with someone because they effortlessly (or with effort) embody the current fad of what makes women sexy and appealing today.

The ideal female body is a myth that continually changes in society with each time period. You will notice that during the Renaissance, curvier women were highly coveted; other cultures have marveled at women with mustaches (of all things), and Victorians admired pale women because they symbolized a sense of delicateness. Of course, this list can go on, and in other cultures and nations women are renowned for assets that Americans find odd. Even today when we look at the past few decades, there are startling differences in desired body shapes and beauty. So this trend with thin women will change and (especially with the many movements and campaigns created to promote women of all sizes) society’s tastes are expanding to accommodate curvier women, and those new groups of thin women not fitting the ideal figure will yet again be alienated by society. And all of this has been perpetuated by the media, beauty industry, and archaic ideas of fitness and health.

When we pull out our phones, laptops, etc., we are immediately confronted with impeccably beautiful women. These women tend to have slender physiques and flawless skin. We idolize these women because they look perfect and allow our minds to desire looking like them. It’s obvious the women in these pictures and commercials are re-touched to appear more attractive than they are naturally; we revere them because they are what’s expected of us. It’s a never ending cycle of realizing models are caked with makeup and/or re-touched and vowing to remember this, but it is our inherent need to fit into the mold the male gaze (coined by Laura Mulvey) has designed for us that keeps us at the will of society’s presumptions.

I personally find curvier women sexy even though it’s not my body type; this expectation that only slender individuals are sought-after by men and women is absurd and disproved in many ways.The expectations of sexiness stem from our patriarchal society and I find it surprising that being slender is in right now considering the high adoration put on hourglass figures. Contrary to this, we are lead to believe that women with smaller breasts, a narrower frame, and a definite thigh gap are attractive due to the media and how celebrities (who have personal trainers, chefs, and nannies) look. However, as the media is streaming these ideas into us, we are being brainwashed with flawlessly airbrushed pictures and videos designed to target our insecurities and make us buy makeup to cover our imperfect and un-like model skin, purchase diet systems/foods, buy workout equipment and videos, and so on. Society preys on our existing insecurities and creates new ones in order to fill a capitol need and maintain control through objectification.

So before you shame your body, remember that it’s unique. Although most of the women you see in the media are thin, remember that they’re not the entire female population; they were picked out of thousands of women just like you to maintain the female body stereotype and in almost every case, their appearance is not natural. Before you see a thinner woman and think, “She’s so skinny. I bet she never eats,” remember that that woman may have a health issue preventing her from gaining weight or maybe she’s struggling emotionally and needs support. And before you see a heavier woman and think, “She’s so fat. She needs to lose weight,” remember that she may have a health issue making her gain weight or is struggling emotionally and needs help. It’s paramount that we don’t judge because we don’t understand what other women are going through and it’s not our job to evaluate how well they fit in society’s frame of the ideal woman.

When it comes to our bodies, let’s look inward at ourselves and dig for our redeeming qualities; this’s not always easy, but essential in building our confidence and having the strength to appreciate the various appearances of others too. Let’s not compare ourselves to others, but appreciate and accept that we’re all unalike and that’s okay.

 

Photo: http://xonecole.com/beyondbeauty-11-images-that-celebrates-body-diversity-self-love-within-women/

 

mara-martinsonMara Martinson is a freelance editor, creative writer, and graduate student. She received her Bachelor’s degree in English from UW-Superior and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Rhetoric and Writing at SCSU. She teaches ENGL 191 and in her free time, enjoys writing, reading, knitting, crafting, and spending time with her partner and family. Her creative work has appeared in journals including The Nemadji Review, Kaleidoscope, and The Upper Mississippi Harvest. Mara describes her work for Collective Feminism as feminist, capturing the occasional brutality of life and the emotional struggles we all face. 

Five Reasons Masturbating is an Orgasmic Idea

What better way could there be to “Learn to Love Ourselves” than by learning about masturbation? We have some great subthemes for this month’s topic, but there wasn’t one that called to me as much as this one. I feel like healthy sexuality is something that we miss out on in our society. After all, schools are woefully lacking in the idea of promoting sexuality education that teaches students anything about healthiness. I understand that sex is a complicated topic, but youth are actually left at risk when we look at our current sex education system. The only things I ever learned about sexuality (outside of romance books, but that’s a whole different problem for another day) was that sex was bad, I shouldn’t do it, and I would either end up pregnant or with an STD. Had I known more about my own sexuality, not just the “sins” of sex, it’s quite possible I wouldn’t have taken so long in life to accept myself. There are certainly more factors at play, but if we accept our sexuality better, we will accept ourselves with a little more love and compassion.

So drop your stigmas and celebrate your sexuality!

  1. Masturbation, because of orgasms, has some great health benefits. Stress relief and being able to fall asleep better are just two of the health benefits that an orgasm can give you. Whether you are masturbating alone, or with a partner, just remember that it’s for your health!
  2. Practicing a little self-love can make you feel happier. It’s really the orgasm that is giving you happy feelings with the release of dopamine and oxytocin in the body. These two hormones are well known as happiness creators in the human body.
  3. Masturbating can help relieve menstrual cramps. While this isn’t 100% proven, some people are saying that when you climax, blood flow to the uterus increases, which can help relieve cramps. Did you also know that it’s possible to prevent vaginal infections by masturbating?
  4. Women who masturbate tend to be more confident. Sound crazy? Well, according to Dr. Kat Van Kirk, “research suggests that women and men who learn to masturbate early have higher self-esteem, and higher satisfaction when it comes to their sex lives later on.”
  5. Lastly, masturbation is a great way to know what turns you on. Because each of us are completely different, it makes perfect sense that each of us is turned on in completely different ways. If you know what turns you on, you can also help out your sexual partner(s) by telling them!

It’s sad to think that so many women are missing out on the amazing benefits that masturbation can provide us. Studies show that while most women over 18 have masturbated, very few of them practice it on a regular basis, especially compared to the number of men that do.

So sit back, grab your favorite toy, and learn to love yourself, literally.

 

Photo credit: Huffington Post

 

melissa-anne-frankMelissa Anne Frank is majoring in both Women’s Studies and English Rhetoric at St Cloud State University.  She plans on continuing her education with a Master’s degree and then a Doctorate.  Melissa is a white, cisgender, pansexual who is proud to be part of the Social Media team at the St. Cloud State Women’s Center Melissa also writes a personal blog called Musing with Melly on WordPress. Melissa loves reading, writing, video games, spending time with her partner and two children, and crushing the patriarchy. 

Why Mindfulness?

Do you know Dr. Beth Berila?  She is the director of the Women’s Studies department here at SCSU and teaches a variety of Women’s Studies courses. Her website, the Mindful Semester is an excellent site to find information on yoga, meditation, and mindfulness aimed at helping students balance their busy lives (Dr. Berila is also a yoga instructor and conducts free yoga classes in Atwood on select Mondays from 12-1pm)!

We feel like her website is a great addition to our monthly theme – Learning to Love Ourselves

Here is an excerpt from her article on mindfulness

Mindfulness is a method of cultivating self-awareness and compassion for yourself and others. To be mindful is to be aware of what you are thinking, feeling, and doing.  Rather than moving through life on automatic pilot or multitasking to such an extent that you aren’t fully conscious of everything you are doing, mindfulness is a kind of “metacognition” in which we are aware of what you are thinking. It helps you reflect on what you habitually do, how you respond to challenges, and learn what you need in order to become both more content and more successful at what you do.

Mindfulness is not a goal so much as it is a state of being.  We often spend a great deal of time ruminating on the past (such as the exchange you had with your roommate yesterday) or the future (such as whether you will get into the Nursing major). When we do that, we devote only marginal attention to the present moment.

Take a look at the rest of the article here.

 

Starved for Skin

In flickering eyes

Is the glow of a smoldering fire
They are sizing us up

My body transforms, a whirlwind
A temple for worship
To a stage for performance

All eyes are on me
Shadows flickering on the walls
Whispers scattering
Hurried footsteps down the hall

Their lips glisten in the dark
A shred of light
Despite the darkness trapped inside

Grumbling stomachs
Resonating like heart beats
Growling for me

They are starved
For my skin
Ravenous

For to them
I am nothing more
Than meat

 

grace-espinozas-blog-pictureGrace Espinoza is a junior undergraduate student at SCSU, majoring in Social Work. Grace works at the Women’s Center and the American Indian Center on campus. Grace is a straight, Mexican Portuguese/white woman with a passion for social justice, feminism, and poetry. She has been a published poet several times beginning in the seventh grade and is honored to contribute to Collective Feminism.