Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Reteaching Gender and Sexuality, Computer Sickness and Why I Haven't Been Blogging!

I haven't been blogging much this month: I noticed that in any given month, I end up having roughly 12 posts. In November, there have been 7 posts so far, which is quite amazing. And yet, I somehow feel removed from the blog, and dear blog, I miss you.

So to catch up on why I haven't been blogging much:

-- It's thesis-crunch time. My final draft needs to be sent to my external examiner on the very day that school re-opens in January (failing which I don't graduate unless I can pay 3000 bucks to the university in fees, which I won't be able to afford since I already owe them the same amount and that'll lead me to being kicked out without graduating, and being kicked out of the country too.) So, the heavy writing and editing has been on, and it's been good (though I wish I could still "buy" more time, quite literally!)

-- When I woke up this morning, I felt sick: sick of my room and above all sick of my computer. Just the thought of the screen in which I stare for so many hours, just the sound of the keyboard as I type makes me sick... Never thought my relationship with hardware would reach that point. I hereby coin: computer sickness!

-- My Gmail account got hacked last night and spam mail was sent to all my contacts. These include personal contacts (which is fine), other personal contacts (such as old lovers and/or flings that ended up being bad sex) that I don't want to be in touch with, not even if it means spamming them... And professional contacts such as the University President, the Dean of Graduate Studies, supervisors, professors, colleagues, old colleagues and potential future PhD supervisors. I managed to trace the I.P. back to China (who ever thought I had such geek-power?!) but there's nothing much that I could do about it beyond that. I changed all my security settings for all my accounts, and I can only hope that it doesn't happen again.

-- When I haven't had a life that's directly connected with technology, I have been dancing a bit, doing some theatre too, and discussing issues of transphobia, homophobia and racism in Peterborough. Me is not happy with the way things are going these days and I'm getting worried for my security and for quite a few of my friends' security. [We're also thinking up a plan of action for January.]

-- I have also been thinking about myself as cisgendered.  Must have been that documentary we watched for Trans Day of Remembrance: it is called Southern Comfort (link here) and it is about Robert Eads, a female-to-male transsexual man who is dying of ovarian cancer. As he puts it himself in the film [and I paraphrase here]: "It's ironical how the only female part that is remaining in his body is in-fact what is killing him." I don't know what to say about being cisgendered, or able-bodied for that matter, other than... I do acknowledge my privileges. Might be a faggot, might be a bit black and a bit brown, might not be from a wealthy family, might be from an island lost in the middle of nowhere, might be the first of the family to have gone to university... But damn! In the midst of all that, I've had things easy: I'm fully able-bodied and cisgendered too.

-- Now, as always when there is a decrease in blogging flux, I try to make it up to you my sharing something super-awesome. Here is my something super-awesome! This beats all "It Gets Better" videos by a clear mile. And I think it's in line with what happens with Kurt in yesterday's episode of Glee (for the Gleeks out there): It's not about telling those kids that it's gonna get better [*] but it's about making sure it does get better right here, right now; it's about reteaching gender and sexuality, right here, right now...

[*] On the note of "It Gets Better" I would also like to share this fantastic article by Jasbir Puar that pretty much echoes my thoughts on it (and particularly on Dan Savage's video that did make me feel depressed.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Luka and the Fire of Life

There are just very few things that I obsess about and even fewer things that I follow blindly. One of these things may just be Salman Rushdie.

His latest Luka and the Fire of Life was launched just a few hours ago, and it's with great thrill that my pre-ordered copy came in the mail just now, on the day of its release. I normally don't obsess about such things, but Rushdie does things to me, to my imagination, to my play of words, to my aesthetic sense, to my literary sensibilities... While I think his novel, Shame (1983) is one of the best literary narratives that I ever read (if not the best), the first novel of his that I read was Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990) which he wrote for his son Zafar, to whom he dedicated it. Luka and the Fire of Life, he wrote for the twelfth birthday of his other son, Milan, to whom he dedicates it.

Quite interestingly, Luka and the Fire of Life picks up from Haroun and the Sea of Short Stories and it narrates the story of Haroun's little brother, Luka, who needs to go and steal the ever-burning Fire of Life in order to save his father, the story-teller.

There is something about words, and there is something about them taking a literary form that in turn becomes a gift of love. Oh Rushdie... *sigh!*

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What Online Dating Does [part I]

Arguably, I do end up writing a lot about technology and desire: intimacies fascinate me, be they intellectual, sexual, emotional, physical, distanced; I have a huge degree of lust for the human body and as much for a human mind; and post-modernity has it that we live in a techonocratic world that now structures and restructures our human interactions, the language we use, the ways we carry our body and the way we think, all through (amongst others) this fascinating phenomenon now called "online social networking." This post may not be "serious" (yet) but it remains serious to the core: why the hell doesn't online dating do the work for me?

Part I.

[I should preface this by saying that I have two online dating accounts on two extremely meaty gay websites (gay and meaty website: is that a tautology?!) In the course of the past few years, I did meet 2-3 guys off these websites who are now very dear friends and/or lovers to me. So I don't discard it as a meeting point at all. Whether this meeting place is as good as any bars, parks, libraries, streets, clubs is debatable and I shall leave this aside for now.]

So, here's why online dating doesn't do it:

1- "Hi. Wassup?"

There was a time when I used to reply by saying "what's down there is up!" but I don't even bother now... Wassup? Well either you work your intellect and come up with a better ice-breaker or you tilt your head up and tell me what you see (most probably, the ceiling anyway.)

2- "Wassup, dude?"

Now, who the hell are you to eff-ing "dude" me?! Big mistake: people may "bitch" me, but nobody "dudes" me!

3- "Only white men."

I'm divided on this one. On the one hand, I am tempted to think that it's okay to state one's preferences, just like many men like to stipulate "only tops" or "only bottoms" but while we're at it, why not specify everything: "only nipple play," "only non-stinking feet," "only non-smokers," "only if you are not ticklish," "only 5ft7 to 5ft8," "only if you have a hairy chest," "only if you trim your pubic hair," "only if..." and "only if..."

So, on the one hand, I don't mind the clear discrimination that excludes a section of the online-daters (we all have preferences, right?) but I do wonder: where do we draw the line? And is it okay to say "only white"? I'm personally not sure, it makes me uncomfortable, but maybe that's because I'm black. [In the midst of all that, I also wonder: what happens to being surprised? Read here.]

4- "No fatties."

This, I cannot take! This is plain offensive. Who the hell are you? Just another little jerk who's caught up in a gym-oriented, totally normative obsession with a body image? This disgusts me and makes me cringe: too much shallowness to handle.

4- "Straight-acting."

I'm freaking queer: there's no chance on earth that I can act straight. And you want me to still act straight while sucking you off?! The straight actors are always deal-breakers for me, which basically erases 80% of the men on those websites from my pool. No exaggerating: I tried to keep a count and roughly 80% of the profiles mention straight-acting.

5- "Be ripped like myself."

I often wonder why all those gym-obsessed men don't all simply have a community of their own, where they just frequent each other, fuck each other, have muscle-kids with each other and create a nation-state of their own while they're at it. I'm amazed by the number of men who want "gym buddies" on those sites. If I'm here, it's to date, to fuck, to mate, to make friends, or to have a drink and keep warm on a cold night. I'm not here to become your "gym buddy!"

If you have never been on one of those sites, imaginary reader, you may be interested in knowing that the majority of the pictures on those websites are of six-packs. After a point of time, it gets so generic, it's boring. The worse part is that you never get to see their (probably low self-esteem riddled) face that hides behind some skin... Now, forget trying to find a personality behind the six-pack: it's pretty hollow out there!

And don't get me started on men who have pictures of themselves flexing their muscles... (I gotta end this post here: I'm suddenly feeling sick! That's what online dating does indeed!)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Chart of Non-Monogamy

Somewhere, in the middle of all this, is me. I don't quite know where... Probably where polyamory, BDSM, casual sex, dating around and the 100 mile rule meet and diverge. I just call it "queer intimacy"-- makes it simpler!