Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Baby, Baby, the Stars Are Shining For You

"I want to get her a toy. What kind of toys does she have?" Megan gestures toward the baby I'm rocking. 

"She doesn't have any yet," the baby's mother, Kat, answers. 

Kat reminds me of a Tegan-and-Sara-look-alike. She's around 5'4, average size, cropped dark hair, with plugs in her ears and swim trunks with a basketball jersey. She doesn't look like she just had a child, and it takes me a minute to put the pieces together. 

"Are you her mother?" I ask.

"Yep. My first and only kid." She laughs. "And she looks nothing like her father or me." I don't know her background or her partner, nor do I want to pry. Considering this crowd, it would be easy to assume she's a lesbian by looks alone, but that's clearly a mistaken assumption. 

"Oh, Oh, I want to buy her first Barbie doll!" Megan pulls her towel around her white bikini bottoms and redirects the conversation. We're at a pool party for a friend, and almost everyone present is queer- or lesbian-identified. Megan is a stereotypically pretty girl, thin and petite with waist-length dark hair. 

Kat looks slightly averse to this suggestion. "No, she doesn't need Barbies. She'll have legos and boys' toys. They're much more fun." 

I'm holding everything in to keep from laughing at the shock on Megan's face. Aside from the fact that a six-week-old child doesn't need any toy with tiny plastic parts, I can't keep my big mouth shut. I glance up from the sleeping infant toward Kat. "I don't blame you for not wanting to give her gendered toys."

"But she needs a Barbie doll. Why can't she have one?" Megan's response comes out almost indignant.

"Needs one for what? She can have legos and fischer price toys and dump trucks and all the cool toys I had as a kid."

"But every little girl needs Barbies!"

"I didn't play with Barbies, and I turned out fine. I was a normal American kid." I'm caught off-guard by her statement. I like the idea of the average American child playing with all kinds and types of activities and toys. But, as I rolled through the McDonald's drive thru earlier that day, I can attest to the fact that the most popular restaurant in America still sells toys based on a gender dichotomy: pink Strawberry Shortcake dolls for girls and light sabers and Star Wars action figures for boys. As does Walmart, Target, and every other retailer catering to the "average American child."

Megan's butch girlfriend wanders up, and Megan turns to her, almost pouting. "Kat won't let me buy her daughter a Barbie. She has no toys! She needs a Barbie doll." Megan's girlfriend takes a sip of her beer, barely registering Megan's concern. "Ok, baby." 

"If you want to buy her something pink, then she can have pink legos." Kat responds to Megan, though clearly, Megan's comments were not meant for her. 

"Pink legos! Why are legos so exciting?" Megan turns back to wrap her arms around her girlfriend. "But don't you think every little girl needs a Barbie doll?"

Megan's girlfriend smiles down on the tiny child, wrapped up in a blanket and sucking on a pacifier. "She's got a great mohawk." 

Kat laughs. "My mother makes fun of her for having such short hair. She keeps telling me she looks like a boy. The other day she goes, 'I just know she's going to be a lesbian with hair like that.' I can't believe she said that! I was like, 'Mom. She's six weeks old. She doesn't look like anything but a baby.'" 

We all laugh, but there's a register of shock in the laughter. I don't even know how to respond. I can't help but think that if this sweet child, like most American children, can't escape the confines and pressures of the gender binary at six weeks old -- along with the assumption that gender non-conformity is a label for sexuality -- I can't imagine what an uphill battle she has ahead. 

*(I have to admit that I didn't write in a description of their bodies and clothes to color their ideas of gender, but simply because that was the reality I witnessed.)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sex Toy Review: Sliquid Sea

Did you know lubricant isn't usually vegan?

I didn't. 

I have to admit, I'm a bit wary of putting synthetic chemicals into my body. I'm also wary of living in a culture where we put animal parts and hormones into everything! Ever! Call me a hippie, but I do think about and care about these things.

So when Edenfantasys Sex Toys gave me the option to review a sex lubricant that is vegan, I got a little excited. 
Sliquid Sea is a water-based lube, which means its great for use with condoms, latex gloves, and silicone toys. It's also mostly natural, as the primary ingredients are plant cellulose (from cotton) and three types of seaweed extracts. It's hypoallergenic and paraben-free.
I'm rating Sliquid Sea on the three factors I use to pick out a lube: consistency, flavor/odor, and how it feels on my body a minute after sex. 

1) Consistency: Sliquid Sea has a great medium consistency. It's not globby and gel-thick like a silicone lubricant, nor is it runny and messy, like many water-based lubricants. I prefer something in this very middle range. I don't like to have to mop up my floor or bed when my cock is dripping, nor do I want to feel like I'm fucking through jello. I want a lube that is very similar to vaginal secretions, but which won't dry out as quickly. I've tried many lubes that really miss the mark on consistency, but Sliquid Sea definitely excels in this category.

That being said, I wouldn't recommend Sliquid Sea for anal sex; it's much too thin. I'd also recommend reapplying if you're changing positions often or going at it for a long time. 

2) Flavor/Odor: My favorite part of the Sliquid Sea is the taste. Lube usually tastes awful. It's a fact of life. Either it's "flavored" -- as if I want to taste Pina Colada mixed with plastic and risk getting/giving a sugary-induced yeast infection -- or it's acidic and gag-inducing. 
Sorry for the intense imagery, but you know I'm right. 

Sliquid Sea isn't sweet, nor is it wickedly bitter. It's has almost no taste at all. There's a tiny hint of flavor, almost acidic. But it fades very quickly, and it doesn't leave you feeling like you just rolled your tongue around a battery. There's no smell, which also helps. 

In other words, Sliquid Sea is fantastic for oral sex. 

3) Afterglow: I don't tend to shy away from the personal on this blog. Yeah, yeah, I'm sure you know this by now. So I have to be brutally honest: I dread using lube because of the way it feels on my vagina after sex. I hate when, post-orgasm, I most want to be held, and instead, I'm rushing to the bathroom to wipe the lube off so I'm not distracted by the texture of gel lathered all over my vagina. I don't want that moment interrupted; I want a lube that isn't going to leave with that feeling immediately. It's fine if I need to get up and wash it off before I go to sleep; I simply don't want to have a reaction within a few minutes after sex. 

So, does Sliquid Sea pass the post-coital afterglow texture test? 
Yes! Sliquid Sea is so similar to natural vaginal secretions, it's a bit uncanny. It doesn't feel heavy or sticky. It might not be the ideal for a woman who dries out very easily -- I can't attest to this.

Overall, I'm impressed. I would recommend Sliquid Sea

(For $12.99 for 4.2 oz, it's very reasonably priced, too.)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Girl From the Gutter

I left class tonight with every intention in the world of coming home and writing. I've got a few stories on the backburner, and really, sometimes I just have to push myself to write.

But then.

I laid in bed and started reading Autostraddle, as I am wont to do sometimes, and stumbled upon Slate's six-part series on the past, present, and future of gay bars. And because I'm a huge queer history nerd who is absolutely fascinated with the history of the gay bar scene in America, I got sucked in. Hardcore. I mean, who doesn't want to read an account of Alison Bechdel's first experience in a lesbian bar? (Tell me you know who she is because her graphic novel and comics are fan-fucking-tastic.) Who isn't shocked to learn San Francisco had 118 gay bars in 1973 and 33 in 2011?! And, and, and, oh.my.god there is a black and white photograph of queers dancing at a NOLA bar named Dixie's in the 1950's.

Um. I could go die happy now.

So, while I really want to talk all about my week and about the fucked up gender things I can't seem to ignore, and I really want to write fabulous erotic stories for you... instead, I'm going to relive a bit of my own history.

((Musical Interlude))


((this song will always make me cry in a gay bar))

Technically, my first time in a gay bar was in Houston, Texas, in June 2006. Four of us -- me, the girl I'd broken up with a month before, my best friend, and her girlfriend -- went to a concert in Houston. Before we got on the road, I looked up every lesbian bar I could find online, and made it clear to them that, as the volunteer driver for the weekend, I was requiring at least ONE trip to a lesbian bar. At least one.

We went to Sue Ellen's, a lesbian establishment in Houston, but we weren't 21. So the butch checking ID's sent us around the corner, to a smaller, unmarked bar.... which happened to be the only African-American lesbian bar in town.

Wow, we stuck out like sore thumbs.

We couldn't drink, so I think we stayed like 15 minutes. Maybe 20. The place was empty. Instead, we took off to try to get tattoos, which also did not happen. Two of us got piercings instead. Thankfully, my ex and my best friend talked me out of getting a rainbow women's symbol tattoo.

(Dear lord, I really was that gay. I guess we all have to survive the baby dyke phase. My first reaction is to think that would have been a huge mistake, and my second reaction is to wonder if it's easier to get laid with a rainbow tattoo. I'll never know the answer to this question.)

Anyway. I don't really count that.

I first went to a gay men's bar on August 12th; I rang in the first hour of my 19th birthday in the bar. It's a tiny place, maybe the size of my living room and kitchen combined, and very rarely does anyone check an ID. The crowd is predominantly white gay men 35+, though there's some give and take. Though I wasn't legally supposed to be in the bar until I turned 21, I grew up going there because it was so easy to get in. Many of my coworkers, fellow college students, former teachers, old high school friends, and old family friends have haunted that place at one time or another. I've seen holidays and funereal celebrations and birthdays there. I feel like I'm going back to visit family when I make it back a few times a year.

But my first real experience in a queer bar was a few nights later. My girlfriend snuck me off campus during orientation, and I talked a fellow staffer into covering for me. I was an anxious ball of freaking-the-fuck-out. I'd never been within 100 feet of the place. I had no idea what to expect. I'd been carefully schooled on what to wear: jeans, no rainbows (do you wear the band t-shirt to the band's concert? No.), a t-shirt or a button-up, no makeup, chucks or tennis shoes, a color-coordinated leather belt, and no jewelry except a men's watch and maybe something leather. We had a plan. I knew the layout of the bar, how to slip past the doorman while my then-girlfriend created a diversion, who to look for once I got in, not to order my own drinks.

By some miracle, though I thought my heart might explode out of my chest, I made it through the door unnoticed. I felt so young, terrified, out of place. I put on my best "I belong here, so don't fuck with me" face and didn't stop to turn around until I made it halfway up the wooden staircase. I remember catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror and wondering who this stranger was. I'd been having sex with a girl since I was 16, and yet, surrounded by so many dykes, my own identity became shaky. What did I have in common with the butch women in their 40's hanging out at the bar? What did I know about the community, about being queer, about these bars and growing up queer and closeted in the south? Who did I think I was, trying to claim a place here, when clearly I had no experience? I felt like an imposter, and I was convinced everyone saw through me. The feeling didn't pass until my girlfriend pulled me in and kissed me, in front of a room full of people waiting for the drag show to begin. And then I knew I was exactly where I belonged.

I left a piece of my heart in that bar, somewhere between 4am line dances and New Years' Eve and a dance floor filled with so many of my friends. I may hate the town, but I'm damn proud to say I grew up in the queer community there.

(Mad points and eternal glory to whomever gets the post title reference.)