*knock knock knock* HOUSEKEEPING!

Wow, I really haven’t blogged in a while, have I? As you can imagine, things got pretty crazy at the end of the school year. Documenting all of it, however, was not exactly a top priority. I’m in the midst of a transition and I think a little blog housekeeping is in order.

  • Since my last post I gained Important Person Status for next year with leadership positions in College Democrats and LGBT Issues Commission, two student organizations that were vital to shaping my freshman year experience and that have strong presence on campus. Keep your fingers crossed that I don’t fuck anything up too badly. 
  • As I’m sure you all have noticed, I haven’t been writing any posts in French for a while. This caused a couple people to wonder if I have given up my practice of the language. You can all rest assured that for the time being my plan to double major in International Studies and French is still intact. My lack of posting in French is merely because in general fewer people read them than my posts that are exclusively in English.
  • I’m spending this summer working food service at Cedar Point. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a big amusement park on Lake Erie with 72 roller coasters, many of which have broken records of some kind. If you’ve never been, I recommend it. And maybe you’ll be able to creep on me in the process.
  • However, because this job is now the main thing I’m doing and I’m limited with how much I can say about it online (whether positive or negative), I probably won’t have a whole ton to blog about over the summer. I’ll try not to completely fall off the map, though. After all, my first blogiversary will fall during this time and I do want to be able to say that I maintained a blog for over a year. 

 

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Dear Straight Girls

Dear Straight Girls,
“I’m bisexual” is not code for “I have a crush on you.” Nor is it code for “I’m promiscuous and you should feel uncomfortable with that.” You may think you’re helping by saying “I think everyone’s a little bit bisexual,” but to a lot of us it sounds like, “You’re not really different, stop whining.” I don’t like it when you gush with me about a cute guy I know but awkwardly change the subject when I talk about a cute girl. It sends the message, even if it may be unintentional, that you support and are excited about my potential relationships with men, but my potential relationships with women make you uncomfortable. Don’t vaguely say “your future husband” or “the guy you’ll end up with” to me. In most cases that seems to imply that you are okay with my bisexuality as long as it ends up “the right way” in the end or that you think it will go away. If I flirt with you not knowing that you don’t play for my team, chances are I’m just as embarrassed about it as you are.

Stop Facebook-marrying your best friends. To you it may look like a harmless way to tell everyone that you’re super close, but to girls who like other girls you’re trivializing our relationships. Your straight girl friendship is not the same as a same-sex marriage. Not even close. On a similar note, stop calling your favorite pretty actresses your “girl crushes.” Again, it trivializes our feelings for other women in ways that you may not think about. It’s that attitude that led to most of my straight girl friends from high school not taking my first crush on another girl seriously. I’m not saying you can’t appreciate another woman’s good looks without being sexually attracted to her, just call it something different and remember that my wanting to have romantic relationships with women is not the same as you pinning pictures of Jennifer Lawrence on your Pinterest celebrities board.

Though this one has not yet happened to me personally, I still think it’s worth noting. If you decide that you want to have a “lesbian experience” just for shits and giggles, think before you ask me to be your guinea pig. Explore your sexuality all you want, but remember that your bisexual and lesbian friends are not toys that you can just “try out”. On a less-extreme note, it is not my job to be your peppy talking search engine about all things bisexual. My “edgy” sexual orientation does not make it any more acceptable to ask invasive questions about my sex/dating life than it would be if I were straight. And just to set the record straight, the way two girls have sex is NOT that complicated. We use our hands, mouths, and vaginas. You do the rest of the math.

Since I used to consider myself one of you lot, I have done and said some of these things. I included them in this post because I wish I had known at the time that they annoy and upset bisexual women. My intention was not to make fun of you or to imply that you’re all ignorant, just to make you pay more attention to the ways that you might be biphobic without even realizing it.
xoxo,
Lauren

Dear Straight Guys

Dear straight guys,
“I’m bisexual,” is not code for “I’m unfaithful in relationships.” Nor is it code for “I like threesomes.” Please get to know me, just as you would a straight girl, before you decide whether or not to date me. If we are a couple, you did not “straighten me out.” And if that’s your goal, our relationship will be a waste of time for the both of us. I know that a lot of you like to ignore the fact that your girlfriend will be attracted to other people, but dating me will require you to acknowledge that. If we’re watching a movie and you’re attracted to the leading actress, I might be attracted to her too. But chances are neither of us would say anything about it out of politeness.

Don’t automatically assume that I’m attracted to you because “bisexuals are attracted to everyone.” Just as you’re not attracted to every girl you see, I’m not attracted to everyone I see. That would be exhausting. I don’t owe you shit for liking me just because “not many guys would be willing to date a girl like me.” If your reasoning for liking me is because you want to be able to tell your friends that you hooked up with a bi girl, don’t expect me to comply and be flattered.

If you ask about my dating history and I am willing to tell you, please don’t visibly cringe or say that you “didn’t need to know that,” when I include the women. I already told you that I’m bi and you still thought it was a good idea to ask, so what the hell did you expect? Similarly, I have never met anyone who asked me if I like boys or girls better who didn’t have a “right answer” in mind. If I like you, you don’t need to me to say that I “like boys better,” for me to prove it.

If I’m the first bisexual woman you’ve ever had any type of relationship with, don’t expect me to always be thrilled to explain every nuance of my sexual orientation to you. Sometimes I just won’t have the patience to tell you how I knew I was bi, how many of each gender I’ve had sex with, how it’s even possible that I would like both, if I would date a trans or genderqueer person, and if I won’t be bi anymore if I marry someone. Depending on how close we are, a lot of those questions are none of your business. And, just like with any group that is different from you, don’t expect my answers that I am comfortable with giving you apply to every bisexual woman on the planet.

I am not “just doing it to turn you on.” Nor am I “actually straight but just want to fool around with girls.” Not everything is about you. Get over it. And yes, sex between two women is just as “real” as sex between a man and a woman. And to answer the eternal question, we use our hands, mouths, and vaginas. You do the rest of the math. And no, you can’t watch. I will not make out with a girl at a party on command just to entertain you or to “prove that I’m bisexual.”

However, if we’re friends I am completely cool with talking about girls together as long as we do it with respect. And you can be a good friend to me and increase your understanding of “how bisexuality works” by getting to know me just as you would anyone else, but understanding that my sexual orientation is an important part, but not the entire essence, of who I am. If you have said or done any of the things I mentioned in this, I just ask that you be aware of how your actions are perceived and work to change them. Though a lot of your kind have been pretty shitty to me and other girls like me, I have hope that with a little bit of education you can all do better.
xoxo,
Lauren

Thanks, Obama!

image
I tried to take a selfie with Obama in the background. It was harder than it sounds.

As many of you are probably aware, President Barack Obama spoke at my school today in favor of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. As that’s an idea that I think any reasonable college student can get behind, I was not about to miss it. Just as I hoped, it was an experience that my potential future grandchildren will hear all about.

My journey to seeing Mr. Obama started on Monday night before the tickets became available at the student union. I had heard talk of people camping out all night to ensure that they could get one before they ran out. At 9:00 that night, twelve hours before they would begin to give out the tickets, I joined a group of my College Democrats friends in a tent. The overall atmosphere was one of celebration and excitement, though it was rainy and I doubt anyone in line was comfortable. We had eight people in our four-person tent so we got really close. At one point someone suggested that we watch Les Mis on their laptop and, if you know me at all, you know that I could never refuse that. We sang along loudly the entire time as I, as usual, spewed out relevant “in the book they actually”s whenever I felt it appropriate. If any of my friends are reading this, I apologize for that. Our tent neighbors must have hated us but I didn’t care. I got very little actual sleep because it was cold, the tent was set up on concrete, and the lack of space forced my 5’9/5’10ish body into some positions that it really didn’t want to be in. Between when we packed up our stuff at 7:00 the next morning when the line started forming for real and when I got coffee I was in a bit of a sleep deprived fog. This included when a reporter asked to hold our tent bag and wrap my friend’s blanket around her while pretending to talk to us before turning around to tell the camera that hundreds of U of M students had camped out that night to get tickets to hear President Obama speak on campus and the whole story was coming next. The segment did not make the cut, but most of us agreed that it was better that way as we weren’t exactly camera-ready after the previous night. When we finally got our tickets, I had a moment of intense euphoria followed by crashing for a power nap by the time I returned to my dorm room.

The meat of the adventure began when the group of us ventured to the IM building at 7:00 that morning to make sure we could get good spots. The doors would open at 12:30 if that gives you an idea of how serious we were about this. After all, those twelve hours of camping out the previous night would be worthless if we hadn’t. Highlights of the next five and a half hours included finding a heating vent to huddle around, a group of girls dancing to Beyoncé, collecting signatures for petitions to get Mark Shauer and Gary Peters on the ballot, taking note of the security getting tighter and tighter as the morning wore on, and getting interviewed by a TV reporter. Our excitement trumped our sleep-deprivation and feeling cold, so it was a great time.

My expectations had not prepared me for the surreal feeling that is being just feet away from the president. I knew that he was a great speaker and seemed like a cool person as world leaders go, but this speech was different from his speeches I had seen on TV. More tailored to the audience. He spoke to us on our level. He seemed simultaneously more powerful and more down-to-Earth in person. It’s weird, I can’t really explain it. When we booed after a comment about Republicans not supporting the cause he said, “Don’t boo, organize!” He stated that raising the minimum wage would especially benefit women and added that he doesn’t want his daughters to make less money than someone else’s sons for doing the same work. He even made a joke about his basketball bracket and called the GOP budget a “stinkburger” or a “meanwich,” which served as a reminder that even the president can make dad jokes. As a whole it was incredibly enjoyable. Afterwards the chair and vice chair of College Democrats got to shake his hand, then proceeded to touch all of us so we could get some “Obama germs.” Though I can’t speak for everyone who attended the speech, I found it completely worth the 19 hours I spent waiting to experience it. And the fact that I so enjoyed all those hours proves that I’ve done a pretty good job picking my friends.

Urgent: Hullabaloo on the Diag

Today as I sat through my linguistics lecture, every feminist-type group I’m involved in informed me of a counter-protest that had been quickly organized. According to their messages, an anti-choice group who was not even affiliated with the university was on the diag spreading false information about legal abortions. Students for Choice was having none of that crap, so they got some signs, “I Stand With Planned Parenthood” stickers, and information cards about the 1 in 3 campaign and positioned themselves just feet away from the opposition.

After class I marched myself to the diag and picked up a “Pro Child, Pro Family, Pro Choice” sign and a stack of cards because women’s rights. At a time when legislation over reproductive health is getting more and more extreme, I could not justify walking away from an opportunity to dispel the myths that cause them. The propaganda spewed by the opposite side was ridiculous. Their signs had pictures and names of women who had died from complications of abortions with “killed by *insert name of abortion doctor here* in *insert year here*.” As if people never die from complications of other medical procedures. Another denied the indisputable fact that abortion death rates spiked when the procedure was illegal. They even included, “Wait, didn’t like 10,000 people die from abortions every year before Roe v. Wade? NO!” The inclusion of the word “like” as a subtle but deliberate attempt to make pro-choice people sound stupid. Though I’m all for freedom of expression, blatant lies in propaganda have no place on a university campus. By participating in the counter-protest I think I made my disapproval clear.

For a while the protest went surprisingly without incident. We gave out a lot of stickers and people went about their days. As time went on, though, they took a turn for the more interesting. Many people thanked us for our presence in opposition to the original protest and said that they were impressed by how quickly we organized. I talked to a visiting prospective student and a guy who was showing her around about what a huge year for on-campus activism it has been and how easy and fulfilling it is to get involved. We had a group of school children on a field trip swarm us without provocation just because they wanted stickers. The teacher frantically tried to remind them that this is just one opinion and “there’s separation between church and state” before stealthily giving us a thumbs-up. An older man informed us that he writes checks to Planned Parenthood every month. We had a lot of funnily great responses of support from the male students who we talked to. The only real trouble we encountered was one guy who argued with one of my fellow protesters for almost an hour using the same arguments over and over again, including “But why is a fetus less human than someone who’s already born?” and “Why should it be covered by insurance. They could just not have sex.” Eventually we told him to leave, though we should have much sooner.

When the anti-choicers closed up shop, we put down our signs, one of our leaders thanked them for keeping the protest peaceful, and we all went back to our days. My only regret after participating in this protest was that I didn’t wear more comfortable shoes.

An Open Letter to Michele Bachmann

This is excellent.

It Seems To Me...

Michele Bachmann suggested that the gay community is bullying Americans and politicians.  You can read the full article and hear the clip for yourself here. This is my response.

Dear Michele Bachmann,

I would like to provide you with a definition of a word that, for all your legal experience, you seem not to comprehend. The word “bully” has become a buzzword, a convenient way for adults who are losing an argument to shut down the conversation. When your back is against the wall, you call someone a “bully” and if they don’t allow you to gracefully exit the argument you get to say, “SEE! They ARE a bully.”

Except, that’s incorrect. “Bully” is defined variously as “a person who uses superior strength or power to harm, intimidate or influence those who are weaker.”

Now let’s reconsider your words. “…the gay community, they have so bullied the American people, and…

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It Doesn’t Just Happen to Other Girls

*Content warning: this post discusses abortion and rape. It will also contain foul language because I am fucking pissed and scared shitless.

In December my home state of Michigan shocked women all over the country with a bill that would ban abortion coverage by insurance companies all over the state. Even in cases of rape and incest, the procedure would not be covered unless women and employers purchase a separate abortion rider. Today, this bill was passed into law and it absolutely scares the shit out of me.

“But Lauren, why does this scare you? You’d never get an abortion would you?”
I’m glad you asked, hypothetical reader! You see, this law demonstrates a clear misunderstanding of abortion by the fuckheads who proposed it! You see, it’s not something that women can really decide whether or not they would get until they’re in a situation when it’s in their best interest. Sure, I hope that I would never get one, but if history has taught us anything it’s that shit happens. I could get raped. I could have a medical condition that could cause having the child to kill me. My child could have a developmental disorder that would give them nothing but a short and painful life. This is real life, y’all. This isn’t some fake world where scary shit only happens to other people. It’s that delusion that causes people to claim that rape pregnancies are a “gift from God”, that a woman should sacrifice herself so the baby can live, or that every fetus should have a chance to live, even if they experience nothing but pain. It’s easy to spin that bullshit when you think it will never happen to you. Under this law, every woman in Michigan has to decide whether or not she would ever have an abortion. If she either can’t or doesn’t want to spend the extra money for her right to cross that bridge when she gets there, she is fucked over.

I, for one, am not delusional. 1 in 3 women gets an abortion in her lifetime for various reasons. Some of my friends have been raped and I myself have narrowly avoided a rape attempt. It is not something that one can prepare for ahead of time. It is not something that happens to other people and fuck you, Michigan legislators for your unfuckingbelievable disregard for women.

“Why Won’t You Educate Me About Feminism?”

We all know this guy…

The Belle Jar

He doesn’t hate women.

Above and beyond everything else, he wants you to know this: he does not hate women.

He has two daughters, for god’s sake, and a wife that he adores beyond anything else, and a sister that he texts every day and a mother who is the strongest person that he’s ever known – yes, stronger than any of the men he’s met. So don’t think that this is because he hates women.

If anything, his real problem is loving women too much.

See, he just wants his daughters to grow up safe and happy. And to be honest, some of the things that you’re saying – that these feminists are saying – are troubling to him.

He just wants to have a sort of academic chat. Peer to peer. Grownup to grownup. That’s all. He’s not saying you’re wrong – not by a long shot! He…

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The Incarceration of Avery Edison and Why it Matters

Another one of my blogging gigs!

What the F Magazine Your Feminist Periodical

We in the US like to think of Canada as our non-threatening and much more liberal cousin to the north. This week, however, they are making headlines for a human rights violation: detaining a transgender woman in a men’s prison.

British comedian Avery Edison arrived at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Monday morning with the intention of visiting her partner and picking up some things she left behind before she moved back to London. Because she had previously overstayed her student visa, she was denied entry and interrogated by immigration officials. Though her passport identifies her as female, the officer regularly switched between male and female pronouns when talking about her on the phone. She even overheard him say that he had “one male ready for pick-up.”

Instead of sending her home to England, Edison was sent to prison. Before the officers determined where to detain her, she was forced…

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Things That you Might Want to Avoid Saying a Bisexual Girl

In my various situations when I have thought that telling people was necessary, I have heard an interesting variety of responses to my sexual identity. While some proclaimed that they love me anyway, others were indifferent, and others were just plain rude. Here I’ve collected a list of some out-of-line comments and questions people make when they meet a bi-girl, often without realizing it. Since I just turned 19 years old, let’s make that the number of items.

1. “Do you like guys or girls better?”
Everyone asks this and they all seem to think that it’s simple enough for a one-word answer. It’s not. I’d suggest that you only ask this question if you really want to know, not if you just want to be in the gender that I “prefer”.

2.Anything that insinuates that I sleep around.
This stereotype is especially fun because it makes people not want to date me. I don’t. And even if I did, why do you care?

3.Anything that insinuates that bisexual=cheater.
That stereotype is even more fun than the sleeping around one and is widely believed by straight and gay people alike. I know that there are some bi-people who date a man and a woman at the same time, but I’m pretty sure that I’m not one of them.

4. *mentions that I went on a date with a guy* “So you’re back to boys now?”
That’s not how it works.

5. *mentions that I went on a date with a girl* “So you’re gay now?”
That’s not how it works either.

6. “Who’s your celebrity crush?”
I won’t get annoyed or upset if you ask this one. The reason why I included it is because it can be awkward when you’re expecting me to tell you just one and I don’t know whether to say a guy or a girl. In case you’re now wondering my top guy ones are Matt Smith, Gaspard Ulliel, Aaron Tveit, Marc-André Grondin, and Ben Barnes. My top girl ones are Karen Gillian, Ellen Page, Florence Welch, Léa Seydoux, and Emma Watson. One of my friends who is a lesbian said that she also doesn’t like answering this question when the group she’s in is mostly made up of straight girls.

7. “Are you sure?”
If I wasn’t I probably wouldn’t have told you.

8. “You’re just confused.”
No, you’re the one who’s asking all these stupid questions. I think you’re the confused one.

9. ‘You’re desperate.”
No one has said those exact words to me YET but they have been pretty strongly implied. Anyone who has known me for a long time is aware that my dating life has a long history of being unsuccessful. However I did not just wake up one day and say, “Hey, I really want a significant other so I’m gonna start dating girls too!”

10. “Do you think you’re gonna marry a guy or a girl?”
Here, let me just get out my crystal ball and peer into my future. Otherwise there is seriously no way I can answer that.

11. “I don’t believe bisexuality exists.”
It’s not Santa Claus. It doesn’t go away if you don’t believe in it.

12. “Everybody chooses one or the other eventually.”
I’m still young, so it’s possible that my tastes could change, but talking like it’s inevitable trivializes my current identity.

13. “So are you half gay and half straight?”
You really don’t get it, do you?

14. “What kind of boys do you like?” “Okay what kind of girls do you like?”
Usually I’ve found that when my girl friends ask what kind of boys I like they’re looking for specific physical features (e.g. abs, strong jaw line, tall) and when they ask what kind of girls I like they mean butch or femme. Either way, I like boys and girls who I find attractive. That’s all. Good day.

15. “Do you watch The L-Word?”
It’s on my Netflix queue. Do you ask every gay guy you meet if he likes Glee? You know what, don’t answer that.

16. “How many guys and how many girls have you dated/had sex with?”
Do you ask straight people who you don’t know that well about their sexual histories? Don’t answer that one either.

17. “Do you like threesomes?”
I have never had any strong desire to be in one but if, say, Matt Smith and Karen Gillian made me an offer I would jump all over it. 😛

18. “It’s just a phase.”
I get this one a lot because I came out after my first semester of college. Especially because I go to a liberal school with an strong LGBTQ presence. But here’s a thing about most of the phases I’ve gone through: I usually learn some pretty important stuff from them.

19. “You just haven’t found the right guy yet.”
Nah, I’ve just figured that there’s a possibility that my “right guy” could be a girl.