When Japan Had a Third Gender

A figure in a translucent kimono coyly holds a fan. Another arranges an iris in a vase. Are they men or women?

As a mind-bending exhibition that opened Friday at the Japan Society illustrates, they are what scholars call a third gender — adolescent males seen as the height of beauty in early modern Japan who were sexually available to both men and women. Known as wakashu, they are one of several examples in the show that reveal how elastic the ideas of gender were before Japan adopted Western sexual mores in the late 1800s.

The show, “A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints,” arrives at a time of ferment about gender roles in the United States and abroad. Bathroom rights for transgender people have become a cultural flash point. The notion of “gender fluidity” — that it’s not necessary to identify as either male or female, that gender can be expressed as a continuum — is roiling traditional definitions.

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Sex Workers Say “Stay in Your Lane”

Emily Shire brings us an inside look into the current trend of rich, white celebrities preaching about a vocation and work environment they do not have personal experience with. Did they somehow become experts by virtue of having money and time on their hands?

“Everybody thinks they’re helping us. They never stop to talk to us,” DiAngelo says, choking back tears, “They just want to make it disappear.”

While she believes the celebrities opposing Amnesty International “probably have good intentions,” they’re far too quick to pat themselves on the back.

“They go home at night thinking they did something good and we’re cleaning up the bloodshed. We’re the ones trying to keep ourselves alive.”

Read the whole article here.

Power Girls

“Powerful girls grow up feeling secure in themselves. They learn to take action, making positive choices about their own lives and doing positive things for others. They think critically about the world around them. They express their feelings and acknowledge the feelings and thoughts of others in caring ways. Powerful girls feel good about themselves and grow up with a “can-do” attitude. Of course, strong girls may (like all of us) have times of insecurity and self-doubt, but these feelings aren’t paralyzing because the girls have learned to work through their problems. Powerful girls will grow up to lead full, valuable lives.

Here are some of our experts’ ideas to help you raise powerful daughters.”

Read the article here.

Ruffalo on Feminism

Not to give cookies for pointing out the obvious, but there’s something special about seeing an influential white man use his platform to speak some feminist truth.

I certainly understand why many people in social justice activism reject the label “feminist,” because historically it has primarily benefitted white, cisgender women. However, it is definitely frustrating for me to see people reject feminism because they’re buying into the false, Rush-Limbaugh-version of it, instead of actually doing the work to understand the history of first- and second-wave feminism.

To pull a quote from Ruffalo’s tumblr post –

“First of all, it’s clear you don’t know what feminism is. But I’m not going to explain it to you. You can google it. To quote an old friend, “I’m not the feminist babysitter.”

Mark Ruffalo, on feminism

 

Savior Complex?

When we see what we perceive as oppression, it’s easy to want to swoop in and protest it, but it’s important to bear in mind the ways in which other perspectives might differ from your own.  The only person who has a right to make decisions about a body is the person operating it.