All posts edited by Madeline Ricchiuto.

Friday, December 12, 2014

First Conviction for California's 'Revenge Porn' Law

Originally posted on Inherently Human

California’s new ‘revenge porn’ law has seen its first conviction this month and it’s starting a firestorm of conversation on the internet. Officials are hailing the conviction as a victory with Los Angelos City Attorney Mike Feuer stating, “California’s new revenge porn law gives prosecutors a valuable tool to protect victims whose lives and reputations have been upended by a person they once trusted.” State Senator and author of the law Anthony Cannella says, “I am happy to see my legislation doing what it’s supposed to do — protecting victims.”

While this official praise is strong and positive, the law has had critics from its inception. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was initially critical of the bill(and revenge porn laws in general) citing loose wording as an issue along with a concern for such regulation on free speech. Still, Feuer claims this conviction is sending a strong message to the people that such “malicious behavior will not be tolerated.”

Sadly, the sentiment expressed in response to this conviction has not been nearly as optimistic. Overwhelmingly people are looking to find someone other than the man to blame. Too often the adage, “maybe if you didn’t take naked photos this wouldn’t have happened,” is cited. It would seem that reservations about the effectiveness of such laws are justified.

At least a partial defence of such laws could be that they are still in their infancy. Only 12 states have passed laws on revenge porn; maybe as more adopt similar policies we will see a change in attitudes. More likely though is that the attitude will remain pervasive like victim blaming still is despite rape laws being almost universal.

The victim blaming is only part of the problem with revenge porn laws. But as the conversation grows, we need to be mindful of the way we approach these topics. As they are considered in more jurisdictions, including the UK, we have a renewed opportunity to challenge this narrative and to finally bring the law on this matter into the 21st century.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Re Rose McGowan and Gay Misogyny

Rose McGowan has gotten a lot of attention in the past few days for some comments she made on the Bret Easton Ellis Podcast about the LGBT*Q community. Her comments sparked a lot of outrage online and within the community (including my own) while raising awareness about some issues - although maybe that was unintentional.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Metrosexual to Spornosexual: An exploration of 'male' gender

Mark Simpson - 'Father of the Metrosexual'
Metrosexuality has always been a topic I've avoided. Its a term that was thrown into the public sphere and endorsed by many, but hardly understood by those who used it. In the past I found it to be wholly uninteresting. Straight men obsessing about their looks and their clothes? Not really my area of interest.

This week, I attended a talk by 'the father of the metrosexual' -the man who coined the term- Mark Simpson. Admittedly I wasn't expecting much, but the talk turned out to be extremely enlightening and intriguing.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Coming Out Isn't the End

This post comes in the wake of national coming out day:

Its been a long time since I've been 'in the closet'. Like many people who have a closet they've had to come out of, I still remember vividly what it was like to be in it; lonely, quiet, and full of fear. Always looking over your shoulder, hoping not to be caught. Every free moment of thought consumed by your secret. Its really not pleasant, obviously.

Being 'out' is truly liberating. Talking to almost any LGBT*Q person would probably make that abundantly clear. For me, its been 6 years of a (mostly) great experience. I have been proud, and loud, and many people who know me can attest to that - in case this blog didn't make it clear enough. During my time in California this summer though, a funny thing happened... I seemed to have been placed back into a closet.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Victim Culture Myth

Anyone who has been involved in social justice has heard this excuse: "that just causes people to have a victim complex" or "that just creates a victim culture." Those words are the bane of my existence. They strike at the very core of why I am so adamant about creating conversations and change.

Hearing those words for the first time - thrown up in defense of some ridiculous position - it made me feel like I had been oppressing the people I was trying to help, that I might be encouraging such weakness. Of course the more I thought about it, the more ridiculous it sounds. How is discouraging people from doing wrongs encouraging weakness? How could encouraging people to speak out when they are being bullied or abused take power from them? Frankly, it does not.

This argument relies on us equating victimhood with being weak, it turns the tables and says that you are taking power from people and that isn't something any activist wants. But that never is the case. Victims are strong. And they become stronger when we allow and encourage them to speak out and help themselves.

I am not a victim myself (except maybe to society's ignorance). I haven't been abused, nor was I bullied in school, but I've met victims and survivors and they are some of the most amazing people I have ever encountered. They are brave, and kind, and can see wonder in the little things.

'Victim culture' and 'victim complex' arguments take away all of their power, and credit. It demeans their accomplishments and it silences their voices. It demands that they hide so that the rest of us can feel better about the world in which we pretend to live. It's not only victim blaming but also victim shaming, which is so much worse. To have such disregard as to the many emotions that are coupled with victimhood and then to add shame on top of it all is so insensitive it's almost inhuman.

We as a society need to relearn what it means to be a victim and recognize which part of victimization is truly bad. Its not being a victim which is negative, but victimizing others. So please, lets stop demonizing victims and start shining the light on the guilty parties.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Intersex - What is it, and what it means for sexuality.

Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about the gender and sexuality spectrum. I've discussed many things, from how we can and should define bisexuality, to whether sexual orientation should be a special class from other attractions. I will most likely do separate posts on each of these but one of the topics which interests me most is that of  biological sex. What is sex? What are its defining characteristics? And how does it intersect with our many other characteristics and identities?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Making Prisoners Pay for Their Food and Medical Care is Absurd

I was talking to some people the other day about the criminal justice system in the US and, among other things, the issue of prisons and prisoners' rights came up. We talked about the idea of privatized prisons, what they mean to people, and how they reflect people's understandings of society and justice.

Someone mentioned the proposal in Nevada that inmates start to pay for their daily food and all medical expenses. In general we were all in agreement that this was a bad idea. What happens when they can't pay for food? What happens when they can't pay for medical care? Do we let them starve and get sick? Its not like inmates make much money. Who else this could effect? The family members of the prisoners would likely be the first asked to help out the inmates financially. None of these situations sound like something anybody would want.

An interesting suggestion was made about how the inmates might pay. We could treat it like a loan. Give the prisoners their accommodation, medical care, food, etc. and have them pay back the 'loan' once they get out. This idea, seemingly good on the surface, falls short in my mind.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ableism and Disability Erasure in the Social Justice Community

I recently got into a bit of a fight on the internet over Social Justice blogs and erasure. Long story short, a blogger that I respect (much as we may disagree) argued that Social Justice blogs and sites that don't talk about the issues of disabled people are inherently bigots because they contribute to erasure. Which, valid point seeing as most SJ blogs and articles focus more on LGBTQ issues, race issues, and feminist ones, without inclusion of disabilities. Because there are disabled feminists, disabled GSM people, and disabled people of color, and even disabled straight white people. But we don't talk about them.

I tried to argue that not talking about disability issues didn't inherently make them prejudiced although some of them very well may be, but I totally stuck my foot in my mouth. Thats what I get for arguing with people on the internet on an insomnia bender.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Do We Need Sex Negative Feminism?

Beyoncé 'coming out' as feminist
In todays celebrity-driven culture, feminism is becoming more mainstream now that icons like Beyonce, Tina Fey, Jennifer Lawrence, Ellen DeGeneres, and Ke$ha are 'coming out' as feminists. At the very least, it seems that feminist principles are being passed on to the younger generations.

There's a growing conversation about sexuality, particularly women's sexuality and its place in our culture today. Many of these conversations focus on looking at things in a positive light so that campaigns for body positivity and sex-positive conversations are now rather abundant- especially those campaigns and conversations that come with backing from celebrities.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Grindr Series: Are profiles on Grindr discriminatory?

As a quick refresher, Grindr is one of the most popular gay social apps out there. It is often portrayed as an app for getting quick, anonymous sex, and is typically used as an example of everything that is wrong with the gay community. That being said, there are many different kinds of people who fill the virtual halls of Grindr and all of them seem to have different goals for the use of said app.

Mathew Rodriguez's blog post on the Huffington Post follows the trend by demonizing the idea of anonymous sex and singling out Grindr as the epitome of everything wrong within the gay community. Describing the original intent of the app - the original use was apparently for gay men to consult Grinder to muster up the courage to talk to someone across the bar - Rodriguez describes the app as 'running afoul' because of us 'mere horny mortals', and calls it a place where there is limited space for self-expression, and complains about the rampant 'flattening' of personalities.