Tag Archives: gender

Alt Media Review—May 2015 Edition

The following is a collection of recent articles I’ve read and shared in social media that are related to kink, poly, trans, and LGBQ communities, with perhaps a little social justice thrown in for good measure.  While they are not all necessarily exact reflections of my own opinions, they are all, in my estimation, stimulating to say the least.  Click on the screenshots below to read the source articles, which are listed in no particular order.

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NOTE: The content of this blog is owned by Dulcinea Pitagora. See Terms and Conditions for republishing restrictions/allowances.

Sliding Scale Appointments Now Available!

I have the pleasure of announcing that beginning this summer I will be working under the supervision of Dr. Kelly Wise, psychotherapist and AASECT certified sex therapist. I’ll be taking on a limited number of sliding scale appointments at his Union Square office, working with individuals, couples, non-traditional relationships and families, and current or former sex workers dealing with issues across the spectrum of gender identification/expression, sexual orientation/expression, D/s dynamics, relationship status, intersections thereof, and beyond. Please contact me directly via email or my contact page for more information, or call me at 917-675-3446 for a free 15-minute phone consultation. I will continue working at PCGS and my private practice as well, and if for some reason we won’t be able to work together, I recommend taking a look at ManhattanAlternative.com, a referral listing for alternative lifestyle affirmative providers.

NOTE: The content of this blog is owned by Dulcinea Pitagora. See Terms and Conditions for republishing restrictions/allowances.

Don’t Let the F-word Scare You

David Perry put together a succinctly smart piece on Mad Max: Fury Road
that Vice Magazine published on May 13, my three favorite quotes being:

There are no accidental feminist action movies.

Patriarchy may seem to empower masculinity,
but in truth it limits men to their (often self-) destructive roles.

…enjoy the movie. And don’t let the F-word scare you.

Click here or on the image below to read the whole article,
and if you see the film, let me know what you think!

Mad Max: Fury Road

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IDAHOT: May 17!

From APAGS GradPsychBlog:

“On May 17, 1990, the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder, and since 2005 the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT) has commemorated that day. It is a global occasion for individuals, groups, and organizations to take action on topics related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals and to advocate for more accepting public policies. Each year a global focus for IDAHOT is chosen and this year’s is LGBT youth.”

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Read more!

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Cross-post: Thinking Globally about Sex and Gender

A couple of years ago I discovered a document called the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, created in 2006 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia by the International Commission of Jurists and the International Service for Human Rights, on behalf of a coalition of human rights organizations in reaction to egregious international human rights violations pertaining to individuals marginalized for their sexual orientation and/or gender identifications.

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The introduction to the Yogyakarta Principles begins with…

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. all human rights are universal, interdependent, indivisible and interrelated. sexual orientation1) and gender identity2) are integral to every person’s dignity and humanity and must not be the basis for discrimination or abuse” (p. 6).

…and ends with…

“The Yogyakarta Principles affirm binding international legal standards with which all states must comply. they promise a different future where all people born free and equal in dignity and rights can fulfill that precious birthright” (p. 7).

I’m an advocate for every clinician and educator’s (and every human, really) reading this document in its entirety, which is why I decided to post this on the ManhattanAlternative.com blog, and is why I’m cross-posting it here as well. Though the abridged principles listed as follows can be interpreted differently depending on context and experience, thinking critically about them as they stand here is a useful exercise in itself:

  1. The right to the universal enjoyment of human rights.
  2. The rights to equality and non-discrimination.
  3. The right to recognition before the law.
  4. The right to life.
  5. The right to security of the person.
  6. The right to privacy.
  7. The right to freedom of arbitrary deprivation of liberty.
  8. The right to a fair trial.
  9. The right to treatment with humanity while in detention.
  10. The right to freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  11. The right to protection from all forms of exploitation, sale and trafficking of human beings.
  12. The right to work.
  13. The right to social security and to other social protection measures.
  14. The right to an adequate standard of living.
  15. The right to adequate housing.
  16. The right to education.
  17. The right to the highest attainable standard of health.
  18. Protection from medical abuses.
  19. The right to freedom of opinion and expression.
  20. The right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
  21. The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
  22. The right to freedom of movement.
  23. The right to seek asylum.
  24. The right to found a family.
  25. The right to participate in public life.
  26. The right to participate in cultural life.
  27. The right to promote human rights.
  28. The right to effective remedies and redress.
  29. Accountability.

Some interesting questions to ponder:

Which of the above principles most affect you on a regular basis?

Which have you fought for in terms of your personal experience?

Which might you have taken for granted?

NOTE: The content of this blog is owned by Dulcinea Pitagora. See Terms and Conditions for republishing restrictions/allowances.

Alt Media Review—April 2015 Edition

The following is a collection of recent articles I’ve read and shared in social media that are related to kink, poly, trans, and LGBQ communities, with perhaps a little social justice thrown in for good measure.  While they are not all necessarily exact reflections of my own opinions, they are all, in my estimation, stimulating to say the least.  Click on the screenshots below to read the source articles, which are listed in no particular order. 

Clint Smith: The danger of silence

 

Trafficking Policy Should Focus on Empowerment, Not Coercion

 

 

The Flaws of Meritocracy

 

What Fifty Shades of Grey Most Certainly Won’t Teach You

 

Obama Calls for End to ‘Conversion’ Therapies for Gay and Transgender Youth

 

Williams Institute launches first-of-its-kind study of U.S. transgender population - See more at: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/press/press-releases/transpop-announcement-march-2015/#sthash.AclTQpqi.dpuf

 

No, You Don’t Need Rules For Polyamory

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ManhattanAlternative.com is live!

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ManhattanAlternative.com is a network of therapeutic service providers in New York City who are sex-positive, affirmative, and have expertise related to issues that kink, poly, consensually non-monogamous, trans, gender non-conforming, and/or LGBQ-identified individuals face.  The collaborative was created in 2014 by Dulcinea Pitagora, MA, LMSW in an effort to address the lack of openly affirmative support to the communities that she has been a part of and a mentor in for many years.  The providers listed on ManhattanAlternative.com believe that individuals with atypical identifications should have access to support without fear of being further stigmatized, or having to waste time, energy, and money educating providers on characteristics of or behaviors related to their preferences and identifications.

We hope to provide people seeking affirmative health care with a network of providers that is as inclusive and diverse as possible. Therefore, we encourage therapists and health care professionals of varying races, ethnicities, gender expressions, and abilities to fill out the Provider Application Form if they are interested in being listed as a kink/poly/trans/LGBQ-affirmative provider.

Please bookmark and share widely!

NOTE: The content of this blog is owned by Dulcinea Pitagora. See Terms and Conditions for republishing restrictions/allowances.

The Intersection of Gender Roles and BDSM Power Roles

I was so pleased when the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom—an organization which I have long admired for their tireless support of alternative lifestyles—asked me to submit a guest blog for their site, and posted a excerpt on the presentation I gave at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit in 2014 based on my paper “The BDSM Power Exchange: Subversion, Transcendence, Sexual (R)evolution.”  The excerpt they included was chosen because it aligned well with one of their main goals, which is to debunk the historical pathologization and criminalization of BDSM.  I wanted to share with you the excerpt below as well, which looks at the intersection of gender roles and BDSM power roles and the potential for subversion and sexual (r)evolution.

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[…]

An individual’s gender expression is arguably the most visible set of physical characteristics used by society to form assumptions about what is acceptable behavior. This type of automatic social profiling can be exceptionally stressful for those being profiled, as there is no viable way for individuals to fulfill societal expectations of idealized stereotypical gender roles. Many BDSM participants find relief from such societal constraints within the parameters of the BDSM power exchange, and often experience a subsequent release of stress that can be quite therapeutic1.

Research that explores BDSM interactions from a normative (i.e., non-pathologizing) perspective is a relatively new phenomenon, and research that explores a subversion or displacement of gender roles within BDSM interactions is quite rare. Historically, the literature has suggested that BDSM interactions might be more contingent on gender and/or sexual orientation than power dynamic, likely due to the historical bias that assigns feminine-presenting individuals to submissive sexual roles, and masculine-presenting individuals to dominant sexual roles2. In order to refute the “the myth of the alpha male,” a study was conducted in 2008 positing that social dominance in females had been traditionally overlooked in research, by biologists and psychologists alike. The study involved the administration of questionnaires to a relatively large sample (N = 1723) of children in grades 5 through 10, reporting self- and peer-ratings on aggression, social motivation, and interpersonal influence. Their findings showed patterns in females that had typically been associated with male dominance, as well as patterns in males that had typically been associated with stereotypical (i.e., less dominant) female behavior; in other words, the study suggested that social dominance exists outside the realm of gender-specific norms3. This tendency toward gender skew was further refuted in Hawley and Hensley’s 20092 study of feminine power, which reported higher preferences for submissive fantasies in men than women.

One common theme described in BDSM activities as deliberately contrary to traditional patriarchal society is the common pairing of feminine dominants and masculine submissives4. Exaggerated parodies of subjugation, oppression, and exploitation emphasize an inequity of power that is not always weighted in favor of men or masculine gender representations; thus, BDSM interactions have been described as parodying traditional heteronormative sexual interactions5. The relationship between gender and power dynamic was examined in a qualitative study in which 24 participants from the BDSM community were interviewed regarding their sexual behaviors. The transcriptions were coded in order to determine common discourses, or “underlying systems of meaning” (p. 297), and the data showed several instances in which power dynamics were found to diverge from gender identification5. One common theme described BDSM activities as deliberately contrary to mandates of traditional patriarchal society, effectively ridiculing, undermining, and deconstructing mainstream sexual interactions toward the goal of exorcising subjugation and oppression5.

Taylor and Ussher’s findings directly counter arguments that many radical second- and some third-wave feminists have put forth against BDSM—that it reenacts and fosters the male-dominated structure of society, and therefore that consent in BDSM interactions is not valid4. Reminiscent of the means by which paraphilic disorders remain included in the DSM, these assertions are based in philosophical beliefs and political arguments; there has been no empirical research conducted to support these theories. As noted, the research that has been conducted shows that the power structures established by BDSM participants can in effect de-gender power dynamics through pointed subversion and personal choice. The devaluing of consent in BDSM interactions due to an ostensible association with misogyny effectively strips BDSM participants of agency and reduces them to a stereotype. In other words, to say that BDSM participants are not capable of giving consent because outside viewers may misunderstand the meaning of their actions negates self-determination and further stigmatizes this sexual minority group4.

[…]

McClintock’s6 exploration of the intersection between fetishism and gender power suggests that the prevalence of BDSM continues to expand due to a desire in modern societies to challenge mainstream social constructs of power, gender, identity, and erotic expression. BDSM power roles are said to complicate and/or supersede traditional power roles by subverting socially ingrained power dynamics through the creation and enactment of interactions that pointedly appropriate the privilege to punish6. There is no default method of behavior or expression in BDSM; instead, there is a conscious disruption of conformity, which can serve to free the individuals involved from the pressure of conforming to mainstream society, thereby providing psychological relief1. The parameters of a BDSM scene can provide a safe space where any gender can adopt any power role, thereby challenging the constraints of stereotypical gender expression6, and allowing for an expansion, elaboration, or contradiction of an individual’s typical gender expression in daily life. Participants can fluidly inhabit different sexual identities within or across BDSM scenes, mocking the idea of an expected and fixed identity, freeing individuals to expand their exploration of erotic desire, fantasy, and self-identification4,6. The vast array of scenarios and activities that fall within the realm of BDSM encourage many participants to seek an evolution of their sexuality and definition of self. Furthermore, many BDSM interactions deconstruct the expectation that erotic acts should be genitally focused, in the exploration of non-genital, atypical erogenous locations on the body or in the mind for arousal4,6. This displacement and diffusion of arousal challenges the notion of conventionally enacted sexual stimulation, and allows for an ongoing expansion of physical and psychological outlets of sexual satisfaction.

[…]

_____________

1 Pitagora, D. & Ophelian, A. (2013). Therapeutic benefits of subspace in BDSM interactions. [PowerPoint slides].

2 Hawley, P. H. & Hensley, W. A. (2009). Social dominance and forceful submission fantasies: Feminine pathology or power? The Journal of Sex Research, 46(6), 568–585.

3 Hawley, P. H., Little, T. D., & Card, N. A. (2008). The myth of the alpha male: A new look at dominance-related beliefs and behaviors among adolescent males and females. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 32(1), 76–88.

4 Hopkins, P. (1994). Rethinking sadomasochism: Feminism, interpretation, and simulation. Hypatia, 9(1), 116-141.

5 Taylor, G. W. & Ussher, J. M. (2001). Making sense of S&M: A discourse analytic account. Sexualities, 4(3), 293-314.

6 McClintock, A. (1993). Maid to order: Commercial fetishism and gender power. Social Text, 37, 87-116.

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The (In)visibility of Gender Diversity in Graduate Level Education

While the abstract below refers to the lack of education on gender diversity in graduate level psychology programs and to the pathologization of gender diversity in related literature, it’s clear that the reification of heteronormative gender roles is also rampant in the field of social work (Hicks, 2014). As someone who holds master’s degrees in both psychology and social work, I experienced this phenomenon first hand twice, and as someone whose practice provides support for underserved individuals in the trans* community, I’ve taken it upon myself to correct this gap in my education. My efforts have also been motivated by identifying as non-binary/gender fluid, though I say this knowing that I benefit from the privilege that goes along with being presumed to be cis female in most circles. However, it is not solely for personal and professional reasons that I am posting the abstract to this article. Clinicians, educators, and other service providers have a responsibility to understand gender and sexual diversity—it is crucial not only to avoid further stigmatizing underserved populations, but this is the most direct route towards recognizing the diversity that exists (often invisibly) in every individual. Knowledge is powerful, and I believe that instilling a heightened awareness of diversity in future psychologists and social workers has the power to relieve constraints against freedom of expression for all individuals, and create a more tolerant and accepting society overall.

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Peering into Gaps in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders:
Student Perspectives on Gender and Informing Education
by Jessica Joseph, Dulcinea Pitagora, Adrian Tworecke, and Kailey Roberts (2013)
The Society for International Education Journal:
Engaging with Difference, Gender and Sexuality in Education, 7
(1), 104-127

Abstract: At the intersection of psychology and critical theories, graduate students in psychology are uniquely situated to analyze the pedagogical assumptions and practices that shape constructions of gender normativity in the field. Writing from the perspective of current students, we examine how the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition Text-Revision’s (DSM-IV-TR) work group members represent gender in their own publications. In line with previous criticisms, we suggest that many of the work group members uphold traditional binary systems; perpetuate statistical reinforcement and social loops; and pathologize (or deem developmentally lagging) gender diverse behavior. We question whether the DSM-IV-TR has been revised by diverse voices and make recommendations on how graduate-level curricula might broaden its pedagogy to include more fluid and inclusive concepts of gender expression.

A full-text PDF of the journal issue this article was published in can be downloaded here; the article begins on page 104.

While the Hicks article I mentioned above reviews “various theorizations of gender” (e.g., poststructural and postmodern feminism, queer and trans theory, material and structural, ethnomethodological, performative, and discursive) “to highlight ways in which social work may be limited in the versions that it prioritizes” (p. 13), it is exceedingly valuable to fields and schools of thought reaching far beyond the scope of social work. I highly recommend reading it! Here’s the citation:

Hicks, S. (2014). Social work and gender: An argument for practical accounts. Qualitative Social Work, 0(00), 1-17.

*****

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