Source unclear – Title unknown (201X)

So one of the things I absolutely adore about Tumblr is the way so many blogs use a less passive form of curation than this one. In most cases, it’s a binary of does this arouse me?

What I find so gratifying about that is when I see gay content slip into otherwise hetero exclusive blogs or hetero stuff slipping into otherwise immaculately maintained gay blogs.

I have no idea from whence this image originates. It’s definitely been desaturated from the original. Google seems to think it’s related to the MTV Teen Wolf show–I tend to think that’s inaccurate, fwiw.

But the fact that this image has been showcased on both gay, lesbian and straight exclusive blogs is something I find super interested–especially in the context of the Nashville Statement released by Evangelical Xtians last week.

I wanted to only subject myself to this BS once, so I made a point of annotating my reactions upon that first read-through.

“Know that the LORD Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves…”
-Psalm 100:3

I’m not super up-to-date on this sort of thing but as I recall Psalm 100 is essentially liturgical as far as context goes. Thus, one consideration would be that it’s pretty brash to start of a supposedly moralist treatise with lyrics from a song. But that’s actually not that strong of an argument as I frequently attempt the same sort of thing myself—except I’m more likely to use Velvet Underground lyrics. What is problematic about using this particular quote as justification for what follows is that it’s axiomatic. Strictly speaking, no one made themselves. Our parents fucked or two cells joined in a test tube, whatever. We didn’t get a say in any of that. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHAWkpGCP7A) The assumption is that this doesn’t just refer to our birth; that some cosmic asshole intends every action of our lived experience. There are a number of problems with this assumption. First, to claim it without also explaining how that jives with the nature of the Xtian God as being faithful, true and loving while also being vengeful/wrathful, vindictive, and petty. Second, To insist on this point from the outset is to undermine the actual argument posited—essentially, if the lord is lord and he did make you and intend your every action—then the action of being a LGBTQ person must necessarily fit into his plan. This is arguing that us LGBTQ folks are going against God’s will and plan and that makes God sad and Xtians sad. They can’t actually have it both ways—that lived experience (all of it, even the stuff you don’t necessarily agree with—not that it’s any of your fucking business..) fits within god’s plan. Only in the case that it doesn’t would there need to be earthlings propping up the intentions of a deity with garbage moralizing. Lastly, the thing that bothers me the most about this is that both these statements are grammatical—‘the Lord himself is God’ is nothing more than an explanation of a concept, as is ‘He made us, and now we ourselves’. That’s a huge philosophical fallacy—treating the grammatical as if it is, in fact, empirical. Thus, we are already off on a really slippery footing.

Preamble

Evangelical Christians at the dawn of the twenty-first century find themselves living in a period of historic transition. As Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian[…]

This is emblematic of far-right Xtians playing fast and loose with the facts; according to a 2014 Pew Research Study, more than 70% of the US Population claims to be Christian. Now, Evangelicals are likely to embrace that pat well-they-aren’t-Xtians-like-we’re-Xtians BS, but the fact of the matter is to be self-identified as a Christian in Western culture is to be decidedly within the majority. What you’re seeing here is the pervasive notion among far-right Evangelicals that they are truly the persecuted ones—aligning them ideological with white supremacists, Islamophobes and MRAs; this is not a coincidence.

it has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being.

This is factually inaccurate and enormously disingenuous. The dominant role that Xtianity has played in shaping so-called Western culture is so-well documented that I don’t feel I even need to source this. If you’ve studied history at all you know this. But it’s interesting to me that people who have made a habit of decimating other cultures and dictate social values and mores for vast swaths of the globe, that the push-back against that which has been a long time in coming, is necessarily framed as dangerous deviation from established fact instead of departure from officially endorsed fiction.

By and large the spirit of our age no longer discerns or delights in the beauty of God’s design for human life. Many deny that God created human beings for his glory, and that his good purposes for us include our personal and physical design as male and female. It is common to think that human identity as male and female is not part of God’s beautiful plan, but is, rather, an expression of an individual’s autonomous preferences.

‘It is common to think’, uh, I’m a goddamn demi-girl and I can tell you that it’s not actually common to think of the gender binary as part of God’s beautiful plan or an expression of autonomous personal preference—this is setting up the writers perspective against a straw man. What I feel might be more accurate to say is that there is pervasive misunderstanding and misinformation about what gender entails. There’s also varying degrees of tolerance for understanding w/r/t gender dysphoria. Also, it’s good to note the purposeful misunderstanding of the word ‘preference’. You always need to pay attention to how words are used. I regularly tell myself I would prefer not to go to work. Yes, I would prefer not to go to work. But that’s wishful thinking and short of sick days to burn, it’s not something that I can do. I prefer the aisle seat on a flight to a window seat. That’s a conditional statement. I usually book my flights far enough in advance that I don’t can choose my seat months in advance which makes this not a big deal. It would be different if I got bumped to another flight and was like I either take a middle seat or get on an even later flight and it takes me even longer to get home—note that here the question of what I prefer is diminished in favor of what I can tolerate. It’s also different if I introduce myself to someone as Esmé and that person asks if I prefer Esmé or Esmerelda. That last example is the closest the term ‘preference’ gets to the experience of gender dysphoria. And I think where this is coming from is the notion of pronoun preferences—something that extends well beyond trans identities, these days. To refer back to my Esmé vs Esmerelda example though, someone arguing with your pronouns is not at all different than telling someone you prefer a nickname to a proper name and them continue to refer to you by the proper name. In other words, it’s a dick move.

The pathway to full and lasting joy through God’s good design for his creatures is thus replaced by the path of shortsighted alternatives that, sooner or later, ruin human life and dishonor God.

I really can’t believe that this statement was released while the goddamn sky was falling in Houston. It seems as if Climate Change is ruining far more lives right now. Also, the genteel bigotry of this statement empowers the asshats who are chiming in attributing this disaster to punishment against the US for allowing ‘the gays’ to marry. Also, it should be noted the paternalistic tone is indefensible. To be 100% clear, if you’re an Xtian—I support your right to believe however you want to believe. I don’t have to agree with you to be civil towards you. However, your position is increasingly that you’re right and others are wrong and not only is your decency not something I can expect, you insist that I must agree with you that your opinion is the one truth and that I must renounce my sinful ways and join you in crushing those like me. Bullshit.

This secular spirit […]

If they’d opted for ‘influence’ instead of ‘spirit’ I’d have nothing to whine about here; however, ‘spirit’ implies that the side standing against the perspective espoused by this group are actually aligned with Satan and therefore Evangelicals feel that they are morally obligated to wage spiritual war against those powers

[…]of our age presents a great challenge to the Christian church. Will the church of the Lord Jesus Christ lose her biblical conviction, clarity, and courage, and blend into the spirit of the age? Or will she hold fast to the word of life, draw courage from Jesus, and unashamedly proclaim his way as the way of life? Will she maintain her clear, counter-cultural witness to a world that seems bent on ruin?

We are persuaded that faithfulness in our generation means declaring once again the true story of the world and of our place in it—particularly as male and female.

Anyone else noting the gender dichotomy bias and anti-trans thrust of this yet? Just me?

Christian Scripture teaches that there is but one God who alone is Creator and Lord of all.

I’ve always interpreted The Book of Jeremiah as an example of the dangers of viewing a deity as constant and unchanging; my reading is that Jeremiah is actually taking the Children of Israel to task for their idolatry but also for the idolatry of transferring the concept of YHWH into an idol that is only lacking a graven image, i.e. something of a kind with the Sufi notion that time is the breath of Allah and that Allah exhales the world into being and inhales the previous world as he does so; the old world is destroyed and replaced with the new one. This goes on until the end of time. That is why you shouldn’t visually depict Allah or Muhammad—because it attributes to them a permanence that they do not, in fact, possess. Also, this would be a thread linking Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. 

To him alone, every person owes glad-hearted thanksgiving, heart-felt praise, and total allegiance. This is the path not only of glorifying God, but of knowing ourselves. To forget our Creator is to forget who we are, for he made us for himself. And we cannot know ourselves truly without truly knowing him who made us. We did not make ourselves. We are not our own. Our true identity, as male and female persons, is given by God. It is not only foolish […]

Remember Matt 5:22, maybe? God, these it’s like these fucks don’t even read the book the claim as the basis of their belief…

[…]but hopeless, to try to make ourselves what God did not create us to be. We believe that God’s design for his creation and his way of salvation serve to bring him the greatest glory and bring us the greatest good. God’s good plan provides us with the greatest freedom. Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it in overflowing measure. He is for us and not against us. Therefore, in the hope of serving Christ’s church and witnessing publicly to the good purposes of God for human sexuality revealed in Christian Scripture, we
offer the following affirmations and denials.

Article 1
WE AFFIRM that God has designed marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church.

‘Procreative’? What about folks who can’t reproduce? I guess they aren’t really married in your definition. Might want to fix that. (Xtians are goddamn assholes. They would rather prop up a bogus assertion about birth control being against God’s will than to be inclusive.

WE DENY that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship. We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made
before God.

Gonna just quote Dan Savage here: “The Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood also wants you to know
that God didn’t “design marriage” to be polygamous or polyamorous…
which will be news to Esau (two wives), Moses (three wives), King David
(eight wives), Solomon (300 wives), and scores of other biblical action
figures. It’ll also come as news to whoever wrote the books of Exodus,
Leviticus and Deuteronomy, all of which acknowledge and affirm polygamy
and include short lists of polygamous best practices.“

Article 2
WE AFFIRM that God’s revealed will for all people is chastity outside of marriage and fidelity
within marriage.
WE DENY that any affections, desires, or commitments ever justify sexual intercourse before or
outside marriage; nor do they justify any form of sexual immorality.

Article 3
WE AFFIRM that God created Adam and Eve, the first human beings, in his own image, equal
before God as persons, and distinct as male and female.
WE DENY that the divinely ordained differences between male and female render them unequal in dignity or worth.

Interesting that of the initial signatories of this statement, approximately 15 out of 151 are women. Xtianity is misogynistic as fuck on a good day but part of the reason that this is the case is generally Evangelicals are very against woman participating at any level higher than associate pastorships. If this Article were true, then I would expect any of the men who signed this to—when asked—express support for women serving as full/primary pastors. In point of fact, you will find the exact opposite.

Article 4
WE AFFIRM that divinely ordained differences between male and female reflect God’s original creation design and are meant for human good and human flourishing.
WE DENY that such differences are a result of the Fall or are a tragedy to be overcome.

Wait, what? Oh, so you’re being like God’s original plan of which The Fall was and wasn’t depending upon which is more convenient for whatever argument they are presently attempting to support.

Article 5
WE AFFIRM that the differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral to God’s design for self-conception as male or female.
WE DENY that physical anomalies or psychological conditions nullify the God-appointed link between biological sex and self-conception as male or female.

As far as the Xtian party line w/r/t gender this is pretty straightforward stuff. Except, it’s actually maybe one of the most pernicious facets of this statement. It say that biological gender is dualistic and based upon reproductive structure. That’s not even scientifically sound.

Honestly that’s one of my biggest quarrels with Xtians—If you are super committed to this premise of belief in your Holy Book then maybe I don’t know give it some credit. Psalm 19:1 seems to suggest that nature should be able to evidence the creation of God. This renders you dubious to science as science presently doesn’t really point to their being a God the way you think there’s a God, so you overlook this verse and insist that science is rubbish. Nice.

Article 6

In which the eminently tolerant religious right refers to intersex folk as eunuchs and reminds them that god still has a plan for them as long as they play nice and opt for which ever gender with which their genitals most accurately align.

WE AFFIRM that those born with a physical disorder of sex development are created in the image of God and have dignity and worth equal to all other image-bearers. They are acknowledged by our Lord Jesus in his words about “eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb.” With all others they are welcome as faithful followers of Jesus Christ and should embrace their biological sex insofar as it may be known.
WE DENY that ambiguities related to a person’s biological sex render one incapable of living a fruitful life in joyful obedience to Christ.

Article 7
WE AFFIRM that self-conception as male or female should be defined by God’s holy purposes
in creation and redemption as revealed in Scripture.
WE DENY that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.

I’m gonna give waaaaay more credit than I should but this first notion takes a lot of preconditions to arrive at: I have to accept that there’s a God and that it’s your God and that your holy book is his inspired word. I—for my part—have a really hard time with that. Let’s take two examples: the entire story of Job involves God making a bet with Satan where he’s like hey this guy really loves me, I bet I can treat him like absolute shit and he’s still gonna love me. Job’s life implodes and then when Job refuses to condemn God but asks questions of God, God gets all pissy and is like who are you to accuse moi? Also, remember how the only good man in Sodom and Gomorra was like, oh, hey, I won’t throw these angels out for you to bugger, but you can totally rape my daughters? Yeah, great guy. I have to believe that God sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for my signs, accept that gift freely given and then dedicate the rest of my life to serving him. So I have to agree with you 100% on all those points to get to the point where your assertion even makes sense. Then you refer to homosexual or transgender self-conception, like any self-understanding outside of God’s will is inherently some sort of insidious mind-crime? You realize how crazy that is, right?

Article 8
WE AFFIRM that people who experience sexual attraction for the same sex may live a rich and fruitful life pleasing to God through faith in Jesus Christ, as they, like all Christians, walk in purity of life.
WE DENY that sexual attraction for the same sex is part of the natural goodness of God’s original creation, or that it puts a person outside the hope of the gospel.

I was talking with someone who is extremely religious the other day about why this statement is so immensely problematic. She pointed out that it seemed—to her—like they were saying that you don’t have to agree with us. We respect the difference of opinion. I read something very different but I think here in Article 8, we finally get to the crux of the issue. The current pearl clutching about all of this is that much how Obama is blamed for enflaming racial tensions in this country—when someone who is oppressed gains some modicum of power or visibility, this increases awareness with regards to oppression. Obama didn’t enflame racial tensions, he just shown a spotlight that they still exist. Really, at the root of this entire statement is a sort of response to 1 Corinthians 8:9—which basically says that there may be things which aren’t specifically condoned or condemned by the law but that you still shouldn’t do because they may present a stumbling block to others of faith. In a number of ways, it’s fitting that this statement is so preoccupied with genitals as gender. In most church’s there the assumption that everyone is straight and therefore everyone fucks more or less the same as I do. That’s a rubbish notion. Yet when you have someone who is not heterosexual, there is this idea that they do differently with their genitals than I do with mine. Put it another way: no one in church is going to ask whether or not heterosexual partners engage in anal sex (they may or they may not but their orientation means that I can safely assume—even though that is unwise) that they fuck in a predominantly heterosexual manner. When you have folks who do not fuck that way, their mere existence in the framework of the church means that they probably don’t fuck the way most of the rest of the people fuck. Yet, instead of seeing them as people and due their privacy—I mean Christina Churchlady isn’t going to ask Hester Hiswill if she lets her husband finger her chocolate spot.But she’s going to see gay people not as people but as functions of their difference and this brings a level of crassness (and it’s definitely her bringing it) the Gayversons just wanna fit into a nice church where they can be spiritually and socially nurtured. That’s the real problem with all this. It’s an extension of the thing where you wouldn’t ask Joe if he’s circumcised in most polite conversation but we’ll ask Jane if she’s pre or post op? Fuck that.

Article 9
WE AFFIRM that sin distorts sexual desires by directing them away from the marriage covenant and toward sexual immorality—a distortion that includes both heterosexual and homosexual immorality.
WE DENY that an enduring pattern of desire for sexual immorality justifies sexually immoral behavior.

Again there is an awful lot of preconditions that need to be met in order to get to this jumping off point of this assertion.

Article 10
WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or
transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.
WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism
is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.

OK, now this I recognize. This is the you’re not a real Xtian unless you are in-line with this way of thinking.The bible does refer negatively to homosexuality on a number of occasions. Yet much in the same way many Evangelicals eat pork and shellfish nowadays—in spite of Levitical law. There is a notion that Christ came to fulfill the law. Thus the OT rules—in a sense—no longer apply. Or, more accurately, tend to be acceptable to pick and choose. One of the best scenes in The West Wing deals with this.

There are 3 verses in the NT that refer to homosexuality. Only one is really clearly germane to this conversation: Romans 1:26-27. Needless to say there is hardly any sort of definitive consensus among Biblical scholars as to what this verse specifically entails.

Article 11
WE AFFIRM our duty to speak the truth in love at all times, including when we speak to or about one another as male or female.
WE DENY any obligation to speak in such ways that dishonor God’s design of his image-bearers as male and female.

And on the eighth day, God created pronouns in the indisputable image of man and woman. I’m going to overlook that this positions love on the side of intolerance and hatred and is like incredibly stupid with regard to how language actually functions. I suspect Wittgenstein would assault someone with more than just a goddamn poker over some of this trash.

Article 12
WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ gives both merciful pardon and transforming power, and that this pardon and power enable a follower of Jesusto put to death sinful desires and to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.
WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ is insufficient to forgive all sexual sins and to give power for holiness to every believer who feels drawn into sexual sin.

Yeah, because conversion therapy is super, super effective.

Article 13
WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ enables sinners to forsake transgender self-
conceptions and by divine forbearance to accept the God-ordained link between one’s biological
sex and one’s self-conceptionas male or female.
WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ sanctions self-conceptions that are at odds with [predominantly rich white men’s interpretation of] God’s revealed will.

Article 14
WE AFFIRM that Christ Jesus has come into the world to save sinners and that through Christ’s
death and resurrection forgiveness of sins and eternal life are available to every person who
repents of sin and trusts in Christ alone as Savior, Lord, and supreme treasure.
WE DENY that the Lord’s arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond his reach.

You can say that this is nothing more than a clarification offered by an organization that has every right to publicly clarify it’s position on hot-button issues. What is intolerable is the way that the statement intends to suggest that tolerance is is a function outside of what is deemed good, appropriate and true by a religious organization. Conform or be cast out, in other words.

The point is very clear either you are for us or you are against us. You can join us but if you don’t we will not accept you because we know better than you what’s good for you.

It leads to things like this. It’s why so many of the same fuckwits who signed this statement also are so Islamophobic–whether they realize it or not, they share tactics and a vision with Daesh more closely than they do with the ecumenical community.

This meme pretty much nails what I feel about this statement:

Lastly, I’ve been actually reading a lot of right-leaning commentary lately and a great number of people seem all pissy about the fact that the left automatically assumes they are stupid af. As someone who is so far left that someone like Tony Perkins can’t even imagine that someone like me actually exists in the desert of the real, no one assumes you’re dumb–you just regularly open your mouth and prove it. Just as an example from when I was in a parochial high school, no one I went to school with say any sort of contradiction in being pro-life and pro-capital punishment. I’m not saying I think there’s an equivalency, I’m just saying that from their perspective there is absolutely an equivalence except they can’t seem to see it.

clikr73DSC_3901 (2015)

This isn’t a good image but it gives me all sorts of warm fuzzy feelings.

It’s from the 2015 World Naked Bike Ride in Portland–and event I promise myself that I’m going to do each and every year and then chicken out at the last minute each and every year.

It’s a complicated thing. I’m super fascinated by intersections of ‘private’ experiences in public spaces. But I get intensely put off by the whole nudist/naturalism scene. Not that I have anything against nudism/naturism, I’m just more interested in the transgression of the boundary that says being nakedly embodied is not something appropriate for mass consumption. (Nudism/naturalism seems to drift toward the extreme of trying to normalize and de-transgressionate public nudity.)

Also, if there was a closer match between how I see myself–a dyke-ier version of the woman here with the fabulous ink–I’d probably be more into these sorts of things.

Mostly what gets me about this is the way that these two are obviously close friends. They are sharing water from the same nalgene and are sharing space in one of those casual, unconsidered ways that friends do. I’m jealous of that, honestly.

I’d like to have friends that feel comfortable being naked around me and whom I feel comfortable being naked around. Bodies are great and I don’t think we should have to hide them and I don’t think being naked around other people always has to be sexual, I just think that it’s more honest in some ways. (If that makes sense.)

I do also realize that this is a very male gaze-y sort of thing. I mean the way it’s focused on the woman with the ink as opposed to anyone else and the way it’s framed so that you can see the knee jerk cishet assumed erogenous zones is kind of grating. But I do have to admit the twine tied around her hips gets me all kinds of hot and bothered, if I’m honest.

Anastasia TikhonovaUntitled (2014)

I’m intrigued by Tikhonova, or as she calls herself: Antipictures.

‘Anti’ meaning to stand against and also a clever contraction based upon the first two letters of her given name and patronymic.

It’s the exactly the same sort of multivalent turn upon which most of her work hinges.

She introduces her self in her anti-artist statement, as follows:

Photography is
a survival mechanism for me. My generation was the first to come of age
following the collapse of communism – my youth coincided with an
esthetic and existential wasteland experienced on the national scale. We
were caught between the institutional aesthetic of the Soviets and the
gaudy taste of the nouveau riche, and there was no established cultural
norm, no expectations to rebel against. That lack of expectations was
disorienting, but also liberating
– and I focused on drawing out the
sublime from the surroundings both vulgar and mundane. Photography is a
way to carve beautiful moments out of the habitual, and I live for that.

Projects followed, with magazine deals and exhibits. I moved to London
and sought to give a conceptual focus to the most basic of my drives –
to reveal the beauty and to show it to those who share a similar sense
of life… Yet the yearning for prestige and recognition gave me nothing
but panic attacks. I am back now – we haven’t met yet but take your
chances.

The added emphasis is mine because it hits upon something I’ve been trying to pin down for years; namely: the sort of It-factor that allows you to spot a mid-career Eastern European or Russian image maker from thirty paces is exactly that space between ruins and crass, resplendent decadence.

It’s a prescient observation. Unfortunately, it’s much more in keeping with say Igor Mukhin than Tikhonova.

I’m only halfway intending to knock her though. For example: the image above is–without question–pretty. Beyond that I’m not sure what it’s purpose is. There’s not enough context to determine what’s being said about notions of public vs private. And the ‘work’ tattoo on the subject’s right wrist suggests there might be something to do with notions of images as means of person expression vs agency-less objectification. But it’s all too muddle to decrypt.

Still, even though I don’t necessarily like all of her work it still resonates with me. I think she has excellent instincts. For example: I appreciate her artist statement for the fact that it functions in a way that mirrors the majority of artist statements splayed on gallery walls–except it replaces superficial pretension with something real. (Every statement I’ve ever written has made a similar gambit.)

And although it’s unspeakable poor form from the standpoint of webdev standards and practices (animated splash pages are just the worst, y’all), I do appreciate the way Tikhonova overlays her images with quasi-religious/meditative aphorisms. It underscores the degree to which her work is preoccupied with searching.

Ultimately, I think that’s what appeals to me about her work. I think, I’ve mentioned before that my training is as a film maker. Essentially, I stepped away from that world because I had developed extensive, existential doubts about narrative structure and the authentic telling of a story. A decade later, I’m still wrestling with messy questions but the crux of the debate boils down to two questions:

  • How do you known where to begin?
  • What details are inescapably relevant/what details are extraneous?

Looking at Tikhonova’s work I can’t help but think that she’s still trying to resolve for herself:

  • How do I know when a picture is worth taking?
  • Is the point to remember the moment or to render the moment intelligible to those who will only ever witness it second hand and in a heavily cloistered form?

These may not be the questions she’s asking herself exactly but despite some of her works failings, with regard to the process with which she’s addressing these considerations, her work is shockingly forthcoming if you’re willing to put in the time with it.

I can’t think of another contemporary image maker who show there work more faithfully and completely. So even if her work isn’t quite there, her process is very much on point.

CAH – Cam Damage (2015)

camdamage is an artist. Full fucking stop.

I mean she’s disarmingly pretty and if she’s taken a bad picture, I either missed it or have lost track amidst her steady stream of effing stellar work.

Still, I feel like commenting on her appearance misses more than half the point. It’s like Jon Stewart’s on fleek insight into the media response to Caitlyn Jenner’s transition: Caitlyn when you were a man we could talk about your athleticism, your business acumen…now you’re a woman and your looks are the only thing we care about.

What makes her beautiful is more than just her appearance. If you follow her–which if you don’t then real talk you are abso-fucking-lutely doing Tumblr wrong–you know she is a wickedly intelligent and kind individual, with a sarcasm setting that isn’t just a louder 10 but goes all the way to 11.

At risk of using a meaningless cliche, she’s down-to-earth. Not in that she makes an effort to be some with whom everyone can relate– but that she presents herself as someone who tries really hard but fails what feels like far too many times to justify the investment of time and painstaking effort. She stumbles, admits them, gets back up and tries to roll that giant fucking rock up ye olde hill of impossible climbing once again.

Her work to grow and evolve as an individual, her courage and uncompromising determination shine through in her work in a way for which I know of no precedent with which to compare it.

The saying goes: talent hits the target no one else can; genius hits a target no one else can see.

By that token, Cam’s work signals her as a genius.

(Oh, and this picture is stunning: the vague vignetting effect of the strobe and the way it casts just enough of a shadow to cause her to pop from the background. The skin tone is both natural and gorgeously accentuates muscle tone. The unraveling braids, armband tattoo and perfectly executed eye light are all artifacts of high-end glossy fashion editorial methods in service of presenting something closer to a candid portrait. Just goddamn fucking killer!)

girlonboy:

GIRL ON BOYPegging – Anilingus – Fingering » Follow

This GIF reminds me of Johanna, the daughter of one of my mother’s church friends who, in hindsight, was almost certainly sexually abused throughout her childhood.

At six, Johanna was a pretty and knew it. Around adults she adopted an affected shyness. One-on-one she was not unfriendly as long as you did exactly what she said. If you didn’t, she could be viciously mean..

I was a year older and not especially friendly with her. But kids make all kinds of alliances against boredom and it didn’t hurt that Johanna wanted to undertake something illicit. 

She explained to me that although her mother had forbidden it, she wanted to rebuild her Fort.

The Fort, it turned out, was a sort of tent. It had a house shaped frame formed from interconnecting black plastic rods. Said rods needed to be smuggled from her upstairs bedroom through the living room crowded with adults and downstairs into the sun drenched rec room.

It took an hour or so to erect the frame and fit the nylon skin tattooed to resemble an idyllic suburban house over it. 

Johanna told me that we were going to play house. She was the dad and had to go to work; I was the mom and she expected me to clean the house and have dinner ready when she got home. 

She marched off upstairs; I opened the zippered front door and went into the house– inside it was too small for me to stand up all the way. 

Johanna came in behind me and asked why dinner wasn’t ready. I said I hadn’t expected her so early.

She demanded that I come outside with her. Standing beside the Fort she told me she was going to punish me and pulled down my underwear. I tried to pull them up with both hands but she seemed to have expected this and fondled me. Her touch was clumsy; it made my insides feel strange.

She shimmied the waist of her own underwear down and told me to touch her between her legs

She guided my hand and fingers, pressing her body roughly into mine as she explored me with increasing insistence.

I started to feel like I was melting before I remembered how to move, pushed her away and ran upstairs.

Five years later, I was waiting for my mom to finish with a church elder’s meeting when Johanna shoved me into the men’s room. Inside, she quickly checked the shower area and stalls before menacing me with the chrome blade of a Swiss army knife. She pushed me back against the wall and pushed metal edge against my throat. 

I will kill you unless you stick your tongue in my ass.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t scared or worried for my safety. What upset me was having no notion whatsoever of what she really wanted.

Before anything more could happen, my brother walked in on us. Johanna brandishing the knife and charged at him. He sidestepped and she spun, pointing the tip of the blade at each of us, threatening grievous bodily harm if we told anyone then disappearing into the hallway.

What happened between us failed to traumatize me. And I bear her no ill will. All she did was tell me to do something when asking would have worked– Johanna was not unattractive and in spite of my deep reservations with regard to anilingus, it’s likely I would have complied.)

I haven’t thought of her in more than a decade. And seeing this GIF my first thought was not to immediate flashback to the aforementioned incidents. I started off thinking about how there are two types of BDSM imagery: those pathologically preoccupied with power dynamics and those focused on the role trust plays in transgressing bodily boundaries. I categorically dislike the former; the latter tend to really get under my skin because I cannot help attributing metaphorical significance to them.

I know I am not normal but when I trust someone it’s not that I expect them to want to tie me up and do whatever they want with my body as much as I just would have no qualms whatsoever if they did. I sincerely feel my trust entitles them to places just as much of a claim on my body as I do. It is as if through friendship I am already completely naked, restrained and at the mercy of another–much like this boy.

It occurs to me that Johanna probably shared this feeling of base nakedness, The difference lay in her willingness to strip others to level the field.

I do not accept such wonton disregard for consent. At the same time, I don’t comprehend why it would ever not be okay to ask for something as long as it is okay to decline.

You’d think most people’s curiosity about the bodied-ness of others would thrill at such openness. Most leave you restrained and walk away. A few will willingly touch you, even fewer will admit they want you to touch them the way you want to be touched and maybe once in a lifetime someone will summon from you a certain degree of the grace which transcends mercy.

When printing something one is given two options: portrait or landscape.

As best I can tell this is a vestige of painting: vertically oriented images were favored for portraits while horizontal frames lent themselves to the panorama of landscapes.

Although arguably more of an unconscious convention in painting, this logic has been actively internalized by photographers and virtually enshrined by digital image makers.

The trouble is two-fold: the logic of photography is not interchangeable with the rules and precepts of painting (no matter how the latter interpenetrates the former). When applied to each other, these conventions produce schizoid, contradictory compositions.

Photography—and by dint digital imaging which however misguided is based upon it—has internalized the landscape orientation.  Unlike painting, I do not think this internalization has been unconscious—after all, if you have ever looked at a strip of 35mm film on a light-table there is an easy-to-see bias towards horizontal framing. (I am so accustomed to this that when I encounter vertical compositions now, I tend to tilt my head sideways when looking at them.)

Portrait orientation is not without its uses in photography and digital imaging. Unfortunately, it more often than not contributes very little to the compositional ‘sense’ of an image; serving expedience by quickly fitting the subject to the frame—instead of forcing the image maker to contemplate the discontinuity between the subject/frame and subsequently address it in a more artful manner.

The above has almost certain been cropped. But I would wager its orientation was originally vertical. (The individual responsible for the image contacted me with assurances that the image was originally horizontal but was cropped to accentuate the vertical.) And although I think horizontal framing would have worked better (EDIT: Having seen a sample of the original image, it is better), I will admit that unlike the vast majority of portrait orientations, the image maker is clearly aware of the manner in which the shift affects how the image is seen.

The frame echoes the subject’s form. On its own, that is the worst of lazy justifications; however, in this case the poses, the simple line work of what I find to be one of the sexiest tattoos I have ever seen and the narrowed view work as a visual approximation of the feeling one gets from indulging in a much needed stretch.

Further, the portrait orientation allowed the photographer to be closer to the model, lending a sense of heightened intimacy while also preserving anonymity.

Finally, I would be remiss not to admit a large part of my reason for posting this is the model’s unnerving resemblance to someone upon whom I currently have a maddening crush.

The above reminds me of a pinup photo. Or, more accurately perhaps: anti-pinup.

It replaces the manufactured glamor of Betty Grable with the (preferable to me) alt-punk body/sex positive grunge mien of Camille (Cam) Damage.

With all my bitching about how so many photographers cut up women’s bodies with slipshod framing, you would think I would be goddamn all over the pinup. (Can you recall one that doesn’t include the entire body? I can’t.)

But there are two things I find troubling about the pinup tradition. The first doesn’t apply but it lends weight to the second: in a pinup the model’s acknowledges the spectator’s gaze.

Miss Damage, while clearly aware of the camera on her, ignores it.

However, taking an existing form—in this case the pinup—and replacing its various components with their appositives does not a new form make; In other words: you can include all the thin, alluring, pierced beauties with a progressive take on body hair—and please do not misunderstand me, Miss Damage is so hot you have to spell it haute—but the result will invariably mimic the original form.

Inversion is like that, never quite managing to be subversive.

What bothers me is the inherent problem of pinups (as well as anti-pinups); whether intended or not, they serve as a metonymy wherein the whole of an individual’s sexuality is represented by a part, which is most often their sexualized body.

As much as I hate on pornography—it rarely struggles with this problem. Depicting the sex act is fundamentally narrative; it has a beginning, middle and end; demands choices with regard to the inclusion or exclusion of a mass of details.

As Nabokov noted: God is in the details.