Latino Blog Challenge Day 6: Crossing Borders

Prompt: “Immigration: For or Against?”

I’m for people moving when they want and/or need to, and I’m pro immigrant/migrant rights. I’m pro youth getting an easier path to citizenship when they didn’t make the decision to migrate without papers, but were under the care of a guardian who made that decision for them.

Not a fan of conditions that make it so people HAVE to migrate against their will, so that families are separated, so that people work in subhuman conditions to send money home or feed their families. Not a fan of heavily controlled borders and the dehumanizing language around undocumented people (e.g. “illegals” and “aliens”). Not a fan of super difficult processes to become a citizen of a country where someone is working and/or fleeing and/or trying to provide for themselves/their family and/or be part of the community.

Latino Blog Challenge Day 4: Rollcall of Awesomeness

Prompt: “What Latino blog I recommend”

Well I can’t just pick ONE, obviously! So here are a few!

I want to focus a bit on the intersection of queerness and Latin@ identity because my induction into my queerness was not through a lens of queer Latinidad. My queerness was part of my conscious identity before my ethnicity, and it was hella whitewashed in terms of theory because that’s what was mainstream and available. Now I’m doing my work to deconstruct that and try to live my sexuality in ways that feel authentic but also connected to my ethnic history and homeland of Puerto Rico.

To that end, I’d love to highlight some awesome queer Latin@ blogs, and I gotta start with Tumblr: Fuck Yeah Queer Latin@s  and Fuck Yeah Jot@s. I also had the lovely experience of connecting with Max during a webinar and simultaneously finding their blog, but not making the connection until a bit later. Finally, the Latinidad section of QWOC Media Wire is another awesome collection of articles. An honorary mention in this section, because it’s not solely Latin@ but pretty awesome and QPOC-y, is QueerBrownXX.

Now, not solely a queer latin@ blog, but instead a general one that does touch upon sexuality is the Latinegr@s Project. I gotta give mad appreciation to them because as someone who benefits from light-skinned privilege, I like seeing spaces that actively cultivate strength, pride, and power in being afro-latin@ and visibly so; that post art and music and jobs and resources; that critique white-washing and frequent negative media portrayals of dark-skinned characters; and highlight the marginalization even within already oppressed communities. In the same vein of fabulousness, check out Latino Sexuality and Vivir Latino (the latter is geared primarily towards folks that are part of the Latin@ diaspora in the U.S.).

Latino Blog Challenge Day 3: Feed Me, Seymour!

Prompt: “Favorite Latin Cuisine”

HARD QUESTIONS! I’m a total foodie and just spent a weekend in Puerto Rico having amazing Latin-American food. At Tierra de Fuego, we ate Argentinian food; at Perurrican, we ate Peruvian and Peru/PR fusion food; and at home we ate comida criolla.

I think the defining feature of my favorite Latin-American cuisine, though, is the lack of heat and the blast of flavors. Having grown up in Puerto Rico to a boricua mom and a Cuban dad, those cuisines are definitely my favorite, though I do have soft spots for Argentine and Dominican food.

But let’s just get our mouths watering now, and I can share some food memories:

  • Milanesa (a breaded cutlet dish) a la napolitana (with ham, cheese, and marinara sauce) or a caballo (with a fried egg on top) from El Deli in Puerto Rico, an Argentine place where I drank the mushroom & wine sauce like a soup, where we could draw/sign on the walls with big markers.
  • Abuela making short-grained white rice with tocino as I sat on a small, white wicker chair and watched cartoons.
  • Picking out the black rice grains from the big measuring cup full of white rice as I stood on a chair helping a neighbor when we visited Mayaguez.
  • Picking parcha (passionfruit) and sugar cane and guineos (bananas) and carambolas (starfruit) and little medicinal herbs and recao from our backyard.
  • Christmases with arroz con gandules, home-made pasteles wrapped in twine and banana leaves, arroz con dulce with that little cinnamon stick. A roast pig on the spit and Christmas songs about going to see Jesus, about the jibaritos on the mountains.
  • Limbers made in plastic cups and eaten after school, bright yellow corn ice-cream with cinnamon on top (or guava sherbet with creamed cheese balls), and shaved ice piraguas in Old San Juan.

Latino Blog Challenge Day 2: Visitando la patria

Prompt: “What Latin American Country/Island have I been to”

Well, I’ve lived in a Latin-American country most of my life–18 years to be exact–though some debate if Puerto Rico is even a country at all. It’s actually an archipelago, for starters–a collection of islands in the Caribbean, part of the Greater Antilles–that’s still not sovereign. PR is a commonwealth of the U.S., a strange love-child of the Caribbean waters and the U.S. empire.

Aside from that and perhaps touching the shores of some other islands when I was too young to remember more than a few snippets, I’ve never been anywhere else in Latin-America.

Hopefully one day I’ll visit other places, but here are some at the top of the list:

  • Cuba–my father’s homeland. He and his family fled Fidel Castro’s regime and thus hopped over to Mexico, Florida, and eventually Puerto Rico while my dad was just a small child. They all said they’d never step foot back there until communism fell and/or Fidel and his line died out. 
  • Argentina–we had online friends there in the late 90’s due to my dad’s love of Argentine Dogos and my mom’s tech savvy, friendly nature.
  • Costa Rica–pretty pretty!

Latino Blog Challenge Day 1: Latin@ in America

Starting late, I know. This was supposed to start on the 15th, but I’m starting today because I was traveling (to Puerto Rico, coincidentally).

Prompt: “What I love most about being Latino in America”

First of all, I’m assuming “America” here means the United States of America? Which is a pet peeve of mine because the USA is NOT the entirety of America and I think it’s strange how US folks call themselves just “Americans.”

But anyway.

I love that we’re a presence that complicates notions of race and belonging–that in a black/white country we come in too many colors to easily pinpoint and identify as Latin@, and that while all our Latin-American countries have their own histories, we as people have histories with living in the U.S. too.

I like that our mere presence can turn racialized notions on their head. Here in the U.S. we organize more based around country of origin and/or language rather than the color of our skin because skin does not dictate our full cultural landscape (though it does affect it). Our origins, overall, are mixed and complicated so that questions of race can throw many of us for a loop. How much of our blood is black or native or various flavors of colonizer? Is it even a question of blood anymore for those folks who have immigrated into Latin-America from other countries and been there for years, decades, or even centuries?

I love that even in the face of antipathy and harsh immigration laws and racism and xenophobia and stereotypes, we are still overall a proud set of people, that we congregate joyously and there’s always food and conversation and community.

Unpacking the Invisible Toybag (or, Scene Specific White Privilege)

So M (who goes by _Spiral_ on Fetlife)–a black genderqueer person from Baltimore–wrote a great list of white privilege in the BDSM/kink/leather scene inspired by the famous Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, by Peggy McIntosh:


By and large, white people in our society have been and continue to be taught about racism as something that puts others at a disadvantage, but taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, White Privilege, which puts white people at an advantage… taught to view themselves as individuals whose moral state depended on their individual moral will… to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal, so that when they work to benefit others, this is seen as work that will allow POCs to be more like them.

There are numerous unearned advantages to being white in the BDSM community. The thing is, as stated above, these are not seen as advantages, they are seen as normative, ie. that’s just the way things are. These advantages include but are not limited to the following:
  • A white person can go to an event or party and very likely not be the only white person (or one of a few) at said event.
  • A white person can be fairly sure to see their race represented in event literature (ads, program books, videos, etc), and BDSM artwork and literature at large (BDSM based fiction, books, magazines)
  • A white person will very likely be able to find Dungeon Monitors, and others in charge in scene space who will be of their own race.
  • A white person will very likely be able to find event presenters and educators who will be of their own race.
  • A white person can be fairly certain that event organizers and venue owners are people of their own race.
  • Barring known nationality in some cases (cuz i bet BoundBlackDragon could tell us a story or two) a white person can be fairly certain that the type of play they like, and/or the role they’d like to play in a scene will not be assumed based on their race or stereotypes about their race.
  • Barring known nationality in some cases, when undressed, a white person can safely expect not to have their body or an area of their body or bodypart be considered a “credit to their race.”
  • Barring known nationality in some cases, when showing particular skill, force, technique, intensity, or even gentleness, a white person can safely expect that these aspects will not be attributed to stereotypes about their race.
  • Barring known nationality in some cases, when a mistake is made in a scene, a white person can safely expect that it will not be attributed to a stereotype about incompetence or clumsiness via their race.
  • If the people in attendance at an event are paying NO attention to a white person, that person can be fairly certain that it’s not because of their race.
  • If the people in attendance at an event are paying a LOT of attention to a white person, that person can be fairly sure that it’s not because of their race.

And then someone derailed the hell out of it, so obviously I commented. Can I also mention this derailer is a white, 35 y.o. male dominant who is part of a “Black Women/White Men” group, a “White Doms/Tops and Black subs/bottoms” group, a “young black women who love older white men” group, AND a “Gorean” group? I’ll just leave that there for y’all to digest.

By and large I think what you are missing is that white people generally don’t look for their own race in those situations and have no issue with other races filling those parts. As for sexual expectations you are too narrow in your scope because skinny girls are expected to be a certain way as well as large girls, blonds, upper class, lower class etc etc etc. I’m not going to go into detail because I am very tired but I think you are showing a large amount of ignorance and short sightedness yourself. By and large people are much less hated then they believe they are. Social interactions being the most complicated thing in human nature you cannot simply chalk things up so simply.

Of course, because so many spaces ARE white, and it’s not just a byproduct of “oh well there are just lots of white people in the U.S.”—it’s directly tied to how the scene operates, what’s valued in it, how cost-prohibitive some parties/accessories/etc. are, the locations where BDSM/kink activities are able to happen, and a lot more, and THOSE systems and situations are inextricably tied to racism.

White people rarely, if ever, “look for their own race” because they’re constantly surrounded by them, and people of color are the minorities that are either used to having to find community or because of circumstance, are mistrustful/uncomfortable/whatever when in a white-dominated space.

Plus, I’d sincerely hope white people “didn’t have an issue” with “other races filling those parts.” (But the thing is, some of them do. Which is fucked.)

Also, I have been told I am a credit to my race and sex as well. If there are other races in the audiences then that is very possible.

How have you been told “you’re a credit to your race and sex”? I’m curious about the context and intent there…

Oh and for the last few if you get a lot or no attention why do you assume off the top it is because of your race? Could be body type, newness, attitude or a multitude of other things. As I said above social interactions is the most complicated part of human nature and to assume you understand completely all of the intricacies only shows how little you really know and would rather remain in what feels comfortable rather then challenge yourself and your own ASSUMPTIONS(PREJUDICE).

Of course–there are a lot of means of oppressing people, a lot of different types of privileges, and the OP is not saying that racism trumps all other oppressions and that if you are a person of color you are ALWAYS OPPRESSED IN EVERY WAY. They’re trying to highlight the way RACE specifically operates in terms of privileges. Just because there are other fucked up assumptions we make based on other identities (such as body shape/size) doesn’t mean the ones based on race are “not as bad or important.”

Re: the attention issue—Jesus H. Christ. AGAIN, the OP is not saying it IS ALWAYS ABOUT RACE. They are saying that one of the privileges of being a white person in the scene is that race is USUALLY NOT AN ISSUE FOR WHITE PEOPLE. While a person of color moves around the world dealing with their race and probably having to think about it every damn day, white people don’t have that, and at the very least if they do for some outside reason, they don’t have it in the same, systemic way that POC do.

Once again, if you reread the post, it says a white person can be fairly certain their level of attention, regardless of if it’s high or low, is NOT RELATED to their race, while–again, based on experience–a POC CANNOT be fairly certain that that’s the case.

Social interactions are indeed complicated, but to try to veil them with “oh, it’s complicated, you can’t break them down like this” is ridiculous.

Racist + Sexist “Adult Novelties”

Trigger-warning for gross sexist, racist language and glorification of non-consent.

Those of you who know me know I *love* talking about sex toys. Not only do I find them personally stimulating (har har har), I’m also just fascinated by how they have evolved, how technological developments have impacted their growth/design, and the ways in which people and the media conceptualize them. I’m fortunate enough to have attended some “novelty expos” in the past for work and I’ve seen a wide array of products. Some have blown my mind with their stylish marketing and innovative designs, but I’ve also had the misfortune of encountering some REALLY horrible toys (read: unsafe materials, terrible packaging, offensive marketing, and more). I wanted to highlight 2 particular companies producing some pretty egregious toys.

Why?

  • Because I want to hold toys and companies to higher standards and share what I know with the people who read this blog
  • Because consumers deserve to find good resources for their sex toys and know which companies are fucked up
  • Because there are some damaging and oppressive stereotypes and ideas being bandied about, and the sex toy industry usually gets a “free pass” because people think sexuality is some magical arena where politics and kindness don’t apply
  • Because we need to acknowledge the pervasive sexism and racism in our fields and see how these things connect to our daily lives

BUT FIRST: some background. Pipedreams and Nasstoys (the ones I discuss here) are part of what’s known in the industry as “The Big Five” (Doc Johnson, Cal Exotics, and Topco being the other three in the club). These are the companies that churn out toys like nobody’s business–the “giants” in the industry. There’s no real sense of “coherent” brand identity to the average consumer because these huge companies have a lot of toys under their belt and a wide array of different lines. Unlike smaller independent stores and companies, these organizations are faceless and commercial (not inherently a bad thing, but it’s not a positive thing for me personally). They also put their profits before their consumers, as evidenced by their practices and the stuff I mention in this post.

Disclaimer: I own a glass Pipedreams toy because I was asked to review it years ago. While the line has a TON of products, and some of them are actually nice, I don’t support them as a brand.

 

Pipedreams

When I went to the ANME Founders Show, I was introduced to the Pipedreams Extreme Toyz line. My immediate thought was a big WTF. They have toys like Flip a Sista Over and Junk in Tha Trunk. If the names and the “cum in her ghetto booty” slogan slapped across the package of the latter aren’t enough to get you riled up, here’s the copy that goes along with these ridiculously offensive toys:

Fuck her first in her tight mocha twat, then Flip A Sista Over and bust a nut in her booty! This handheld honey is the answer to every man’s chocolate fantasies…a sweet black pussy on one end and a big ol’ bubble butt on the other, with nothing getting in the way of you filling her with cum! 

If you love thick black asses, this sista’s got enough Junk in tha Trunk to satisfy your cravings! Fuck her first in her phat booty, then stick it in her snatch and bust a nut in her tight mocha twat! This bubble butt beauty is the answer to every man’s chocolate fantasies…two big round ass cheeks to slap and pound on top, with a sweet black pussy spread eagle underneath! 

Flip her over, insert the vibrating bullet underneath, and enjoy thrilling vibrations in her coochie and ass. When you’re finished, cum inside either hole and never worry about knocking her up!

Where…would I even begin criticizing this? Jesus.
This one also creeps me out due to the way it fetishizes virginity, and while I’m down with most fetishes and fantasies, the problematic thing about this toy and its accompanying text/ideology is that for many people this “virgin ideal” leads to a lot of slut-shaming  (among other things). Similarly, there’s the misogyny and idealization of youth in this other toy, which bears the lovely slogan “I’m young, dumb, and want your CUM!” And while I’m actually a fan of consensual face-fucking, the images for this toy are just downright creepy. They hit super close to home re: the dehumanization of women in day-to-day experiences, and the copy is also atrocious and reeking of rape culture:

She’s all yours to enjoy and there are no rules! Best of all, she never says no to a good time because she always has her mouth full! 

Watch her eyes roll back into her head, then gag her with a taste of your man meat!  If your girl never deep throated you before, now is your chance to enjoy the thrill! (…) She won’t gag or choke, and there’s no annoying teeth to get in the way or bite.  When you’re about to cum, don’t worry about pulling out–blow a fat load right in her mouth and let her swallow!

At the expo I attended, they also had a “shemale” torso (Note: this was their offensive language, not mine–or it was something else but along these lines, like tranny or hermaphrodite)–headless with a huge penis and huge breasts, though I haven’t seen that one being sold…

 

Nasstoys

They have an entire “Latin” section. Don’t even get me started on the packaging. The fact that they have “se habla español” on their company page makes me think that perhaps these folks are in part, men of color? I’m not sure, though! Either way, it’s fucked up.

Their “Isabella Pussy” is described as “super realista pussy” that’s “siempre lista / always ready,” so we once again see gendered language and the idea of constant sexual availability, but this time with racialized connotations to boot. The other model is “Maria,” and I could see that stupid name coming from ten miles away.

The one that is most unnerving to me, though, is the one called “My First Pregnant Latina ‘Knocked Up’ Pussy.” With the history of seeing women, especially women of color, as baby-making machines; with the history of  colonial rape; with the widely-held racist notions/images that Latin@s are “welfare queens” and “promiscuous” and all have a billion babies and get pregnant at 12…this kind of shit does not sit well with me.

BUT WAIT, they also have a racially unmarket one (read: a white one). The difference is that the “Latina” toy is slightly darker and the model on the front has dark hair and a more “Latina-looking” face (which…is another post entirely) vs. the white model who is pale and blonde. *facepalm*

I’m focusing on the things that strike me the hardest as a Latin@ female, but never fear, they also have some delightfully racist dolls that target other groups, like the Mai Li Asian Love Doll, the Geisha masturbating sleeve, and the Asian Geisha Love Doll.
Men aren’t left behind entirely in this racist circus, though, since when it comes to the “lifelike dongs,” there’s a section just for those, and there are Latin, Black, and ones without an adjective which are, you guessed it, the white ones. Because white is normal, once more. Anyway. The “super realistic dongs” are all faux-clever (read: actually just racist and lazy) plays on words that insidiously dehumanize actual Latin men (little pistol, top stud, big bull, wild bull, little bull, and more). And this banner below I think can just speak for itself (especially the “ALL American” part):

 

Again, I know these toys are selling a fantasy and a product, but we need to see how our daily lives connect to this, and how the daily lives of women and people of color are affected and mirrored by these toys and the attitudes toward them. It’s not “just a toy” or “just a fantasy.” These are all created and reflected by the society in which we live, and we can’t afford to just ignore sex (and art, too, for that matter) because it’s some special snowflake (which it’s not).We need to think about what messages these toys send and why people buy them. We need to be critical consumers and media-viewers/makers.
If you want to buy fabulous toys from reputable sources, though, check out the stores in the Progressive Pleasure Club.

 

I asked a friend “Do you think I’m just slowly turning into a pissed off lesbian separatist stereotype?”

Our conclusion was that no, I wasn’t, but I think I’ve more recently come to fully understand those “angry, humorless feminist/woman of color/queer” stereotypes ‘cause I feel that ish right down to my bones. Things that maybe I didn’t care about before, or just let slide by, are no longer okay. Once you start seeing inequality and start realizing how pervasive racism and sexism and homo/trans/biphobia and all these things are, it’s hard to ignore.

Of course I’m angry, after cis-men feel entitled to my body/time and don’t ask for consent, after my queer community is denied rights, after people feel like they have the right to tell me how I can or can’t have sex.

Of course I’m angry when women, especially women of color, make less than men in the same positions; when people of color are vilified in the media and whiteness is insidiously and subtly upheld as the standard; when companies produce skin-lightening creams that reap the benefits of colonialism and ideas about how precious pale skin is.

Of course you’ll think I’m “humorless” when I don’t laugh at the jokes that come at the expense of women/queers/POC, that trivialize inequalities and the fucked up shit some of us have to deal with on a daily basis.

Sorry, but my definition of “funny” no longer encompasses things that rely on oppressive stereotypes and judgments, and yours shouldn’t either. It’s not just being lazy with comedy; it’s outright being a privileged piece of shit who cares more about making a joke than about the harm that joke can cause to people.

Dear White Friends, Lovers, Strangers

No, I don’t hate you as a person because you’re White.

I hate the structural inequalities that put White people at an advantage. I hate the legacy of racism in the U.S. and in Puerto Rico. I hate that people of color can’t try to create a safe space for themselves without some White people commenting on how that’s “reverse racism” and “discrimination.” I hate that when people of color talk about race and inequality, many White people respond defensively, negatively, and/or with guilt that then makes them focus on their “feeling bad” and impairs them from seeing the realities we’re bringing up. I hate that many respond with “well, we’re not ALL like that” because I already know you’re not all “like that”–“like that” being overtly discriminatory and horribly racist, but most of you to some degree still perpetuate racism even if in small ways.

I don’t need your guilt or anger; I need your support and your allyship in action.

I don’t need you to hate other White people, but to call them (and yourself) out when something racist happens. I need you to stand up for people of color even when there are none in the room. I need you to examine your privilege and see how it affords you certain things that are not accessible (or easily accessible) to people of color. I need you to look at the history of how racial difference was constructed in the United States and understand the context of race.

I need you to LISTEN.

I do NOT need you to feel guilty, but I understand if you do. I can understand if you feel bad, uncomfortable, awkward, or anything in that realm, but those feelings are a byproduct of examining privilege and usually they can even be part of the process of becoming an ally.

No one said this would be easy, and we must not confuse safety with comfort.