Reshaping Sex: Casey Beyer (SUNY New Paltz ’17)

“We don’t have to imitate straightness because by definition, we exist to oppose and critique it.”

What is sex? Is it something we can define, or is it too personal and variable depending on who you ask? As I was beginning to conduct research for this paper, I asked some of the people around me if they could define sex, and got a wide array of answers from “stimulating another person” to “achieving orgasm” to “the giving or receiving of pleasure between one or more people”.  What this made immediately clear to me was that sex is very abstract and variable, definitely not something that we can define absolutely, yet I began to realize upon further questioning that people were much quicker to determine what they didn’t consider to be sex: For many people I spoke with, masturbation was not considered sex but the same act with another partner was, or manual stimulation with another partner was considered sex in some cases and foreplay in others depending on the genders of the parties involved. This idea that gender determines what kind of sex ‘counts’ and what doesn’t led me to this research — I want to examine the ways that lesbians and queer women have been invalidated sexually in heteronormative society and how they find ways to expand the boundaries of sexual pleasure through subcultures. In this paper, I will begin by analyzing the dominant narrative surrounding “legitimate sex” by looking at virginity and the ways that it invalidates non-heterosexual, non-reproductive sex, and then move forward to examine the way that lesbian and queer sex is considered more valuable the closer resembles it heterosexual sex and what that means for the lesbian and queer communities and their presumed gender performativity. Using this knowledge and understanding of mainstream society in the United States, I will move into an examination of the ways that lesbians and queer women have found subculture communities in which the backbone of sex does not rely on the gender binary but rather on sexual preference (i.e. top/bottom, dom/sub etc), and how these subcultures have allowed them to push the boundaries of what normative society considers to be sex, resist heteronormative partner standards and generate pleasure in alternative ways.

Continue reading “Reshaping Sex: Casey Beyer (SUNY New Paltz ’17)”

Pepsi In All the Wrong Ways

A few weeks ago a commercial came out with Kendall Jenner leading a march of people through the streets of NYC and being confronted by a police barricade.  She then hands one of the police officers a Pepsi as if to be an olive branch, and the crowd erupts in triumph.

This commercial was not well received and quickly taken down.  Pepsi’s commercial underplays and overwrites issues like Black Lives Matter protests and other protest marches especially in a time of turmoil in the US.  SNL took it upon themselves, as the satirical comedians they are.  Through their comedic act they abruptly confront the major issues with the commercial as well as play on the ‘out of touc’h way society tries to use these political movement as marketing tactics for their products.  SNL did a similar skit earlier this year regarding super bowl commercials as well.  At least one form of media understands that these political movements should not be understated and used as marketing strategy.

 SNL Pepsi Commercial

 SNL Super Bowl Commercial Pitch



Radical Self Love means Radical Self Critique

Schulman writes that we must “face ourselves, to achieve recognition and understanding in order to avoid escalation towards unnecessary pain.” An article published by Bitch Media last month detailed the appropriation of Audre Lorde’s concept of self-love. The author argued that the proliferation of her work on radical self-love promoted an ignorance of her other central component which is radical self-critique. The author urged us not to forget that along with self-love we must also hold up the mirror to our actions and our activism and constantly critique. This will help us not remain complacent and help us avoid a stagnation in change making. Schulman’s perspective acknowledges that some kinds of pain are necessary but I would add that there is a line that we cross with perpetuating unnecessary amounts of pain onto ourselves and each other when we cannot open ourselves up to self-critique. I ask my community of William Smith, how often do our personal and academic spaces of dialogue facilitate a space where this level of vulnerability can be shared?

To read more here is a link to the Bitch Media article:

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Imagining Knowledge Production in the Academy

From Eloise Peabbles at Wheaton College:

Women’s Autonomy

Autonomy: freedom from external control or influence

400 level, Seminar/discussion based

This course addresses women’s experience in patriarchal societies and how this subjugated placement influences women’s sense of self (identity). Introductory knowledge will be used to strengthen student’s understanding of “the woman” as a social construct, the hegemony within patriarchal institutions, paradoxes in advocating for rights, and spiritual autonomy. We will look at women’s experiences through historiographic, analytical and sociological lens’ to understand intersectional identities and the process of gaining autonomy, whether it be political or intrapersonal. We will address power as a relational force that is withheld from women in society through a critical lens and study women’s wisdom as a platform for autonomy.



Colgate University coined the term “Feminist Blogosphere,” and I thought it was fitting for this area of our WS blog. Below you will find various feminist blog sites that aim to highlight different aspects of the news and provide important information regarding women’s bodies.

Feminisms in Action:

Started by a Colgate Student, “Feminisms in Action” provides weekly posts about feminist issues in news. As it is written by a Women’s Studies major, the posts are relevant and speak to an audience via an intersectional approach.

Our Bodies, Our Blog:

Centered around Our Bodies, Ourselves, the authors aim to distill the most accurate scientific information regarding women’s health, reproduction, and sexuality.


This online publication takes up issues within the news that cover sexuality, reproductive health, and justice. The blog covers a range of topics, and provides access to the ways in which we think through our daily lives.

Code Pink:

An organization that promotes peaceful activism and nonviolence, Code Pink provides toolkits for activism and ways to become more involved in promoting peace. The organization is worldwide so as to promote global peace as well.




Amber Williams

Using the knowledge that I have gained over the past four years as a Media and Society major and a Women’s studies minor and my current BIDS 287 course “The Video Essay, ” I will be creating a video essay that will document and examine aspects of the experience of black women in the workplace. This is an independent project that arose out of my passions for both broadcast and other media and for analyzing the black female experience, particularly in the context of the need to tell black women’s stories–something that my experience in a predominantly white institution puts front and center for me.

I will be interviewing a selection of black women in the workplace to gather in-depth information about their experiences. I also will use the BET television series, “Being Mary Jane”, as the basis of my work, using the show’s depiction as a way to formulate the thematic categories of questions that I would ask my subjects that I interview. I will then use my personal experiences with past jobs and internships in order to personalize my video essay.

A Goodbye to Girls


This past Sunday, April 16th, 2017 the world watched the six season saga of HBO’s Girls come to an end. I began my indulgence into Lena Dunham’s world while I was still in high school. I remember the day I sat in my living room as my mom was away at work and binged watch the entire first season. As I watched the last episode of season one I was left feeling confused and uncomfortable by Dunham’s creation, especially her self-portrayed character, Hannah, but mostly I was intrigued. I had known HBO at that time mostly by the network’s classic hits like The Sopranos and Sex and The City and I was curious to think about how Girls matched up to these television megahits, especially given the parallels between Girls and SATC. Both shows told the stories of four female friends navigating their lives in New York City, so I asked myself are Hannah, Jessa, Shoshana, and Marnie the Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte of my generation? Do these women, who make me so uncomfortable and confused a representation of my time, my gender, of me? After six long, nudity-packed seasons of wincing and laughing I have found my answer, yes, the young women of Girls do represent who I am as a feminist, as a friend, as a woman, and ultimately as a human being who has a complex range of emotions, experiences, and decisions that cannot and should not be diluted down into a portrayal that makes people comfortable and amused at all times.

My love-hate imaginary relationship with Lena Dunham is something I cannot begin to explain, nor does anyone truly want to read, but I am thankful for Dunham’s contributions to my generation. Dunham forces her audience to moments of discomfort that the media, especially entertainment media rarely forces us to go. These moments of discomfort are founded in the ugly truth we as human beings go great lengths to mask. She makes us stare at her naked, unphotoshopped body and understand she and all of us have a human right to explore and enjoy our sexuality and sexual relationships regardless of our size, shape, or inability to conform to society’s standards of beauty and love. She makes us watch her in the moments that her OCD consumes her life and alters her relationships. In forcing us to watch Hannah and company in all of their discomforting moments, we are forced to be reflective of our own realities.

While this past Sunday may have been the official goodbye to Girls, how Dunham and her show has altered the portrayal of twenty-somethings, women, and millennials in the media and entertainment will long surpass the boundaries of it’s six season run. We can say goodbye to Girls, but we cannot say goodbye or forget the lessons of being brutally honest, to the point of discomfort, with each other and our selves that Dunham has taught us. I may not perfectly fit into the role of Hannah, Jessa, Shoshanna, or Marnie among my friends, but I see these women and their complexities in myself and my friends constantly. Girls provided this generation with a social commentary of our time that reminded its viewers that life is messy and bizarre, and at many points uncomfortable, but over all an experience that we must share with people around us.


Senior Seminar 2017 Book Club

Living a Feminist Life, Sara Ahmed


“For whom is your feminism? How do we occupy space, in higher education? How can we de-colonize the mind? Who is producing knowledge and how is it being produced?” – SR

Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity, Alexis Pauline Gumbs


“the first time I thought of you, you were swimming, towards you, through me. first time i thought i was drowning in a world that needed you in it or it would disappear. first time i knew you existed the rest of the history of the world popped like a bubble unready and my body wanted only future, only you. the first time i felt you move we were deep underwater under something built to keep us under and i couldn’t see anything but I understood there was something above everything. above everything despite everything I would find fresh air and breathe again. above everything despite everything I would free you. my best idea yet” (Gumbs 2016, 13). -SR

Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair, Sarah Schulman


“I suggest that we have a better chance at interrupting unnecessary pain if we articulate our shared responsibility in creating alternatives” (Schulman 2016, Kindle Locations 191-194). – SR


Women Who Make a Fuss: The Unfaithful Daughters of Virginia Woolf, Isabelle Stengers & Vinciane Despret


“Women who did enter institutions of knowledge production, ‘refused to separate their pursuit of knowledge from the question of who produces this knowledge and how it is produced’ (Stengers & Despret 2014, 29).” -SR

Crunk Feminist Collection, Brittany Cooper, Susana M Morris & Robin M. Boylorn


“The goal is not and was never to be a homogenous group of feminists with identical views and values. We don’t all think alike, do feminism alike, get crunk alike, or approach this work alike” (Cooper, Morris & Boylorn 2016, Kindle Locations 327-329) – SR

Why I Am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto, Jessa Crispin


“Author, Jessa Crispin, challenges the ‘status quo,’ monotonous route modern day feminism has taken to, writing feminism has ‘become entirely pointless’ (Intro).” – SR


Cover Art

The art featured on this website is by Yun Bai, a feminist artist based out of Atlanta, Georgia. Originally from Beijing, China, Bai migrated to Tallahassee, Florida with her
parents at the age of six. Yun Bai explores different mediums such as porn magazines and ping pong balls while also using traditional mediums (oil paints, watercolors, etc).  In her artwork, she focuses on 1)issues in identity while creating 2) social stimulatory experiments presented through 3) sarcastic mockery, often with a 4) feminist twist, while observing 5) urban culture with some sort of 6) scientific reference attached.

Bai created a series called “Porn Flowers”. Her website reads, “From afar you see the flowers -beautiful and detailed, but nothing out of the ordinary. Upon closer inspection, the leaves and petals reveal themselves to be female body parts drawn from a collage of imagery found in pornographic magazines. While some may view pornography as objectifying and exploitative, Yun uses the imagery as a form of empowerment to make something beautiful out of what the status quo deems vulgar. The Porn Flowers have grown to symbolize triumph over difficult times with a focus on healing, strength, courage, and enthusiasm for the future.”

View Yun Bai’s portolio here