Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2014-09-26

Thoughts on Facebook Legal Name Policing

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Facebook legal name policy lately. For those of you who haven’t heard, Facebook has been deleting accounts of people who don’t wish to use their legal name as their profile name. They’re coming for people, one by one, and telling them they either need to change their name to their legal name or convert their profile to a “page.” Pages don’t have the same kind of interactivity that a regular profile has.

This is very disturbing on a lot of levels. The first, is that primarily in this round, drag queens and gender variant folks seem to be targeted. They’re also on the forefront of the fight with Facebook to reverse their legal name policy.

What is baffling to me, is that Facebook is a platform that is reliant on users for content. It seems wildly inappropriate for them to be putting requirements on users to out themselves. If folks don’t feel safe using facebook they won’t have the kind of content they currently have. People who are using legal names would be more likely to curtail content.

People choose variant names for lots of reasons, here are just a few reasons I came up with, but there are tons of folks who choose to use their non-legal name:

1. Trans people and other people for whom their legal name does not represent their gender(s).
2. People whose name is extremely googleable. The John Smiths of the world don’t have the same issues with online content that the Bevin Branlandinghams do.
3. Performers who use facebook to connect with their performance community.
4. Roller Derby folks who want to use their derby name to connect to their community.
5. People whose jobs or careers would be jeopardized by interaction with social media.
6. People for whom a legal name change is a barrier of time/access/money.
7. People who use social media for a specific group that utilizes nicknames.
8. People who don’t want people knowing their legal name in a casual setting.
9. Folks who are hiding from abusive exes/parents/relatives or stalkers.
10. Folks whose countries of citizenship would punish them for speaking about their country.

facebookalias

I don’t use my legal name on Facebook for the Google concerns of number 2 above. Because I still have a day job to be beholden to, I can’t just have all my stuff out there. I also use Facebook specifically to only be friends with people I actually know—I already have a “Page” and I don’t need to have another one to connect with folks I know in real life. I worry about when Facebook comes for me. What am I going to do? I don’t even have email addresses for many of the folks I’m connected to there.

I feel a deep love for the intimacies of social media. I have had so many great connections in the world and keeping up with them on a common platform is awesome. It’s kind of awesome that Facebook has become a place where I have access, at the same time, to my radical queer friends and straight folks I know from when I was a camp counselor. I really miss having time to chat for hours with my former co-workers, and it’s nice to get a glimpse into their lives.

What’s odd, too, is that the government will allow you to change your legal name to whatever you want as long as the intent isn’t to defraud creditors. That’s pretty wide open, right? Why can’t Facebook be guided by the same principle? Why does a judge need to codify someone’s name in order for Facebook to feel satisfied that the person is able to connect with their friends and provide Facebook free content?

Just because they haven’t come for you doesn’t mean they won’t. First it’s legal names then who knows what else. I think it’s important for folks who don’t have the same legal name concerns to be on the side of folks who do. It’s time to ally, and time to work together. It’s also time to find other ways to stay connected to people.

There are a couple of things happening to support people for whom the legal name requirement is prohibitive to their involvement on Facebook that I have heard of. One is on October 8, a day of deactivization—folks are deactivating their FB accounts for the day in protest.

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Spread the word!

As concerned citizens of the world we are now making it clear to Facebook that on October 8th, 2014 as the Full Moon goes into a complete Lunar eclipse so will Facebook. On that day we will be deactivating our accounts for 24 hours in protest of Facebook’s recent enforcement of their dangerous and ill-considered “naming policy”.

We demand that Facebook change it’s “real” name policy and stop policing the identities of it’s members. We stand in solidarity with those who have joined Facebook to create and build community where they can inhabit a safe and friendly environment. Due to the difficulties faced by people in oppressive countries and bigoted environments many people have used pseudonyms to protect themselves as they reach out to others to escape abusive families, spouses, stalkers, to protect their jobs, to voice political dissent -as did the founding fathers when America was fighting for it’s Independence from England, as have many other freedom-fighters throughout history.

There are numerous valid reasons why people use pseudonyms including the joyous and powerful antidote to oppression -whimsy!!!

Our names and identities whether given, chosen, or earned are our own!

Another is a queer group of folks working on creating an open source social network–Quirrel. This doesn’t exist yet but it is in development, so if you’re a coder you can get in on that. (From my Facebook feed, “CollectQT is run by black trans women, non-binary queers, and a sex worker, and the social network they’re building is open-source.”)

People are starting to flood to Ello, another social media site that is being funded by venture capitalists. It might be the answer, it might not, and currently it doesn’t have the valuable “friends only” features that Facebook has.

It all feels so powerless. And yet, when one in four website hits is Facebook and Facebook decides to change things, we feel the hit pretty deeply. And need to get less dependent on it.

In the meantime, you should backup your facebook data. In case they come for you and you lose all your photos. You can back it up by going to settings, scrolling to the bottom and click back up your facebook data.

P.S. If you’re a friend of mine and rely on Facebook to tell you when I update my blog, you can get on my email list and I promise to send one email a month with my top blog posts and upcoming events.

2014-07-09

Bridging the Gaps between Feminisms by Being Better Allies to One Another

8409407368_13a394a9f8_zMe and Hana. Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

I have an article up on Everyday Feminism today about working across different kinds of feminisms. A lot of the work I do in my activism is bridging gaps between folks who believe differently and yet all still call themselves feminists. We can work to do things differently if we work on our ally skills, and leave room for rage and compassion.

Check out the article! Building Allyship and Finding Room for Multiple Feminisms.

2013-02-15

FAT SEX WEEK: Seven Ways To Be a Good Ally to Your Fat Lover

After the success of GAY SEX WEEK on my blog in October 2011, I decided to produce FAT SEX WEEK to celebrate sex for all bodies. This is especially inspired to counteract all of the media about sex around Valentine’s Day that’s all heteronormative/couplehood-oriented/body hegemonic. It’s a week of body liberation and sex and it’s going to be really fun! Check out all of the FAT SEX WEEK magic!

(All the photos in this post are Safe For Work.)

I’ve been asked by people on different ends of the fat lover spectrum about advice being a good ally. From the “My lover doesn’t see how beautiful she is and won’t have sex with the lights on,” to the “My lover uses the term fat to describe themself but I’ve always thought of that as a derogatory word… isn’t it?” For FAT SEX WEEK I’ve highlighted some of the best ways to be a good ally to your fat lover.

This is all from my limited perspective, you should obviously be in good communication with your lover to find out what works for them and how they operate in the world. Communication is an essential sex toy!

This advice applies to folks of all sizes, not just thinner folks partnered (in all the myriad ways one can partner) with fat folks. And a lot of it is good advice for sex in general, regardless of whether or not your partner is fat.

1. Adopt the mindset that nothing about your partner has to change for them to be worthy of sexual pleasure.

Repeat after me: All humans are worthy of sexual adoration exactly as they are.

Not after they lose X amount of pounds. Not if they wear specifically enhancing or minimizing lingerie. Not if they develop a sexual prowess beyond their years. Not if they downplay the amount of people they have slept with.

I know a lot of people who have confronted sizism their entire life hold off on moving forward with the things they want to do because they are waiting for some “perfect” moment when they’ve “lost enough weight.” You won’t enjoy sex more as a thinner person if you haven’t learned how to enjoy sex at every size you are.

As a lover/partner of a fat person, adopting this mentality regardless of whether your partner has is good modeling for fulfilling sex. Adopting this mantra will help you be a supportive and caring person to every lover you have regardless of size, ability, age, etc…

2. Clean fatphobic rhetoric from your vocabulary.

No body shaming (of yourself or other people). Don’t talk about other people’s bodies in terms of good or bad body parts. “This model’s body is so awesome because she has a flat stomach.” Try being value-neutral or positive about bodies and food. No obsessive diet talk. Don’t say “Good” food or “bad” food. Learn what it means to not use fatphobic rhetoric and then put it into practice!

Taking a selfie at a dive bar. #rebelcupcake
Be food positive!

3. Learn all you can about body liberation activism and the fat activist movement.

There are so many great resources out there about the fat experience and body liberation practices. You can get started with Charlotte Cooper’s Obesity Time Bomb blog, the incredibly It Gets Fatter project for fat folks of color, Marilyn Wann’s Fat?So! book and Leslie Kinzel’s Two Whole Cakes. Also my blog is a great place, too. The tag body liberation is a good one, as is fat activism!

You learning about body liberation activism and not having to be taught by your partner is awesome. And even if your partner isn’t into body liberation, you getting into it will still help you become a better ally to your person!

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Hana, happy fat person! Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

4. and 5. Treat your relationship like a golden corral and your lover like a wild pony.

My friend Heather uses this metaphor for relationships and I like it on a lot of different levels.

If you treat your relationship like a golden corral, you’re making it like a safe and wonderful haven from the world outside. The media and people are constantly punishing us for being body non-normative, gender non-normative, queer, broke, poor, whatever. Your relationship should be a haven for that as much as possible! Think about ways in which it can be a safer space. Maybe watch TV with intention (or don’t watch it and have sex instead), or mute diet ads, or whatever you can. Mindful practices go a long way.

And treating your partner like a wild pony is about letting them be themselves and exactly where they are at in their personal journies with their body. It’s hard to have a body. It’s hard to learn how to be a self-loving person. I’ve been doing work on loving myself and my body since 2001 and I’m still working on it. No one is perfect. Maybe you’re even further down the body liberation activist path than your partner. Accept where they are at and let them be a wild pony roaming around, keep the corral golden, and every now and again pet them gently with some body liberation love.

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Fancy Feast, happy fat person, serving that Paula Deen burger thing. Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

6. Use affirming language for all body parts and especially body parts that are under attack.

I learned this body affirming practice where anytime you say something critical about a body part you immediately respond with an apology and a gratitude. “I’m sorry tummy for talking shit about you. I am so grateful to you for being so soft and comfortable.” Something like that.

I was thinking that if I was having a hard time with a part of my body it would be awesome for my partner to give it some extra TLC. Kisses, sweet talk, a massage, etc…

7. Be open to and positive about sexual accommodations for size.

One time I was in bed with a lover who used a strap-on harness with the base of the dildo on her belly. This is not the standard harness position, most folks have it on the genitals. But it made so much more sense for her body and my body, gave her a lot more leverage and control and was wildly successful.

I’m not sure if she came up with that accommodation herself or if she was taught that by another lover who had some fat sex tips up their sleeve, but I bet it was a revolution in her sex life and I was grateful for it. Being the kind of lover who can gently say, “Hey can we try it like this?” is going to set you up for success overall.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

Kitty Stryker (the swoon-worthy Femme I blogged about in the review for Lesbian Curves earlier this week) has some great Pleasurable Positioning suggestions in her Guide to Fat Sex. I especially love this methodology for making missionary style work:

Missionary position can be a bit difficult, especially if you both have bellies, as the partner on the bottom may feel smothered and the partner on the top might tire out quickly. There’s a few ways around this- one is to have the partner on the bottom wrap her legs around the top partner’s shins, meaning her legs are spread enough to make penetration easier and also encouraging the top lover’s body to press against her clit. Another way is have the penetrating partner sit back on their haunches during intercourse instead of leaning forward, therefore allowing some breathing room. If you’re the penetrating partner, support yourself with your hands rather than your elbows and lower yourself onto your lover’s body slowly. Finally the penetrated partner can put their legs over their lover’s shoulders for easier access and allows the bottom partner to push back against the top.

Ultimately, being a compassionate, caring, body affirming person will go a long way to being a good ally and lover to your fat partner(s)!

Stay tuned for more FAT SEX WEEK. Coming up this weekend and early next week, an interview with queer fat femme porn star Sophia St. James, a book review, and more!

The Miss Mary Wanna method dictates "take as many selfies as you want." #rebelcupcake
Fat selfies at Rebel Cupcake. Miss Mary Wanna says you can never take too many selfies and publish them all on the internets.

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