Diana Cage

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Equal Time: Gays, media and the myth of equality at Indiana University

Crazy fun. I’m flying to Indiana Friday morning to meet Em’s new nephew Oliver. Isn’t Oliver just the cutest name ever? Yes, I think so too. Then Saturday morning we’re driving five hours from Indiana to University of Michigan to celebrate David Halperin’s birthday then driving back to Indiana the next morning so I can give a talk and appear on a panel at Indiana University’s School of Journalism.  Details for the IU talk are:

The School of Journalism will sponsor a media panel on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender coverage at 6 p.m. April 10 in the Ernie Pyle Hall auditorium. “Equal Time: Gays, media and the myth of equality” will be free and open to the public.

Zak Szymanski is organizing the event, which will address LGBT portrayal in the media. Speakers include: me, obvs. Also, Amos Mac, founder/publisher of the transgender quarterly magazine, Original Plumbing; and Trevor Hoppe, Ph.D. candidate in the joint program in Sociology and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, whose writing on HIV/AIDS often is cited in publications. His new collection of essays is Beyond Masculinity: Queer Men on Gender and Politics, due this summer.


My New Book is Almost Here! Read the Intro

I’m very excited to say that Mind Blowing Sex comes out April 3rd. The publisher is Seal Press. You can pre-order it here. Contact me if you would like to review it!

This is a book about sex. It’s also a book about women, our bodies, how we use them, how they work, and why sometimes they don’t work the way we’d like them to. It’s a book about sexuality, eroticism, pornography, desire, arousal, and satiation. Included in this book is only the tiniest bit of science, because I’m not a scientist. I’m a bit of a sexologist, if a sexologist is a person who studies sex. Truthfully, I’m more like a sexual adventurer, a sex writer, thinker, critic, and philosopher. Mostly I get called a sexpert, but I’m not sure anyone is ever an expert at sex.

This book is also about love, to a certain degree, in that love of oneself is a necessary component of sexual ecstasy.

Together we’re going to take a tour of our bodies and our sexuality. Sexual shame often prevents us from really getting a good look at ourselves. There is plenty of talk about the wrongs of sex, the bad parts of sex, and very little information about empowering sex. Constant negative feedback about female sexuality affects our ability to explore our desire. Our sexuality is demeaned, trivialized, controlled. We’re divided into MILFs, Cougars, and Lolitas, when we aren’t kittens, Barbies and porn queens. So much meaning is attached to us and our bodies by everyone else; there’s barely any room left for our own opinions. The female body is public domain. Our own bodies are used to sell us things so often, that sometimes we forget we own them. Continue reading

Eros the Bittersweet

I asked my gf to talk to me about the erotic and she handed me Anne Carson’s Eros the Bittersweet. It was perfect, actually, and allowed me to think about the erotic as a combination of love and frustration, something I wouldn’t have gotten to on my own because I hate to be frustrated.

The title is a reference to Sappho, who called eros bitter sweet. Despite a long career in lesbian letters, I’d neglected to read Sappho or even learn anything about her at all until Em first read her aloud to me during one of our early dates at the Brooklyn library. As luck (or the Dewey Decimal System) would have it, the Russians (my fave) and Greeks (hers) were in the same aisle on opposing shelves. It was perfect, we spent the afternoon trying to seduce the other through our favorite authors. Continue reading

Writing About Orgasms

I’m finally getting close to being finished with a new book, A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Ecstasy. It will be published by Seal Press in January of next year.

I was teaching and commuting between Philly and Brooklyn too much last semester to finish writing it when I should have. Now I’m stuck in the house all summer writing when everyone else is out playing in the sun. Remind me to never have a book due at the end of the summer again.

Anyway, currently I’m writing about orgasms. Here’s the thing. For women, sexual arousal is complex and just as tied to our mental state as a physical one. One reason pharmaceutical companies have yet to come up with a satisfying female-centric substitute for Viagra has much to do with the way we experience the state of being “turned on.” In men, unless something is wrong, arousal leads to erection. Popular pharmaceutical treatments for erectile dysfunction work by relaxing the smooth muscle tissue that surrounds major arteries in the penis. This in turn allows more blood to flow to the penis, creating a firm erection. Erections provide visual feedback, a man looks down, sees that he has a hard on, and thinks “I want to have sex.” Continue reading

So far 2011 is reminding me alot of 1991

Holly Hughes sent me this rant last week and it’s so awesome I had to share it. It’s also posted on Velvetpark

By Holly Hughes

So far 2011 is reminding me alot of 1991.

Twenty years ago, a series of spectacles of full blown sexual abuse in all its variations erupted in NYC and on the national stage. A couple of the highlights: The Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, which turned into the public trial of Anita Hill. The stories were creepy and awful, the boss who continually makes lewd jokes, and men, these jokes, the pubic hair on the coke, it’s not sexy. Hate to break it to you. It’s not a turn on. I will channel my inner Whitney and become Every woman in the world and say: It’s not a turn on. For us.

It’s a humiliation. Which apparently is a turn on for you.

Then there were several awful rapes in NYC area. Like the high school football team that brutally raped a disabled woman, gang raped her, raped her with a frigging baseball bat. A baseball bat. She was out numbered, she wouldn’t have been able to protect herself, even if she hadn’t been developmently disabled.

The horror didn’t stop there, of course, the young men got turned into the real victims by their hometown and the woman was villified and it was just too much. It was so too much that for a brief moment women got over their deep and abiding distrust and dislike of each other that is the residue of sexism, of deep misogyny throughout our culture; so sickening that it prevents us from doing anything about our own situation because we despise the members of our class, and yes, I hate women too. Continue reading

The Dangers of Brunch

Have you read The Ethical Slut? It’s the bible of the polyamory set written by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy. It’s a classic and a must-read if you want to date, or even just sleep, around.

I read it years ago and definitely tried adopting all the self-empowerment principles contained within but I never really got good at it. I agree on a philosophical level that love is for sharing but the only time I’ve managed multiple girlfriends is when I’m just casually dating. And by casually dating I mean blindly getting into relationships with people I just wanted to sleep with. My downfall is brunch. Do not go to brunch with someone you sleep with if you want to remain single. I know most people will tell you the rule for keeping things casual is no spending the night. But we’re lesbians, gimme a break, it’s hard enough not to move in together immediately let alone pull your knickers on at 4 a.m. and call a cab. If you don’t want to get involved don’t succumb to the lure of eggs benedict. Continue reading

Is it Sex?

I like when lovers write to me. Not love letters, those are usually terrible. I like to look at four-letter-words and know that someone was thinking about me as they were writing them. Reading is a sex act. Think about it: it’s an exchange of arousal, of fluids (ink) between writer and reader. Because of the impossibility of representing physical sensation in language, a writer creates a new type of sensation. And the reader gets off on it, is immersed in it actually. It’s no less a sex act than covering naked girls in cake batter at Splosh parties. Continue reading

Dear Diana: Lesbian Emotions

How can one avoid lesbian relationships that are hard work emotionally? Is there even such a thing as a committed lesbian relationship that isn’t hard work emotionally?

Listen, there’s no way to be intimately involved with another person and not have some kind of expectations of them. And if you have expectations you risk being disappointed.

Having an open dialogue about your relationship helps. Just being open to communicating helps. But actually learning some real communication skills is the key to making it work. You can’t use “I’m communicating with you” as an excuse to tell your girlfriend how much she sucks.

Here’s something I just learned. Sometimes people just need to say something negative. She might not even believe it herself. She might have a little shiver of neurosis or fear, and she’ll vocalize it. Maybe she’s feeling bad so she wants you to feel bad too. OK, that sucks. But if you decide not to retaliate it will suck a lot less. Continue reading

Dear Diana: Jackie Chan

Is it weird that last night I dreamed I was Jackie Chan and I was having phenomenal sex with the hottest woman EVER? Btw, I’m not a J.C. fan.

Last night I dreamed I was evacuating a menagerie of cute fluffy animals from the back of a white van in order to save them from a serial killer. Someone suggested I might be a plushie, but I’m really not a fan of cute fluffy animals.

Got a question? Ask it here.

Dear Diana: Femme Spotting

I’m a high femme who often gets read as straight by most lesbians. Other than by adding rainbow accessories to my outfits, are there any good queer markers for high femmes?

Listen sister, I feel your pain. I mean what’s a girl got to do to get a little attention around here?

Hello? Butches? I’m talking to you. Stop thinking we’re hanging out in the bar being all bicurious, trying to pick up a lady so we can have sex with her in front of our boyfriend. Because that’s gross.

I once saw a straight couple walk into the Lexington with that sort of thing in mind. I think the dude was wearing a flowy rayon shirt? They didn’t stay long. I guess they didn’t find a bunch of big ol’ tattooed, pool playing bulldaggers as hot as I do. Ha. Good because that means more for me!

Oh wait, this isn’t answering your question at all, is it?

OK, there are a few ways to queer yourself up even when you dress like a lady.

Bust out your take-me-seriously glasses. The only drawback to this one is that Lisa Loeb co-opted the hoochie librarian look in 2000; effectively watering down a high femme standard. God damn straight people always get their fashion ideas from queers! This tip wont get you read as gay on the street, but it will still help you out in the dyke bar.

Learn to flirt. Be more aggressive. Don’t be afraid to tell a woman she’s hot. If you are waiting for the other woman to make all the moves and she’s wondering if you are really gay, no one is going to get any. If you are high femme the onus to make the move often falls on you.

Tattoos are an option. Don’t get anything cheesy like, say, a big Lambda on your forearm, because people will laugh at you. But there is something about the juxtaposition of a little Marc Jacobs cocktail dress and visible tattoo that reads queer.

Finally, try dressing like a drag queen. Female femininity, as much as female masculinity is a construct. While your gender may be inherent, your presentation of it isn’t. I was not born wearing false eyelashes and a push-up bra, were you? So if you take your femininity to another level–hone it, perform it, make it unique–the intelligent women, the ones with a trained eye, will read you queer.

Got a question? http://www.formspring.me/dianacage

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