Category Archives: Fashion

You can do it!

check out my interview with Art about acquiring surgery not testosterone on DUDE 2 EXTENDED:

You can do it!

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Flagging

The queer remaking of a traditional gay medium

‘Flagging’ refers to the wearing of a colour-coded handkerchief, bandana, scarf or – as is becoming increasingly seen in queer femme circles – ribbon to indicate sexual interest/s. Most colours have standard meanings: black for SM, yellow for watersports to the more precise [an actual] teddy bear for cuddling. The location of a flag is also indicative: left for top, right for bottom; around the wrist for curious, around the upper arm for into it. Once you know the basics about flagging it’s generally easy to decipher the code; as in electric tape denotes electrical play and maroon signifies blood play. But there are some wild cards for experienced players; like gold – which indicates ménages à trois (on the left: two looking for one / right: one looking for two).

Hanky coding was originally a way of gay men identifying each other, thus traditional hanky codes assume all parties are male. But flagging culture is being remade by young queers today to actively work against the sex-gender assumptions of conventional gender binaries. That is:
“it’s better not to assume the sex-gender of who’s flagging or who that flagger is seeking… It’s important that female flagging complements and extends traditional gay male flagging, without becoming incompatible, so you can accurately decode any hanky on any body. I’d like hanky code to be a complete language for how you want to fuck that overrides what might be assumed from how your body is gendered.”

Whereas in traditional gay male flagging culture things were fairly clear cut: navy on the left (top) seeks navy on the right (bottom) to fuck (where everyone has a perspicuous idea of what that means) – the development of a flagging language that draws attention to the ambiguities of bodies and of sex challenges traditional (and gendered) stereotypes about sex and demands a comprehensive understanding (and practice) of specific and explicit consent. Without this, flagging makes no sense. Flagging is about inviting questions and initiating conversations about sex acts, bodies, affect and relation.

In the era of adultmatchmaker, grindr and okcupid our ways of communicating seem to be growing exponentially. But having immediate access to someone’s pictures, dimensions and sexual interests doesn’t necessarily make for the best interactions. Flagging hints. And while “keeping your desires unvoiced, unspecified or even unknown may protect you, and you might well get just as much play, that style is tepid. There’s something way hot about compelling a direct response, and opening yourself to explicit rejection.”

Get out your hankies and hit the town.

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Is Everything Cool As Long As I’m Getting Thinner?

Skinny Homos, Queer Anxiety and Dominant Culture

A certain queer ontology has been gaining a concerning amount of trendiness of late: the skinny homo. While I am acutely aware that the everyday stresses of being in a marginalised group take their toll on the body in one way or another, the glamourisation of an anxiety-producing, appetite-suppressing, ‘busy’ lifestyle isskinny homo just not that subversive.

The skinny homo as cultural phenomenon seems to rely on an appreciation of anxiety and its dramatic (and drastic) effects on the body (/ life): fight or flight mechanisms direct blood away from the digestive system in stressful situations causing a loss of appetite or inability to eat. Certainly, queer sexual and social lives can induce this reaction for extended periods of time (half-days, days, weeks). However, even if the skinny homo aesthetic eventuates out of something other than not eating to actively ‘diet,’ it nevertheless results in a culture and celebration of skinniness highly conveniently aligned with current mainstream ideas about desirable embodiment.

Along with the behaviour itself, the way in which it is talked about reinforces this reverence of skinniness. Not eating becomes ‘culturally-legible’ as it is reiterated: “look how skinny I am…you’re so skinny…things are so fucked up.” Here, the tendency to directly relate ‘how bad things are’ to a level of skinniness results in a physically manifested hierarchy of oppression, named and duly noted as unhelpful by queer theorist Jack Halberstam as “transgressive exceptionalism.” Having a healthy body is no longer read as strength but rather that things ‘simply can’t be that bad.’

Our bodies are the ultimate metaphor for power and control within our grasp. And we do suffer. Embracing such a ‘lifestyle of starvation’ comes to metonymically represent our being in the world: as damaged. Furthermore, the discourse of ‘the skinny homo’ affirms a self-harming sado-masochistic pleasure in watching one’s body disintegrate. Albeit in a different context, this nevertheless reinforces culturally dominant ideas about skinniness, idolizing a state of fucked-upness as desirable; that is, “I can’t eat, oh, well, being skinny is not only so cool, but also shows I’m the most oppressed.” The citation of the skinny homo encourages continued failure to eat because it is considered somehow a part of queer culture, and not a particularly problematic one. But it clearly is.

Negotiating our way in an oppressive and violent world can be devastatingly hard and painful. But we are strong and endure. We need (our bodies) to be healthy; our lives sustainable.

Eat up.

Max xx

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