Girls These Days: Bisexual or Lesbian, Educated and Unemployed, Raunchy but Unfunny

PSYCH!:
Psych Central has a great reaction to some BS piece of psychology blogging about how bisexuality and lesbianism seems to be more prevalent in girls these days than in the past. Sax, the blogger, throws out a lot of reasons why this might be, including easier access to porn, which couldn’t really possibly make less sense. It’s almost impossible to read Sax’s piece because it totally ignores the most obvious explanation of all, which is addressed here by Psych Central:

The simple and more probable explanation is found buried in Sax’s notes — that in different times, different standards were more acceptable. Therefore reporting of one’s sexuality is likely to be biased toward those standards. In other words, it’s not that there are necessarily more lesbians and bisexuals today, it’s that people feel far more free and open to identify with that label without as much fear of societal or criminal prosecution. (@psychcentral)

This same conversation happened in 2005, following a new study from the CDC Natioanl Center for Health Statistics found that 11.5 percent of women ages 18-44 reported “at least one sexual experience with another women in their lifetimes, compared with about 4 percent of women, ages 18 to 59, who said the same in a comparable survey a decade earlier…. For women in their late teens and 20s, the percentage rose to 14 percent in the more recent survey. About 6 percent of men in their teens and 20s said they’d had at least one same-sex encounter.” A bunch of conservative groups with articles I can no longer access declared an epidemic of bisexual chic that would’ve been better attributed to higher response rates or perhaps just a greater comfort level with sexual desire rather than you know, getting corrupted by Marissa Cooper.

THE GREAT RECESSION:
A lot of us ’80s babies are relatively up in arms that we were told a college education would garner us employment and obviously it clearly has not done so and now we have debt and nothing to show for it besides beer-drinking skills and some friends we can’t get rid of. Clutch Magazine has a look at how this specifically affects the black community in How to Make it in America: The Broken Promise to Black ’80s Babies:

The American Dream for many of us was far from a faint, imaginative, over wide waters wish we only hoped to get a piece of. The ’80s babies’ American Dream extends beyond Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. We’re the heirs of post-civil rights benefaction whose ability to be successful was a check we were hardly afraid would return with insufficient funds.  America sent clear messages to black 80’s babies backed by a series of coming of age, memory-staining campaigns disguised as a tutorial on ‘ how to make it’. “Stay in school”, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste”, “this is your brain on drugs” and those in-house “don’t get pregnant” sermons shares a proverbial space with recollections of our favorite Jodeci lyrics. America championed Higher Education and middle-class utopia with prime time influences like ‘A Different World’ and ”The Cosby Show’. Going to college became not only a necessity for being successful it was cool. (@clutch)

MODEL THROUGH IT:
A recent Vogue editorial is trying to fight the trend favoring lighter skin in India by telling girls to be dark and proud.

“Every generation has its share of beauty myths. Perhaps it’s time to bust this one,” said the Vogue editorial. “Time to say that as a magazine, we love, and have always loved, the gorgeous colour of Indian skin … dark, dusky, bronze, golden — whatever you call it, we love it.”

Model Gia Johnson Singh is leading the charge and appears on the cover of the magazine. She’s pretty much a walking example that darker skin is totes hot, in case you needed a reminder. (@timesonline)

FUNNY OR FLOPS:
Jezebel asks whether or not being a cute girl who says raunchy things is funny anymore. Sarah Silverman and Chelsey Handler are their case studies. The conclusion they reach: In fact, what Handler and Silverman reveal is that while being conventionally attractive and telling racist jokes has become an accepted niche for the female comic, it’s not a terribly versatile one. And it comes with an expiration date, which both Silverman and Handler are swiftly approaching.

I don’t know, I’ve never found Silverman’s brand of humor particularly funny, no matter what her age. She usually just seems smarmy, fake, and mildly offensive. But maybe that’s just me. (@jezebel)

HUCKABEE:
What does it say when a former presidential frontrunner “equates gay marriage with drug abuse and gay. adoption to a science experiment”? Actually, I guess that isn’t terribly ground breaking, considering Sarah Palin exists in the world. But still, Mike Huckabee is not a nice man. And Arkansas’ adoption laws really suck.

DAY OF SILENCE:
Friday is the 15th annual GLSEN Day of Silence, which raises awareness of the bullying of gay students. Students in schools across the US will participate by not speaking during school hours. Bullying of LGBT students is still a huge problem, and there’s no better example right now than that of Constance McMillen.

Interestingly, when you search for the event on Google News, all that pops up are articles from conservative news outlets that suggest the Day of Silence is just another ploy to push the gay agenda further into our schools (see also: Citizen Link, brought to you by Focus on the Family). Hmmm.

SOCIAL SECURITY:
A bunch of people showed up at a rally outside the LA LGBT center on Monday to support the efforts of a California congresswoman to extend Social Security benefits to gay couples.

FLORIDA:
Remember Janice Langbehn? The lesbian who was refused access to her partner, Lisa Pond, while she died in a hospital in Florida just before the two were supposed to go on a cruise? Well the hospital that kept Langbehn at bay has amended its LGBT policies.

“Lambda Legal, its coalition partners, and officials from Jackson Health System (JHS) released a statement announcing the hospital’s improved policies that are more responsive to the needs of the LGBT community. Lamba Legal noted that the new policies still do not provide as much protection as may be needed in critical situations.”

Considering the lawsuit against the hospital was dismissed and so far the hospital has refused to apologize to Langbehn, this is probs as good as we’re going to get in this case. (@sdgln)

BIEBER:
We’ve all known that Justin Bieber looks curiously lesbionic for a while. But now even the straight dudes are catching on. I can’t embed this video, but god I wish I could, because it involves the phrases “lesbian tidal wave” and “Tina Fey’s inner lesbian alert.” Check out Asylum’s theory: “Justin Bieber Crazy All Part of Canadian Conspiracy.”

Sarah lives in Chicago with her partner and her big white Great Dane. She is a lawyer by day and a beer brewer/bread baker/knitter by night. She & her partner are currently learning how to grow their own food, and eventually they hope to move to a small farm outside the city. In 2009-2010, before jetting off to law school, Sarah was Autostraddle's Managing Editor.

Sarah has written 131 articles for us.

38 Comments

  1. Is that Gia in your post? (The linked article had no pic) That’s not dark at all! Sure, by Western standards she’s “dark”, but as far as Asian entertainment goes she’s pretty fair. (And also thin and likely tall to boot, and vaguely Eurasian-looking, which helps.)

    There is this massive stigma against dark-skinned women in Asia, including South Asian communities. It’s not a new trend, it’s something that’s lasted from the dawn of time, when being fair meant that you didn’t have to be out labouring and get dark. Add colonialism and intra-community prejudice (esp in “multicultural” places like Malaysia or Singapore) and you have a potent mix of attitudes that contribute to the “dark is bad” mentality.

    All the makeup available in Asia has “skin whitening” abilities; you’ll never see anything that gives you a hint of a tan. My Norwegian white-as-snow friend couldn’t get anything in Malaysia when she came to visit because she didn’t want to get any more whiter! All the skin product ads talk of a girl who couldn’t get the guy until she lightened up her face to about 5 shades lighter. People have complained about this for ages, but no one really does anything. Not when even _schools_ reinforce the “fair is best” mentality through their treatment of darker girls and their choice of school leaders. There’s even a Indian soap opera centered around a girl who couldn’t get friends or love because she was really dark.

    One of my best friends is an Asian media personality; she’s half Brit half Punjabi, tall, leggy, gorgeous, fair. Though by Vogue standards she’d be “dark” just because she has some melanin. She’s worked in TV and modelling for AGES and she’s said that they’ll only hire Indians/South Asians if they’re fair. She knows her advantage is that her Eurasian background makes her “exotic”; people won’t even hire pure Asians anymore. Almost all the VJs and TV hosts you see on screen are Eurasian or at least Asian mixed. I certainly haven’t been successful in an on-screen career and would never be chosen for a modelling thing. Look at me, this is dark:
    Performing - Ex/Rotic
    Performing - Ex/Rotic
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/tiaramerchgirl/4246117758/in/set-72157623140664218/ (at least this one had lighting on my side)

    It’s not just the media industries too. Just about any job, especially people-facing ones, would favour light skin over dark skin regardless of whether the skin had anything to do with the job. It’s reinforced over and over that light skin is desirable, a sign of purity and harmony and being “good”, of being “neat and tidy” – tan won’t fly.

    The dark/light beauty dichotomy is an old deeply ingrained difficult issue, but not one that’s going to go away anytime soon. But if Vogue thinks people like Gia are “dark”, they really don’t understand the depth of the problem.

    • Thanks for writing that, Tiara, and especially for mentioning the ongoing effects of colonialism. People tend to gloss over that part. :/

      And I definitely agree with you on the pic posted… Go to any place with a visible South Asian population (say, a function of a university’s SASA club), and you’ll see that a lot of SA folks, if not most, have complexions closer to Mindy from The Office (US).

      • All the billboards and advertisements for skin lightening in Delhi was depressing. All while light skinned westerners are spending cash and risking cancer to lie in tanning beds. The world is crazy.

        The picture is of Gia. Hopefully the other models on the cover with her (I couldn’t find a pic of it anywhere online yet) show a variety of darker skin tones.

        • Though, to be fair, after some more searching about there are other shoots where she appears much darker, not too different really from the pics Tiara posted. So I guess as she said in the story her skin tone does vary and we’re a bit early to pass judgment on this Vogue issue.

          Though all the points Tiara mentioned about the problem are things that are very important to be aware of either way.

          • i googled this situation because i had already decided that probably the photo sent to us was the easiest photo to find precisely because Gia looks so light in the photo, which I think is exactly the problem that Gia is bringing up. I mean, better her bring it up than nobody, right?

            And then i found the cover and put it in anddddd this kinda reminds me of when vogue was congratulating itself for showing bigger girls in their issue… and by “bigger” they meant size 4. or when their “age” issue features women who have botoxed away their wrinkles. Anna Wintour is an anorexic asshat and her magazine will never change.

            I mean, it’s fine. It’s not terrible. It’s ok. It could be better. I never give Vogue the benefit of the doubt in general as they are so quick to congratulate themselves for faux-diversity.

            In the article Gia says, “her own skin tone varies from very light to very dark when she spends time in the sun, encountered colour prejudice first hand — something she had not experienced when modelling in London, Paris or New York.”

            “I heard someone talk about me on the phone saying ‘Oh, but she’s really dark’. It really got my back up,” she said.

            I mean, that’s the most pathetic part, right? That she’s not that dark, but she’s still facing that prejudice.

            VOGUE FAIL

          • also the blonde in the front… oh need i go any further than “the blonde in the front”? the blonde in the front has totally caucasian features. and there she is in the front.

            ETA: the girl behind her could basically be Niki Taylor with a tan.

          • Thanks for using your mad google skillz Riese. Yeah, those women are darker and probs would be described as “really dark” by someone looking to find a very very light model, but far from the average Indian skin tone all the same.

            Actually, the first thing I did after reading the blurb on here was hold my arm up to the screen. I’m pretty much as dark as Gia in that first photo. Vogue fail indeed.

            Jezebel had an article a few years back
            Jezebel had an article a few years back about Dove’s parent brand, Unilever, pushing whitening creams in India all while running “Love your body” ads here. Companies will do anything for profit and it’s upsetting how often they try to mask that with faux-humanity.

          • Thanks for finding the cover! Looking at it, only the girl on the far left would probably be “dark”, and even then she’s quite fairer than a lot of South Asian chicks. And good catch on the blonde in the front! A lot is forgiven if you look sorta Western.

          • It kind of reminded me of Vogue Australia patting themselves on the back for featuring untouched nude photos… of Jennifer Hawkins.

    • ITA! That girl is not dark skin at all! It is amusing and almost an insult that they would label this dark skin. It is good that they have recognized this problem. I do not live in that culture but even I noticed.

      The dark/light skin dichotomy is something that black Americans have faced forever. It is really sad how you get prejudice within the ethnicity as well as outside. It pisses me off esp when lighter skin girls get a free pass on beauty. The girl may not be attractive but because she is light she thought to be attractive. Its so annoying.

      I love when people have beautiful skin, esp when it is rich with color. Its so sexy.

      • This is awesome, and I am so glad we have readers that can chime in on this topic that have lived it first hand (I’m thanking you, Tiara :)). I am coming from the other side of this: I am that white girl who is light skinned–but light skinned to a flaw, in my opinion! I am a redhead and am pretty much see-through in the winter, and just vaguely “not glowing” in the summer (you can see my white legs from space, trust me.)
        I’m from RI, and there we have almost Jersey Shore-ish people who are daaaark. Everyone has a membership to a tanning salon. I never fit in and was always made fun of, even as an adult. I knew I couldn’t go tanning, though I tried the creams and sprays as much as I could. I was only successful once, got a great spray tan, and I never felt better about my skin or got more compliments than then. But that lasted 5 days, and then I was back to me. Casper the friendly ghost, as some dubbed me.
        Now that I live in Seattle–dark, gloomy Seattle–I fit in way more. Anyone with a really dark tan here is alarming to see actually.
        An ex once told me “If you had a tan, you would be the perfect girl”. I’ll never forget that. Though it seems silly,it hurt me to the core.

        I gave up a while ago on getting darker skin, but it is so crazy that I am here in the U.S. trying to darken myself with chemicals, and halfway around the world Indian girls are being told the opposite of me and trying to get whiter with chemicals. Maybe we are both looking for the exact same skin color, wouldn’t that be something.

        I have accepted myself now, though I thank G-d every day that TIGHTS ARE STILL IN STYLE! 🙂

        • That is the problem, girls from all ethnicities trying to change genetics to conform to society standards. Back in the olden days of American and countries that Tiara spoke of skin color does not show a mere preference it insuinuates a status or value of the person. The lighter you are the closer you are to white the better you are. Skin, is the first thing you notice, but it goes beyond that for many cultures such as facial features, hair, size etc.

          How do we abolish standards? One thing I think would help is to not do issues like this. Do not highlight or brag about your special, often one time issue, featuring darker women or more full figure women. Show them all the time throughout the magazine. Do not put a focus and an emphasis on it because they are different, but there is no difference. You know? When you divide you also sort of rank or show preference. Beauty is beauty, beauty is varied.

          I am so glad you have accepted yourself. It is often forgotten but I know that ppl face an issue on the other side of color spectrum as well. It’s so sad that color is still such a determining factor in the beauty of skin. Very white, creamy skin is beautiful too. I sometimes want to skin Mary Louise Parker and frame it, but I digress…

          Redheads are awesome BTW and so are freckles!

        • I’ve always wanted red hair, green eyes, and freckles. Seriously. I don’t know if I was self-hating or was Scottish in a past life or what.

  2. I am so alarmed that that Sax dude is a specialist in ‘the emerging science of sex differences’ that I don’t even know what to do. Maybe I should devote my entire research career to debunking his research.

  3. Sarah silverman is hit-and miss for me. I’ve never thought she was hysterical but I’ve also never felt the intense aversion some people seem to have towards her. I just find her kind of boring.

    in the last two weeks I’ve had 3 people tell me out of nowhere that I look like Justin Bieber. It’s becoming a but much. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing.

  4. “I don’t know, I’ve never found Silverman’s brand of humor particularly funny… She usually just seems smarmy, fake, and mildly offensive.”

    I completely agree. I think she is boring and tries to hard to be funny.
    Chelsea Handler is hilarious though. I have never seen her stand up but on her show she is so quick, smart and funny. ‘Are You There Vodka? Its Me Chelsea’ was one of the best books I have ever read. I don;t think she makes too many racist jokes. More slut/drunk jokes but she is great!

    “In other words, it’s not that there are necessarily more lesbians and bisexuals today, it’s that people feel far more free and open to identify with that label without as much fear of societal or criminal prosecution.”

    THIS is the honest to goodness FACT that I keep telling everyone who doesn;t understand ‘where all these gay ppl came from.’

    • the only thing i like about sarah silverman is that whenever anyone says i am pushing it with my humor i can be like “well what about sarah silverman? she says worse shit than this all the time!”

      but i don’t think she’s funny, her popularity astounds me and she dated that asshat Jimmy Kimmel, who I have hated since 2004 when the Pistons won the NBA championship and he made a bunch of ignorant/racist remarks about how Detroiters were gonna burn down the city (too late! the u.s army already did that in 1967!) and then I hated him again a year later for being mean to Emily Gould on the TV.

    • Really? I’m also Canadian and I thought it was hilarious. They’re just using his Canadian-ness as another thing to make fun of how ridiculous he is as a phenomenon. He’s a vaguely talented 16 year old boy who has somehow captured the tween hearts of multiple countries. It’s really just nuts.
      And the fact that he is getting press for looking like a lesbian is even more ridiculous.

  5. re: sarah silverman and chelsea handler, I don’t find sarah silverman all that funny, but I LOVE chelsea handler. I think chelsea’s humor is a lot more intelligent and witty, and things sarah silverman does make me cringe. I haven’t seen much of her, or anything she’s done in a long while, so maybe I just got a bad taste. but good for her, supporting same-sex marriage!

  6. The other day, a coworker printed an email about the day of silence thing and left a few copies of it laying on the printer. This brilliant email urged parents to keep their children home from school on that day if the school was going to allow students to participate. I didn’t make it through the whole stupid fucking email, but the part I did read said that for every student that misses a day, the school looses money, and maybe that will make them think twice before letting students stand up for what they believe in in a “disruptive” way.
    I mean really?!? First of all, a day of silence is the opposite of disruptive. A bunch of quiet students is basically a teacher’s dream come true. And also, causing the school to loose money because of your prejudice is evil and stupid. This is the school that your children go to. Why would you want to do that.
    Needless to say, I promptly balled up the printouts and threw them in the garbage. Sorry, but it pissed me off, and I had to vent.

  7. I applaud Vogue for trying to dissuade the white is beautiful concept. Just because you’re whiter, fairer doesn’t neccessarily make you prettier. But to be honest, being whiter has its advantages. The fairer you look, the cleaner you look, therefore prettier. In some countries, having dark skin means you’re poor and that you work under the sun all day. And trust me, boys in my country would really prefer whiter girls.

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