ej levy

Another Role/Reboot Twofer: Poverty and Lesbians!

Call me strange but I’m kind of digging this “twofer post” thing — maybe combining two seemingly unrelated topics in my subject line attracts a higher quantity of readers? Hmmm…

Speaking of higher quantity of readers, both of these pieces are getting quite a bit of traction. The first, published on Role/Reboot at the end of July, deals with American attitudes toward poverty (which, let’s face it, are absolutely misguided). I talk about the familiar “bootstraps” narrative that we like to regurgitate over and over again in the media we consume (hello Rocky Balboa), but that isn’t realistic when applied to our current state of economic affairs in 2014. Income inequality is the highest it’s been since before the Great Depression, so blaming individuals for “not trying hard enough” in the face of larger oppressive systems at work is misguided at best and heartless at worst.

Side note: Any educators who follow this blog should check out the writing of Paul Thomas, whose “grit narrative” piece I reference in my article. Many of his posts discuss racism/sexism/poverty in education, problems with Common Core/standards-based programs. He is phenomenal, and you can find him here: http://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/

Being Poor Doesn’t Mean Someone’s Lazy — July 22, 2014 on Role/Reboot

My Role/Reboot column for this week, “On Lesbians Who Settle Down With Men,” is a direct response to a piece EJ Levy wrote for Salon last Tuesday on how she unexpectedly married a man, but still identifies as a lesbian because her sexual attraction is to women and women only. As you might imagine, comment wars have erupted all over the place (including on my article — some very interesting discussions going on!) I had a lot of fun examining the distinctions between romantic and sexual love, as well as our tendency to think that they are one in the same or that one always inevitably leads to the other.

Some of the commenters bring up excellent points: in particular, that Levy’s story may perpetuate the harmful myth that lesbians can be “converted” through sex with a man (J.M. Coetzee’s novel “Disgrace” is a chilling use of this myth), and while I completely understand the concern and wish Levy would have acknowledged it in her piece, I do not believe that we can put that kind of burden on one woman’s story. A lot of the argument boils down to definitions, but if we are going to ask what constitutes lesbian/bi/etc., we have ask those same questions of other relationships? If a self-identified lesbian is attracted to women who look/act/dress like men, is she “less” of a lesbian? And somehow, I feel like we wouldn’t criticize a self-identified straight woman who happens to fall in love with a woman (which has also happened) as harshly as some are criticizing Levy.

All of this aside, I do speak from a different point of view because I believe that we are all innately bisexual — just by varying degrees. And after this, I will definitely be writing more on queer theory in the future. Check it out and add your voice to the conversation!

On Lesbians Who Settle Down With Men — August 3, 2014 on Role/Reboot