“The baby sign language phenomenon connects to what culturally deaf people celebrate as “Deaf Gain:” the notion that all of humanity can gain significant benefits and insights from Deaf visual-spatial contributions to the world, including A.S.L. and all its rich linguistic possibilities. Deaf friends I talk with applaud hearing parents for learning some signs with their children, and express hope that, someday, more people will use a signed language on an everyday basis, making communication easier for all of us. But the developers and users of baby sign language don’t necessarily see A.S.L. fluency as a goal. Many of the books and websites actually assure parents that they don’t need to learn full A.S.L., and also that using baby signs won’t impede a child’s spoken language acquisition. […] Finally, there is one more reason I feel ambivalent when my hearing acquaintances tell me they are using baby signs with their children. Often, I notice that these acquaintances are people who have never attempted to use any sign language with me — even though I am deaf, even though I am the one person they know who could most benefit from visual communication. This omission strikes me as a huge loss, even a huge injustice. […] For decades, medical and educational professionals have discouraged hearing parents from signing with their deaf children. My own parents were told not to sign with me when I was a baby — and then proceeded to disregard that advice, for which I am exceedingly grateful. Some of these professionals believe that speech is superior and signing is only a crutch for spoken language acquisition, despite the fact that A.S.L. has been recognized as a full language since the 1960s. The consequences of this philosophy of enforced speech for deaf education, literacy and language development have been disastrous: It has meant that many deaf children never acquire a fluent native language that will enable them to reach their potential. This is starting to change, but most deaf children still do not receive full A.S.L. exposure in their early years, which are critical for language acquisition. The fundamental injustice of the baby sign-language trend is that our culture touts the benefits of signing for hearing children, but disregards A.S.L. for the deaf children who need it the most.”

Rachel Kolb, Sign Language Isn’t Just for Babies
(via k-pagination)





this makes me want to cry

First of all, “…they were surrounded on all sides by echoes and images of themselves, in a world where image and object had not yet torn themselves apart” is one of the most poetic phrasings I’ve ever heard.

Second, here’s the original source, “What the caves are trying to tell us” by Sam Kriss.

Third, the original opens with:  “Every so often, I get the urge to drag someone into a cave, and show them something unspeakable.”

I had another point, but it got lost in the artful prose of this article.

I feel like “every so often, I get the urge to drag someone into a cave and show them something unspeakable” is something that’s okay for a paleolithic cave art expert to say, but like, absolutely no one else

Somehow, without anyone intending it to, the idea that we do know what
these cave symbols mean has permeated modern society. It’s there in a
whole vast complex of normative judgments: when we talk about the diets
and lifestyles that are natural and good, when we complain that mobile
phones and social media are perilously rewiring our brains, when we
vaguely condemn technology in general for drawing us away from our
original (and implicitly Paleolithic) human nature, when we mention
human nature at all. It’s the idea that we can meaningfully relate our
world to that of our Stone Age ancestors, as if we knew anything
whatsoever about what kind of world they lived in. This is an incredible
violence against that lost universe, a place grander and stranger than
we could possibly imagine.





Its like the 80’s all over again, a remorseless madwoman runs the UK, a maniacal bastard runs the US, the world’s on the brink of nuclear war and all I want to do is listen to synthpop

star wars, ghostbusters, and mad max all pass the bechdel test now tho

that helps with the deja vu but tragically not the crushing fear of nuclear apocalypse

try the synthpop again









Another thing that confuses me about the ‘butch/femme are lesbian only terms and m-spec women shouldn’t use them’ thing is that I’ve been seeing queer men use femme for like, a really long time?

Same. And it’s… telling that not a single word about them, that I’ve seen anyway, has been said by the “they’re for lesbians only” crowd. Like. If they are lesbian-exclusive words, shouldn’t gay men using them be just as in the wrong as multispec women?

I would ask why it is I haven’t heard a single word about that, but… I think the answer is pretty clear. (Hint: it’s multispec antagonism.)

It’s also just a complete lack of understanding of where the terms butch/femme came from. I can’t yell enough about how people need to look up Polaris and learn about the whole fascinating history of the cant that gave us butch and femme in the first place. 

I mean, “Stone Butch Blues” shows men and women identifying as femme in Buffalo, NY’s bar scene in the 50s, but of course some random exclusionists on Tumblr.hell can go off, I guess.

Stone Butch Blues is actually set in the 1970s, but otherwise you’re dead on. 🙂 

Hell, there’s a book on my shelf with quotes describing men as butch that go back to the 40′s (so what’s that whole “it came out of 50′s lesbian bar culture” thing again?):

Like most of Derrick’s partners – among them the “butch number” in charge of the electricity generator – Fred marries and raised a family after the war [WWII] was over.


The New Zealand Pictorial drew 1955 to a close with tales of this new urban phenomenon. Like the Observer some eight years earlier, the Pictorial managed to moralise, inform and titillate all at the same time:

“Homosexuals have a strict code of their own and on no account will they sexually associate with women. Oddly enough they fight among themselves like kilkenny cats [sic]. For this reason a group of homosexuals is always controlled by the “queen bee” whose word is absolutely final. Others in the sect are “marthas”, who dress as women; “arthurs”, who adopt the normal male role, and “butchs” who stand in either way.”

[AN: this was written by straight people, and as such may not be accurate terminology, but it also stands as evidence that these terms were widespread enough for straight people to notice them.]


One avid party-goer wrote about this in-between time of evening in “The Night Is Young and We’re So Beautiful”, an unpublished 1966 story about his Auckland social circle:

[cut for length] “The more discreet or nervous would exit hurriedly and linger not. They would attempt an air of “How ever did I get mixed up with this lot when I was really drinking in the side bar with all those butch sporty types?”, and rush to their transport looking neither to right nor to left. “

– from Mates & Lovers: A History Of Gay New Zealand by Chris Brickell

Also, there’s a claim that floats around sometimes that butch and femme mean different things for lesbians because they relate to gender identity and expression. That’s a cool claim! It also goes for gay men:

Many stereotypes of gay men presume some form of cross-gender identification and remain prevalent even though the past two decades have seen a large-scale “butch shift” among gay men in Western communities.


“Butch is to straight-acting what camp is to effeminate – it’s like taking qualities that we consider masculine and over-emphasising them.”

“Butch can be camp in a way. It’s almost like it’s an exaggerated, overblown, unrealistic version of masculinity – you know, it’s not real.”

While butch is taken to clearly be a performance and generally a self-conscious and entertaining one, straight-acting is ambiguous in the same way as camp.


“When I first came out I actually got quite camp in both my speaking style and my movement style and then sort of when I decided that was actually really dumb, I swung back and got sort of completely butch in both and now I think I’ve sort of settled somewhere in the middle somewhere and I’m quite comfortable.”


Interviewee: I think camp’s making a parody of the masculine stereotype [whereas butch] is trying to be the equivalent of what straight men should be, like really tough, macho.

Chris: Do you think it sends it up or actually values it?

Interviewee: I don’t know, I think both to an extent. I mostly think it values it.


The interview accounts discussed here suggest that, rather than attempting to dismantle the taxonomy that incorporates butch, camp, effeminate and straight acting, gay men are refining that semantic space by introducing a new dimension of authenticity to the available distinctions.

– from “What it means to be a gay man” in Queer In Aotearoa New Zealand (2004), by Chris Brickell and Ben Taylor

And as a bonus, some comments on gay men in film by Vito Goddamn Russo:

To make matters worse, it was just about this time (1969) that gay men, themselves buyers of the American dream, rejected the sissy confessions of The Boys in the Band, opting for the macho drag of Joe Buck instead of fuzzy sweaters and teased hair, in order to prove that homosexual men could be just as butch as anyone else. (Which is true, of course, but why bother?) Instead of recognizing and destroying the worn-out myth of the real man, faggots adopted the solution of the traditional male. Just as Marion Morrison changed his name to John Wayne, they jumped on the bandwagon and became part of the parade.
George Schlatter’s Norman, Is That You? (1976) may have been the first pro-gay fag joke. Schlatter combined what looked to be good intentions with a production that only a hack could love and a solution that nobody could believe. The short-lived Broadway comedy about the parents who discover their son’s lover and gay lifestyle on a weekend visit went on to become a big dinner theater hit, and it is easy to see why: it plays both ends from the middle, refusing to make any comment on the situation for fear of offending someone. The black lover is butch, obviously the “husband”; the white lover is nellie, obviously the “wife.” Just like us, George!

– from The Celluloid Closet

Butch and femme are very important terms to lesbian history, I’m not arguing against that. But it hacks me the hell off to see the claim that they’re only for lesbians because that’s an active denial of my history and culture as a bi man. Plus, there are gay men out there right now with “no fats no femmes” in their grindr bios; try going and telling them that it’s a lesbian only term lmao

Thanks for adding all the citations! This is very good reference material.

Nothing that is useful to someone else is an anyone-only term.

I keep seeing this kind of thing. Guys. Guys, you cannot own a part of language. That is not how language works. We have made an exception for reclaimed slurs that describe identity, only because it does considerable actual harm to let members of a historical oppressor group run around using a term that people who look just like them used to scream at a specific group while trying to beat them to death (and even then there is ambiguity; the queer community freely gave their word to the academic community to describe them with, and now the term “queer” is a fully reclaimed term that can be used by anyone, despite what radfems and kids who can’t seem to grasp that every single term for homosexuals is a former slur have been trying to push on Tumblr). But you cannot say “only autistics can use the term ‘stim’ to describe repetitive actions they undertake that give them pleasure”, you cannot say “only black people are allowed to use vernacular terms that have passed into the media and the wider community of language because they invented those terms”, and you cannot say “only lesbians are allowed to use a specific term for gender nonconformity.” Among other things, a bi woman is absolutely in a position to be able to use any term lesbians use to describe anything other than “exclusively dates/loves women only”, and terms regarding gender nonconformity? All of the LGBT+ community has the right to those.

You invent language for the use of all of humanity. If you want to keep it to your community only, keep it off the internet and use only in small groups vetted to be your community exclusively. As soon as you use a term that is useful to someone else, expect them to pick it up, because humans are overall more similar than they are different. Your words have to have part of their definition applying to your group (for instance, misogynoir cannot be used to mean either prejudice against women in general or black people in general because it was specifically invented to mean prejudice against black women, and you can hear that in the word’s roots) for you to be able to keep them exclusive. 

geisha are absolutely not prostitutes btw




They are the equivalent to strippers here. They never engaged in sex acts but if you look throughout their history they were not treated well. Most being sold into that profession.

If by “here” you mean Japan, i’d just like to say that it is well known that not even the average Japanese citizen is aware of the true nature of the Geisha, Geiko and Maiko. they are not strippers and to say things like this is demeaning to the women who work hard and are trained in the arts (dance, music, tea ceremony, etc.). 

Geisha became what they are known as today in the mid-1700s. the first actual geisha were men and they entertained shogun and samurai (and other wealthy men) with dance, music and the art of tea ceremony and theater. when courtesans were losing money to these male geisha, a few of them broke away from being in the sex business and became female geisha. therefore, geisha as an occupation never was a thing of the sex trade/prostitution and absolutely NOT stripping. 

let me dispel some common misconceptions:

  • so, geisha were never prostitutes, never perform sex acts or even accept relationships/marriage proposals until after they retire from being a geisha (usually in their 30s, tho some women stay geisha until death by choice).
  • while geisha in the past (we are talking almost 100 years ago by now) have been given to Okiya (geisha houses) by their families, it was usually due to the families inability to afford their child and rather than let the child be homeless and starve, they gave them to an Okiya where they would live a much better life (Okiya housed other geisha within that Okiya’s special “familiy”; the Okasan–”Mother”–of the house protected them, gave them a comfortable living, fed them, sent them to all their classes, spent money on their personal kimono and make-up, and who arrange their finances and plan their parties and events). Nowadays, and pretty much since the 1940s, Geisha become Geisha by choice and enter into the profession after they graduate middle school (it is even required in most cases that they complete at least that level of schooling before becoming a Geisha) willingly.
  • GEISHA wear their Obi belts tied tightly in the back to hold together their Kimono; these belts are so long and heavy that the Okiya hires a male dresser to assist in tying these Obi every night before a party or event. a geisha could not strip or easily take off her many layers of Kimono/undergarments and so the assumption that they are strippers just doesn’t make any sense. a traditional courtesan or TAYUU/OIRAN wore her Obi belt loosely tied in the front so that she could easily untie it for a customer.
  • There is no empirical evidence of there being any such thing as “mizuage” (as referred to by Arthur Golden in ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’) in the geisha world. there is however evidence of the ritual of mizuage in the Tayuu (or Oiran depending on the region, i think) courtesan tradition. a courtesan who was being initiated would have a ceremony where wealthy men bid for her virginity, with the highest bid being the winner. These Tayuu (or Oiran) are absolutely NOT in any form in relation to a Geisha. i will also mention that prostitution in Japan has been illegal since 1959, officially.
  • “Comfort Women” from the WWII era were prostitutes that told American GIs that they Many prostitutes had told occupying American GI’s that they were “geisha” in order to try and make more money. This played on the exoticism that was so popular in the US at the time. this is where a big portion of the “Geisha are prostitutes” misconception came from. 
  • “Hot Springs Geisha” and Bar Hostesses in Tokyo are trained in a similar way to traditional Geisha in that they have skills in the art of conversation and even some musical skill, however these women are NOT Geisha. “Hot Springs Geisha” are also known to engage in sex acts with hot springs patrons (though it is frowned upon) and so bring another incorrect image of sex-acts to the name of Geisha.
  • While there have I’m sure been cases of abuse from an Okasan to her Geisha throughout the history of the profession, this is usually not the case, and to say that “many or all Okasan are abusive and manipulative to their Geisha” is ignorant and offensive.
  • DO NOT READ “MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA”!! If you already have, I would strongly suggest you read other books on the subject of Geisha. Arthur Golden (a white man)  wrote this book to make money off of the many misconceptions about Geisha, Geiko and Maiko. Everything he says about the Geisha tradition is incorrect, from the part where he explains why “some Geisha” wear lipstick only on the bottom lip (this actually signifies that a Maiko has only been in training for under a year) to his horrible, offensive and incorrect description of a Geisha going through mizuage. He interviewed a very well-known geisha named Mineko Iwasaki for his book, which he then exploited and changed around for his benefit. She even tried to sue him for libel for taking stories from her personal life, twisting it and turning it into a book that lies about the fundamentals of being a Geisha. 
    I would recommend reading, “Geisha, A Life” by Mineko Iwasaki. she has written about what it really means to be a Geisha.

Here are is a picture of a Geiko (a fully-fledged Geisha who has completed most of her training and has become a professional):


Here is a picture of a Maiko (a Geisha-in-training who is still an apprentice and usually works alongside her “Older Sister” or her assigned Geiko partner; her Older Sister is in charge of most of a Maiko’s social training):


Here is the difference in dress between a Geiko and a Maiko:


Here is a Tayuu courtesan (high end prostitute); this profession no longer exists, any modern photographs of one is of an actress for historical theater purposes. Notice the Obi belt tied in front and the overall difference in dress. This was what courtesans looked like:


This is a photo of “Hot Springs Geisha” in the 60s. Notice the women serving drinks and entertaining men at the tables:


Here is a picture of an Ozashiki (party, event or gathering where Geisha are hired to entertain with music, dance, conversation and drink serving) today. It is much, much, much different (and more expensive) than an average hostess bar, and takes place within an Ochaya (traditional teahouse). As you can see, men are not the only ones who have booked an Ozashiki with Geisha:


Please do not spread misconceptions about these hard-working women artists. They deserve respect and have persevered for centuries with women at the forefront of these professions. Not only are these women trained to entertain party patrons, but they are also highly skilled in theater and the performing arts. Surrounding the Geisha are women wigmakers, female Shamisen, drum, flute ensembles, hairdressers, kimono artisans, well-respected dance/music/tea ceremony teachers, jewelry and hair accessory makers, Okobo and Zori footwear artisans, teahouse staff and Ozashiki planners, instrument craftsmen, and many, many more. If you would like to know more about Geisha, there are many books written by former Geisha out there.

Here is a short video of a Geisha performance, it is the annual Miyako Odori (”Cherry Blossom” Dance):


UPDATE: Thanks to some users who helped point out an inaccuracy, and more in-depth research I have found that “Comfort Women” was the incorrect term for prostitutes in Japan. A book I had originally gotten that information from has proven to be pretty flawed and incredibly inaccurate. Thanks! Keep learning!

As a history major, I ought to point out that while Mineko Iwasaki is a great primary resource for the modern Geisha institution, she became a Geisha pre-WWII and post-Meiji reform, when prostitution was banned and the Geisha profession was sanitized, and operated from a large, respectable establishment in the city of Kyoto. In the past, the line between Geisha and prostitute was much murkier. Geisha first evolved out of backup dancers for prostitutes. They were not the main attraction and thus not expected to sell their bodies. They soon caught on as entertainers because they were dressed less fancy and thus cost less to train and maintain than a prostitute, and in turn could have their (officially non-sexual) services bought for cheaper prices. Officially they were not prostitutes, but in practice, geisha who could not make ends meet sold sexual services under the table. Obviously, this would happen more in rural towns or poor establishments, especially hot spring resorts, which is how Onsen Geisha come to be. The city Geisha look down on their poorer counterparts, but the Onsen Geisha themselves absolutely consider themselves to be Geisha, and take a certain pride in their wok. It would be incorrect to erase their experiences because they do not behave completely like city Geisha.

For information about Onsen Geisha, I would recommend Autobiography of a Geisha by Sayo Masuda. It makes for a tantalizing companion to Mineko Iwasaki’s book. Two facets of a profession, like night and day. The movie A Geisha by Kenji Mizoguchi is also a good at the lives of less well-off Geisha, based partly off of the experiences of the director’s older sister Suzu.

To summarize, The above FAQ is correct in that Geisha are not prostitutes. But Onsen Geisha shouldn’t be dismissed as an “incorrect image”.


Some old fella came up to me at work and asked a question only he didn’t quite figure out if he should call me “sir” or “ma’am” by the time he got to the end of his sentence and in a moment of apparent panic ended up saying “captain” instead. Absolutely made my day.