Tag Archives: down with the patriarchy

We Asked One Woman (Me) Why Birth Control Is Great And Here Was Her Answer

24 Jul

So today Buzzfeed published a post with the title “We Asked 24 Women Why They Don’t Use Birth Control And These Are Their Answers.” And like, first off, where do they find these women? Are they living under a rock in Arizona where they don’t actually know what Buzzfeed is and don’t understand that their images will be fodder for a million internet feminists/misogynists/what-have-you looking for easy prey? Or are they so secure in their beliefs that they actually just don’t give a fuck? Are they hoping they’ll convince other women to join their YAY BABIES BOO BIRTH CONTROL tribe? I mean, I sincerely hope it’s the latter, but I don’t know. Some days I just don’t know.

Also why are so many of them standing in front of the same white brick wall? Did Buzzfeed recruit them off the street and then take them to the same weird alleyway to photograph them? Do they all work for Buzzfeed? IS THIS A CONSPIRACY? Someone should look into this and get back to me stat. Meanwhile, on with the feminist rants.

So, first up, I’m assuming that what many of them mean by “birth control” is “hormonal birth control,” based on responses like this:

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So, real talk: I actually do have a sincere amount of empathy for these women. Hormonal birth control is not for everyone. I know plenty of women whose bodies just can’t handle artificial hormones, and the range of their reactions to the birth control pill and/or hormonal IUDs and/or shots or patches have ranged from migraines to decreased sex drive to severe mood swings to recurrent panic attacks. NONE OF THOSE THINGS ARE COOL, AND WHAT UP IF HORMONAL BIRTH CONTROL IS MAKING YOU FEEL TERRIBLE THEN I FULLY SUPPORT YOU NOT USING IT.

BUT.

BUT.

THERE ARE SO MANY FORMS OF BIRTH CONTROL THAT DO NOT INVOLVE HORMONES.

Like condoms, for one. No, they’re not as effective as hormonal birth control, but they are still PRETTY DAMN EFFECTIVE. If, for whatever reason, the pill et al are not for you, then condoms are an extremely viable alternative. “OH BUT MY DUDE DOESN’T LIKE TO GET IT ON UNLESS HE’S BAREBACK.” That’s cool! I mean, I mostly think it’s kind of a dick move (pun SO intended) for a dude to pull because it puts the onus for contraception almost entirely on the woman, but I get that this is a genuine issue for some couples. The good news is that you still have options – for example, a copper IUD, which is super effective and is totally non-hormonal. Or the sponge, which contains spermicide but no hormones. Or a cervical cap or diaphragm, the latter of which should be used in conjunction with spermicide but the former of which can be used totally chemical-free!

OR (and I know I’m about to get a lot of shit for this) the dude can just pull out. Like, if he is a trusted partner and you both know that he can pull out in time and you’re both STI-free and blah blah blah, this is actually totally an option. If done properly, the rate of success is pretty high. I say this as a person who used this as my primary form of birth control for like three years, and it’s not like I have fertility issues. I got pregnant literally the first time we didn’t use any form of contraception, so it’s not a case of “well sure he pulled out, but maybe you just wouldn’t have conceived anyway.” You guys, my body is a conception machine.

So, like I said, I feel for these women on some level and I support whatever choice they want to make about their body, but also I think they’re spreading gross misinformation about what “birth control” actually is.

But some of these other women? I am digging real deep in the empathy vault in an effort to not just scream WRONG YOU ARE WRONG WHY ARE YOU SO WRONG PLEASE STOP BEING WRONG but you guys, I am having a pretty tough time. To wit:

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WHAT IS ALL WORTH IT. Risking pregnancy every time you get it on? Having more children than you can afford and living in poverty? Struggling to be able to pursue any dreams or goals beyond “have lots of babies?” Never sleeping again? PLEASE EXPLAIN TO ME WHAT IS WORTH IT BECAUSE I DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

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BIRTH CONTROL IS NOT A ZERO-SUM GAME. You can use it sometimes, and then not use it when you want to get pregnant. IT’S NOT LIKE YOU TAKE A PILL AND BAM YOU WILL NEVER EVER HAVE A BABY, WHAT THE FUCK DID THEY TEACH YOU IN HEALTH CLASS.

Oh and I am not even touching the whole “my body is a gift to my future husband” thing with a ten foot pole. Except to relate this anecdote from when my now-husband and I were planning our wedding and the priest wanted us to sleep in separate bedrooms in the months leading up to the wedding. The reasoning he gave was this: “I want you to think of your sex as a gift. Now [turning to my husband] have you ever received a gift that someone else had already opened, then wrapped up and then re-gifted? How would you feel about a gift that’s been re-gifted seven or eight times before you finally receive it?”

He may as well have just pointed to me and yelled “WHOOOOOOOOOOORE!”

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That’s awesome! Devoid of any context, I would fully support the message this woman is holding up. Also, her hair is really fucking swag.

BUT HOW IS TAKING BIRTH CONTROL NOT A MINDFUL DECISION AND A WAY OF ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS. This actually kind of breaks my brain. Like, the only way of accepting “responsibility” for sex is to get pregnant? THAT IS NOT A SUSTAINABLE MODEL TO WORK WITH.

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I mean, I guess? But like, do you also think that hair growth isn’t a condition that needs to be fixed? Or nudity? Like, you are just never going to alter your body for your own convenience because nature or god or whatever?

I don’t really think of my fertility as a “condition that needs to be fixed” so much as “a reality about my body that I prefer to have control over.” BEING IN CONTROL OF YOUR OWN BODY IS SO AWESOME, YOU GUYS. I DON’T GET HOW ANYONE COULD DISAGREE WITH THAT.

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I guess when you think your husband owns your body, then you also believe that he owns all of your unfertilized eggs. So.

(At first I accidentally typed “unfertilized effs” and actually I’m pretty sure that’s what my body is full of)

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I LITERALLY DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS MEANS.

YES. YOU CAN CHOOSE NOT TO USE BIRTH CONTROL AND STILL BE A FEMINIST.

CONGRATULATIONS.

NOW LET’S ALLOW OTHER WOMEN TO MAKE THEIR OWN CHOICES ABOUT THEIR OWN BODIES.

FEMINISM, Y’ALL

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I know that what she actually means is that she has enough self-control not to be a slutty slut who has hot sex whenever she feels like it. Which is stupid and nonsensical because ALL women have that control should they wish to exercise it – it’s not like those of us getting it on are doing so because we are slaves to our own desires. But I’d rather think that what she’s saying is that she has total control over her own body and can stop eggs from being fertilized or whatever using her intense MIND POWERS.

She also never farts because CONTROL.

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… I actually think that she just said that birth control makes men feel like they can get away with rape.

I just.

I can’t.

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I also fully don’t understand this one. WHAT SYMPTOMS. WHAT PROBLEM.

MY PROBLEM IS THAT MY OVARIES ARE FULL OF EGGS AND MY BODY WANTS TO MAKE BABIES ANY TIME IT SENSES A SPERMAL INTRUDER AND I DON’T WANT ANOTHER KID RIGHT NOW. SO YEAH, CONTRACEPTION ACTUALLY DOES TREAT THE PROBLEM.enhanced-buzz-14348-1406076618-8

Hey man. You do sex your way, I’ll do it mine. If sex was meant ONLY to create life then god wouldn’t have invented the multiple orgasm, just saying. Or gay people, for that matter.

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Real talk: they’re both. Take it from someone who’s been there, done that. Kids are awesome and magical, but they will get all up in your shit and you will never have a moment to yourself. I love my kid and all, but when you’re considering what to get me for my birthday just know that I’d rather not, at this moment, have another creature in this house who will look me full in the face, grinning broadly while doing exactly what I told him not to do, just fucking WAITING to see my reaction. One of those gifts is enough for now.

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Arguably cooler, but also a bajillion times harder to rear and exponentially more expensive.

Call me next time your pet gerbil has a meltdown in the candy aisle because you won’t buy him the chocolate he wants and oh my god you need to get your grocery shopping done but everyone is staring at you and whispering and you know you should just leave but then you won’t be able to eat for a week.

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I actually agree that no one is ever really ready for kids. Nothing in this world can prepare you for what it’s like to go weeks without sleep and spend your days being screamed at by a tiny tyrant. By the same token, nothing can prepare you for the super intense love you will feel for your kid. It’s kind of a two-sided coin.

But legit that doesn’t mean that people who don’t want to have kids are wrong or misguided or just don’t understand how wonderful babies are. Some people don’t want to have kids and that’s their choice, end of story. Go read the fucking Handmaid’s Tale or something and then we can talk about what it would be like to live in a world where women have no bodily autonomy.

ANYWAY.

Everyone has a choice and gets to make their own choice and that’s rad. I’m glad that these women have all considered their options and decided what makes the most sense for their bodies. And I guess the argument could be made that they’re not trying to convince other women that they shouldn’t use birth control either – I mean, they’re just saying what works for them, right? But I think that when you photograph yourself holding up a giant white sign explaining why you don’t use contraception, then it definitely seems like you’re trying to change the opinion of women who DO put up the no-baby shield. And that’s a pretty shitty, unfeminist thing to do.

Also I really want to organize a basic sex ed class for all of these women and explain to them how their body works and what contraception ACTUALLY means because I am sincerely sad that a lot of this seems to be a grey area for them. WOMEN EVERYWHERE: YOU SHOULD EDUCATE YOURSELVES ABOUT YOUR RAD BODIES. IT CAN ONLY LEAD TO MORE HAPPINESS.

Ask A Feminist: Is BDSM Inherently Misogynist?

15 Jul

Q: What is your opinion on BDSM? Obviously people should be free do to whatever they want in the privacy of their bedrooms… but don’t you get suspicious when guys nonchalantly admits to enjoy getting off at the thought of humiliating and/or beating  a woman? Doesn’t it sound like they’re reinforcing negative stereotypes that are already omnipresent in our society, only in this case they can get away with it because it’s – supposedly – a consensual fantasy? Is it just a fantasy, after all? Do fantasies happen in a vacuum? Aren’t there going to be ramifications? Where do they come from in the first place? We can criticize women’s portrayal in mainstream media, but we can’t do the same with BDSM? Why? As for female submissives… isn’t consenting to the re-enactment of abusive and exploitative scenarios a bit self-destructive? Or am I taking away women’s agency by pointing this out?

A: First of all, a sexy disclaimer: I’m not an expert on BDSM. I’ve engaged in some fairly light BDSM stuff before, but definitely not enough to make me feel like I am a Noted Authority on this subject. But I definitely have Thoughts and Feelings on feminism and BDSM, and naturally I’m going to share them with you.

First of all, no, I don’t think that fantasies exist in a vacuum. I think that people’s sexual proclivities and fantasies are definitely influenced by our society in one way or another. I know for a fact that there are men who are into humiliating and degrading women sexually because they flat out think that’s what women deserve. BUT. I don’t think that dudes who are turned on by dominating women must, by default, be misogynists; in the same vein, I don’t think that women who are interested in being submissive in the bedroom are self-hating anti-feminists. I think that BDSM can for sure be a way of exploring the power dynamics between men and women, but I don’t think that the fact that a man is sexually dominant necessarily means that he views women as inferior.

I once had a partner who was pretty into being dominant in the bedroom. Interestingly, I think this actually caused him more moral quandaries than it did me – I was totally into it, but I remember that at one point he asked me, “How do you ethically degrade a feminist?” The answer is, of course, “With her enthusiastic consent.” If she’s into it, and she wants you to do it, then it’s not actually “degrading,” even if an outside observer might call it that. It’s just a way of interacting that makes you both incredibly hot under the collar, and that’s pretty awesome.

Personally, I find that being sexually submissive has a lot of positive things going for it. When I’m in a submissive sexual role, I don’t have to make any decisions, which is actually pretty relaxing because I often feel like I have to make All The Decisions For Everyone in my everyday life. The times that I’ve slept with dudes who are all, “ok, first I want you to go down on me, and then I’m going to fuck you and make you come, and then I’m going to come on your face,” I’ve been like, great! Now I don’t have to worry about what’s coming next or whether he’s enjoying what I’m doing or whatever. It’s basically like a day at the spa (with a complimentary facial) (that was a really bad joke) (sorry).

Another thing that I like about being submissive in the bedroom is how safe it makes me feel. I know, that sounds like a total contradiction, but it’s true. Being submissive to a dude makes me feel safe because it gives me the realization that I trust this guy so much that I will let him be in control. Usually I’m a super uptight control freak, so the fact that there have been people with whom I’ve felt comfortable enough to totally hand over the reigns is huge. It means that I trust this person enough to never, ever hurt me and to always respect me if I show the slightest sign of not wanting to do something. And dang, feeling that safe with someone gives me a giant boner.

I’ve definitely had my moments of wondering if enjoying being tied up and spanked is very feminist of me, but I guess I’ve come to realize that the most feminist thing I can do is not police my own sexuality or the sexuality of other women. And really, it’s not as if me denying this submissive fetish will benefit anyone; it’s not going to go away if I pretend that it doesn’t exist, and refusing to act on it just means that I’ll have less fun in the bedroom. If I want to be sex-positive (and I do!) then I have to be on board with all kinds of different ways of expressing of sexuality, even if some of them don’t seem very quote-unquote feminist.

I also think it says a lot about our culture that when we talk about BDSM and feminism, we pretty much always mean BDSM within a cis-het relationship, usually referring to a power dynamic where the man is dominant and the woman is submissive. No one ever asks if BDSM between two (or more!) women is feminist, and dominant women aren’t often discussed except in the OHHHHH SCARY SHE’S A DOMINATRIX kinda way. So, as a friend recently pointed out to me, that right there shows you that it’s not so much BDSM that’s problematic, but the way that we assign and act out gender roles. And, again, that’s not to say that men who are dominant are never misogynists, just that one doesn’t necessarily have to equal the other.

I guess that the bottom line is that as long as there’s enthusiastic consent from all partners involved, then any sex can be considered “feminist.” Because if there’s one thing the patriarchy hates, it’s women who own their own sexuality. So I think we should embrace all forms of (consensual) sexual exploration, because in this case I think that’s the most feminist thing we can possibly do.

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I Was Fifty One Percent Bitch, In Case You Were Wondering

9 Jul

 

So there’s this quiz that I’ve seen circulating on my Facebook feed. It’s charmingly titled “How Bitchy Are You?” and features a series of questions meant to determine your bitchiness quotient (presented in the form of a percentage, so, I mean, SCIENCE).

And like I just want to straight up say that I’m all for marginalized groups reclaiming slurs as their own. I’m so down with that! If a woman wants to call herself a bitch, that’s cool. I personally am trying to back away from using the word bitch for various reasons, but I’m not going to police other women for using it, especially when they’re applying it to themselves in what they feel is a positive manner.

BUT (for reals don’t pretend you didn’t know there was a but coming). BUT. Let’s take a look-see shall we at the ways in which the quiz quantifies bitchiness. Let’s ALSO talk a little bit about how these behaviours would be perceived if we saw them being acted out by men.

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I’m preeeetty sympathetic to telemarketers because back in ye olde days when I was still in university, I worked in this weird little basement call centre where we would try to convince alumni to donate us more money. So in general I try to be pretty kind and patient when dealing with people trying to sell me shit over the phone. But for reals some of them can be really hard to get rid of, even once you’ve politely declined their offer. So I don’t think that getting a bit forceful while trying to get a telemarketer off the phone is being bitchy.

If a dude did this, we would call him assertive.

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You mean, have I ever disciplined a pet because, FOR EXAMPLE, they wantonly peed on my favourite black wool coat? Yes. Yes I have done that. As my mother likes to say, disciplining your child (or in this case a pet) is a form of loving them. If I just let these things slide, my cat would pee all over everything that I love and then shred my couch. So yeah, I will totally let a pet know if their behaviour is out of line.

If a dude did this? Like if he told his dog not to jump all over you? You would call him a good pet owner.

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OH YOU COMPLAINED ABOUT TRAFFIC? GAWD, YOU BITCH.

If a dude did this it would be called “making conversation.”

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Heaven forbid you expect timely service at a place where you are PAYING TO BE SERVED FOOD. And let’s be real, I am all about treating people in the service industry well because I know from personal experience that they get crap thrown at them all the time. But, like, expecting a server to come check on you after they’ve given you the menu and left you alone for a period of time? That is not outside the realm of appropriate expectations.

If a dude went to talk to the manager in order to speed things up and ease the hangry pains his table-mates are experiencing, he would be hailed as a FOOD HERO.

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Yeah, teaching your kid that it’s fine to be pushed around by others because “life isn’t fair” is totally legit. Sometimes you’ll get bullied, kid, because life just isn’t fair and pretty much you should just be a doormat and let people treat you however they want. Also talk about betraying your kids’ trust – as a parent you are there to make your kid feel safe as they figure out how to navigate this fucked up thing we call “life.” Teaching them that sometimes other kids are going to treat them badly and you’ll just stand there and do nothing is a really awful message to send them.

If a dude stood up for his kid at the playground, he would be hailed as King of the Dads.

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This is the one that really makes me see red. Because, you know, nothing says “bitch” like setting boundaries with strangers WHILE YOU ARE CLEARLY OCCUPIED WITH YOUR PHONE. Seriously, though, it says a LOT about our society that a woman is bitchy if she isn’t willing to stop what she’s doing and fake interest in a boring conversation with a stranger.

Also, what is up with people – DUDES SPECIFICALLY – who think it’s cool to interrupt a woman while her attention is happily engaged elsewhere? I can’t even count the number of times dudes have interrupted me while I’m reading in some public place to strike up a conversation with me. LIKE, DO YOU NOT SEE MY BOOK. I AM READING THIS BOOK. IT IS AN ACTIVITY THAT I ENJOY, WHICH IS WHY I’M DOING IT. IF I WANTED TO HAVE CONVERSATIONS WITH STRANGE DUDES I’M SURE I COULD ARRANGE THAT ON MY OWN. But no, women obviously only ever read books as a way to lure men. Actually, state secret: women can’t even really read. We just stare at the words and pretend to be smart in hopes that some man will walk by and decide we’re baby-making material.

Also, if a dude did this, he would again be called assertive and if the stranger was a woman everyone would roll their eyes over how pathetic and needy she was.

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NO, DON’T CALMLY TELL SOMEONE “EXCUSE ME THERE IS A LINE.” THAT IS TOO BITCHY. JUST LET PEOPLE WALK ALL OVER YOU. A WOMAN SHOULD ALWAYS BE PASSIVE AND SWEET AND LET EVERYONE ELSE DO WHATEVER THEY WANT. IN FACT, SPEAKING OF WANTS, A WOMAN SHOULD NEVER HAVE THEM UNLESS THEY’RE SOMETHING LIKE “I WANT TO MAKE MY HUSBAND A STEAK AND THEN GIVE HIM A BLOWJOB.” THAT IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE WANT FOR A WOMAN TO HAVE.

If a dude did this, everyone else in the line would thank him for saving them from entitled jerks who cut into lines.

Look. Bitch is an oppressive term that’s used to silence and belittle women. It’s a word used to gaslight women who dare to stand up for themselves. It’s one thing to say, “haha yeah I’m a tough bitch and I love it,” and totally another to say that a woman (and let’s just be clear here, this quiz is obviously aimed at women and I’ve only seen women sharing it) who doesn’t want to engage in conversation with boring strangers at the airport is a bitch. And I guess a lot of the people sharing this quiz think it’s cute to be like, “aw yeah look at me I’m 63% bitch,” but the fact is that this quiz says some pretty shitty things about how women are expected to behave.

So if you want to call yourself a bitch, then go ahead and own that shit. But let’s seriously think about the ways that this word impacts other women. Because it’s one thing to embrace the word for yourself, and a whole other ballgame when you start perpetuating shit that calls women bitchy for complaining about traffic.

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Seven Reasons You Should Thank A Feminist Today

4 Jul

If there is one thing in this world that makes me want to chew my own face off, it’s women who think that feminism has ruined their lives.

You know the type – women who want to live in some kind of souped up 1950s fantasy world where they get married right out of high school and their husband makes enough to support their family on just his income and they think the moral decline of society has something to do with the fact that women no longer wear crinolines and genteel white gloves and cute little hats. Never mind that, you know, lots and lots of families in the 1950s weren’t able to live off of a single income; trust me when I say that feminism did not invent the working mother. Leaving that little scrap of truth aside, I guess I can see what some women find appealing about this model. They want to live in a world where there were fewer expectations put on women – and lord knows that in this day and age, when women often work full time jobs outside of the home and yet are still expected to do the majority of the housework and childcare, the idea that there was a time when you only needed to be pretty and fertile might seem downright relaxing. I guess.

Of course, many women were miserable back then, and the feminine mystique and blah blah blah. I’m not going to get into all that Betty Friedan second wave fun here, but feel free to look it up if you don’t believe me. Life for women back then was like a fancy chocolate with some gross shit inside – really pretty to look at, but best left in the box so that some other sucker who HASN’T read the chocolate map gets tricked into eating it. Just kidding. No one should eat that chocolate – it’s a garbage chocolate and should be treated as such.

All that being said, the thing that REALLY makes me howl with exasperation over this time-travel housewife fetishization is that the vast, vast majority of the women who say that they hate feminism seem to be pretty damn happy to reap the benefits of it. So either they’re totally unaware of what feminism is, what it’s done, and how history works, or else they’re just total hypocrite jerks.

If it’s the latter:

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But assuming that for some people it’s the former, here’s a short and totally not exhaustive list of things that they can do because of feminism.

1. Vote

Thanks to those lovely suffragettes, women have the legal right to help decide who runs your country. This means women get an actual say in legislation that directly impacts them and their daily life. THAT IS A REALLY AWESOME THING, regardless of whether or not you, personally, exercise your right to vote.

And just a heads up, I will jump-kick anyone who says that women were “given” the right to vote. No. Women were not given anything. They fought, endured violence, imprisonment and forced-feedings, and sometimes even died for the right to vote. So fuck you to anyone who wants to say otherwise.

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Police arresting British suffragette Emmeline Pankurst

2. Own property

Being able to own property is awesome. Being able to inherit property is also awesome. Know why? Because it totally helps you avoid a Sense and Sensibility type situation when you are your husband’s second wife and he totally wants to will everything to you and your daughters, BUT HE LEGALLY CANNOT. And then you have to go live in a cottage and the family that owns the cottage is the most annoying family in the world and then also Willoughby comes along and ruins everything even further. So.

The fact that women can now legally own property straight up means that the government can’t just walk in, take your house away, and give it to a dude (or keep it for themselves). The fact that women can now legally inherit property means that if a you are living in a house that a manly man owns and he wants to give you said house when he dies because he thinks you’re rad and maybe also you have nowhere else to live, he can TOTALLY DO THAT. This is seriously a huge thing and I can’t understand how any woman could be like, “huh, I wish I lived in a time when I could be turned out of my house because my presence has become inconvenient to a dude.”

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3. Have Reproductive Rights

Do you like being able to have any kind of control over your baby-making parts beyond yelling “MAKE SURE YOU PULL OUT IN TIME” when a dude starts making his o-face? Great, then you can thank feminism. Feminists of many stripes have fought long and hard to make sure that women have access to birth control, reproductive healthcare and safe and easy abortion. So unless you’re, like, part of the Quiverfull movement or else a staunch Catholic, you can high five feminism for the fact that you can totally get it on without getting knocked up.

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4. Wear Pants

Pants are fucking awesome. And let’s not forget about pants’ cute little cousin, shorts. I’m really glad that I can wear pants, because they’re super warm in the winter and they allow me to sit in all kinds of unladylike positions without flashing my junk at everyone. Yay pants! Thank you, feminism, for my pants. I am wearing pants right now – charcoal skinny jeans, to be specific – and I’m just going to have a little moment of silence to express my gratitude for these pants.

One time, back in ye olden days (the 1960s), my grandmother’s boss wouldn’t let any of his female employees wear pants. And my grandmother, bless her, was like, fuck this noise I want to wear some goddamn pants to work. So she took her boss to the Ontario Human Rights Commission and totally won the right to wear pants to work. So if you ever have those days when you just don’t want to wear a skirt, you can totally thank feminism (AND MY GRANDMA) for the fact that you can put on a pair of pants and strut yourself to work.

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5. Get An Education

Remember when we were growing up and our parents were all, “You can be whatever you want when you grow up!”? Well, that’s because of women who braved insults and abuse and alienation and all kinds of other shitty shit in order to be able to go to medical school or law school or like astronaut school or whatever. Women literally sat there in those classrooms and let their classmates and professors treat them like complete dirt in order to get a higher education. And that paved the way for women today being able to pursue any postsecondary studies they want to.

There are still so many girls on this planet who don’t have access to even a grade-school level education. Don’t forget that in some countries girls are threatened with violence or death for attempting to go to school. Stop taking your own education for granted and recognize the fact that thanks, in part, to feminism, you were able to go to, you know, walk into school without worrying about getting shot because you’re a girl.

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6. Work Outside The Home and Be Financially Independent

Whether or not you love your job, the fact that we are able to be respected members of the work force is so fucking important. Even if you’re the world’s happiest stay-at-home mom (and ain’t nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home mom), you should be grateful that, if need be, you could go out and get a job and make your own money. While, as noted above, women working outside the home is nothing new, the fact that they can do that AND be financially independent is. Ladies, you can make your own money and then keep it and choose what you spend it on. I mean, yes, this ties in with the whole idea of women being able to own things, but it’s so damn important it deserves its own entry.

Women need to have the ability to support themselves and their own families – whether they exercise that ability or not. Otherwise, we’re totally dependent on men for, well, everything. If your husband dies or leaves you or it becomes necessary for you to leave, then what the fuck are you going to do if you can’t get a job? So even if you’re not currently financially independent, the fact that you could be is really fucking huge.

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7. Be A Person

You know what’s awesome? Being a full-fledged person in the eyes of the law. I really, really love not being a man’s property. I love having agency. I love being able to make my own decisions. I love that I live in a world where it’s no longer completely 100% legal for a man to rape his wife. Being a person is so fucking rad. And yeah, if you’re a woman, you can fucking thank feminism for the fact that you are legally a person.

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The bottom line is:

I don’t give a fuck if you call yourself a feminist. I mean, you totally should, because feminism is awesome and patriarchy sucks, but you get to make your own choices about how you label yourself. However, I give all the fucks if you think that feminism is useless, or has never accomplished anything or, worse, is somehow responsible for all of your life problems. Because if you value any of the things mentioned above (and, spoiler alert, you should), then you can just give feminism a big old high five. Whether or not you’re a feminist is your own business, but for god’s sake at least acknowledge that you owe a debt of gratitude to the movement for so many of the rights and freedoms that you currently enjoy.

FEMINISM – FUCK YEAH

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Robin Thicke and the Dynamics of Abuse

23 Jun

TW for domestic violence, abuse and rape

Robin Thicke is gross.

I mean, we knew that already, of course.

But today he has somehow managed to surpass his former grossitude and shot up through the I Can’t Even atmosphere and into the Outer Space Repository of Hella Gross Dudes.

But what could possibly have caused this intense leveling-up, you may well ask. How could he have done something worse than penning the summer’s unofficial rape album?

Well, for starters, he announced the release and official track list of his new album, Paula. Paula, by the way, refers to his estranged wife, Paula Patton. She recently left him. This album is his attempt to win her back.

Let’s take a look at the song titles, shall we?
1. “You’re My Fantasy”

2. “Get Her Back”

3. “Still Madly Crazy”

4. “Lock the Door”

5. “Whatever I Want”

6. “Living in New York City”

7. “Love Can Grow Back”

8. “Black Tar Cloud”

9. “Too Little Too Late”

10. “Tippy Toes”

11. “Something Bad”

12. “The Opposite of Me”

13. “Time of Your Life”

14. “Forever Love”

It’s honestly like reading an abuser’s check-list. She’s his fantasy. He needs to get her back. He’ll isolate her, maybe refuse to let her leave. He’ll lock the door. He’ll do whatever he wants. Because love can grow back. Because it’s a forever love.

These apologies, entreaties, promises and veiled threats are all a typical part of the cycle of abuse.  This is what psychologist Leonore E. Walker calls the “Reconciliation/Honeymoon Phase” – the abuser feels guilty, is contrite. He or she makes grand gestures of their affection, constructs elaborate apologies. They promise never to hurt their loved one again. They might promise to get help (though most likely they won’t). If that doesn’t work, they might threaten suicide or self-injury in order to gain sympathy or otherwise manipulate the situation. They will do literally anything they can to convince their victim not to leave them.

The cycle continues when the abused person, whether out of fear or out of genuine belief that things will get better, decides to reconcile.

All right, you might be saying, some of those track names are pretty questionable, but surely that doesn’t mean that Robin Thicke is an abusive partner, does it?

Well, take that track list in conjunction with the video for his new single “Get Her Back” that Thicke released today, and you might find yourself feeling a little more convinced.

The video is filled with texts that were, we are supposed to believe, exchanged by Thicke and Patton.

Here are the texts supposedly sent by Patton:

“I kept trying to warn you you were pushing me too far…”

“We had everything.”

“Why Why Why Why Why???”

“You drink too much.”

“You embarrassed me.”

“I can’t make love to you anymore.”

“I don’t even know who you are.”

“You ruined everything.”

“I have to go.”

“How could you do that to me?”

“you’re reckless”

And here are Thicke’s texts:

“I’m sorry.”

“Can I talk to you?”

“I hate myself.”

“Can I come see you?” (to which Patton apparently replies “It’s too soon.”)

“I wrote a whole album about you.” (which elicits the response “I don’t care.”)

“I miss u”

“This is just the beginning.”

That last text, by the way, is posted over a blurry image of Thicke walking away, his posture tense, ready for a fight. The words read very much like a threat.

This video is not romantic. It is an attempt by Thicke to use his huge public platform to manipulate and shame his wife into getting back together with him. Now, if she says no, she becomes the bad guy, and he becomes the victim. In fact, he’s already making himself out to be the victim – between his sad I’m-so-awful-and-pathetic texts, and the fact that his face is cut and bloody in the video, he’s doing his best to come off as the poor, heartbroken, sensitive man who’s been left by his mean, unrelenting wife. Sure he may have done some things that contributed to the breakup, but look how sorry he is. Look how willing to make amends. How could she be so cold and hard? And what about their children, don’t they deserve to have their father around?

What Robin Thicke is doing is trying to coerce his wife into coming back to him, by publicly shaming and humiliating her. I have no idea whether the texts in the video were actually from her (though I really, really hope that they’re not), but it doesn’t really matter, because he’s presenting them as hers. He is, as @middle_ladle said on twitter, punishing her for leaving him quietly. He’s exposing her to the world, looking for sympathy. He’s making it harder and hard for her to say no.

In fact, she keeps telling him no, over and over in those texts, and he ignores her requests to leave her alone and just keeps pushing. Because her needs don’t matter to him. All that matters is getting what he wants.

Leaving an abusive partner is the part of the cycle of abuse during which the victim is most vulnerable. Because after they’ve left, the abuser often feels like they have nothing left to lose. This is the point in the cycle when the abused is most likely to be hurt or killed. People wonder why so many victims of domestic violence go back to their abusers, but the sad truth is that often that choice is safer. Leaving is incredibly risky.

What Thicke is doing is threatening and frightening and we need to stop treating it as the ultimate in romance. This is not romantic, not in the slightest. This is abusive, coercive and manipulative. This is what domestic violence looks like, and we’re so accustomed to this type of behaviour that by now it seems totally normal and healthy to us.

It’s not. And we need to acknowledge that.

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Fuck “Sexy”

19 Jun

Sometimes I feel like I want to ban the word sexy. Like, take that shit out of the dictionary and impose a fine whenever someone uses it.

Which is pretty funny because I’m super sex-positive and I definitely want people to feel good about their bodies and secure in their sexuality, however it manifests itself.

But man am I ever fucking tired of how we use that word to shame girls and sell them on a bunch of gross patriarchal ideas about how they should be.

Take this picture, which was tweeted/posted by Floyd Mayweather and has been making the rounds over the past few days:

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Like, first of all, this is a dude who has been charged with two counts of domestic violence. Why would anybody think that what he has to say about women is even a little bit valid? I am not really down with anyone advising women on ways to dress or behave in order to meant specifically please men, but I am double-plus definitely one hundred percent not down with someone who hits women telling women how to behave. Talk about classic abusive behaviour. It’s impossible to get anything out of this other than, “Maybe if those women had dressed better and been quieter and more ladylike I wouldn’t have had to hit them.” I guess that according to him, they were asking to be disrespected. This whole post is basically an apologia for abuse.

Second of all, women aren’t fucking products that are trying to advertise themselves. They are for-real people who get to dress however they want. I can’t believe that I have to say this, but: The way I dress is not a fucking advertisement, it is some clothes that I put on my body because they make me feel good.

Third of all, no, how I’m addressed does not, in fact, depend on my attire. It depends on those addressing me recognizing that I am actually a person and that alone makes me deserving of their respect. Can we please stop putting the onus on women when it comes to respect? It’s not up to us to gain men’s respect – it’s up to men to recognize our personhood and stop throwing out ultimatums on when they will or won’t respect us.

Saying that respect is conditional on how you dress or behave means that respect can be revoked at any time, based on some arbitrary decision about what crosses the line from ladylike to slutty. It’s putting the power right back in the hands of the oppressor and it literally does no good whatsoever.

Speaking of respect, this morning I came across this lovely tweet, which describes a sentiment that I hear far too often:

 

 

You know what’s the best way to make a girl feel like she’s respected? Shame her for what she’s wearing!

Like, seriously, allow me to demonstrate how much respect I have for myself by flipping this dude off forever. Because fuck him for trying to control women under the guise of concern. Fuck him for making women feel less-than under the pretence of trying to build up their “self-respect.” Fuck him for implying that the only reason women might want to be self-respecting is so that they can be more attractive to men.

See, here’s the thing: while all of these posts seem to say that women who dress modestly and behave nicely and are self-confident are totally more attractive than any other women, what they’re really saying is, “being sexy is the most important thing for you to be, and please allow me to define what sexy is.” It is not even a little bit empowering to tell women that being modest is sexy; it’s just reinforcing the idea that we only exist to please men and that we should dress and act however they want. It’s saying that being attractive to men is the best and most wonderful thing that women can aspire to. It’s exactly the same shit we’ve been sold all of our lives, only re-packaged as obnoxious concern-trolling about women’s self-confidence.

Fuck. That.

If you really want to empower women, why don’t you try to build up their self-esteem instead of lecturing them on all the ways you think that they’re failing? Instead of telling them that no one will respect them based on the way they dress, why not instead list all the things that you value about them – that they’re funny, smart, capable and brave. Literally no one ever will gain confidence by being criticized for their appearance. No one will gain “self-respect” by having someone else list all of the ways that they’re lacking in that department. And, like, hell yes I want women to feel like they are worth more than their appearance. No one wants that more than me. But how in the fuck do you think you are making women believe than they have more value than just being pretty when your whole message hinges on what is and isn’t sexy?

Fuck sexy.

Fuck telling women how to be sexy.

Fuck “confidence is sexy,” because shaming women for not being confident enough will achieve the opposite of what you apparently want.

And while we’re at it, fuck Consent Is Sexy. Fuck the idea that we need to sell consent to kids by making it all shiny and pretty and “sexy.” People shouldn’t have consensual sex because it’s waaaaay hotter than other kinds of sex – people should have consensual sex because otherwise they are rapists. Consent isn’t a fun new thing that you should try out in the bedroom; it’s the way you should be living your life, all day every day. Consent is not sexy – it’s a human right.

So fuck “sexy” being used as a marketing tool. Fuck dudes who want to control how women behave. Fuck all the not-so-cleverly-disguised ways the patriarchy asserts itself. Fuck the idea that women only ever dress in a certain way to attract men. Fuck. That. Noise.

And to any women reading this, I want you to know that it’s great to feel sexy, whatever that word means to you. It’s even great to dress in a way that you think other people might find attractive – that’s a very normal thing to want to do. We dress in ways that our partners find attractive because it makes us happy to make our partners happy, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with wanting sexual attention from other people, and dressing “sexy” is for sure a tried-tested-and-true way of achieving that. It’s good to feel sexy. Seriously. But I also want you to know that it’s not required. I want you to know that you don’t have to feel or be sexy, and that sexy isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of what you should accomplish. And I want you to know that you are funny and smart and capable and brave. Because you really, really are.

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Dispatches From The Gynocracy

16 Jun

“WE HAVE KILLED ALL THE MEN. STOP. MADE THEM JERK OFF INTO CUPS FIRST. STOP. WILL USE THEIR SPERM FOR ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION UNTIL WE DISCOVER ASEXUAL REPRODUCTION OR HAVE PERFECTED CLONING. STOP.”

“WE HAVE BANNED ALL THE LITERARY CLASSICS. STOP. WE DO NOT WANT OUR CITIZENS DEVELOPING PATRIARCHAL IDEAS ABOUT WOMEN BECAUSE OF THE GREAT GATSBY OR THAT DICK ERNEST HEMINGWAY. STOP. DID YOU KNOW ERNEST HEMINGWAY WAS A DICK. STOP.”

“WE WOULD LIKE TO EXTEND TO YOU A FORMAL INVITATION TO OUR ANNUAL ANDREA DWORKIN DAY CELEBRATIONS. STOP. PLEASE BRING YOUR OWN KNIVES FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION IN THE CEREMONIAL CASTRATION OF OUR SYMBOLIC PAPIER MACHÉ REPRESENTATION OF THE PATRIARCHY. STOP. AFTERWARDS THERE WILL BE A VEGAN MEAL SERVED IN THE TOWN SQUARE BECAUSE ANIMALS ARE OPPRESSED PEOPLE TOO. STOP.”

“WE HAVE BANNED ALL PHALLIC SYMBOLS. STOP. YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MANY THINGS LOOK PHALLIC WHEN YOU REALLY THINK ABOUT IT. STOP. LIKE PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING LIKE STICKS AND PENCILS AND BASEBALL BATS AND SHIT. STOP. WE HAVE BANNED BASEBALL. STOP. ALTHOUGH WE MUST ADMIT THAT WE DO APPROVE OF THE SYMBOLISM OF HITTING BALLS. STOP.”

“OUR ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION PROJECT WAS A SUCCESS. STOP. BUT NOW WHAT DO WE DO WITH ALL THESE MALE BABIES. STOP. WORRIED THAT IF WE LEAVE THEM ON A HILLSIDE THEY MIGHT BE SUCKLED BY SHE-WOLVES AND THEN FOUND AN EMPIRE. STOP. SHE-WOLVES ARE GENDER TRAITORS. STOP.”

“LIFE IS MUCH LESS FUN NOW THAT WE CAN NO LONGER MAKE FALSE RAPE ACCUSATIONS AGAINST MEN. STOP. WE HAVE STARTED UP A EUCHRE LEAGUE BUT OF COURSE HAD TO GET RID OF THE KING AND JACK CARDS. IF YOU NEED PROOF THAT WE ONCE LIVED IN A TOXIC PATRIARCHAL SOCIETY YOU ONLY NEED TO THINK ABOUT HOW THE KING CARD RANKS HIGHER THAN THE QUEEN. STOP. WE DO HOWEVER LIKE THE VAGINAL SHAPE OF THE SPADE SUIT. STOP.”

“WE HAVE ERECTED A STATUE IN THE VILLAGE SQUARE PORTRAYING A MAN WITH A NECKBEARD WEARING A FEDORA. STOP. THE INSCRIPTION READS AS FOLLOWS. STOP. TOP LINE: “MILADY”. STOP. BOTTOM LINE: “NEVER FORGET.” STOP.”

“SOMETIMES WE HAVE ABORTIONS JUST FOR FUN. STOP.”

“WE HAVE OUTLAWED RAZORS AND DEPILATORY CREAMS. STOP. YESTERDAY WE CAUGHT A WOMAN TRYING TO SHAVE WITH A SHARP ROCK. STOP. OBVIOUSLY SHE WAS HANGED IN THE VILLAGE SQUARE AS AN EXAMPLE. STOP.”

“WE EAT OUR PLACENTAS. STOP. THEY ARE DELICIOUS AND GIVE US SUPERPOWERS. STOP. THEY ARE BEST WHEN FRICASSEED. STOP. DON’T FORGET THE SALT. STOP.”

“I DON’T CARE THAT THE PLURAL OF PLACENTA IS PLACENTAE. STOP. DON’T MANSPLAIN PLACENTAS TO ME. STOP.”

“YES YOU CAN MANSPLAIN EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT A MAN. STOP. IT’S CALLED INTERNALIZED MISOGYNY LOOK IT UP. STOP.”

“THE DOWNSIDE TO COMMUNAL PARENTING IS THAT THERE ARE NO MORE CUSTODY BATTLES. STOP. WE MISS BEING ABLE TO USE THE COURTS TO EXERT OUR FEMALE PRIVILEGE AND SHAME FATHERS EVERYWHERE. STOP. THERE IS NO ONE HERE TO FALSELY ACCUSE OF CHILD MOLESTATION. STOP. SOMETIMES WE BECOME NOSTALGIC FOR THE GOOD OLD DAYS. STOP.”

“WE HAVE RUN OUT OF MALE TEARS TO BATHE IN. STOP. PLEASE SEND MORE. STOP. WE FEAR THAT OUR HIDEOUSLY DESICCATED SKIN WILL CRUMBLE WITHOUT THEM. STOP.”

“YESTERDAY WE HELD A BATTLE ROYALE BETWEEN THE WORKING MOTHERS AND THE STAY-AT-HOME MOTHERS. STOP. OBVIOUSLY IT WAS JUST A PRETEXT TO PUBLICLY EXECUTE ALL OF THE STAY-AT-HOME MOTHERS. STOP. THEY HAVE NO PLACE IN THE REVOLUTION. STOP. WE ARMED ALL THE WORKING MOTHERS WITH SABRES AND A VERY GOOD TIME WAS HAD BY ALL. STOP.”

“WE MAKE ART WITH OUR OWN MENSTRUAL BLOOD. STOP.”

“WE HAVE OUTLAWED CRYING. STOP. THERE IS NO CRYING ALLOWED IN THE GYNOCRACY. STOP. EXCEPT IN SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES. STOP. LIKE IF YOU THINK IT WILL GET YOU EXTRA PRIVILEGES OR HELP YOU NOT GET A SPEEDING TICKET. STOP.”

“WE MAKE SO MANY PRISON RAPE JOKES ABOUT MEN YOU HAVE NO IDEA. STOP.”

“NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO DRESS IN SEXY OUTFITS ANYMORE. STOP. UNLESS IT IS BECAUSE IT MAKES THEM FEEL GOOD AND PUTS THEM IN TOUCH WITH THEIR DIVINE FEMININE SEXUALITY. STOP. WE USE OUR GODDESS POWERS AND A LIE DETECTOR TEST TO DETERMINE SEXINESS MOTIVATION. STOP.”

“WE HAVE BURNED ALL THE BRAS. STOP. TURNS OUT THEY CREATE A LOT OF TOXIC SMOKE WHEN THEY BURN. STOP. WE HAVE HAD THREE BRA-BURNING FATALITIES THUS FAR. STOP.”

“ALL MEN ARE RAPISTS. STOP.”

Teri Slotkin, photograph of the Cave Girls (left to right: Marnie Greenholtz, Cara Brownell, Verge Piersol, Julie Harrison, Ellen Cooper, Bebe Smith); 1982; © Teri Slotkin Photography.

Teri Slotkin, photograph of the Cave Girls (left to right: Marnie Greenholtz, Cara Brownell, Verge Piersol, Julie Harrison, Ellen Cooper, Bebe Smith); 1982; © Teri Slotkin Photography.

You’re Supposed To Gain Weight While You’re Pregnant

5 Jun

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When I saw that A Pea In The Pod Maternity is selling a shirt that says “Wake Me Up When I’m Skinny,” I pretty much lost my shit.

Wake me up when I’m skinny.

Like, are you kidding me?

First of all, thank you for contributing to fat-phobia and promoting the idea that women shouldn’t be seen or even awake unless they’re acceptably thin. But, you know, not too thin. Like the chair, the porridge and the bed in Goldilocks and the Three Bears, women must conform whatever size the male gaze has decided is juuuuust right. Spoiler alert: you will never achieve this size, because only fantasy women are ever the “right” size. If you’re a living, breathing, actual human woman, you will always somehow be the wrong size.

Second of all, you are a maternity store. Your job should be to create clothing that makes pregnant women feel better about their bodies, not worse. I mean, this shirt basically says, “I Feel Fat And I Hate It.” It’s not funny. It’s not cute. It’s gross and oppressive and sends so many damaging messages about women’s bodies.

Third of all, the Sleeping Beauty Diet is an actual thing and it’s gross. Apparently a favourite of Elvis Presley’s, the Sleeping Beauty Diet involved being sedated for several days at a time. It works on the rationale that if you aren’t awake, you can’t eat. GENIUS. Except, of course, it’s super unhealthy and it can cause brain damage and gah why do I live in a world where people think it’s a good idea to starve yourself while under sedation. In fact, that’s what the diet should be named – the old Sedate ‘n Starve. Like, let’s call a spade a spade here.

Fourth of all, can we stop pathologizing weight gain? Weight gain in general is not a disease, and in this specific case it is actually encouraged. You are supposed to gain weight when you’re pregnant. That’s how your body makes a healthy baby. It’s also how your body stays healthy during your pregnancy – because like it or not, your fetus actually acts as a parasite, and your body will prioritize its health over your own. If you are not taking in adequate baby-growing nutrition, your body will start depleting its own stores of calcium, iron, etc. in order to help the fetus grow.

In the 1950s, women were told to gain no more than 15 pounds while pregnant. In fact, my grandmother’s doctor told her that if she gained more than that, her husband might leave her because she was too fat. These days, it’s recommended that women gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy. I myself gained 45 pounds (and I gave birth a month early, too). At every doctor’s appointment my nurse would high five me after weighing me and tell me that I was doing a great job. I was a fucking rock star at gaining weight. I would hear other pregnant women echoing my grandmother, saying they only wanted to gain 15 or 20 pounds, and I was like, whatever, bring it on. Bring me all the butter and all the cheesecake and all the crème brûlée, because I’m about to gain all the weight.

And yet, after I gave birth, I felt super weird about my body. It was totally foreign – not the body I’d had before, and not my pregnant body, which had felt wonderfully voluptuous and life-giving. My body felt like an ugly deflated bag. Later that week, when I left my son at home with my mother while I went out to buy nursing bras, I started crying when the sales clerk told me that I should wait until I had the baby before figuring out what size I needed. Because I still looked pregnant, even though I wasn’t. And even though I knew that it was normal and healthy to look like that at a week postpartum, I was still ashamed of my body. As much as I wanted to own how real and perfect and fine my post-baby body was, I still struggled. I suspect that most women do.

There is so much pressure on women to lose their “baby weight” as soon as they give birth. I mean, the tabloids are always publishing pictures of so-and-so in a bikini only six weeks after giving birth, or what’s-her-name’s postpartum diet and exercise routine. As a society, we seem to care more about how quickly a woman’s body can snap back to what it was before pregnancy than we care about the actual product of that pregnancy – you know, the baby. And that is super fucked up.

Pregnancy is body-changing event; there’s just no getting around that. Your body will forever be altered after you grow a baby in it. Can we please start trying to embrace that fact, instead of holding women up to impossible standards? Can we start talking about how you might never lose the “baby weight” and that is totally fine and your body is wonderful no matter what size it is? Instead of fear-mongering about women’s postpartum bodies, can we start talking about how wonderful they are even after (especially after) they’ve been stretched out, widened and sometimes thickened by pregnancy? Because they are wonderful – you used that body to make a whole other human being. And like I don’t think that that’s the pinnacle of a woman’s existence or the best thing her body will ever do, but it’s still pretty fucking rad.

So hey, Pea In The Pod Maternity? How about you stop making women feel crappy about how they look? How about you start making clothing that celebrates how rad women’s bodies are? Because right now we really, really need that.

45 POUNDS LIKE A CHAMP

45 POUNDS LIKE A CHAMP

UPDATE: Pea In The Pod has apparently pulled the Wake Me Up When I’m Skinny t-shirt.

 

 

 

Virginity, Violence and Male Entitlement

31 May

I’ve seen a number of articles written this week by men – nice, well-intentioned, feminist men, I’m sure – about how they empathize with Elliot Rodgers.

Oh, of course they’re disgusted by his actions and of course they think he was a terrible excuse for a human being, but, well, on some level they get it. Because they know what it’s like to be a lonely dude who feels isolated and unloved. They know what it’s like to want female attention but not know how to get it. They know what it’s like to be embarrassed and ashamed at finding yourself still a virgin at the age of twenty two. So while they condemn his actions, they can’t help but somehow feel a little bit sorry for him.

I can find it in my heart to feel many things, but being sorry for Elliot Rodgers will never be one of them.

I feel sorry for his victims, whose lives ended because of a misogynistic asshole’s wet dream of “retribution.”

I feel sorry for the victims’ friends and families, who have to live with their loss every day.

I feel sorry for Elliot’s family, because of the guilt and shame and sorrow I’m sure they’re experiencing.

I feel sorry for the staff and students at UCSB, who will no doubt struggle to feel safe on their campus after this horrible event.

I feel sorry for all the women everywhere who are reminded on a daily basis how little value their lives have in the eyes of so many men.

I can even manage to feel sorry for the men who empathize with Elliot, because I’m sure that recognizing that part of yourself is difficult and frightening.

I cannot, however, feel sorry for Elliot himself. I don’t especially care how sad and lonely he was. I can’t find it in me to feel badly that women rejected him over and over. I definitely don’t have time for people who seem to think that all of this could have been prevented if only Elliot had gotten laid.

I was a virgin when I was twenty two, by which I mean I’d never had penetrative sex with a man (or any kind of sex with anyone, to be honest). And yes, I believe that virginity is a social construct and not an actual thing, but at the time it was very real to me. I was embarrassed and ashamed of my virginity, and I definitely felt unwanted, undesirable and unattractive. To make things even worse, there was (and continues to be) this persisten myth that any woman can have sex whenever she wants, because all men are animals and will fuck anything they can. But they didn’t want to fuck me.

And you know what? Literally at no time ever did I think, gee, I should go on a killing spree.

I never felt entitled to men’s bodies just because I wanted them.

I never blamed all men everywhere for my inability to get it on.

Never. Not once.

And while I understand that there is more social pressure for boys to be sexually active than there is for girls, that doesn’t mean that girls experience any kind of expectations surrounding their sexual initiation. To be honest, being a twenty two year old virgin made me feel like a freak – no one else I knew was as inexperienced as I was, and the older I got, the harder it became to admit to my peers that I’d never even seen a guy’s junk, much less done anything with it. By the time I got to university, whenever I told people that I’d never had sex, they gave me the once-over, like, what is wrong with you.  I worried that I had some kind of sell-by date, like there was an age that I would hit when no one would want to touch my virginal self with a ten foot pole. I just wanted to get the damn thing over with already so that I could get on with the rest of my life.

But I never considered blaming all men everywhere for my problems.

See, the difference is that I didn’t feel like sex was something that men owed me. I didn’t believe that other women, the women who dated the people with whom I was madly, hopelessly in love, were unfairly co-opting something that was rightfully mine. I didn’t think that being nice to men meant that I was entitled to date them. I was miserable and lonely, but I didn’t try to pin the blame for that loneliness on anyone else, let alone an entire gender.

The problem with all of the talk surrounding how nerdy and awkward Elliot was as a teenager and how he just didn’t have anyone to tell him that sex isn’t all that important or that things would get better is that these discussions minimize the role misogyny and male entitlement played in this tragedy. Elliot didn’t murder six people because he was too shy to strike up a conversation with a woman; he murdered them because he felt that he deserved unlimited access to women’s bodies and if he couldn’t have that then by god he was going to kill those women and the men who dated them. This is a man who had fantasies about putting all women in concentration camps and slowly starving them to death. This wasn’t about his virginity – although I’m sure that played a part in what happened – it was about his belief that women owed him sex just because he was a man.

Yes, the idea that being sexually active is directly tied to a man’s masculinity is toxic. Yes, this is a hard thing for men to live with. Yes, being a twenty two year old virgin (unless you’re doing so by choice) will impact your self-esteem. But Elliot Rodger didn’t go on a killing spree because he couldn’t get laid – he did so because he was infuriated that he wasn’t being given the attention and respect that he felt he deserved.

I know that we need to talk about toxic masculinity and the ways that it hurts men. That is something that I feel incredibly passionate about. But right now I’m not ready to have that discussion, or at least not framed around some kind of empathy with how desperate and lonely and confused Elliot Rodger was. Right now my priority is talking about all of the ways that women are dehumanized in our culture, and the ways that dehumanization affects us every day. I want to talk about how our culture teaches men to dominate women, and tells them that violence is the way to do this. I want to talk about the dangerous consequences that women are painfully aware of every time they tell a man no. And maybe this is all part of the same discussion, but right now I just don’t have room to consider how Elliot Rodger might have felt. Because, as weird as this might sound, this isn’t really about him or his story. This isn’t about rationalizing or empathizing or sympathizing with a man who believed that he needed to punish women for not wanting to sleep with him.

This is about how society views women, and how unbelievably frightening it is to live under that lens.

My virginal self at age 20, not thinking even a little about murdering all men

My virginal self at age 20, not thinking even a little about murdering all men

 

 

Fairy Tales Are Women’s Tales

28 May

Heyyyyy I have a post up on The Toast which is SUPER EXCITING for me because The Toast is pretty much my FAVOURITE THING EVER. ALL CAPS.

It’s about gender and fairytales, which are two things that I’m pretty stoked about. Also, unlike 100% of the posts on this blog, I actually bothered to edit it and I come off sounding pretty smart and not too ranty. I don’t even think there are any swear words. You should check it out!

http://the-toast.net/2014/05/26/fairy-tales-are-womens-tales/

A brief excerpt:

“The Grimms’ deletion of all things sexy from the second edition could be taken as a sort of Teutonic prudery, but when we look at it in context with some of the other alterations, there begins to emerge a pattern of marginalization and disempowerment of women. Not only did they remove any mention of sex, the majority of it both consensual and premarital, but all sorts of other details defining and limiting the female characters were added in. With each successive edition, the Wilhelm Grimm added in more and more adjectives describing what they thought was the perfect Christian woman; female characters were suddenly “dutiful,” “tender-hearted,” “god-fearing” and “contrite,” where once they had simply been “beautiful” or “young.” Wilhelm also began to alter the structure of the tales, introducing moral judgments and motivations that previously hadn’t been there. Traditionally, fairy tales had seen luck and chance count for more than hard work and obedience, but Wilhelm put a stop to that – instead the sweet, well-behaved, godly women were rewarded, and those who deviated from that mold were punished. Finally, Wilhelm added in all sorts of hints about the domestic activity he felt women should occupy themselves with – for example, in an early draft of Snow White, the dwarves only ask that she cook their meals in exchange for shelter, but by the time the first edition of his book was published, their demands included that she keep house for them, do the cooking, make the beds, wash, sew, knit and keep everything neat and clean.”

fairy