Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rethinking New Year's Resolutions

This post is a part of my “Out of the Kitchen” weekly column at The Progressive Playbook in which various news and pop culture items will be examined through a feminist lens.

As 2011 comes to a close, our minds inevitably turn to New Year's resolutions. In general, resolutions are great. They push us to examine our lives and ask ourselves what areas in which we would like to grow. I'm all for self-reflection. It's a great process and should be engaged in much more frequently than just at the New Year.

However, as we each consider what changes we'd like to make this year, I wanted to provide my thoughts about all of the resolutions focused on losing weight. It's no secret that I am sick of the constant message that, as women, we are never good enough. We also continuously receive mixed messages which push consumption but shame large bodies, so much so that large women often feel that they have to actually fight for the right to be seen. (Never mind the fact that women's bodies actually need fat.)

There is no time where the pressure to lose weight is greater than at the New Year. The media and the weight loss industry capitalize on resolutions and our insecurities coming off the holidays. They push diets, workouts, and weight loss procedures. The commercials are endless. And the conflation of weight and health are impossible to escape.

At the end of the day, the diet industry is just that --an industry with the goal of making money. As Ragen Chastain at Dances with Fat recently blogged, the diet industry nets over sixty billion dollars a year. She takes a close look at what else we could do with this money, if we didn't spend it on failed attempts at weight loss.
  • We could buy a pair of good, supportive athletic shoes and a one year membership at a HAES friendly gym for every person in the United States
  • We could spend $10.75 more on every school lunch (According to the USDA the national school lunch program serves 31 million kids a day for the 180 day school year. Currently we spend about $1 for every school lunch so this could dramatically increase the quality of kid’s food)
  • Instead of serving one $1 meal to 31 million kids, we could serve three $3.58 cent meals to all of those kids every school day. Or we could serve those same 31 million kids three $1.76 meals every day of the year.
  • We could give $522 to every US household
Chastain's list includes many other things, so check out the rest. It's really staggering and puts into perspective just how financially lucrative the diet industry is, despite the fact that diets overall are relatively unsuccessful.

I'm not here to tell anyone that what they should or shouldn't choose for their New Year's resolutions. As with all self-reflection, it's a deeply personal process. I trust you to know what is best for you. However, I would like to provide options beyond the stereotypical "I want to lose 20 lbs." Instead of going for this, perhaps consider a resolution which focuses on any of the other areas of improvement. Or, if being more healthy really is the goal, consider a resolution which has health, and not simply weight loss, at its core.

This is why I subscribe to Health at Every Size (HAES) practices, as I've mentioned before. HAES is about behavior and choices, not body size. According to HAES website,
Let’s face facts. We’ve lost the war on obesity. Fighting fat hasn’t made the fat go away. And being thinner, even if we knew how to successfully accomplish it, will not necessarily make us healthier or happier. The war on obesity has taken its toll. Extensive “collateral damage” has resulted: Food and body preoccupation, self-hatred, eating disorders, discrimination, poor health... Few of us are at peace with our bodies, whether because we’re fat or because we fear becoming fat.

...Health at Every Size is based on the simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control).
Chastain also has a good run down of her brand of HAES. She says,
What is Health at Every Size?
  1. Accepting and respecting the diversity of body shapes and sizes
  2. Recognizing that health and well-being are multi-dimensional and that they include physical, social, spiritual, occupational, emotional, and intellectual aspects
  3. Promoting all aspects of health and well-being for people of all sizes
  4. Promoting eating in a manner which balances individual nutritional needs, hunger, satiety, appetite, and pleasure
  5. Promoting individually appropriate, enjoyable, life-enhancing physical activity, rather than exercise that is focused on a goal of weight loss
At the end of the day, the real problem with general weight loss resolutions are that they proclaim health, but actually place undue focus on body size/shape. When size alone is the goal, it is very easy to feel as if you are continuously falling short. Pounds can stay on the body, even when other indicators of health are outstanding. HAES acknowledges so much more than weight. As such, it is inclusive, supportive, and self-esteem building.

If you are interested more in HAES movement this resolution season, I suggest you check out both Dances with Fat and the HAES website in more detail. You can also sign the HAES pledge.

I'll be taking the next couple of weeks off from blogging as I travel for the holidays. I'll be back after the first. I hope everyone has a very happy holiday season and a healthy New Year!

Clearly, If You Have Concerns about Stereotypical Masculinity, You Hate teh Menz

Recently, I wrote a piece about my concerns with stereotypical masculinity, which I feel promotes entitlement, violence, and misogyny. The post has gotten a little bit of traction and some attention from some men who write about healthy masculinity. In the short week it has existed, it has climbed into the top 10 most read posts on my blog. I knew it was only a matter of time before someone had a problem with it.

Before I dug into my analysis, I put a number of disclaimers, including:

I am in no way, shape, or form a man hater. I despise that stereotype of feminism. My favorite person in the world is a man as are some of my best friends. In fact, I advocate for a definition of feminism which is inclusive to all people. This topic, for me, isn't about any one man or "all men" (which is a statement which will always prove false.) Instead, it's about societal messages surrounding what it means "to be a man." So what I'm saying here is that if what I discuss isn't about you, don't make it about you.
...
Building on that, I think that us vs. them mentalities are destructive, overly simplified views of a much more complex reality, and ultimately counter productive. As such, my discussions of masculinity come from a place which sees sexism an obstacle to both men and women (in different ways) and isn't an attempt to place blame.

Despite trying to explain that I was only talking about my fears regarding stereotypical masculinity, and not "all men" or EVERY aspect of masculinity, and specifically not placing blame, I get this comment.
Well, I hope your "hypothetical future child" is female too, because given that your understanding of masculinity is purely negative in character, you would be a terrible mother to a little boy.
Like every feminist blogger no matter how small, I get trolls. As such, I have a pretty strict policy surrounding my commenting. If I feel your comment is trolling me, I will delete or ridicule it. This is my personal blog. I make no illusions that it is a community where I owe anyone their voice. If you feel very strongly about something I write, either comment respectfully or go spew your hatred on your own blog.

So naturally, this comment almost hit the trash can. On its face, there is no merit to the viewpoint presented. It's basically an attempt to insult me ("terrible mother" is often supposed to be the worst possible thing you can call a women, right?) and insinuate that I am a man hater. However, there is an underlying element to this comment that I would like to address. So rather than approve the comment and get into a potentially pointless discussion with this person, I'd like to just get it all out right here. (Although I feel I shouldn't have to given the extensive disclaimers I put on my original post. But I guess some people lack reading comprehension skills, so I'll put it out there again.)

My piece on the WORRIES I hold about masculinity wasn't intended to represent my full view of masculinity. It was a blog about the negative sides to stereotypical "manliness" and its dangerous implications for both boys and girls. I'm reiterating this because as I've said countless times, the stereotype of the man hating feminist is one which I utterly despise.

When I wrote the post, I didn't feel that I should have to list the positive things we traditionally associate with masculinity because society does that for us daily. But because apparently I am perceived to hold a "purely negative" view of  masculinity, here goes: strength, bravery, and honor to name a few. (But of course in my view, men and women should be able to exercise both their masculine and feminine qualities however they see fit.)

I'm sad that I have to write this. I'm sad that we still exist in a place where a female critique of masculinity is seen as a threat. But it's no surprise to me that this is the case. Instead of listening to me and thinking critically about my viewpoint, it's much easier to dismiss and belittle me.

In other news...congrats, trolls. You've earned your own topic label.

Edit: AH HA! I found out the story was picked up by a "men's rights" group where "thetrollking" (obviously) linked me. I won't direct you their way, because why contribute to their page views?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Call Me the Grinch

Me, as the Grinch, obviously
So, there has been a lot of buzz about a trend this year. Anonymous people are paying off other customers' layaway bills. All the stories I see about this topic are very positive, as they should be, I suppose. The stories are calling the payers "layaway angels" and writing at length about these do-gooders making "Christmas miracles." One woman, who had her layaway bill paid even said, “God opened up the windows of heaven and poured a blessing on me.”

Hm.

Everywhere I see these stories linked, on various forums and Facebook, people are saying the stories have made them cry, warmed their hearts, and inspired them to do something nice for another person. And that's great. I'm happy that people are inspired by these stories, but frankly, I'm not that moved by the actual acts themselves.

Layaway programs are typically used this time of year for holding gifts that you can't afford by paying them off in small increments until they are paid in full, ideally by Christmas. Call me the Grinch, I just can't get on board with thinking that paying off someone's layaway bill is the greatest way to help another person. In fact, I don't even see it as amongst the top 5 things money should go to.  Layaway programs don't help victims of a natural disasters or domestic violence. They don't educate children, cure cancer, or provide food and clean water to people who go without.

They provide materials items, most frequently those which are unnecessary. And the money ultimately goes to big businesses, like Wal*Mart. I mean, if you want to do something of this nature, comparable nonprofit programs which help give gifts to needy children seem much less frivolous than paying off someone's layaway bill.

Really, I am happy that people are giving to one another. And I'm glad that this positive story has been highlighted by the media, which too frequently focuses on death and destruction. However, the focus does seem to be on consumerism, which, as I've argued before, is far too prevalent this time of year. My advice is that if you feel moved by the "layaway angels" stories, you check out some of the nonprofits in your community and give a gift which will have an impact beyond a present which will end up under a Christmas tree.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Iron Lady

Ok, I know Margaret Thatcher isn't exactly popular amongst feminist circles, that said, I still think that you've got to acknowledge the barriers that woman broke.

And, in that spirit, I couldn't help but get chills at this trailer.



And Meryl's in, y'all. Come on! Meryl!

If you're not interested in just chills, check out a much more nuanced discussion of the feminism of this film.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Evidence of Rape Culture

Trigger warning for rape talk and child abuse.

I, as many feminists, believe we live in a rape culture. For more about what I mean, check out my most recent post on the topic. Or just Google "rape culture," really...

So a couple of stories lately have illustrated how prevalent our rape culture is. The first is a story that is making it's way alllll around the feminist blogosphere. Basically, a fraternity at the University of Vermont sent it's members a "getting to know you" survey and one of the questions was, "If you could rape anyone who would it be?" I feel as if I shouldn't have to explain how this is evidence of rape culture so here I'll just link to a petition you can sign if you feel so moved.

The next piece of evidence is a little less obvious but even more disturbing to me. As reported on Shakesville:
...parents at Rosemount High in Minnesota who pranked their kids by blindfolding them and then making out with them: "And these are not just innocent pecks on the lips. The parents are intimately lip-locking their children for several seconds. One even progresses to rolling around on the gym floor. In another instance, a mother moves her son's hand south so he's grasping her butt."
To be clear: The kids were blindfolded. The parents were not. They knew they were kissing their kids, and they laughed uproariously as the kids were further embarrassed by being interviewed about what they thought of the kiss. "Luscious lips," answers one young man, before it is revealed he kissed his mother. My god.

I just. I--I don't even...This is such an extreme crossing of boundaries. It is child abuse. It's sexual abuse. It is inappropriate and only serves to prove the point that rape culture is so deeply entrenched that a group of adults at a school event could think it's appropriate to do this.

It almost makes me cry.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why I Worry about Masculinity

In my personal life, it is a well known fact that I hope my hypothetical future child (HFC) is a girl. This is partly because I am a woman, I get being a women, and I've worked in girl services for 6 years (so far). It is also partly because I'm slightly terrified of what it means to be masculine in our society--and for all the challenges that I know a girl will face, I sometimes get more worried about how the heck I would raise a boy. (Not that I'd be going it alone, but you know what I mean.)

Sometimes I feel like this is an odd stance for me to take. When parenting comes up on the feminist blogs I read, many of the commenters say how they'd much rather have a boy or that they're happy they have a boy, because he will never face the challenges they faced growing up female. While I know what they mean, I just don't agree because I keep coming back to how scary stereotypical masculinity can be.

Before I go any further, I do want to lay out some disclaimers to frame my discussion.

  1. I am in no way, shape, or form a man hater. I despise that stereotype of feminism. My favorite person in the world is a man as are some of my best friends. In fact, I advocate for a definition of feminism which is inclusive to all people. This topic, for me, isn't about any one man or "all men" (which is a statement which will always prove false.) Instead, it's about societal messages surrounding what it means "to be a man." So what I'm saying here is that if what I discuss isn't about you, don't make it about you.
  2. Building on that, I think that us vs. them mentalities are destructive, overly simplified views of a much more complex reality, and ultimately counter productive. As such, my discussions of masculinity come from a place which sees sexism an obstacle to both men and women (in different ways) and isn't an attempt to place blame.
  3. BUT we must frankly discuss trends and facts about what is really going on in order to see it, name it, change it. Yes, there are men facing challenges like single parenting, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault. But to not acknowledge that these issues disproportionately affect women does a disservice to finding a real solution. 

Ok I guess by now, I should clarify what the heck it is that I even mean by the fear I have surrounding the concept of masculinity as it plays out in our culture. Really, it comes down to three things: entitlement, violence, and the disparagement of femininity.


  • The disparagement of femininity: I'll start with the latter. Simply put, I see that amongst boys and men anything that is considered "girly" is heavily shamed. I know girls are gender policed too, but it seems that the penalties for boys are much stronger (since, traditionally, being female is lesser than being male. In fact, I'd go as far to say that some masculine qualities are encouraged in girls.) However, when we get real about it, all of us have both masculine and feminine qualities. So basically, boys constantly have a side of them suppressed (boys don't cry, don't be a sissy, being nice to other guys is "gay.") When you grow up continuously having the feminine side of you disparaged, it's not that big of a leap to equating ALL femininity as negative; it's conditioning. Then your attitudes and behaviors begin to reflect this, as I will explain in the next two points.
  • Entitlement: Because femininity becomes a cultural synonym for lesser than and thereby not important, a sense of entitlement emerges on the part of men toward women. Men's desires and impulses take a front seat. Women's bodies are put forth as something to be viewed and consumed. Women's boundaries, feelings, and opinions are ignored (because they're not as important.) The examples here are numerous, but I'll point you in the direction of a few key ones. 1) The "smile, baby" phenomena and street harassment. 2) The refusal to accept a woman's right to not want to date. Here's a story about this, which after sharing, I learned from a few people in my life that this has happened to them when online dating men as well (although not as extreme.) 3) Men believing they are entitled to sex with their wives.
  • Violence: It's not hard to see how I can make the leap from entitlement to violence. If men feel entitled to women's bodies, rapes will occur. But furthermore, if men feel entitled to women's bodies, they might also hit, kick, and otherwise abuse them. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 85% of domestic violence victims are women. (Check out that link for a much more thorough examination of the gendered nature of violence.) However, the violent side of masculinity is not only exercised against women. Violence is also used as a general attribute of masculinity and exercised against one another. Real men fire guns. Real men can take a punch. Real men can hold their own in a bar fight. Real men don't back down. Basically, what I'm getting at is that men are frequently the victims of the view of masculinity which normalizes violence. And often men who do not agree to engage in these things are classified as feminine. (See two points up for why that's a problem.)
When you walk through these points, I think it becomes fairly clear why I worry about masculinity. I know that if my HFC is a boy, he will be raised in a feminist environment with Mr. Nerdy Feminist as a positive male role model, but we will still encounter these messages with him. And try as we will to guide him, he will have to navigate boy world on his own. It would be nice if our communities contain more allies who support healthy masculinity.

As I frequently mention, I work for a nonprofit which seeks to build self-esteem in girls and give them the tools and skills they need to grow into happy, successful adults. These programs are so very necessary because of the position that women still occupy in our society. However, when I delve into topics like rape and intimate partner violence, I know there is only so much impact that can be made on my side of the equation. The real work to be done on these issues is with boys. Just like bogus "rape prevention programs" it is wrong and illogical to put the onus of ending violence against women on women. Boys need strong, stable, reliable, responsible men in their lives to not only role model healthy masculinity but to also intentionally talk with them about it.

Sadly, there are far too few programs aimed specifically at this goal. I wish that when someone said "So you can work with the girls but what will we do with the boys?" I had a perfect answer, like a local nonprofit's number to give them. Despite this void locally, there are some groups and writers doing great things in the area of healthy masculinity. I would suggest that anyone interested in this topic check them out (linked below.) 

I always say that my work is aimed at telling everyone that girls matter. But life is not a zero sum game. Sometimes you can root for both teams. Boys matter too!

Recommended resources:

Monday, December 12, 2011

"Baby It's Cold Outside:" When Old Stuff Doesn't Fit Our World Anymore

This post is a part of my “Out of the Kitchen” weekly column at The Progressive Playbook in which various news and pop culture items will be examined through a feminist lens.

I'm not sure that many things about the Christmas season are more divisive than the music. It seems that people are either:

1) So in love with Christmas carols that they can't wait until they can add a "holiday" station to their Pandora OR

2) They cringe and roll their eyes when that first seligh bell sound appears in the music overhead at the department store in October and count down the days until it switches back to that other crappy music which is sociologically designed to make us browse slower.

I don't know if you could tell, but I tend to fall into category 2. However, no Christmas carol makes me more upset than Baby, It's Cold Outside. Just in case you are unfamiliar (lucky you!) this song is essentially about a chick saying she's got to leave and a dude trying to convince her to stay by saying, "baby, it's cold outside." (And to be fair, even through it's lumped in with Christmas carols, it's not inherently Christmasy, it's more a winter song.)

I'm sure that right off the bat, you can tell what gripe I have with this song. There's no way around it--it comes across as an anthem to date rape. I'm certainly not the first person to have this thought. In fact, in recent years it has become a bit of a standard Christmas time topic to explore in the feminist blogosphere.  As Chloe Angyal (in that last link) says,
By today’s standards, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is a complete train wreck for many reasons. There’s the fact that the man—called “the Wolf” in the original libretto, as if he didn’t already sound predatory and coercive enough—ignores the woman’s explanations for why she needs to leave. There are the explanations themselves, which essentially amount to “my family, friends and neighbors will call me a slut if I stay.” And then, perhaps most problematic of all, there’s the Wolf’s attempt to guilt the woman (called “the Mouse” in the original libretto, as if to imply that she’s simply no match for the man) into staying.
Mouse/wolf? Yikes. Clearly, there is a problematic theme going on here. However, there has also been a feminist reaction which is attempting to defend the song, asking for it to be viewed in its own time and context. In fact, Jezebel is currently running a vote off for the "worst Christmas song ever" and while Baby It's Cold Outside is out of the running, it was quite controversial in the comments section. But every person complaining about the "rapey" nature, there was someone defending it on the grounds of it being a song about "seduction." Usually their defense was accompanied by a seemingly popular piece from Persephone, in which Slay Belle says,
Let’s look at the lines. As she’s talking about leaving, she never says she doesn’t want to stay. Her words are all based around other people’s expectations of her – her mother will worry, her father will be pacing the floor, the neighbors will talk, her sister will be suspicious of her excuses and her brother will be furious, and my favorite line that I think is incredibly revealing, “My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious.” Vicious about what? Sex. Unmarried, non-good girl having, sex.

Later in the song, she asks him for a comb (to fix her hair) and mentions that there’s going to be talk tomorrow — this is a song about sex, wanting it, having it, maybe having a long night of it by the fire, but it’s not a song about rape. It’s a song about the desires even good girls have.

So what is he singing while she’s talking about what other people think of her? He’s providing her with a list of cover stories, essential, excuses she can use to explain why she hasn’t or won’t go home. It’s cold out, it’s snowing, the cabs aren’t running, the storm is becoming a blizzard, she might get hurt trying to get home.
I think what Slay Belle articulates is valid, to a point. When Frank Loesser wrote the song in 1936, this was a time when sexual behaviors in women were much more heavily shamed than now, so reluctance on the female's part is understandable. That said, I don't think there's any reason that we cannot acknowledge both the cultural context of the time the song was written and the problematic message it sends today's audiences.

Specifically, the biggest problem I have with the lyrics is:
The answer is no (her) - Ooh baby, it's cold outside (him)
Read that one more time. The answer is no. To me, that couldn't be more clear, and all bets are off from there on out. When someone, in plain English, says no, and then you try to "seduce" them, you're actually coercing them. To me, the song sends the message that no might mean yes, actually. It reinforces the misconception that women frequently (if not always) play games and want to be persuaded, when the truth is that real consent and real healthy sexual relationships come from open, honest communication.

Maybe it was a different time. Maybe the lyrics were meant to convey seduction or "desires even good girls have" but in a way, that's not really the point. We cannot simultaneously create a world where we strive for a "yes means yes" mentality and not deconstruct messages like this, no matter what time frame they're from. Our society frequently makes changes which force us to look at our past and say, "Hey, we might have done that back then, but now we know that's not OK." The examples are numerous and Baby It's Cold Outside is another one on the list.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"My Heart Belongs to Daddy"...Ewwww

So earlier this week I saw My Week with Marilyn. Truthfully, I wasn't impressed. While I love Michelle Williams and I think she does a good job, it wasn't really an interesting film and Monroe just comes across as annoying, which, maybe she was. I don't know.

Anyway, I saw it at the Alamo Drafthouse, because, you know, I see everything there. One great thing about the Drafthouse is that it does not play commercials as you trickle in the theater. Rather, they have a pre-show composed of clips from music videos, TV shows, movies, and other pop culture artifacts, all which pertain to the "featured presentation."

So for My Week with Marilyn, they played a video, which I assume was from a Monroe movie (I know very little about her, other than what you can't escape from as a member of our society.) It was a song and dance routine of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy." I couldn't find the exact video, but this should give you a good idea of what it sounded like:


Let's take a look at some of these lyics:

While tearing off a game of golf
I may make a play for the caddy
But when I do, I don't follow through
Cause my heart belongs to Daddy 
If I invite a boy some night
To dine on my fine food and haddie
I just adore, his asking for more
But my heart belongs to Daddy
...
If I invite a boy some night
To cook up some hot enchilada
Though Spanish rice is all very nice
My heart belongs to Daddy

Obviously, there are a number of things wrong here and this for real grosses me out. I am super uncomfortable with the inclusion of "daddy" into suggestive situations. I have no idea where this type of thing started, but Cole Porter's "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" is the earliest instance of this stuff that I've personally seen. Who knows? It might be as old as human civilization.

I can't help but let my mind go to all kinds of horrible situations when I think about this. And it all has to do with the connection that has been made between youth and sex; the infantilization of women.

Examples of this are everywhere in our youth obsessed society: sugar daddies and sugar babies, Brazilian waxes, baby talk, plastic surgery, and the list could go on. TV shows poke fun at it. Bloggers get mad about it. Advertisers have long capitalized on it, for example, in this old school ad:

Just as with Marilyn saying "da da da da DAD," there is undeniably both undertones of childishness and sexuality in here. I mean, come on. "Innocence is sexier than you think?"

This is a problematic combination.

Ok, listen. I am very much a "to each their own" type of person. If you really think that combining a childlike element in your ADULT CONSENSUAL relationship is for you, then whatever. So long as no kids are actually involved, live and let live. But I will say I am concerned about the power dynamics at play, just as I am with real age disparities. It makes me uncomfortable to have this cultural script of women as weaker, less informed, and dependent.

Ah well, I guess I'll just be over here enjoying a relationship that is blissfully devoid of any daddy references.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Who The Hell You Calling Pregnance'?

Not funny.
So, in the past I've written about Beyonce. I've written about Jezebel. And I've written about how we treat pregnant women...so let me take a moment to write about all three. I promise this will be quick!

Basically, I've noticed how Jezebel likes to call Beyonce "Pregnance'" lately. Like a lot. Like too much. They probably think it's funny and cute, but I find it all around annoying. Don't we already have enough problematic treatment of pregnant women? I guess what really pisses me off about it is that it totally reduces this amazing woman to her pregnancy. And while she is obviously very happy to be pregnant, it's not all she is.

Plus it's hard how to figure out how to say it in your head when you're reading. UCK.

Ah well, I'm still joining the masses who are pretty excited to see the progeny of Beyonce and Shawn Knowles-Cater!

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Switcheroo: Zooey, I Got Your Back

Well here's something you never thought you'd see around here: I'm going to stand up for Zooey Deschanel. And that's a particularly big feat seeing as how Mr. Nerdy Feminist has been playing She & Him's Christmas album lately--and above all things I find hard to tolerate about Ms. Deschanel, is her singing voice. And someone recently sent me this.

But anyhoo, here goes.

I was just reading through Shakesville and came across Melissa McEwan's coverage of a piece that Buzzfeed did called "10 Scary Celebrity Close Ups" which featured this picture of Zooey.

GUH.

Like McEwan, I'm pretty disgusted that this is considered "scary." As she wrote,

...I don't see something "scary." What I see is proof of Zooey Deschanel's humanity. (Not that I needed any.) What I see is a tear in the page of the fairy tale of the Impossibly Beautiful. What I see is permission for women to give themselves a fucking break. 
I also, for the record, see a beautiful woman. But my opinion of Zooey Deschanel is irrelevant. What matters is that there's no such thing as an objective beauty standard.

And then there's this: It's incomprehensibly fucked up that evidence of a woman's humanity is considered "scary," by any means of observation. But this contempt for visible humanness in close-up reveals something extremely ugly about the nature of objectification: People who want to fuck Zooey Deschanel express repulsion at seeing her face up close. "Eww—you got intimacy all up in my remote objectification! Gross!"

Yes, yes, yes! I might have many a gripe about Deschanel, but not one of them is about her attractiveness...except maybe that's she's too cute.

But while I find labeling her as "scary" to be bull, I have to admit I'm not surprised. It is so very in keeping with the MPDG thing to discard someone when they become real, or as McEwan said, human. The function of MPDGs is, after all, to make life grand for a boy. They're not supposed to have their own shit going on, like aging, which might have, I don't know, left them with one or two wrinkles. NOPE! They're supposed to be perfect, doting, endlessly inspirational muses to the art of life.

This is so annoying. We live in a culture where everything is so highly Photoshopped that we actually now consider a woman--who is widely regarded as attractive--as scary when we get up close to her. You might think that someone who has written about Deschanel in the way I have to get some sick, secret pleasure from this situation. But trust me, I'm not. All it does is serves to remind me that we, as women, are never, ever, ever good enough. I'm so over it!

So yeah, Zooey doesn't deserve this and neither do the other celebrities on the list. (And for the record that list is 9/10 women. I think that pretty much puts a nail in the coffin of the argument that this isn't gendered.)

You and I don't deserve it.

Now, you wanna see something really fucking scary?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Moving Sucks, Y'all

This isn't really a particularly feminist thing, but I just feel like rambling for a moment. But rambling with pictures! So, there's that...Anyway, I think I've mentioned before that I'm currently in the process of moving. I wish I could say that I look like this:


But clearly, their boxes are empty and they're not actually moving. Instead, this is a much better representation of my moving process:


Or maybe this:

I try to not be a gender stereotype and do my share of heavy lifting, but the fact of the matter is that, regardless of my gender, I suck at lifting and I'm fairly physically weak. I'm just going to have to be ok with that. Bleh. Also, doesn't moving, like other stressful situations, just bring out the absolute worst in everyone? That means that my order/structure driven self becomes pretty intolerable. Bleh again.

Oh well. It'll be over soon. Tonight's the last night we are staying in the old place. I'm sure unpacking will take a bit more time than I'll have free this weekend, but hopefully by next weekend I will feel really settled and at home. Because I do NOT do well with chaos and transition. 

So long as this doesn't happen to me though, I should be fine:


I mean, if I arrive at my new place and a baby pops out of one of my boxes (the one I marked with a smiley, obviously) I'm not going to be as happy as the peeps here. Good thing I didn't mark any boxes with a smiley.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

All "Pro Life" Arguments Suck...Some are Worse Than Others

Seeing my recent spike in troll activity, it should be interesting to see what comments I have to filter out on this post. If you even think a pro choice thought, you're bound to get trolls. But, regardless, here goes...

I recently learned that Siri is anti choice (which is particularly sad to me because I just became an iPhone convert.) On Jezebel, I was linked through to a discussion about abortion on Gizmodo related to Siri's political stance. Of course I forgot to follow Internet rules 1-5: DON'T READ THE COMMENTS. The whole thing is, predictably, a cluster of anti choice nonsense, with some solidly logical pro choice comments thrown in to temper it.

There was one anti choice comment in particular, which I'd like to debunk in a moment. But before I do, for anyone interested in my general perspectives on abortion, you can check out my number of other posts on the subject. Ok, back to the comment that got under my skin. In the context of replying to some of the pro choice comments, one person said:
I have a couple of kids (7 months and 2 years old) and I will say that raising kids has been the most difficult and inconvenient thing I've ever done in my life. That said, I would give my life for my kids. They are so precious, and I would punch anyone who called them a parasite or uterus intruder.
Here are other anti choice statements which hit at this same point:

1) I'm a mom! I have no idea how anyone could pass up the opportunity to have this experience!
2) Now that I'm a parent, I could never be pro choice!
3) Being pregnant has totally change my stance on abortion. Once you feel that baby kick you just know that there's a little person growing in there.
4) What if your mom had aborted you?
5) How could anyone look at their own beautiful kids and support abortion?

This is one of those cases where I just get so sad that I have to explain why this line of "logic" is flawed. There is so, so much fail going on here. The biggest thing is what I keep coming back to over and over: if you are morally opposed to abortion, DON'T HAVE ONE. It is such a personal choice, that if pregnancy or parenting has changed how you feel about life and you now want to keep every child you conceive, then by all means, please do! If you consider the 3 week pregnancy in your uterus to be your baby, than GREAT, it is so! But the fact that you feel this was has literally no bearing on the life, feelings, and decisions of other women.

I cringe almost every time someone brings up their children as having ANY relevance on the abortion debate. Of course, people who have chosen to bring a child into this world love them and can't imagine their lives without them now! (I'm very sad for children who live in conditions which are anything less.)

So many kids are planned and even when they are not they often become "welcome surprises." Because we do have legal abortion, births that result from pregnancies in non-ideal situations usually have two situations 1) the mothers decide they do want to have the baby despite the obstacles or 2) the babies are put up for adoption and placed with families that very much want them. Whatever the case, more often than not, children grow up with parents who love them and don't say, "I should have aborted him/her."

All of this is grand, but it still has no relevance on the situations where the mother truly does not want or cannot carry a pregnancy to term. What about the implications of forcing a woman to carry a child to term? Or, to speak in "pro life" terms (since they don't seem to care about the life of the woman involved) what are the implications for a child born into that situation?

So when the commenter says they would give their life for their kids, that's FANTASTIC! That's their choice as a parent, but it, again, means nothing in the wider context of the abortion debate. It's a personal opinion, not an analysis of the policy. And for the record, no one is calling your kids parasites or uterus intruders. Those kids came from wanted pregnancies and they grew into the people they are today. It was never about whether or not those kids should exist. But what happens inside another woman's body really isn't up for us to mandate. Besides, frequently, women seek abortions because they have other children that they love and want to provide a full life to. That's a point which can also not be overlooked.