Tag Archives: feminism

Delving into the Psyche, Feminist Shit, Literary Shit

Becoming the Medusa

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Art by Rainer Kalwitz

“[Who] hasn’t been ashamed of her strength? Who, surprised and horrified by the fantastic tumult of her drives (for she was made to believe that a well-adjusted woman has a . . . divine composure), hasn’t accused herself of being a monster?” (Cixious 876).

We are raised by the patriarchy, carefully tended, wings and instincts clipped so that we cannot escape or even think. We are crippled in our minds, confused. We believe what they tell us even though it feels wrong. Instincts, we are taught, are not scientifically based, not “real.” So we discredit them and disassociate.

“A feminist becomes she even if she has already been assigned she, when she hears in that word a refusal of he, a refusal that he would promise her inclusion” (Ahmed 4).

Something, somehow wakes us up, if we are lucky. There is still major disconnect, but we can see that something is not right, that we have been lied to and manipulated, that we have played a role in this ourselves. We cannot quite put our finger on it, but we know that something is very, very wrong.

“I think of feminism as poetry; we hear histories in words; we reassemble histories by putting them into words” (Ahmed 12).

“Feminist theory is world making” (Ahmed 14).

We see that the world is wrong. We understand that we need to fix it, but we don’t know how, and we are afraid of how we may fit into it when we are finished.

 “When you expose a problem, you pose a problem” (Ahmed 37).

We begin trying to speak up and are laughed at, silenced, threatened, or attacked. It is not safe work.

L’Engle talks about how every act of creation is risky, dangerous, even while it is worth it. “Creation is still wildly beautiful, and it is still wild” (L’Engle 16).

 “’To assess the damage is a dangerous act,’ writes Cherrie Moraga. To stop there is even more dangerous” (Anzaldúa 169).

And so we keep going.

To become feminist is to disassemble oneself. To look around the room and see your various parts strewn about. It is unsettling. It is alarming. You have no manual. How do you go back together?

 “Perhaps when you put the pieces back together you are putting yourself back together. We assemble something. Feminism is DIY: a form of self-assembly” (Ahmed 27).

“So I cut and paste and line the floor with my bits of paper. My life is strewn on the floor in bits and pieces and I try to make some order of it. . . ” (Anzaldúa 169).

There is no going back, you cannot fit the parts back together the original way, you must find a new way now.

 “Feminism involves a process of finding another way to live in your body” (Ahmed 30).

We must rewrite our body. We must stitch it back together like the Patchwork Girl.

 “I see that your scars not only mark a cut, they commemorate a joining” (Jackson).

Sometimes, we must share body parts and become one, covered in lines, crisscrossing. Another form of skin-writing.

 “Scar tissue does more than flaunt its strength by chronicling the assaults it has withstood. Scar tissue is new growth. And it is tougher than skin innocent of the blade” (Jackson).

Put back together, we need to bring ourselves back to life because, at our core, we still need work. The patriarchy has done quite a job on us.

 “I began to realize what I already knew: that patriarchal reasoning goes all the way down, to the letter, to the bone” (Ahmed 4).

“Stories are medicine,” says Estes (15). This is how we heal ourselves, how we learn to reassemble, how we stitch ourselves back together into a new person, this is how we write ourselves into existence. We listen to stories, we listen to others. We write ourselves, we write poetry and lyrics, we sing over our bones like La Loba.

 La Loba, Wolf Woman, collects bones. “Her cave is filled with the bones of all manner of desert creatures: the deer, the rattlesnake, the crow. But her speciality is wolves.” When she has a complete skeleton “she stands over the criatura, raises her arms over it, and sings out. That is when the rib bones and leg bones of the wolf begin to flesh out and the creature becomes furred. La Loba sings some more and more of the creature comes into being; its tail curls upward, shaggy and strong. . . . La Loba sings so deeply that the floor of the desert shakes, and as she sings, the wolf opens its eyes, leaps up, and runs away down the canyon” (Estes 25-26).

Once ourselves are healed and whole, again and for the first time, we can see that hysteria is not a problem just as the womb, the hystera, is not a problem. Now we we get to work.

 “Our emotions can be a resource; we draw on them. To be a killjoy is often to be assigned as being emotional, too emotional; letting your feelings get in the way of your judgement; letting your feelings get in the way. Your feelings can be the site of a rebellion. A feminist heart beats the wrong way; feminism is hearty” (Ahmed 246).

“Her appearance would necessarily bring on, if not revolution . . . at least harrowing explosions” (Cixious 879).

“You only have to look at the Medusa straight on to see her. And she’s not deadly. She’s beautiful, and she’s laughing” (Cixious 885).

You have gotten past her snake hair. You can truly see her. Why? Because you chose to look at her straight on.

What’s more is that you are not seeing the Medusa, you are seeing you. She is the mirror that was supposed to be her downfall, but that part of the story was a lie because the Medusa always saw herself through truth. The mirror, for Perseus, was his shield, metaphorical and literal, his tool for gaslighting. He saw her hair as snakes and thought it would scare her as much as it scared him so he showed her who she was. Naturally it did not, and so he used it to avoid having to see her straight on, to avoid seeing her truth, her mortality, her beauty and her emotions. Using a mirror allowed him to remain unengaged in the interaction, he remained on this side of the Looking Glass, avoiding crossing into the realm of understanding and growth. Who was really gaslighting who?

To look at Medusa straight on is to see all of this.

We have disassembled ourselves, laid the pieces out, and stitched ourselves back together, singing over our bones to bring us back to life. And now we become the Medusa. We take her crown of snakes and place it atop our own heads in our coronation ceremony through which we become truly ourselves. We reclaim our feminine words and shout them to the world: hysteria! pussy! cunt! bitch! We reclaim our emotions and refuse to be ashamed of them any longer: we cry, we rant, we scream, we rage! Heads turn, confused, because the uninitiated do not know what to make of this spectacle, this sensation. “Feminism is sensational. . . . When you speak as a feminist you have to deal with strong reactions” (Ahmed 21).

And now what? Now, we write.

 “And why don’t you write? Write! Writing is for you!, you are for you; your body is yours, take it” (Cixious 876).

“Write your self. Your body must be heard” (Cixious 880).

Write yourself into existence. Write on you, write you on paper, on walls, on canvas. Speak the language of watercolor and oils and HTML. Become the hypertext; you are the cyborg that is one and all.

Is this, the last form of the feminist, the end?

Dear god I hope not.

The moment we are “finished” with ourselves, we die internally.

It is not easy to be the Medusa, to refuse to be ashamed of those parts of us that we are demanded to shame. “To expose a problem, you pose a problem” (Ahmed 37). It is hard work and it is exhausting. All psyche-work is spiral-shaped. Sometimes you will come back around and need to re-disassemble yourself all over again. Sometimes you will need to forget how to be the Medusa. “No wonder feminist work is often about timing: sometimes we are too fragile to do this work; we cannot risk being shattered because we are not ready to put ourselves back together again. To get ready often means being prepared to be undone” (Ahmed 27). Sometimes we hibernate mid-spiral, sometimes we power forth. But each time around we come closer to being wholly comfortable as Medusa.

This is the gift we give to our friends and to the next generation: a template for becoming the Medusa and a community in which we can comfortably be gorgons together, doing our gorgon work together.

And then?

 “From now on, who, if we say so, can say no to us? We’ve come back from always” (Cixious 878).

Works Cited

Ahmed, Sara. Living a Feminist Life. 2017.

Anzaldúa, Gloria. “Speaking in Tongues.” This Bridge Called My Back Writings by Radical Women of Color, edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, SUNY Press, 2015.

Cixous, Hélène, et al. “The Laugh of the Medusa.” Signs, vol. 1, no. 4, 1976, pp. 875–893.

Estés, Clarissa Pinkola. Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype. 1st ed., New York, Ballantine Books, 1992.

Jackson, Shelley. Patchwork Girl. 1995.

L’Engle, Madeleine. The Genesis Trilogy. WaterBrook Press, 2001.

Delving into the Psyche, Political, Social Justice, Spirituality

Women’s March on Washington (San Diego), January 21, 2017

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I am Pagan and I call myself a witch, but I don’t do spells. Not the usual spells Wiccans do, anyway, with an athame or crystals or candles. I’m simply not called to them in any way. I think I’m a little too Atheist for them to speak to me. I have a need to be grounded in a spirituality which is very tangible.

But last night I took sharpies and poster board and did magick with them. I sat with my friend Sofia and made all these signs. I think this is magick. When you create some kind of art, any kind, even if it’s just markers and poster board, you’re constantly thinking about what you are doing. This is a prayer. Knitting a baby blanket is like a prayer for that baby. It is mind work. It is magick. It is spellwork.

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And then we took those signs and joined I-don’t-even-know-how-many other people on the streets of San Diego to show the world that we exist, that we are taking back our power, that we are here and not going anywhere. And we were answering the call of marchers on the other side of this country, this continent. And they were answered by marchers in countries around the world, on every continent, even Antarctica.

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This is spellwork, this is magick, this is a prayer that we all, of every religion and culture, can do together. We raise our voices together and send messages of hope and power together. Of course it’s magickal; of course it’s prayer.

But it won’t fix anything, said my inner voice. It’s not enough.

Of course not. Prayer is not the world’s work. It’s the spirit’s work. As Bethany says, prayer doesn’t change things. Prayer changes the pray-er. We still have to make the phone calls. We still have to vote. We still have to be aware and educate ourselves. We still have to stay conscious.

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But I came home today and, after napping for two solid hours, I watched a White House video and read some news stories without having to scroll past them before I could allow that horror, our new reality, to sink in. This sounds simple enough, but I’ve not been able to do it for weeks now. My mind’s eye is purposely not making eye contact with the concept of this new president, of his inauguration.

So that’s what the spell did: it gave me renewed strength. Where before I was too weak to do the work of the world that needs to be done, when surrounded by my sisters and brothers in that March today, and throughout the world, I was recharged. The spirit’s work lifts a person up to get the world’s work done.

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This is spellwork. This is magick. This is prayer.

Ranting and Raving, Social Justice

In this post I will yell and scream and use a lot of bad words while I rant about compassion.

compassion

So last week was terrible.

I kept wanting to write about the Ferguson shit, but I couldn’t find any words because I was so sad about the Robin Williams shit.

Things I found myself arguing about on Facebook:
~Whether suicide is selfish or cowardly.
~Whether Robin Williams “just didn’t try hard enough” to overcome depression.
~Whether white privilege exists or not.

And the thing is that I don’t really understand why any of these are arguments at all. Because people who struggle with depression have SAID WITH THEIR MOUTHS that you can’t just decide to be happy and then *poof* the depression goes away. So why are you still arguing about who tried harder? (Watch out, I feel some bad words coming on.) And, do you know how hard it must be to get to a place where you suddenly decide to not live anymore? Millions of years of evolution and your entire biology will do absolutely anything – including cutting off your own arm in certain cases – just to not die. So how can people still say it’s a selfish or cowardly thing knowing what desperation must have been present? (No, really, here comes the cussing.) And the white privilege thing is really pretty fucking clear. (THERE IT IS.) Even before we knew that Michael Brown had, in actual fact, been shot no less than six times from a distance, there was Eric Garner and two others.

Super embarrassing to admit: When I was an ignorant teenager being raised by a woman who later in her life would subscribe to multiple Bill O’Riley email lists I didn’t get the need for Affirmative Action. After all, my education taught me that Rosa Parks and Dr. King fixed the racism problem and now we all lived in a happy world where we could totally share the drinking fountains. (I had similar ignorant ideas about feminism. I KNOW.) But, honestly, how the hell would I ever have known that racism was still alive and well? I never had to live it.

So here is the big secret about how I learned about white privilege and feminism and depression:

I FUCKING LISTENED TO PEOPLE WHEN THEY TALKED.

It turns out – and this may shock you – people tend to share their feelings and thoughts and experiences. Sometimes they do this when asked, and sometimes they choose to start the conversation. But you have, to paraphrase Mark Twain, twice as many ears as you do mouths. SO FUCKING USE THEM OKAY.

There is no fucking way this earth is ever going to get better, there is no fucking way humans will ever stop being terrible unless we have fucking compassion. You already have everything you can possibly need to make the world better, you have the ability to fucking change shit, and all you have to do is fucking LISTEN TO PEOPLE WHEN THEY TELL YOU THINGS.

If someone you know says you are struggling with depression, you DON’T say, “Well, try harder!” Or “Have you tried being happy instead?” That shit shuts down the conversation and alienates people which, as it turns out, doesn’t really help depression. Weird, right? Instead try something like, “How can I help you?” And “I love you so much and you mean so much to me.”

This listening trick can work in literally every aspect of your life. Know someone who’s overweight? Listen to their feelings and experiences and help to end fat phobia! Know someone who’s trans? Listen to their feelings and experiences and help to end trans phobia! Know someone who’s a different religion than you are? Listen to their thoughts and experiences and help to bridge the massive gaps we have in religious and culture differences. Just shut up and listen! It’s amazing! It’s free! It’s revolutionary!

The word compassion just keeps coming up for me this week. Everything has been about people lacking compassion for other people. Compassion. Compassion. Compassion. Fucking focus on that shit right now okay? It will fix everything. Not right away, of course, because there are a shitload of other steps that need to be taken first, but fucking COMPASSION IS THE FIRST FUCKING STEP AND IT IS VITAL TO FUCKING EVERY SITUATION EVER.

Here are some good articles about the Ferguson shit and white privilege. Fucking listen, okay?

Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person.

Explaining white privilege with funny memes so you don’t have to word too much.

America is not for Black People (I kept being very confused about how people would show pictures of tanks in America with the caption that “this is not America” because, actually, it IS America. I mean. Very clearly it is. You mean that you don’t want it to be – which is also kinda shitty because what that’s really saying is “keep your mega violence in the Middle East so we can pretend MURRICA is totally radical, okay?”)

Things to Stop Being Distracted By When A Black Person Gets Murdered by Police (I was somewhat heartened when I saw these things being discussed more and more as the week went on. Some of you are listening. Go, you!)

Some people have suggested that we stop calling it “white privilege” because, I assume, it scares white people and makes them think they have to feel guilty for being born white. I mean. Whatever. I guess. I don’t really care if you call it something else, but I do think that white people should STFU, stop being whiny babies, and just take a moment to (say it with me!) LISTEN and understand what the phrase actually means. It’s really got nothing to do with YOU and everything to do with the SYSTEM. Which even our history books do not deny was built by white people. Here’s an article that puts it much more politely.

Stuff you can do to help:

Ten Things White People Can Do About Ferguson Besides Tweet

In addition to the link just above, if you need to actively do something, here’s a Tumblr post with some ideas.

AND THIS. This is a petition to the White House (which they have to look at since it’s reached the needed number of signatures) to have cameras worn by all law enforcement.

And listen. Just fucking listen. Have compassion and just fucking listen.

Ranting and Raving, Social Justice, This is a Woman

My rage is a day late cause misogyny makes me tired.

person person meh

Yesterday I was stricken with some mysterious fatigue. Probably it was my body’s intuition that the SCOTUS had done another horrible fuckass thing and I should just make a point to stay in bed and not try to join in the human race yesterday. But tiredness isn’t a clear enough language so I got up anyway, read the news, and then decided to go back to bed.

So that’s basically why I didn’t post yesterday.

But here are some thoughts I have after having read and maybe participated in discussions/debates on the topic on various friend’s Facebook pages. (Sorry, various friends. I really tried to limit myself as much as possible.)

1. People kept saying, “But people can CHOOSE not to work for these corporations!”
I think the people who said this are probably simply innocent and merely lacking the facts here. Obviously they have slept through the last 15 or so years and entirely missed the economic news. We should speak quietly and get them some coffee. Once they catch up, they’ll understand that people can’t just pick and choose which jobs they want. This isn’t the 1950’s anymore. Shit’s fucked, you guys. People stay unemployed for months and months or even years and then when they finally get a job they are gonna take it and not even care if birth control is covered because at that point the fact that they will be able to buy frivolous items such as “food” will take precedence. Anyone who says people should just work for those corporations that hold their own personal views (and by “personal views” I mean “provides basic human rights such as health care”) simply have no clue what the world actually is like. And good for them, I guess. Either they slept for the last decade and a half or they live in their own little protective bubble (or they don’t, but they hold views that go against their own personal lifestyle), but they just have no clue. Here’s a tip: grow some empathy. Think outside of your own brain for a moment and try to imagine how it is for people less privileged than you are.

2. People kept saying, “The government can’t just step in and tell a private corporation what to do!”
Except. That last I checked, the government enforces rules about making a job safe and possible for people with disabilities. And the government has rules set in place which don’t allow private companies to discriminate against people of other races, genders, or sexual orientations. So, dudes? The government does, in fact, butt in when it comes to protecting those who need it. You know. Except women.

3. People kept saying, “Birth control isn’t a basic human right!”
Well, aside from the whole Catch-22 attitude wherein women are forced to not have birth control, not have abortions, not have health care to support them through their pregnancies, and not have financial help for a child they weren’t ready for. I don’t know if that kind of birth control is a basic human right, but I’m willing to argue that sex is.

The bottom line here is that their science is bad. At BEST they grossly misunderstand how these contraceptives work. Preventing an ovary from releasing an egg is not, in fact, the same thing as abortion by any means. The fact that the Supreme Court backed up this pseudoscience bullshit is, at the very minimum, absolutely terrifying.

3a. Someone even said, “Health care is a privilege, not a right! People should make the choice to find a job that provides them health care!”
This is the part of the day where I just zoomed right off the plane, way out into outer space. Because if health care is a privilege you are LITERALLY saying that only rich people should be able to be healthy. You are, IN ACTUALITY, saying that poor people should just all die. I mean. You didn’t even bother to pretend very hard that you don’t feel that way. You very clearly feel that way. And you know who very clearly did not feel that way? JESUS.

3b. People kept saying, “But Hobby Lobby is still providing most birth control, just not these ones they don’t believe in!”
But you know what? That doesn’t mean they aren’t blocking birth control. Cause they are. It may not be every kind of birth control, but some women need specific kinds which may be one of those banned. What it comes down to is that a woman and her DOCTOR, not her EMPLOYER, should be the ones to decide what contraceptive a woman needs.

4. People kept saying, “But these forms of birth control cause abortions!”
OK. Let’s talk about the morning after pill. That form of birth control does NOT end a pregnancy. It inhibits ovulation just like regular birth control pills do. Without ovulation, there is no pregnancy. It ONLY works if the woman takes it before she’s ovulated, otherwise it’s useless. The pill RU486 is the pill you are probably confusing the morning after pill with. RU486 is a pill that causes an abortion. But it is called a medical abortion, not a birth control pill.

Doctors have created a distinction between abortifacients and contraceptives. Contraceptives do not end a pregnancy – they prevent one. There is a distinction. And it’s a distinction that seems to be grossly misunderstood by the majority of people who claim to support Hobby Lobby, and in this case, the SCOTUS upheld this bad science which is fucking terrifying.

So. You made Jesus cry. And you made the rest of us turn into rocket ships in our rage. Hope you’re happy.

(I was going to draw you a picture of me, as a rocket, leaving the planet, but I’m bad at drawing and all my rockets just looked like dicks which, I think, is against the spirit of this post. Next time I leave the planet I’m leaving in a vulva-shaped ship.)

But here are the facts: This law doesn’t protect corporations from having to provide other medical care that they feel is against their religion. Companies run by Jehovah’s Witnesses are still forced to provide blood transfusions, Christian Scientists are still required to provide for vaccinations. If this was actually about protecting religion, this would cover all medical-related things that all religions avoid. But it doesn’t. Because it’s not about religion.

This law also continues to provide for such medically unnecessary things such as Viagra or a penis pump. It is literally only the things that apply to women that are included in this. Go ahead. Tell me how we don’t need feminism. Tell me how this isn’t misogynistic. Go ahead and tell me how women receive equal rights. Say it. I dare you. This is nothing but means to control women. Why the hell else would someone ever care what I do with my own body?

This is a Woman

Flames. Flames on the sides of my face.

So I am not writing about this myself right now. Partly because I’m basically like Mrs. White in that one scene from Clue on this subject this week. Instead I’ve been sharing my favorite things that come across my various feeds on TIAW’s Facebook page, and on TIAW’s Tumblr. In an unrelated (except that it involves the patriarchy and sexism) issue I wrote this in my journal last night:

I am SO VERY STABBY about the patriarchy that I sort of want to grab a torch and just walk screaming and chanting down the street as more and more pissed-off women join with their torches until we become an angry mob marching all the way to actual Washing DC where Michelle Obama and her girls will grab torches and join us. And people actually have to listen to us because we are, in fact, more than half of the population and I guarantee you that when we all join forces we will be one big flaming mass of reckoning. And then we will drop all of our torches and will physically dismantle the patriarchy with our bare hands while screaming obscenities at the misogynists, cowering in fear in their rightful place in the corner.

Like. I want to LOSE MY ACTUAL SHIT over the patriarchy right now, I am so mad. And it makes me more mad to think that people will just write it off as feminazi shit, or “chicks are crazy, man.”

So I saw this article. And it’s a good one. But the title. The title. I am going to make myself a shirt that says “Furious Feminist” and wear it proudly and any time someone tries to brush off my rightful anger as “crazy” I’ll be all HELL YES I’M CRAZY WITH MOTHERFUCKING ANGER, YOU MISOGYNIST PIG. And any time someone tries to brush off my rightful anger by saying I’m “just an angry feminist” I’ll be all HELL NO YOU GOT IT WRONG, ASSMASK, I’M MOTHERFUCKING FURIOUS.

This is a Woman

Tips for Dads: Don’t Marry Your Daughters

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PLEASE READ THIS CAREFULLY: Sometimes I forget that the internet is a vast place comprised of many people. I wrote this post yesterday quickly and only after having discussed it with people who pick apart the various levels of society’s collective psyche in the same way that I do. So to clarify, keep in mind the following as you read.
1. I am in NO WAY AT ALL unsympathetic to this family’s struggle and grief. I feel strongly for them. I guess that aspect of the story is so obvious to me that I did not specifically mention it in this piece I’ve written. My sympathy for them is very real and not at all related to how I feel about this particular action.
2. I do not believe that they consciously intended this to be possibly psychologically damaging for their child. This is something I actually did state in the article, but apparently it needs to be clarified up here at the top. I believe they were aiming for something beautiful. What I am picking apart here is not the family’s intentions, but the fact that such a thing isn’t considered problematic in our society at all. I am not writing this to attack anyone. I am writing this to try to expose a societal problem that we need to all be conscious of. The more we become conscious of things like this the sooner we will reach true gender equality.
3. This is written with my own personal brand of insightful snark. If you have a hard time with snark, don’t bother reading this.

Okay. Now you may begin.

So there’s this story in the news today about a father, dying of cancer, who wants to walk his daughter down the aisle before he dies. It sounds lovely until you get to the part about how his daughter is only 11 years old, was never asked about this (it was a birthday surprise), and that they modeled this after an actual wedding complete with rings and a lacy wedding dress.

It’s reminiscent of those purity balls (heh. balls), where a father signs a pledge to act as his daughter’s protector “in the area of purity”. (The creator of this pledge swears it’s not about his daughter’s vagina, but I’m betting it’s not NOT about his daughter’s vagina, you know. Like. I’m willing to bet that her being pure of intent but sexually liberal is probably not okay. Therefore? TOTALLY ABOUT HIS DAUGHTER’S VAGINA.) In the instance of purity balls, it’s a disturbing trend not only because it’s disturbing, but because it encompasses an entire community. Yet that community is relatively separate from the rest of our society, at least in this habit. Those who are not of this ultra-conservative mindset look on these people as kinda wacky, to be honest. The majority of the world tends to see it for as fucked-up as it is.

And perhaps the father of this 11 year old was really entirely innocent in his own desires here. I can believe it. Sometimes we’re merely products of the fucked world we live in. It depends on how deeply you want to dig into the psyche of what’s really going on here. And, I assure you that I always want to dig as deeply into the psyche of shit as I can. And, frankly, this should be everyone’s goal – how else can we solve societal problems if we don’t try to understand their many layers?

On the surface of this situation, we want to believe the father is honestly just trying to share a beautiful moment with his daughter. And that’s a lovely sentiment that I can get behind. I think, perhaps, a letter written to her to be shared at her future wedding or other life-event might have been vastly more appropriate, though.

It’s irrelevant, though. No matter how sincere the intent, the world we live in is fucked up and even if he doesn’t realize it, what he is actually saying is not only that his daughter MUST marry (he’s not really giving her the option of how she will choose to live her adult life) but also that women are the property of the men around them and, in absence of a husband, a father will be the owner. If you check out the clip linked in this Jezebel article on purity balls (haha. balls), you’ll see the creator explain that the point of the purity ball is to teach daughters “how they should expect to be treated by men.” So, in this case, a literal child is told she’s going to pretend-marry her father without any consent on her part (it’s all planned ahead of time – even if she LOVED the idea, I argue that it’s without her consent). Is that how he wants a future man to treat his child? I’m guessing no. Probably because he considers her his property and doesn’t want another man controlling his property. But that’s just my guess.

Quite the opposite of how the majority of the world sees purity balls, in this story, this one incident involving the 11 year old, anyone questioning the appropriateness of the ceremony is considered to be the pervert. Just read the comments on the Facebook page where I originally found the article. This disturbs me because not only are we doing this thing to girls, but now society is not only supporting it, but we are also condemning anyone who questions it. Ew.

Further, this wasn’t about creating a lasting memory for HER, this was about what HE wanted. While I do think it’s important to do things for parents in the sense of creating memories and supporting them as people and in their parenting roles, the very point of being a parent is to raise people. We don’t have children for our benefit. That’s why we get pets. If you want a dog, get a dog. If you want to create a new person in the hopes of leaving this world in the hands of a competent and amazing new generation of people, have a child. This “wedding” isn’t just a nice, sentimental thing for her, this is his selfish desires warping her psyche. Even with the VERY BEST of intentions. As the creator of the purity ball says about 607 times in the above linked clip, “this is about fathers.”

Dads? Dont marry your daughters, okay? Instead consider treating them as though they are humans capable of intelligent thought and real feelings. And with that plan I bet you’ll get a pure-of-intent adult daughter and you’ll never have to pretend not to laugh when you hear the phrase “purity balls.” It’s basically win-win.

Lady Links, This is a Woman

Lady Links 3.6

The clouds stop here.
this photo came out extra hipster so pretend it’s really, really motivational

I’m not gonna make excuses for why I haven’t posted one of these in like 100 years. I’m not gonna make excuses for why I haven’t posted one of these in like 100 years. I’m not gonna make excuses for why I haven’t posted one of these in like 100 years. I’m not gonna make excuses for why I haven’t posted one of these in like 100 years.

~TIAW on Pinterest and Tumblr.

The Bullshit:
~Get your barf bag ready because WHAT THE FUCK, MASSACHUSETTS? Update: Not everyone in MA is living in the dark ages.
~The story of one abusive relationship.

The Awesome:
~This guy basically let his life nearly completely fall apart in order to improve the lives of Indian women.
~Nicki Minaj being basically gorgeous, even straight out of the shower without any makeup.
~Buzzfeed asked Kevin Spacey the same questions women usually get asked and he is baffled.
~At some point Cracked became the new educational source online and Buzzfeed seems to be the new feminist one. I’m not sure what’s happening to the world, but I might be okay with it. Five things more likely to happen to you than being falsely accused of rape.

Lady Links, This is a Woman

Lady Links 1.24

field o' daisies
an unrelated picture of flowers for you

~TIAW on Tumblr and Pinterest.
~”But this also hints that as much as self-proclaimed progressives wantto exist in a world where looks don’t matter to the point where they can be ignored, they still matter.”
~If you haven’t seen this yet, you really need to see this.
~Here’s a thought – let’s stop picking other women’s choices apart and just support everyone. LOVE.
~This is a beautifully done music video which shows that people on screen are not always what they seem.
~Speaking of retouching photos and video, you absolutely need to click on this link. Just make sure you aren’t drinking anything while you read through it because the hilarity will make you spit your drink all over you computer

This is a Woman

Talking Sexism at the Home Depot. Like You Do.

The other day I was at Home Depot in line behind two kids buying candy bars (which was… weird. I mean. In my day we bought our candy bars at 7-11). A little girl, about eight, paid for the candy for herself and her older brother. I don’t really know what was going on because, I mean, lots of reasons. Because I was thinking about my own purchases (sadly candy-free), because I am notoriously oblivious, and because it’s really none of my business. I guess I assumed a parent had given her some money for her to share with her brother and planned to meet the kids just beyond the entrance.

It was the cashier’s comment that caught my attention.

“When you’re older, promise to never pay for a boy again, ok?”

Like. What?

It’s this weird sexualization of children, I think, that bothered me more than the sexism itself – although I hadn’t dug that deep quite that quickly. I just knew the whole thing felt inappropriate to me.

Inappropriate? Yep.

It’s not appropriate to make every thing a child does about their future sexuality. It’s not appropriate to make blanket demands of a little girl about what kind of woman she should be once she’s grown. I know the cashier didn’t mean it that way and I know that so many people every day make comments like that with completely innocent intent. And that’s the problem, really. That we are conditioned by society to think that something dark is innocent, and then we, in turn, condition the next generation. It’s the building blocks of the patriarchy.

And to be clear here I am not saying that it is sexist for a woman to allow a man to pay. I’m not saying she should always or even sometimes pay. I don’t know. I don’t give a shit what people do. I can’t make rules like that because every person and situation is so different. A wise friend once, in giving me step-by-step dating instructions (because sometimes 30-somethings need that sort of thing), told me that it’s generally best, in the beginning of the relationship at the very least to just follow social tradition and expect that the man will pay. That makes total sense. So, you see, I am not, in any way, against women allowing men to pay for dates or candy at the Home Depot.

But to tell a child who you don’t even know that there is just one way that things are done – to make her promise to follow that particular social norm – feels wrong to me. To assume that the things she is doing today are ultimately leading up to a romantic encounter at some point years from now is gross on every possible level. We are so used to doing this sort of thing that we don’t even see what it is that we are doing. Because the sexualization of children isn’t limited to the obvious. It’s not just t-shirts for kindergarteners that say “FLIRT” across them. Every time we align a child with an adult’s sexual role, we are sexualizing the child. Every time you make a comment about a toddler having a boyfriend, or how a baby boy is going to break girls’ hearts someday, you are making adult comments about a not-yet-sexually-mature person. This girl at Home Depot wasn’t on a date. This girl didn’t even have boobs yet. She was wearing a bright yellow summer shift dress with her hair up in a ponytail – she could not have looked more eight-years-old if she’d tried. As she and her brother left he asked her what the cashier said and the girl grinned and told him, “I’m not allowed to pay for boys ever again.”

I was going to just let the whole thing go because, honestly, I can’t police the entire world. Even though I’d be really, really good at it, I just can’t tell everyone how to live and then make sure that they follow my rules. But the cashier dragged me into it.

“Don’t you think so, though? That she should never pay for a man?”

“Uh. Well. I guess I just don’t think we should reinforce gender roles in kids.”

You guys. I have social anxiety. I scored a 92 on this test. It’s really hard for me to talk to people I don’t know, let alone have opinions at them. But I was being asked a direct question and I couldn’t just pretend to agree because I am just as physically incapable of being inauthentic in that way as I am physically incapable of making small talk. This is me. I can’t talk about the damn weather if you paid me, but I will get directly into a deep discussion on sexism and gender expectations for children within five minutes of seeing you for the first time ever. I might be shaking and unable to make eye contact, but we will have this conversation.

Thank god I’m cute.

Then the lady told me – I swear I am not making this up – “It’s not like I told her to not be a lesbian or anything.”

I blinked. I tried to connect the dots. I blinked some more. What?

“I didn’t think you were,” I said. “It just reminds me a little bit of when my daughter broke her tooth last summer and the dentist told her that girls can’t skateboard.”

That pushed a button. “It’s nothing like that!”

“It kinda is, though. I just don’t think we should make blanket statements based only on her gender for her entire life right now.”

And at that point the cashier totally switched gears. I don’t know if she actually meant it when she told me that I was right and she just hadn’t looked at it that way or if she’d made a decision to let the crazy feminazi think she’d converted a sexist-heathen to the flock so she could get on with her day of selling lumber and Snickers. I’d love to believe I’d had some impact on how she sees things, but I just really don’t know that people are that willing to change viewpoints that quickly for someone they’ve never even met.

What are your thoughts on this? How would you feel if someone told your daughter something like that? Would it bother you or would you feel comfortable with it? Do you feel like it’s part of sexualizing children, or is it strictly a gender role comment?