society

OAKLAND

My hood.

I am a homeowner in the city of Oakland.

When we purchased our house in 2012, we knew that it had been broken into 3 times within the previous 6 months. The minute we heard our realtor reading the disclosure to us—he was also reading it for the first time—I thought, “Nope. No, no, no. No way.”

But it had been a long day and we were on a tight deadline, and we had so much to consider overall… So, tired and exasperated, I said, “You know what- email it to me so I can read through it more closely later and we’ll get back to you.”

I’ll never forget reading it later that night and thinking “this sounds more like a problem with the tenants rather than the actual neighborhood. Something seems fishy…”. We also cross-referenced this information by looking up police reports filed by people in the area for car break-ins, thefts, residential break-ins, etc.. There were maybe a couple of other car break-ins in the immediate area, but nothing else. It really just looked like there was something wrong with this house, i.e. these particular residents, rather than the neighborhood itself. It just didn’t seem representative of the area as a whole. So we bought the house.

Little did I know what I would soon learn in my first semester of law school—never make any assumptions. Just look at the facts. Nothing more, nothing less.

*sigh*

We moved in on the 28th of June and our anniversary was just a couple of days later. We celebrated by adopting ‘his & her’s’ puppies—two 20lb hound pups.

The day we brought them home

Just a couple of days later we were broken into. Around 9am. While my husband was home.

My car had been parked in the driveway, but I had left for school, and it turned out the back door had been left open with only the metal security door closed, but unlocked. And our wooden fence/side gate area didn’t have a lock on it yet either (just one of those latches you commonly see on a side gate to one’s yard). So two young men walked right into our yard, opened our back door, and proceeded to *try* to come into our house (presumably to steal stuff). However the back door leads into a laundry room where there is yet another door that leads into the rest of the house. Our two 20lb pups immediately took action—barking and barking and barking and barking. The two young men grabbed a couple of 2x4s from the laundry room (soon to be constructed into shelving for the new house) and tried to push our pups back with it, but the little 16 week old pups held fast.

Husband, who was still in bed, groggily thought they were making a commotion because I had come home, but he soon realized the commotion was coming from the back of the house, not the front. My tall, tattooed husband sprang out of bed, still in his boxers, walked into the kitchen where he saw the two 2x4s poking through the door, and slowly walked toward the door. He then yanked the door open and yelled, “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE.”

The two young boys bolted. Husband had clearly startled the shit out of them. They were probably expecting an empty house since my car had pulled out of the driveway only moments earlier. Husband said they couldn’t have been more than 17 or 18… 20 tops, but more than likely they were just teenagers.

He called the police, filed a report—feeling kind of shitty having to give the description “two young black males”—and we let all of our surrounding neighbors know what had happened.

Two things:

1. When Husband asked the officer what he recommended we do to increase our security, the OPD officer said “Well, we’re really not supposed to say this, but you should probably just get a gun.”

My husband and I are staunchly anti-gun. No thank you.

2. Upon talking to our neighbors we found out that everyone was stunned that someone had bought the house. It’s recent history was well-known, and furthermore, break-ins had been common in the area since around 2009/2010. (Gee, I wonder why…?) #economicmeltdown

So that was great to hear.

My hood again. Isn’t it cute?

Anyways, this happened when we first moved in and it’s been almost 2 years since without any issues except for the time one of our dogs got out, and the current issue of some decent-looking, yet insane, middle-aged man following my husband and I around just to harass us.

*Long story short: This man almost plowed into my mother-in-law’s car while she was taking us to the airport two weeks ago—he did not obey a stop sign and she was making a left turn. Husband gave him the middle finger. The guy ended up following us to the airport just to get out of his car and yell, “YOU GOT SOMETHING YOU WANNA SAY?!,” and try to take our picture. We got a picture of his license plate. Almost two weeks later this man somehow followed us to our HOUSE. As I was bringing in groceries, he stopped right in front of our house, made eye contact with Husband, then drove away. I called the police.

The issue of one of our dogs getting out was also a major concern for me. You see, I’m from Venice. (CA) When I was a kid I learned to always keep the car doors locked while you were in it because of car-jackings, and to keep a close eye on your dogs and people walking through your neighborhood because of a rash of dog poisonings. People just throwing rat bait or some shit over fences to kill dogs, for no apparent reason. In Oakland, I get to add to this the concern that someone may try to poison my dogs for an actual reason—to be able to break into my house and steal stuff. Not to mention, there is also the added concern of people stealing dogs to either use them for fighting, or as bait dogs. (Also, one neighbor claimed to have seen an almost full package of hot dogs right next to my fence the day my dog had gotten out—and right next to where he would have gotten out—so naturally that made me sick with worry) So, with all of that said, I really really really really worry about the safety of my dogs while living in Oakland. This was a nonissue in my former home of San Diego. Ah, how I miss the SoCal beach life sometimes… But I digress.

And now, the reason I’m telling you all of this…

As previously mentioned, my husband and I are homeowners. We actually have the privilege of owning a little piece of land and an actual house. It’s our property, our investment. We look forward to putting money into it, increasing it’s market value, and being a positive contributor to the overall economic growth of our little community. But it’s hard to stick with it—to stay here—with this kind of shit happening. And quite frankly, it makes me want to sell the place so we can take our investment money elsewhere.

Just yesterday Husband was talking to our next door neighbor who takes his dogs to the same nearby park we often take our dogs to, a short walk away from where we live. Apparently Neighbor was up there the other night when a lovely older lady was having a nighttime stroll and said, “yeah… this park didn’t used to be so nice. I once found a dead body up here. It’s much safer and nicer now, though, of course.” Apparently just then a ghettobird promptly appeared, shining a spotlight down on a house near them, and over the loudspeaker Neighbor heard something to the effect of “COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP. WE’VE GOT YOU SURROUNDED.” Add to this the fact that, believe it or not, I have never had to call 911 in my entire life, until living in Oakland. In just under two years I have called 911 five or six times now.

And so I repeat:

How are we—and other young professionals, and DINKs, and young families, and other perfectly nice people who just want to own property and live a nice, quiet, happy, secure life—supposed to want to buy property in Oakland and stay here? How are we supposed to contribute to the prosperity of this city’s economy if we are subjected to this madness? I suppose the answer lies, of course, in the question itself. Some of us have to stay here in order for the city to ever see it’s economy and community prosper. We 25-45 year olds are an essential component to just such a place thriving. But dammit, Oakland, why you gotta make it so hard…?

“Let’s Go Oakland” ?

 

 

 

Childless or Child-free?

Husband and I had an interesting conversation the other day that led us into a bit of a debate that ultimately left me with an itching, goading, thought-provoking question on my mind….

Are parents more capable of effecting change in the world via their parenting than those who do not have children?

Is one doomed to not affect as much change in the world as they could have, had they had children?

I was telling dear husband about this article the other day [in which the author argues for people to stop talking about appearance when approaching her daughter, as well as all people’s daughters] and in the ensuing discussion/debate about it, he began to postulate that one would effect more change via writing an article directed at parents about parenting, rather than writing a prescriptive article to all people everywhere about how they should, or should not, treat children they meet in day-to-day life. In his opinion, a more effective article would be one in which the author addresses parents about how to raise their own children (& henceforth, how their child will be), rather than trying to change how all other members of society think, act, etc.

This immediately caused within my brain a line of logic to spring forth that suggested that one would generally be able to effect more change in the world via their act of child-raising than would otherwise be possible if one didn’t have kids. Perhaps, as husband suggested (though he was really not suggesting this at all), the most effective mode of change in the world is found in parenting itself. Whereas I, as a writer, am merely addressing all members of society about society’s issues, perhaps to no avail at all. At least kids kind of have to listen to their parents, right? (Just kidding—even those of us without kids know—they’re totally not listening to you!) However, it is a fact that no single person, or medium, will influence them [children] more than their parents. Ipso facto, as my crazy brain was thinking, parenting is the ultimate way to potentially effect change in society (via raising that new little member of society—your child).

Now, I know that this is not at all what my beloved partner was actually saying. He was just speaking in terms of what kind of article would be most effective. But I couldn’t help but continue pondering the difference… Moms v. Non-moms, Parents v. DINKS, The Child-bearing v. The Child…less? (is it “Childless” or “Child-free”?)

***************

Anyone that knows me (or has followed this blog, at least) knows that I have long-held the belief that raising a child can be one of the most profoundly feminist acts of one’s life. Yet I’m not doing it. And I’m not necessarily “planning” on it either. Am I childless, or child-free? The latter term insinuates freedom, while the former, lack and loss. Which do other women in a position similar to myself refer to themselves as? (i.e. over the age of 30, married, and with multiple “furkids,” but no human ones)

And is there such a chasm of difference between the moms and non-moms? Once again, many other women in my “situation” are most likely familiar with such oft-heard phrases as, “Well, you don’t have kids, so…,” or “It’s a mom thing,” or my favorite,  ”When you have kids you’ll understand,” which implicitly states that I’m just generally expected to procreate, not to mention it also infers that unless I do have kids, I will never, ever, understand…

I think Caitlin Moran says it best in her book, How To Be A Woman, when she says:

“Men and women alike have convinced themselves of a dragging belief: that somehow women are incomplete without children. Not the simple biological “fact” that all living things are supposed to reproduce, and that your legacy on earth is the continuation of your DNA—but something more personal, insidious, and demeaning. As if a woman somehow remains a child herself until she has her own children—that she can only achieve “elder” status by dint of having produced someone younger. That there are lessons that motherhood can teach you that simply can’t be replicated elsewhere—and every other attempt at this wisdom and self-realization is a poor and shoddy second…

But I don’t think there’s a single lesson that motherhood has to offer that couldn’t be learned elsewhere.”

While I want to ask why it is that all people everywhere seem so interested in whether or not a woman plans on procreating (and let’s face it- this is a truly personal, serious decision)— coworkers, friends,  family, some who may be no more than a casual acquaintance won’t bat an eyelash at asking you, dear female reader, whether or not you plan on reproducing —I already know the answer. Reproduction is more than just one’s personal experience—it’s social reproduction. It’s about population control. It’s about environmentalism. It’s about your tax bracket. It’s about what kind of parent you will be, and what kind of child you have. It’s about sex, it’s about birth control, and it’s about childbirth. It’s about that highly politicized, most basic element of society, the family. Yes, it’s personal, but it is also political. For just one example of this, see here.

In spite of this, however, to borrow from writer Suzanne Moore, “having or not not having children should not define or divide women.” We are all women, nonetheless. We are all human beings nonetheless, and we are all ‘precarious’ in some way, living in this society and this world, dependent upon one another. No man, woman, or child exists in a vacuum exempt from one another.

Suzanne Moore also stated the following in her recent Guardian article:

“I fear that if we put all our eggs in the basket of motherhood, we are bound for disappointment. We must fully appreciate that those without kids subsidise those of us with them and contribute in myriad ways.”

“Some women without children need to “heal”. Some don’t. Some with children feel as existentially lonely as those without. Children are no guarantee of care in old age, or even company.”

“Having kids gives meaning to lives, but this is not the only way to have a meaningful and wonderful life…  If it takes a village to a raise a child then it is worth saying that those who reproduce and those who don’t do not live in separate villages. We are, in fact, next-door neighbors.”

I’m Growing My Mustache!

mustache

Just call me Mz. Money Mustache

 

This article isn’t about what you probably think it’s about. It’s about me…growing my mustache. Well, my “money mustache,” that is. You know—becoming a mustachian!

Towards the latter half of 2012 my now-husband (but at the time, boyfriend) started reading the afore-linked blog and it turned out to be one of the driving forces behind us getting hitched. Actually, it initially resulted in a highly unanticipated and, in my opinion, unwelcome turn in my husband—a total 180, as a matter of fact—with respect to money, and therefore lifestyle. I was not okay with this sudden and complete turnaround in his life perspective. You see, he used to be one of those people that thought things like, “what’s the point in saving all of your money for retirement if by the time you’re able to enjoy your money, you’re too old to do all the things you would have wanted?,” and “I understand wanting to save, but if it’s going to come at the cost of enjoying the present and having fun while you’re young, then really what’s the point?” I liked this philosophy. I agreed with this philosophy. But as I said— total 180. And if I wasn’t willing to do a 180 in the same direction, well then… I would be heading in the opposite direction, now, wouldn’t I? This was either going to mean the end of us as we knew it, or the beginning of a life-long [financial] commitment…

Mr. Money Mustache is the mustachian— the originator of this newfound ideology that my husband found so appealing—he’s “the freaky financial magician who retired along with a lovely wife at age 30 in order to start a family, as well as start living a great life.” How did he do this? Well, I suppose it all starts with recognizing the “Exploding Volcano of Wastefulness” that is the average consumer’s lifestyle. (He really has a way with words doesn’t he?) But that, of course, merely scratches the surface of his ideology and money management stratagems. Honestly, I’m not going to go into detail about all the financial strategy required for this kind of early retirement, but if your interest is piqued, and you think you may want to pursue just such a goal—click on either of the hyperlinks above and read his blog. I highly recommend it. I, however, was not so easily convinced when my husband first brought this plan to me…

 

 

The Deal: There would be no spending beyond basic needs such as:

  • mortgage
  • car insurance
  • gas
  • phone bill
  • internet
  • cable (only because we were in a contract)
  • food (and even there, there would be serious budgeting)

When he said he would even be eating less meat, and trying to eat more vegetarian, I knew this shit was for real.

The Payoff: Retiring in 10 years, at the tender age of 40.*

*except—as he said—he would still work enough hours at his job for us to keep our insurance.

Well, it’s been a year now, and boy have we saved/invested/accrued A LOT. And I am finally—probably just now, to be honest—adjusting.

Surprisingly, I think the best part about this whole life plan/shift in lifestyle is just that: the shift in lifestyle. No more going out to eat means lots of delicious, carefully crafted home cooked meals. No more movie theatre dates means curling up on the couch with wine, cheese and crackers instead. We’ve traded in Starbucks drinks for homemade coffees (which we do quite expertly with our french press and milk-foaming gadget). And instead of spending money on sporting events or other costly outings, we go to the library, hiking with our dogs, have game nights, and I just so happen to have a membership to an awesome museum here in Oakland that I received as a gift, so that’s free too! Not to mention, of course, we both still have full time jobs and personal projects to keep us individually busy as well.

Growing my mustache is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only will it bring my partner and I closer to retirement at a young age while making life richer in the process, but ultimately, it rests on a lifestyle more in line with my feminist principles. Less spending equals less consumption, which equals less waste, which means simpler living, and more of what actually matters in life. La Pura Vida. And I am actually doing it.

Now I just need to learn how to ride a bicycle…

 

 

 

 

 

You Might Be A Feminist If….

 

Recently, a friend showed me the following article from Glamour magazine titled,

The New Do: Calling Yourself a Feminist.”

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“I’m not a feminist—I hail men. I love men. I celebrate American male culture and beer and bars and muscle cars.” -Lady Gaga

 

According to this article, “the number of women who identify as feminists went up 12 percent from 2006 to 2012, according to a study by Ms. magazine in conjunction with Lake Research. The affiliation is especially strong among young women; a you.gov poll found that 42 percent of women under 30 call themselves feminists, the highest percentage of any age group.”

While I do, of course, think feminism is “catching fire” so to speak,  I also can’t help but think that perhaps my perspective is a little skewed on the subject due to my complete immersion in it. Of course I think feminism is catching on— I’m constantly reading about it via feminist articles written by other feminists. However, bias aside, I think that it’s hard to argue that it’s not resurfacing in a major way thanks to women like Michelle Rodriguez, Jennifer Lawrence, Lena Dunham, and now Beyonce.

Honestly, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

I’ll never understand why any woman wouldn’t want to call herself a feminist.

Okay, actually, I unfortunately can understand why— it is, no doubt, due to the extant influence of our nation’s sociopolitical backlash against feminism in the 1980s after all of the advancements that were made in its name throughout the 60s and 70s. But it’s 2013 now. Almost 2014 as a matter of fact! So can we please close the door already on all of this feminazi/ women wanting to dominate the world/ feminists hate men, bullshit?

And guess what, ladies….? Chances are— if you are not a woman who is experiencing/ suffering from self-loathing internalized oppression— you might be a feminist. And to all the boys and men out there: if you have a mother or sister, whom you love dearly and believe is deserving of all the same respect and rights afforded to men, you might be a feminist. Or perhaps you have daughter of your own, (heavens to Betsey—especially if you have a daughter of your own!) hopefully you are already, unknowingly, a feminist. Which is, in fact, absolutely possible, if not quite likely. (Also, see: John Legend.)

Point in fact—You Might Be A Feminist If…

  • If you think sexism is real, and it sucks, you might be a feminist.
  • If you know who Elizabeth Warren and Wendy Davis are—and you like them—you might be a feminist.
  • If you think gender roles are bullshit, you might be a feminist.
  • If you are aware of privilege in its myriad forms, you might be a feminist.
  • If you think women, the LGBTQ community, people of color, the disabled, and other marginalized groups of people are, well, marginalized, you might be a feminist.
  • If you are pro-choice, you might be a feminist.
  • If you know who Angela Davis and Alice Walker are—and you like them—you might be a feminist. (or a womanist)
  • If you know what biological determinism is, and you think it’s bullshit, you might be a feminist.
  • If you believe that women are the largest population of oppressed/subjugated people on this planet, and it ticks you off, you might be a feminist.
  • If you think the ubiquitous sexualization of girls and women for marketing and advertising purposes is disturbing and fucked up, you might be a feminist.
  • If you’ve ever taken a women’s and/or gender studies course, you might be a feminist.
  • If you believe in equal rights and opportunities, you just might be… a feminist.

American Horror Story: Holding a Mirror Up to Society

American Horror Story: Coven. Above: Madison Montgomery, played by Emma Roberts

**Spoiler Alert: Details from the season 3 premiere of AHS: Coven ahead***

AHS, or American Horror Story, Season 3 has a lot of self-proclaimed “feminist themes” contained within it, and after finally watching the season 3 opener the other night I can totally see what they mean.

Some of the real horror in the show is not so much exhibited via witchcraft or black magic, but rather, by way of the racism and sexism demonstrated throughout the series. Already, in this powerful first episode, the character of Madison Montgomery (played by Emma Roberts, pictured above) and her new witch cohort, Zoe, go to a frat party where Madison is drugged and raped by multiple frat brothers.

 

I think the following quote sums this up best:

“Madison is brutally date raped by several of the frat brothers, and we were forced to witness most of it from her drugged-out perspective. This is Horror Story. Any other series would have had Zoe bursting through the doors in the nick of time. Nope, not on Coven.”

 

I’m not gonna lie, it’s a pretty disturbing scene, and while it induced some serious cringing and nausea, I also couldn’t help but think of how trite this plot detail could sound to some. You know the story: Girl goes to frat party, girl gets roofied, girl gets raped. It’s disgusting how trite this sounds. Yet it’s trite because this shit actually happens. It’s not just a scene out of a show, or a movie— it’s Steubenville, Ohio, it’s Richmond, California, it’s the reality of many girls and women— it’s real life. Yet the show did such an amazing job of visually representing something that could sound so trite as so disgustingly, nauseatingly, horrific, I felt a deep sense of gratitude at the portrayal of it. It took something that could sound trite and made you see it for what it really is: appalling, sickening, gruesome, horrific.

It’s actually a positively galvanizing scene.

When I was 15, I was one of the weird goth/punk girls in high school and I was roofied and sexually assaulted by a football player. It sounds so cliche, right? Yeah, I know. Yet it actually happened. And it was anything but cliche. I was drugged. We were out and about in an outdoor mall and I woke up with kids just a couple years younger than me (around 13) slapping me awake, trying to feed me coffee, asking “Hey, are you okay? No, no, don’t close your eyes, keep em open, okay, stay awake. Are you okay?”

This shit happens.

And it’s not okay.

Perhaps we need a show like American Horror Story, holding up a mirror to our collective face in order to make us so violently repulsed by what we see so that we can begin to change it…

So once again, I, for one, am really glad that AHS put this scene in it’s show. It’s a shockingly powerful way to represent something very real that may end up seeming [sadly] cliched and commonplace due to it’s regrettable ubiquity. When representing rape within popular media there is a fine line between gratuitous content and content that serves a purpose, and I truly think that the galvanizing nature of this scene and it’s context was well-employed. If you’re not already watching this show, you totally should— especially if you’re a feminist. It’s some of the best subversive feminism out there in the mainstream media (not that there’s much to choose from).

“I Don’t Have To Tell You Things Are Bad, Everybody Knows Things Are Bad”

Last night, a friend of mine posted the following on Facebook:

“I want to say KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON. But I think that’s not very good advise [sic] for anyone right now.”

I immediately thought of this extraordinary scene from the Oscar-winning film, Network. The first episode of The Newsroom also reminded me of this notorious monologue. It just always seems to be relevant, no matter which decade we are in…

 

Book Review: BODIES by Susie Orbach

Single sentence synopsis: Bodies does for our visual culture (& our bodies), what The Omnivore’s Dilemma did for food.

And, as a matter of fact, just as The Omnivore’s Dilemma explores the disconnect between us and our food, so too does Orbach explore the disconnect between us and our bodies and its consequences.

Susie Orbach is a British psychoanalyst who has done much work for, and within, the feminist and women’s health communities, and this book is a social-psychological look at bodies, underpinned by the very feminist tenet that bodies are socially constructed and discursively materialized.

Ok, that’s a mouthful, I know, but let me explain: That is not to say that feminists are of the opinion that bodies magically materialize out of discourse, or are actually (i.e. literally) constructed limb by limb, organ by organ, out of “society.” This perspective merely holds (though there is nothing “mere” about it) that “a body…is inscribed and formed by the accretion of myriad small specific cultural practices… in certain respects, there has never been an altogether simple, “natural” body. There has only been a body that is shaped by its social and cultural designation.”

Did that help make any more sense to anyone? If not, perhaps this is a better explanation:

The point is that our very hand gestures, symbolic physical gestures, our facial expressions, our gender performativity, what we wear, how we speak , everything about the physical body— all of these material, physical aspects— are shaped by our social surroundings and cultural influences. This is what it means to say that the body is socially constructed and discursively materialized. In Orbach’s words, “Every gesture we make, the very way we move, our grace or lack of it, our physical confidence or unease, reflect both the country and local culture we have grown up in and the particular interpretation of our gestures that our mothers and those close to us have passed on.”

It is in this way that many feminists hold that there is actually no such thing as a “natural,” or “organic” body— because each body is informed, shaped, and defined within its particular social context. I think once you read the following descriptions of this book this may all make more sense… *spoiler alert: I cannot recommend this book enough*

Bodies is broken up into the following chapters:

  • Bodies In Our Time
  • Shaping The Body
  • Speaking Bodies
  • Bodies Real And Not So Real
  • And So To Sex
  • (&) What Are Bodies For?

She begins the first chapter by introducing us to Andrew, a case study of sorts. He wants to “do away” with his legs.

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I found this book in my local library, read this first page of the first chapter, and immediately checked it out and bolted home. It did not disappoint.

This first chapter is an examination of people “in the wrong bodies.” Whether it’s Andrew, who cannot feel whole unless he has rid himself of his legs, or Michaela, a prison inmate who wanted to be/ felt he was a woman. In these cases, “Biology and psychology had not melded as expected,” says Orbach.

She also proceeds to give a really great overview of the rest of the book in showing us why Bodies In Our Time is her starting point:

“Our bodies no longer make things… Our relations to the physical and physical work are shifting… Our bodies are and have become a form of work. The body is turning from being the means of production to the production itself.”

In her words, “an obsessive cultural focus on the body” has resulted in “the search for a body, disguised as preoccupation, health concern or moral endeavour. Almost everyone has  a rhetoric about trying to do right by their body which reveals a concern that the body is not at all right as it is…”

Chapter 2, Shaping The Body, is just as fascinating as the first chapter. It explores the hows and whys of the social physical world affecting an individual’s physicality. It’s about how one’s physical world/ physical upbringing can shape them, not just emotionally, but physically. There are some reeeeeally interesting case studies in this chapter, such as Victor, the boy raised by wild animals in France, found in 1799, as well Gina, a modern-day young girl who was moved from foster home to foster home. And don’t even get me started on her discussion of mirror neurons and how they play into all of this. It is insanely engrossing and does not require you to have a background in science in order to understand it (Lord knows I certainly don’t).

Speaking Bodies (Chapter 3) veers into a discussion of therapy itself, as well as the role the therapist plays. And, once again, there are a couple of very interesting case studies here.

Bodies Real And Not So Real ends up taking on a wealth of topics in addition to what I thought it would be about. Not only does she discuss avatars and computer-based relationships, but also, cosmetic surgery, dieting, pregnancy, the controversial French Artist, Orlan, and more. Did you know that, “Diets, it turns out, promote chaotic eating”? As a matter of fact, according to Orbach’s research, “Diets can cause people to gain weight. They are not a wise response to “overweight,” but are part of the destabilising of the ordinary processes of eating.” Furthermore, “overweight people who exercise have a lower mortality rate than thin people who do not. So [as Orbach postulates] one is led to wonder why thin has erroneously become the gold standard for health.” Another significant fact: “In 1995 the World Health Organisation, under pressure from the International Obesity Task Force, revised the BMI in such a way that 300,000 Americans who had previously thought they were “normal” weight woke up to find themselves reclassified. Brad Pitt and George Bush, for example, were now overweight… and George Clooney and Russell Crowe were obese.” And this is just the tip of the iceberg to this chapter alone. These are mere brushstrokes to the greater work she is painting with this book…

She begins the second to last chapter, And So To Sex, with an anecdote almost as galvanizing as the first story of the book (Andrew’s story), except, of course, this time it involves sex. I can’t help but think that this chapter should be read by every person on this planet that has sex. Maybe even those who don’t. But then again, I also think everyone should read this book. That’s just how much I loved it.

And finally, with What Are Bodies For?, she leaves us with the culmination of this work in its entirety. And it’s really relatable. I suppose that’s why I loved the book so much in the first place, and why I couldn’t help but think upon finishing it, “BY GOD, EVERY HUMAN BEING IN THIS COUNTRY NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK!” It’s relatable. It’s about all of us. It is pertinent to our very individual and collective existence.

If I haven’t succeeded in making you want to go out and read this 179 page book yet, I don’t know what else to say except that… it’s intriguing, insightful, possibly cathartic, significantly relevant, and ultimately, if you have a body, it’s about you.

Now isn’t that worth reading?