women

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny…

Designer Jessica Rey implores for greater modesty from young women, asking the question [of the bikini], “Who says it has to be itsy bitsy?”

To this I say, “Maybe… I DO ?”

Her argument for greater modesty is underpinned by studies showing that men really do see women as objects the less they wear. However she is invoking the same logic used in arguments saying that if women and girls don’t want to be raped they shouldn’t wear short skirts. Feminism is about equality and choice. If I want to wear an itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini, I should be able to— without fear of some consequence such as sexual harassment or abuse.

Rey’s argument also ignores the existence of a woman’s own agency. To her own question, “who says it has to be itsy bitsy?,” she answers: everyone— “fashion designers, the media….”—everyone except the woman buying the bikini, that is. In this way, she completely fails to acknowledge a woman’s own agency.

But perhaps, Ms. Rey, it’s the WOMAN buying it who says so. I buy bikinis because I think they suit my particular body shape better than a full bathing suit, and, quite frankly, I find it more comfortable. Point in fact, I actually feel like a sausage stuffed into a casing in a full bathing suit. Hell, maybe I would actually look “better” in a full bathing suit rather than a bikini, but I just prefer letting my belly and hips hang out. It’s so freeing.

Quite frankly, Rey seems to be living in line with the misogynistic male gaze more than I do in my bikini, or perhaps any woman in her bikini for that matter. After all, she’s the one conforming to the very androcentrism behind her whole argument.

“Who says it has to be itsy bitsy?”

Me. And my freedom of choice, and my fashion sense, and my self-recognized agency. That’s who.

 

 

 

 

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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.”

PRETTY HURTS

In the now publicly-released video for “Pretty Hurts,” Beyonce makes a strong statement about girls, women, society, and standards of beauty. “Pretty Hurts” is about the pain many young girls and women face as they go through life absorbing the millions of messages from television, magazines, society as a whole, and sometimes even family members, telling them that their self-worth is tied to their looks. “Pretty Hurts” is about self-esteem, it’s about self-revelation, and it’s about reevaluating that socially-charged word to begin with—”pretty.”

Preach, Bey, preach….

“Pretty Hurts” by Beyonce

Mama said, you’re a pretty girl
What’s in your head it doesn’t matter
Brush your hair, fix your teeth
What you wear is all that matters

Just another stage
Pageant the pain away
This time I’m gonna take the crown
Without falling down, down

Pretty hurts
Shine the light on whatever’s worse
Perfection is the disease of a nation
Pretty hurts
Shine the light on whatever’s worse
Tryna fix something
But you can’t fix what you can’t see
It’s the soul that needs the surgery

Blonder hair, flat chest
TV says bigger is better
South beach, sugar free
Vogue says
Thinner is better

Just another stage
Pageant the pain away
This time I’m gonna take the crown
Without falling down, down, down

Pretty hurts
Shine the light on whatever’s worse
Perfection is the disease of a nation
Pretty hurts
Shine the light on whatever’s worse
Tryna fix something
But you can’t fix what you can’t see
It’s the soul that needs the surgery

Ain’t no doctor or therapeutic that can take the pain away
The pain’s inside
And nobody frees you from your body
It’s the soul that needs surgery
It’s my soul that needs surgery
Plastic smiles and denial can only take you so far
And you break when the paper signs you in the dark
You left a shattered mirror
And the shards of a beautiful girl

Pretty hurts
Shine the light on whatever’s worse
Perfection is the disease of a nation
Pretty hurts
Shine the light on whatever’s worse
Tryna fix something
But you can’t fix what you can’t see
It’s the soul that needs the surgery

When you’re alone all by yourself
And you’re lying in your bed
Reflection stares right into you
Are you happy with yourself
It’s just a way to masquerade
The illusion has been shed
Are you happy with yourself
Are you happy with yourself
Yes

Lyrics via metrolyrics

*This post was updated on 4/29/2014

What’s Your favorite Woody Allen Movie? [link]

What’s Your favorite Woody Allen Movie? [link]

An EXTREMELY Powerful Open Letter from Dylan Farrow

A must-read for all members of society.

*Trigger Warning*

 

“I didn’t know that I would be made to recount my story over and over again, to doctor after doctor, pushed to see if I’d admit I was lying as part of a legal battle I couldn’t possibly understand. At one point, my mother sat me down and told me that I wouldn’t be in trouble if I was lying – that I could take it all back. I couldn’t. It was all true. But sexual abuse claims against the powerful stall more easily. There were experts willing to attack my credibility. There were doctors willing to gaslight an abused child.”

Everyday Sexism

I NEED FEMINISM BECAUSE

The amazing folks over at Everyday Feminism have a running theme of posting photos comprised of people holding up signs that say “I need feminism because…,” with each person’s sign citing just one reason (albeit I’m sure there are more) they need feminism. Today I would like to share with all of you just a little sneak peek into that which fuels my feminist fire.

A.K.A.: #EverydaySexism

Below is just a sampling of that which I see on the daily— images, articles, tweets, etc.—which only further serve to ignite the STRIDENT FEMINIST within me.

Exhibit A: The Underrepresentation of Women Within Our Government

wherearethewomen

via @NancyPelosi

Currently, “99 women serve in the U.S. Congress. Twenty women serve in the Senate and 79 women serve in the House. The number of women in statewide elective executive posts is 75, while the proportion of women in state legislatures is 24.3 percent.” (See more stats taken from the Women In Elective Office 2014 Fact Sheet)

Exhibit B: Blatant Sexist Bullshit such as, “Girls With Short Hair Are Damaged” by King of the Morons 

(ok, I made up that moniker)

shorthair01

“Girls With Short Hair Are Damaged” By Tuthmosis

Which is brought to us by a website called returnofkings.com, whose “About” section I have copied and pasted* below:

About

Return Of Kings is a blog for heterosexual, masculine men. It’s meant for a small but vocal collection of men in America today who believe men should be masculine and women should be feminine.

ROK aims to usher the return of the masculine man in a world where masculinity is being increasingly punished and shamed in favor of creating an androgynous and politically-correct society that allows women to assert superiority and control over men. Sadly, yesterday’s masculinity is today’s misogyny. The site intends to be a safe space on the web for those men who don’t agree with the direction that Western culture is headed. Click here to send an email to the team.

Women and homosexuals are prohibited from commenting here. They will be immediately banned.

ROK Community Beliefs:

1. Men and women are genetically different, both physically and mentally. Sex roles evolved in all mammals. Humans are not exempt.

2. Women are sluts if they sleep around, but men are not. This fact is due to the biological differences between men and women.

3. Men will opt out of monogamy and reproduction if there are no incentives to engage in them.

4. Past traditions and rituals that evolved alongside humanity served a net benefit to the family unit.

5. Testosterone is the biological cause for masculinity. Environmental changes that reduce the hormone’s concentration in men will cause them to be weaker and more feminine.

6. A woman’s value is mainly determined by her fertility and beauty. A man’s value is mainly determined by his resources, intellect, and character.

7. Elimination of traditional gender roles and the promotion of unlimited mating choice in women unleashes their promiscuity and other negative behaviors that block family formation.

8. Socialism, feminism, and cultural Marxism cause societies to decline because they destroy the family unit, decrease the fertility rate, and require large entitlements that impoverish the state.

ROK is published by Roosh V.

Exhibit C: tea party propaganda

(And, no, I will not capitalize the “t” or “p” in tea party)

LIBERALS

I actually got to see this little gem due to a  FAMILY MEMBER posting it on Facebook. OH, GOODY.

For one, I couldn’t help but see this and think, “You are not making your party look any better with this crap, buddy. This is fallacious in so many ways. Why not attack actual policies that are currently in place, in a logical, rational way? That would make you and your party look so much better than spouting nonsense BS like this.” Then it also occurred to me how very insulting this actually is to any Jewish Liberals out there. THINK, Teabaggers, THINK! Way to offend the Jewish crowd by comparing Liberals to Nazis. I’m sure they and any Holocaust survivors really appreciate your poor analogy.

In any case, after much debate with said family member and their tea party friend, I finally ended my side of the debate with the following statements:

My objections to the above graphic are based on (but not limited to) the following logical fallacies:

  1. It analogizes current-day America to post WWI Germany, which is a highly inaccurate analogy due to the different economic, social, and political conditions of each country within their respective contexts.
  2. It equates Liberals with the Nazi party. Just one flaw in such an analogy between the two is the fact Liberals are for increased rights for the LGBTQ and Disabled communities, whereas the Nazis wanted such people rounded up and killed. Liberals are largely for a more egalitarian society with increased infrastructure and social programs whereas the Nazi Party was a dictatorship.
  3. It implicates a cause-effect relationship between stronger gun regulation and a fascist government takeover. England, even at the time that it was one of the Allies during WWII, had stronger gun regulation. yet it did not “follow Hitler’s lead,” nor does not today.

Exhibit D: Online Harassment

tumblr feminist art project

Lindsay Bottos’ “feminist art project”

The words on the above picture state:

I bet you’ve slept with half of baltimore. Your just an ugly slut with cheap ugly makeup and a shitty art school haircut. I hope you get an std and die, the world would be better without your ugly fucking face.

It is just one of many photos in a series Ms. Bottos has put together as a righteous fuck-you to all whom have thrown such insults at her on tumblr for no particular reason whatsoever. According to buzzfeed, “Since starting the Tumblr in 2010, she has received hundreds of cruel anonymous messages. Last week, she decided to turn the words of hate into a feminist art project; she screencapped some of the messages and posted them over pictures of herself.”

Online bullying, threats, and stalking are without a doubt a seriously gendered, feminist issue. After all, the majority of all such harassment—and I mean a LARGE majority of it—is aimed at women.

Just listen to what writer/journalist/heroine-of-mine, Amanda Hess, has to say on the subject:

“According to a 2005 report by the Pew Research Center, which has been tracking the online lives of Americans for more than a decade, women and men have been logging on in equal numbers since 2000, but the vilest communications are still disproportionately lobbed at women. We are more likely to report being stalked and harassed on the Internet—of the 3,787 people who reported harassing incidents from 2000 to 2012 to the volunteer organizationWorking to Halt Online Abuse, 72.5 percent were female.”

“The Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman draws a distinction between “tourists” and “vagabonds” in the modern economy. Privileged tourists move about the world “on purpose,” to seek “new experience” as “the joys of the familiar wear off.” Disempowered vagabonds relocate because they have to, pushed and pulled through mean streets where they could never hope to settle down. On the Internet, men are tourists and women are vagabonds.” (Excerpts taken from Amanda Hess’ Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet)

This is our world, folks. This is why I NEED feminism. In fact we all do.

Even John Legend says so.

john legend

“All men should be feminists.”

*Editor’s note: I have de-linked the two hyperlinks originally contained within this text, so as to not contribute any more traffic to their site. (and if you’re a woman you’re “not allowed” to comment on any of their articles anyway)

#FreeOurMidwives

midwife listening to belly

The following excerpts are taken from the CFAM website, a site dedicated to California Families for Access to Midwives:

 

“Yelena Kolodji and Kavita Noble are CA Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) who are being prosecuted. Their only alleged offense: failing to obtain physician supervision.

It is virtually impossible for midwives to obtain physician supervision for out-of-hospital births. California Families For Access to Midwives (CFAM) fought hard to remove this unnecessary requirement from law. Thanks to enormous consumer pressure, as of January 1, 2014, physician supervision will be a thing of the past for Licensed Midwives in California —  but not for CNMs.

While most CNMs practice in hospital settings where physician supervision is virtually automatic, the few CNMs who provide out-of-hospital maternity care are forced to practice illegally since physicians are unwilling and/or unable to supervise them.

Yelena and Kavita have been providing comprehensive care to pregnant mothers and newborns for more than a combined 40 years, and have caught a combined 2,000 babies in hospital, birth center, and home settings.”

———————–

“This case also raises the broader question: do mothers have a right to access the full range of maternity care services their providers are trained and skilled to deliver?

When two skilled, experienced, and appropriately licensed midwives are prosecuted for providing appropriate care that results in a healthy mother and healthy baby, it is a sign that something is wrong with the system.”

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“Please get involved in our efforts to support midwives Yelena and Kavita during this trying time by:

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The legal issue at hand is one of non-compliance with CA state law mandating physician supervision for CNMs. But what is the purpose of such a law? It’s mere existence infers that midwives are inept, or at best, not fully competent, to attend childbirth as autonomous medical professionals—as if they need an authoritarian medical professional overseeing them. Yet midwives are extensively trained in childbirth and perinatal care. If anything it’s the OBGYNs who are not trained well enough in the ways of natural childbirth and effective labor coaching.

Rules like this are in place for bureaucratic reasons—in the legal and financial interests of physicians—not in the interests of mother and baby’s health. It’s about insurance, it’s about money, it’s about fear of lawsuits. It’s not about the best birth outcomes.

 

For more information, check out my Sources:

 

who decides how she gives birth

 

 

 

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.”

IMG_5427

“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.