The most striking view I was indoctrinated with was that sex is something women “have,” but that they shouldn’t “give it away” too soon -– as though there’s only so much sex in any one woman, and sex is something she does for a man that necessarily requires losing something of herself, and so she should be really careful who she “gives” it to.
The prevailing societal brainwashing dictates that sexuality and sex “reduce” women, whereas men are merely innocent actors on the receiving end. By extension, our virginity or abstinence has a bearing on who we are as people — as good people or bad people, as nice women or bad women.
Women’s ability to be moral actors is wholly dependent on their sexuality. It is, honestly, insane.
Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing. But in its current incarnation it serves the interests of the powerful, rather than the powerless. Like so many other liberal concepts, when it exists in a society where substantive equality, as opposed to formal or legal equality, has yet to be achieved…it can be as oppressive as it is liberating. And if we don’t question this simplistic understanding we have of free speech as a society, we will continue to live in a society where it’s ok that women don’t have a voice – politically, publicly, and socially.
“Guaranteed to outrun patriarchy on race day.”
“I tried on a pair at the local mall and suddenly Texas Republicans started telling me what to do with my genitals.”
Long live Wendy Davis. Long live her sneakers.
Don’t Tell Your Graduate She’s Beautiful
Graduation season has triggered some memories for me, memories of sitting in my friend’s backyards as their parents toasted their futures and we lavished well wishes upon each other.
But specifically, I remember hearing time and again my female friends being complimented thusly: “You are such a beautiful, smart, talented young woman, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
I have one request for anyone with a graduating daughter/sister/friend—do not praise her appearance as the first thing in your toast. Don’t mention her appearance at all.
Teaching young women that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. By telling her that she is “beautiful, smart, talented” (and believe me, it is almost always said in that order), you are suggesting—if unconsciously—that it’s most important she not lose her looks. You are prizing her face and body above her accomplishments and hard work. In a world where over 50% of young women say they’d rather be hit by a truck than be fat, this mindset isn’t something that should be encouraged, especially at such memorable events.
Yes, I’m reblogging myself. Because it’s important this year, too.
Violence is one way to silence people, to deny their voice and their credibility, to assert your right to control over their right to exist. About three women a day are murdered by spouses or ex-spouses in this country. It’s one of the main causes of death in pregnant women in the US. At the heart of the struggle of feminism to give rape, date rape, marital rape, domestic violence, and workplace sexual harassment legal standing as crimes has been the necessity of making women credible and audible.
Rebecca Solnit, “The Problem with Men Explaining Things”
Fantastic article. This bit isn’t even the heart of it, but really stuck with me.
In response to the current state of my Ask box, no, I am not going to blog about “having it all.”
I have already discussed Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article enough IRL, and at the risk of sounding like a lazy feminist, I’m tired of talking about it (for now).
As far as Slaughter’s article goes, I think that it’s incredibly honest and her argument is sound. It’s obvious to me that many of the people writing so-called rebuttals did not actually take the time to finish her essay, or give her reasoning its due. Furthermore, most of the dissenters seem to take issue with the editorial slant rather than the article’s content. Yes, The Atlantic picked a crappy cover image, but the title was meant to be sensationalist.
I’m not saying I totally agree with Slaughter’s thesis, nor do I feel the need to pick it apart on the internet. However, I think it’s worth reading, and no matter your stance on the issue, the dialogue is important. The fact that we’re arguing about degrees of feminism, and about how we can (not “if we should”!) help women lead happy healthy lives…that’s already a beautiful thing.
Don’t underestimate how much antagonism there is toward women and how many people wish we could turn the clock back. One of the things people always say to you if you get upset is, don’t take it personally, but listen hard to what’s going on and, please, I beg you, take it personally. Understand: every attack on Hillary Clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you. Underneath almost all those attacks are the words: get back, get back to where you once belonged. When Elizabeth Dole pretends that she isn’t serious about her career, that is an attack on you. The acquittal of O.J. Simpson is an attack on you. Any move to limit abortion rights is an attack on you — whether or not you believe in abortion. The fact that Clarence Thomas is sitting on the Supreme Court today is an attack on you.
Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim. Because you don’t have the alibi my class had — this is one of the great achievements and mixed blessings you inherit: unlike us, you can’t say nobody told you there were other options. Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead. Twenty-five years from now, you won’t have as easy a time making excuses as my class did. You won’t be able to blame the deans, or the culture, or anyone else: you will have no one to blame but yourselves.
malindalo: I remember being sort of taken aback by her speech when I heard it on graduation day, because it wasn’t full of feel-good “you can do it” stuff. I was 21 at the time and hadn’t lived in the real world yet — not really. Now, at 37, I know exactly what she means. I’m sorry to hear today that she has died.
It’s all about how you have to look a certain way or else you’re worthless. You know when you look in the mirror, and you think, ‘Ugh, I’m so fat, I’m so old, I’m so ugly’, don’t you know that’s not your authentic self, but that is billions upon billions of dollars of advertising, magazines, movies, billboards, all geared to make you feel shitty about yourself so that you will take your hard-earned money and spend it on some turnaround cream that doesn’t turnaround shit.
When you don’t have self-esteem, you will hesitate before you do anything in your life. You will hesitate to go for the job you really wanna go for. You will hesitate to ask for a raise. You will hesitate to report a rape. You will hesitate to defend yourself when you are discriminated against because of your race, your sexuality, your size, your gender. You will hesitate to vote. You will hesitate to dream.
For us to have self-esteem is truly an act of revolution. And our revolution is long-overdue.
I just got served a Skinnygirl® Cocktails ad in some YouTube pre-roll, and now my face is stuck in an achy expression of disgust. (I have scoured the internet trying to find the commercial, but I’ve failed so far.)
It’s no secret that I hate gender-focused advertising on gender-neutral products. What I hear from this campaign is that if I’m not a wine or cocktail drinker, and if I’m not skinny, I am not a “lady.” When I think about the flip side of this idea they’re selling, I feel dumpy and gross, like no one’s ever going to love me and I’ll never achieve professional success. It’s a brand built on exploiting our insecurities as women, not on “understanding women,” as it claims.
If you’re not familiar with it, the Skinnygirl® line of products was launched by Real Housewives castmember Bethenny Frankel and also includes things like colon cleanse kits and makeup. (I am really at a loss to understand the whole makeup<—>skinny connection, but whatever.)
The so-called low-calorie line of vodkas, wines, and ready-made cocktails began shipping in May. I did some research, and the calorie savings in the cocktail mixes aren’t nearly enough to merit marketing them as “solutions.” And the calorie count in a glass of Skinnygirl® wine is exactly the same as a glass of most other wines: 100 calories.
I guess the root of my discomfort isn’t with this series of products, but in how it’s being marketed. I imagine you could launch a successful line of low-calorie cocktail mixes and wines that doesn’t speak down to its target audience, and also includes men. (See: Michelob Ultra)
The press release, aside from being full of terrible (yet hilarious) copywriting, panders shamelessly.
Skinnygirl® Cocktails, the brand that has re-energized the way women cocktail and define themselves, today is launching its all-new advertising campaign, “Drink Like A Lady”…
1. “cocktail” is not a verb
2. There is no way that women are redefining themselves because of this.
3. “Drink Like A Lady” is not cute and tongue-in-cheek, it’s insulting. I mean, really?? iff P(skinny)→Q(lady)? (I learned that stuff in math class—WHAT!)
“The Skinnygirl Cocktails’ new ‘Drink Like A Lady’ campaign is about understanding women. They know what they want, how they like it, and the art of socializing should be on their own terms. They’ve earned it!” says Bethenny Frankel, Skinnygirl Cocktails founder, entrepreneur and creative driver of the campaign. “This brand, and the new campaign, is about reinventing the art of cocktailing. This is only the beginning. Expect the unexpected.”
4. No. Just…no.
5. In what sense has the “art of socializing” been out of our control?
6. By “expect the unexpected,” you mean to expect a normal amount of calories, right?
“The Skinnygirl ‘Drink Like A Lady’ campaign is all about changing the way women think about socializing by rewriting the rules of cocktailing,” says Beam General Manager Deb Boyda, who oversees the company’s growth in vodkas, cognac and the Skinnygirl Cocktails line. “Skinnygirl consumers are smart, savvy and successful ladies who are leaders – not followers.”
7. I still have no idea what you are rewriting/reinventing, or what these previously held rules/terms of “cocktailing” were.
8. Congratulations. In one sentence, you’ve managed to define skinny-ness as a trait of successful, smart women, and suggested that your product is not to be trusted in the hands of fatties and introverts.
If Skinnygirl® has offended you for similar or even totally different reasons, I’d love to hear from you, you beautiful, perfect person. xo