Posts Tagged ‘feminism’

Can a get a quick heck yeah!?

 

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For the longest time, and likely right now, I thought communicating with my partner would take away something from our relationship.  Surely, if he truly loved and understood me, he could interpret my change in breathing, or remember what I wanted for Christmas, or actually empty the dishwasher.  If I were to say something out loud, I thought it meant we were no longer in love.

Truthfully, this is baloney.

And just as truthfully, in past (younger) relationships, I didn’t believe my partner was doing something because he actually wanted to…just doing it because I had asked, which took something away from the action.

Again, baloney.

The goal of communicating within a relationship is to increase your cooperation, happiness, and respect for each other.  Oh, and to get what you want, and make sure your relationship gets what it needs to be healthy.  If you’ve got a problem, the goal is to get the problem solved.  It doesn’t really matter if a partner really wants to empty the dishwasher, or if he/she is just doing that to make you happy – the dishwasher is still empty.   Problem solved.

My favorite sexual feminist issue is consent (read about it here!), and I have come to suspect our distrust and misuse of consent is centered around the same preconceptions I used to have about communication.  Surely, we think, if I tell my partner to do something differently, or that I don’t like that position, or that I’d rather not have sex right now, then I won’t be able to enjoy anything ever again and our love is over and this sex is no longer sexy.

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Let’s pump the brakes on this, yes?

So many issues can be avoided if we’d just talk to each other!  And the worst song offender I’ve found, a song that totally centers the idea of acting without actually talking to the person you’re interested in, is this gem by pop rock stalwarts Weezer (lyrics here)…except the idea is that he says it out loud.  Great job, Rivers!

Ryan Gosling knows.  #bonusGIF

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Since this isn’t a blog based on diagnosis, but more commentary and information, we won’t spend too much time talking about the validity of psychological diagnoses as a whole (though there are some incredible debates and thinkers who are great folks to follow).  However, I want to briefly touch on Delusional Disorder, the erotomanic type.

Delusions are thought processes and beliefs that do not fit with reality, and persist despite evidence that they’re untrue.  In the erotomanic type, (cribbed from the DSM-V), “the central theme of the delusion is that another person is in love with the individual.”

This is a terrifying concept, and one I think we often see represented in popular media.  One of my favorite bands, and one of the most problematic punk bands around, is Masked Intruder.  Many of their songs concern stalking and threats of bodily harm, and serve as great examples of how delusions form and have negative effects on the object of the delusion.  Imagine telling someone to get lost, and they don’t leave you alone. 

(There is also a terrific cultural argument to be made here, that men often disregard the rejection of women and continue to believe a woman is interested, despite clear evidence to the contrary, and get angry when the rejection continues.  Often, women are killed after rejecting men’s advances.  Coincidentally (surely), this is part of the criteria for Delusional Disorder.)

The song I’ve chosen, from the rich field of possibilities, is “Almost Like We’re Already in Love” (lyrics here).

Scary, right?!

Happy Fat Tuesday!

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Oh, what’s Fat Tuesday, you ask?  It’s traditionally the Tuesday right before the beginning of the Christian Lenten season, Ash Wednesday, built as a last indulgence before the fasting and self-denial of Lent kicks in.  Back in the day, it was a time when you ate lots of food before the last part of the winter fast (likely because food stores were getting low around this time).  It’s Mardi Gras.  It’s Shrove Tuesday.  It’s Paczki Day, if you live around some good Polish stock.  It’s the tops.

I was raised Lutheran, and although I am no longer religious, the traditions I grew up with still stick.  We always started the day with paczki (pączek the singular), which if you’ve never had one…probably go eat one, you’ll understand.  It’s like a delightful, fat, stuffed doughnut, usually filled with fruit fillings, custard, or creams.

This morning I picked up two dozen paczki for my office and classes, and for the first time, didn’t have an urge to eat one, just because they were in the car.

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Can you blame me?!

 

Lots of times, especially on holidays, it’s an expectation to eat or drink specific foods, merely because of the day or because they are part of the celebration (think turkey on Thanksgiving, egg nog at Christmas, green beer on St. Patrick’s Day), whether or not the food is something you enjoy, or feel you want.

Fundamental principles behind Inuitive Eating (my bible, how’s that for blasphemy) are to eat foods that are appealing, mostly eat foods with nutritional value, and to pay attention to internal cues of hunger and satiety.  Basic for those without disordered eating patterns, but like learning to live in an alien world for ED folks working toward recovery.

The greatest thing about intuitive eating, though, is their recognition that it is normal to not always pay attention to these cues.  Our environment, culture, and social world all interact with our patterns of eating, and these cues might differ from what our body’s trying to tell us.  Think about accepting a slice of pumpkin pie after Thanksgiving dinner, even though you’re stuffed, because your mom made it, and it’s expected to eat pie after dinner.

To eat intentionally means being aware of both sets of cues, both internal and external, then making a mindful decision about what you will put in your body.  It means not eating something just because it’s a certain day, but checking in with your body, and with your mind, determining your priorities and what’s important, then making your choice.

I don’t even like paczki very much, but eat one every year, because it’s tradition.  I’m sure you have times in your life when you’re pressured (or even just feel awkward saying no).

Also traditional is to “give up” something for Lent.  In Christian tradition, this mirrors Jesus’s trials in the desert for 40 days, ending on Easter Sunday.  Often, the first thing we think to give up is food we like.  Just like eating for non-mindful reasons, depriving ourselves of food/drink we enjoy can lead to disordered thinking/eating patterns later down the road.*

Simple denial (restriction, in ED terms) can make food loom large in our minds – it’s one of the reasons dieting is notoriously unsuccessful.  When we say we can’t eat something, it can lead to increased desire to eat that food, simply because it is forbidden.  It creates a huge cloud of feelings around it, and even shame if when we eventually do eat it…which, for those astute readers, is basically an eating disorder.  Food does not have moral value, and the food we choose does not reflect on our personhood or our moral value as people.

Enjoy your Fat Tuesday, if you celebrate it.  I hope you choose to enjoy it in mindful ways that honor your personhood and value.  Eat with intention.

And if you want a paczek, eat one intentionally!

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*Please refer to “The Underpants Rule” – you can do anything you want with your own body, including prioritizing weight loss, or health, or not!  This is not a list of what everyone should and should not do, just information and thoughts.

High heels break my heart.  High heels are always beyond beautiful to me, and all the shoes I see and like tend to have ridiculously high heels.  Iron Fist is my favorite guilty pleasure; they may be a bit Ed Hardy-ish, but MAN are they cute.

I mean…come on.

I am terrible at wearing high heels.  It takes lots of practice; there are hundreds (maybe thousands) of articles out there about how to walk properly in heels.  When I was friends with burlesque dancers, we used to practice walking around our city in high heels, and generally we’d be dead after about two blocks.  I have a vision of wearing heels to my high school graduation and being in tears by the end of the ceremony because the straps had bloodied my feet.

Heels have some nasty side effects, too.  They fucking hurt to wear – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  Many women wear

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heels so often their Achilles tendon shortens, and it becomes painful to wear flat shoes or go barefoot.   They change your gait, make you walk more slowly and move toe-heel rather than heel-toe.  It’s damaging to your knees, to your back, to your feet.  If you’re not sitting down for at least 5-10 minutes every hour in heels, you run the risk of nerve damage in your feet;  after a night out drinking in heels, my friend was forced to have surgery; the night ended in damage to the balls of her feet and almost necessitated the removal of two toes.

Still, I find myself hesitating every time I go to clean out my shoe collection.  Part of a professional presentation as a woman often includes high heel shoes.  I kid myself into thinking I might wear them out to dinner, or to a wedding (I won’t).  They’re sometimes the only way to fancy up a boring outfit. Plus…they’re so pretty.

While reading Bad Feminist, one of the lines that’s stuck in my mind is about high heels and purses.   To paraphrase author Roxane Gay, they’re pretty, but they were invented to slow women down.  I agree with it, and I hate it.

The high heel shoe has a long and storied history.  It’s been a symbol of societally enforced sexiness for hundreds of years.  After all, an impractical shoe ensures women are physically slower and mentally preoccupied (either with how great they look, finding a great pair of shoes, or with how much pain they’re in).

look at those boys!

I can’t think of many punk or hardcore bands where heels are present (with the fabulous exception of the New York Dolls).  It’s tough to skank around if you can hardly walk; it’s tough to keep your balance when you’re already balancing.  Punk, in my mind, after the 1970s, was mostly about function over fashion, rejecting societal norms and making that rejection a fundamental part of your presentation.  Viv Albertine talks in her autobiography about wearing boots with dresses after she and a friend were chased and assaulted by a gang.  It’s tough to run for your life in heels.

This morning I had a moment of sadness that I was opting for flats, after walking to my car at a snail’s pace in my favorite fancy pair of heels.  But for me, I’m reminding myself today I can walk quickly and function well.  That’s my tradeoff.  And my heel collection, well…maybe that will be a tradeoff soon too.

But not one without regrets.

I was fist pumping wildly while listening to NPR on my drive to work this morning; not a daily occurance.

This, basically.

Twitter has finally stepped up against the hateful misogyny to which it has turned a blind eye since it’s inception.  A press release was issued today.

Any picture or video of an “intimate nature” (this is sexts/naked pictures, for those without patience for euphemisms) that is posted without the consent of the person in the picture is now off-limits.  Here are the action steps:

  1. If you see a picture of you, you submit a complaint to Twitter.
  2. A team confirms it’s you in the picture (they say you “verify it’s you” not sure what that really means)
  3. Picture is blocked from public view
  4. The person who posted it has their account locked
    1. They now have the opportunity to prove you consented to have your naked form plastered around the internet
  5. If no proof of consent is found, the picture is removed permanently, the account is suspended permanently

I was also yelling YES! because this applies not only to boobies pictures, but also personal information (birth certificates, addresses, driver’s licenses etc) posted without your consent.

Is this a perfect solution?  Absolutely not.  But it’s important for a couple reasons.

First, I count this as a victory of feminist activism.  Revenge porn (when someone, usually an ex, posts private, intimate content without consent, generally to punish and shame) and doxxing (when personal information about someone who disagrees with you is posted online, and/or other really, really scary shit is done to intimidate and harass) has been the subject of countless essays, thought pieces, book chapters and online fights.  I’m SO GLAD it’s had an impact!  A company is actually having to change it’s policies.  It doesn’t matter (well, it does, but keep positive) that Twitter was dragging its feet and that this is an imperfect solution.  Now Reddit looks to be following suit.  This is a good step.

Second, it acknowledges these posts as real harassment that has a real effect on the (usually women) people who have their information posted.  On the radio, a domestic violence activist reminded listeners how compromising pictures/information can be used as a form of power and control, intimidation, and emotional abuse.  Maybe those in power positions will think twice before attacking on all fronts.  Maybe it will encourage a bit of self-control.  We can dream, yes?

Third, this is a step toward encouraging respect online.  It’s super easy (and psychologically inevitable) to be an asshole when you’re anonymous.  Now, maybe we can see a bit more accountability, some more understanding that these are actual people, actual women (and men) who have real lives and see real effects from online abuse.  Empathy, anyone?

Okay, no policy or rule or law will ever stop hateful behavior; only speech, time, understanding and empathy can do that.  But it’s a start.

Fist pump!

i had to get gas the other day.

shocking, i know.  i drive a car to work, mostly because i’m usually using my vehicle for work-related supply pickups, because i just got a new bike, and because i work in a crappy neighborhood.  and also, rain is always possible and i hate rain, amirite?

i went to a gas station in my neighborhood, where two different dudes called me baby while i was at the pump.  i walked in to pay, and said “excuse me” to the man coming out.  he said “that’s okay sexy, you go on wit your sexy little badass self.”  ugh.

stop telling women to smile

i’ve written about street harassment before, and how it raises up a bunch of conflict in me.  but i hate and have always hated being called baby or sexy in public.

for about three years i told everyone who called me baby that baby was not my name, and that this was inappropriate.  i’m tired.  i don’t like weighing the good done by telling someone to fuck off versus the vitriol and nastiness that comes my way when i don’t like “compliments.”

leave me the fuck alone.  get your gas, say excuse me like a human being, and be done.

I volunteered to work at the Motor City Pride festival this past weekend. I’ve always tried to go to LGBTQ events and I’ve been a frequent attendee of the Chicago pride parade; this was my first event in Detroit around these issues.  

I love pride events because they’re generally amazingly positive. People walk around with smiles on their face, dressed to the nines, dancing and talking and generally having good interactions with each other (that I have seen, anecdotally, in public, only in my experience). Instead of getting catcalled and feeling raked over by men, I get to just be friendly, with less overt sexual innuendo; when I’m approached by a woman, I rarely feel dirty, guilty or endangered if I (politely) turn her down.  

But this is an article about a t-shirt.

Before the event, there were some jarring happenings. My boyfriend told me I should reconsider volunteering “because someone might think you’re gay.” He also told me he was concerned that I might be targeted for violence because I was working at the Planned Parenthood table. After the event, I met friends for a drink; one of them kept expressing his amazement that there were many POC around “I thought these were just a white people thing, black people aren’t so gay.”  Whoa.

I’m a newbie to LGBTQ activism, and definitely coming from a place of privilege; I grew up in a middle class home, I’m white, cisgender and straight. It doesn’t get much more privileged than that. As such, I’ve been working on my understanding of how I can be an ally to the LGBTQ community without pushing an agenda I think people want, devaluating their experiences or making it all about me instead of about the community and people’s lived experiences. I work in mental health, and have members who identify all across the gender and sexuality spectrums. I’m lucky enough to call some LGBTQ folks good friends and colleagues.

Anyway, back to the point. I bought a shirt from Ally tees (www.allytees.com) at the event. I wore this shirt to work today. And it provoked a huge amount of angst and anxiety in me.

In Michigan, you can still get fired for being gay. I work with people who may have bad reactions if they misinterpret the shirt, but more importantly, I was concerned about them misinterpreting the shirt and rehearsing speeches about what being an ally is, speeches that started with “oh no, I’m not gay.” I work in a dangerous area, and thought hard about if I wanted to walk down the street wearing a shirt whose message started with the word “lesbian.”

It shouldn’t matter if someone thinks I’m a lesbian. Really, it shouldn’t. It shouldn’t be an issue for my workplace to walk around in a shirt with words like “queer” and “intersex” on it. But really, the issue is all I was doing was wearing a fucking t-shirt.

If I’m freaking out about a word on a shirt, that’s a function of my privilege. People are in danger of physical harm while walking hand in hand with the person they love. People stress about who to bring to a Christmas party because their boss might find out and they’d lose their job. People are devalued, dehumanized, shamed, blamed and attacked for being the people they are (which my own profession did not stop until the 1970s).

Naming who we are, in gender, sexual preference, and every other way we identify, is not dirty or something to be ashamed of. The people who are open and upfront all the time are brave in a way I can barely conceive, and those that aren’t have my empathy. If it is not easy to just walk around with a t-shirt on, can you imagine if the person you are is not “acceptable”?

Fuck this (cis)tem, man. Fuck the patriarchy. Most of all, fuck thinking our experiences are the only right ones, and other people should bow down to what we think is right.

Lesbian.

Gay.

Bisexual.

Trans*.

Queer.

Intersex.

Asexual.

Ally.

Lesbian.

Gay.

Bisexual.

Trans*.

Queer.

Intersex.

Asexual.

Ally.

The wonderful Brené Brown has recently released her newest book, Daring Greatly, which I am eagerly reading cover to cover.  As always, it sparks new motivation in me to continue analysis of all the messages we receive about worthiness.

Recently I’ve discovered part of my mental health involved not feeling worthy, or like a worthwhile person.  I think this is linked to our culture of achievement, the one that tells us we are what we do, the one that pushes us to believe what we do is never enough, the one that expects us to be perfect but not with effort, not with the work it takes to try and reach that (unattainable) level of “right.”

Weight loss is an obvious place we see this model writ large in our culture.  I’ve talked about the Biggest Loser, but it’s not only on reality television.  We hear it day in and day out, in tabloids, at our workplaces, at our gyms, with our families.  Almost without exception, it’s a congratulatory tone, praising willpower, praising the “finally made” decision to be thinner.

When one is faced with cultural values that do not fit with personal values, there are generally three big options.  You can ignore it, and pretend it isn’t there.  You can accept it, and strive to fit your values into the cultural framework.  You can reject it, creating values of your own (punk rock, amirite?  amirite, ladies?!).

The problem with creating your own unique value system is the kernel of positive focus in some of these cultural standards.  Achievement is a worthy goal – it’s at the top of the Maslow hierarchy of needs, it’s an essential part of Erikson’s developmental stages, and I know I personally feel validated and positive when I have concrete accomplishments to look at.  When my worth as a person is in question, because of failure or performing at a mediocre level, that becomes a problem.

If we’re only good for what we achieve, and weight loss is an achievement, no wonder we always feel worthless.  Most people who lose weight gain it back.  Adding healthy habits to a routine does not always add up to weight loss – our bodies are created to survive, and to hang on to fuel if there’s food scarcity.  Adding muscle can add to weight, or at least keep weight the same.

To be healthy and at a “non-ideal” weight is, in itself, vulnerable.  Constantly playing defense with the hours you exercise or the vegetables you eat does not lead to acceptance and peace – the need to prove yourself healthy can be discouraging, and keep that angry furnace alive and well.  Let’s start building up our shame resilience today; we know ourselves.  What other people know will always be incomplete and inaccurate.

this article was too good not to share.

my favorite quote:

What if it were seen as not just unacceptable, but also emasculating and           pathetic, to take an incoherently drunk girl up to your room, or to have sex with someone who was not fully and enthusiastically into it? If the social norm were that sex is not about “getting some” from women, but rather about having a great time with a partner who clearly desires you, most of the ability for campus rapists to operate would evaporate.

via @Feministing