Somebody else’s boyfriend once told me that I scare him, and my eyelashes were salty for weeks thereafter. I was fourteen. I don’t remember what I did to provoke those words; it may have been something disreputable, or not. But I remember that he said them with a judge’s inflection. That with these words he thought he could make me believe I was not only unattractive, but scary, and the very enemy to all things attractive. It was supposed to ruin me, and, for a time, it did. (Now, four years, later, I know that I am much better suited to be someone’s worst nightmare than someone’s manic pixie dream girl).
Everybody’s got something to say about my mother. That she’s “very comfortable in her own strength” is one of the more popular assessments. (A tactful, if ineloquent, way of saying “your mother scares me”). Now, whatever gripes I may have about my mother, as daughters tend to have, her brazenness is certainly not one of them:
She implemented a household ban on bad grammar when I was still a toddler, and has not lifted it since. She asserted that I was beautiful until I learnt it by heart. She raised me on morality and make-believe; on comity and comedy. On ambition and zeal. On self-respect. Why is brazenness a flaw in a woman?
Let’s take this to the bible. The Book of Esther condemns Queen Vashti. Why condemn Vashti? She who stood her ground and would not dance naked for King Ahasuerus? In doing so, she stood up for all women as Esther stood up for all Jews!
Does our solidarity scare you?
Good. Because the day you approve of me, I’ve got a lot to reassess.
Unpretty (A Personal Manifesta)
Why I am swearing off of makeup:
1. I will not buy into a culture that oppresses me.
2. I will not buy into a culture that tells me I am not good enough; I will not support an industry that thrives on my insecurity.
3. I will not advertise such an industry on my face.
4. Men don’t hide their flaws; why should I?
5. It is not my responsibility to be pretty.
On Women’s Rights: Yeah, Yeah, Blah, Blah, Blah. Whatever.
On Women’s Rights: Yeah, Yeah, Blah, Blah. Whatever.
Last week, I was having a conversation with friend, when she made mention of a mutual friend, who has been generally very supportive of my writing about women. She shared with me that he saw my writing and advocacy on behalf of women as an “overreaction,” that I was overly emotional about it and that my views on what women really face in our culture is overblown.
As much as I may be frustrated by my friend’s opinion and angered that he is so dismissive of what women face, as a man, I don’t deal with the same kind of dismissal that women are subject to.
In their case it’s personal.
Women who attempt to address or discuss concerns they have with the men who claim to love them too often get a wave of the hand, and hear “Yeah yeah, women’s rights, it’s important, I know, whatever.”
Why is the discussion about gender inequality such an inconvenient and annoying bore to men, especially socially progressive men who would otherwise advocate on behalf of any other oppressed group or population?
Some men seem to believe that gender issues are no longer relevant because most of us are looking at the man/woman balance in terms of statistics, anecdotes, and governmental change.
I see one central problem as connected with the men who are fundamentally good, but who pretend as if there is no major gender imbalance. These men, like my friend, when asked if women deserve equality, resoundingly respond “yes.” But when they are put in a position to support the women in their lives or when they are put in a place where they can directly react to discrimination, they lack any sort of action or assertion, or worst yet, they only offer dismissal.
These men may see this dismissal as a matter of opinion-almost as if a political issue is being discussed. But in reality, in that moment, they are committing wholesale dismissal of these women. They are failing to show empathy for the unique experience of all women and for the women in their lives, in particular. They are deciding what is valid based on the lens that feels most comfortable to them: one of male comfort and privilege.
Listening To Chris Brown: An Offense To All Women
Listening To Chris Brown: An Offense To All Women
At a holiday party this year, I noticed an R. Kelly song playing on my friend’s iPod. I looked at two of my (male) friends who were standing nearby and asked, “You guys are listening to R. Kelly?”
One of them responded, “Yeah, so what?”
“I separate the music from the person,” the same friend said.
“Oh god-I’m sure you listen to Chris Brown too,” I said with frustration in my voice.
My other friend chimed in and confirmed, defiantly, “Yeah! I do.”
But, I (and all of us), must draw the line at supporting and enriching men who are pedophiles, in Kelly’s case, and virtually unrepentant domestic abusers in the case of Brown, Sheen, and Gibson. There is a difference between an artist who makes mistakes and an artist who abuses women (or men) and lacks any sense of remorse.
For me, this is ultimately about one question: how can men and women stand by and separate what happened to women like Rihanna, from the women in our own lives? We shouldn’t. In our culture, we tend to compartmentalize the trauma others face as a coping mechanism of sorts. It’s a way to shield ourselves from their pain, and also a way to avoid having to help or being held accountable for not helping.