Category Archives: Beauty Ideal
Fuck you Disney Princesses. Out of all the things in my anti-feminist childhood, I have to say that I dislike you the most. Your perfect hair and submissive mannerisms were never the most sexist thing on the block, but you certainly were the most influential. Even though I found that I had a hard time relating to most of you, you still stood alongside Barbie as the most available commercial female role models. You were pretty, nice, and got to have magical adventures. You always fulfilled the things demanded of you by society eventually, and got together with a very charming handsome prince. Or at least you snagged a man who eventually became a prince or someone of equal importance.
To a hopelessly nerdy tom-boyish girl who related to books better than she related to girls and boys her age, you represented an ideal that I know I ought to meet, but found myself unable to. My hair was always too short, my figure too stocky, and the boys seemed to prefer girls more like you than like me. Since having a boyfriend was the best indication of social standing by the time I hit nine, I was equal parts envious and awe-stricken. I even dressed up as both Jasmine and Pocahontas several times each for Halloween, and lovingly kept the costumes even when I grew out of them. Today, I try to tell myself that at least I was unconsciously progressive enough as a child to choose the non-white and more rebellious princesses as my favorites, but the fact still remained that I looked up to you, the childhood scions of anti-feminist lore.
You taught me a lot of things; most of which were incredibly damaging. You taught me that it’s only appropriate to look up to men, and that all older women are inevitably evil, unless they are fairies. You taught me that mothers are useless, and better off dead, and that fathers are well-meaning tyrants that must be defied in small ways because they were understandably hesitant to hand over their power over you to another man.
You taught me that I must be nice to even the meanest of men, in case they were a prince and my kindness and resemblance to a door-mat could redeem them. If they were genuinely mean, I ought to know instinctively, or at least suffer silently until a prince rescued me. If I tried to rescue myself, I would inevitably end up in more trouble. You taught me that good girls always enjoy housework, caring for children, and sacrificing themselves for the sake of a man.
You taught me that that sacrificing myself for the sake of men may involve using my sexuality to seduce villains that I want absolutely nothing to do with, putting my life on the line, allowing myself to be imprisoned and abused, and giving up all the hobbies and talents that defined who I was. Those hobbies and talents didn’t really matter anyways, because they were only bargaining chips for snagging a prince, who cared more for my physical beauty then anything I was capable of or enjoyed doing.
You taught me that men knew better than me, even if they were abusive, angry, immature, and foolhardy. You taught me that the most important thing in a man is his legacy and royalty, his physical attractiveness, and his charm and wit. If he wasn’t royal, he must fake it, even if a show of material things didn’t really impress me. For a prince charming must buy me, even if I don’t wish to be bought. A proper man, you see, always pays for me, because women are objects.
You taught me that men go out and do things, and that I’m just there as a prize to be won or a silently suffering support system who is always waiting, never doing.
You taught me that I must wait for “true love” and never waste myself on short but enjoyable flings. True love was always the product of a simple kiss, by which I could determine the course of the rest of my life. You taught me that there was no divorce, no uncertainty, and no break-ups. A princess stays with one man, the first man, forever. You taught me that a whore moves on and does what she think is best for herself. A whore leaves a man who is abusive and angry instead of sacrificing her comfort and pride to turn him into a prince. You taught me that all men are redeemable by the charm of my physical beauty, naïve optimism, and willingness to put up with anything.
You taught me that if I somehow erred and found myself with a man who was not redeemable, it was because he was a villain that I must stay with until a true price comes and saves the day. If said prince never came, it was because I was not sufficiently beautiful and forgiving to the man I was with, and that if I tried harder, he would stop being so abusive. You taught me a that a good girl is never single, and never happy being single. Her entire life revolves around men and self-sacrificing relationships.
You taught me that good men will overlook me if I’m poor, too homely, or insufficiently wealthy. I must wait for someone to grant me with the material objects to fake being wealthy instead of seeking them myself. You taught me that if a prince only notices me if I doll myself up and meet his expectations of womanhood, that he isn’t a materialistic shallow jerk, but that I must follow certain rules and never question status-quo in order to be happy and taken seriously.
You taught me that men blinded by their incredibly lofty, but never wrong or shallow, standards for the opposite sex, and are therefore easily manipulated by the physical beauty of evil women, and thus that I must “save him” by being even more physically beautiful than them. You taught me that if I was richer or more beautiful than a man, that my wealth and power and standards of physical beauty were erroneous, and that I should be happy to marry a thief or someone cursed or disfigured. You taught me that I must meet his standards, whether he is a prince or a pauper, and that his standards are always right, and mine are always wrong.
You taught me that a princess is never gay, fat, anything less than absolutely stunning, or a tomboy out of anything other than desperation. You taught me that inter-racial relationships are only allowable if my prince is conquering or colonizing my hopelessly backwards and savage ethnicity; an ethnicity that is always somehow more sexist than his. You taught me that only then is it fine if I wish myself to be his “prize” for showing the savages the benevolence of the white man.
You taught me that good girls only marry for love, but somehow inexplicably only fall in love with conquerors, princes, and men who could suitably become royalty.
Disney princesses, you taught me a lot of things, but never how to be true to myself. You never taught me how to love my mother or have good female friends. You never taught me how to look up to anyone who didn’t have a penis. You never taught me how to be successful by not waiting for the heavens to open up and hand things to me because I was beautiful or because I existed only to make myself beautiful. You never taught me how to deal with what I was given instead of wishing for a man to save me and bring me back into line with the status-quo. You never taught me how to fall in love with someone I was actually attracted to or someone that was good for more than trying to save me when I was perfectly capable of saving myself. You never taught me how to say no to anyone. You never taught me how to watch my ass, protect my self-esteem, and judge standards for myself. You never taught me how to think for myself. You never taught me about things that mattered like politics, ethics, or anything else but fashion and a narrow definition of love. You never taught me to get out of tight spots by my own wit and force of will. You never taught me that my sexuality wasn’t a bargaining tool, a prize to be won, or the only thing about me that was worth two shits.
Out of all the things you didn’t teach me, you didn’t teach me that being a chubby bookish gay girl who didn’t take shit from anyone was perfectly okay. You did teach me, however, that I was a freak of nature. You taught me that I ought to put down the books, shut my mouth, and take up putting on makeup and doing laundry as my hobbies instead. You taught me that I should fumble my way through several ill-fated abusive or uncomfortable relationships with men instead of looking for love where I was endlessly more likely to find it. You taught me that my body was an unruly tool, and that by viciously controlling it with eating-disordered behaviors and self-hatred I might become a woman worth anything but scorn.
But you only succeeded in teaching me these things because you weren’t alone. You were a bullhorn in a room of sympathizers. There were healthier less damaging whispers around the outskirts, but you and the like-minded denounced them as social pariahs, sexual deviants, mentally disturbed, and political extremists. As a girl desperately just wanting to disappear and fit it, I never really had a chance. Neither, I gather, did the majority of my peers.
In short, fuck you Disney princesses. I will not pay to see your regressive movies, I will not look up to your flawless beauty-standard-compliant faces. Additionally, I will live my life telling everyone who will listen that we’ve got it all wrong. You and your clique of impossibly beautiful peers are the ones that ought to be silenced and ostracized. Not me, and not all those other beautiful and achingly real girls who desperately need to be heard and appreciated for how they are, not scorned for how they fail to be just like you: the perfectly useless, silent, submissive princess.
I have a very hard time taking compliments. Especially ones on my clothing or sense of fashion. As a “tweenie”, I consistently find myself too small to fill out plus size stores’ 14s, but too big to fit into the XLs at the stores at the mall. Naturally, I’m not a small woman weight wise. At 5’2” and 165 lbs, give or take, I haven’t been fashionably or even acceptably thin since I hit puberty or decided that eating properly was a good thing to do. So even today, there’s a small part of me that whispers that I don’t deserve compliments. See, I’m too fat to be pretty. Too fat to look good in my clothes. Too fat for anyone to want to date. Add in my aversion to makeup, hair dye, and basically all beauty products but soap and water, and you’ve got a recipe for self-loathing.
Oh yes, woe is me. Y’all probably want to play me the world’s tiniest violin now. I’m not so delusional to think that my body insecurity is all that original or exciting. In fact, it’s that my poor body image is so unremarkable, and so common, that makes me so very angry. Most women think like me. That’s what’s so terrible.
That anger, I know, isn’t healthy. But at least it isn’t shame and counting calories and skipping breakfast and feeling cleaner and more virtuous the emptier I feel. I think that’s all that I have left: anger or shame. There really isn’t anywhere else to turn. I mean, why should I even think that I deserve to shop in a brick and mortar store? After all, I’m so fat and lazy and unclean and undesirable. I think that, and I know that other people think that when I complain, so I get mad. Really mad. Spitting mad. I want to buy some fucking clothes, dammit, that fit me. Not people who look like I did at nine, except stretched to six feet. Skinny people need clothes too. But shit, for once I would like to walk into a store and grab something—anything—off the rack and know that if it doesn’t fit it’s because it’s a bad cut for my shape or I grabbed the wrong size. I hate knowing that the store doesn’t carry my size and that there is never going to be an empire-waisted breezy blouse, no matter how much I want one, that fits over my Rack of Doom™ because everyone just refuses to make, and market, and sell clothes to women like me.
Sometimes the anger makes me a bitter person. It’s the same virtuous self-destruction as the eating disordered behavior, just the other way around. I sneer at coworkers, their cheeks hollowed from self-starvation, as they pick at salads. Every forkful of my veal marsala rings with a peculiar sense of triumph. No, I’m not counting calories. No, I haven’t heard of the GI Diet. No, I want real sugar in my tea. No, I’m not going to bemoan the hideous gluttony of holiday meals. See that woman over there? Yeah, the one with the pencil skirt in a size 2, calves the size of my wrist. I bet she’s not as happy as me. I’ll cook some salmon now, in actual butter, to show you all how much I’m not like her. I don’t want to be like her.
Except that’s a lie. I really actually do want to be like the smiling hollow faces in fashion magazines. I want my clavicles to be a fashion statement. I want a flat stomach without red stretch marks and breasts that don’t require hideously large grandma bras and underwire that cuts into my armpits.
Sometimes, I want be a man. It must be nice to eat until you’re full, have a bit of a pouch, and still be just a regular Joe. It must be nice to hang with your friends and not have to listen to them talk about working out and losing weight and their fat thighs and counting calories at Christmas and dress sizes and how naughty beer is. Beer is like the staple of manliness. Shit, it must be fucking awesome to have a beer and everyone think that it makes you a swell dude. Fat chick with a dark lager doesn’t have the same connotation, I’m afraid.
Okay, so most of all, I want to feel good about myself in a culture that thinks I’m going to die at thirty from diabetes, single and surrounded by cats. Because I’m not going to die at thirty. I’m pretty sure of that. If I do, it’s going to be a freak accident, not doughnuts.
Most of all, I want to be able to take a damn compliment. I also want people who compliment me on my clothes to do so without the condescending, “wow, I said something nice to fat chick today for karma points” attitude. Because it’s not like I have the luxury of walking into a store and using ten minutes and my innate sense of style to put together something that looks good. It takes four or five stores, tons of self-loathing, the agony of shopping in public, three times more money (bargain clothes: only for skinny people), and four hours of alteration for that fab skirt you like on me. So compliment me on not giving up on fashion. Compliment me on putting up with shit that you don’t have to. Compliment me on finding time between being a full time law and philosophy student and a part time back-office retail clerk and studying and dealing with my crappy health to waste hours and hours on not looking like a trainwreck.
Because when you’re fat, looking like a trainwreck takes twice as long as it does for a skinny person to look good. So when you compliment me on my clothes, don’t do it because you feel sorry for me. Do it because I do look fabulous, thanks, and I’m a fucking saint for being able to take hours of my busy life find two breezy empire-waisted blouses in the fifth largest city in the country that fit me, whereas it would take you five minutes.
Just don’t expect me to be too happy about it. It’s kind of a poor conciliation prize to meet the standards of people who spend exponentially less time than myself on shopping and alterations because my body is too ugly to pollute their clothes racks. Yes, thanks for noticing that I spent obscene amounts of time on my appearance so that I don’t meet your standards for slovenly fat chick. Now, could you and your skinny brethren make some fucking clothes in my size?
There’s a whole shit-ton of important things going on the world right now, but I want to take a moment out and bitch about something else.
That something else being shoes. Heeled shoes in particular.
For those few readers who have missed previous posts on the subject of female beauty standards: I think they all suck. The fun feminist hit squad may chase after me with pitchforks for this: but the only reason that women do stupid things like slather chemicals on their faces, put flammable shit in their hair, and wear heeled shoes is because we are given some sort of limited power for doing so while being denied that power if we don’t. Fun feminists can swear up and down that the reason they wear heels and makeup is because it “makes them feel good” and it’s “empowering”, and I don’t buy it. Okay, so you feel empowered by hurting yourself. Congratulations. Welcome to the patriarchy, enjoy your stay. If we’re going to play the “I feel this way, which happens to be exactly in line with the patriarchy, because of my innate sense of fashion/empowerment/self-hood, not because of the rewards patriarchy gives me when I comply” game, I’m going to opt out.
Relax people, I’m not trying to take away your shoes, makeup, diets, and impractical clothing. I too do stupid things like put concealer on my face when my pimples dismay me, wear clunky jewelry instead of spending money on more useful things, and enjoy occasionally painting my nails. Of course, I am self-aware enough to realize that the entire reason that I do these things and make an effort to appear feminine in public, even though I don’t wear makeup, is because of cultural values that reward me when I comply, and castigate me when I don’t. Oh, and I’m not the kind of person that can just fuck cultural norms and walk around in a bikini with my flabby stomach, stretch marks, and white ass hanging out. I still carry a deep shame about my body. I am susceptible to praise and disapproving looks. I follow trends out of the corner of my eye and sometimes hypocritically find myself thinking “why is she wearing those shoes with those pants ohmygosh!”
Patriarchy: we’re soaking in it. Me too. This blogmistress is not some god-like figure who poo-poos cultural conventions and doesn’t give a shit about other people. I do give a shit. I give too much of a shit sometimes. And the entire reason that I sometimes cover my pimples, cover my fat and stretch marks, and wear shoes that are really bad for me is because the mental energy it takes to systematically deprogram oneself from poisonous cultural values for every second of every day while squashing self-doubt while going about daily life as if everything is normal while having the courage to demand the same consideration and respect as everyone else when you butt heads with various patriarchal enforcers while battling my disabilities* is just more effort than it’s worth sometimes.
So, back to shoes. Heeled shoes suck. I almost exclusively wear flats, much to the dismay of some others. I’m practically the poster child for “needs heels”. Measuring in at 5’2”, flats mean that finding myself taller than anyone over the age of 12 is a novel occurrence. With height comes privileges: being able to see in concerts and movies, and having people take you more seriously, even if you do have lady bits.
But I caved the other week to the fashion mantra. It’s not often I find myself enamored of fleeting seasonal trends. But then came gladiator sandals. And I was like woah. So here’s a shoe, a sandal no less, that hearkens back to some sort of bad-assery. Typically the designs of women’s shoes are influenced by the want of seriously tiny feet, porn, more porn, and some sort of sadomasochist bullshit. But gladiator sandals were influenced by kicking ass. Oh, and they would look fantastic with the hippie style (read: lazy, loose, long, and comfortable) that I typically sport/slap together in five minutes.
So I found some sandals that looked a bit like the fashion. I really couldn’t justify buying the full out gladiator sandals, because spending $50 some dollars on shoes that only go with two outfits and will be hopelessly out of style in a year is, well, stupid. I bought the shoes you see above. They were strappy, brown (brown goes with everything), and didn’t give me blisters. But they had a heel. Not much of a heel, just 1.5 inches. So I’m figure, “what the hell?” gave into the patriarchal calls of fashion and style and bought some shoes I’d figure would get a lot of use during the summer.
Big mistake. See, these weren’t just sandals. They’re Satan’s shoes.
They’re cute. They go with everything. I put them on and they’re comfortable. My toes aren’t squished. I don’t really notice the heel. I walked miles around campus without feeling like my arch was going to collapse like it does in most cheap flats.
So I go to sleep at night, happy that my superficial shoe purchase was worth it. The next day, I throw on some clothes, five minutes after I’m supposed to leave, and then slip on some black flip-flops I got for $4 at Target.
And Satan’s shoes thus earned their name.
Walking to class was agony. My feet felt like they had anvils dropped on them. My arches were cramping, my calves were burning, and I tripped on the stairs and scrapped my knees when my ankles gave out in flats that I wore without trouble for years.
What the fuck? What the hell was this? I’ve displayed more grace after five Gin and Tonics and suffered less pain after overdoing it in pilates. Satan’s shoes, it seems, had shortened my tendons and altered my gait from their measly 1.5 inch heel and one day of wearing them.
So here I sit, at home with aching calves, thinking to myself that patriarchy fucking sucks. I can’t imagine the pain of wearing shoes like that, or higher, constantly. It must permanently fuck up your legs and feet and back. Thousands of women around the world are required or compelled to wear such shoes daily. For what? The pitiful amount of power that sex appeal grants? A pathetic offering considering how people with dicks get that and more while enjoying nice flat arch-supporting shoes.
So fuck you, Shoes of Satan. Fuck you beauty expectations. Fuck you patriarchy. Fuck you people who insist that such masochism is empowering. Really, when I’m chanting to myself “mind over matter, just half a mile until you’re done” whilst my feet feel like they’re going to fall off from simple walking I could do just fine two days ago, knowing that some dude finds my calves marginally more fuckable when I wear 1.5 inch heels doesn’t help. Even if the shoes are cute.
*I’ve never really posted about it before, but I have persistent debilitating digestive problems, various skin conditions, really shitty vision and sensitivity to light (and I stupidly live in a sunny state), depression, severe ADD, social anxiety, and enough allergies to make label-reading a personal hobby. I’ll blog about what disability means to me sometime.
Yes and no. It’s true that things like the rape culture or horrible exploitation of women around the world look obviously more dire and disgusting than the American beauty double standard. It’s also true that they ultimately result in more death and abject misery.
But this sort of brush-off of the beauty double standard entirely misses the point: sexism is pervasive and maintained by things as meaningless as grooming regimens. The reason women are required to wear makeup, and men are not, and the reason why women own less than 1% of the world’s wealth while working two-thirds of the world’s working hours—paid and unpaid—are exactly the same. That reason is patriarchy, sexism, bigotry, and chauvinism. Whatever the name, it’s all just hatred of women.
Talking about make-up is a big no-no among the liberal feminist crowd. Even those that are not adherents of “SexyFun Feminism” ask those man-hating radical dykes to lay off their precious powders lest they be painted with the same brush as those disgusting radical feminists or lesbian separatists.
I’ll be honest here: talking about make-up and plucking my eye brows seems completely and totally irrelevant and superficial. I catch myself making that assumption based on a sort of “common sense”. Well this common sense might be common, but it’s certainly not sensible.
The mechanics of how and why the beauty and fashion industries operate the way they do—here and elsewhere—all return back to the fact that the natural state of a woman is something that is vile, disgusting, and dirty in this world. Like Dworkin postulates in Pornography, women are regarded as nothing more than “cunt”. By cunt, she means an object whose entire nature is encompassed by a sexuality that is sinful and wrong and an object which is hurt because it wants it, and must be hurt because the aggressor has no choice… being manipulated by the object the way that he is.
Women are naturally cunts, or so the dominate social doctrine goes. Our bodies are shameful. All of are parts may be dissected and separated from our individuality, because they all—in sum or in parts—have the mysterious power of sexual arousal in the male viewer. We cover our breasts, the center of substance production for infants, because their purpose has been usurped by the unwanted reaction of the male gaze to that which they deem dirty. We carefully groom our body hair into pleasing shapes, or remove it all together, because of its socially-defined connection to filth, to smell, to age, to masculinity—all things a woman cannot possess. We cover our acne, painfully groom our eyebrows, lengthen our lashes, and paint our lips with a cocktail of chemicals considered, by some, too toxic to even test on animals.
I’m neglecting writing an important essay that is due yesterday soon to piss and moan about more things in society that make me want to throw things at heads. Sharp pointy things. Or large bludgeon-like things. Take your pick.
Anyways, today I was really really tired. I hate pumping caffeine into my body, because I’m already chemically dependent on other things (Dexedrine: legal amphetamine to help me with ADHD) and it does bizarre things in combination with what I already do take. But I bit the bullet and decided that staying awake at work and in class was more important than keeping my sleep schedule or not destroying my digestive system (really, coffee makes me ill even though I love it). One of the great things about my work is free coffee at the organic cafe next door. Not shitty coffee, either, good coffee. They never burn it. So I indulged in a very large cup of it.
As I mosey over on to the milk bar to add my dash of non-coffee things to make it taste better, I come across a girl I know in passing from one of my classes out for her morning muffin before going to campus. We exchange pleasantries, and I pick up the soy milk and pour some into my coffee. With the other hand, I decide to go straight for the non-sugar vanilla “creamer” (no milk in it). In for a penny, in for a dollar. If I’m pumping caffeine into my system, what’s a little chemical-that-tastes-like-sugar going to do? It’s not like I do this every day, or even every week.
But she noticed. Oh no. Most of the women I know do this competitive eating shit. Except it’s not the fun kind where you get to eat a lot of pie or hotdogs. It’s the kind of competition where whoever loses starves wins. Chalk another one up to the bullshit body-punishment culture.
“Oh, you’re on a diet! I could never stomach both soy and sugar-free creamer. Tastes horrible.”
I laughed and replied, “no, I drink soy because I think milk is disgusting and being lactose sensitive makes drinking it no fun. I think the sugar-free stuff tastes better. The stuff they have here with sugar is too sweet, it makes me nauseous… plus it has milk. Also, I’m not on a diet”.
She just smiled at me, self-indulgently, like I was some silly player in the same game of charades where we all hate ourselves and punish our bodies accordingly, pretend such self-destruction is positive, and then deny our adherence to the goals of this ritual to be humble.
Before I could think of some awe-inspiring way to convince her that my momentary lapses into socially inspired self-hatred are far too short to necessitate any sort of action or overcome my love of most things food-like, she left.
Really, as much as you all must think I’m awesome, I’m much less eloquent in person. I do this thing where twenty brilliant things are running through my head at the same time, and by the time I stop indulging in mental self-praise of my intelligence, whomever I’ve been talking to has inferred that I don’t have anything smart to say because I either paused too long or keep peppering my non-sequitors with “uh”.
It all makes sense in my head, I swear.
Back on topic: it’s just fucking food. If it tastes good I eat it. If I want some ice cream, I have a pint of it. Sometimes, a whole pint until my intestines try to force their way out of my body in protest of all the milk. My digestive system hates me.
If salad tastes like shit with vinegar or no dressing, I put some nice Greek or full-fat (the fat-free tastes like dog poo) Italian on it. I usually load it with all sorts of exotic vegetables too, because they are so much tastier with dressing. So while some dieters might be able to force down a serving of spinach with no dressing a couple of times of week, my favorite food is this amazing Cilantro Lime salad I get at the very same organic cafe mentioned above loaded with all these finely chopped vegetables I can’t pronounce and really dark leafy greens. I love me my vitamins.
I really don’t think all that much about food. If I want it, I have it. If I don’t want it (and I don’t quite often), I don’t have it. I’m probably in that weird limbo between hot and chubby on society’s fucked-up meter, but as long as I can bike on the highest (read: most resistance and fastest) gear on my bike for six miles and get all the vitamins I need, I usually like to give society’s expectations of my diet the finger.
I’m healthy. I’m way healthier at size 12 than I was at 2. For one, I finally figured out that milk is bad for me, and that Mountain Dew isn’t good either. Eating is also fun compared to competitive fasting.
So as much as I find myself slipping some times, I remind myself: it’s just fucking food. You need it, all of it–fats and calories included–to survive. And really, your body knows that better than your head, which is brainwashed as hell.
So shut the fuck up brain, I’m having what tastes good tonight.
If I was a Hollywood producer, I would like to produce this kind of movie:
A woman is a crime-fighting lawyer. She is not a side-kick or a spin-off. It’s very clear the movie is about her, because the title of the movie is her name. She probably comes from a tough background. She learned to overcome it, however, by standing her ground and refusing to let the world run over her. She is inspired by her past to go into the justice system.
However, there’s a dark side: she’s has a terrible temper. Sometimes, when she is angry she gets very threatening and verbally abusive to the people in her life. She takes her stress out on the opposite sex. She picks up young, weak and naive men, has a fling, and then dumps them. She probably accomplishes this by saving them in court and then expecting their undying worship. That’s okay, however, because she’s very popular with the men, she’s very much a smooth anti-hero type. This beginning part of the movie should feature her in very commanding clothes, maybe with simpering male secretaries that purposely flash bits of bulges and butt cracks in their tight clothing to try to catch her attention. There must be some sort of gratuitous sex scene in which she is shown having sex with a man who moans and groans very loudly, and tells her how wonderful she is afterwards. In the morning, she tells him to get out and addresses him by a name that is not his own. The man should visibly look ashamed at himself for his wanton behavior as he walks out.
When I usually encounter a “sex-positive” on the internet, they are about as far from being feminists as humanly possible. I submit for your evidence: Bang-Bros (don’t worry, it’s just a wikipedia link).
Occasionally, I actually stumble upon an actual feminist, not someone who is posing as one to write off their nasty exploitive shit as art, who submits that they are “sex-positive”.
Via Feministe, KaeLyn’s Feminist Porn: Sex, Consent, and Getting Off. I was pleasantly surprised. No overt anti-feminist sentiments were expressed. No glaring logical holes were presented. The comment thread, quite long at this point, is mostly civil.
Nevertheless, the post bothered me. Not in the way that inspires me to hurt inanimate objects, but in the way that I felt that the work of my feminist icons and my own opinions were being unintentionally misunderstood and discarded.
I admit that being conventionally attractive (although less so today than before, being that I stopped caring about what pant size I wear) and white severely benefits my social reception. It also helps that my French and South-eastern European background always give me a “knowledgeable” air by the nature of my sharp features and dark hair. Regardless, I absolutely notice the difference with how people treat me depending on what I wear. I used to be very self-conscious when I ran to the corner store in wrinkled shorts and sans makeup, but recently, I find myself forgetting to shave my legs for a week or more. I still do the “fat check” in the mirror, and I wish I could stop. I put on clothes, and then check to make sure, at various angles, that bits of untoned and flabby stomach, thighs, and back don’t noticeably show. I hate this tendency in myself, but I have no idea how to stop it. Perhaps someone, someone blindingly stupid, might read this and think, “gee Jenn, lose some weight and you’ll feel better about yourself!” And the fact of the matter is that no, I won’t feel better about myself or lose weight, thanks ever so much. I feel better about myself when I am in shape and doing well in my social and school life. When I was the skinniest I ever have been in my life, a size two, and closely resembled Natalie Portman, I thought I was the ugliest and fattest girl in school. My negative body-thoughts now, at a size 12, are much less frequent. Still, they persist.
The fact is that I still wish I could change this in myself. Ha! I might as well submit myself to the illusion that I am a god, not a human, and that my perception of myself is not at all linked to society’s judgement. Humans are inevitably social creatures. Every time I submit to patriarchal guidelines of dress my submission is rewarded with praise, attention, and sometimes, love. To think that anyone could erase that influence in their lifetime is beyond absurd. To even dream that my “fat check” ritual is a choice in the real sense of the word is shear idiocy. I know that this lack of choice and individuality bother the typical Western “master of my own destiny” philosophy, but we should all know by now what I think of the utter bullshit that taints mind of the average American.
So it has been said, quite frequently, that my hatred of all patriarchy-inspired “beauty rituals” including high heels, surgery, and movement-restricting clothing is really demeaning to women. My critique of the violent and abusive nature of all things labeled feminine mocks women that choose such things of their own free will. Pro-porn1 advocates claim that objections to the industries of objectification and abuse–porn, prostitution, and stripping–are taking women’s agency away from them or applying the same kind of moral outrage that conservatives are apt to.
The disconnect, I believe, lies in the definition of “consent”. In a prior post, I confessed that all sex acts within a patriarchy lie along the same continuum of non-consent. Which, although the word is shocking, makes all heterosexual encounters acts of rape. This is not to say that pleasure and love is not possible in this society. Simply, because of our socialization in gender roles, we cannot determine for ourselves whether or not even the smallest adherences to gendered behaviors–such as plucking your eyebrows–is actually an act of free-will. It seems simple: I want to pluck my eyebrows, so I do. But the question is, would I want to pluck my eyebrows if I had not been told that my naturally bushy brows are ugly? If every image I saw of femininity was not a gross distortion of nature, would I still have the desire to forcibly rip hair, and sometimes skin, from my body?
Thus, it stands to reason that the most gendered encounter–the act of coitus–is probably less a product of free will than any other.
Notice that I am not just single currently, but that I am staying single. This was not a conscious decision. I did not sit down one day, feminist ideology in hand, and decide to stay single for political reasons. It just happened. I haven’t been in a relationship for two years. For a woman in her twenties, this is so odd as to be alien.
When I was in middle school, nothing could have been more important than being in or wanting to be in a relationship. Boys were just beginning to notice me, probably because I was one of the first girls to have her breasts grow beyond the mosquito bite phase. Luckily for me, I did not grow up in the Paris Hilton era. Britney Spears was still keeping most of her clothes on the late 90s when the pre-teen girl uniform of choice was polo shirts, short shorts, and high ponytails.
Regardless, my desire for a boyfriend and to look good had nothing to do with my sexual desire. Although I had curves and breasts to rival any grown woman, my sexual drive had not matured. I heard about masturbation, mostly from the eighth grade boys, but such things held no interest for me. Even the extremely progressive books on puberty that my parents bought me detailed male masturbation explicitly, although some of them spend a bit of time on female masturbation as well. Curious, I attempted this masturbation a couple of times. Nothing really much happened, presumably because my sexual drive had yet to develop (it would in high school), so I gave that up.
Why then, was the pinnacle of pre-teen social life the drive to attract boys? I obviously did not know what to do with them when I got them, and I had no sexual desire for them. I was putting on a performance, plain and simple. The dominant social message of the time, and I assume it has gotten worse lately, was that a girl should aim to look sexy and have sex, but her own enjoyment of the sexual act had nothing to do with it. This held true for my twelve year-old self: I was not attracted to boys in a sexual manner, and I had no personal desire for sex. I was simply responding to social norms. If I said a boy was cute, it was not the case that I was attracted to him. I simply recognized that he fit within the acceptable range of male appearances, and I wanted him to want me. My desires did not play into the equation at all.