The first time a male exposed himself to me I was five years old, and it was below the lunch table in our kindergarten class. Hey, look, he said and there was a tiny five year-old dick, right out in the open, lolling around in its owner’s grasp. I am thirty-six now, and I can still see it, clear as in that moment, that unwanted visual assault. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Sexism
Exploring The Borderline, Pt. 2
Continued from Tuesday…
I met him at a time my friend group was at a low number, having moved back to my hometown after years away. I’d not left home with many friends, and those few did not remain when I returned. I was seeking friends, and a lifestyle that conformed to the way I felt the back half of my 20s should look–parties, going out, popularity among groups. He was cool, an icon of hip bachelorhood in the social circles in which he moved. He was legendary–people spoke his name as though it was a state of being or personality type. Because of his reputation I expected him to be unapproachable and coolly removed. Instead, he was friendly and engaging right back at me, and I was attracted to his twinkling eyes and ready smile. It turned out we were both interested in music, and liked a lot of the same bands, and so making that first invitation, to hit a show together, was easy and obvious. Continue reading
Simpering No More
I used to believe simpering was my greatest power, my secret interpersonal weapon. I affected a coquettish persona, donned the mask which I believed was the key to moving through the world. Later, a therapist and I named this simpering mask the “sex kitten”, as we worked to understand the connection between her and my blackout drinking. But before all that, I learned that if I widened my eyes, batted my lashes and ducked my head a little, people melted. I learned that if I asked for things in a singsong tone or a baby voice they seemed to come easier. Especially with men. Men were helpless against the almighty simper. They figuratively dropped to their knees, palms open, anything and everything on offer. They got out of the way. Or let me hide behind them. They handed whatever it was right over. I smiled and giggled in return, to close the deal. I didn’t know another way. Continue reading
Have You Ever Heard Of Sex Discrimination, Sir? Part 1
I didn’t know what had coalesced in my unfolding adolescent sense of self in the summer of 1972 when I subverted gender-segregated work roles at a suburban Atlanta McDonald’s franchise. I hadn’t intended to when I looked in the eye of my shift manager and declared, “Have you ever heard of sex discrimination?” He had denied my request for a lateral move from my front-of-the-store counter service assignment to the male-exclusive crew on the cooking grill. At age 17, my freshman year of college under my belt and working the summer in a collective of temporary teenage hires, I had recognized a female ghetto when I was in one: girls worked the counter, boys worked the grill. Girls served the customers and boys cooked the meat. And I wanted to work the grill. Continue reading
Body Image: It’s A Family Affair
My mom and I were kicking back in the grass of Sheep Meadow in Central Park last summer when it hit me–we needed to write the manual on positive body image in the context of the mother-daughter relationship. We are exceptional in that we share a positive image of our respective bodies. I learned it from her, and she learns it from me. We understand we are lucky, and we are grateful. We talk a lot about what holds women back in society, and we’re convinced that struggle with body image is one of the major culprits. The pressure comes from the culture, it comes from the family, from friend groups, the media, ourselves. Disliking, hating, and shaming our bodies, our desperation to change them to an unattainable ideal all take valuable energy we could be using for gender-advancement purposes. We have to do something. Continue reading
If Not Now, When?
…continued from Tuesday
A few weeks ago I published a post called A Direct Appeal where I called on men and boys to fight systemic sexism and shift rape culture out of existence. I asked men and boys to get involved on a micro level, to challenge other men and boys, to change the conversation, to call out bad behavior, and support women and girls. I asked them to leverage the power afforded them by their gender to put an end to violence against women. But if I’m not working the same angles for other oppressed groups, what am I? If I am not leveraging the power afforded me by my skin color to put an end to violence against people of color, what am I? Continue reading
If I Am Not For Others, What Am I?
It’s a horrifying, gut-wrenching time to be human. I suppose it always is, and always has been, and maybe none of the staggering hate-motivated events are new, just our ubiquitous recording capabilities and 24-hour news cycle are. We’re sick with hate. Sick from hate. I’m starting to hate humanity. But before I seek refuge in my dark feeling that the sooner humanity is wiped off the planet, the better, I return to an adaptation of a Hillel quote I once saw on the front of a Seattle synagogue that makes me do the work. Continue reading
A Direct Appeal
We search for men and boys committed to putting up girls and women and make them our allies. I am searching. I am seeking. I am asking.
Is anybody out there? Continue reading
This Isn’t About Safety
Reading the news today about convicted rapist Brock Turner, the accounts of his crime, and the extraordinary lenience of his (six month!) sentence have me reaching for my throat. My gag reflex activated by another miscarriage of justice, I stand here staring at the screen wondering if women have any value in society at all. Continue reading
Why The Villain Is A Stronger Role Model Than The Princess
On our most recent girls’ nights, my buddies and I decided to re-watch some of the Disney classics (both the 1950s and 1990s era) to see how they hold up in modern times. We selected “Sleeping Beauty” (1959) for our most recent hang out and snuggled into the couch under blankets like six year-olds. None of us had seen this particular movie since we were very young, and we were eager to see how it played to our adult sensibilities. Would we long to be princesses?
By the end of the movie, I felt a stronger connection to Maleficent, the evil fairy than I did to Aurora, the title princess. I remembered then that I had always found Maleficent captivating, even as a child. And why wouldn’t I, when she holds all the power while Aurora/Briar Rose has no personality and makes no choices of her own? Continue reading