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Category Archives: Feminism

In a rare, antihistamine-induced lapse of judgment I made the following statement to a person I am not super close with when we were talking about The Last Name Change Debacle: “I die a little inside when one of my friends gets married and changes her name.” What followed is entirely my fault because 1) the person I said it to changed her last name when she got married, albeit she’s of another generation; 2) she doesn’t *quite* appreciate my sarcastic and hyperbolic sense of humor; and 3) I did not say exactly what I meant (it makes me sad that in this day and age it is still socially expected and many women find it easier to just go with the flow than to do something unconventional), but merely summarized it in what I thought was a witty soundbite. Fine. She, naturally, went on the defensive and retorted with, “Well, I don’t judge the personal decisions of others.” Yikes. That escalated quickly.

So there we were, silently sitting with that little nugget hanging in the air like a stale fart. Because I didn’t want to stir the pot further, I bit my tongue when my initial reaction was: “Um, your little passive-aggressive tongue lashing is a judgment of me for being judgmental, but I guess good for you. Don’t strain your arm patting yourself on the back, princess.” The antihistamines saved the day and made me so sleepy I just called it a night before doing any more damage.

When I woke up the next morning I was still pretty pissed, and that surprised me because I can sleep off just about any outrage. Clearly this woman hit a nerve. I know I’m judgmental. I don’t dispute that or deny it or even try to work on it because I think it’s helpful to be judgmental–when I find myself sitting in smug judgment of someone, I use it as an opportunity to look inward and figure out why I think/feel that. I have learned a metric fuck ton of things about myself thanks to being a judgmental bitch. So that wasn’t what bugged me.

What was bugging me, it turns out, is the use of that admonishment in general. I see it a lot in online feminist discourse–women are quick to call each other out in the comment sections of op-eds and articles for judging the choices of others. After all, feminism is about choice and they just made a different choice. No harm, no foul right? Not exactly. I find the “judgment card” generally gets trotted out when women get butthurt about their own personal choices. No matter what an article is about, many dissenting opinions are dismissed as being “judgmental” instead of being addressed for what they usually are: constructive criticism or thoughtful analysis. This defense mechanism typically halts all meaningful conversation in its tracks.

This is not the first time I’ve been accused of being judgmental where the last name thing is concerned, and I think this is because of two things. First, I think many of the women who call me judgmental in this arena are in some way uncomfortable with their decision to take their spouse’s name. I’ve had all kinds of insults lobbed at me for not taking my husband’s last name. Do you know what my response always is? Silence. Maybe a shoulder shrug if I’m feeling feisty. I don’t give a fuck what anyone else thinks about my choice. If you get all worked up about what someone thinks about your decision, maybe you’re not totally on board yourself and you don’t want to be confronted with that. It’s the same thing with me not wanting kids. I no longer get offended when people say stupid shit to me about how I’ll change my mind or I’ll never know what true love is. I’m at peace with my decision, and your judgment is for you to deal with (see my previous bit about using my judgments to figure out what’s really going on in my brain).

Second, I think it’s a play on female insecurities, not unlike calling a woman a bitch or a slut when you don’t like what she’s doing. Instead of engaging in intelligent discourse, you call her a name with the hope it’ll shut her up. Unfortunately in my situation: it worked and I shut up–but only because I didn’t want the conversation to devolve any further.

I need to just learn my lesson and not discuss The Last Name Change Debacle with people. It rarely ends well for me. The mere fact that I didn’t change mine seems to encourage other women to justify why they did change theirs to me (that’s not an exaggeration; I have had women give me an unprompted laundry list of “reasons” after noticing my name was not the same as my husband’s in a social setting). I don’t give a shit why you changed your name. I really don’t. The bottom line is: I do think a little bit less of you for it, but that’s okay. I’m sure you think a little bit less of me for myriad things I do. We all walk on different paths and it’s cool. You can judge me right back and we can talk about it like educated adults instead of lobbing random labels at each other, hoping the other will forfeit.

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“Don’t need makeup to cover up. Being the way that you are is enough.”

Ugh. There seems to be this mindset that makeup is a bad thing. Ladymags are always telling us men want us to be au naturale and there’s the lovely sentiment expressed up there in a One Direction song. I understand wanting your woman to not be painted like a French whore, but to rally against makeup entirely is idiotic and self-righteous.

Here are a few of the completely bananas things I’ve heard people (both genders, mind you) say about makeup:

“It’s not fooling anyone.” Uh, it’s not meant to fool anyone. Those of us who wear makeup aren’t trying to trick people. And what would we gain if we *did* trick people? “Ha ha, you thought I was a little prettier than I really am! Joke’s on you!”

“What are you hiding?” My uneven skintone and tiny eyes. Happy now? That’s what I’m hiding.

“Makeup is for vain/shallow people.” Makeup is for anyone who likes it. I like makeup quite a bit. I like to buy it. I like to put it on. I like to wear it around town and feel a little prettier. If me doing something that elevates my disturbingly low self-esteem just a smidge bothers you: I think you may be the one with the bigger issue.

“I prefer natural women.” What you prefer is probably a natural *look.* That doesn’t mean a lady isn’t wearing makeup; it just means she’s wearing natural shades in appropriate amounts. So you don’t like a bold lip or dark eyeliner. That’s your preference. But don’t rail on all things makeup. It’s okay to like what you like, but don’t pull the “natural” card unless you’re positive the ladies you’re referencing are actually sans fards.

I guess it’s kind of like people who are anti-plastic surgery. It’s as though we’re all supposed to be born beautiful or just live with what we have. Oh, sorry, you weren’t born Cindy Crawford so uh, just deal. We’re not allowed to do anything to ourselves without being judged as shallow or vain. If it makes you feel better about yourself to get breast implants: Do it. If you feel prettier with bright red lips: Rock ‘em. Being anti-makeup is just one more way to make women feel inferior and vain and guilty and I kind of hate it.

I’m a moderately attractive woman who likes to wear makeup. Do I *need* it? Probably not. But who does? Is there a level of ugly that society deems appropriate for wearing makeup without judgment? If so, who sets those benchmarks?

I will continue to purchase and wear makeup regardless of how “fake” or “vain” people think I am. Because I like it and it makes me feel good. To hell with anyone who disagrees.

Full disclosure: I hate Taylor Swift. If you like her and this is going to bother you: Stop reading. Seriously. It’s only going to upset you and I don’t want anybody getting defensive.

Every time Taylor Swift comes up in conversation I gnaw on my tongue until it bleeds. And then I have an outburst. Because I can’t contain my rage that someone like her is held up on a pedestal as a “good role model” for young girls. In what world is she a good role model? Let’s look at the facts for a second:

1) She’s in her twenties and she acts like she’s 14. This sort of immaturity is hardly something I’d want young girls emulating. Grow up and act your age. You don’t have to undergo a public sexual awakening á la Britney and Miley but for fuck’s sake: Act like the adult you are.

2) She’s overly modest/fake modest. Every time she wins an award it’s all “Ohmigosh! You want me to have this? Widdle old me? But I’m just a little girl who writes silly songs about boys. Tee hee. Golly, I’m so embarrassed! You want to give me this, the 357th award I’ve won in my life? Gee, that’s so super but I really can’t believe you even like me.” Jesus, get over it. You’re an artist (according to other people, anyway) and artists win awards. Some people (who are not me) like you and want to let you know that by praising you in the form of a small statue. Say thank you and get off the stage.

3) She’s naïve. I mean, no, I don’t know her personally so it’s probably unfair to say this. But from interviews and award ceremonies she just seems so doe-eyed and clueless about everything. I’m sure people like her because she’s so “pure” and “innocent” but I view that as straight naiveté. You need some realism in your life. You don’t have to be cynical or negative but please pull your head out of the clouds now and again to have a look at where your feet are… where they actually are and not the glittery rainbow you think they’re on. I don’t like that this sort of blind, clueless optimism is viewed as “goodness” by so many people.

4) She writes dreadful songs. This is probably less solid reasoning than anything I’ve presented thus far, but to be fair: This is a list of why *I* hate Tay-Tay. It doesn’t have to be objective. She’s typically boo-hooing over some boy who broke her heart, how she didn’t fit in in high school, kids who were mean to her in high school, or some hopeless romantic garbage that’s been spoon-fed to all of us since our Disney Princess-watching days.  The word “trite” comes to mind.

So there you have it. Whenever anyone starts to get all rubbery about her I lose my shit; I think she’s a terrible role model for young girls. I don’t think girls should be encouraged to be immature, naïve, and banal. I don’t think they should be pushed toward being “good” because I believe it will ultimately repress all the things that would make them fun and interesting. Look at Taylor. I mean really look at her. Would she be interesting to talk to? I think she’d giggle with her hands over her mouth and talk about boys the whole God damned time. Would she be fun to hang out with? I think she’d probably want to make popcorn and watch The Notebook and go to bed at 11 after drinking warm milk.

I guess most folks are content to wish boring safety on the little girls in their lives. That they do well in school, get married, have babies, and live happily ever after behind a white picket fence. But there’s so much more out there! For all the little girls in my life, present and future, I want them to know they can be themselves regardless of whether or not people think they’re “good.” I want girls to have role models who are feisty and independent and funny and smart and honest and true to themselves. Not just “nice” and “good.”

The other day I was having a lunch discussion with my workladyfriends when the topic turned to women’s magazines. I pointed out that ladymags never have new or useful information in them (not a revolutionary observation, I know). It’s always weight-loss advice like “Eat less and exercise more!” and romance advice like “Give him the best blowjob of his life!”

Is this what we’ve been reduced to? Are these the things we’re interested in nowadays?

First of all, we all know how to lose weight: those of us who don’t lose the weight simply don’t abide by those two simple rules. (Hi, I’m Rampaige and I have no self-control. I could lose weight but I don’t want to put in the work.) Second, in reading a variety of sex articles I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve done or currently do nearly everything on those little tip sheets they’re always publishing. Which begs the question: Am I a slut or are the women who read ladymags just prudes? I mean, really, do regular women not do basic things like doggie style and morning sex? Is that a thing with some women? Things like that seem to make a regular appearance on many “hot sex tips” lists. I’m legitimately concerned for the sex lives of others.

In addition to weight-loss and sex advice, throw in:

* some useless garbage about how to “have it all and do it all” (hint, you need a nanny and a chef and a personal assistant),

* an article about “[insert garment name] for every shape (between 0 and 12, natch),”

* and a shit-ton of ads with impossibly thin models (but you should love your body the way it is!) hocking products you don’t want or need but will buy anyway,

aaand you have every issue of every ladymag ever.

I don’t know what I expect because magazines like Bitch and Ms. aren’t in checkout lanes at the grocery store providing an alternative to this dreck. Cosmo and Martha Stewart Living and Good Housekeeping tell us how to be what society wants us to be: thin, pretty, domesticated, man-pleasing mommy-wives. Of course, it’s just a pleasant side effect that while we’re busily striving to meet these impossible standards we can’t possibly run companies or hold public offices or start an uprising. No, we’re far too busy trying to whittle our waistlines and perfect our oral sex technique. And while some women cast off those lookist, ageist, sexist, pronatalist shackles and run for office or start a company, even they are subjected to the same criticisms we’re all brought up to fear: not being attractive enough, dressing poorly, being too emotional, being a bitch, etc.

And really, would your average woman choose Ms. over Cosmo? Not likely. Most of us are so deeply entrenched in this bullshit that we opt for Cosmo thinking “Maybe if I just lose those last five pounds and master giving blowjobs, I can be content knowing I’m a good woman.” But contentment never comes. There’s always a new diet, a new tongue technique to make us feel inadequate and give us a reason to buy next month’s issue. (Do I sound like a feminist conspiracy theorist yet?)

We can’t win. We’re either too butch or too femme. Too cold or too sensitive. Too smart or too ditzy. Too homely or too pretty. Too stylish or too plain. Too aggressive or too passive. Too career minded or too family oriented. Too slutty or too prudish.

What the fuck are we supposed to do? I don’t even know. What I do know is I have taken it upon myself to not give a shit about what people think of me. I do what I want. I straddle the line between all of the above dichotomies. I may not be a good woman by everyone else’s standards, but I’m good enough for me.