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Category Archives: Sexism

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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Um, wow. So, my bad for forgetting about this blog. God knows I’ve been pissed about plenty these days. Anyhoo, while I hash out some new posts, here’s one I apparently forgot to publish from a few months ago!

I’m married. I’ve been married for three (almost four!) years and with my husband for eight (almost nine!). I know a thing or two about a long-term relationship. Not everything, but I’ve learned some things. That being said…

Marriage/relationship advice is ridiculous these days. I mean, have you read any of this stuff? Here are a few of the gems I’ve seen lately that have particularly pissed me off.

*Don’t yell at your spouse.* This is advice? This is TERRIBLE advice. You need to yell. Yell and get it all out. I promise you that yelling won’t ruin your relationship. Don’t be scared of your feelings. If you’re angry–be angry. And express your anger. If you don’t express it, you repress it and it screws you up even more. Let. It. Out.

*Don’t poop in front of each other.* What the fuck is this? Don’t tell me what I can do in front of my spouse based on your own weird hangups. I hate this piece of advice more than any other advice. ANY OF IT. Why can’t I poo in front of my spouse? Is it because women don’t poop? Is that it? Am I supposed to uphold some sort of feminine mystique here? Look, I get it. You’re uncomfortable with bodily functions and you want to project that onto other people. I get that. But don’t tell me that my entire relationship–all eight+ years of it–is going to fall to ruin because one of us sees the other making a number two. I don’t buy it.

*Don’t emotionally distance yourself after a fight.* Yeah. Um, or do. Some people need time to cool off after a fight. Don’t tell people how to fight.

The common theme here seems to be this: Don’t be ugly in front of your spouse. But that’s awful advice. To quote every twit on Pinterest: “If you can’t love me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.” Trite as it is, it’s true. If you can’t be ugly in front of the one person on the planet who supposedly loves you the most–who can you be ugly in front of? I disagree so strongly with the idea that we should hide ourselves or put on a mask in order to be acceptable to other people. Especially our loved ones–spouses and family and close friends. This kind of shit is the equivalent of that old school advice that women never let themselves appear untidy to their husbands. Guess what: Real love is untidy. It’s messy and ugly even though it’s wonderful and beautiful. Embrace ALL of it, not just the shiny parts.

So what do I say when the wedding reception camera eventually pans to me and asks for advice? “Ignore everyone else’s advice. Figure out what works for you and do that.”

“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.