Category Archives: Misogyny

Curvy schmurvy. I prefer well-rounded

Tell me if you see what’s wrong with this picture that was posted on Facebook from the Women’s Rights News web site: a plus-size model clad only in her lingerie, with this blurb emblazoned in all capital letters and vivid purple ink: “There is no such thing as percect (sic). There is just me, and guess what I’m OK with that.”

Underneath that photo is the text line: “Curvy is fine.”

Click here to see the photo:

Leaving aside the poor grammar and spelling in the blurb … and leaving aside, for the moment, the irony that such an act of self-objectification appears on a web site that purports to promote feminist values … I have to wonder if anyone besides me is bothered by the use of the euphemism “curvy” to mean something it doesn’t actually mean. It implies that all women of ample proportions are curvy, and that simply is not the case. It also implies that no slender woman can possibly be curvy. Also not true.

I prefer the term “full-figured,” which is far more accurate without being pejorative. Better yet, how about “intelligent,” or “talented” or even (and I know this is a radical notion) “human”?

But what’s even more troubling to me is the fact that women feel the need to pose in their underwear to prove something. Because frankly, I don’t choose my friends on the basis of how they look in their lingerie. I’m interested in knowing what books they’ve read, or the results of their latest lab experiments, or what they’re doing to eradicate puppy mills.

And if someone is judging me on the basis of how I might theoretically look in my skivvies–especially considering that the vast majority of the population will never in fact see me in them without the proper street attire on top–it’s probably not worth trying to prove anything at all.

Except perhaps how quickly I can move on to a more engaging conversation with a more well-rounded person.

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Filed under Articles, body image, Essays, feminism, friendship, Misogyny, Quick takes, social change, Uncategorized, writing

Poem for April 23

Today’s poetry prompt from Robert Lee Brewer at Writer’s Digest is a Two-for-Tuesday prompt. “In fact,” he writes, “this is one I include with every challenge.” Here are the options he offers:

  • Write a love poem.
  • Write an anti-love poem.

And mine is a single poem that does both.

’Twas The Beast Killed Beauty

Last night she dreamed she was in love with King Kong.
A big hulking brute of a beast he was,
Who petted and scorned her by turns.
He built her a shelter of sorts in the air,
Perched high on his haunches where no one could reach her.
He made it of sticks and mud and promises,
The ephemeral flora of the forest.
And from the outside
And from the ground
And from a distance
It looked solid enough.
 
Inside was all she needed:
A bed, a mop, a stove,
And one tiny window to let some outside light filter in,
But none of hers out.
And although he often squeezed her too tight,
And, truth be told, it did scare her some
When he pounded his chest or threw things,
She was
 
Happy.
 
No, really.
 
‘Till one day he lowered his great hairy hindquarters
To reach for some low-lying fruit,
Where, finding her feet on solid earth,
She tremblingly crept toward the palm-shaded window
And leaning her elbows upon the sill,
Stood looking and looking out.
 
 

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Filed under Domestic violence, machismo, Misogyny, Poetry, Quick takes, writing

You can’t make this stuff up

In today’s headlines, we have this little gem from The Huffington Post:

New Hampshire Republican lawmaker Peter Hansen drew outrage from his own party when he sent out an email to his colleagues on the official legislative electronic mailing list earlier this month in which he referred to women as (and here I am quoting him directly) “vagina’s.”

Here’s the direct quote:

What could possibly be missing from those factual tales of successful retreat in VT, Germany, and the bowels of Amsterdam? Why children and vagina’s of course. While the tales relate the actions of a solitary male the outcome cannot relate to similar situations where children and women and mothers are the potential victims.

Am I outraged too? You’d better believe it. I am shocked and appalled. Everyone knows you don’t form a plural by adding apostrophe “s.”

On the other hand, it does sort of figure. After all, this is probably only one of the countless ways in which he daily proves himself to be an utter ignoramus.

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Filed under Articles, machismo, Misogyny, Quick takes

A modest proposal

In which we address the problem of yet another misogynistic loudmouth

In the latest instance of a male troglodyte holding forth on the finer social implications of rape, University of Rochester economics professor Steven Landsburg recently penned a brief manifesto on the rape convictions of two high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio, that would make any self-respecting woman-hater’s heart swell with testosterone-laden pride.

In his blog,  Landsburg  asked whether the law should rightfully discourage acts of rape in which the person is unconscious and suffers no direct physical harm.  “As long as I’m safely unconscious and therefore shielded from the costs of an assault,” Landsburg reasons, “why shouldn’t the rest of the world (or more specifically my attackers) be allowed to reap the benefits?”

Groups such as Binders Full of Women and WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend) — as well as many students at the university — are outraged and have called for Landsburg’s ouster. The university, in true let’s-protect-the-macho-s*@theads-among-us fashion, has taken a self-righteous stand in support of its  professor and his right to academic autonomy and free speech.

So I have a another solution to propose — and it’s one of which I am certain Landsburg himself would approve, since I am literally taking him at his own word.

So the good U of R doesn’t want to fire him outright? Fine. Then how about we invite Landsburg to the next dorm party, ply him with sufficient drugs and alcohol to render him safely unconscious and therefore shielded from the costs of an assault, and then surgically remove his man parts? After all, why shouldn’t the rest of the world be allowed to reap the benefits?

We won’t even need any sophisticated equipment. A magnifying glass and a pair of tweezers should do just fine.

 

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Filed under academia, machismo, Misogyny, Ohio, Quick takes, Rape, Steubenville Ohio, troglodyte, Uncategorized

Trust me. No woman loves it.

‎Legitimate rape. Part of God’s will. What will they think of next?

Let me be clear: I have, up to this point, studiously avoided joining in the hostile and rancorous public debate that has characterized the current presidential campaign.  I have listened with growing dismay to the increasingly hostile language that my good friends on either side of the issues hurtle at one another. And, to the extent that I have shared my views, I have held to neutral language, refraining from the fiery rhetoric and name-calling that I have heard issuing from both sides.

Once and for all: rape is an act of violence

But I cannot keep silent in the face of this constant barrage of bizarre declarations about rape from so many Republican candidates in recent months. Rape is never legitimate. Rape is never part of God’s plan to populate the earth.

Rape is never anything but an act of violence and power. Period. Its sole purpose is to dominate, degrade and control. It does not matter whether you knew your assailant before the attack, whether the assault resulted in pregnancy, whether in the heat of the moment it seemed best to acquiesce rather than risk being killed.

And sometimes, you can put up every form of resistance you have in your power, and still it does not stop the rape from happening, and still no one will believe you, and still you will be told that you should have done more, that it is somehow entirely your fault.

And no one is immune

I know because I was stalked, pursued and assaulted by a classmate many years ago, when I was in eighth grade.* Back then, there was no language to correctly identify his actions as acquaintance rape. That kind of awareness was still decades away in the public discourse. Indeed, no one besides me seemed to think there was anything even slightly out of the ordinary in his overtly aggressive, sexually menacing behavior.

The person they criticized, for not being able to “handle it,” was me. A naïve, bookish 13-year-old girl. The class egghead. The shy, nerdy new girl.

In fact, those closest to me blamed me for having been, of all things, “too innocent.” Ironic, isn’t it? Especially when you consider that I had asked virtually every adult in my immediate acquaintance — parents, teachers, school administrators — for help in dealing with the escalating threats from “Dirk” (not his real name).

Not one of them had taken me seriously.

Clearly, the inclination to blame the victim runs deep within our collective consciousness — so much so that we willingly accept the most outlandish theories about rape, rather than face the uncomfortable reality that there are distinct threads of misogyny interwoven throughout our social fabric.

Shocked out of my complacency
This is never an easy or pleasant story to tell. Which is why, over the years, I have grown increasingly reluctant to tell it. It’s so much easier just to keep moving forward and never speak of it.

Besides, because my own recovery was so complete — the result of many years of sifting through the painful details in a support group for women whose horror stories were similar to mine —  it had led me to believe that things had changed.

I became somewhat complacent. Life was good. My children were turning out well. I had achieved many successes in my career. And rarely, if ever, did I have to think about that long-ago event.

Best to leave well enough alone.

But then there came the day in one of my college English classes when a male student — who in many other respects seemed genuinely kind and well-mannered — casually remarked that some women love sexual violence.

“Trust me,” I shot back with some heat. “No woman loves it.”

It reminded me of a similar incident from high school, when my own assault was still painfully fresh in my mind. During a lively class discussion about some topic I have since forgotten, one male classmate who was studious and well-liked suddenly spoke up.

To this day, I can quote him verbatim.

“I hate women who scream rape,” he said. “They all ask for it, anyway.”

Back then, I had no vocabulary to describe what had happened to me, much less to respond to such a remark. I had not the presence of mind to ask him whether that observation included his mother, sisters, grandmothers and aunts. I can’t recall whether anyone else challenged him, either.

All I can remember is those words, and how they stung.

Tell, and keep telling
So while I was glad to be in a position as the professor in my own class not to allow such a remark to pass without comment, it made me realize that I must keep telling my story, however much I’d rather not.

There are so many others out there who still wear blinders.

There are so many others out there who still hold to unbelievably convoluted, logic-defying notions because accepting them is much easier than facing unpleasant truths.

And, there are so many others out there who are still unable to move forward unless someone who has already made the journey to wholeness is willing to light the way.

The good news is that healing and wholeness are possible. In fact, refusing to become permanently damaged is our best hope in triumphing over this particular evil; to rise up, reclaim our dignity, and refuse to be silent. It can be done. Women are doing it all over our country every day. That is what I wish for every woman who has been raped. That is what I hope for every woman who comes to this space and reads these words.

*You can read more details about my experience on my Essays tab here on this site. Click on “Meditations on a Sepia.”

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Filed under Faith, God, Misogyny, Quick takes, Rape