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“Sexy” Can Be Empowering or Disempowering

Miley Cyrus, twerking

Miley Cyrus, twerking

“Women dress sexy to gain power over men!” Or so I’ve heard guys complain.

Yet, some men sexualize women to disempower them.

Not so long ago the conservative Breitbart News placed Democratic House Leader, Nancy Pelosi’s face atop twerking Miley Cyrus’ body. Around the same time, a conservative super PAC registered themselves as “Boats ‘N Hoes.” Hoes being sexualized women who are demeaned. It’s all in the tradition of painting a nude mural of feminist leader, Gloria Steinem, on the front of a building in an attempt to discredit and disempower her.

So which is it? Does “sexy” empower or disempower women?  Read the rest of this entry

Cat Calls: Harmless Flattery?


Eyes straight ahead. Hands at your sides. Walk straight ahead. Don’t look up. Don’t smile. Just walk.

If you’re a girl or a woman, and have ever walked by yourself somewhere in a densely populated area through a group of boys or men, chances are, you’ve subconsciously repeated these steps to yourself in your head. Chances are, you’ve felt the blood rush to your cheeks and your vision become foggy as you count the seconds, maybe even minutes, until the whistles, names, and so-called “compliments” cease.

Excerpt from “We need to take street harassment seriously.” Read the rest here, (and vote on how you experience it):

Originally posted on I was a high-school feminist:

Today I am SUPER excited to feature a guest post from the brilliant Sarah, one of my most awesome former students and a kickass feminist.


Sarah wrote this editorial for a New York Times contest, and as much as I’m a little bitter that she didn’t win, I’m glad that I can post it here for you. Click below for her article.

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Growing Up Like Skipper: On Breasts & Objectification


pamelax-wide-communityBy Diahann Reyes

When you have breasts that are larger than “average” (whatever that really means) even people you don’t know—males, in particular—automatically assume they have permission to comment on your boobs—“Nice tits! BIG BREASTED! Playboy-like, even”—and can touch them just because they feel like it…

Because of the way my body looked, some of my classmates thought I was sexually experienced even though I’d never been kissed yet. My date, whom I’d asked to a Sadie Hawkins Dance, stayed a polite arm’s length away from me all night, later explaining, “Girls like you probably want more than I’m ready to give.” I’d just been hoping that maybe he would hold my hand.

An excerpt from “Growing Up Like Skipper: On Breasts & Objectification”

This post from “Stories from the Belly” might surprise both envious women and men who have mistaken notions about how larger-breasted women experience their bodies.

Read more here:

Originally posted on Stories From the Belly:

My first Barbie was a Growing Up Skipper doll. Skipper is Barbie’s younger sister.

A gift from one of my aunts during the 1970′s, my Skipper doll wasn’t an ordinary doll. Living up to her name, she could “grow” from girl to young woman in an instant. All you had to do was take her arms and wind them forward in a circular motion. Not only would she grow taller but her bust would get bigger. Wind her arms in the opposite direction and all of her would shrink back to original size.

At age 6, all I knew was that I had a “2-for-1” doll. Growing Up Skipper even came with an extra outfit for her older self to wear, and she had a tank top that doubled as a bathing suit.  Now, when I look back I am able to see how this doll was sexualized—just like when…

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Must I Give Sex To Get Love?

The Pink Lady

The Pink Lady

By The Pink Lady @ Scratch Paper

Let’s talk about sex.

In all honesty it’s never been a very comfortable subject for me, and it’s taken a long time to figure out why. It wasn’t until my women’s studies class in college that the pieces started coming together, and I really started to figure out why I relate to sexuality the way that I do.

Trigger Warning: May be triggering for victims of sexual assault.

When I was younger (early teens) I was assaulted a number of times on my middle school campus, at my church, on various church events, and even in my own home by people who until these acts were committed I was pretty convinced were interested in me as a person.  Read the rest of this entry

Marilyn Monroe, More Than A Sex Symbol


Marilyn Monroe reading

Marilyn Monroe reading

Marilyn Monroe would have turned 88 on June 1, had she lived. And while her star rose in the middle of the last century, she remains the ultimate sex symbol even today.

Yet she yearned to be so much more.

Her beauty masked her intellect, which Karina Eileraas portrays over at Ms.Read the rest of this entry

Anything Good About Being A Sex Object?

cans1When I ask my students if they can think of anything good about being a sex object they think there must be something positive, since so many women put a great deal of effort into being sexy, with some aspiring to “sex symbolness.” Here’s what they say:

Sexy women get attention. They feel attractive and admired, so it’s a source of self-esteem.

It’s nice to feel wanted and desired. It’s easier to attract mates or just get sex.

It can be fun to feel sexy.

Sex is a historic source of power for women. Sexiness can gain women resources, whether through marriage or getting men to do favors. It puts women in control over men.

Then I ask if there’s a downside. More comments:  Read the rest of this entry

Why Guys Think They Almost Got Laid

A man with Marian, the librarian

A man with Marian, the librarian

You walk into the library and there is an attractive woman behind the counter. You check out books or get a library card and you dare to “connect” with the librarian by chatting a bit about something other than books.

Ladies and gentlemen, believe it or not, in this scenario, the guy might think that he just almost had sex. He thinks that he not only could have her but that he almost did. That isn’t, of course, how the librarian probably views it. She is just doing her job.

That’s Male Sexuality Myth # 3 as Jerry Stocking described it at The Good Men Project. Jerry’s a spirituality author and blogger who helps people eliminate fear, stress and worry. He thinks Myth #3 distracts from reality and real relationships.  Read the rest of this entry

Mammary Glands Deserve Respect – Along With The Rest Of Us

Julia Cahill, "Breasts in the Press”

Julia Cahill, “Breasts in the Press”

My mammary glands are complex and they deserve respect. 

So says artist, Julia Cahill. “Breasts in the Press” is her commentary on their over-sexualized media image. And what better musical accompaniment than her rewrite of the black-eyed peas, “My Humps,” she adds?

Too often over-sexualization leads women and girls to become victims. Kelly Blevins’ “Ghosts” takes us there. Describing her painting she explains, “The hand of a ghost across the neck represents physical, mental and emotional abuse and how it becomes a permanent imprint in us.”

Read the rest of this entry

Do Women Objectify Men?

Men in thongs

Men in thongs

When I talk about objectification, every now and then someone — it may be either a man or a woman — protests that:

  • Women do it too!
  • Women check out men!
  • Playgirl exists!
  • Young girls love teeny-bopper Tiger Beat
  • Etc.

Do women objectify men?  Read the rest of this entry

Girls Hit On Guys Like (Some) Guys Hit On Girls

Luckily, most men already know that when approaching a woman you’re interested in, the best move does not involve leering, catcalling, groping or acting the know-it-all.

Here’s a video for those who don’t. Reversing sexual come-ons:

Also, The Guardian’s Leah Green reverses gender roles in London. Each gender-flipping encounter is based on real experiences women have tweeted about on @EverydaySexism, a project chronicling women’s everyday encounters with sexism.  Read the rest of this entry

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