I think every woman has heard it at least once in her life. “Bitch!” Whether or not we were “acting like one.” Men say it. Women say it. I’ve said it more than once.
It starts early.
The first time I heard it was on the school playground, waiting my turn at the monkey bars. A girl cut me in line, so I told her I was next. She called me a “bitch” and walked away.
I was surprised. I knew it was a “bad word” but I didn’t know what I had done wrong or “bitchy.” I would come to wonder, many more times, why I was called that name.
Usually, it was when I stood up for myself. Sometimes it targeted my reproductive system: “Why are you being such a bitch? Are you on your period?” Because I can’t be angry or upset unless it’s that, right? Other times the word ridiculed me just for being female. Maybe that’s why our reproductive system seems especially “bitchy” — it defines us as women. Read the rest of this entry
Cameron Russell transforms herself from hot model to girl-next-door in six seconds after walking on stage for a TED Talk. All she did was trade six-inch heels for flats, wrap a long skirt over her mini and pull on a sweater.
Image is superficial.
But it’s also powerful.
Once when she had wanted to buy a dress, but forgotten her money, she got the dress for free.
Yet a brown-skinned woman might be followed around the store, identified as a potential shoplifter.
When a friend of Cameron’s got pulled over for running a red light, the supermodel uttered, ”Sorry, officer” and they got off scott free. Read the rest of this entry
The Modern Love College Essay Contest of 2008, sponsored by the New York Times, found students grappling with hookup culture: sex without emotion. Three years later students struggled with the opposite issue: intense emotional relationships that were devoid of sex because they were online.
The strategies seem to be complete opposites. Yet they hold similarities. Read the rest of this entry
Downton Abbey and HBO’s Girls seem to be talking to each other, says Anand Giridharadas in a New York Times piece.
The early 20th Century world of Downton’s British aristocracy knew “there is a way to do everything, from cleaning spoons to dressing for dinner.”
But then World War I unleashes its chaos, confusing notions about who is independent and where one stands. Thus,
The family driver, believing in equality and marrying for love, runs away with the family daughter; thus the men wear black tie instead of white to dinner one night; thus a new generation of servants is less servile, more willing to question.
HBO’s Girls yields the fruits of that push a century later — and it isn’t pretty, he says — as four young women navigate the stresses and opportunities of New York City: a world that “says you can be anything but does not show you how.” Read the rest of this entry
- Wear clothing that’s hard to remove. (Jumpsuits? Overalls?)
- Wear a hairstyle that’s hard to grab. (So cut off your hair?)
- Wear footwear that can help you get away. (Sneakers?)
After all that, women could end up looking not so attractive. Yet they’re also told that they’re supposed to be attractive. So it’s confusing.
And then there’s this: Read the rest of this entry
Imagery is powerful. I remember my mother watching Marilyn Monroe movies and looking at her pictures in magazines. She bleached her hair and styled it like Marilyn’s. Mom dressed in high heeled boots and miniskirts and wore the style of make-up that graced magazine covers. My father loved it. I saw the attention men gave her, especially at parties. Looking back I see how the ideal of the perfect woman had a huge impact on the psychology of my mother. And me.
Although beautiful, mom lacked self-confidence and self-esteem. She gave up on her dreams to pursue the love of a man through beautifying herself. She became a submissive woman at the beck and call of the men in her life. No surprise, she married eight times before age thirty.
I watched men walk all over my mother, treating her like a trophy wife in front of their friends. But behind closed doors they demeaned and objectified her. I grew to dislike men, yet followed in her footsteps. It began in elementary school.
Out of a class of 46 I’ve just got nine men (this is women’s studies, after all) — and only seven of them showed up in time to take the survey, so this is a very small sampling. And between a willingness to take that class and living in the Bay Area, they may be more liberal than most.
Here’s what I asked them:
Has a woman ever asked you out? If yes, what did you think and why? If no, would you like a woman to ask you out, or would it make you feel uncomfortable? Should it be socially acceptable for women to ask men out?
And here’s what they said: Read the rest of this entry
In this gender reversal you’ll see things, ranging from a passively obedient man, to a man being dismissed (men shouldn’t worry their pretty little heads about important stuff) to sexual harassment and assault.
It all may be more jarring when a man experiences it. Partly because we can grow numb to things we are used to seeing and hearing about. So this video breaks the taken-for-grantedness of it. And, since these things don’t typically affect men, they don’t really have to think about it. Read the rest of this entry
Guys sometimes wonder why women don’t ask men out. Plenty of women don’t. But it turns out that many have — and do. Here’s what students from one of my women’s studies classes had to say. (My method was discussed in another post.)
Out of the 26 women who responded to my survey, 17 had actually made the first move at some point. So many more had than hadn’t.
Here’s what they had to say: Read the rest of this entry
“Hannah” seemed off-kilter.
She was dating a friend of mine in high school. They fought constantly and it was always ups and downs, always on and off.
Her personality swang widely, too. She went from hyper to depressed and back again. And her clothing seemed to fit her depressive mood: sweatpants and t-shirts. Maybe they expressed her sad life. Maybe they made her feel safer, making her invisible. Sometimes she hid in her own bubble, cutting everyone off.
I think she was also a cutter.
She never talked about her family and I wondered why. But over time she opened up to me. She had never felt loved by her mom or dad. Especially her dad. That’s all she said at first. Read the rest of this entry