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We Do Not

11 Apr

We do not wear halter tops. We do not wear sleeveless shirts or dresses without cardigans, blazers or shrugs. If we do, we feel eyes heavy on our backs and our chests and we cringe and blush and try to cover ourselves with our hands, to no avail. We no longer wear that beautiful silk shirt whose ruffles are so heavy that they pull the neckline down too low. We shall no longer wear cowlnecks for that same reason. We do not ever wear tank tops.

We do not wear skirts that are higher than a fingers’ length above the knee. We rarely wear skirts anyway. We do not wear heels above three inches. We never wear heels anyway. We do not wear jangly earrings, even though the tinkling sound of metal on metal near our ears always reminded us of wind chimes on sunny spring days. We do not wear glitter, even if it makes us feel like the night sky.

We do not wear our pajamas to the grocery store. We do not wait at bus stops in our bathrobes. We do not go barefoot in public. We are appropriately ashamed of our chipped toenail polish. We do not line our eyes in kohl, or paint flowers on our cheeks. We do not skip. We do not run. We in no uncertain terms do not do cartwheels. We never glue gemstones to our faces.

We do not wear shorts. We do not laugh too loudly or for too long. We do not interrupt. We do not look up. We do not stride, or stand up too straight, or take up too much room in our chairs. We do not make eye contact first, and we look away and down quickly, blushing, feeling a rush of shame and anxiety as we pass strangers in hallways. We do not walk a straight line through a crowd.

I want to wear pants!

15 Mar

Delightful thing my roommate brought to my attention. It’s a re-swizzling of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” but it’s about suffrage and it’s way better than the original:

Just remember, ladies: Suffrage is swell, but the battle ain’t over yet. Don’t listen to Beyonce. Girls do not run the world. That is straight shit and everybody knows it.

Jerks on the internet, jerks in real life

5 Mar

As you might guess, I spend a fair amount of time on the internet. It’s a pretty great medium for curating Important World News, tasty new recipes, and ridiculous makeup tutorials (little known fact: I’m secretly a drag queen). It also works pretty well for meeting new friends who share my interests, as opposed to the IRL version of meeting new people, which mostly involves proximity. Why leave things to chance when you can find new friends who are pre-approved by the internet as awesome, amirite?

As such, I like to host meetups – which are real-life get-togethers for internet people. I do dance ones, and queer people ones, and feminist people ones, and anything else that sounds interesting. Because, despite my misanthropy, I have this irrepressible urge to meet and become friends with people. I can’t explain it, it’s just the way it is. I organize monthly bar crawls, am doing Portland’s first-ever queer bar takeover this Saturday, and throw an obscene number of parties despite the smallness of my house.

This last Saturday I organized a lesbian bar crawl – it was fun as always, and I got to see some familiar faces as well as meet a bunch of really cool new people (WHY didn’t I get everyone’s phone number?! Oh, right – I was busy taking shots.) The night got off to a rocky start, though, and ended on a sour note.

The beginning: A handful of women (who had been confused by the invitation and shown up an hour early [admittedly my fault]) were quite cold to me and others when we arrived. I thought at first they may have been upset at the timing of our arrival – but they seemed to be having a good time talking to one another. After a bit of awkwardness, as we were gathering up to head off to the next bar, this pack of … ladies… announced loud enough for at least one person to hear that they were leaving because there weren’t enough femmes in attendance.

Leaving. Because. Of. Lack. Of. Femmes. Honestly, I think I probably brought enough femme for everyone (red lipstick, 3-inch heels, crinoline dress, checked stockings, flower headband, hairspray’d updo). But that’s beside the point. Here was a group of people who’d knowingly showed up to make new friends, and then decided to leave because some of the people in the group didn’t look as they prefer. They didn’t even TRY to talk to anyone outside their group, despite my frequent attempts at engaging them. Good riddance, I suppose. But I still just can’t fathom why of all the things there are to do on a Saturday night, you’d choose to go to an event designed for mingling with such a narrow mind. What a pack of bitches. And what a shitty switch from the usual “you can’t be in the lesbian club because you’re too femme” crowd. Frying pan, meet fire.

The evening progressed well after that, and everyone else was nothing but charming and lovely. There was much cider-drinking and cheese-eating and general loudness. Special ladyfriend ran into her straight friend on the way to one of the bars, and we had a straight male ally show up, and everyone welcomed both of them as they would any other nice people. Because that is what normal people do! It doesn’t matter what your gender or orientation or gender presentation is, there is a human being underneath all that shit who is probably funny and interesting and smart in ways that are different from you. Or maybe they’re an asshole. Either way you won’t find out unless you talk to them. Why the hell would anyone give two shits about anything else?

When we got to the last bar we split into two groups as there were so many of us. Unbeknownst to me, as I was busy laughing my ass off, someone on the other end of the room who had been with the original group of crankypants people but stayed behind, was going on a cissexist, transphobic rant. As I innocently ogled pole-dancing pictures on my friend’s phone and arranged people into ridiculous poses for photographs, this was happening. I didn’t find out until the next day when my friend who witnessed the rant, messaged me to tell me she wouldn’t be coming to anymore of this type of get-together. I don’t blame her, I wouldn’t either.

I’m not really sure how to police people’s behavior at something as casual as a bar crawl, especially when I am likely to quickly become too intoxicated to really notice anything but the fact that everyone is suddenly very interesting and hilarious. Until I figure it out, though, meetups may have to be in a holding pattern.

Except this Saturday’s meetup, of course. That’s already scheduled and is an unstoppable steamroller of queerness. If you live in or near Portland, you should come. Unless you hate femmes, not-femmes, trans people, or any other group of people for no good reason. Then you should just stay home and eat moldy waffles.

Women! The Internet Hates You

20 Jan

I’ve been felled with a terrible cold/cough/bird flu. So a couple nights ago, I found myself doped up on NyQuil and totally useless to everyone around me. Naturally, what with Reddit and Wikipedia being offline in protest of SOPA (yes, I wrote to my representatives, don’t lecture) I turned to StumbleUpon for some lowbrow entertainment to take my mind off my lung-threatening illness.

What did I find but yet another user-content driven web site capable of providing hours of entertaining fun! It’s called IdeaSwap. You’re supposed to submit an idea you have but can’t or won’t accomplish. Like, for example, “Build a leaning tower of Portland.” Once you click submit, someone else’s idea pops up. You click that button enough times, something you DO have the resources to commit to is bound to pop up. Like, for example, “Go to sleep.”

Naturally, I typed in my brilliant idea, and what pops up but this:

It reads: “[sic]if you’re a woman, get offline and go to the kitchen,
if you’re a guy, tell a woman to go fetch a beer for ya :D”

Awww, thanks internet! It sure is awesome being a female on you. The internet is a glorious place where it’s nigh impossible to ignore misogyny. In real life, it’s often masked and difficult to uncover. On the internet, though, people aren’t afraid to reveal the true nature of their woman-hatred, ‘cuz they get to be anonymous and add stupid little smileys after their grammatical train wreck sentences.

Being a masochist, I clicked again. What should appear but this:

It reads: “Women should not crack their backs. It’s bad for their
reproductive systems.”

Firstly, this is less of an idea and more of a misguided directive so five demerits there. Secondly, it’s stupid. I’m no doctor. Nor do I have any chiropractic training. But a cursory Google search turns up no evidence for what this sticky note posits. Only a bit of hemming and hawing about joint-cracking in general being possibly linked to arthritis, which has no relation to reproduction whatsoever. A cursory brain search turns up … rage. As per usual, the only type of health women have worth caring about is the reproductive variety. We can certainly feel free to crack our knuckles, knees and even skulls, just so long as we can still serve as incubators for the next generation of male overlords and female incubators.

Clicking again, I got this:

It reads: “sometimes all you need to get by is a girl[sic]“

Sometimes all you need to get by is a steady paycheck and a 5th-floor walkup. Other times, a bowl of soup and a blanket. Today, though, is an object lesson in females as objects. Feeling down? Head over to your local K-Mart and pick up a late-model lady! She’ll get you beer, give you babies, and help you “get by,” apparently. It’s like a sinister version of the peppy Beatles hit:

Exasperated, I clicked again.

It reads: “Let’s do a wife swap every ten years.”

And that’s the topper. Not that there’s anything wrong with swinging, if that’s your bag. There ain’t. But for the luvvagod, people, check with your wives first. Nothing is less sexy than nonconsensual nonmonogamy, except maybe being traded for funsies with strangers on the internet via digital sticky note.

With that, I turned off the computer and went to bed, safe in the knowledge that I am surrounded by insane people who hate me and millions of people like me, because we have ladybits. If they’re not busy hating your ladybits, they’re busy hating your queeritude. If they’re not busy with that, they’re busy hating transpeople, or people of color, or poor people, or… all of the above. And that hatred leads to the taking-away-of-rights. And violence. And rape. And murder. And mutilation [NSFW]. I tells ya, it’s enough to make a misanthrope outta me.

In any case, I’m glad that Wikipedia and Reddit are back, and that SOPA is failing miserably. Now if only we could all rally behind other causes that are just as – if not more – important. Ideas, people? Put ‘em in the comments. No ‘get me a sandwich’ allowed. Lurkers, ummask thyselves!

 And don’t forget to subscribe, or join!

Merry (heteronormative consumerist misogynist) Christmas!

24 Dec
Artist’s interpretation of my gayyyy
Christmas tree to go with my gayyyy scarf.

Hey! Today is Christmas Eve! That means it’s time to celebrate queery feministy socialisty things, right? No? It’s time to sit around and celebrate buying stuff and eating animal products, you say? Bah. My version of Christmas is awesomer than that, cuz it has rainbows.

Seriously, though, we actually do have a Christmas tree this year, and it has a faaaaabulous rainbow tinsel garland. But you’d never know that Christmas is an equal-opportunity holiday. Why? Because it ain’t. That’s right, kids, Christmas isn’t for everyone. And it excludes lots more people than just non-Christians.

For starters, Santa gives more presents to rich kids than poor ones. Santa’s kind of a dick that way. Illustrative anecdote:

In the third grade, Cole Slater, sporting his flat-top haircut, came up to me on the playground and asked, “What’d you get for Christmas?” I knew it was a trick, so I tried to avoid answering. “A few things,” I said (reality: A heap of stuff – probably a dollhouse, some footie PJs, more candy than a full-grown adult, let alone a 7-year-old, could ever possibly eat, an assortment of various other trinkets). “Why, what’d you get?”

“DIDDLY SQUAT!” he screamed so vehemently that his face turned red and blotchy.

Then he ran off to retrieve a basketball so he could spend the rest of recess hurling it at my head. Man that kid was pissed. Although in his case, he didn’t get any Christmas presents because he was a gen-u-wine jerkalope, there are plenty of angelic little sh*ts out there that do, indeed, get diddly squat for no other reason than Santa is not a fan of the Great Unwasheds. Christmas is for the rich.

Christmas is also for the straights. Specifically, straights with kids. And in particular the holiday is FOR children, not adults. Woe be to ye who is:

a)    Queer
b)    Childless
c)    An adult
d)    All three

Don’t believe me? Turn on your TV. Watch the onslaught of happy (white upper-middle-class headed by heterosexual couples with two point five tow-headed children and one golden Labrador) families (read: children, because everyone knows a family ain’t a family without kids) tearing into boxes stuffed with goodies from your favorite Holiday Retailers.

Even non-humanoid
illustrations are heteronormative.

Try finding an illustrated Christmas card that has humanoid figures on it that are not either of children (children ice skating! children looking hapless! children raptly gazing into Santa’s pedo eyes!) or families with children (the classic nuclear family portrait with surrounding sun-ray beams and matching outfits) headed by, you guessed it, one man and one woman. Man is center-frame, with his incubator wife and minion children around him.

What if you’re the adult female part of that hetero-happyland? Well then lucky you! You get to do all the work:

It’s the lady of the house’s job to make her kids happy – nay, enchanted – on Christmas, because kids that aren’t absolutely over the moon on Christmas get taken away by child protective services here in Amerikuh. Also she’s in charge of mailing all the cards to her family AND her husband’s family, as he certainly can’t be bothered with such niceties, as well as cooking, cleaning, and arranging the familial obligations and travel plans. He will carry the tree in, though. What a mensch!

All that being said, I do enjoy Christmas (particularly the excuse to mail stacks of cards to folks). It’s not my favorite (that’s my birthday, naturally, followed by Halloween), but any reason to gather with the three Fs (friends, family, food) is OK in my book. Passover, Christmas, Tuesday night potluck, pub crawl debauch, whatever, I dig it. What are your favorite holidays/holiday traditions? Do you notice the homogenous target demographic of “The Holidays,” and how does it make you feel? And what are you doing today, tomorrow, and the day after?

Solstice: Dies Natalis Invicti Solis

22 Dec

It’s winter solstice today here in the Northern hemisphere (or, if you’re an ancient Roman, the birthday of the unconquered sun!). It’s the time of year to spend many hours inside, doing home-y things. Like baking cookies to mail to your friends and give to your neighbors and then eating them all instead. And reading Adrienne Rich poems about winter:

Homage to Winter 
by Adrienne Rich

You: a woman too old
for passive contemplation
caught staring out a window
at bird-of-paradise spikes
jewelled with rain, across an alley
It’s winter in this land
of roses, roses sometimes
the fog lies thicker around you than your past
sometimes the Pacific radiance
scours the air to lapis
In this new world you feel
backward along the hem of your whole life
questioning every breadth
Nights you can watch the moon shed skin after skin
over and over, alway a shape
of imbalance except
at birth and in the full
You, still trying to learn
how to live, what must be done
thought in death you will be complete
whatever you do
But death is not the answer.

On these flat green leaves
light skates like a golden blade
high in the dull-green pine
sit two mushroom-colored doves
afterglow overflows
across the bungalow roof
between the signs for the three-way stop
over everything that is:
the cotton pants stirring on the line, the
empty Coke can by the fence
onto the still unflowering
mysterious acacia
and a sudden chill takes the air

Backward you dream to a porch
you stood on a year ago
snow flying quick as thought
sticking to your shoulder gone
Blue shadows, ridged and fading
on a snow-swept road
the shortest day of the year
Backward you dream to glare ice
and ice-wet pussywillows
to Riverside Drive, the wind
cut loose from Hudson’s Bay
driving tatters into your face
And back you come at last to that room
without a view, where webs of frost
blinded the panes at noon
where already you had begun
to make the visible world your conscience
asking things: What can you tell me?
what am I doing? what must I do?

May your days continue to lengthen, dear readers. And have a good solstice – those cookies are in the mail, I promise. *covers mouth*

Wife-Beaters Welcome!

12 Oct

Topeka, Kansas is now officially the best place in the U.S. to beat your wife. The city council decided to repeal the local law that makes domestic violence a crime there by a vote of 7 to 3. Thanks guys! Their reasoning is not that they hate women, but that it’s just too darn expensive to prosecute the hordes of wife-beaters (and girlfriend-beaters, and various other beaters) out there, and therefore easier to decriminalize domestic violence.

One of the damn funniest legal writers out there, Elie Mystal, has a commendable piece on the Above the Law blog:

The Topeka City Council] wouldn’t have repealed misdemeanor ordinances about robbery. The(y) wouldn’t have decriminalized drugs. They wouldn’t have messed around with funding the prosecution of something that they really cared about.

But women, and the beating thereof? Oh, let’s make a political point about fiscal responsibility with that. They would have seen the problems with headlines claiming Topeka was a drug haven or the storefront robbery capital of the world. But when they contemplated becoming Disneyland for wife-beaters, they were cool with it.(via)

I know a lot of people who think of themselves as “socially liberal, but fiscally conservative,” and here’s an example of of that philosophy failing to the utmost. It’s hard to fathom anyone thinking, “Ehhh, what’s a few bruised ladies in comparison to all that moolah?!” but that’s exactly what the Topeka City Council (elected officials, respected pillars of society) thought when they decriminalized domestic violence.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how disgusted are you? Tell me what you think in the comments.

Weekend Open Thread: Dieting edition

30 Sep

I love feminist kitteh. Feminist kitteh does not like to diet. Why? Well, feminist kitteh is a personal friend of mine, and she told me why: It’s because when you are dieting, there is no room for apple pie punch, and you can’t have cookies for breakfast. That, my friends, is unacceptable.

Friday means semi-topical open threads, so let’s talk about food, shall we? Talk amongst yourselves – I’ll give you some topics:

  • Do you remember the first time you “went on a diet”? How old were you? What inspired it?
  • What’s your relationship with food like? Has it changed as you’ve grown up/gotten older?
  • What do you do when you’re tempted to cave in to the pressure to be thin/muscley/whatever-it-is-society/fashion magazines-tell-you-you’re-supposed-to-be-for-your-gender?
  • How do you draw the line between keeping yourself healthy (avoiding bad-for-you-foods and remembering to get exercise now and again) and straight-up image obsession?
  • If you have children, how do you/did you go about teaching them to have a healthy relationship with food? If you don’t, how would you? Or what was your childhood relationship with food like? What did you learn from your parents/family/friends/boob tube?

Fat dudes up, fat chicks down

13 Sep

Commenters! This week’s unicorn award for best comment goes to… every last one o’ ya! Why? Because y’all made me think Very Hard Thoughts on a Sunday.

Here is a smattering of observations from readers:

I feel more stigma now for my weight than anything I wear. 

… society continues to undermine women, despite our (relatively) newfound career freedom, by severely objectifying our bodies – fatness being the ultimate stigma.

But of course everyone knows that only women who are capable of keeping their bodies in check are capable of anything beyond the most rudimentary tasks. If you can’t keep yourself thin, you can’t do anything, can you? -Nanifay

Turns out, this issue has ACTUAL SCIENCE behind it. Did you know, for example, that overweight women earn less, while overweight men earn more? How is that fair? Answer: It isn’t. No dice if you’re “average weight,” either – you have to be RAIL THIN (25 pounds below the median, to be precise) in order to reap the salary benefits. If I lost 25 pounds, I would no longer be able to support the weight of my own head. But hey, I’d make an extra $16K!

And lest we forget, it’s not just women’s weight that is policed by the patriarchy Gestapo, it’s also our faces:

I recently learned that not wearing make-up was making people thinking of me as less professional. Sad face. – Kate Dino

Sadface indeed. We all know that having wrinkles, acne, uneven skin tone, flat eyelashes or mussed-up hair is directly correlational to job performance. AMIRITE, ladies? Who here finds it hard to think when her lipstick shade is a bit off? Can I get a hell yeah? Ugh.

Meanwhile, there are definite benefits to looking the part (besides being seen as professional and getting paid more):

Most of my life I’ve tried to appear as anonymous as possible, probably following the example of my Communist Dad who thought you should dress for rallies and demonstrations in such a way as to give you time to dodge a blow while the cop was momentarily unsure if you were a dirty Red or a respectable bystander. – John Burke

Smart thinking, those Red Diaper babies. I get pulled over way less now that I have brown hair instead of pink. A friend of mine quipped that when she quit driving a hippie car, and started strapping a baby in the back, she was harassed a heckuva lot less by the coppers. Although it’s not surprising, it’s still kind of shocking. “Racial profiling” is in the news a lot, but that’s clearly not the only kind of profiling that goes on.

Thanks for being a bunch of smartiepants, guys! And keep those comments coming – I get a wonderful surge of a feeling I can only describe as “validation as a human being” every time someone comments.*

*Unless you are a crazy person who is threatening me ‘cuz darnit, who told ladies they could have opinions anyway?! Then I just mock your poor grasp on grammatical conventions and picture you drowning in a lake of fire.

Shower scum: Keeping it real in body-wash territory

6 Sep

Just when you thought the only thing you had to be afraid of while in the shower was Norman Bates… enter body wash marketing! Yes, folks, even your tenderest of nooks and/or crannies can’t escape subjection to gendered representations of males and females. Here’s an illustrative snapshot of some products I found in my shower:

Innocent enough, right? But wait, look a little closer…

Note that the Axe body wash, primarily marketed to gents, is called “Excite.” This scent will invigorate you! Wake you up! The packaging will inspire you to go on the prowl! To snag lots of womenfolk in slinky dresses! And get powerful jobs with powerful salaries and command powerful armies of sniveling minions!

Compare it with the ladies’ body wash here, called “Calm.” It’ll help you hysterical betches to calm right the fuck down! Stop whining! Quit your bitchin’ about PMS or the Patriarchy or whatever you damn ladies are always yakking about! Pull you back from the brink of hysteria! This body wash is a stop-gap measure before Yellow Wallpaper time, ladies.

Alas, even the woman-on-the-verge’s traditional retreat from the vagaries of everyday life as a second-class citizen – the bathroom – is no longer safe.

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