Tag Archives: body image

Random Acts of Sexism

Lately I’ve been thinking about what specific incidents have led me to become a feminist and I really think I can attribute that to something I’d like to call “everyday sexism”. These acts are seemingly small but have long lasting impacts of the morale of a woman… I’m literally recalling incidents from over 10 years ago. One of the major issues that I’ve had is with my body; it has been over sexualized, criticized, hated, and loved. I’ve literally had people just come up to me and touch my butt because they “couldn’t resist.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This is my body and if you want to touch it you need permission, objectifying me? NOT SEXY. Getting my consent? SEXY. Some of my girlfriends with larger chests have say strangers (men AND women) literally walk up to them at the bar and poke their boobs, like it’s a toy that can be played with – it’s frustrating!

 

But it’s acts that are even smaller than that:

 

It’s calling a girl that speaks her mind a bitch.

 

It’s calling a woman that has multiple partners a slut.

 

It’s honking at woman when you drive by – but actually though, can y’all not?

 

It’s blaming receiving unwanted attention on the clothes a woman is wearing.

 

It’s making a joke that makes fun of women.

 

It’s accusing an emotional woman of being on her period.

 

It’s when a dude buys you a drink and automatically feels some claim to your body.

 

It’s a guy friend who hates you for constantly putting them in the “friend zone.”

 

It’s a partner who doesn’t even think to ask if you WANT to have sex for the simple reason you’re in a relationship.

 

It’s not being able to twerk with your pals without some dude trying to push up on you at a dance party.

 

It’s feeling guilty because you said, “No.”

 

It’s laughing even though that joke about women not knowing how to drive just isn’t f*cking funny.

 

It’s body shaming.

It’s any and everything that has made you question your worth as woman or even a person in this world.

 

 

All of these things just perpetuate this hate of women that I feel is so unintentional it makes my heart hurt. But I really feel with conscious mind and heart, these obstacles can be obliterated.

 

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Friday Funday Links

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Last month, a Duke University freshman wrote an open letter about her work in the porn industry and why she won’t let bullies shame her or delegitimize her experience. This week, she revealed her stage name on XO Jane. Adult-film performer Stoya followed up with a badass op-ed in the NY Times.

Last Monday was National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day. Read about the challenges abortion providers face and stories from an abortion clinic escort.

The White House anti-rape plan takes a critical look at social norms and rape culture

Alyssa Woodard who is affiliated with RLA wrote “Call it what it is: a wealth and race gap” in response to an article in the MN Daily that was mitigating income equality stats.

Check out this cool campaign for reproductive rights—the artist paints messages on people’s bodies and made some great video clips out of it.

NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue went on the Daily Show to talk about the double standard between men and women on reproductive health care

A great blog on the question “are you pregnant?” and conversations around women’s bodies

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5 Badass Spoken Word Poems on Body Image

Spoken word and slam poetry have a long legacy of serving as a sounding board for social issues in general, and women’s issues in particular. Below are five of my favorite spoken word poems dealing with issues of body image, self-love (or sometimes, hate), and sizeism. I am so impressed by the honesty and bravery of all these amazing female poets!

(Trigger warning for eating disorders/body image)

1. Rachel Wiley—10 Honest Thoughts on Being Loved By a Skinny Boy
1.
I say, ‘I am fat.’
He says ‘No, you are beautiful.’
I wonder why I cannot be both.
He kisses me
hard.

2. Sierra Demulder—Ana
Dear Ana,
the truth is,
I would never speak to a child
the way I speak to myself

3. Sonya Renee—The Body is Not an Apology
Let it not be mountain when it is sand
Let it not be ocean when it is grass
Let it not be shaken, flattened, or raised in contrition
The body is not an apology
*Sonya Renee also founded an amazing body image movement titled after the poem

4. Lily Myers—Shrinking Women
“How can anyone have a relationship to food?” he asks, laughing, as I eat a black bean soup I chose for its lack of carbs
I want to say: we come from difference, Jonas,
You have been taught to grow out,
I have been taught to grow in

5. Megan Falley—Fat Girl
Fat girl unbutton her pants at dinner
Fat girl heard “Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels…”
Fat girl certain spicy crunchy tuna rolls taste better than being thin feels.

 

 

 

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Friday Funday Links

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Street harassment getting you down? Check out these 23 cats to help you respond to cat calls.

Because we can’t stay away from talking about Beyoncé…She published an essay on gender equality! On the flip side, a British internet radio station censored Jay Z’s rap in “Drunk in Love” because they feel it promotes violence against women.

In her newest video, Sarah Silverman meets Jesus Christ and discusses new attempts by the Right to restrict legislate women’s health. She also promotes Lady Parts Justice and their “V to Shining V” national pride day for women.

Wednesday marked the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Check out 13 charts that explain how the case changed abortion rights.

American Eagle’s new lingerie marketing campaign features un-retouched photographs and models with diverse bra sizes. But we still have a long way to go in accurately portraying what “real” women look like.

Miss Representation is planning a new documentary focusing on masculinity! We can’t wait.

“It’s the year of the bush”—a new movement is emerging to reclaim women’s body hair

A great analysis of NFL cornerback Richard Sherman’s post-game interview with sports broadcaster Erin Andrews and how public response to how black men and white women interact is extremely problematic.

We are outraged: Garage Magazine posted an editorial of its white editor-in-chief Dasha Zhukova sitting on a “Black Woman” chair

“Wendy Davis has always highlighted her story, not because it is unique but because it isn’t”: When the Right attacks Wendy Davis’s bio, they are attacking any woman who has ever been told her struggle wasn’t valid enough.

Did you read our collective piece on vibrators and feel empowered to buy your own? Make sure your sex toys are safe and toxin-free! Yet another reason to shop at Smitten Kitten

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Friday Funday Links

Though the Affordable Care Act is meant to provide health care regardless of preexisting conditions (such as having a uterus), the Supreme Court will be hearing two cases that could allow companies with “religious values” to deny contraception to their employees. I suppose were back to prioritizing the rights of companies and not the humans that they employ.
When men’s magazines write about sex, they give a lot of bad advice.
This high profile custody case involving Bode Miller raises significant questions about the rights of women.

Michelle Obama is not a feminist nightmare and Melissa Harris Perry is appalled the woman who made that claim.
Someone at the Huffington Post thought it was important to share women’s clothing trends that guys hate. Here is a response.
I’m not going to link to this misogynistic website, which has received far too many hits already, but we should not pay attention to the author and his pieces. 
Unsurprisingly, this study found that women are more likely to be half naked on screen than men.
Its great advice, but the title should read “How to Talk to Your Child About Their Body.”
Read this piece on breast feeding in public.
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Body Image is A Real Issue

When I was around 12 years old, I was visiting my dad’s side of the family in Baltimore. I really liked going there: for one it showed me a place where a different kind of body type was not only more present but was appreciated. My body has always been very different than other girls my age, and has always been something that other people have commented on – most of the time it wasn’t malicious, but still causes me to think of myself differently. And secondly, I loved Baltimore because of the endless amount of cable TV I could watch. My family in Minnesota went in and out of having cable, so I always saw thought it was a luxury.

But maybe my mom was right not to have cable, when I was visiting my Dad I didn’t really have friends down there or homework to do, so I spent a lot of my time watching daytime TV. I would watch VH1, MTV, BET, etc. But the one show that really stuck out to me was some show about America’s Sexiest 100 women; some model (I can’t even remember her name) attributed her staying fit to sprinkling spicy dried peppers over every meal to speed up her metabolism. I saw her body – large bust, smaller waste, curvy figure and so of course 12-year me really wanted to be like her. I had my dad go out and buy those crushed red peppers and ate them on every food that I ate.

I thought back to that the other day and thought it was hilarious… but then I got really sad. Like think about that, a 12-year old girl so obsessed of being what society tells her is pretty that she does something ridiculous like barely eating and whatever she does eat loaded it up with crushed red peppers.

It’s just really sad to know that our society is so driven by looking a certain way and being a certain person that we push these young girls into body image issues that accentuate their insecurities – when we could just as easily promote confidence not matter what and that we’re all different which makes us beautiful!

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Counterpoint: In Defense of Miley

 

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Chances are, you dear reader, saw, read or heard something regarding the performance Miley Cyrus gave at the VMA’s this past weekend. Much slack has been gifted upon Miley within the last 24 hours. Instead of criticism, there is reason to applaud and celebrate her performance.

Miley is a living petri dish of the combusting combination that is fame mixed with coming of age. We as the public, feel the right to watch her transition for our own entertainment value (think: wealth of water cooler small talk) her growing pains provide.

Miley has the blessing and the curse of growing up in the public eye. She is experiencing the raw, painful, and confusing transition to adulthood in front of our eyes. She is blazing a path for herself, unabashedly so. I think if many of us were teen pop stars, we would act the same way. Why can’t we celebrate her fierce and tenacious run towards her new self? Why can’t we, instead of criticizing, applaud her for the brave and bold stance she is taking in her new found identity?

Why must we put a limit on the amount she is allowed to explore herself? Why should there be realms?

Continue reading

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Rewriting our Story: The Struggle to Empower Women

Women in the Media

The illustration above showcases some of the recent organizations, writings, studies and statistics that have come to the front page of main stream news. Many previous authors have have written about how the internet has accelerated and in some ways, revived feminist organizations, movements and collaborations. I agree, with the access to knowledge and information we see the global widespread discrimination, violence, misogyny against women, as well as the successes, educational attainment, military inclusion, and role of women in the workplace.

With nearly 70% of women experiencing violence (physical or sexual) in their lifetime – this astounding and overwhelming UN Report demonstrates the need to rewrite our story.  A majority of women, girls, mothers, wives, sisters, cousins and friends encountering violence more than likely at the hands of men. This stat makes the violence experience seem inevitable. As a result, our culture incorporates “empowering” choices to help keep women safe. For example, think back, at what age did you receive or have you given the following advice:

  • Don’t go into dark alleyways or streets alone at night
  • Don’t walk alone at night, anywhere, even in your own neighborhood
  • Park under the street light or in the parking ramp closest to the exit
  • Take a taxi from a bar instead of public transportation
  • Bring friends with you if you use public transportation
  • What time are you coming or going?
  • Are friends going with you?
  • Call me when you arrive.
  • How well do you know him?

All of these seemingly helpful hints or advice are simultaneously disadvantageous to the feminist movement – because they target young women. The “advice” tells women that we can make the right choices and bad things will not happen. For some that is true, but for many of us, the choice may not be in our hands.

For many of us, it is men who make conscious, manipulative, unhealthy and violent choices that shape our lives forever.

Where are the efforts and campaigns to change men? Sure, we have heard about them, but unlike these mainstream efforts highlighted in the illustration, we are still “empowering” women. (NOTE: I am not advocating we do not have safe plans or take caution and I agree there are “sensible” things anyone can do.)

So; where are the questions to men about why would you chase a women alone? Why is intimidating her rewarding? How drunk was she — that doesn’t seem cool? Why are women the sole or primary providers in families — is this really evidence of women’s advancement in the workplace or is it because so many men walk out on women and families?

What do these organizations and statistics have in common (referenced in the illustration)? It seems that the effort of modern day feminism – to support equal rights, safety and empowerment for women – is increasingly becoming part of daily news, charitable contribution and donation efforts.

This is an applauded effort but, unfortunately, the men who rape, beat, humiliate, harass women in the world are not the strange scary psychos that we can spot, fear and lockup. They may not be the weirdos, or creepy men, the stereotypical men we avoid. They are less likely to be strangers, and most likely to be our current, former partner, acquaintance or in all simple form – a man we know.

These men are brothers, gay friends, cousins, fathers, husbands, friends, uncles, god fathers. They know us and we know them. They make conscious choices, manipulative choices, choices out of misogyny, privilege and wealth. We as a society have to recognize that with astounding numbers like 1 in 3 military women will be sexually assaulted and 1 in 5 civilian women, that there is an epidemic, a conscious epidemic, that enables men, for centuries to repeatedly abuse, manipulate, hurt and walk out on women.

Until men can identify, understand and change their choices, actions and language that routinely negatively impact women on a daily basis, and therefore, the family, the stats will remain a reality.

What does it mean? It means we have to rewrite the story. We have to think, talk, live, play and work differently with the men in our lives. It means we have to hold men accountable, at every stage – at the small jokes that seem harmless, at the movies they watch and quote, no matter how seemingly funny or “normal.” It means we cannot be embarrassed or protect the ego and the “system.” It means we must have the uncomfortable conversation with the male friends we have known for years, and even those we may admire most, like our fathers and brothers.

To rewrite our story, we need men to engage in choices, decisions and opportunities that empower women.

What are your thoughts? Check out the movements and reports in the illustration by selecting the links below.

Chime for Change

College Enrollment by Gender

Domestic Violence Hotline

2013 US State Department Report on Human Trafficking

An Open Letter to Facebook: Take a Stand on Gender Violence & Hate

The Pixel Project

One Billion Rising

Reproductive Rights for Women

Why Society Still Needs Feminism

Women in Combat: Sexual Violence

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Friday Funday Links

Read this important and timely article about how white women can be better allies to black men

Check out this Huffington Post piece on lifelong monogamy. At minute 6:22 Stephanie Iris Weiss says that women don’t often explicitly express their sexuality and sexual desires. She cites better education for teenage girls (e.g. giving them a vibrator at their first period) as a possible solution.

Watch Bodyform’s humorous and blunt response to a man’s facebook rant about false advertising for Maxipad:

Finally! Enjoy the beat and melody of Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke AND women’s rights!

Next go read this article in The Atlantic about Angel Haze and how rap music can help end rape culture.

Then there’s this outrageous case about rape survivor Marte Deborah Dalelv’s conviction and subsequent pardon in Dubai.

You can also read this great article written by a sex worker about the stigmatization of women in the industry

And finally, look at these stunning photos of real women’s bodies from A Beautiful Body Project

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the social importance of Cherishing Our Bodies

Women’s bodies are too often objectified, commodified, over-sexualized, and sold. We are told that beauty is that of airbrushed skin and proportions; style is what’s hot on the market. So we devalue our bodies. Whether it’s hiding behind baggy clothes or displaying what we got in heels and push up bras, our focus is often too visual. We need to shift our focus to health and strength – first personally, then socially. I want to share some of my musings on bodily self care as a way to combat objectification of the body.   

A friend from home came to visit a couple weekends ago. He arrived on campus and played basketball at the gym with strangers before I met up with him on the row. When I found him, he was shirtless and sweaty, wearing hiking boots and work out pants. I didn’t know it at the time, but it turned out that our weekend together would be all about the body. We talked about our bodies, moved them, stretched them, nourished them, played with them, and loved them. Thanks to my weekend with my friend, I was able to contextualize various bits of my habits and daily regimens, and realize that body care is a priority for me. I probably won’t start playing ball with strangers or walking around shirtless, but my weekend of bodily self care reminded me that my body is central to all that I do, and that it should be cherished in a healthy manner. The stronger I feel, the more confident I am, and the less I give in to social objectification.

  • Stretching: I try to stretch every day, even on busy days. We did a group stretch session with my housemates and it was incredibly rewarding because we got to share skills, do partner stretches, and swap massages at the end.
  • Massages: These can happen anywhere, anytime. My friend gave me one while we were at a baseball game! Apply concentrated pressure. Ask for feedback. The recipient will tell you where it hurts, what feels good, what needs attention. Massage the face (we build up a lot of tension here), stretch arms, use massage oil.
  • Movement: I always say that school is bad for me because I spend so much time in a chair. I try to make up for it by standing while watching a video or stretching while reading. Even better, though, is making time each day to go for a walk, jog, bike ride, or trip to the gym. Even little dance parties with friends or a five minute break for jumping jacks can get the blood flowing. I’ve found that, the more I move, the more energized I am.
  • Sleep: Prioritize it! I used to feel that any time I spent asleep was time missing out on something else (a cool party, an important book, etc.) but a back injury I suffered last winter forced me to sleep in order to heal. It was a gift in disguise, because I came to value sleep as fuel for my body. I began writing down my dreams every morning, and, thanks to the journaling, they’ve become vivid and detailed in my memory. Even if I am missing a great event to sleep, I’m having a valuable dream adventure on my own.
  • Core: When I hurt my back, I had to do a lot of physical therapy. The body part we focused on most was my core. I’ve continued to workout my core more than any other body part because it supports my back, as well as the rest of my body. Supermans and certain yoga poses are some of my favorites.
  • Nourishment: I have too many friends here at school who say, at 7pm, “I haven’t eaten anything yet today.” They say it’s not purposeful, it’s that they’re too busy. And, being a college student myself, I believe it. But I am willing to get to a meeting late to grab a bowl of yogurt and a piece of fruit. I am often the one noisily munching on a sandwich in class. If I’m not fed, I’m low energy and cranky. Make an effort to carve out those 10 or 15 minutes to feed yourself.
  • Tea: I drink at least 2 cups a day, using it to relax and energize. A housemate recently began drinking 6 cups a day because she read a study saying that 6 cups reduces stress substantially. Who knows if that’s true, but no harm in upping your yummy steamy water intake!

I dream of a world where openness and compassion are prevalent, and where we are all proud to rock any outfit. I am tired of the media pushing for just the opposite. But I am not going to spend my energy on changing such a massive system. Instead, I’m going to care for my body to strengthen myself and to maximize the positive impact I can have on others. I’m excited to start reading Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness, by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. My friend who visited the other weekend was reading it, and I expect to gain mind and body care techniques from the book. A recent audio recording of the book can be found here.   

Beautiful You, the book I mentioned in my post on polyamory and self love, states that love for your body is a metaphor for your love for yourself. Caring for your body is valuing YOU.

For some physical inspiration check out this video on calisthenics. The Bartendaz are based in New York City and do most of their workouts in free facilities – parks! I couldn’t find my favorite video with kids beastin’ it but this one is pretty cool.

 

Written by Magdalena Kaluza

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