About Those Race-Swapping Photos

Have you guys seen those photos about race swapping everyday interactions? A lot of people have been excited about them and Oprah gave them the stamp of approval for her magazine. My initial reaction was like, “Oh, I get it.” Followed by anger.

First, allow me to first cushion the hell out of what I’m going to say. There is space for photos like these, and that they may have made a positive impact in a discussion about racism in America is great. I’m no Oprah; I don’t have that magic of being a significant social influencer for millions of people. These photos very well may be what the (fake, TV) doctor ordered.

There are things these photos do well. They portray relatively simple scenes with seemingly low-stakes in everyday situations for women and girls. I like that aspect. There should be more discussion about race relations between women and the effects of power dynamics in everyday life. That’s important stuff.

So why was I pissed? It’s complicated.

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Yes, Virginia, It’s Sexism

I don’t hide the fact that I’m a Hillary supporter, but I also don’t go out of my way to try and convert others. I just don’t have the wherewithal to slog through conspiracy theories and paranoia like a political ice breaker.

When all you do is shout,
When all you do is shout, “Benghazi!” I have a difficult time engaging in discourse with you…

However, I do want to point out the sexism that Clinton been subjected to through out this campaign that is couched as legitimate criticism. Now, Shakesville has a much more comprehensive list, but it still isn’t every sexist thing that has been lobbed at Clinton. (Ain’t nobody got time for that.) Continue reading Yes, Virginia, It’s Sexism

Why Are We More Comfortable When Robots Have Boobs?

Whenever I come across an android in movies, novels, or anime, there seems to be a disquieting amount of comfort surrounding the existence of female androids. Male androids get the heartrending or thought provoking stories of being almost human, of trying to discover themselves and what it means to be human and yet not. Think of Roy Batty in Bladerunner, David in A.I.,  David in Prometheus – these are characters that are unsettlingly human in a way that is disruptive to the society that made them. These characters are also all white and perceived as male.

Female androids seems to slip pretty comfortably into societal expectations – female as housekeeper or maid, female as pleasantly helpful organizer of information (a sort of housekeeper for business), female as prostitute. If these fem-androids aren’t satisfied with their role as servants to humans, they often act out in ways that are typical narrative templates for women behaving badly. Continue reading Why Are We More Comfortable When Robots Have Boobs?

The Pressures of Masculinity – Part 2

Part 1 of these essays provides some context as to why I’m writing them and covers the negative consequences for men in regards to women being trophies for successful masculinity. The next subject I will cover is how patriarchal standards require men to perform masculinity in a way that emphasizes action, strength, and dominance and the negative consequences men face.

Now, to a certain extent these attributes are also valued in women. But in a patriarchal society, I consider them in much the same way that physical attractiveness and social adeptness are valued in men as compared to women. Is it advantageous for a man to be good looking and socially smooth? Absolutely. Are these things required for him to be perceived as masculine? No, but prettiness and social consideration are required for women if they are to be perceived as feminine. Being attractive in a way that’s pretty or being extremely socially conscious can even make a man seem effeminate. After all, the term metrosexual wasn’t devised because being deeply concerned about how you look and what others think is part of traditional masculinity.

Continue reading The Pressures of Masculinity – Part 2

The Pressures of Masculinity – Part 1

It has become relatively common to hear that patriarchy hurts everyone. While I generally believe that this is true, I’m usually hesitant to talk about it because the concept seems to invite a rather unhelpful dialogue. Often “Patriarchy hurts everyone” translates to, “That’s enough women talk; let’s get serious and talk about men! You know, the real people.” I’ve seen people make the argument that men were and are historically treated worse than women, that the patriarchy hurts men because without it they would get laid more, that feminism also hurts men, etc. It usually doesn’t behoove me to spend the energy trying to wade through it all.

So why would I talk about patriarchy hurting men? I’m obviously not too keen on it. Well, I stumbled across this poor guy’s Internet cry for help:
Continue reading The Pressures of Masculinity – Part 1

The Cost of “Maintenance”

My look, such as it is, is pretty low-maintenance. It was low-maintenance even when I dressed professionally, but I’ve cut back further. Based on this description, it sounds like I must look like a wild animal.

Funny-Goat-With-Glasses
I woke up like this…

However, I realized just how much I spent for my so-called low-maintenance look. (All of my estimates include tip when applicable because beauticians, cosmetologists, hair stylists, etc. can’t pay for groceries and rent with gratitude alone.)

Continue reading The Cost of “Maintenance”

The Peace-Weavers

In Beowulf, the term “peace-weaver” is used to describe noblewomen who are married to an enemy clan in an attempt bring peace. The role isn’t an easy one, and a bard sings the story of Hildeburh: a peace-weaver whose husband breaks the truce and she loses her husband, brother, and son in the hostilities that inevitably break out again. Hildeburh is a tragic character pulled between strong, opposing loyalties, but she is also an exemplary one; she does her best to keep the peace and pretty much does everything as right as you can considering the situation. The use of Hildeburh’s story is more of a foreshadowing device, but I still remember being struck by what a raw deal she had.

For most of Western history, marriage was about two men formalizing a political or economic bond through use of a woman. Whether the woman was kind or pretty or intelligent didn’t really matter as long as she was related by blood to one of them and able to make blood-related babies with the other. Women were used as a way to strengthen individual families and as societal soothing device. How a woman was as a flesh-and-blood human being seemed inconsequential unless she was rebellious (in which case, tame that shrew) or very rich and influential (in which case, it’s important to get invited to her parties.) That’s not to say that there weren’t amazing women in the past, we’ve just lost most of their stories because their marriages didn’t stop or start wars.

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What is Sexy Intrigue, and Why Should my Armpits Smell Like It?

A friend sent me the above picture and requested that I parse out why feminine armpits should smell like fruit or sexy intrigue. I asked for some further specifics regarding sexy intrigue. Imagine my disappointment that it did not smell, as I had hoped, like slim cigarettes and broken promises made in Paris, but instead like a cinnamon sugar cookie. The gauntlet has been thrown, and I shall retrieve it.

Now, one can take the expedient route and say this is just personal preference or “culture,” or one could probably write a book involving details about the history of personal grooming and perfume, cultural attitudes and expectations, the role of marketing, biological responses to scent, etc. I will attempt to pick and choose judiciously to come to an answer, but as this is not a peer-reviewed article or anything, keep in mind that this is more of my answer as opposed to “The Answer.” In order to do this properly, I’d also have to try to disprove my theories, hence the possibility of a book-length answer. I’m just going try to keep this simple.

Continue reading What is Sexy Intrigue, and Why Should my Armpits Smell Like It?

There’s No Winning for “Cool Girls”

Against my better judgment, I watched the Republican debate on Thursday. It went pretty much as expected, and I had a sad. However, I came across one thing I did not expect: feeling uncomfortable for Megyn Kelly. I think she acquitted herself as well as could be expected for this overall weird event. (Who has a “debate” with ten people in half of a basketball stadium? Much more mind boggling were some of the answers, but I digress.) I just remember being struck that she was the only woman in a group of thirteen, which put her in a precarious position: her role in this sideshow was to represent 50% of the U.S. population. This is an impossible feat, and nearly impossible to escape unscathed, which she didn’t.

Continue reading There’s No Winning for “Cool Girls”