A Letter to My Fellow “Man”


Dear “Sirs,”

I walked into a pizza parlor today & immediately I felt your eyes upon me.  As I made my way to the counter to place my order I could feel your stares just as strongly as if they had been your all too grimy hands.  And just a few days ago I had a similar experience at another restaurant when I stopped in for breakfast on my way home from work.  That time you had me surrounded.  Two of you in front of me in line, two of you behind me.  Then you found your way to a table & I found your leering eyes upon me every time I looked up from my own table.  I left feeling dirty & used even though you never touched me or even spoke to me once.

These are just the two most recent episodes of such behavior that I’ve observed.  Sadly these things happen far too often & not just to me & not just in America, but in every tiny town & every major metropolis & every culture in every nation on this planet.  I think it’s safe to say that women all over the world will concur with me that such behavior is offensive, intimidating, & simply degrading.

'BOY that REALLY makes my skin crawl when MEN undress you with their eyes!...'

I’d find all this unwanted attention a bit less shocking if I were dressed in clothes that scream “Look at me!” but I never dress like that.  Miniskirts, booty shorts, & low-cut tops have never been my style.  While I firmly believe both men & women have the right to dress however they choose within context, there is no doubt that our attire does send certain messages about ourselves, whether we realize or want to admit it or not.  (When I say within context, I mean that wearing a bikini to work is clearly unacceptable, unless maybe you’re a model.)  This is not to say that leering at women who choose to dress in more “provocative” attire is acceptable, but at least it is a bit more logical.  In the end though, the burden of responsibility falls on the person who is committing the crime.  And in this case that burden falls squarely on the shoulders of you “men” who have probably never stopped to think twice about how your leering at every unfortunate female who crosses your path might make said female feel.

Maybe this situation wouldn’t be so distressing if I had some means of seeking revenge upon you.  If I could make you as uncomfortable as you make me with your leers & snarky smiles, I’d be happy to try to turn the tables on you & give you a taste of your own medicine, so to speak.  But sadly if I were to leer at you with even half the lust with which you leer at me, you’d probably just be flattered & text your equally sadistic buddies all about it.  Let me be clear in saying that I do not buy into the age-old argument that sex is inherently demeaning or degrading to women.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  But your eyes tell me quite plainly that you view me as nothing more than a sexual object who exists for your pleasure, & this too could be nothing further from the truth.  In reality I am a human being with dreams, hopes, goals, aspirations, & yes, even sexual needs & desires, just as you are.  But that last bit doesn’t justify your treating me as nothing more than a walking vagina with tits & an ass.  Trust me, we females enjoy checking you guys out too, but by & large we don’t view every man who walks by as a piece of meat to feast our eyes upon.  And even if we did, we could never threaten & intimidate you the way you can us because biology is pretty simple & we are as a whole not as physically strong as you are.

women not pieces of meat

I know you probably think you’re doing me some kind of favor by paying attention to me, but your twisted logic isn’t fooling anyone but yourself.  The only thing you’ve accomplished is making it very obvious that you’re so far below my taste in men as to not even be a blip on my radar (not that I’m looking since I’m married, but that’s beside the point in this scenario).  You’re probably not so self-aware as to realize this, but your leers are just a power-play, a way to make you feel stronger when deep down your sense of self is weaker than you’d like to admit.  Real men who are confident in themselves & their ability to win an intelligent well-rounded woman don’t need to stroke their ego by intimidating women with lustful stares & winks at their friends.

And just in case any of you guys happen to be smart asses, no, the answer to this predicament is not me staying at home or putting on a burka to go out in public.  The answer lies in you learning to have some self-control & self-respect which will then enable you to show respect to others.

End message: We’re all human beings here.  Yes, we all have sexual desires & needs but that’s no reason to be disrespectful.  Get over yourselves.  Get your own act together.  And get your dirty eyes off me.

Sincerely,

A woman with too much self-respect to put up with your BS any longer

I Am Not Mrs. John Doe


Twice in the past week or so I have received mail from my alma mater (as in my college) addressed to me in the following format: Mrs. My Husband’s Name, e.g. Mrs. John Doe.  (I don’t like using my or my husband’s full name on this blog so I’ll just stick with the John/Jane Doe format for the purposes of this blog post.)  Receiving mail in such a format from family members wouldn’t be too surprising.  But I for one found it odd that my college addressed mail to me using my husband’s name.  Being the analytical sort, this turn of events led me to think about what it means to be referred to as Mrs. John Doe & why this entire idea has always struck me as a bit odd.

To preface, it would behoove me to address the first issue: taking my husband’s last name.  When I got married, I was at first quite determined not to change my last name.  I wasn’t doing it out of “feminist protest” or anything as dramatic as all that.  I just frankly didn’t want to deal with the hassle of the paperwork involved in changing my name especially since I had just received my nursing license a mere two months (probably less) before the wedding.  In all honesty, I just didn’t feel like dealing with it.  My husband being the wonderful supportive man that he is left the decision entirely up to me.  He confessed that he would be flattered if I chose to take his last name & we both agreed that for the sake of simplicity, especially if we had children in the future, it would probably be wise to have the same last name.  But he felt that this was a decision I should make on my own & he told me many times that he would not be offended if I waited a few months or years to take his name or even if I chose to never take it at all.  My husband isn’t the type to say things just to please or appease me (I couldn’t abide a man who did) so I knew he absolutely meant it when he said he’d support me in any decision I made regarding the name change.  That meant the world to me then & still does.

Wedding Cartoon Name Change

For months I pondered the idea, trying to decide if the hassle was worth it & if taking my husband’s last name was indeed some kind of surrender to the patriarchy.  Eventually after about four or five months I decided to go ahead & adopt my husband’s last name, one reason being I really liked the flow of how my name sounded with my original middle name dropped & my maiden name substituted as my new middle name.  I thought it sounded more professional & succinct.  On a less superficial level, I decided that as my husband had so wisely pointed out, this decisions is an individual one for every couple.  Essentially it means different things to different people.  To me taking on his last name was not giving up an important part of my identity, so in the end I decided that FOR ME adopting his last name was NOT surrendering to the patriarchy.  It was simply me admitting that I don’t want to give our future children a hyphenated name that will become even more ridiculous if they get married & try to combine it with their spouse’s name some day.  Could you argue that my husband could just as simply have taken my last name?  Sure.  Is it sexist that I know he wouldn’t have considered that?  Maybe.  But at the end of the day I think we have MUCH more important issues to worry about, so that’s a post for another day, if ever.

What I am trying to say is I think it is each woman’s (or man’s) individual decision if she wants to change her name or not when getting married.  No one should be judged based solely on their decision to adopt or not adopt their husband’s (or wife’s) last name.  I fully understand that some women see changing their name as an affront to their identity & humanity & I respect that completely.  I also realize that there are plenty of women who are/were so incredibly excited to take on their husband’s name that the idea of not doing so has either never crossed their minds or strikes them as totally ludicrous.  I respect that mindset as well even though I admittedly do not understand it.  The point is society should be open to & tolerant of both choices as well as the  more radical choice that a husband take his wife’s name if he so chooses.

woman+deciding

 

All of this brings me to the point of this entire post.  Though it took me some time & thorough deliberation to actually change my name, I do not mind having my husband’s last name.  In fact I rather enjoy it now.  HOWEVER, long before I even met my husband, when I was just a child, I always found it odd that women could be referred to as Mrs. John Doe.  Even as a child I understood the subtle implications of such references.  Referring to a woman as Mrs. John Does implies that her only, or at least greatest, identity is in being John’s wife.  Furthermore it implies that a wife is interchangeable because Mrs. John Doe could be anyone, literally ANY WOMAN ON THE PLANET.  I take no issue with Mrs. Jane Doe because it is specific to me & thus addresses my own unique identity.  But Mrs. John Doe annoys me greatly for the reasons I’ve just listed.

marraige name change

If you’re a family member or friend reading this & you’ve ever addressed mail to me as Mrs. John Doe or know that you may do so in the future, please don’t worry.  I won’t write you off or be PERSONALLY offended in any way.  Trust me.  I am just interested in questioning the status quo & why as a society we still find it ok to address women in this fashion.  (I find it particularly ironic that my COLLEGE has addressed mail to me in this manner.  Anyone else find that a bit odd?)  I’m sure some people reading this will think I’m wasting my breath going on about issues that don’t amount to a hill of beans.  (Which is a countrified way of saying they don’t matter, if you’re unfamiliar with that phraseology.  I have to show my roots every once in a while, right?)  I know there are far more important “women’s issues” on the table today.  But this is a subject that I’ve pondered for literally years.  As previously stated, even as a child I found the Mrs. John Doe concept to be a bit disconcerting.  Keep in mind I was a child who played with globes, maps, & encyclopedias for fun, but nonetheless it begs the question that if even a child can see that something is a bit off with this terminology, perhaps we ought to at least question it a little?

question marks

To the ladies out there who are reading this (married or not), how do you feel about this matter?  Does being referred to as Mrs. John Doe bother you?  (If you’re not married, does the idea of it bother you?)  Why or why not?  To the males reading this, what do you think about this subject?  If you think I’m an incontrovertible bore for writing about such matters, that might be fair enough but I think this is something worth at least discussing.  (Hint: sarcasm.  I could never be boring, don’t you know?)  And I’d love to hear my readers’ opinions on the matter.

Can We Please End the Gender Wars?


I must preface this post by saying I am writing this as much for myself as for anyone else.  I’ll explain why later.

I’ve been coming across a lot of articles lately talking about female privilege/disadvantage vs male privilege/disadvantage.  See this: http://thoughtcatalog.com/isla-sofia/2014/04/18-reasons-why-the-concept-of-female-privilege-is-insane/

& this: http://thoughtcatalog.com/mark-saunders/2014/04/18-things-females-seem-to-not-understand-because-female-privilege/

These articles are both a bit superficial to be sure, but they are excellent examples of the genre so to speak.  If you don’t feel inclined to read the articles, what the whole idea boils down to is this: grown adults are arguing over whether being male or female is harder.

The reason I started this post by saying I’m writing this to myself as much as anyone is because this past weekend I was quite literally in tears telling my husband that I wish I were male so I wouldn’t feel the insane pressure to choose between family & career when thinking ahead to having children in the next few years.  And the sad truth is in those moments I truly meant it.  My generation of women was sold a great lie when we were told we could “have it all.”  No, I’m sorry, we really can’t.  Yes, we can have great careers & also be great moms, but do not think for even a minute that no matter which option(s) you choose you won’t have to make tremendous sacrifices that your male counterparts more than likely will not have to make as parents.  For example, if a man has a high-powered career & decides to have kids, it is unlikely to have a huge effect on his job.  Yes, he may feel greater pressure to come home earlier to be with his children or to stay in one city rather than move around from place to place in search of promotions.  But overall I think it’s safe to argue that having children is less likely to have a net negative effect on a man’s career.  (I know some women who are reading this are probably thinking “But aren’t you happy that you’re the one who gets to create life, nourish it in your womb, & quite literally feed it?”  Umm, on some level I guess I am, but mostly I just think about how painful & distressing that sounds!  I guess I am too practical for my own good.  I know in time my motherly instinct will kick in & I’ll probably laugh at myself for ever wishing I were male.  But I’m not quite there yet.  Be patient with me.)

gender scales

Aside from raising children, there are other situations in life in which I think quite seriously about how I wish I were male.  The times when I’m standing in line at a restaurant & some creepy man behind me is checking me out & making me wish I were not only male but invisible.  (It doesn’t really matter what I’m wearing, by the way.  Certain men look at all women like meat regardless of their chosen attire.)  Or when I can’t open a jar & my husband isn’t home to do it for me & I feel so incredibly weak & ridiculous.  Times like that.

However, I’ve said all that to say this: Can we stop fighting over who has it harder in life?  The reality is that life isn’t fair.  But it’s also not a competition.  Life is hard for all of us, regardless of our gender, race, or anything else.  As one of my favorite high school teachers used to say, “Life’s not fair, I’m not nice, get used to it.”  (Or maybe that last part was “get over it.”  But the point is the same regardless.)  I am wary of writing this because I don’t want to sound like I’m saying we shouldn’t discuss the issues brought up in the kinds of articles I referenced at the beginning.  Reproductive rights, divorce, victim-shaming/blaming in relation to rape or sexual abuse, & other such issues are extremely important & should not be tossed aside just because life isn’t fair.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying to rectify some of the inherent unfairness of life.  Indeed I think it is the ethical thing to do as truly alive, enlightened human beings.

life isn't fair

However, in the end there are some things men & women will always be inherently better at or more capable of doing than the other gender.  For example as much as it grinds my gears that teenage boys half my age are stronger than me even though I might work out just as long/hard as they do, it’s just biology.  There’s nothing I can do about it.  I’m sure very few men would admit it, but to a certain extent some fathers must be jealous of the fact that women share a certain closeness with their children that men never really can simply because we’re the ones who give birth to them.  Furthermore even good men have to deal with the fact that women often see them as inherently dangerous.  A friend of mine told me a few months ago that it really bothers him that when he is jogging he’ll often cross paths with women who give him this desperate “please don’t rape me” look.  On the other hand I’ve been one of those women (in similar scenarios), & it sucks to know that there are plenty of situations in life in which you’re dependent on the man or men you’re with being decent individuals in order for you to not get hurt.  I know that must sound melodramatic but it’s true.

Basically what it comes down to is exactly what I said before.  Life is hard.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female.  There are certain inherent advantages & disadvantages to both genders.  Actually I would argue there are probably very few that are truly biologically inherent.  Most of the privileges & disadvantages both genders experience are things society has constructed & therefore can theoretically be changed over time.  This is why I remain hopeful that the world can become a better place for all of us, even in the face of the horrible situations that women (& to a certain extent men) face in certain parts of the world in which equal rights for all is far, far from the reality.

life ins't fair but it's still good

So my plea today is simply this: can we please stop the battle over who, men or women, has it the hardest in life?  (At least in the Western world.)  Life isn’t a competition, belive it or not.  Instead of whining, can we focus on the real issues at hand like poverty, raising children, & reducing sexual violence?  Like I said, this post is as much for me as for anyone because I know I am quite guilty of whining about my gender from time to time.  After all I spent half this post explaining why I sometimes wish I were a man.

However, in the end, life is hard for all of us.

But it’s also beautiful, thrilling, & way too amazing to spend whining about something so completely beyond our control as our chromosomes.

(As an addendum, this post is in no way meant to be insensitive to those who are born feeling they are the “wrong gender” &/or are transgender.  That is an entirely different scenario which is not at all pertinent to what I’m discussing here.)

 

Why the World Still Needs Feminism


Recently I’ve encountered the argument that the world, especially the Western/American world, no longer needs Feminism.  Or worse yet that Feminism is actually working AGAINST the interests of women.  I’m ashamed to say that these are thoughts that actually crossed my mind many years ago as a misguided teen.  I thought that since women can now vote, own property, run for public office, own a business, & get divorced without ruining their entire lives/reputations, then Feminism had accomplished its goals & was no longer needed.  Ah, how short-sighted & naive I was.  Growing up I got the idea that Feminism had its place decades ago but had outlived any real purpose, so that modern day Feminists were just crazy man-haters whose only goals were tearing down men & families, relishing in abortion, & generally promoting evil.

Somewhere along the line I realized this was a grossly exaggerated stereotype of what is actually a small minority of Feminists.  As I’ve grown up I’ve also realized there are numerous reasons why the world still needs Feminism.  For the purposes of this blog post (as well as my blog in general), Feminism means the promotion of equal RIGHTS for both genders with a particular focus on achieving equal RESPECT between the genders.  I’m in no way arguing that men & women are identical or that all “gender roles” are wrong.  And I’m not here to throw a pity party because I was born female.  (There are days when that is tempting but it would be an unproductive activity anyway & thus a waste of time.)

Here are, in my mind, the greatest reasons why the world still needs Feminism.  Notice I said the WORLD, which includes both genders, not just women.  I say this because I believe Feminism seeks to empower & promote the betterment of all people of all genders not BECAUSE of their gender but because of their shared HUMANITY.

Feminism1

The world still needs Feminism . . .

  • Because there are places in the world where women still cannot vote, drive cars, own property, run a business, or get divorced, even from abusive husbands
  • Because there are places in the world where women are stoned for having sex outside of marriage, even if they were victims of rape or abuse
  • Because even in the “enlightened West” there are still way too many men who think it’s ok to make sexist remarks in the work place
  • And because many women still don’t have the courage to stand up to these jerks
  • Because rape apologists still exist; because even in the most blatant  horrific cases, there are still idiots who seek to blame the victim
  • Because there are places in the world where female babies are preferentially aborted simply for their gender
  • And because the people who do this have serious REASONS for doing it . . . because those societies have structures that make it such that having a female baby really is putting the family at a disadvantage
  • Because even in America many people treat daughters as more work or more difficult (See:https://athicketofmusingsblog.com/2014/02/27/the-burden-of-a-daughter/)
  •  Because maternity leave in America is quite possibly the worst in the industrialized world
  • Because the majority of workplaces do almost nothing to cater to women (& men) with young children
  • Because women still spend entirely too much time tearing each other apart & judging each other for every little thing, not realizing that we are all sisters on this Earth
  • Because abstinence-only education still exists despite the research that shows how ineffective it is & how it contributes to a high rate of teen pregnancy
  • Because way too many girls are still growing up with the idea that their bodies are something to be ashamed of &/or something to be hidden for fear of tempting men

feminism is for men too

  • Because way too many women expect men to pay for everything on dates
  • Because it’s still acceptable for boys/men to insult each other by calling each other “pussy,” “sissy,” “little girl,” etc as if being female were the worst possible scenario in life
  • Because women still have to “be careful” at night & never walk alone in a dark place
  • Because if you do any of these things & God forbid something happens, people will say “What was she thinking?  She should have been more careful” as if that excuses bad behavior on the part of the offending male
  • Because there are women in the world who still have no access to birth control, sexual education, or even school
  • Because a Google image search of Feminism still produces memes that say Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, become lesbians, & practice witchcraft
  • And because there are still people who believe such nonsense
  •  And because there is a need for posts like this

What Feminism Got Wrong


Since its very inception (or shall we say modern inception), the Feminist movement has focused almost exclusively on equality for women in the workforce.  Equal pay for equal work is a phrase we’ve all heard countless times.  I have no problem with this idea of course, but the more I ponder the state of modern women I’m coming to realize that perhaps feminism lost a great deal of its purpose by focusing itself far too narrowly.  Should not the greater goal of feminism be that women be viewed & treated as the intellectual equals of men in all aspects of society?  Notice that I said INTELLECTUAL equals.  I’m not one of these disillusioned idiots who tries to argue that men & women are physically equivalent.  Duh, of course we’re not.  (If we were, that would be pretty boring!)  But it’s like comparing apples & oranges; both are fruits but they are physically & biologically quite different.  Yet neither of them could realistically be argued to be better or worse.  Same goes for men & women.  Physically we are quite different but life isn’t a competition & neither gender is inherently better or worse.  Now that we’ve covered the most basic premise, let us carry on to greater ideas.

feminism

A theme I read & hear about frequently nowadays is the trend of well-educated women, often with high-powered careers, opting out of the workforce in favor of staying home with their children (or even occasionally without any children).  Old-school feminists often view this as a severe failure & bemoan how modern women could make such “selfish” choices after all they did to pave the way for opportunities for women today.  And yet if one is to be logical, one cannot help but realize that these women have legitimate reasons for leaving behind even successful, rewarding careers to raise their children full-time.

What I’m trying to argue here is that the greater goal of feminism ought to be making it acceptable for women to choose any path in life.  A woman shouldn’t feel the need to justify her choices, no matter what they are, every time someone asks “What do you do?”  If one woman wants to be a doctor or a lawyer or a CEO of a powerful company, great.  But if another woman wants to be “just” a stay-at-home mom, that’s great too.  The point is that we have that CHOICE.  It’s all about having the power to DECIDE what we want to do.  And having the humility to realize that there isn’t one “right” path for all women to follow.  Indeed there are many equally valid paths in life that we may choose, & what’s even greater is that throughout our lives we can choose to walk various ones at various times.  For example, right now I’m focusing on my nursing career.  I love my job but I also know it’s not going to be the center of my life forever.  In fact my therapist recently challenged me to consider whether having a career as the “center” of my life is ever a healthy idea.  She stated that regardless of age or gender, a career really shouldn’t be the main focus of anyone’s life.  And I’m inclined to think she’s right.  Having a career you love is wonderful & truly enriches the quality of your life.  But it shouldn’t be everything.  It shouldn’t be THE THING that defines you.

I’m straying from my point, but what I am trying to say is that right now I am more career-focused.  But somewhere in the next three to ten years I very much believe I will become more family-focused.  I already know that I don’t want to work full-time, if at all possible, when I have young children.  I know some women can handle that & that’s great.  But I know that my mentality couldn’t handle it, & I feel that being a nurse & being a mom are both far too important to potentially screw up by stretching myself too thin.  Thus, when I have young children I hope to work only part-time if at all possible.  If you should ask why I would choose my children over my career, it’s because I know that I have the rest of my life to work.  Excluding major health problems, there is no limit on how long I can be a nurse or when I can go to grad school to advance my career.  However, there is a very limited window in which my children will be young & very much in need of my care & guidance.  And even though the prospect of raising children is something I still cannot imagine I am up to, I know I would never forgive myself for missing that window of time with them.  Later when my children are a little older, there is no reason to believe I wouldn’t be able to work full-time again & even go back to school to advance my career.  Again, the point is that at various points in our lives we can choose various paths that serve us best.

While traditional feminists often resent the fact that more women choose to stay at home with their children than men, I see no problem with this.  Stay-at-home dads are great, but the fact of the matter is that no matter how “enlightened” we are, most men just aren’t going to want to do that, while plenty of women would jump at the chance to raise their children full-time without the demands of another career.  I see no problem with this at all.  It’s just biology, folks.

I read a great blog post (raisingkidswithoutreligion.net/2014/02/03/what-women-do) recently that questioned whether staying at home with children while they’re young sends boys (& girls) the message that women are inferior.  It was a great question but the conclusion the author came to was that the lessons she was able to teach her sons while at home with them & the example she & her husband set for them in their own relationship actually taught them quite the opposite: that women are very much intellectually equal to men & that making career sacrifices for the sake of family in no way reduces a woman’s intelligence or intellectual capacity.  After all, even if we may achieve “less” in our careers we have not achieved less in LIFE.  As previously stated, your life isn’t (or shouldn’t be) defined by your career, regardless of your gender.

I’m in no way trying to argue that all women should be stay-at-home moms.  And to be clear it makes me sick to think of the times when women were viewed as child-like creatures who could never think rationally or independently.  Hell, no.  Indeed, from my experiences thus far in life, I continually come to the conclusion that men & women have far more commonalities than we have differences.

What I am saying is that maybe feminism should focus less on belittling men & achieving 50/50 ratios in government & other traditionally male-dominated fields.  After all, no one seems to be arguing that traditionally female-dominated fields such as nursing or teaching should be 50/50, though I certainly think greater balance in all fields would be a good thing.  Instead perhaps we should focus on empowering women to realize the full realm of options we now have.  And to understand that any of those options are valid as long as they lead to a rewarding, enriching life.  And that, greatest of all, we can choose different paths at different times in our lives.

Regardless of your gender, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter.

The Purity Myth


It took a lot of courage for me to write this, much less actually post it.  This is a topic which most people are not comfortable discussing but it’s a topic that I think is very important & thus bears discussing regardless of how awkward it might be.  Being a nurse I have lost a lot of my sense of what is normal conversation because I am so used to dealing with & talking about every bodily function known to man.  However, I know this post is of a sensitive nature & may provoke a lot of criticism, perhaps even from some people close to me.  But again I think this subject is too important to bypass.  With that being said, here goes.

the purity myth 2

I’ve just finished reading a fascinating book called The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women by Jessica Valenti.  This is one of those books that I can’t help but feel like the author was reading my mind when she wrote it.  I love that feeling!  In this book Valenti asserts (with a great deal of evidence to support her claims) that the “purity or virginity movement” is hurting women, especially young women, by basing their value on their sexuality (or lack thereof) & is thus not much different than the hyper-sexualization of women that the purity movement claims to  hate so much.  What a refreshing concept!  Indeed it’s an idea that I have often considered even before reading this book.  I’ve often thought how paradoxical it is that our society is so hyper-sexualized in the sense of what we see in the media & what we actually discuss in real life.  Why is it that sexualized music videos are the norm & porn is ubiquitous & yet the average American is still shy about discussing real sexual issues?  Why is it common practice for parents to buy their teens (or even younger children) video games that promote violent sexuality such as Grand Theft Auto & yet most parents don’t have the first clue how to have a conversation about sex with their teenagers?  Is it any wonder that teen pregnancy is still rampant in this country especially in light of the fact that a great deal of “sex ed” in this country is still abstinence-only education (I use the term education lightly b/c real sex education involves actually conveying factual information, something that abstinence-only education by its very nature cannot do; I know this from personal experience).

This is the twenty-first century & yet we women are still very much defined by our sexuality.  On one hand the right-wing conservatives value us only as pure virgins who “save ourselves” for marriage, who go so far as to say that a woman who has sex before marriage has “devalued herself.”  Even as a teenager I couldn’t help but see through this argument.  Hello, you’ll probably deny it but you’re telling me that my only worth is in relation to my body.  I’m sorry but I can’t & won’t ascribe to that method of thinking.  If that makes me a whore in your book, I’ll gladly wear that label.  Ha!

On the other hand we have a great deal of the media telling us as women that our only value is in being sexy & desirable to men.  Again our value is based on our bodies & our sexuality.  And again I’m not buying it.  I for one know that I am so much more than my sexuality (while I also know that my sexuality isn’t something to be ashamed of contrary to what the purity movement would say.)

[In case anyone thinks I’m promoting the “hook-up” culture, let me be clear & say that I am not.  I personally am of the belief that sex is something very special that should only be shared between two consenting caring individuals.  But I’m also not saying that marriage is the only scenario under which sex should happen.  That’s just not practical (or even logical in my mind).]

This book also discusses the ridiculous way in which our society deals with rape.  It’s shameful to admit that as a society we still spend a great deal of time blaming the victim, but we do.  Regarding what other crime do you hear people say things like “Well, she was asking for it?”  Or “What was she doing out late at night on that street?”  The hardest thing for me to admit with this argument is that I used to say such things.  I really did.  And I hate myself for buying into such ridiculous notions that men are animals that cannot be stopped.  The older I am & the more I observe society the more I just cannot believe such an idiotic lie.  Men are not naturally uncontrollable sexual beasts any more than women are naturally sexually reticent.  Both are lies created to control women & enforce “traditional” gender stereotypes which in the end are damaging to both men & women.

In many people’s eyes I am probably a feminist.  But I don’t really think of myself that way.  I just think of myself as a humanist.  I want all people everywhere to be respected & treated well not because they are men or women but because they are HUMAN BEINGS.  I’m certainly not a radical feminist who tries to assert that men & women are completely equal.  They aren’t in some ways.  Duh.  Women are not as strong as men physically.  But men can’t have babies.  And without both genders the human race could not perpetuate itself.  (On particularly cynical days when I am thoroughly disgusted with the human race I sometimes wonder if that wouldn’t be such a bad thing, but thankfully those days are pretty rare.)  But I do believe that women should receive equal pay for equal work & that the onus for rape prevention should be on teaching men that such behavior is unacceptable.  And I do believe that the purity myth is hurting women as much as the hyper-sexualization culture is also hurting women.  The end result of both is that women are seen as objects: objects without their own opinions, desires (sexual or otherwise), or dreams.  And I for one refuse to believe that my value as a human being is based solely or even principally on my sexuality.

Regardless of whether you agree with me or not, I’d love to hear your opinions on this matter.  That goes for guys & girls!