Reflecting on the Women’s March and Day Without A Woman

I cannot believe it has been almost a full year since my last post. The hiatus was partly due to grad school and partly due to an unexpected loss in my family. Now that the end of grad school is nigh I hope to keep this up a bit more regularly.

Since today is both International Women’s Day (happy day to every woman out there!) and the Day Without a Woman strike, I wanted to reflect on that as well as my experience at the Women’s March in January.

First, the march:

As we now know, on January 21, 2017, nearly 2 million people participated in over 650 marches worldwide.Washington, D.C. alone welcomed over 500,000 protestors. There were marches on all seven continents – yes, even Antartica because resistance knows no bounds! In America, the Women’s March was the largest protest in U.S. history.

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Women’s March Antarctica

I attended the Women’s March in Atlanta, which had over 60,000 people. I was sadly not close enough to the stage to hear Rep. John Lewis speak, but I did hear his “don’t let anybody, anybody turn you around” words passed through the crowd.

The march started out kind of rough. The weather was horrendous: torrential rain, strong winds, cold, and ankle-deep water all throughout downtown Atlanta. Was there a threat of a tornado? I don’t know, but it wouldn’t have surprised me. My friends and I sought shelter in a Jimmy John’s along with about 50 other people. When the shop had filled to capacity, we watched as other marchers bravely walked by, many of them bent at the waist to fight against the wind. The march was moved back an hour. When that hour was up (and the rain suddenly stopped), my friends and I headed towards Centennial Park. That’s when we realized the full scope of the march.

I don’t mean to get too cliche, but it was a literal sea of people. For those who don’t know, Atlanta is hilly and Centennial Park looks like it is in a valley. From the top of the surrounding hills (aka the Jimmy John’s) we just saw the tops of thousands and thousands of heads. Bodies poured in from every direction, congregating around the Center for Civil and Human Rights, which is next to the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coke.

What also amazed me was the diversity in the crowd. The Women’s March had received criticism that it only catered to white, middle-class feminists. There is a lot of unfortunate truth that mainstream feminism often only worries about the rights and wellbeing of white feminists, and, before arriving in Atlanta, I wondered if everyone would just look like me (white, blond, etc: give me a Starbucks cup and Uggs and I can blend into any suburbanite mall). I was pleased to see that the crowd was filled with people of all different races, genders, backgrounds, lifestyles, cultures, ages, etc. Intersectional feminism is the best feminism, and I felt that that was represented strongly in the Atlanta crowd.

Getting the speakers to the stage seemed to be a bit disorganized, but we all knew when Rep. John Lewis took the stage. The crowd, which was really into chanting, began yelling, “District 5! District 5!” I momentarily thought this was a Hunger Games reference (I have since looked it up: in Hunger Games, District 5 is in charge of electricity and they power the entire nation). Then I grew a brain and remembered that John Lewis is the Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district.

As I said before, I sadly couldn’t hear John Lewis’s words, but I could hear his voice and that was pretty spectacular. To be in the middle of a historic march and listening to a Civil Rights icon is one of the moments I will forever be glad I had.

A few images from the Atlanta march:

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When the march finally got on the way (some cities were too packed to march, but not Atlanta!) we walked about a mile and a half from the Center for Civil and Human Rights to the State Capitol. The hurricane-like weather from the early afternoon turned into a cloudless, cool, sunny day. There were chants, there were signs, and there was just a lot of wonderful camaraderie as we all slowly walked through the downtown.

The march has received criticism. Some of that criticism is legit because many of the people who showed up to the Women’s March have not shown up for BlackLivesMatter demonstrations, nor have they voiced their support for that cause. That needs to change. I hope, given the fraught political climate, that we’ll start to see hoards of people taking active, public stands for every single right because that is truly the only way we are going to get through the next several years (decades?) in one piece. It’s also the only way we improve our society and ensure we leave a better, stronger, happier world for future generations. Hell, I’m still young – let’s try to even make it a little bit better, stronger, and happier world for my generation!

Because I participated and obviously support the Women’s March, I will probably receive comments telling me to get a job and to stop whining and that women have equal rights blah, blah, blah. What I have to say to those people is that a) I have two jobs, thank you very much, and b) the Women’s March was not just about women’s rights. It was about LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, BlackLivesMatter, basic human rights, and the rights of everyone who is under represented and/or beaten, deported, neglected, or killed just because they don’t fit the perfect puzzle pieces in someone’s mind. (It was also about environmental rights, too, because the Sierra Club was extremely present at the Atlanta march) This march was telling the current administration (and governments/administrations/societies worldwide) that we (i.e. everyone) will not stand for their bullying, bigotry, racism, and fascism. We’re here, there’s a ton of us, and we’re not going anywhere.

Second, the strike:

This section will not be quite as long. Today was the Day Without A Woman strike where, ideally, every woman was supposed to not go to work, not shop, and not do a lot of things that contribute to every day society. Not everyone (myself included) could strike from their job so there were other options as well: you could donate to a good cause, not shop, wear red to show support, call your state reps, etc. The people I work with are all teachers and we couldn’t forgo work because that would hurt our students (although, in reality, our students would have just looked at it as more time to watch Netflix, but still).

I think the idea behind this strike is great. Women make up a greater percentage of the population than men, and a true strike, one where every woman does not leave her home, could practically bring this country to a halt. Unfortunately, that’s not our reality because people have jobs, families, and lives, and not everyone has the liberty to put all of that on hold for a day. The only things I could do today were wear red, donate money (as paltry as it may be), and not shop. You would be surprised how hard the shopping was because not only did Ed Sheeran’s new album release today, but I also learned about a new book I’d like to buy, and it is a dear friend’s birthday coming up soon and if I want a gift shipped I need to act fast. The withholding was trivial and obviously nothing I needed, but I still felt good for at least doing something. The red also worked out well because it was great to see so many around my town donning the Stop sign colour.

Like the Women’s March, this strike is receiving some heat because it’s rumored that schools have had to close down, some people could lose their jobs, and maybe the whole thing will just fall flat on its face. Honestly, I don’t know what to say about that at the moment except that I hope it doesn’t. I hope the strike succeeds in some of what it is meant to do. I hope no one gets fired and I hope no students suffer from missing one day of school (and we all know they won’t – let’s be a little bit less dramatic on that one). However, I think the strike had to happen. With everything that is going on – the immigration bans, trying to slash environmental safeguards, revoking protection for trans students – we must do something. Whether it’s staying home from work for the day, wearing red, or not shopping on Amazon, every little bit is a small step in the right direction. It may be a step the size of a Polly Pocket doll, but at least it’s something.

And to close, to every wonderful person out there, please remember:

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Let’s Talk About Planned Parenthood

Ever since I started this blog I figured that one day I would talk about Planned Parenthood. In the wake of the awful shooting that occurred at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado this weekend, apparently today is that day.

I am not even sure where to begin with this post. Do I start by explaining that not every person who enters a Planned Parenthood is seeking an abortion and therefore the people who died inside the building were probably there for regular check-ups? Should I talk about the fact that the stigma behind abortions is archaic, puritanical, and ultimately tied into society’s fear of a woman’s vagina and everything that comes out of there? Or should I talk about the fact this shooting was a response to the fear-mongering being encouraged by the conservative party during the much-too-long presidential race?

I am so tired of hearing about the “selling baby parts” videos, how PP is nothing but “baby killers,” and all sorts of nonsense that is just utterly false. No matter what your stance is on abortion, your stance on PP should not reflect that. Why? Because they provide SO MUCH MORE than just abortions. I know there’s the whole discrepancy of “is it 3% or 94%” in regards to the number of abortion procedures they perform, and whether it is 3% or not, it certainly isn’t 94%. Planned Parenthood does pap smears, breast exams, STD testing, STD treating, etc. They are affordable healthcare for women (and serve a high number of women from low-income households), but just because they also provide abortions that’s a reason to damn the entire organization?

I have been to a Planned Parenthood several times. Was it ever to get an abortion? No. I have gone for annual check-ups, birth control prescriptions/refills, and once for an STD testing. I chose to go to a Planned Parenthood because since 2006 I have either been a student or a recent graduate and I needed healthcare that was affordable. All of the men out there who are so against Planned Parenthood – have you ever purchased birth control? Have you ever seen what it takes to even get a prescription? Let me tell you, it is not easy. In fact, I could go out a buy a gun a hell of a lot faster than getting a new Nuva Ring.

For starters, heaven forbid you move around the country trying to find a decent place to live and work. Every time I moved to a new city I had to switch pharmacies, usually find a totally new doctor, and go through the entire birth control consultation, pap smear, and prescription process again because no one could just prescribe me birth control.

10qpsu3iq6wzrcSee the full 100% accurate video here.

 

Then there were the waiting periods. I lived and worked on an island for 6 months and had to leave the island in order to get my birth control. I was working two jobs at the time and only got one day off a week so I had to time that day off perfectly so that I could go to a pharmacy on the mainland and get my birth control. If I was a day too early then they wouldn’t give it to me. “It’s against the law,” one pharmacist told me and said I could only have the birth control at about twice the cost of what I’d normally get it for.

And speaking of cost – before the Affordable Care Act, birth control was not cheap. Back in college my birth control started at $20/month and then slowly rose until I was paying $50/month. $50?!  That is more than a Netflix and Hulu subscription combined. Before the Affordable Care Act I even spent one year paying $70/month. When I started moving about the country trying to find a job, you know who was there to help me out with my birth control costs and didn’t make me go through what felt like an FBI background check every time I needed a refill? Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood has always been full of helpful, kind nurses, who calmed my fears when I went in thinking I had contracted some horrible disease and they were kind to me when I flat out started crying because I couldn’t afford my normal birth control and then they helped me find a way to afford it.

The worst part about going to a Planned Parenthood is the stigma. I’m not talking about the stigma I feel I would face if I told people I was going to a Planned Parenthood (because my friends are rational human beings who also share my love and appreciation of PP). Rather, I am talking about the stigma that forces Planned Parenthoods – at least the ones I’ve been to – to be locked down with super tight security. The first time I visited a Planned Parenthood was in Chicago. When I arrived at the address I was given I was confused because there was a large sign that read “Planned Parenthood,” but no office in site. Finally I went into a neighboring dentist office and talked to the receptionist. She told me to go through a side door, down a hallway, and I would see a phone. I was to pick up the phone, which would dial the PP receptionist, who I couldn’t see because of a protective, clouded door. Once my appointment was confirmed I would be buzzed in and had to walk straight to the receptionist with my photo ID already in my hand.

That is ridiculous. I felt like I was trying to get into a Speak Easy. I’m not saying the amount of security protocols they had was ridiculous – the fact that they needed that amount of security is ridiculous and just disgusting. Do proctologists have to feel so unsafe at their jobs? Of course not. But a woman going to a Planned Parenthood for a routine check-up – she may want to sit close to an exit and wear a bulletproof vest.

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Tweets from a Planned Parenthood employee detailing what her clinic faces on a day-to-day basis. Full article found here.

Planned Parenthood is about so much more than abortion services. Clearly people aren’t against PPs because they’re against breast exams and HPV testing. Abortions are so taboo and terrifying to people that they are willing to take down an entire, vital health organization just because they provide abortions. News flash: women were getting abortions even before PP existed. If a woman nowadays wants to get an abortion, what is she supposed to do? Go to a back alley? If she doesn’t want to have a child then she might as well subject herself to possible death and certain mutilation? What about the rape victim who was not ready to have a child and doesn’t want to bear the child of her rapist? Should she just throw herself down some stairs? What about the women who have a pregnancy that could kill them? Should we just say “well sucks to be you” and be done with it? What about the mother who already has four children and knows her family cannot financially take on a fifth? There are so many reasons that abortions should be available to those that want/need them. Our society has made so many medical leaps and bounds that women do not have to risk their lives just because they aren’t ready/don’t want a child.

Last weekend’s shooting at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado was a travesty and a product of the stigma that surrounds Planned Parenthood and abortions. The people who made those videos that “show Planned Parenthood selling baby parts” should be ashamed of themselves because they now have blood on their hands. And to all of the people who are cheering the actions of the shooter and blaming the victims for being in the Planned Parenthood: fuck you. If Jesus were around today he would support everything Planned Parenthood does. Or did everyone forget that he hung around with prostitutes and the people at the lowest rung of society?

Millennials and the Internet

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Millennials constantly get flack for our reliance on the Internet. We look up answers on our phones too much, we listen to Internet comments rather than trying something firsthand, we live online rather than experiencing the Now, and, my favorite, we “trust” the Internet too much. The trust refers to sites like Craigslist, online dating, Air BnB, Couchsurfer, and any other form of social sharing/dating where you put yourself seemingly at the mercy of a well-known stranger.

Obviously our trust in the Internet and the people we connect with online can lead to problems. We all know the dangers of Craigslist and online dating can have its ups and downs. Most recently, companies like Uber, Air BnB, and Couchsurfer have received the most criticism because they are both the newest organizations (when compared to Craigslist) and the companies associated with some pretty horrific recent events. There was the American student in Spain who was imprisoned by his AirBnb host, countless Uber incidents with drivers assaulting passengers, and even I know someone who lost their life to a Couchsurfing host. These stories are tragic and I think it’s wise to approach these Internet sites with caution, but what I have a problem with is people defaulting to “well, millennials need to stop trusting the Internet so much” (which seemed to be one of the takeaways from this NPR article).

Trusting online transactions is indeed something that is unique to the millennial generation. We have grown up with computers and the Internet, we’ve watched it evolve rapidly, and we’ve grown accustomed to the convenience of smartphones, online shopping, and sharing economy startups (AirBnB, Uber, etc.). We trust and rely on these things the same way baby boomers trust and rely on things they grew up with. I’ve heard people say that bad things are happening because of the millennial’s trust in the Internet. I say bad things have always been happening, but the Internet, and specifically social media, has just made us more aware.

Back before the Internet and being online became a thing, information and societal happenings took a lot longer to make its way into everyone’s ear. Newspapers, radios, magazines, TV news bulletins – all of this moved at a three-legged turtle’s pace when compared to the speed of Twitter and Facebook. Now, when a plane goes missing or someone is raped while their snuggled in their AirBnB bed, half the world can know about it in less than 5 minutes. Had we had Twitter back during WWI or the Civil Rights Movement we would have been abreast of all of the atrocities on an minute-to-minute basis.

The millennial instinct to trust online transactions is not something we should be blamed for. I am an overly cautious person and even I have done such things as find a roommate via Craigslist, found a date via an online site, and booked an AirBnB. I am also a freelance writer currently living in a rural town. If I want to be a paid writer/editor, I have to go online. Have I been taken advantage of or gypped? Absolutely. Do I blame myself for trusting an online site? Not at all. What I chalk it up to is experience and a learning lesson to use more common sense next time. The Internet is not a terrifying place and millennials are diving headfirst into this web of dangers and manipulations. What we are is young and learning and adapting. We grew up with the Internet and we are learning its perks and its perils just like we did when we learned to drive. Blaming millennials for having bad things happen to them just because they trusted the Internet is a cop-out. It’s like blaming a first time driver for a fender bender.

What’s in a Name?

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Over the weekend I went to a comedy show where a comedian cracked jokes about her refusal to take her boyfriend’s name should they ever marry. She said:

Why does his name get to be more important than mine? You know what happens after a woman changes her last name? It becomes so irrelevant that it is the security question your children will use when setting up their online bank account. Hey, Mom, what’s your old name? That is how irrelevant a woman’s name becomes. Your child doesn’t even know it and a bunch of bank execs sat around a table one day and asked themselves: what’s the one bit of trivia so obscure that no thief could possibly try to find. Ah! The woman’s original name!

Should I get married, I have never wanted to change my name because I feel similarly to this woman: it’s my name. Why do I have to change it? However, I never thought about the “mother’s maiden name” security question. When I’ve seen this question on a list of options to prove your identity, I have taken it as so commonplace that I never once thought about what it actually means: that a woman’s original name becomes so obscure that only those close to her could possibly remember/know it.

(Now, before I go any further I should say that I have absolutely no qualms with women who want to change their last names when they get married. I think people should do whatever makes them happy and I don’t look upon female friends at their wedding and think, “You anti-feminist!” Seriously – if a girl wants to change her name then that’s her thing.)

What I don’t like about the To Change Your Name Or Not debacle are the quizzical looks people give me when I say that I will never change my name. Is it for professional reasons? Maybe someday, but not at the moment. Won’t it seem like you’re not married? That’s other people’s problem. But you’ll have a different last name than your children! Will I? I will have birthed them. They will have lived inside of me for nine months. Why don’t they get my last name? Why do they HAVE to have the man’s last name?

I have known men who are the only son in their family and they always say, “My name will die out with me if no one takes it.” And yet a family with only daughters should just be like, “Oh well. We couldn’t produce a boy so I guess our name is going to die out. Damn!” Again, why does the woman’s family name have to be the sacrificial lamb? What makes the man’s last name so much more crucial and important than the woman’s?

That’s right: the patriarchy. A woman taking her husband’s name is one of the most ancient, and yet still thriving, symbols of the patriarchy. This tradition can be traced back all the way to when families were in “clans.” When a woman married into a clan she changed her last name, thus symbolically renouncing her ties to her own family/clan to join a new one. We all know how “back in the day” women were seen as the lesser/weaker sex and could legally be called “property.” A new bride taking her husband’s last name was just another example of how she was seen as nothing more than a possession and not an individual, self-sufficient human being. Even in the 1970s a woman legally had to take her husband’s last name in order to apply for a passport, vote, use a bank, etc. A woman changing her last name was natural as having a menstrual cycle.

Also, the word “taking” is a bit of an odd verb choice, isn’t it? People always say a woman “took” a man’s last name. Back in the olden days it didn’t seem like women had much of a choice. They weren’t so much taking a last name as they were being given one. It’s sort of like an STD: just because someone gave it to you, doesn’t mean you wanted to take it from them.

A recent article by The New York Times states that “roughly 20 percent of women married in recent years have kept their names.” The official percentage has changed from year to year, but remains steadily below 30%. About 10% of married couples choose to do hyphenated or hybrid names, or they create an entirely new last name. I think that’s a pretty cool idea, but it’s slow moving in popularity.

What surprises me the most is that choosing to take a man’s name or not does not seem to be a big issue. In fact, it seems to be one of the few gendered norms that is so heavily ingrained in society that everyone – Democrats, Republicans, staunch liberals, Bible-thumping conservatives – takes it as the way things work. A man and a woman get married and the woman takes the man’s last name. No one says anything about the history or the symbolism behind the name change. It happens, everyone moves on, and years later the maiden name resurfaces when the couple’s child is creating a password for their iCloud account.

I tend to surround myself with open-minded, uber feminist liberals and yet I constantly find that I am in the minority for refusing to ever change my name. To me, taking my (future) husband’s name feels like I am losing part of my identity (and, originally, this is what taking a man’s last name meant). I was born with my first, middle, and last name and thus far I have been with it for 27 years. If I got married tomorrow, taking on a whole new last name, and maybe even replacing my middle name with my original last name thus giving me a really new name, would feel like I was just abandoning who I was. Sure, not changing my last name is going to come with some annoyances: people assuming I have taken my husband’s name and incorrectly calling Mrs. So-and-So, the whole question of whose last name the kids will have, the questions that I know people will ask when they realize I’ve kept my name, people possibly even taking this a step further and assume I must be “the man” in the relationship, etc etc. However, all of that pales in comparison to what I feel like I’d give up by changing my name. It’s my name. It’s the one thing that will stay with me, unchanging, from birth until death do us part. And actually – it’s the only thing that will truly stay with me even after death.

What is it about this gendered norm that makes even the most feminist of women say, “I can’t wait to be Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So!” Is it tradition? Is it retro? Has it become so taboo that it’s actually circled around to become radical? Please tell me because I am genuinely curious.

Where Have All the Husbands Gone?

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A week ago, a good friend sent me this infuriating article: Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 12.35.40 PMObviously anything published by Fox is incredibly conservative-biased, but this article just hit a special nerve because 1) people actually believe this shit and 2) some people my age (i.e. twentysomethings) are posting this on Facebook…and they aren’t doing it ironically. According to this article, the rate of marriage is at an all-time low and it’s because men aren’t finding eligible enough women to marry (or vice versa because with each read I come up with a different conclusion, but the basic gist is: women are destroying marriage). So why, according to this author, are men avoiding getting hitched?

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First off, history has shown us that men of the past did not have to marry in order to have sex. What about all those kings we learned about in grade school that slept around before and after getting married? Henry VIII anyone? The Roman Empire? Even men now – Tom Brady, Jude Law, and others that I won’t name because the list is too long. What about whorehouses and the Red Light District? There are overwhelmingly more female than male prostitutes. Are you really telling me that unmarried men did/do not go to those places?

According to this author, when “women make themselves sexually available, the pool of marriageable men diminishes.” This is the same as saying that a woman who is drunk or scantily clad is asking to get raped. I realize that may sound extreme, but it’s true. Is the man’s will-power null and void? A woman is sexually available so that means men have to sleep with her? Do men have no control over whether they have sex or not? Is he incapable of saying ‘no’ to sex before marriage?

“In a world where women do not say no, the man is never forced to settle down and make serious choices.”

So this is stating that, when a man is able to have sex, he has no desire to get married because he is already getting what he wants. Ergo, men only get married in order to have sex. Doesn’t that sound a bit shallow? Personally, if a man only wants to marry you to have sex, then he’s not really marriage material. This should be obvious, but maybe it’s not to this author: there’s a lot more to marriage than just sex. Marriage is about companionship, stability, security, creating your own family, and just finding that person who you want to go through the ups and downs of life with. If a guy (or girl) won’t marry you just because you already had sex with them and therefore they have no other reason to be “forced to settle down and make serious choices” then count your lucky stars because they probably would have made a pretty shitty life partner (or “until you wake up and get a divorce” partner).

And while we’re on the subject, sex before marriage can be very important to choosing your life partner. Sexual chemistry is important to many relationships. Why go through years of dating only to find out that this person, who you are emotionally invested in, is not sexually compatible with you? What if it turns out they are into some super kinky stuff and you’re not? What if you are kinkster and your partner is only into missionary? These are important things to find out before investing that much time, money, and emotional commitment in a relationship. Also, sex is fun and a form of exercise. Women (and men) should not be damned for wanting sleep around before settling down.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 12.27.14 PMWhat exactly does marriage offer men today? Oh I don’t know. The chance to enter into a committed, legally binding contract stating that your partner is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with? The opportunity to profess your love and commitment to someone in front of your family and friends? The benefit of being allowed into a hospital room to see your beloved if they are hurt or sick? Maybe some financial security if you have children?

Also, if men get married they will lose their sex life? But I thought earlier in the article we were told that men only got married to have sex.

“[Men] don’t want to enter into a legal contract with someone who could effectively take half their savings, pension and property when the honeymoon period is over.”

And women do? Is this implying that men are the only ones risking their finances by getting married? Ohhhh – is it because the man makes more money than the woman? And the woman, as the financially dependent spouse, will clearly get everything in the divorce because she is destitute without his salary. And naturally she’ll get the children, too, and therefore even more of hubby’s money because clearly only women are capable of caring for children. Okay, I get it now. Every man that I date is basically looking at me not as his future wife, but as his future divorce. So all men are pessimists?

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 12.27.14 PM (1)The man loses “all power,” but the woman losing her last name means nothing. In the past, taking the man’s last name meant the woman was giving up her family (and her identity) to join his. Even today, it’s a very patriarchal practice for the woman to change her last name. Our society is a bit more advanced and a woman changing her last name no longer means that she is leaving her blood-related family, but why is it still “tradition” for the woman to change her name and not the man? Why is it still proper to title things “Mr. and Mrs. Johnson”? I am not against women changing their last names when they get married because it is all based on personal preference, but don’t tell me that the man loses “all power” when they get to keep the name that they are born with without anyone looking at them strangely and saying, “Oh…but you’re married? And you didn’t take her name?”

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 12.27.14 PMAh yes, let me guess – those damn feminist, amiright? America hasn’t demoted men. Our society today is changing (albeit slowly, like the mesonychids evolving into whales) and finally figuring out that men and women can both be “bread winners.” Women can work just as much and should be paid just as much as men. Men aren’t being demoted. They’re being equalized. As for the “idiot husband” in sitcoms and TV commercials, I have four words: manic pixie dream girl.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 12.27.31 PMThe sexism is strong with this one.

So men only want to get married for sex and women only want to get married for children. Ya know, it is a wonder that there are any married people left at all! Why not just get married, bang (because that won’t last long after you get married, according to this article), pop out a few babies, and then get divorced? Clearly there’s no other reason to stay married once you’ve spawned.

I also love the verbs used in this paragraph. The woman “nabs” and “convinces” the man to get married. I know this author is trying to paint a picture that all sexually active unmarried women are sluts and are basically going to bring down the sanctity of marriage (as well as the human race), but she’s also depicting men as weak-willed beings whose only goal is to have sex and are apparently incapable of making their own decisions.

Let’s also draw attention to the fact that women can only either focus on their careers, or have children. You can’t do both. Can men do both? Have a career and have children? Most likely, but it’s going to be tough since the husband is the one working the hardest in order to make all of the money to support his family. Women are living the good life by giving up their careers in order to have the babies they always desired, while Daddy is at work, just waiting until the day his bride pulls the plug on him and takes everything he owns.

All sarcasm aside, this article is correct in just one area: the marriage rate is declining. I am not making a comment on whether that’s good or bad because, personally, I just plain do not care whether people are married or not. A study by Demographic Intelligence predicted “that by 2016, the marriage rate will fall to 6.7 per 1,000 people, a historic low. That includes people getting married for the second or third time.” Most of this is because the millennial generation is about to become the largest living generation and they are not getting married. Why? According to this article, it’s because women sleep around too much and, thus, men no longer have a reason to tie the knot. However, other viable options could be (quotations were taken from here):

1. “Millennials continue to delay marriage because of economics, education and preference.” It’s expensive to get married and it’s expensive to get divorced. It’s expensive to have a family! Lots of millennials are still working part-time jobs and barely able to support themselves, let alone a partner.

2. “The United States continues to become more secular and less religious. The Pew Research Center reported recently that the share of Americans who describe themselves as Christians dropped from 78 percent to 71 percent between 2007 and 2014, while the number of atheists, agnostics or those of no faith grew from 16 percent to 23 percent.” Obviously this is part of the underlying problem, according to Fox-associators. However, America is the “melting pot” so the decline of Christianity as the #1 religion was bound to happen at some point.

3. “Millennials have alternatives. In the past, living together or having children ‘out of wedlock’ was met with severe social stigma, but no longer. Cohabitation rates are on the rise — 48 percent of women interviewed between 2006 and 2010 for the National Survey of Family Growth cohabitated with a partner as a first union, compared with 34 percent in 1995.” This also ties into the “millennials have no money” sentiment. We find it hard to support ourselves on our own, so why not live with your boyfriend/girlfriend and split the living costs? Why not see how you two function as a unit before entering into a binding legal contract? To me, that’s much smarter than going straight from dating someone to suddenly getting married without ever having lived together.

To end this extremely long post, I’ll draw your attention back to the Fox article:

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 2.26.38 PMHow about instead of “what’s in it for him” we think about “what’s in it for them?” Last time I checked, marriage was a union between two people (and if conservatives are so worried about the rate of marriage, shouldn’t they welcome marriage equality with open arms?). Maybe this author should stop damning her own sex for destroying marriage and look at the bigger picture: the economy, job market, changes in society, etc. Perhaps the decline of marriage means women and men feel more independently secure. The millennial generation is proving that we don’t have to get married in order to feel happy and fulfilled. We can enjoy dating around until we find a partner who we truly connect with. And besides, aren’t first dates stressful enough without having to think, “Oh my god, is this person marriage material? If we get married, will they take all of my money? Will we have children and then have to go through a custody battle? If I don’t marry this person, will I be able to afford my rent?”

And in answer to the Fox author’s question Re: Being an Unmarried, Sexually Active Woman: “how’s that plan working out for you?” Quite well actually. Thanks for asking!

Gendered Products (Part I): My Baby Boy is Super! But My Baby Girl Needs to Diet

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All sorts of companies like to gender define their products. There are razors for men and razors for women, cars that are feminine and cars that are masculine, Barbies for girls and Legos for boys – there is even mace for women and mace for men because apparently there is a difference in how each sex sprays an attacker in the eyes.  Most of these products help to reinforce gender stereotyping and sometimes they are so subtle that we don’t even notice it. Then there are ones that are not so subtle. For example, this photo that recently appeared on my Facebook newsfeed:

sexist babies

Blood-boiling-gender-stereotyping-hatred aside, let’s first talk about the fact that these were found in a college bookstore. What exactly do these have to do with school? There is nothing signifying school colors*, school mascot, or even hinting at a school name. For the purple onesie that is most likely intentional because what school wants to be associated with promoting sexist stereotypes in an infant? “Come to U of Whatever! We believe in clear, definite differences between the sexes and we’re not afraid to show it! Your sons will enjoy drinking at frat parties, sporting events, and working hard towards their degree. Your daughters will obsess over their appearance, probably choose working out over studying, and will generally try to earn a husband rather than a degree!”

Now let’s move on to the real problem with these onesies: I’m Super vs I Hate My Thighs. There is no point in guessing which onesie is for a boy and which is for a girl. Gender stereotypes are starting so young that the next step is to create maternity wear that says, “I am carrying a future homemaker!” or “I’m carrying a future engineer!” “Homemaker” would be written in pink cursive letters whereas “engineer” would be block-like and yellow or blue, thus signifying which is for baby girls and baby boys — just like these onesies.

Why do we do this? Why does anyone think this kind of stuff is okay? Girls are constantly put down in our society and taught that our worth is in our appearance and in our role as a homemaker/caregiver. In school, we are taught from an early age that boys are good at math and science, and girls are good at art and literature. We cultivate this knowledge through high school, into college, and then you have an overwhelmingly large number of female English majors and very few in Physics or Economics or other majors that we all know will lead to more (easily) lucrative careers than the Humanities. This is the gender pay gap, folks. We’re not just talking about male CEOs vs female CEOs, we are talking about a systemic problem that starts from the moment a baby springs forth from the womb and girls are gifted with pink dolls and teddy bears and boys get brown monkeys and a football cap — or they get the onesies picture above that say, “I’m super because I’m a boy and this is a patriarchal society!” or “I hate my thighs because I am a girl and I will grow up to hate my body and have a 52% chance of dieting before reaching puberty.”

That’s right – the purple onesie is contributing to unhealthy eating habits and debilitating body image pressures in women. Eating disorders overwhelming effect more women than men. Why? Because while there is pressure to be thin for both men and women, women are given largely unobtainable body types to aspire to.

Edita-Vilkeviciute-for-HM-Spring-2014-Collection-10 vogue-april-2015-model-fit-07 victorias-secret-models-candice victorias-secret-models3

There average natural size of an adult woman is a US size 12. These models are not a size 12. They aren’t even a size 6! In fact, a size 12 is considered a “plus size” model. What little girl or teenager wants to be considered “plus size?” It takes an insane amount of confidence for a young girl to go around rocking the term “plus size.” These photos take the notion that “thin is beautiful” a step further by having some of the models twisting their torsos, thus creating an even small mid-drift.

Now, I am not body shaming women who are naturally this slender. Or even women who work hard to become rail-thin! All body types are great and all body types are beautiful and you should do whatever makes you happy and healthy. However, that “I hate my thighs” onesie is demonstrating the problem that no woman is happy with her entire body. I bet you could find someone who has a figure similar to Barbie and she’ll be able to point out a part of her body that she doesn’t like. Why? Because our society teaches girls that we should never be satisfied with our bodies. No matter your size, fitness level, etc — there is always room for improvement.

Like with most things, body image is not naturally inherent to humans. It is learned and manipulated from the time we first learn to speak. Negative body image leads to low self esteem, which can lead to low work ethic and eventually result in a low paying job and an overwhelming feeling of being unhappy with your life. A negative body image can also result in an eating disorder, which can having lasting health, mental, and emotional scarring throughout one’s adult life and it can even result in death. Yes, these both seem like extreme cases, but they are also not unheard of.

And what about those gender defined products that teach girls they’re not smart? That all they should and do care about are boys, gossiping, looking good, and other stupid things that won’t help them become strong, independent, successful human beings? These products do exist. Just check out these awesome clothing selections that like to promote sexist stereotypes like we’re back in the 1950s:

sexisteat lesswhile-jcpenney-discontinued-the-previous-shirt-critics-note-that-theyre-still-offering-similar-shirts-idealizing-ditzy-school-girlsjcpenney-removed-this-t-shirt-after-widespread-anger-including-posts-at-jezebel-and-the-village-voice-and-a-changeorg-petition

These are just a sampling of clothing items that come from major retailers such as Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, and JC Penney. These companies each pulled these shirts after public outrage, but how did they even get that far? Why did a group of marketers, designers, and merchandisers think that printing these messages on shirts for girls was okay? Why are all of those shirts meant for teenage girls, who are at their most vulnerable and impressionable state? Why aren’t there shirts for boys that say, “Bad at Calculus” or “My Sister Does My Biology Homework for Me”?

The answer is depressingly obvious: because putting down female intelligence and body image is so ingrained in today’s society that people think shirts like this are funny. They think that people who are offended by these types of products are just too sensitive. They are blind to the overall effect these kinds of products have on kids and how they view their gender roles as they move into adulthood. In fact, this is all so ingrained that we are now starting to teach girls that they are “less than” before they can even grasp something with their hands.

What can we do to stop this? For starters, we can not buy these products. We can speak-up when you see them in a store or on a friend. Most importantly, we can keep this conversation going. This is such a big issue that it can’t possibly fit in one blog post. Not to worry – there will be many more posts following this same topic (Part II, III…Part X??)! In the comment section below, please let me know what else you would like to hear about regarding gendered products!

*I have been informed that these onesies came from the New York University bookstore and therefore the purple onesie is displaying the school color: violet. However, the “I’m Super!” onesie is still in blue, which is not an NYU school color so the argument still stands.

Happy International Women’s Day!

As if every day isn’t already International Women’s Day: happy (officially recognized) International Women’s Day from the Millennimist! To celebrate the day here are great quotes from some inspiring women:

01/20/99 Black feminist Bell Hooks during interview for her new book. Said the feminist writer who a[T]o be “feminist” in any authentic sense of the term is to want for all people, female and male, liberation from sexist role patterns, domination, and oppression.

– Bell Hooks (American author)

MKaling– Mindy Kaling (American actress, writer, comedian, and producer)

Rebecca_WestI myself have never never been able to find out precisely feminism is. I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.

– Dame Rebecca West (British author, journalist, and travel writer)

ct-prj-bad-feminist-roxane-gay-20140808I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy. I’m not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I’m right. I am just trying—trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world, trying to make some noise with my writing while also being myself.

– Roxane Gay (American author)

Nawal El SaadawiWhen we live in a world that is very unjust, you have to be a dissident.

– Nawal El Saadawi (Egyptian author, physician, and psychiatrist)

Bette_Davis_-_portraitWhen a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch.

– Bette Davis (American film, television, and theatre actress)

GSteinemWomen may be the one group that grows more radical with age.

– Gloria Steinem (American journalist and social and political activist)

MayaAngelouQuote2-copy– Maya Angelou (American author, poet, dancer, and singer)

Kerry WashingtonWe need to be willing to be uncomfortable, to be flawed, to be imperfect, to own our voices.

– Kerry Washington (American actress)

And my personal favorite:

Know what? Bitches get stuff done.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (American actresses, comedians, writers, and producers)