“HOWEVER, a marathon implies that every step we take is always a step forward. That if we just put one foot in front of the other and keep trudging away down the path, we’ll reach our 26.2 mile marker and finish. It turns out, life – and your quest for a healthier lifestyle, has a lot more twists and turns than expected. Rather than thinking of your journey like a straight shot marathon, think of it like a winding labyrinth.” Lost in a Labyrinth: Getting Healthy Isn’t a Straight Shot – Nerd Fitness
“See decisions not as final choices, but experiments. The anxiety (and paralysis) comes when people are worried about making the perfect choice. And worried about making the wrong choice. Those are two outcomes that aren’t necessary to make a decision, because if we conduct an experiment, we’re just trying to see what happens.” The Science of Failure: Why Highly Successful People Crave Mistakes – Buffer Blog
“Which is why any discussion of this subject requires a major caveat. Yes, women suffer consequences for their lack of confidence—but when they do behave assertively, they may suffer a whole other set of consequences, ones that men don’t typically experience. Attitudes toward women are changing, and for the better, but a host of troubling research shows that they can still pay a heavier social and even professional penalty than men do for acting in a way that’s seen as aggressive. If a woman walks into her boss’s office with unsolicited opinions, speaks up first at meetings, or gives business advice above her pay grade, she risks being disliked or even—let’s be blunt—being labeled a bitch. The more a woman succeeds, the worse the vitriol seems to get. It’s not just her competence that’s called into question; it’s her very character.” The Confidence Gap – The Atlantic
“That’s all. Aside from Anna and Elsa, the only women we hear from are their mum (who says three words in the entire film and is dead by the end of the second song), and Kristoff’s (delightful) adoptive mum. In this film all about the relationship between two sisters, men get to be princes, kings, fathers, dastardly dukes, snowmen, shop owners, ice traders, and even reindeer. Women? Women can be princesses and mothers.” Frozen’s world full of men – Consider the Tea Cosy
“I know you keep putting life on hold. Find yourself turning on the TV. Having another snack. All while suffering through another day in the relationship/job/health routine that just doesn’t satisfy you.
And it’s all under the guise of doing more planning, or research, or getting the right food, or getting a gym membership, or, or or…” Let me read your mind for a moment – Heather Day Wellness
“Teaching consent is ongoing, but it starts when children are very young. It involves both teaching children to pay attention to and respect others’ consent (or lack thereof) and teaching children that they should expect their own bodies and their own space to be respected—even by their parents and other relatives.
And if children of two or four can be expected to read the nonverbal cues and expressions of children not yet old enough to talk in order to assess whether there is consent, what excuse do full grown adults have?” Teaching Consent to Small Children – Love, Joy, Feminism
“And one thing I’ve learned, above all, is this: the life that my writing has changed more than any other is my own. Writing for you has changed me, in ways I am only beginning to grasp. In wonderful, crazy, lift-you-off-the-ground kind of ways. And that makes me want to do it forever.” What I’ve Learned as a Writer – Zen Habits
“A note, though: if you don’t really want to put in all that effort, setting a goal you don’t control is a good way of setting up a fallback. It gives you someone else to blame when you don’t reach your goal. Keep that in mind next time you set a big goal: if you find yourself aiming for something you have no control over, ask yourself whether you actually want to put in the work to achieve it. If you do, reframe it to become something you can be accountable for.” Chasing Goals You Can Control – Belle Beth Cooper
“Yet, even when crippled by small budgets, female-driven films tend to outperform expectations. The total median gross return on investment for a film that passed the Bechdel test was $2.68 for each dollar spent, compared to only $2.45 for films that failed. And despite the claims of some within the industry that films with strong female leads don’t do well internationally, they hold their own abroad as well.” Charts: Movies that pass the Bechdel test have a better return on investment – Feministing
“But I will not make myself small. I will take up my own space in the world. I will hold my the flexible structure with both hands and allow myself the opportunity to be here – to really be here – and to be seen.” Taking Up Space – Mara Glatzel
I was scared that it wouldn’t make a difference, and then I wouldn’t have anything left to try. And continuing the status quo, I at least had the hope that something might help in the future.
But after reading about the Italian study, I felt like I had no excuses left, and had to give it a proper try. The next day I went 100% gluten free.
The first couple of weeks were the hardest, although much easier than I had expected. Compared to previous times, it just felt like the right time to do it.
The first month I didn’t feel much of a difference, but by the second month I already had less cramps and less pain. By the third month I was astonished at how much milder my cramps were.
It has been almost 8 months now, and I have more than halved my consumption of painkillers. I used to be on 2-3 different kinds of painkillers during my period, and now I can usually handle it with a hot water bottle and the occasional Ibuprofen (which is completely astonishing to me).
Fellow endometriosis sufferers, I can only recommend giving a gluten free diet a go. Worst case scenario is no difference, best case scenario you might have much less pain to deal with.
“But being anxious or socially clumsy or inexperienced isn’t the same as being creepy. Someone who is socially awkward will occasionally trip over somebody else’s boundaries by accident because they may not necessarily understand where the line is in the first place. A creeper, on the other hand, knows exactly where those boundaries are… he just doesn’t care. A socially awkward person frequently realizes that they fucked up almost as soon as the words are out of their mouth and will often freeze up or try to verbally backpedal; a creeper who is using “socially awkward” as an excuse on the other hand, will wield their supposed infraction against the other person as proof that they didn’t do anything wrong… or rely on others to do their defending for them.” Socially Awkward Isn’t An Excuse – Paging Dr. NerdLove
“I’m not super pro-tattoo or anti-tattoo. I’ve debated getting one in the past but never that seriously. But my mother is vehemently anti-tattoo. Listed below are the reasons my mother has always given me for why I shouldn’t get a tattoo.
“These are familiar issues, I think, to what many women face for having their bodies torn down, shamed, and dehumanized. Women of color, women with eating disorders, women whose bodies have been mistreated in a plethora of ways, women whose bodies have been denied as the bodies of women—and they do not boil down to an antsy inability to feel comfortable in a certain style, with certain clothes—it’s not about belts and hats and colors and skirts. It’s about an inability to feel whole or connected to your body, the very vessel that is not a separate thing but that really is you.” What it is like to be an Ex-Muslim woman – Between a Veil and a Dark Place
“If you marry the “wrong person,” then after you’re married they become the “right person,” aka God’s new will for your life. You’re stuck. Deal with it. You shouldn’t have dated him anyway, or married him without your parents’ permission. We know you either dated or married without parental blessing or both, because duh, you married the “wrong person” and you would never have done that if you’d courted and gotten your parents’ blessing!” Guest Post: The Many Valuable Lessons I Learned at ATI – Love, Joy, Feminism
“Which is why preserving the patriarchal societies in so many fantasies doesn’t make sense to me. I understand the argument that we should not whitewash history, and I fully agree—when it comes to actual history scholarship. But abiding by the historical fact of sexism in a fictional universe that is otherwise not bound by historical fact, I’d say, accomplishes nothing as much as reinforcing the idea that it’s the default order of things” An Analysis of Sexism in in Historical Fantasy – The Mary Sue
“Think about it: girls are bossy, boys have “leadership qualities.” Women are deemed aggressive, while men are simply decisive (or just, um, bosses). From Ruth Bader Ginsburg (called “a bitch” by her law school classmates) to the “ball-busting” Hillary Clinton, historians will tell you: women in power have long been punished for exhibiting qualities of assertiveness, because it veers from the “feminine” mold. And yet, isn’t it precisely those assertive qualities that will help women get ahead? If you wouldn’t call a dude these words, don’t say ‘em of a lady.” Ban Bossy: How to Talk About Women Without Sounding Like a Sexist Jerk – Times
“But that doesn’t stop the fact that the primary sentiment behind the “strong is the new skinny” movement is that beauty is all about the way that your body looks.” Love is the New Skinny – Paleo for Women
“But there is another element of weight stigma that affects everyone, that does not discriminate between fat and skinny, that has real and serious consequences, and that is deeply wrapped up in sexism. And that element is internalized body dissatisfaction. It’s that driving knowledge that your body is not appropriate and never will be, that you’re fat and ugly and will never be pretty (unless you starve yourself), and that causes you to treat your body in horrific ways. While this type of body shame does apply to men as well, in many ways it’s wrapped up in the conviction that women’s appearance is the most important thing about them, the idea that women’s bodies don’t belong to themselves, and the underlying message that women should always be taking up less space. These toxic ideas have serious effects on women’s mental health, and can affect their behavior to such an extent that they have physical repercussions as well.” Fatphobia and Body Dissatisfaction: Different Conversations – Skepchick
“Those bad outcomes are just a few possibilities out of many, and they’re unlikely to come true.
And even if they do (let’s say someone thinks badly of you), the bad outcomes rarely ever mean anything disastrous for our lives.
Even if the bad things come true, you’ll be OK.” You’ll Be OK – Zen Habits
“If we tell children that they must allow kisses and hugs they do not want, that their physical boundaries are not respected, that whoever is the biggest gets to say who touches or tickles or hugs whom, what in the world do we think we’re teaching them?! For me, this is one of the biggest parts of both keeping Sally safe from predators and ensuring that she will be strong enough to stay out of or leave unhealthy or abusive romantic relationships.
And frankly, respecting your child’s body is also part of being a decent human being.” Respecting Every BODY – Love, Joy, Feminism
“I think it’s interesting to see the way that when people get into a monogamous couple dynamic, they often have to neuter their sexual desires. As the initial intensity of a relationship shifts to feelings of long-term love, you can end up in a sexless marriage, and I think that’s a huge contributor to infidelity and the breakup of a lot of families. We put so much emphasis on a partner being everything—that this person completes you—and when that doesn’t happen it creates a lot of pressure. I don’t think that open relationships are for everyone but it’s something that you should no longer feel ashamed to talk about at a time when so many marriages are failing.” Up for Polyamory? Creating Alternatives to Marriage – Roc Morin – The Atlantic
“So, as we continue to be reminded that the murder of a black boy may never be valued in a legal system that once deemed black folks as less than human, as we collectively grieve for those we lost and those we have yet to lose, this one thought comforts me.
He was free. He was loved.” Remembering Trayvon: On Black Life, Love, and Freedom – Role / Reboot
“But in a groundbreaking study published in PNAS last week by Corinne Moss-Racusinand colleagues, that is exactly what was done. On Wednesday, Sean Carroll blogged about and brought to light the research from Yale that had scientists presented with application materials from a student applying for a lab manager position and who intended to go on to graduate school. Half the scientists were given the application with a male name attached, and half were given the exact same application with a female name attached. Results found that the “female” applicants were rated significantly lower than the “males” in competence, hireability, and whether the scientist would be willing to mentor the student.” Study shows gender bias in science is real. Here’s why it matters – Scientific American
Beauty & Body Image
“Before long, many of my friends had followed suit, posting their make-up free selfies and nominating their friends to take part. It was all very well meaning and inoffensive but, as far as I could tell, absolutely nothing to do with breast cancer awareness. If anything, it was trivialising a very serious issue and using it to justify a vanity project.” Why I Won’t Be Posting a Make-Up Free Selfie – Emily Buchanan – Huffington Post
“This is an important preface for a step-by-step guide to loving your body. As George or I or any other health advocate out there who has “made it” to the shining pinnacle of self-love and body acceptance will tell you, this is an on-going journey. There is no finish line. There is no trophy; there is no marching band. But there are important milestones. There are ways of thinking about and relating to your body that help. And before you know it, you will have left the cold open waters with sharks behind and have found yourself swimming in warm seas with manta rays – not a perfect place to be, but there is also most likely an occasional mojito waiting for you on the beach.” 9 Steps to Invincible Partnership with Your Body – Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations
“As with nearly every exhausting inequality, smart women end up self-flagellating because we’re not able to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and get right on out of our own oppression. We end up holding our vulnerabilities close to the vest, even when those vulnerabilities are what brought us to the feminist movement in the first place.” Feminists Have Body Issues, Too: 5 Ways to Get Over the Shame – Everyday Feminism
“That’s why boundary work is so vital to establishing a solid sense of self-love. You’re expanding the space that’s available to you in the world.
Through your actions, you’re teaching yourself that you deserve a place on this Earth, just like everyone else.
Boundaries are priceless on their own, but their value runs deeper, too: when you set a boundary, you teach yourself, experientially, that it’s possible and that you’re deserving of space.” claiming space – effervescence
“This is fascinating to me: that my body will have the same reaction to an imagined scenario as well as a real scenario. I know that happens with negative stress, but I didn’t make the connection that it would happen with positive stress as well.” On Crushes, Flirting and Delight – K. Foley Wellness
Brené talks about Wholehearted living, which “is about engaging in our lives from a place or worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”
She debunks the myths around vulnerability, for example that it is weakness, something “you don’t do”, letting it all hang out or going it alone.
We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us. We’re afraid that our truth isn’t enough – that what we have to offer isn’t enough without the bells and whistles, without editing, and impressing.
Here’s the crux of the struggle: I want to experience your vulnerability but I don’t want to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is courage in you and inadequacy in me.
I’m drawn to your vulnerability but repelled by mine.
Brown goes on to talk about “Shame [which] is the fear of disconnection. … [It] is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” She then shows us the difference between shame (I am bad) and guilt (I did something bad) and further on shows us how this is important not just for us as grown ups, but especially as we are raising children.
When we apologize for something we’ve done, make amends, or change a behavior that doesn’t align with our vlaues, guilt – not shame – is most often the driving force. We feel guilty when we hold up something we’ve done or failed to do against our values and find they don’t match up. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, but one that’s helpful. The psychological discomfort, something similar to cognitive dissonance, is what motivates meaningful change. Guilt is just as powerful as shame, but its influence is positive, while shame’s is destructive. In fact, in my research I found that shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we can change and do better.
Men and women don’t experience shame in the same way. “…the real struggle for women – what amplifies shame regardless of the category – is that we’re expected (and sometimes desire) to be perfect, yet we’re not allowed to look as if we’re working for it. We want it to just materialize somehow. Everything should be effortless. The expectation is to be natural beauties, natural mothers, natural leaders, and naturally good parents, and we want to belong to naturally fabulous families. Think about how much money has been made seeling products that promise “the natural look.” And when it comes to work, we love to hear, “She makes it look so easy,” or “She’s a natural.””
The main struggle of men, on the other hand, is: “Do not be perceived as weak.” and often the women in their lives can’t handle men’s vulnerability: “We ask them to be vulnerable, we beg them to let us in, and we plead with them to tell us when they’re afraid, but the truth is that most women can’t stomach it. In those moments when real vulnerability happens in men, most of us recoil with fear and that fear manifests as everything from disappointment to disgust. And men are very smart. They know the risks, and they see the look in our when we’re thinking, C’mon! Pull it together. Man up. … “Men know what women really want. They want us to pretend to be vulnerable. We get really good at pretending.”” (I know I for one am taking a careful look if I have different standards and expectations for the men in my life than for the women).
These feminine and masculine norms are the foundation of shame triggers, and here’s why: If women want to play by the rules, they need to be sweet, thin, and pretty, stay quiet, be perfect moms and wives, and not own their power. One move outside of these expectations and BAM! The shame web closes in. Men, on the other hand, need to stop feeling, start earning, put everyone in their place, and climb their way to the top or die trying. Push open the lid of your box to grab a breath of air, or slide that curtain back a bit to see what’s going on, and BAM! Shame cuts you down to size.
As I look back on what I’ve learned about shame, gender, and worthiness, the greatest lesson is this: If we’re going to find our way out of shame and back to each other, vulnerability is the path and courage is the light. To set down those lists of what we’re supposed to be is brave. To love ourselves and support each other in the process of becoming real is perhaps the greatest single act of daring greatly.
Brown talks about how we try to protect ourselves through foreboding joy, perfectionism and numbing , but also how we can develop practices that help us lower our guard and dare to live a vulnerable life through practicing gratitude, appreciating the beauty of cracks, setting boundaries and finding true comfort.
Daring greatly is not about winning or losing. It’s about courage. In a world where scarcity and shame dominate and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It’s even a little dangerous at times. And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s far greater risk of feeling hurt. But as I look back on my own live and what Daring Greatly has meant to me, I can honestly say that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as believing that I’m standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen.
As always I invite you to find me and connect with me on Goodreads.
“2. They’re more emotionally reactive. People who are highly sensitive will reactmore in a situation. For instance, they will have more empathy and feel more concern for a friend’s problems, according to Aron. They may also have more concern about how another person may be reacting in the face of a negative event.” 16 Habits of Highly Sensitive People – Huffington Post
“Michael looks at this little girl harshly spanking her doll—”Stop your crying. SWITCH, SWITCH. If you don’t stop crying, Mama will have to spank you again. SWITCH, SWITCH, SWITCH. OK, stop crying now.”—and sees something to praise, and a sign that her mother is parenting correctly. He sees that this girl’s go-to parenting tool is the switch, and her lack of compassion, and he doesn’t see what he should—a sign that there is a problem. Instead, he sees it as an affirmation that his sadistic, dictatorial, self-erasing child rearing methods work.” TTUAC: Spank Your Baby to Sleep – Love, Joy, Feminism
“When you make high-sounding proclamations like “God will never forsake you” it behooves you to unpack what that even means. Is it a completely hollow promise? Does it refer to a null set of possibilities? If all the awful things we can imagine can conceivably fall under the heading of “God remaining faithful,” then what exactly would God not remaining faithful look like? Isn’t this embracing a teaching which is ultimately empty and misleading? I would argue that when you tell people that “God loves you” and “God will never forsake you,” you are making a completely unfalsifiable claim. Unless I am mistaken, there is no scenario in which your version of God could be either unloving or unfaithful because any and every imaginable possibility can conceivably be called “God being loving” and “God being faithful,” no matter how unfavorable. That makes this another hollow promise.” Hollowing Out the Promises of God – godless in dixie
““Respecting women” is one of the most sexist things you can do then. I cringe anytime someone — often far more well-meaning than Huckabee — says it. Because it only makes sense if you believe women are fundamentally different than men. Unless you think women are inferior — uniquely vulnerable and especially in need of such niceties — the first kind of respect should be given to everyone regardless of gender. And unless you believe our femaleness somehow confers on us some unearned abstract superiority, the second kind cannot honestly be granted to “all women” as if they are the same. In other words, if Huckabee truly believed in gender equality, he’d either extend to all people the common courtesies he gives women, or he’d acknowledge that there’s no earthly, non-sexist reason why he’d treat a female political opponent more like his wife than like a male political opponent. Though he might admire both his wife and his opponent, his ways of showing it would be different. Respect doesn’t mean sameness either. Respect means treating women like individuals.” Dear Mike Huckabee: Saying you “respect women” is how we know you’re sexist – Feministing
“Women, especially, are taught that their nature is tricky and should be treated with caution. We are taught that we are too much, that the flux of our emotions deems us hysterical. We are taught that we need to be strong and solid in order to exist in the world – the world of tasks and outcome and getting ahead. We are taught to unwind in private, so as not to burden anyone. We are taught to shrink. To hold ourselves up. To prove our worth. ” Motivation & Permission to Be Human – Mara Glatzel
“And I am not here to pretend otherwise. I am not here to paint you a beautiful picture of a perfect life. Because perfection is an illusion. It does not exist. No matter how much you love yourself, how much weight you lose, how many profits you bring in, you will never get to a place in life that does not include uncomfortable emotions, including hatred.” Self hate is the path to self love – Christie Inge
So lately these #NoMakeupSelfie’s for “cancer awareness” have been all over my newsfeeds, and frankly they are pissing me off. Don’t get me wrong. I am all for cancer awareness, and I think self-expression through pictures – with or without makeup – is great. But unless you’re a cancer survivor, or you’re asking people to look at your naked skin to help you check for skin cancer, you aren’t creating “awareness” around cancer.
In this day and age, who isn’t “aware” of cancer? And if someone genuinely isn’t, they aren’t going to suddenly know about unregulated cells growing and forming malignant tumors, because someone has posted a picture of themselves without makeup, shared the colour of their bra, grown a moustache, told us where they place their handbag or whatever ridiculous new “awareness” campaign is going viral. I mean it when I say it is ridiculous. These things trivialize cancer, and takes attention away from cancer patients, their loved ones, research and information around prevention and detection.
I have no doubt that those who take part in these campaigns have good intentions. However, intentions aren’t magical and we all know the road to hell is paved with them. We do need awareness around the needs of cancer patients, the need for research, and information around prevention and detection of cancer. If you want to help, listen to people who have or have had cancer, listen to their loved ones, help spread information on early detection or cancer prevention. Donate to organizations that do cancer research (such as Cancer Research UK, Cancer Research Institute or Danish Cancer Society. However, do check how much of your donation actually goes to research or programs to create awareness or support patients.)
No Makeup + Self Expression
I think selfies – with or without makeup – can be a great way to express yourself, and to work on self-acceptance. And you’ll find several pictures of me on Facebook without makeup – some because I just happened to not be wearing makeup that day, and some because I consciously chose not to.
The thought of going without makeup on a workday made me uncomfortable. That’s precisely why I did it.
It is interesting to question why we choose to wear – or not wear – makeup in certain situations. For me, putting on makeup often means putting on my “professional” face. Similarly, when I am not feeling well or in a lot of pain, I will often wear more makeup to put on a brave face and avoid questions. However, for me it is also important to sometimes break that habit and know that I am okay to face the world on my own – even as that might make me feel more vulnerable.
I would love to see more people embracing their own beauty, and posting photos of however they choose to express it. Just own it. Don’t make it about cancer awareness.
Friedman and Valenti have found an incredible array of writers from all areas of life, including people like Jill Filipovic, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Samhita Mukhopadhyay, Hanne Blank, Stacey May Fowles, Lisa Jervis, Brad Perry, Latoya Peterson and many more. They cover such diverse topics as masculinity, female sexual pleasure and autonomy, incest, rape culture, queer sexuality, racial sexualization etc.
My favourite paragraph from Jill Filipovic, that in my opinion pretty much sums up the anthology in its entirety:
Feminism and anti-rape activism challenge the dominant narrative that women’s bodies aren’t our own, they insist that sex is about consent and enjoyment, not violence and harm, and they attack a power structure that sees women as victims and men as predators. Feminists insist that men are not animals. Instead, men are rational human beings fully capable of listening to their partners and understanding that sex isn’t about pushing someone ot do something they don’t want to do. Plenty of men are able to grasp the idea that sex should be entered into joyfully and enthusiastically by both partners, and that an absence of “no” isn’t enough – “yes” should be the baseline requirement. And women are not empty vessels to be fucked or not fucked; we’re sexual actors who should absolutely have the ability to say yes when we want it, just like men, and should feel safe saying no – even if we’ve been drinking, even if we’ve slept with you before, even if we’re wearing tight jeans, even if we’re naked in bed with you. Anti-rape activists further understand that men need to feel empowered to say no also. If women have the ability to fully and freely say yes, and if we established a model of enthusiastic consent instead of just “no means no,” it would be a lot harder for men to get away with rape. It would be a lot harder to argue that there’s a “gray area.” It would be a lot harder to push the idea that “date rape” is less serious than “real” rape, that women who are assaulted by acquaintances were probably teases, that what is now called “date rape” used to just be called “seduction.”
This book, and the discussions that arise from it are so incredibly important for all of us and in my opinion it ought to be a mandatory part of any sex ed class.
My past haunted me still, but it came to me in strange ways. I am surprised by how much sex I have had in my life that I didn’t want to have. Not exactly what’s considered “real” rape, or “date” rape, like my first time, although it is a kind of rape of the spirit – a dishonest portrayal or distortion of my own desire in order to appease another person – so it wasn’t rape at gunpoint, but rape as the alternative to having to explain my reasons for not wanting to have sex. You do it out of love sometimes, to save another’s feelings. And you do it out of hate sometimes, because you don’t want to hear your partner complain – like you hate their voice so much that whenever you aren’t made to hear it, it is a blessing. This is all sex I have said yes to, and sometimes even initiated – that I didn’t want to have. Often I would initiate the encounter just to get it over with, so it would be behind me, so it would be done. It is the worst feeling; it is like unpaid prostitution, emotional whoring. You don’t get paid in dollars, you get paid in averted arguments; you get paid by being able to avoid the truth another day. You hold your breath and you don’t feel your body, and you just let go of yourself. Your body responds just enough to make them think that you are into it, that you want it, that this is really sex. But it isn’t. I hate it, but I have done it, and I really don’t ever want to do it again because it is dehumanizing and demoralizing.
- Margaret Cho, Foreword
Male sexuality, and maleness in general, are socially enforced by requiring men to be Not Women. Men who transgress and exhibit characteristics that are traditionally associated with femaleness – passivity, gentleness, willingness to be sexually penetrated – have their masculinity questioned.
- Jill Filipovic, Offensive Feminism: The Conservative Gender Norms That Perpetuate Rape Culture, and How Feminists Can Fight Back
The kind of consent I’m talking about isn’t concerned just with whether your partner wants to have sex, but what kind of sex, and why. … When we passively respond or assume we know what the other person’s thinking, we could very well be wrong. By not speaking up or waiting until the other person can share their desires, we are simply guessing. There are exceptions, of course. Some people get off on having one person take charge and set the tone, pace, and position for sex. That’s fine, as long as this is spelled out at some point in advance and isn’t simply assumed.
…Besides, consent should be a baseline, the rock-bottom standard for sexual activity, and shouldn’t necessarily have to be sold as “sexy” to count as something vital and important.
- Rachel Kramer Bussel, Beyond Yes or No: Consent as Sexual Process
There are certain people who feel it’s their sacred duty to inform us, again and again, that rape is a compliment. (Or, more precisely, “Rape is a compliment, you stupid whore.”) Rape is not a violent crime meant to control and dehumanize the victim, see; it’s evidence that you were just so ding-dang attractive to some perfectly average guy, he couldn’t stop himself from fucking you, against your will, right then and there! He thought you were pretty! Why are you so upset?
- Kate Harding, How Do You Fuck a Fat Woman?
Because I’m a feminist who enjoys domination, bondage, and pain in the bedroom, it should be pretty obvious why I often remain mute and, well, pretty closeted about my sexuality. While it’s easy for me to write an impassioned diatribe on the vital importance of “conventional” women’s pleasure, or to talk publicly and explicitly about sexual desire in general, I often shy away from conversations about my personal sexual choices. Despite the fact that I’ve been on a long, intentional path to finally feel empowered by and open about my decision to be a sexual submissive, the reception I receive regarding this decision is not always all that warm.
BDSM (for my purposes, bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism) makes a lot of people uncomfortable, and the concept of female submission makes feminists really uncomfortable.
Patrick califia, writer and advocate of BDSM pornography and practice, wisely states that “internalized kinkophobis is the unique sense of shame that many, if not most, sadomasochists feel about their participation in a deviant society.” This hatred of self can be particularly strong among feminist submissives, when an entire community that they identify with either dismisses their desires or pegs them as unwitting victims.
The safe, sane, and consensual BDSM landscape is made up of stringent rules and safe practices designed to protect the feelings of everyone involved, and to ensure constant, enthusiastic consent. The culture could not exist if this were not the case; a submissive participates in power exchange because a safe psychological space is offered up to do so in. That space created an opportunity for a displace of endurance, a relief from responsibility, and feelings of affection and security. Before any “scene” begins, the rules are made clear and the limitation agreed upon.
- Stacey May Fowles, The Fantasy of Acceptable “Non-Consent”: Why the Female Sexual Submissive Scares Us (and Why She Shouldn’t)
Not rape comes in many forms – it is often known by other names. What happened to me is called sexual assault. It is not the same as rape, but it is damaging and painful. My friends experienced statutory rape, molestation, and coercion.
What happened in the courtroom is a by-product of rape culture – when what happens to women is marginalized, when beyond a shadow of a doubt still isn’t enough, when your past, manner of dress, grade point average, or intoxication level are used to excuse the despicable acts of sexual violence inflicted upon you by another.
Internalized shame is what I experienced, that heavy feeling that it was my fault for allowing the sexual assault to happen. So many of us are conditioned to believe that these actions are our fault, that if we had done something differently, if we had made a better choice, if we had been smarter, then we wouldn’t be in that situation. many of the girls I grew up with knew that sexuality was something to be guarded, something not to be discussed, and something not to be displayed. We were curious, but we knew that there was a pervasive idea of “get what you get.” If you were alone with a boy, you were asking for whatever he did to you. If you were raped at a party, you were asked why you chose to go in the first place. If a man followed you down the street, the question became “What were you wearing?” The onus is always on us to keep ourselves safe – even in impossible circumstances. I was afraid that if I spoke up, people would look at me differently, as something damaged or dirty – or, worse, they wouldn’t believe me at all.
- Latoya Peterson, The Not-Rape Epidemic
For me, real sex education is something more. I believe that it requires actually teaching about sex. Real sex education requires, in addition to teaching about protection, teaching sex as a normal and healthy part of life that is varied in terms of both preferred partners and preferred acts. Real sex education teaches that sex is more than heterosexual intercourse and should be consensual and pleasurable for all participants.
The fact is, many abuse victims don’t realize that they’re being abused. They undergo the trauma and just don’t understand why it hurts. I was never taught about enthusiastic consent. The phrase entered my vocabulary only a couple of years ago. It pains me to think of how different my life would have been if someone had taught me that I was supposed to want sexual contact and say so; otherwise, it was wrong. I truly thought that fearfully giving up after saying no twenty times counted as consent. If taught differently, I don’t know that I would have avoided the initial assaults, but I do believe with all my heart that I would have gotten myself out of that situation sooner. At the time, I knew that rape and physical assault were inexcusable acts of violence generally committed against women. I just didn’t realize that what was being done to me was rape. For that reason, it took me years to realize why I felt so traumatized.
- Cara Kulwicki, Real Sex Education
Let’s look a little more closely at that correlation between rape and alcohol, for example. That’s not a correlation between female drinking and rape. It’s a correlation between all drinking and rape. In fact, studies have shown that it’s more likely that a male rapist has been drinking than that his female victim has. So if we want to raise awareness about the links between drinking and rape, we should start by getting the word out to men (who are, after all, the overwhelming majority of rapists) that alcohol is likely to impair their ability to respond appropriately if a sexual partner says no.
- Jaclyn Friedman, In Defense of Going Wild or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Pleasure (and How You Can, Too)
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