Posts in category Power
In the past several years, Halloween has morphed into something really scary. Not because of the blood and gore, creepy decorations, or traditionally spooky costumes, but because of how it reinforces the cultural narrative about women.
Halloween used to be the day when you could put on a disguise and pretend to be someone else for the night. For women, it could be a reprieve from the daily pressure to look thin, beautiful, and sexy. But instead of a day off from that pressure, Halloween is now a day to amp it up. Nearly every option for women is a sexy take on a traditional costume, from fetishized caricatures from porn to the totally absurd, such as the Sexy Hamburger, the Sexy Crayon, the Sexy Skittles, the Sexy Sponge Bob, and the Sexy Nemo (the clown fish from Finding Nemo). I just … I … have no words:
But it’s not all just harmless fun. Even child characters in fairy tales have been made into sexed-up costumes for women, e.g., Sexy Little Red Riding Hood, Sexy Goldilocks, and Sexy Alice in Wonderland. (See more examples here).
In addition to fairy tale characters, here are a few other ways for women to dress up as sexy little girls — the Sexy Girl Scout, the Sexy Schoolgirl, and the Sexy Baby (WTF is wrong with people?!):
What’s so troubling about these costumes is that:
“… [M]any of the ‘sexy’ costumes are highly sexualized versions of characters who are supposed to be little girls … The fact that many women dress up as sexy little girls points to both the sexualization of female children and the infantilization of adult women.”
The sexualization of girls teaches them early on that their value lies in their appearance, their bodies, and their sexuality. The American Psychological Association found that sexualization damages girls’ feelings of self-worth, impairs their mental functioning, and contributes to eating disorders. In other words, it fucks girls up. The infantilization of adult women reinforces attitudes that women should be treated as naive, dependent, and incapable of making intelligent decisions or holding leadership roles. In other words, it fucks women over.
Another disturbing trend in sexy costumes is linking sexuality with violence. Here are some creepy sexy costumes, such as female versions of horror movie serial killers — Sexy Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Sexy Jason (Friday the 13th), and Sexy Michael Myers (Halloween). I guess the Sexy Body Bag (seriously, who comes up with this shit?!) fits in here as well :/ :
Of course, many Halloween costumes are intended to be frightening or gory, but turning a male horror movie killer that often targets scantily-clad female victims into a scantily-clad female horror movie killer has some interesting connotations. Horror movie killers tend to murder (punish) the sexually open “whores” early on, while the good girl “virgins” often escape (reward). Underlying the sexy female killer is a misogynistic fear of female sexuality and power — it threatens conservative social attitudes about women owning our sexuality and our bodies. It also sparks our own conflicted feelings about sexuality or our insecurities about other women being competition or threats. Since all of these fears are uncomfortable, they must be buried or “killed”.
Clearly, there are lots of “sexy” costumes for women, but those for men are a bit different. This Tumblr page has tons of examples of the same costume idea, but different versions for him and her. The differences are quite striking when you look at them side-by-side. His costumes are typically silly, while hers are always sexy. Here are his-and-hers versions of Tigger, Skunk, Firefighter, and Astronaut:
Making sexy versions of non-sexy characters like Tigger or Skunk invariably make sexiness cross into absurdity. However, sexing-up women’s costumes of traditionally male careers, such as Firefighter or Astronaut, is another breed of animal. First, how could women realistically fight fires in a mini-skirt, garters, and fishnets or work in zero gravity in a mini-skirt and a top that low-cut? The answer is that they can’t. And that speaks to deeper cultural beliefs about what women should and shouldn’t do. Underlying sexy costumes such as these are sexist beliefs about a woman’s place in society. Women taking on traditionally male roles is treated as absurd in itself, and the only way to make it okay is to sexualize it. This reinforces beliefs that we’re primarily sexual objects and that we don’t belong in certain careers or positions of power unless we’re there to support men.
So far, we’ve only looked at sexy costumes for women, but men have a few choices as well: the Breathalizer (Get it? You “blow” into that straw between his legs), the One Night Stand, and the Pimp (Parents — make sure to teach your sons early that women are “hos” to exploit for money and status!):
There’s obviously a discrepancy between men’s and women’s sexy costumes:
“… [W]hen women go sexy for Halloween, it usually means being seen as a sex object for others. When men go sexy, it means joking about how men should be sexually serviced, have access to one night stands, or being in charge of and profiting from women’s bodies. A different type of ‘sexy’ entirely.”
That’s it. I’m skipping Halloween. These are all just too scary for me. :/
I’ve seen this rape prevention poster with the added commentary circulating around social media lately. I decided to fix it.
My cousin just had this lovely exchange with a guy on OK Cupid. She said they had just started chatting. He first told her she was beautiful, she said thank you, she asked how his week was going … and then this is how the conversation progressed.
She certainly dodged a douche. :/
Ilana and Abbi from Comedy Central’s “Broad City” have the perfect response to a random stranger telling them to smile. :D
Political commentator Keith Olbermann goes off on the NFL’s acceptance of sexism and violence against women. This rant comes after the league punished Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice with a mere slap on the wrist — a two-game suspension — after he knocked out his girlfriend then dragged her unconscious body out of an elevator.
Watch the video:
Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014)
This phenomenal woman truly showed that when beauty is inside, it shines outside too.
(Quote from Huffington Post)
A Facebook friend posted the original version, so I decided to fix it.
Via Huffington Post:
“Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) ripped apart the stereotype that women are ‘too emotional’ on Wednesday, moments after Senate Republicans blocked a procedural motion to advance the Paycheck Fairness Act. …
“Mikulski sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would cut into the gender pay gap by holding employers more accountable for wage discrimination against women. An effort to begin debate on the measure failed 53-44, with all Republicans and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) voting against the cloture motion. All Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) voted in favor of advancing the bill.
“Mikulski’s comments were not just directed toward her Republican colleagues, but were also a thinly-veiled shot at former CIA director Michael Hayden. On Sunday, Hayden suggested that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was ‘too emotional’ to have produced a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s use of torture post-Sept. 11.”
Here’s an old school response to sexism that unfortunately is still relevant today.
“A lost D.H. Lawrence essay in which the famed author issued a major takedown to a misogynistic contemporary has been found in a library in New Zealand.”
Lawrence was the author of classic novels such as Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Women in Love. Regarding the newly-discovered essay:
“Lawrence wrote the piece some time in late 1923 or early 1924 in response to an essay published in Adelphi, a literary magazine … That essay, which ran under the byline ‘JHR,’ was a viciously misogynistic treatise called ‘The Ugliness of Women.’ Its author argued that ‘in every woman born there is a seed of terrible, unmentionable evil: evil such as man — a simple creature for all his passions and lusts — could never dream of in the most horrible of nightmares, could never conceive in imagination. … No doubt, the evil growth is derived from Eve, who certainly did or thought something wicked beyond words.'”
Here’s an excerpt of Lawrence’s enlightened response:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a renowned Nigerian novelist. She gave a powerful presentation at TEDxEuston entitled “We Should All Be Feminists”. This is an excerpt from her speech:
Watch the full presentation here:
No matter how accomplished or how talented a woman is, her appearance is always treated as relevant. Here’s one example. BBC tennis commentator, John Inverdale, had this to say about France’s Marion Bartoli who just won Wimbledon’s women’s singles title:
“I just wonder if her dad, because he has obviously been the most influential person in her life, did say to her when she was 12, 13, 14 maybe, ‘listen, you are never going to be, you know, a looker. You are never going to be somebody like a [Maria] Sharapova, you’re never going to be 5ft 11, you’re never going to be somebody with long legs, so you have to compensate for that.”
Bartoli took this powerful swing in response:
Anne Frank would’ve been 84 years old today. She was truly a beautiful person, inside & out.
... nor will I allow others to treat me as if this is all I am:
- – a uterus
- – a collection of body parts
- – a vagina
- – a piece of ass
- – a pair of tits
- – a victim
- – public property
- – a virgin
- – a whore
- – a “before” photo
- – a body to legislate
- – a sexual object
None of these things can possibly define a woman.
The media’s treatment of women as sex objects is a ubiquitous fact of life. Advertisements, fashion spreads, comic books, movie posters — nearly everywhere you look, women are shown in various stages of undress and posed in positions that make them look vulnerable, submissive, and sexually available. Conversely, men are depicted in positions of power or dominance, e.g., standing while a woman is reclining, being fully clothed while she’s undressed, etc. These differences reinforce inequality between the sexes. Really, how powerful can a woman feel when she’s half-naked and awkwardly contorted?
It’s an interesting social experiment to see what happens when men are placed in these typical “female” poses.
The image below features two Vanity Fair covers: the top one with fully-clothed fashion designer Tom Ford, along with a nude Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson; and the bottom one is a Vanity Fair spoof of their own cover with a fully-clothed Paul Rudd and a pretend-nude Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and Jason Segel. In a separate issue, Vanity Fair also did a photo spread with comedians Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Tina Fey, but posed them as typical sex objects. As Entertainment Weekly asks, would it be “… just as uproarious if some of those ladies vamped ironically in body stockings[?] … Men being objectified is so silly as to be hilarious, but it’s better if funny women are also hot.”
Here’s a similar set of images showing nude female models huddled together and then one with the guys from the “Jackass” TV series and movies:
The following “men-ups” were created by photographer Rion Sabean to parody classic pin-up poses. According to Rion, his work focuses on “… gender and sexuality, wherein I attempt to bring light to the scrutiny and judgments of a society that defines human beings under rigid, antiquated terms.”
Artist Paul Richmond created a similar series from a gay male perspective. “I began the Cheesecake Boys series to rectify the inequalities in the underwear-flashing art genre known as pin-up,” said Richmond.
Here’s Richmond explaining how he came up with the concept, along with more examples of his work:
Fantasy author Jim Hines parodied women’s poses on the covers of fantasy novels by trying to replicate the poses himself. (He also did a series posing like the men on romance novel covers). “… [M]ost of these covers are supposed to convey strong, sexy heroines, but these are not poses that suggest strength. You can’t fight from these stances. I could barely even walk,” said Hines.
Do these images look ridiculous? Silly? Maybe even homoerotic? Once men are placed in the same sexualized poses that women are traditionally seen in, it becomes clear how absurd — and sexist — these poses truly are.
“In the survey, Jane Smith and Dan Jones are pitted against each other in a race for Congress. Both have similar backgrounds, and after reading their bios the survey respondents prefer Jane slightly, 49-48.
“Then they read a second story. In one version of the story, there’s no physical description of either candidate, and Jane’s lead stays pretty much the same. In a second version, there’s a neutral description of Jane’s appearance. Suddenly she’s 5 points behind Dan. In a third version, there’s a positive description of her appearance. Now she’s 13 points behind Dan. A fourth version that contains a negative description has about the same effect.
“In other words, any description hurts Jane. And any non-neutral description, even a positive one, just kills her. This is why even a complimentary comment … is both inappropriate and damaging in a professional setting. It primes people to think of a woman’s appearance, and that’s apparently enough to keep them from thinking about her actual qualifications. You will be unsurprised to learn that this effect is strongest among men.”
Read more at Mother Jones.
This quote originally appeared in an article on Jezebel regarding criticisms of Hillary Clinton’s appearance.
This poster is from the new anti-rape campaign: “My strength is not for hurting.” MyStrength is a project of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. This awesome campaign puts responsibility for rape prevention where it belongs — on the potential rapist. Learn more here: http://www.mystrength.org/
If you’re an overthinker, here are a few things that can help:
1) Meditation — Take a few minutes every day to practice clearing the mind. Over time, it helps, but in the meantime …
2) Triggers — Figure out what triggers you to overthink: Is it a need to control things? Is it co-dependency & feeling like you’re supposed to take care of everyone? Is it a critical inner voice that starts telling you how you screwed up or how you’re not good enough?
3) Pay attention! — Try to catch yourself when you start ruminating, before you start going into that downward spiral. Notice what triggers those thoughts (that’s where meditation helps).
4) Stop yourself from going there! — Find a distraction, call a supportive friend, take a bath, watch a movie – anything that stops the auto-pilot & redirects you to go down a better path.
People have been watching too many action movies. It’s like they have some sort of hero fantasy that they’re gonna be prepared at any time to dive down in slow-motion with guns blazing and be able to take down a psycho who’s been preparing for months and is armed with an assault rifle and bullet-proof vest. Why the fuck do average citizens need military-style assault weapons? What are you preparing for? A huge influx of stampeding deer while you’re hunting? The zombie apocalypse? Jesus Christ – these innocent victims aren’t even buried yet, and everyone’s screaming about having their precious weapons taken away. America, fuck yeah. :/