tail between legs

I disquiet more and more men as time goes by;
a sign of how formidable I’ve become, I suppose.
I take it as a compliment.
They’ll stand there,
offended by my assumptions of them,
then with tail between legs,
yet nose held high,
amble on as if I’m the one who’s said
something wrong; done something to display
a grave ignorance or disregard for the
dignity and worth of another human being.

Perhaps I should wear a sign:
Don’t confuse my lightheartedness
with a willingness to laugh at your crude jokes.
Don’t mistake my tendency to want to please
for the ability to understand your need to feel superior.
Don’t forget, my feelings and experiences
as a woman are valid.
Don’t look away
just because the truth is hard to take.

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hera

One starts to realize
the lies
they were told their whole lives.
One starts to wonder
why they aren’t
automatically
given a choice
or allowed a voice.
We’re born as equals,
yet nurtured to hinder
our own growth
for the sake of others;
cast as “mere women”,
we are secretly envied
for our ability
to conceive
and nurture
life
in a way
man
never
can.

Celebrate What Matters: An examination of the sexualization of women in the media

I wonder how it is that as a society we’ve shifted from doing all we can to make women invisible, from denying their sexuality to now seeing an over-representation of sexualized (though not actualized) women everywhere we turn.  Billboards, posters, magazines, online ads, half-time shows, television commercials, television shows, book covers, CD and DVD covers, video games, movies, comic books, music videos… women are everywhere.  We are obsessed with the female form.  But only so much as it takes on one form.  We are infatuated with their soft, delicate features but only when they resemble a prototype.  And this is where the argument that women in the media are merely being celebrated can be refuted.   Because it isn’t women we’re celebrating, but rather narcissism and self-loathing (the two often ironically going hand in hand).

After all, if you can teach someone that appearance is all that matters by glorifying the concepts of ‘youth’, ‘beauty’, and ‘sex appeal’, then train them to hate themselves for not meeting the ideal set before them, you can convince them to spend (read: waste) an unjustifiable amount of money on: “beauty” products (as if beauty can be bought), make-up, apparel, diet regimes, gym memberships (which do come with legit health benefits), plastic surgery… whatever it takes to make a person look as they “should”.  And you can tame them so as not to bat an eye when the images they see are clearly degrading to women.  You can subdue their urge to question the implications of the messages promoted through the media or to reflect on how they are being told to feel about themselves.  You can persuade them to idolize women who seem to have it all.

Women are encouraged to want the body, the skin, the hair, the face, the boobs, the clothes, the everything they are not, equating what people see on the outside with who they are on the inside.  Men are not immune to this either (minus the boobs), but mainstream media doesn’t target them as directly or ruthlessly; their inherent value isn’t tied quite so tight to what they look like and their social role is communicated very differently.  It’s only gotten worse in recent times once companies figured  out they could exploit men too, thereby turning a bigger profit.

Corporations don’t care who they’re hurting or who is privy to their propaganda.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the blatant messages being perpetuated by the media which we regard as a herald of truth apropos of what our lives should be about.  Our children are receiving this message, too.  And this is what concerns me most.  Because children are the future and certainly I want my children to own their bodies with respect given to what their bodies can do for them as they move about this world, making a difference, being creative, finding their voice, and following their passions.

Life is not about hating ourselves for not looking as though we starved ourselves for weeks and spent every waking moment at the gym.  It’s not about loathing what we see in the mirror and spending hours doing all we can to look younger, more radiant, less tired and frazzled because, just, life.  It’s about finding the true beauty in those every day moments with total strangers, friends, loved ones.  It’s about turning to your children or those dearest to you and being awe struck by the love you feel for them, as well as all of the love they continuously show you.  Life is about sharing yourself with someone else and feeling seen... heard.  It’s about allowing ourselves to be that vulnerable.

Instead, what the media does is prompt us all to wear a mask to hide behind while planting a seed of self-doubt which quickly grows into a weed of self-hate.  We look at ourselves and ask, “Am I worthy?”  Worthy of what?  …Worthy of existing …Worthy of being loved …Worthy of being the most desired by someone else–“This Year’s and Every Year’s Sexiest Person Alive”…Of feeling cherished for who we are most supremely.  I think these are things we all long to be assured of.  But unfortunately, for the answer to our question, too many of us refer to the images we see constantly all around us.  And the answer we’re given when looking outside of ourselves will always undoubtedly and unflinchingly be… NO.

What I believe women secretly want is to wake up one day to a non-airbrushed, non-photoshopped picture of themselves without make-up or spandex panties, no push-up bra or any of the other tricks we keep up our sleeves–just their face and body as it is without the lies we wear–next to a headline that reads: “SHE IS WORTHY”.  But let me tell you something: even though that day will likely never come, YOU… ARE… SO WORTHY.  And that is worth celebrating.

 

itsy bitsy or teeny weeny?

Bikini Contest.  The other night I came across a video with this title when I was on YouTube listening to some tunes.  My children spend a lot of time on YouTube, much to my dismay (especially my daughter who is 11), so sometimes video suggestions will pop up based on things they’ve watched.  This video, I could tell, was geared for (presumably) a young teenage audience.  So, I decided to be a responsible parent and check it out.

What I discovered was that this video was posted by some self-consumed Barbie doll wannabe teenage twat who decided to try on and share with the world all 30 (yes, 30) bikini swimsuits that she owns.  Answer me this: who… the hell… needs 30 swimsuits?!?  And all bikinis none the less!  …that’s not very practical.  Also, who has that kind of time or money?  (Obviously not me so I should probably just move on…)

This poor stupid girl started off by saying how all of her friends were doing these videos, so she decided to join in on the fun (so this is a thing that other stupid girls are also doing apparently).  She proceeded to show her viewers each bikini, one by one, and described them in detail, as if we couldn’t already see what they looked like (it was riveting, let me tell ya).  She demonstrated what each one looked like by trying them on (offering a close up of her chest) and got really excited over STUPID shit.  Thirty goddamn bikinis later, she’s encouraging her viewers to “like” the video and “follow” her on YouTube.  But it was her closing remark that really made me sad and mad at the same time.

It was something along the lines of “even if you’re a creepy guy who just wanted to see some girl walk around in a bikini, that’s okay, you’re still a follower!”  She then winked and gave the camera a thumbs up.

What the…………. fuck?!??

I’m sad that there are actually young girls and women out there who feel they need this kind of validation in their lives…. the kind that comes from complete strangers who care nothing about them but rather what they look like underneath the next to nothing clothing they may or may not be wearing.  I’m sad that it doesn’t bother but rather excites this girl to know that strange “creepy” guys are using her to get off, but will later forget all about her.  BECAUSE SHE MEANS NOTHING TO THEM and because she will be replaced with the next girl feeling frisky enough to take her clothes off for an audience.  How sad that that is yet so important to her concept of self.  …And that there are girls and women who think and feel and behave this way EVERYWHERE.

I’m mad that this type of media not only shows a lack of self-respect, but also a lack of consideration for the young girls who have been victims of sexual violence as a result of the smut regularly available on the internet to creepy guys everywhere.  [Sort of as an aside, I was actually surprised recently to learn from a friend who worked in probation with pedophiles that when asked, offenders will oftentimes say that what they did to their sister, niece, cousin, neighbor girl… they learned by watching online videos; their curiosity got the best of them.  I guess I always assumed these fuckers were repeating what had been done to them or what they watched happen growing up.  But that isn’t usually the case as it turns out, at least in my friend’s experience.  And yet how often do we support this type of violence that is most often directed towards women and girls by supporting the porn industry in some form or fashion?]  I’m mad that I’m forced to raise my daughter in a world that begins sexualizing girls at a young age, exploiting them in a myriad of ways, only to turn against them in the end for getting old and fat.

So this evening I had a well thought out discussion with both of my children in which  I very deliberately said a swear word.  This isn’t something I do often.  Oh sure, I’ll let something slip in a fit of frustration or hostility or if I’m just not thinking.  Very rarely do I contemplate a swear word before using it around them.  But I felt, after watching this video and others like it, a word that is taboo and profane to them was exactly what I needed to describe what I thought of this online trend in order to leave a lasting impression.

And so I said to them, “hey… kids…  this video is SHIT.”  I made sure to repeat it several times and continued to explain the impact that videos like these have on both girls and boys and how it can affect their perceptions without them even realizing it.  Videos that are self-serving and attention seeking, that contain nothing but petty commentary and pointless dialogue (or just down and dirty raunch) just to hide the fact that a girl is insanely insecure (and why wouldn’t she be in our society) do nothing to enhance one’s character or improve the lives of others.  It is pure and utter… SHIT.  I just hope that none of the brainwashing has set in for either of my children yet. My 8-year old son just laughed when I brought it up (“Who would want to watch someone in a bikini?!”); my daughter insisted she didn’t see it and steers clear of those types of videos.

Nevertheless… this mama bear is tightening up on what she allows in her home.  I can’t control what my cubs see in the real world, but dammit if there’s going to be a lot less SHIT around here interfering with anyone’s potential to be their best, most confident and most ambitious selves.  I’m sorry but, trying to determine which of your 30 bikinis is the most liked by people you don’t even know isn’t very ambitious.  There is a lot of shit going on in the world, more relevant than the SHIT you contaminate it with, stupid fake pretty girl!!

 

 

Pawn

Lipstick, cherry red

A face, a body you can’t get out of your head

Hair done, nails too

A look that suggests they want to screw you

High heels, make up on

You’re the bishop, they’re the pawns;

Another pony in a fucking parade,

A pigeon willing to play the game

Where the rule is and always has been

To win not the hearts, but the desire of men.

But guess again

Because beauty quickly fades

In this perilous brigade

When seen with the eyes, not felt by the heart.

But how can you be expected to get that

In the end

When you’ve been this shallow from the start?

Enough

Define beauty. Is it something perceived only through our sense of vision? How does a collective idea of what makes someone beautiful shape every social construct and social system–everything about us really, including the things we desire, and the way we learn to feel about ourselves and others?

If you’re anything like me, whenever you walk past a magazine rack you can’t help but eye and scrutinize each pretty face and sculpted body.  They’re always tied to headlines like, “Flatter Abs In 10 Minutes!”; “Flawless Skin You’ve Dreamed About”; “Get Him To Notice You”.   I’ll stand there with a feeling of contempt over the absurdity of our culture’s obsession with women’s aesthetics.

And yet, part of me wishes I resembled them more in some way, even though I know most women don’t look like the models in magazines; even the models themselves don’t look like they do in the magazines. With enough make-up and air brushing, (not to mention money and silicon), a hair stylist and fashion and lighting expert, we could all look good enough to make the cover of some insipid magazine.

So I peer into the faces all staring at me, telling me what I should see when I look at me. Then later, standing in front of the mirror, gazing into my own reflection, that’s not what I see.  And what I’m left with is the feeling that I’m not enough.

I glare down at my deflated, once D cup, now B-C cup breasts. I analyze the stretch marks that span the width of my stomach and the skin there that puckers because it’s been stretched by two pregnancies. And in my heart of hearts I like to believe, and I encourage other mothers to believe, that these things make me more beautiful, not less so. Because they symbolize the amazing feat of growing, carrying, delivering, and sustaining the lives of two human beings!!

But unfortunately, this is not how stretch marks, floppy breasts, and flabby skin are perceived by the rest of society. No, instead they’re interpreted as marks of shame; something to be removed, pushed up and covered up, never to see the light of day. You can forget about wearing a bikini again, ladies. Nobody wants to see what you now have to offer after having done the most incredible thing any person can do–bring new life into the world. And how does that world repay us? By telling us we’re no longer sexually desirable; as if the outward appearance of our body alone delimits our sensuality; as if we should be content with the archetype set for us.

Yet that’s exactly what we’ve been brainwashed to believe.  The sexual desire of straight men has been kicked into overdrive as images of sultry sirens continue to show up everywhere in our conscious awareness–surfing the web, listening to Pandora, watching TV, opening the mail, standing in line at the grocery store, walking through the mall–men are constantly taunted with images intended to stir their blood (and empty their wallets).  Knowing that the widely accepted standards of attraction are what entice men, and enticing men is how a woman is told she will gain attention and find love, women go to great measures to feed their appetite. Left to their own devices, do people really think women would go to such excruciating lengths if superficial beauty wasn’t so highly regarded? Corsets, pantyhose, high heels, girdles… none of these things are comfortable or easy to wear and yet women have convinced themselves that squeezing themselves into these apparatuses make them look and feel sexier.

Based on all the advertisements we’re bombarded with (not to mention the increasing number of online porn sites), it would seem as though women exist for the mere sexual gratification of men. Even ads targeted towards women are usually intended to sell them something that will make them more desirable to their spectators: a new shade of lipstick, a different color for their hair, an age defying face cream, a fantastic way to lose weight… And we buy into it. We buy into it because we fear the threat of rejection if we don’t. Indeed, women have been used as pawns to make men happier and companies richer.

As women who buy into what they’re selling, we become a part of the conspiracy against ourselves. And while I can intuit that true beauty is something to be revealed from the depths of one’s soul, I also know that it’s the skinny bitches with perfect hair and perfect skin, perky round tits and a tight ass that turn heads.  Ashamedly, I feel inferior to them, inadequate, even homely in their irrefutable presence.

But again, if you’re anything like me, you also want desperately to resist! Fuck a fashion trend and fuck a beauty myth. We must define beauty on our own terms and expect men to follow suit.  Because beauty is more than what we see with our eyes. We also feel it coursing through our veins, in our heart and in our soul; we perceive it with our mind at each beautiful thing our lover says and does. It’s in their touch, in their voice; we can smell them and we can taste them. We come to know real beauty through their love and through them alone.

But Cosmo doesn’t want you to know that. Because that’s not what sells magazines. Convincing women they’re not enough to attract or satisfy a man… now that’s where the money’s at.