Who are you calling a ho?

May 8, 2009 § 5 Comments

So, I am a second-term high school senior. These are words that should be music to my ears, but I have actually been extremely stressed out with endless amounts of work. I am, however, having a great time working on a research paper about sex workers in Pakistan. The paper is still in its early stages right now (I will post it when it’s finished) but there is a really interesting issue I wanted to discuss here with all of the fabulous members of the women’s glib community.

The topic of sex work has raised many questions and debates both amongst feminists and in society in general. One major question that I am addressing in my paper is about how we, both as feminists and as members of the global community, should approach sex work. Within feminist approaches to sex work, there are two major view points that I’ve encountered. On the one hand, there are those who argue that sex work is an inherently abusive system that is based on manipulating women, especially poor women, and should be abolished. Then, there are the people who argue that sex workers should be viewed as just that–workers. They argue that the abusive and manipulating aspects of sex work would be more easy to address and diminish if the focus was on protecting the rights of sex workers through legislation and unionization. Personally, I would fall in the second camp because I think that if we treat sex workers as workers as opposed to bad people, their voices will be heard much more and the stigma that we associate with sex work would be less powerful.

I’m really interested in finding out more about what feminists, particularly young feminists, have to say about sex work. If anyone has any insight or opinions on sex work, both in the U.S. and internationally, please share them!

The Spermicide Search

April 23, 2009 § 2 Comments

A few days ago I was in a drugstore looking to buy some over-the-counter birth control. It was a store I’d never been to, medium-sized, and I looked all over but couldn’t find the aisle where contraceptives and condoms are kept.

Finally I found what I was looking for, all the way in the back of the store on the side of the pharmacy counter – that is, about a foot and a half off the ground. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to buy, so I sort of bent over, trying to get a better look at the options. But they were so low that I eventually just put myself on the floor in a combination sit-kneel.

I said to my boyfriend, “What the fuck? Why are these things so out of the way?” He agreed. The store apparently has the space to put dozens of bottles of chocolate syrup at eye-level in a regular aisle, but lacks the decency to put life-saving products in a remotely convenient place. The incident really got me thinking about people, like me, who are looking for condoms or BC but who, unlike me (thanks to a good deal of feminist awakening), don’t have the courage to face judgment by asking an employee where to look. My boyfriend pointed out that this policy would particularly affect teenagers, who in my experience want to be as inconspicuous as possible in situations like these.

So as I was paying, I spoke to the manager, who was totally nice and charming and respectful about it. I said, “It took a while for us to find this, and when we did we noticed that the condoms and spermicide products were located all the way in the back and pretty low to the ground. I basically had to sit on the floor to decide what I wanted to buy. It seems like you’ve got a lot of space here. I’m sure a lot of people come here looking for the same thing I was, so I think you should consider moving the products to a more obvious display.” He said he would look into it, and seemed very sincere.

Me: “That felt so badass!”

Boyfriend: “Changing the world, one store at a time.”

Homework Help

April 13, 2009 § 2 Comments

So, I have to write a 15 page research paper for my U.S. Women’s History class due at the end of May. Our research proposal is due next week, and I am kind of at a loss. There are so many things I want to write about, and I definitely want to write about something feministy.

Some ideas I’ve had so far are tokenism and feminism, (a post on this topic is in the works), the portrayal of Latinas in the media (based on the recent Dora the Explorer image controversy), or maybe researching the history of sexual assault.

I would love any suggestions for an interesting research topic.

I’m Guilty

April 2, 2009 § 5 Comments

Get ready for a slightly nonsensical and very therapeutic rant.

High school students are under a lot of pressure. But that’s not why I feel guilty almost all the time.

My mom works really hard. She works, providing for me and all, and she is a mom. I respect her, and women like her, so much because I know the shit she has to put up with on a daily basis. We all know the kind of guilt society places on women, particularly working mothers. My mom gets guilt from our family for not staying home, she gets guilt from the people she works with for leaving work early on parent-teacher conference night. If she works, which most of us need to do, she’s a bad mom, but if she doesn’t…well, that’s not really an option for her. It’s a pretty pervasive lose-lose situation.

Sometimes I feel so stressed that it feels like my body is breaking. A big part of this stress is because of the guilt I constantly feel. I feel guilty if I’m not doing my homework. I feel guilty if I’m running late to a rehearsal. I feel guilty if I don’t go visit my grandmother one Sunday. Almost every girl I know has expressed similar feelings to me. Of course, there are plenty of guys that are also constantly juggling three thousand things. It’s just that lately I’ve become really aware of how big a factor guilt is in running my life. What am I so guilty about?

There is constant pressure to be flawless. But what does that even mean? Sorry if this sounds like a whiny self-pity session, but it’s true, and it’s true for all of us. There are these unattainable standards that all women are expected to live up to, that just don’t make sense. I’m supposed to be smart, but not too smart or else boys won’t like me. I’m supposed to be pretty, but not too pretty, or else girls won’t like me. I’m supposed to be innocent, but naughty.

We’re faced with these unattainable standards and expectations to be flawless everyday. Obviously no one can live up to them, and yet the way they’re presented, it seems like you’re the only one who can’t. So many of the girls in the movies and on t.v. seem to fit this definition of what we’re all supposed to be. No wonder I, along with so many young women, constantly feel guilty.

Adventures in activism

March 25, 2009 § 15 Comments

Shira and I spent the afternoon volunteering with NARAL by handing out condoms and information about emergency contraception (Plan B) on the street. It was seriously fun times, and felt particularly relevant just days after a fresh accusation of youth apathy.

shira

Shira spreads some condom love.

miranda

Me: “Yes, they’re really free.”

lalena-howard

NARAL’s Community Organizer/fellow young repro rights activist/fabulous person Lalena Howard (in red), surrounded by volunteers.

Is it getting hot in here, or is it just all that fire in these young bellies?

UPDATE: Lalena reports that over 90 New Yorkers volunteered at 23 different subway stops. “Those of us working at Union Square and Herald Square alone handed out over 10,000 condoms and 6,000+ info cards in less than 4 hours,” she says. Sweet. And for even more incentive to get on the activism bandwagon, these pics really show how much fun everyone had.

Quick Survey

March 18, 2009 § 1 Comment

I’m writing a paper on a subject very near and dear to my heart: the overworking of high school students and its effects on emotional well-being. If you’re a high school student, I’d be much obliged if you’d take my survey (and pass it along). It should take less than fifeen minutes to complete. Thanks!

You’re such a woman!

March 2, 2009 § 2 Comments

I’m a feminist who is a vegetarian and loves to knit, bake, do yoga, and be around babies.

I have been told by numerous people (both male and female) upon mentioning any of these habits, “You’re such a woman!”

“You’re such a woman” is not an offensive statement. Far from it, I am proud of my womanhood. I, however, am offended by the tone that accompanies this statement. It is usually said as an accusation or as a fact that belittles my feminism.

When I ask the accusers why these parts of me make me such a woman, they have responded by saying:

“Because you’re so domestic,”

“That’s what housewives did in the ‘50’s,”

“You’re caring,” and, my personal favorite,

“It’s stuff you do for others.”

These are all sexist. Blatantly sexist. How?

  1. They take (mostly) positive attributes and apply them only to women, thereby implying that men are incapable of caring and doing for others.
  2. They make both women and men who practice vegetarianism, knitting, baking, doing yoga, and/or baby-loving feel guilty for pursuing their own happiness.
  3. They narrow the definition of what it means to be a woman/man in a society that has questionable values.
  4. They narrow the definition of what it means to be a feminist in today’s world.

My personal definition of feminism is the promotion of everyone’s right to choose, as long as an individual’s choice does not interfere with the prosperity of others. Only if that freedom of choice exists can we have equality. When I am told I am “such a woman” in a condescending, volatile tone, my choice to do these “domestic” activities is taken away. The difference, my accusers, between me and a reluctant “’50’s housewife” – besides the obvious – is that I choose to do these things because they make me happy.

I choose to be a vegetarian because I am much happier knowing exactly where my food comes from. I choose to knit because it takes my mind off of the day-to-day drama of my life. I choose to bake because I love the simplicity of following a recipe. I choose to practice yoga because it makes me strong and my body empowered. I choose to be around babies because it makes me happy seeing new lives blossom.

So you know what? I am such a woman (and proud of it), but not for the reasons you, my accusers, deem.

Doesn’t everyone deserve the choice to their own happiness without sexist connotations/criticism?

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