Quoted: On Being Surrounded by Young Women

September 7, 2009 § Leave a comment

“I’ve had some really beautiful moments with some really amazing girls. We’re working on a presentation right now called “accepting yourself for who you are” and the girls are so insightful and mature and I can’t take it. Most of the time being a counselor just makes me feel like my best self. It’s great. I feel my most appreciated and confident and beautiful and talented and capable. I wish I felt like this all the time!”

– Lovely friend of the blog Lil, who spent her summer working as a sleepaway camp counselor for pre-teen girls.

Grinnell Fun Facts

August 23, 2009 § 2 Comments

Since I haven’t been doing anything remotely intellectual for orientation, this is going to be a baby post. Here are some funny facts I learned about Grinnell campus:

  1. Formerly the section of campus where only women lived, South campus has some pretty hysterical architectural differences from all of the other sections. For example, the loggias (covered walkways) are not open air like the all the others on campus. They have beautiful glass windows. Know why? Because women should never have to walk in the cold Iowa winters. Haha, guess what. No one should have to do that. Ever.
  2. All of the kitchens on South campus come equipped with ironing boards. For us womenfolk to do the ironing.
  3. Just learned this one, it may be my favorite so far: the Loose dorm (holla!) was notoriously the hall for “loose women” because the window locks are the easiest to break for late night collegiate trysts.

I found those details pretty amusing when I first heard them, I really hope you enjoyed!

Packing Delirium

August 6, 2009 § 9 Comments

Right now I am undergoing the laborious (and ridiculously exciting!!!) task of packing up my belongings to take to my first year of college. I’ve noticed that, like many young women my age, I have a lot of fucking clothing. Not just clothing. I just have a lot of stuff. When comparing packing notes with my future classmate who happens to be a guy, I learned that he is packing way less stuff than me.

While this opening could go in many directions, I’ll probably choose the least rational, least evocative and least coherent one because I am that tired of packing. Here goes:

I’m sure many of you feminists are familiar with the theory about the implications of female and male standards of beauty- females are encouraged to be thin, to disappear, while males are encouraged to take up as much space as possible. This is how society wants us. In my packing, I cannot help but wonder- is the reverse true for material goods? Are women supposed to take up as much space as possible with our belongings? Are we making up for society’s pull for us to be nothing by having as much stuff as possible?

My packing delirium leads me to believe that a lot of the reason women tend to have more clothes, accessories, etc. is a tie to domesticity. Perhaps society wants us to take up a lot of room, not with our bodies, but with our stuff at home. Maybe we are bound with more strength to our homes because of all of these belongings. Do our clothes mark our territory? Do men often ‘travel light’ because, according to our culture, they should not be tied down to one town, and certainly not to one household?

Obviously it would be a stretch to draw very many conclusions like these without researching properly, and even then it probably wouldn’t make much sense. I just thought I’d let you in to see my packing-induced crazy talk.

On Celebrations, On Difference

July 22, 2009 § 2 Comments

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting Provincetown, a small beachside town in Cape Cod, MA that has a really bustling queer scene. Though I wasn’t there during their annual celebration, Carnivale, I have been to P-Town in the past during that festive week. Individuals flaunt deliciously glamorous drag costumes, men walk around naked promoting various community theater ventures, tourists can be seen hugging the huge Y-shaped statues that read ‘Discriminate’ down the side. My gut reaction to Carnivale has always been a positive one; I think it’s great that individuals who might normally feel like outsiders have a safe space to show that they love who they are. Expression and pride are wonderful things that I wholeheartedly support. But something about celebrations like Carnivale — Earth Day, the Gay Pride Parade, Black History Month, Women’s History Month — always give me pause. I just can’t get over the feeling that when we designate something as a a celebration of difference or our ideals, we actually end up creating a vacuum that ignores some of the bigger complexities at hand. I think that the celebratory weeks, days, and months that spot our calendars can actually work to stunt dialogue; we devote a certain chunk of time to an issue and then feel okay about ignoring it for the other 364 days, 51 weeks, or 11 months. This is not to say that I think we should do away with any of those aforementioned celebrations. I just don’t really know why we can’t make the celebration permanent. Why isn’t every day an affirmation of the importance of women, transgendered individuals, immigrants, homosexuals, our earth?

One of my biggest confusions pertaining to Carnivale is the very common practice of posing for photographs with individuals dressed in drag. When I was younger, I loved finding the most outrageous looking drag queens, sidling up to them, and getting a ‘hilarious’ snapshot. And now I look at these pictures and sort of cringe, without even knowing why. The strangers in these pictures totally agreed to be in them; indeed, they were standing in the middle of the street precisely to be noticed, photographed, and talked about. And that’s obviously a personal decision that I respect entirely. Maybe it just complicates my idea of pride — pride in the genders, races, religions, and isms we all align ourselves with. I am proud of being a woman! I am actively trying to create a world for myself that includes a lot of consideration for the condition of my sisters, my femininity. Should I put on my most womanly (?) outfit and head to the streets to pose with strangers? Should I vamp up my feminism in March to correspond with Women’s History Month? I genuinely don’t know the answers to these questions. What are your thoughts?

Two P-Towners, me, my rabid ginger afro, my friend Molly.

Two P-Towners, me, my rabid ginger afro, my friend Molly.

What do you think?

June 2, 2009 § 2 Comments

I recently got accepted into next year’s Gender Studies Round Table Leadership Program at my school. The group consists of 15 – 20 high school girls and five female teachers. It’s going to be an intensive three-day program focusing on leadership skills and gender issues relevant to us as a group. The three days aren’t strictly planned out, so today we had an hour-long meeting to discuss what issues were most important to to us.

Some of them were:

  • Women in positions of leadership
  • Sexuality (being a gay man vs. being a lesbian)
  • Sexual empowerment and how it’s definition changes for genders
  • The catty high school girl stereotype
  • Women in positions of leadership throughout history (specifically women of color)

I also would be really interested in discussing the “hook-up culture” that adults are so terrified of, domestic abuse, and how and why people are afraid of calling themselves feminists.

But what about you? Can you think of any more topics or issues that you feel would be beneficial for a group of high school girls to explore?

Oh, and one last thing: the last question our teachers posed to us at the end of the meeting was, “If this were a leadership program strictly for boys and not girls, what would be different about it?”

AOL lets you know which women to watch out for!

April 25, 2009 § 2 Comments

Oh, AOL. Your quasi-news articles never cease to amuse.

Here AOL has laid out a list just for you of all the “no-good women” around. The kicker here is that these were sent in by AOL users who left indignant comments on the previous 12 Bad Boy Types To Avoid article. Some of my favorite excerpts from the “Bad Girlfriends, Worse Wives” article:

Church Girls. They live in this twisted world where they think they can treat you poorly, cheat, b**** and complain, but as long as they go to church it’s OK for them to do this. It’s more like the Devil is in their souls instead of God.

Because all girls who go to church are exactly the same. And by the same, I of course mean devils.

[On "talkers"] When men want to be romantic, we don’t want [any talking] going on…whatsoever!  When we’re being romantic, there is absolutely NO ability for a man to think of more than that one thing…even if we wanted to.  We’re just not programmed that way. If a woman wants to talk, she needs to get that out of the way early in the evening.

Because, duh. That’s just the way men are. Shut up and deal with it.

Most city women are useless Barbies. Country or small town women are less likely to be pampered lazy idiots.

I’m honestly surprised this one made the list. Thanks for the stereotypes, AOL!

OK, so almost every guy is bad. But guys need to look out for the girls who can melt anyone with their smile. You have to prove your worth a million times over while the greaseball at the bar only has to buy her a few drinks and practice some “Pick-up Artist,” “Glamour,” “Desperate Housewives,” and “SATC” lines to guide them.

Okay… actually, this one just doesn’t make sense.

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.

Favorite Responses…

March 7, 2009 § 1 Comment

I get to telling people I write for a feminist blog. It’s been a little over a month since I first started writing for Women’s Glib and since then, I’ve posted the link to it on my facebook and told many of my friends about it. Here are a few of the winning responses I’ve gotten:

  • “A feminist blog?… Whew.”
  • “No way is that going to help you get a boyfriend.” (Yes, this is the same person.)
  • Raucous laughter
  • Awkward silence
  • “Oh… that’s… great.”
  • “Loser.”
  • “Women are allowed to write for blogs?”

So, by winning, I actually meant saddening. It’s upsetting to hear some of my friends respond in such a negative way. It’s like they hear the word “feminist” in any context and alarms go off in their heads. To be fair, some of the responses listed above were just said to get a rise out of me. Mostly, I just smile at these responses, since… they are kind of humorously uninformed. This isn’t to say I haven’t received positive responses – I’ve actually gotten much more positive feedback, but posting those would just be obnoxious.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank the fellow Women’s Glib writers for including me in such an amazing experience. And the people who find what we have to say worthwile. And thanks to the sexist assholes in my life for providing me with so much good material.

Things to celebrate…

February 27, 2009 § 2 Comments

1. It’s finally Friday! I know it comes around every week, but I still have a little party inside every time.

2. Pheebs’ awesome letter to inconsiderate oglers was posted on the front page of Feministing!

3. It’s that once-in-a-lifetime event…where Silvia turns 18! It’s been a fierce, feisty, feministy year. Happy birthday, girl. You rock.

Dear Assholes:

February 25, 2009 § 15 Comments

Hello, good friend/acquaintance/classmate/stranger. I’m just writing to let you know that I am in fact aware that my breasts are big. Thanks.

I mean, I’ve only been living with them for years. But thank you, person/classmate-who-I-may-or-may-not-know-particularly-well-and-don’t-necessarily-feel-comfortable-with for informing me. Your comment about my chest really spurred meaningful and insightful conversation and didn’t embarrass or dehumanize me in the slightest. I feel incredibly respected.

No but seriously. Don’t tell me to, “put them away,” or notify me that you could probably swipe a credit card through my cleavage. I don’t want to hear it. If my bra is visible and you would like to enlighten me of that fact, that’s fine, but making a “hilarious” comment about my breasts because you somehow feel that it’s appropriate or because you “only want to give me a compliment” ISN’T charming. What it tells me is that you’re more interested in discussing cup size than anything I may have been able to add to our conversation.

And another thing, wearing a low-cut shirt doesn’t give you the right to comment either. I’m sorry if I’m showing cleavage, that must be really difficult for you, but I’m sure you can move your eyes about six inches to the north. It is NOT my fault that you think yourself incapable of doing the simple task of looking at my face. And NO, wearing a low-cut shirt does not mean I’m “asking for it,” no matter how many people may have told you so. Please desist.

This may seem harsh, but I have HAD IT with STRANGERS and even CLOSE FRIENDS of both genders thinking it’s entirely normal to say, “Wait, oh my God, but you have really big tits,” in the middle of a conversation. And I’m fucking sick of letting such inconsiderate assholery get to me.

With the most sincere “go fuck yourself” I can muster,
Phoebe

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