Why aren’t you smiling?

February 5, 2009 § 6 Comments

I experience street harassment practically on a daily basis. In the morning on the way to school, I often hear comments like ‘hey baby’ or ‘good morning, beautiful.’ Not to mention gems such as the one I heard recently, ‘I love the way you walk, but I’d bet I’d love you even more lying down.’ Mmm…I love my coffee with a side of harassment in the morning. However, the most obnoxious form of street harassment in my opinion is the kind that is not outwardly sexual, yet equally invasive and unacceptable. I’m talking about the comments I get when I don’t respond to the first come-on. For example, sometimes I just get a ‘hello’ or a ‘what’s your name?’ When I don’t respond, I get a comment like, ‘why you gotta be so mean?’ or ‘come on baby, I’m just trying to be nice.’ As if I’m supposed to respond to every sketchy man that approaches me on a sidewalk when I’ve clearly got more important things to do. Another extremely annoying comment is ‘why aren’t you smiling?’ I know a lot of young women get this one all the time.

The problem with these seemingly innocent comments is that they are a classic expression of the rape culture that we have created in our society. We make it acceptable for men to catcall women without fearing any punishment. Hell, I’ve been hit on by police officers! With comments like ‘why you gotta be so mean?’ or ‘come on baby, I’m just trying to be nice,’ these men expect us to not only passively receive their come-ons, but to thank them. Thanks sketchy man drinking beer at 8:30 a.m. for harassing a minor on her way to school!

I think that the blame can’t solely be placed upon the men that harass women on the street, in the subway or anywhere really. There has to be something wrong with a society that tells these men that the only way they can assert their masculinity is by catcalling women. That’s rape culture, folks! Men are expected to assert their masculinity in this damaging way, and women are expected to endure it. Fuck, we’re even blamed when we don’t endure it passively; ‘why you gotta be so mean?’ ‘why aren’t you smiling?’ Maybe it’s because I’m being hit on by a gross, much older man first thing in the morning and he expects me to be into it.



February 2, 2009 § Leave a comment

President Obama’s stimulus package has been all over the news lately. There have been many debates about the plan, especially from the conservative side. One of the biggest issues that had many conservatives crazy was the family planning aid. This program did not become part of the package that passed the House last Wednesday with no Republican votes. Now the stimulus has made its way to the Senate, where it’s being debated over and poked and prodded by Republicans and Democrats. I’ve found myself somewhat lost in the midst of the media coverage of the stimulus package and I want to know how the stimulus package will affect young women. The family planning aid would probably have directly affected the lives of young women the most out of all the programs in the stimulus package. From what I understand about the stimulus, which, granted, is not a lot, I haven’t seen any other programs meant to directly affect the lives of young women.

The goal of the stimulus plan is to save and create jobs which are being lost rapidly, in fact, Obama predicts that about 3.7 million jobs will be created. However, the Republicans are finding fault with almost every single part of the stimulus plan. One major issue they see is that there is not enough attention being paid to the housing market. At this point it’s difficult to tell how the stimulus package will affect the lives of young women, but if programs as important as the family planning aid are not going to be included, we are going to be in trouble. I hope that as the Senators of both parties work on the stimulus package in the next couple of weeks, they think of groups whose interests seem to have fallen by the wayside.

Keeping Away From the Kardashians

February 1, 2009 § 5 Comments

So, last night while I was sick and flipping through channels, I came across a commercial for the E! network’s reality show, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” The premise of the show is just that this rich family, whose reason for fame is ambiguous, gets followed around by┬áTV cameras. While I find this inherently creepy, the commercial I came across last night was even worse. The commercial consists of the three Kardashian sisters, and even their middle-aged mother, looking at each other with mean, but “sexy” pouty faces as we hear their voices bad-mouthing each other in the background. Lately, I’ve been more and more aware of these messages telling me that I must be a bitch, as long as I’m a sexy bitch. Competition amongst women is often discussed by feminists, but I’ve seen it become a greater part of my life lately. One example that really bugs me is the t-shirts that are sold in the Juniors’ section of almost every major department store that say things like “Blondes have more fun!” or “Brunettes do it better!” Even these inane, yet ever-popular slogans are damaging to all of us. As if we weren’t already receiving messages from society that we weren’t good enough, we also have to hear it from each other.

Clearly, the media play a huge role in planting the bitch-seed in young women. Going back to the creepy Kardashian commercial, how are we supposed to be supportive of each other when we are being fed with images of sisters that aren’t? With this commercial, young women are being shown that in order to be successful and sexy yourself, the proper response to another woman’s success is to talk about her behind her back, even if she’s your sister. These messages leave us with nothing but gossip, jealousy and guilt, which make them such an effective tool for silencing us. After all, why would young women want to aspire to be successful if we should expect resentment and even hatred from our friends and sisters in return? I don’t know about you, but this makes me want to keep away, far away, from the Kardashians and E!.

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