Archives For Culture

My Short Dress

October 6, 2016 — 99 Comments

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My short dress is not an invitation. It’s not a political statement. it’s not feminist; it’s not slutty.

I’m not even sure it’s fashionable.

My short dress is one of the only dresses I own. I’m not a ‘dresses’ kind of girl. I prefer jeans and rock tees and clothes that align my outside with my inside. My clothes are wearable art.

My short dress is perfectly comfy. It’s made of the softest fabric ever. It’s loose and flowy and billows out in a way that allows me to eat and drink whatever I want and never feel constricted. My short dress feels like FREEDOM.

My short dress is black, like most of my clothing. It’s not body conscious enough to be considered sexy nor frou frou enough to be considered a sundress. It’s kind of rock and roll and kind of funky and hard to categorize. Like me.

My short dress has a black lace trim all around the bottom. I love wearing it with combat boots; the juxtaposition of the lacy hem with rugged boots. Feminine and tough, all at the same time. Rarely do I get to be both simultaneously.

My short dress shows off my legs. They’re almost always covered up in jeans. So it’s an occasion when I show them in a dress – “THERE they are!”

 

My short dress does not say “come fuck me.” The clothes I wear in public do not communicate a desire for sex. Or a reason for you to expect it from me. It doesn’t mean I am “asking for it.” My short dress is not the reason why women get raped.

While we’re on the subject, women don’t get raped because of clothing. Or lack of it. Or flirtatious behavior. Or alcohol.

Women GET RAPED BECAUSE OF RAPISTS.

 

 

My short dress is not meant to stir uncontrollable lust in a man, creating in him an overpowering urge to yank it up and slam me against a wall. To suggest that is demeaning to men.

It’s also a flaw-ridden concept. How can we possess this inescapable power over men, wielded primarily through our bodies, and yet find ourselves subjugated through most of history?

 

My short dress was not worn to flaunt my body in a sexual way. I have moved beyond the desire to show you my tits and ass.

It’s easy to show you my tits and ass. I want to show you my intelligence, my wit, my courage, my compassion, my vulnerability. I am worth infinitely more than the sum of my body parts.

My short dress is not worn in the hopes that you will find me desirable. I won’t self-objectify, simply because the media has lied to me about what TRUE beauty is. I will not spend my days fixating on how sexually attractive I am. This leaves me with far less mental and physical energy to pursue what really brings me happiness.

My short dress is not an easier way to reach my pussy, although you said that while you pawed at me. You groped at my crotch through my tights and told me that was why I REALLY wore that dress, wasn’t it?

 

My short dress was not a reason for you to slut-shame me on Facebook, although you most certainly did.

slut-shaming

 

My short dress is not a means to an end, but an end in itself. It’s a choice I make.

My short dress is not attention seeking. My short dress is about comfort, visual appeal, mobility, my emotional state, the fabric, the cut. It’s an homage to my icons and an expression of whatever I was feeling when I reached into my closet.

My short dress does NOT say, “I’ll wear what I want, whenever I want, where I want.” That’s as extreme a viewpoint as “she was dressed provocatively, and that’s why she was attacked.” Both ends of the spectrum oversimplify a complicated issue.

My short dress was not meant to weigh in on that issue. It’s just a dress I feel good in.

 

My short dress does show my body, but it should not lead to judgement, pain or dehumanization.

It shows the line of my calves and the strength of my shoulders and the soft skin of my chest, but don’t overcomplicate my motives.

My short dress is a simple celebration; a reminder that I was blessed with one life, and in that life, a perfectly functioning body.

My short dress is not for YOU. It is for ME.

 

Have you ever been shamed because of what you were wearing?
Talk to me. I’m listening. 

 

Come hang out with me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, so I can have friends without leaving the house. 

skinny shaming

Skinny Bitch.

I heard that most of my life. It’s called “skinny shaming.”

As part of the body positive movement, thin people, primarily women, are speaking out against being marginalized.

It is categorically wrong to make someone who is thin feel bad about it. To tell a thin woman that she looks ill, or that she should eat more, is unacceptable.

BODY SHAMING OF ANY TYPE IS UNACCEPTABLE.

What I object to, is the use of the word “shame” associated with being skinny or fit. In today’s society, there is ZERO shame associated with being thin.

I’m genetically predisposed to being slender. I was a skinny kid, and once I grew into adulthood, particularly after pregnancy changed my body and age slowed my metabolism, I worked out and ate a very body-conscious diet.

Throughout my entire life, from childhood on, I was teased, shamed and ostracized because I was thin.

People even admitted to me that they hated me at first, just because I was a size zero.

Now that I am average sized, I no longer get skinny shamed. But I am writing this from the perspective of someone who was disliked on sight, simply because I was very thin.

And skinny shaming is NOT the same as fat shaming. 

 

To clarify, I’m not talking about women who are thin because they are ill. I’m also not referring to people who cannot gain weight and would love to, for medical or aesthetic reasons.

I’m talking about the average thin woman. Women who may simply have a fast metabolism, or, as is the usual case with women who have either borne children or grown older, work out hard to maintain that body, or watch every mouthful of food, or both.

These are the women who enjoy “Thin Privilege.” Thin privilege is receiving elevated social status, workplace advantages, media attention, popularity with friends and dating partners, greater access to healthcare, association with positive traits like being hardworking, disciplined and responsible. And lots more.

 

In a video in which two fitness vloggers discuss being shamed for being thin and fit, Bex says to Amanda Russell,

“I don’t set out to represent the average women. Ever. And I don’t think you do, either. I think that we’re trying to represent the extraordinary woman.”

THAT RIGHT THERE. Thin Privilege, captured on YouTube. Thin women are in an exalted place in society, and make no mistake about it – they love it.

 

When I was skinny shamed, I felt under attack. But I never wrote about it as an issue, because I was not comfortable complaining from my throne of entitlement.

We ALL have the right to feel how we feel about being body shamed, and to write about it. It hurts to be attacked for your body type. But I feel that airing grievances from a privileged position lacks compassion for those who suffer from brutal and pervasive oppression.

Yes. Weight discrimination is alive and well, and it is as damaging as racial discrimination.

 

SKINNY SHAMING VS FAT SHAMING

1. Thin people are not outcasts in society for having slim bodies. Not now, not ever. In fact, they’re the envy of every person in the room. Fat people have to work extra hard to be accepted, because they are targeted or ignored. This is a documented issue, even globally, in countries where it was once thought that to be bigger was desirable.

2. Thin people do not get discriminated against in the job market. A Yale study published in the National Journal of Obesity showed that those who are overweight earn less than non-overweight people in comparable positions, are less likely to be hired or considered for a promotion, and are often viewed as lazy or lacking in self-discipline by employers and coworkers

3. Thin people do not have nearly as much difficulty finding lovers and spouses. Every single online dating service I’ve been on, men request that the women be trim and fit – even overweight men whose pictures show that they would have to lift their stomachs up just for me to find their penises. Overweight people have more trouble finding romantic partners, and are less likely to date and get married than their thinner counterparts.

4. Thin people don’t have trouble buying clothes. Fashion ruthlessly discriminates against bigger people. In an interview for Business Insider, the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch came right out and said he doesn’t even stock extra large sizes in women’s clothing because he only “wants thin and beautiful people” wearing his clothing.

These are just a sampling of the differences.

 

Perhaps to write about being “skinny shamed” is a way of creating solidarity with overweight people on the other end of the spectrum. A way to say, “See? I get shamed for MY body size, too.” I appreciate this, because all body shaming is wrong. And unity, rather than divisiveness, particularly among women, can ultimately create change.

Unfortunately, this is not always the motivation. In a well known “skinny shaming” essay by author and journalist Emma Woolf, she says, “I’m fed up with being judged for being physically disciplined, for being careful about what I eat, and for exercising regularly.”

THERE IS THE CRUX OF THE PROBLEM. Her implication that bigger people are UNdisciplined, careLESS about what they eat, and DON’T exercise regularly. This is a dangerous mindset, and at the root of thin privilege.

I’ve been skinny. I’ve been average weight. I was intensely attracted to, and married, a man who is overweight.

I believe in being empowered by your body, AT ANY SIZE.

 

Sometimes, when I write these articles, I wonder if any of it matters. Because the people who already agree with me will share and comment. I hope someone who was of a different opinion, even ONE person, reads this and feels that they were perhaps enlightened about something they hadn’t thought of before.

That’s how we end oppression.

One person at a time.

 

Have you ever been body shamed in any way?
Talk to me. I’m listening. 

 

Join me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, so I can have friends without leaving the house. 

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It’s a simple formula. Write something offensive and inflammatory, sit back, and watch the flames blaze out of control.

Publishing intentionally sensationalist pieces designed to generate enraged clicks is going to garner more attention than meaningful writing. So when Josi Denise (link intentionally not provided) decided her Mommy Blogging days were over, she fantasized that she would take down all Mommy blogs with her as she stormed off the Internet.

To accomplish this, she launched a vitriolic attack on Mommy bloggers, and drew massive undeserved attention. She claimed that her blog is disingenuous, artificially cheery, and just “sucks.”  As part of a moral and creative epiphany, she wanted to write more substantial material. Frustrated with being taken advantage of by big brands and PR firms, she declared war against writing sponsored content.

Packaging your disgruntlement as a rancorous tirade towards everyone else, whose work and motivations you have no clue of, is more than just misdirected hatred. It’s socially and culturally irresponsible.

It’s women to women misogyny. And in the online world, where people act without consequence, it is especially brutal.

 

Some view “Mommy Blogger” as a pejorative term. Blogging in and of itself is a target in the professional writing world. Blogs are a self-regulated publishing platform, and as such, can be filled with questionable content and rife with cringe-inducing spelling and grammatical errors.

Mom-centric bloggers, who typically write about their homes and family, are often stereotyped as stay-at-home moms, with little or no writing skills, hoping to “make some extra money” blogging. This is a damaging cliché.

“Mommy Bloggers” write bestselling books. They have elite bylines, including The Washington Post and the New York Times. They publish gorgeously crafted essays designed to reach across the cyber channels to support other women in the often desperately lonely journey of raising a family.

Thankfully, the lines are being blurred here, in both directions. I may not write about diapers or breast-feeding, but my son is my highest priority. He is the subject of the majority of my blog posts, despite the reputation I have for salacious content.

Am I a Mommy Blogger?

And if I am, what of it?

Even if the stereotypical Mommy Blogger does exist, why do we need to judge her? How does telling all Mommy Bloggers that they “suck” help one woman on her journey to a different creative outlet? It doesn’t.

I have no experience in the world of writing sponsored content. Perhaps it is deplorable and inauthentic. Perhaps bloggers are being exploited by big brands and PR companies. It was especially important, then, that this blogger actually communicate her message, without alienating the very audience she was hoping to enlighten.

If there is a seamy underbelly to the Mommy Blogging world, Josi Denise could have called out the exploiters without being destructive and regressive in her writing. But she knew that it would drive anger-based traffic, and that was more important to her than contributing to the quality and diversity of women’s voices online.

She chose to feed the misogynist media climate and advance herself on the backs of women writers everywhere. 

The compulsion for women to tear one another down is deeply imbedded in the female consciousness. Intentionally and unintentionally, we collude with sexism – sometimes for personal gain, often, in response to feeling oppressed by a sexist society. However, the impulse to attack other women in response to feeling oppressed is a symptom of that same oppression.

We lash out at each other, instead of at the real issue.

Josi Denise is protected by her First Amendment rights. Like everyone else, she is allowed to publish what she pleases. That does not mean that these tirades are innocuous. We have a responsibility to acknowledge what hundreds of studies have shown – that media content directly impacts people; how they feel about themselves, and in turn, how they treat each other. Even if the writer does not have bad intentions, misogynist tropes in media are profoundly damaging to all women.

 

We are battling a world in which women are bombarded with false notions of physical perfection and hypersexuality. We are ravaged by sexual assault and domestic abuse. Even in 2016, women experience gender pay gap. Women writers are struggling to be heard in a male-dominated industry.

If we are going to move the needle on how we are treated, if we are going to create change of any kind, we have to join together. Can you imagine how much women could accomplish if weren’t preoccupied with publicly and privately maligning one another? If we stopped attempting to annihilate other women online, and in real life? If we focused our energies on building one another up and joining forces.?

Part of me is worried that by writing this, I am feeding the machine. I purposely refrained from saying disparaging things about this woman and her blog. That rhetoric would be dangerous and counterproductive. I would be contributing to the very agency I am battling. Because she, too, is a victim of our culture, which preaches and practices hatred against women.

She’s already received coverage on bigger sites. She finally got the widespread acclaim she sought, which eluded her in all her years of mommy blogging. But her big break came at a price – a price all women are paying.

 

Going forward, how can we –  men, women, writers or readers –  change this conversation from the inside without harming this, or future, generations of women?

Talk to me.
I’m really, REALLY, REALLY listening. 

 

Join me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter  so I can have friends without leaving the house.

 

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Sometimes, it feels like the ceaseless watchdog of political correctness has cut the balls off the English language. We have to monitor every word we offer for public consumption.

I’ve never been particularly invested in coloring inside the lines. But I’ve reframed my awareness of what may hurt others as empowering, not limiting.

You can live in denial of progress all you want. Nevertheless, it exists.

Progress can infuriate the public. When 17th century astronomer Galileo advocated that the earth orbited the sun, rather than the other way around, he was tried by the Roman Inquisition and found guilty of heresy. He spent nearly a decade under house arrest until he died.

People don’t like having their belief systems challenged. It took the Catholic Church 350 years to apologize to Galileo, who was unequivocally right.

Progress. With enlightenment, comes awareness. With awareness, comes responsibility.

 

 

It’s not that everyone is so damn sensitive. It’s that we’ve made progress as a culture. We’ve learned that language has the power to create injustice. To shape attitudes and influence actions and ultimately determine how people are treated.

I’m certain some people find it offensive when I use profanity. I have an incredible family of readers who show up despite my potty mouth. I’ve also lost an entire population of the reading public because of my language.

When does humor cross over the line from bold and edgy to insensitive and damaging?
Herein lies the problem.

 

I’m not suggesting that I be the arbiter of humor, but I’ll offer this as a parameter: avoid joking about OTHER people’s anguish.

This does not mean horrific tragedy is off limits. Many people who have suffered through cancer, for example, successfully inject levity into that experience and find it remarkably healing.

But I’M not going to be the one making cancer jokes.

 

Here’s my short list of what isn’t funny:

1. Rape jokes. This includes rape culture jokes. If you crack jokes about writers jumping on the “anti-rape bandwagon,” you are participating in rape culture.

The “anti -rape bandwagon” is the finest fucking bandwagon in the universe to jump on. I encourage everyone to jump on it until their brains rattle in their skull.

Let me break it down. Anti-rape = good. Anti-anti-rape = bad.

Anyone who is callous enough to resort to this kind of humor has obviously never been close to someone who’s been raped. Once you look into the eyes of a woman whose psyche has a pile of ashes where her hopes and dreams should be, you lose all desire to exploit trauma for a laugh.

If you are accused of contributing to rape culture, and you sneer, “whatever THAT is,” you are officially part of the problem.

2. Heroin jokes. Lives are ruined, careers destroyed and people die from drug addiction. You have been blessed thus far not to have tangled with this demon, but don’t press your luck. One minute you’re tweeting heroin jokes, the next, you’re dropping your kid off at a rehab.

3. Jokes using the word “retarded” or “gay.” Many of us grew up using the word “retarded” to mean stupid, but we were adolescents with no accountability. Words matter. Before you use the word “gay” pejoratively, please check in with someone who has been fired, ostracized, bullied or beaten up for being gay.

4. “JEW” as an adjective. They’re Hanukkah doughnuts, not “Jew” doughnuts. Your lack of education is not an excuse. You have access to enlightenment via Wifi, so take time away from the Buzzfeed quizzes to watch Schindler’s List.

Persecuting Jews is not just a thing of the past. My son lost friends in kindergarten because the parents found out  he was Jewish. Yes, Virginia, anti-Semitism is alive and well in the 21st century.

In summary:

A person can be a Jew. It’s a noun.*
“Jew” is derogatory when used as an adjective.**

If you need this reviewed, ask your Jew boss about it.

*Nouns are person, places or things.
**Adjectives are descriptive words.

5. Boob Obsession. Everyone loves boobs, including me! I also happen to be quite fond of large penises, which I occasionally allude to. Yet, if all I did on Facebook and Twitter was post about big cocks, people would find me repulsive.

Have fun with occasional boob references but don’t devote your ENTIRE SOCIAL MEDIA presence to boobs. Aside from being creepy and desperate, you’re helping embed in our culture that it’s acceptable to reduce women to their frontal charms. You’re sending a message that women’s breasts belong to everyone. Don’t be surprised when your tween boy violates a girl by snapping her bra in class.

This includes tasteless jokes about Breast Cancer Awareness Day, which actually ISN’T about leering at women’s breasts flopping around, unencumbered.

6. “Crazy” jokes. One of the main reasons I never write about my PTSD, anxiety or depression is that I am terribly ashamed. I’m frightened that the people I love will stop loving me if I admit freely to having mental illness. People who glibly tweet jokes about craziness and psychos demonstrate insensitivity and intolerance.

Who among us is in a position to characterize what is crazy? Who isn’t crazy?
I don’t know any sane people. I just know some who are better at hiding their insanity.

 

 

A particular stigma has unfortunately manifested around being overly cautious with words, with some asserting that this is tantamount to censorship. I don’t experience refraining from making certain jokes as censorship. I feel empowered and compassionate.

And there’s so MUCH to laugh about in this world. I can probably write an entire post about how I get outwitted by laundry, weekly.

Like any art form, humor needs to be transgressive; it needs to push boundaries. However, exploiting pain for a cheap laugh simply demonstrates a lack of talent.

You’re fortunate to have led a white picket fence life, devoid of addiction, sexual assault or mental illness. On behalf of the rest of us, please choose your joke fodder without fostering a culture of disrespect around different identities and experiences.

 

What kind of humor do you find offensive? Are we getting overly sensitive, or just the right amount of sensitive?
Do you have a funny joke? Tell it to me. I’m listening. 

 

Join me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter  so I can have friends without leaving the house.

tits for free

 

Angry smoke is billowing up, as all over the world, people are burning Arianna Huffington in effigy.

PAY US WHAT WE’RE WORTH!

WE WON’T WRITE FOR FREE! 

It’s easy to get caught up in the rhetoric of a demagogue who denounces the Huffington Post for not paying their writers.

Wil Wheaton waged war against HuffPost in this article. It was a shot heard round the world. The online writing community went WILD, tweeting in copious agreement.

I have mixed feeling about this issue, but here is a reality check: As of 2016, Wil Wheaton’s net worth floats somewhere around $2.5 million, depending on which source you check. Not all of us have Star Trek residuals rolling in. If he wrote about ass fucking his grandmother in Macy’s window, he’d still be set for the rest of his life.

 

This is just another issue for us to tear each other apart over, instead of uniting over the pervasive damage being done to women, right this moment. By women who post pictures of their naked bodies on their blogs, their Facebook pages, Instagram accounts – all their social media.

 

I understand that women who display themselves naked on their blogs are doing it to demonstrate their freedom. They feel they are making a strong statement of choice and power. They admit they crave the validation; that it’s a turn on, or that they do it simply because they can.

They point out that nudity is accepted in most other industrialized countries and challenge the stifling conformity of American prudishness.

America is flawed as fuck, but a whole LOT of European countries are based on eroding, unsustainable models. Europe is teeming with calcified labor laws, a negative birth rate,  inflated government spending, expensive costs to businesses, and overly restrictive governments.

In the Netherlands, for example, wiretaps are 130 times more common than in the U.S.

So perhaps you should move to Germany or Spain, and romp around au naturel. Have fun dealing with archaic abortion laws that reflect stifling Christian values on reproduction. I’ll stay in the US, and deal with our anti-nudity laws.

 

Is showing your tits really “freedom”?

I know that story. I WROTE that story.

I worked at a Wall Street strip club in the 90’s, because I felt it was my right to display my body in whatever way I deemed appropriate. The money was flowing in an economy on steroids, and I loved earning $500 a day in cash, working 3 days a week. It left me plenty of time to get into trouble squandering all that money.

Today, if I had a daughter who wanted to climb the pole for a living, I’d chain her to the couch. It wasn’t “empowering.” Strip clubs create an environment where men can openly objectify women. They reinforce the notion that women are more highly valued for their outward appearance than for their intelligence or creativity. And I fueled that system, something I deeply regret.

 

To the bloggers who show their tits:

I understand that for you to love yourself, you need approval from men. All women have been taught that from the time we are little girls.

When you isolate and objectify your breasts, you are confirming the pervasive notion that the most important thing about us is how our tits look. Personally, I would much rather see a painting you painted, read your poetry, listen to you play a song on an instrument, read an essay you wrote about a timely issue, pretty much anything that tells me about who you are inside. Your body is superficial and irrelevant. Give me your mind.

The validation you crave from exposing yourself this way is in no way connected to any kind of “freedom.” It comes from a place deep inside you, a place thoroughly indoctrinated, since you were a little girl, into believing that our naked tits have more intrinsic value than anything else about us. You are not free.

You are simply brainwashed.

 

I think the naked female body is one of the most beautiful images in the world. I’ve even played around with that a little, on my own Instagram account, and have photos of my lower body posing in superhero underwear. That was intended to be a playful statement on how the nerdy girl has grown up, and isn’t so nerdy anymore.

I also don’t show any more of my self than I would show in a bathing suit – actually, I’m more covered up in my geek girl underpants.

But I don’t want people to confuse my writing with my appearance. I write anonymously, but that isn’t why I rarely show pictures of myself on this blog. I can certainly show pictures that hide my face. However, I’m not interested in gaining readers because of how I look, or don’t look.

 

The issue over getting compensated to write is so divisive, it may break apart communities that were created to nurture and support each other. I’m not ready to contribute to that by casting a vote in either direction.

 

In the meantime, why not think about a bigger picture? Let’s not fight about who gets paid, and how those who choose to write for free are scabs on the professional writer’s landscape.

Before we bludgeon each other to death over that first world debate, can we at least ponder the global disempowerment of women? Even in 2016, women remain more likely than men to be poor, malnourished and illiterate. We are marginalized socially and economically.

Let’s put aside our differences about paid writing, and embrace a conversation about how women have been subjugated, and the way in which that connects to domestic violence, female mutilation, higher illiteracy rates, forced child marriages, lower wages, and so many of the areas crucial to a gratifying existence.

Systematic disempowerment of women doesn’t affect only writers. It affects every single woman on the planet, and therefore every human being on the planet.

Today, I’m going to put aside my feelings about paid writing, and instead, focus on what I can to do raise awareness of an issue that has the potential to change lives all over the world.

I just hit “Publish.” Your turn.

 

Am I asking the right questions? 
Talk to me. I’m listening.