11 8 / 2013
"A relationship can’t stand by itself if you can’t stand by yourself."
10 3 / 2013
- 1: Oh my God, that woman is wearing make-up and high heels! She can't be a feminist. She's just adhering to the patriarchal expectations of femininity! What a traitor to her gender.
- 1: I hate men! Women are so much better than men! All men are rapists and we don't need their help! Men are just there to oppress us and keep us down! Women are the superior gender.
- 1: You're giving up your career to have a baby? You're being dictated to by a man! That's the wrong choice! You've slept with twenty men? Wow, way to show that you have no respect for yourself.
- 2: Women and men are equal. No-one should be discriminated against on the basis of their gender. Women have the right to decide how to live their life, how to dress, what to do with their body and who to love.
03 2 / 2013
"Ask your female friends, if you have any, if they’ve ever walked home late at night with a key pushed through their knuckles, just in case, if they’ve ever crossed the street to avoid a stranger, just in case, if they’ve ever taken the long way home because of the weird guy on the corner, just in case. Ask them if they’ve ever made up a boyfriend to get a guy to leave them alone, if they’ve ever gotten off a train car and moved to the next because you just never know, if they’ve ever shelled out for a cab because men like you were at the bus stop. Do you really want to be that guy?"
15 1 / 2013
”Boys are told from a young age that whatever they do will be excused under the “boys will be boys” mantra, and that “boys will be boys” mentality leads to what I call the “BOILING FROG” problem of women’s sexual boundaries. I call it that because if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump right out, but if you put a frog into a pot of room-temperature water and slowly heat it to a boil, the frog will acclimate as it heats and never jump out, eventually boiling to death. Similarly, when we learn as young girls to tolerate “low-level” boundary violations like the ones we often are forced to suffer in silence at school, at home and on the street – bra-snapping, boob-grabbing, ass pinching, catcalling, dick flashing “all in good fun” relentless violations that adults and authorities routinely ignore – it makes it harder for us to notice when even greater boundaries are being violated, eventually leading to the reality that many women who are raped just freeze and fall silent, because that’s what they’ve been taught to do over and over since day one. You tell me what’s more infantilizing: repeatedly letting boys (and grown men) off the hook for their behavior because “boys will be boys” and we can’t ever expect any differently, or creating a consent standard in which all partners take active responsibility for their partner’s safety, and which acknowledges the truly diseased sexual culture we’re soaking in every day."
03 1 / 2013
"[I]magine what would happen if, instead of centering our beliefs about heterosexual sex around the idea that the man “penetrates” the woman, we were to say that the woman’s vagina “consumes” the man’s penis. This would create a very different set of connotations, as the woman would become the active initiator and the man would be the passive and receptive party. One can easily see how this could lead to men and masculinity being seen as dependent on, and existing for the benefit of, femaleness and femininity. Similarly, if we thought about the feminine traits of being verbally effusive and emotive not as signs of insecurity or dependence, but as bold acts of self-expression, then the masculine ideal of the “strong and silent” type might suddenly seem timid and insecure by comparison."
23 11 / 2012
“When he calls, tell him you’re busy even if you’re not. Make him work for it.”
By far, the most popular relationship advice I never take.
“Don’t say ‘I love you’ first. Keep him guessing or you’ll come on too strong.”
Yup. I’ve done this zero times in my life.
“If you sleep with him tonight, he might think you’re a slut. Always leave him wanting more.”
In other words, good girls, say “No” even when you want to say “Yes”. He’ll get the idea.
The Dating Game. The Chase. Playing Hard To Get. All my life, I’ve been told that the best way to win a man’s Yes is to tell him No. Popular wisdom warns that a woman who veers from these guidelines is sure to meet a lonely doom, remembered only as “that desperate, clingy psycho who has sex on the first date.” And I’ll admit, in my loneliest moments, I’ve often wondered if my failure to follow the fold–bat my eyelashes, bow my head, and beat around the bush–was responsible for my solitude. But aloof never looked good on me. And, more importantly, it felt wrong–dishonest, inauthentic, manipulative. So I kept answering calls, saying ‘I love you’ when I damn well felt like it, and sleeping with men when I wanted to, without the whole ‘Oh my goodness! I never do this!’ apology.
Despite my adherence to the honesty policy, the dudes I dated still had trouble discerning my Nos from my Come On, Convince Mes. And the lines they crossed in theirs quests for Yes were darker because of it. When I turned to my friends, they repeated back the same advice as before, only slightly scrambled: “Well, what did you do to make him think you wanted it?”
And here’s why The Dating Game, The Chase, and Playing Hard To Get are all candy-coated pills of the same toxic poison: rape.
In her article No Means No: A Lesson In Consent For All Ages, Jackie Klein calls for the conversation on rape prevention to include a deeper discussion on the issue of consent, starting with educating children at a young age that No really does mean No. A few weeks after Klein’s post, Rhiannon Payne posted a follow-up on the Feminspire vlog, elaborating: “I don’t know means No. I’m drunk means No. Maybe means No. I don’t seem into it means No.” In short, “Don’t try to convince me to sleep with you.”
Reading and watching Jackie and Rhiannon, a big F-shaped lightbulb went on in my head.
As politicians and pundits bicker about what makes rape “legitimate” and feminists worldwide don short skirts for SlutWalks, a stronger current is pulling us all back towards violence and violation. You can call it “patriarchy” or “misogyny.” I call it the entire Saved By the Bell Series, beloved romcoms like How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days and The Notebook (sorry, Feminist Ryan Gosling) and the plot of Pride and Prejudice: popular culture is woven together with stories of women who said No when they meant Yes, or in some cases, eventually meant Yes, after a little creative coaxing. When a man fights (with a boombox above his head) to overcome a woman’s objections, love is in the air. Media makers spin science to validate this Dating Do—even self-proclaimed liberated women defend their position as hard sought objects of pursuit, arguing that women who are communicative and upfront about their desires are just secretly insecure about their ability to keep a mate.
But that’s not how we put it when we pass this pill to each other. We dress it up and paint it pink: “Guys like a little chase. Don’t make it too easy for him,” followed up with a feel-good, “You’re worth it, girl.”
The unfortunate side effect of this poison is the implication that consent can exist between two people even when one says otherwise. This idea is the fount of victim-blaming and the seed from which Todd Akin grows his thought crop. When we structure romantic relationships so that one party is considered a prize of conquest, won only by someone strong enough to fight past objections and overcome enough Nos to reach the Holy Grail of Yes, how can we expect that this blurred view of consent won’t bleed into our sexual relationships, as well? If No means Maybe, I don’t know, I mean… at a bar, in a text, or on a date, when does it starting meaning No again?
When I asked a male friend of mine what he thought about Hard To Get, he told me: “Well, you know, there is a right and a wrong way to play Hard To Get.”
“It’s fine if she’s all Oh, I don’t know…I’ve been hurt before…let’s take it slow. But I hate when she lays it on too thick. Not just ‘hard’ to get—impossible to get!”
“You mean, when she’s really saying No?”
“Yeah! It really pisses me off. I’m a nice guy, so why does she have to be such a bitch?”
My friend played by the rules, fought hard for a woman’s attention, and thus felt entitled to his “prize.” His reaction to being “cheated” was to label the woman who refused her consent a “bitch.” Were he to say this to her directly, it would be a verbal assault. Were he to forcefully push on to get what he felt he had “earned,” it would be rape.
When we send the message that resistance is a form of flirtation—a strategic move in the game of love—we romanticize the imposition of one human being’s will on another. The building block of violence. By looking at love and sex as a game, a chase, a fight, we give violence our social permission, cultivate a rape culture, and throw consent out with the bathwater. If, as Rhiannon says “I don’t know means No. I’m drunk means No. Maybe means No. I don’t seem into it means No,” then that should apply to every aspect of the dating experience. Hard To Get and No Means No don’t—can’t—exist together. One lives in a world of conquest and the other of communication. And if you say No when you mean Yes or infer Yes from another person’s No, I’d say you’re not really communicating.
This is why I’m building on Jackie and Rhiannon’s conclusions about the importance of discussing consent in rape prevention to necessarily include a critical approach to how consent is treated and talked about in romantic relationships. We must ask ourselves if conquest has a place in modern love. Are games like Hard To Get helping us find companionship or hurting us by creating socially-approved spaces where No is treated as a green light instead of a stop sign?
No, I don’t play hard to get. If I like you, you’ll know it. If I don’t like you, you’ll really know it. And if you decide to cross a line despite my big, hand-painted “No Trespassing” sign, we’ve got a problem.
Written by Rachael Kay Albers"
11 11 / 2012
Bitch is a word we use culturally to describe any woman who is strong, angry, uncompromising and, often, uninterested in pleasing men. We use the term for a woman on the street who doesn’t respond to men’s catcalls or smile when they say, “Cheer up, baby, it can’t be that bad.” We use it for the woman who has a better job than a man and doesn’t apologize for it. We use it for the woman who doesn’t back down from a confrontation.
So let’s not be disingenuous. Is it a bad word? Of course it is. As a culture, we’ve done everything possible to make sure of that, starting with a constantly perpetuated mindset that deems powerful women to be scary, angry and, of course, unfeminine — and sees uncompromising speech by women as anathema to a tidy, well-run world.