How I Changed the Mind of a Sexist Jerk on OKCupid

From Sexist to Empathetic in 12 Messages

There is no shortage of men saying wildly inappropriate things to me online*. When I can thinking of something funny to say back, these men usually end up as a part of (or the butt of) the joke on my Instagram. Most of the time though, it’s just a heavy burden to bear. The burden of these men and the way they speak to me (the way I assume they speak to all women, or at least all fat women). These men, who are your friends, your brothers, your future boyfriends, say terrible things and sometimes not that bad things and a lot of the time only-sort-of-bad-mostly-just-lame-things to me and most of the time nothing comes of it.

Which is why I can’t help but celebrate the few times I change someone’s mind. Because isn’t that really why I allow men to sharpen their knives upon my bones, the chance that I might make the world a better place and find some joy in this misery? Or, something more optimistic but less cool sounding.

And thus, I give you, a conversation I had recently on OKCupid, in which I changed a man’s perspective (with commentary).

*women are not obligated to educate you on feminism (that’s what google is for)
*women don’t owe you anything (not their time, not their manners, not their knowledge)
*for examples on why this might be try googling #byefelipe or searching it on instagram

He Said, She Said

It started out much like it always does. Man laughs at a joke written by another and assumes he himself must be hysterical. Calamity and lack of empathy ensue.

For context: my OKCupid profile is really just a list of jokes I’ve written

OKCupid first message

 

Sweet jesus. Did this dude actually just message me to say he wasn’t sure if my (brilliant) jokes are hilarious or just my sweet tits (tits being the least gross way I can characterize what he actually said)? The answer is yes. Yes he did. Even crazier is the fact that he thought this would go over well with me. Like who doesn’t enjoy a little bit of casual demeaning to start off any romantic relationship, amirite.

 

OKCupid first message

 

Ah yes, the age old “I’m not unfunny, you’re just uptight” defence (not uncommonly used by unfunny men everywhere). Followed almost immediately by the “you must have issues with your body because it’s not like me, a stranger, talking about it in a totally gross and offensive way could be at all bothersome.” This dude was on a roll, picking up speed while hitting all the bullshit ways in which terrible men gaslight women into thinking they’re crazy or too-sensitive or don’t deserve even the most basic amount of respect. You know, the kind of guy who says “I don’t take this seriously,” as if you can shirk the responsibility of treating strangers like shit simply by maintaining a lackadaisical attitude (here’s looking at you trolls).

 

OKCupid first message

 

The link I messaged him was to this tweet:


And just like that the tides were turning. Or, so I thought. I mean, he’d realized that perhaps his joke wasn’t quite the Seinfeld-esque banter he’d originally thought but did he really get “it”? Did he really get that it wasn’t simply a case of a joke falling flat but an entire flawed ideology about the treatment of women?

 

OKCupid first message

 

Ah, the age old “no one else has complained” defence. So many excuses, so little time, amirite?!? The truth is that he didn’t get it–not really, not yet. And so, I tried to explain it to him. I tried to explain without sounding bitter and jaded (because no one listens to you if you’re angry or bitter *eye roll so hard I pull a muscle*), about the ways in which women might have chosen/been forced by social pressures to absorb everything from the violent tedium to the violent fists of men (all in a real quick OKCupid message). Keep it light babe, keep it light.

 

OKCupid messages

 

And he got it. MY GOD HE GOT IT. But I wasn’t done. I wanted to add one final note about how maybe he could help with this thing we’re trying to do (ya know, be viewed as human and valuable and stuff).

 

sexist

 

And shit, I mean he really got it. He even understood the thing I’m always trying to tell all the guys who think they’re not “that guy” which is that you’re probably “that guy”. And you’re definitely “that guy” if you don’t think about how your behaviour affects others. Especially online because online is where people have the least amount of protection from the public and accountability from perpetrators. So please, the next time you send a message, or speak to someone, or think you’re absolutely above harming anyone–stop and think. Slip your feet into some empathy and try it on for size.

And if you’ve ever acted like this guy, do better. Be better.

And tell your friends because women are tired of carrying the burden.

How to Talk to Women Online

The trick is to talk to her as if she is a human being. Do not talk about your penis.

Speak to her as if she exists in the real world because this is, in fact, all happening in the real world. The internet is not magic, and you are no wizard. You are no one other than yourself (and honestly, yourself needs to be doing a better job). Treat her like a human being the first time.

If there’s one thing I hear way too much on the internet—aside from “nice tits” and “I bet you’re great at sucking dick”—It’s the standard apology followed by, “I’m actually a really [insert unsubstantiated, unlikely, positive attribute: nice, smart, great, funny] guy, my [minimization of substandard and gross behavior] to the contrary. But I’m here to let you know that this is not true. You are not the person you wish yourself to be on the internet; you are exactly the person you have revealed yourself as. You are not your intentions but instead your actions, the horrible garbage monster you’ve been acting like until you aren’t anymore (you can change right now…or now…still now…yup now too…honestly at any moment you could change your whole way of being and just stop treating people terribly and being ridiculous and boring and predictable and detestable. I promise). So, if you’re writing things like “DTF?” in a first message or “I want to bury myself in your body” (yes, these are super real examples), please know that that is genuinely who you are. You are not a child testing the waters, you are grown up making people uncomfortable because of how little empathy (and respect, and social awareness, etc.) you have.

I wish my advice could be as simple as “just be yourself” but apparently that’s what many men have been doing and frankly it’s not working out so great for anybody involved. So instead, my advice is to be better than your current self. I don’t know who to blame for the way you to speak to women, for the way you’ve confused harassment for honesty and the unsubstantiated sense of self-worth for quality but it has to stop.

[sidenote: if you’re a man who approaches and speaks to women in a kind and intelligent manner, well, this article obviously isn’t directed at you, but then of course you already know that.]

Do not talk about your penis. From the very first moment you noticed this cucumber of an appendage, you have loved it. It has been your best friend, your most cherished possession, and at times your greatest accomplishment. But this is an illusion. No woman will ever love your penis the way you do. Your penis is more boring than a sober academic. Not my penis! I can hear you shouting. Yes. Your penis. It’s boring and tedious and, if I’m being honest, your penis is exactly like my apartment in that we all wish it was bigger. Unless your dick is more like my student loan debt inasmuch as there’s always just way, way too much. Jokes aside, given the data on the female orgasm—something like 75% of women never reach orgasm through penetration alone, 10-15% never reach orgasm at all (omg ladies I’m so sorry!), leaving only 10-15% who have the potential to get off straight from the D (though to be clear that’s just the possibility, it might not be every time and/or with every D)—So like what are we even talking about here? How illogical do you have to be (or how totally unaware of the realities of sex) to think your dick matters? Dicks are basically worthless (not to be confused with men being worthless because obviously not). What I’m saying is that men need to stop buying into the hype that your dick is the part of you that matters. It’s only a tiny part of you, and honestly, I’d rather hear about your degree in Journalism, or your passion project, or your relationship with great Aunt Susan, or what you ate for breakfast (which should tell you a lot because I’m guessing your morning meal is pretty fucking boring).

But if not straight up dick talk, what can I say to interest her?

Interesting people are usually curious, so ask her about her life and then when she asks about yours, go ahead and tell her. Listen when she talks, act as if she may have experienced something of value or even that her very experiencing of something may have given it value. Be empathetic and kind. Don’t talk about your penis.

Try to find a common interest. Does she like wizard jokes? Does she collect Labyrinth memorabilia? Is she crushing a fantasy football league with her team “The Bad Reviews Bears”? Ask her. Have you asked her? Fucking ask her! Once you discover something in common, run with it. Even if it’s something as silly as you both like to attend Kraft Singles events (which I’ve heard are very cheesy). Turn that common thread into a conversational sweater and knit something warm together. Don’t talk about your dick.

When she asks you about yourself, be honest and self-aware (you don’t need to be your own hype man, your actions and accomplishments will speak for themselves). If, when you attend parties, people don’t congregate around you in an orbital bliss of laughter—do not claim you have an amazing sense of humor (your sense of humor is average, which isn’t amazing but it’s fine, I’m sure you have something else going for you, I mean don’t sweat it).  Don’t say things like “I’m young at heart” or “I don’t look my age” because your heart has been slowly dying since the day you were born and honey, in regards to your age, if you have to say it—you aren’t it.  You know why babies never get up in your face to tell you how youthful they are?  Because their shit filled diapers and chubby cheeks do that for them.  The same rules apply for your face.  Also, those pleated khakis already gave you away. Stop giving yourself medals for kindness (to be totally honest, we’re all varying degrees of asshole and the only thing that makes that tolerable is our ability to admit it, so rather than pretending you’re the King of Benevolence because one time you didn’t act like a total psycho when someone rejected your advances, maybe just be real about who you are). You know that cliché saying “nice guys finish last”? It’s not true at all. Nice guys finish first all the time, people fucking love those guys. Entitled jerks who lack self-awareness finish last though (those dudes are the fucking worst amirite? Yuck!).

Now, I know what you may be thinking: How on earth am I going to let her know that I’m sexually attracted to her.

If you’re contacting her on any website or app that is sex/dating related, just assume she already knows this. No one who isn’t completely ridiculous is trying to make friends over on Plenty of Fish or Tinder (and if, by some stretch of the imagination, that did happen, those people usually say it right off the bat). Men often complain (to me—why do they keep thinking I care about their gripes? Like I’m some kind of wish fountain for subpar strangers?) that women on apps like Tinder are all just looking for friends, but I’m going to keep it real with you. While that’s obviously a possibility (anything is possible, I mean we live in a world where men think saying “nice tits” might actually get them somewhere), it’s unlikely. What’s more likely is that there was a possibility of attraction (again my god! this world is so full of possibilities!! Ahhh the excitement!!) that said dude then completely smashed to bits by being unimpressive (at best) or offensive/misogynistic (at worst). So like I said, if you’re having a nice conversation with a woman online, know that she knows you’re attracted (or that it’s at least in the realm of possibilities). Save the “nice tits” talk for when you’ve managed to see them for the first time. Because that’s the thing about sexual comments, context is key. A stranger talking about your body online is creepy as fuck, a man talking about your body the first time you show it to him is delicious.

This may come as a surprise but you don’t have to dehumanize a woman to have casual sex with her (in fact, if you were any good at sex you’d likely already know that the best sex happens when people feel comfortable and relaxed enough to really be themselves and, for lack of a better phrase, let it all hang out). Also, please don’t confuse a woman wanting to have casual sex with the idea that a woman who wants casual sex will definitely want to have it with you. I love casual sex (Big Fan! Huge!) but I have to be attracted/interested in having it with someone. It’s not just a first-cum scenario. You have to be brilliant and hilarious and interesting and kind and socially/self-aware, it’s a whole fucking thing.

That said, if you’re contacting a woman on ANY other website/app, well I mean you probably shouldn’t be trying to get at her in a sexual way. I mean, would you show up at your doctor’s house for a prostate exam? No, so why would you approach a woman via Twitter where she’s trying to make a name for herself writing jokes or promoting her new startup in a sexual way? If your interest lies in her as a person than talk to her like a human being. Honestly, you could just support whatever she’s doing because it’s amazing and interests you, and you could just never impose any other desires or expectations on her, ever. I mean, you can really do that, speak to women for no other purpose than they’re doing creative and brilliant things that you find interesting. It’s okay to just support and value someone. It’s okay to just be a human being with empathy.

Feminism: It’s Not All About You




I just want you to think about the place that you’re coming from when you shirk the idea that you could be a feminist.  Think about the privilege of your life.

Where you were born.  Who you were born to.  The time in which you lived.  The freedoms that you have.

Someone fought for those.  Someone stood up and said WE…WE WILL TAKE NO MORE OF THIS!  Someone stood up for you.  And now here you sit…just sitting.  Because you don’t want to claim the notion that women should be treated equally to all others.  Because you’re afraid of the backlash.  Because you don’t want to be labelled, or pigeon-holed, or put in a box.  Sitting.

If during my childhood there had come a point where my education was not on par with others, say for example I couldn’t read, I would’ve stood up and said, “someone must teach me!” because I always knew that everyone deserves to be educated.  Imagine living in a world where you didn’t know this?  How do you ask for a thing you don’t know you should have?

(now admittedly, I didn’t learn fractions in grade six or whenever you were supposed to and I didn’t mention it, really, until high school, mostly because I was still able to coast on by with what knowledge I already had.  Nonetheless, I eventually learned because I eventually knew that I was missing out, I was being given a less than education by skating by.  And so I told my father and he taught me math.  At night, after he’d get home from work, my Dad and I would sit around the kitchen table and he would teach me the math I hadn’t learned.  My father taught me math because he couldn’t imagine a world where he wouldn’t want his daughter to have every opportunity and advantage and chance at success and happiness.  My father couldn’t imagine a world where I wasn’t capable and deserving of anything and everything.)

So, what if you had been born with shitty parents, or parents’ whose religion or customs or even just their view of the world said that you were less than, that you should be docile and subservient?  What if you had been born in a country where they refused to educate you?  Or what if your parents wanted the very best for you but lacked the economic stability to open doors and possibilities?  What if you were a woman of colour, a woman outside of heteronormativity, a woman on the edge?  What if your parents were too absent, or too poor, or too judgmental, or too busy just trying to keep you and them alive?  What if your parents just honestly didn’t know better?

Who would stand up for you?

Take a step back from the luxury and freedom of your life (even on the days when it doesn’t feel that way at all) and think about all the people who risked everything for you and how little you’re currently willing to risk for others.  If you want to call yourself a humanist, fine…great.  But at the very least consider what that really means and who exactly, are these said humans, you want to help.

And honestly, that fear, that knee jerk reaction not to claim feminism, not to say that you would do everything in your power to help other struggling women is the very reason we need feminism in the first place.

[I admit my ignorance here where I’m not entirely sure how and when to say *Trigger Warning* but I have a feeling this might be the moment…so…this is me saying it…and if I’m using it wrong send me a message and let me know, please]

And if I still haven’t convinced you that you should stand up for women around the world, women who came before and those who will come after you, please know this – in North America, that’s right, in our oh so civilized and privileged little section of the globe – there is such a thing as a viral rape video.  A video of a girl(s, and this really does have to be pluralized now) being raped by, often soon to be, if not already, college educated privileged young men* is not only a thing that can happen but a thing that can go viral (*this is a statistical thing but education is obviously not a requirement…though it is terrifyingly not an across the board deterrent either).

Take just a tiny moment to think of all the steps that make that possible.

1.  A girl is raped.

2.  More than one person is present for the rape (unless the rapist is filming it himself which seems rare)

3.  One or more of those people then uploads the video to the internet or sends it via their phone or email to someone else.  Think about the thought process that this entails.  Not only does this mean two disgusting horrible humans exist that would rape someone but they are the kind of garbage that believe others will take pleasure in seeing this terrible act.

4.  They are right.  Take a moment with that one.  No, seriously.  This scum of the fucking earth believes that others want to view the torture they inflict…and they are right. 

5.  Because after all, without number 4…there can be no viral nature to this horror.

6.  Whoever they send the video to, or whoever gains access to it, feels the same as the rapists and the sharing continues and continues from person to person to person until the video can be deemed to have gone viral.

7.  Beyond the absolute human garbage that is the rapists and their propagators, it’s worth noting that all this sharing goes on without any real fear of repercussions.  The rapists are not afraid to be caught (or they wouldn’t share, and presumably wouldn’t rape).  The people who view and share the video are not afraid to be witnessing said crime and doing nothing.  There is no fear present at all (except of course for the victim whose life has not only been traumatized) and presumably every woman everywhere (since the likelihood that something similar will happen in her lifetime is DEVASTATINGLY HIGH!).

8.  If the rapist(s) and his/their filmography companions are ever caught, the punishment is often surprisingly small.  And more often than not it only follows after a hard fought battle which usually involves a ton of victim blaming, excuse making, and all out insanity.

Now, ask yourself again if you can really bear to stay seated when there is a world of women who need you?

The next time you are certain that women have equality, maybe just consider for a moment that we live in a country(ies) where a video of a girl being raped can become so popular that it goes viral.

It matters that you stand up.  And if you’re not strong enough to stand up on your own, come stand by me, and I will help to brace you.

Little Deaths

Little Deaths

He cums and you don’t.  But it feels good when he’s kissing you, and you want him and he wants you and it’s this thing you both want.  But then he cums and you don’t.  And maybe it doesn’t bother you right away, not at first.  Because it was hot, the fact that you made him cum (though later you’ll find out he cums for other girls and porn and a bottle of lotion and the idea of almost any girl ever eating a banana slowly).  And so it turns out you’re less of a wizard than a receptacle and isn’t that just the grossest way you’ve ever thought about your vagina and your body.  You don’t want to be a receptacle.  And maybe you’d feel less like one if he was bothered by the fact that you didn’t cum.

I hear you say the sex was great, the sex is amazing.

Do you cum every time I ask and you pause.

Well, no.

Then what the fuck are you talking about, trying to convince me that just smelling a cheeseburger is enough to make you feel full for the week and you don’t even seen the insanity of it.

And maybe I could get on board with the whole it’s the journey not the destination (relax, I said maybe).  Except he’s always cumming.  He’s cumming everytime.  And there’s all these excuses like it’s harder for women and we’re more complex and you’re goddamn right it is and all the more reason to pay extra attention to it.  Because at what point are we just saying that we love watching a man eat steak while we only ever get to think about how great it would taste.

They used to call orgasms “little deaths” which didn’t make that much sense to me, masturbating to my imagination’s content as a teenager.

But every time I hear girls talk about sex like their orgasms don’t matter I die a little inside.  So I kind of get it now.

The No-Makeup Selfie: What Are You REALLY Saying?

Makeup

 

Maybe I’m missing something but isn’t the whole “no makeup selfie thing” just as bad as every other bullshit-judging-women-in-an-effort-to-keep-them-weak-and-controllable practice out there?

(and to be clear, I’m all for being proven wrong.  For example, I used to think the whole “nails of the day” trend was super fucking ridiculous and stupid…that is until I heard someone explain it in a different way.  I was listening to a podcast and one of the guests talked about how the “nails of the day” was a way for anyone to express their creativity.  She highlighted the fact that it was almost completely limitless, that truly anyone could do it, for the small price of a few dollars for a bottle or two of nail polish and a couple of toothpicks, anyone could be an artist.  And that changed my mind completely.)

But here’s the thing:  isn’t it damaging to our psyche(s) to think that going make-up less is brave and courageous?

Are we, as women, so fucking hideous that exposing our natural selves is this act of noble defiance?

Can’t we just stop judging ourselves, and each other, for a goddamn second, just long enough to feel a bit of love and appreciation for our own flesh.

Isn’t the act of daring to expose ourselves au naturel just another way of trying to one up other women?

 

Look look look at me, a woman better than all the others, a make-up less woman, I’m basically a fucking hero.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m all for posting selfies (if you want) and seeking attention (if you want) but what if we just cut out all the judgmental shaming nonsense?  And even more so, what if we stopped rewarding women for the way they conform or don’t conform to whatever beauty standards you subscribe to, and just let them develop into super interesting people.

Because, by the way, even if you could get past the whole look at me I’m so brave for being willing to show you my hideous face without the guise of make-up, can we be honest about what those MUL Selfies are really about?

The no-makeup selfie is just another stab at attention seeking to validate that you, in fact, were born more naturally beautiful than all the other girls.  And you know what, THAT WAS FUCKING BLIND LUCK.  If you happen to be lucky enough to be drop dead gorgeous without make-up, well congratulations.  You managed to be arbitrarily selected by a gene pool of beauty.  You didn’t earn it.  You don’t deserve it.  You didn’t work hard for it.  And fyi, it’s value is entirely relative.   So what do you say you stop trying to make other women feel incomplete or less than and just be fucking amazing in your own right.  Be interesting.  Be amazing.  Contribute something to the betterment of society.  Or at the very least, please, think about how the things you do affect those around you.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t post selfies (go right ahead, go on with your bad self!).  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t seek validation (I mean, I would caution against relying on it to feel good as its a fickle fickle thing).  I’m not saying that you should or shouldn’t wear make-up.  What I am saying is that it’s hard enough being a girl/woman and trying to live up to some bullshit standard (to impress men?) and why on earth would you want to make it harder for your fellow com-madres.

Think of all the amazing things women could be doing if they weren’t so busy feeling badly about themselves?

 

Disagree?  Want to change my mind?  Give me your best argument in the comments!

Women Will Change this World: Malala Yousafzai

Texts from Dad

 

[dropcap]Malala Yousafzai[/dropcap]

A 16 year old girl from Pakistan, wants the same things I do, education for everyone.  On Friday July 12, 2013, she stood up in front of the UN and gave a rousing speech calling on the UN to provide “free” and “compulsory education” for all.

[Full text here]

Malala is an incredibly mature, bright, and eloquent young woman.  In 2009, when Malala was in the seventh grade, she began blogging for BBC Urdu online.  The blog, “Diary of a Pakastani Schoolgirl” was in response to the Taliban extremist regime’s banning of public education for girls and destruction of over 150 schools (currently near 600 schools).

The idea that anyone would want to keep their daughters from learning more is a thing I can barely comprehend.  Is there any other reason to have children than to give them the world?  Is not the point to love a being more than yourself, to do everything in your power to make sure that little babe feels the most loved, the most nurtured, the most supported, so that he or she can then go on and do all the things that this world needs to be a better place?

So, why then, are women being denied access to education?  Why is THIS our world?  There is no protection greater, no support more tightly knit, no chance for success more real and tangible, than being fully informed and equipped to deal with all that the world will throw your way.  Education is the answer, always.

——————————–

I grew up in British Columbia, in what I would consider an upper middle class household.  Education was not only something that I always had access to, but something that was assumed.  No one, but myself, ever seemed to doubt my potential for success.  In grade seven, my teacher caught me not paying attention in class.  He asked me what I was doing, to which I responded that I was writing a story for a competition.  Instead of reprimanding me for my lack of studiousness, he set up a table and chair in the hallway, for me to write until I was finished.  In highschool, I suffered a great deal with depression and often missed classes.  My marks never really suffered though because teachers would allow me to do the work on my own, chance having supplied me with a brain for which this was easily doable.  No one ever seemed to doubt my potential or abilities.  When it was time to apply for early admission to University, I simply did.  There was never even a thought in my brain that I wouldn’t get at least a Bachelor’s degree.  Now in 2013, I write this blog post in the summer between my 1st and 2nd year of a Master of Arts program, having already earned two separate Bachelor’s degrees (one in Psychology and one in English Literature).  The world is and has always been my oyster and it is for that reason that I believe so strongly in the education of women.  It breaks my heart to know that other women don’t have the encouragement, support, access, and freedom that I always did (and this is probably why I have the luxury and desire to dedicate my life to these ends).

——————————–

Now, back to Malala and the education of women.  This brave young girl has none of the advantages I have in life (except maybe a father who thinks she can change the world) and yet here she is, asking the UN to repair the cracks that women are falling through.  She was shot by a member of the taliban and survived (though her life still remains under threat).  She stood up in front of the world and asked for change.  I want to be a part of the change that answers her back.

However, this brings up a question I often struggle with.  When it comes to the tangible aspect of changing the world, the How, the What, the Who, I find myself overwhelmed.  How do I know if a charity is trustworthy?  How do I make the biggest impact?  In a world of billions struggling, where do I start?

My Dad recently sent me an email After you graduate we can go somewhere and help build a habitat for humanity and it got me thinking.  What are the most imminent threats to female education?  Extremism?  Access to clean water?  Housing?  Birth Control?  Feminine Hygiene products?  Literal access to education (you can’t go to school if there is no school to go to)?

I don’t yet have any answers.  But I hope too.  Soon.  Until then, think about Malala, think about the education of women, think about how we’re going to change this world…for the better (and feel free to share those thoughts with me 😉

 

[colored_box color=”blue”]Are you a woman changing this world for the better?  Do you know a woman who should be celebrated for her great work?  Do you know a woman who will change this world?  We’re looking to spotlight the amazing goals and accomplishments of women around the world – big or small, greatness comes in all packages.  Email us with your tip or story:  SomethingSheSaidOnce [at] gmail.com [/colored_box]

 

Bullying: Who Is Really Responsible?

Teen girl commits suicide to escape bullying.  This is the headline; over and over and over again.  Sometimes it involves a rape.  Sometimes it involves nudity on the internet.  Sometimes it involves nothing but a story.  Always though, it involves is a girl pushed so far beyond her emotional limits that she breaks.

We, of course, look to the bullies.  Who harassed the girl?  Who showed the video?  Who spread the words?  Who shared the pictures and made it all go viral?  Where were the authorities?  The school officials?  The parents?  Who is responsible?

 

And every single time we miss the point.

 

We are looking at the surface, concerned only about the symptoms, instead of looking at the underlying cause.  We are living in a world that believes it has a say over the bodies of women, of girls.

A young girl gets on a webcam.  Her sexuality is barely blooming.  Her understanding of sex takes place in words not yet through senses.  Maybe she’s kissed a boy, maybe she hasn’t.  But she knows lust and experimentation and joy.  She gets excited about things, she gets carried away, she is not yet sure of herself.  And suddenly, there is a boy or a man or a fiction of either on the internet.  He thinks she’s special, you’re so pretty he says, and a relationship forms.  She is ecstatic.  One day, she feels daring, and pulls up her shirt exposing her breasts.  Maybe she feels proud.  Maybe she feels quirky.  Maybe she thought it through.  Maybe she didn’t.  And here’s where it all gets so tricky.  Or not, really.

Her breasts are her breasts.  Tits.  Boobs.  Juggs.  They are hers and hers alone.  To do whatever she wants with.  Should I repeat that?  Her breasts are hers, the very moment that she had them, to do whatever she wants to do with them.  And if she felt that way, if society felt that way, the story would end there.  No matter what happened after.  If she regretted it, it would be a mistake, one of many in a lifetime, which she will inevitably make; but, the mistake would be hers and hers alone.  But that’s not how the story goes for these teen suicide victims.  And that’s what they are, victims (and we, the perpetrators).  Breasts become a tool to chastise, to control, to mock, to humiliate.  And for what?  For being human?  For having desires and needs?  For seeking attention and comfort and excitement?  What are we teaching children that make these things so wrong?  And why does it feel like so few people see the slippery slope that is our social-sexual attempts to control.

But you say, I’m not shaming her.  We’re not shaming her.  I would never, could never…

But whose children do you think are saying these things?  I know, I know, it’s always someone else’s kid, someone else’s problem.  Only, it’s not.  We are a society, a whole, indivisible by the very bounds of geography and similarity.  We are in this together, whether we want to be or not.

Whore.  Slut.  Promiscuous.  Easy.  No standards.  See how slippery the slope is?  One minute it’s whore and the next it’s just called “standards” and you’re still missing the point which is that you’re judging a thing you have no right to judge.  Her body is not public.  Her sexuality is not public.

I would never call a girl a whore, you say, but what about when you so proudly announce that you have standards; are you not aware of the insinuation that you are better than someone else, better than someone who doesn’t have standards?  And then you have to ask yourself, doesn’t everyone have some kind of standards?  And so what you’re really saying is that your standards are better than theirs, that you are better than her.  And suddenly you’re sliding down the slippery slope that is judging the sexuality of women and I wonder if your daughter hears every little thing you say.  Insidious.  It grips her, holds her, and becomes a part of who she is and how she sees the world (and the same holds true for your son).  And before you adopt that shitty stance that is, well better their kid than mine, ask yourself what if it’s your kid who is perceived as lacking these undefinable standards that are being used to control your child.  Can you see, can you understand the very possibility that it is you, as a part of a society that continues to allow the judgment of female sexuality like it is a public commodity, who permits the bullying of your child, their child, any child, all children?  Simply, because one day you weren’t so careful with your words and you let your bullshit judgment spill out because, because, because why exactly?

Why is society so afraid of women?  Why does it push us towards  less  pleasure,  less  joy, less freedom?

But, but, you say, I would never call a girl a whore.  You can blame the words all you want but it will still mean that you’re stopping short of discovering the source of the fire.  The words, while violent and harmful, are not the source of the epidemic.  The problem lies in why the words are used.  They are used to stifle female pleasure, to reappropriate feminine control; they say that the body is public and available for judgment, they say that our bodies are not our own.

The truth is mind-numbingly simple:  If our bodies weren’t shameful, if sexuality was allowed to be ours and ours alone, the bullying would end.  You cannot mock without shame.  You cannot shame without judgment.  You cannot control, that which you cannot make feel less than.

An Open Letter to Daughters

 

[dropcap]She stands[/dropcap] in a school yard, on a playground, at a bus stop, on the sidewalk, reflected in the wet spots of my face

Your daughter.  Her daughter.  Their daughter.  Our daughters.

This world, is breaking them.

I want to tell her, that she is innocence and potential and full of enough ink to write her message across all the days.  I want her to know she can swaddle herself in cotton candy love; that she doesn’t have to seek it outside; that she is enough, but that if she wants to, that’s just fine too.  Tell her not to hold her breath.  Tell her not to apologize for taking up space in this world.  Tell her that no matter what, in the darkest hours of her darkest days that there is someone who loves her.  Tell her that that someone should be herself.  Tell her to look inside for reassurance and outside to reassure.

I want her to know that her hands are made of glue, and that the world is hers for the taking, that she has the power to put all the pieces back together.  I want you to tell her for me.

Long before she becomes tortuous and entirely adolescent, tell her that life is a series of stages.  Tell her that sexuality is fluid and flexible, tell her that she should think with her brain and care with her heart, tell her that mistakes will happen but that shame should not be a part of her life.

“When you have shame,” you’ll say, “they have all the power.”

Teach your daughters to live without shame and no one will ever control them.

I Am Not Disgusting

Remember:  I am someone’s little sister, someone’s baby girl, someone’s friend, someone’s love.  Please don’t be mean.  My heart breaks the same as yours.

I can show you a picture, paint it on an easel, move your hand across the words in Braille but you’ll never really get it, unless you once tried to talk to someone who thought you were Disgusting. 

It’s a special kind of hurt the moment you find out you’re a sideshow Freak, a detour to chubby town, a vacation gone whale hunting, and you’re swimming for your life from men who want to mount your head on their wall.

You are an endangered species, in a world of bridges and railroad tracks and ceilings with beams not strong enough to hold you, like arms that should cradle you but hang you out to dry and then forget until they look and you’ve blown away.

This post is not in response to this awesome SO BRAVE beautifully written post because that just feels way too antagonistic or in opposition, which is not what this is.  This is an addition.  A plus(size).  An addendum.  So here goes…

When you see a picture of a woman, exposed with the flaws she thinks she hasbut you see none, you stand up and applaud.  She has value.  Her hurt should be taken away.  You think I have no say in how she should live her life.  Who am I to judge.  She has the right to feel beautiful, be beautiful, goddamn it she is beautiful (because honestly, aren’t we all?)

And to be clear, her hurt is in no way less important or worthy than mine.  But, I have to wonder if that same go grrrrl reaction happens when an actual fat person, bares their flaws for you to see.  And though I dream that it does.  I beg for it to be so.  I would give almost anything for that to be true, for this to be a world where you don’t think you have any fucking say over my body.  I have a lifetime of experience that says otherwise.

I’ve never worn a bikini.  Bikini season means nothing to me, though I’ve spent most of life swimming away from whale hunters.  No insult is ever equal when it comes to fat people.  I’m never just a bitch like all you other lucky bitches get to be.  I’m always a fat bitch.  I live in constant fear that teenage boys will spit on me (and I’m thirtyfuckingone).  When I reject a man while online dating (politely), I’m never just a girl who rejected him.  Suddenly I’m a fat bitch that no one wants anyway.

I’m not really going to go into why I’m fat (which I am).  Because the truth is it shouldn’t matter, to you.  This is my body.  I am allowed to eat (which I do).  I am allowed to fuck (which I do).  I am allowed to be happy and not harassed or stared at.  I should be able to workout and not live in fear that you think I’m disgusting.  I should be allowed to just be me, in whatever shape that comes in.

I’m not lazy.  I’m not worthless.  (though even if I was, who are you to judge?).  I have value.  I hold two BA degrees.  I’m currently getting my MA at Concordia in English Literature.  I’m kind to people.  I get choked up on phone calls with my parents because I love them so much.  I want to make the world a better place.  I want to protect young girls whose sexuality is judged and mocked and held hostage.  I want to be the naked tits on the internet that makes it so no girl ever commits suicide after she couldn’t stand being harassed and bullied for amistake.  I want to bear the burdens so other little girls never have to.  I have a family who loves me.  I have friends who love me.  I have people whose hearts break every time you hurt me.  I have no less value because I’m fat.  You don’t get a say in how I deal with my body or my issues.  I spend my days trying to make people laugh for no other reason than the world needs more joy.  MORE FUCKING JOY.  I should be allowed to sit by a pool, any pool, public or otherwise and not have you think that my grotesque form is somehow obstructing your otherwise perfect existence.

And so here I am.  At a summer BBQ.  Unaware of a photo being taken of me.  By a friend.  Who doesn’t see anything other than her friend, the one who makes her laugh and writes “about the most boring shit in the world but in a way that makes it seem sooo interesting”, making a burger (or something lol I don’t really even know what I was doing) on her thighs, on a day when we were all just so fucking happy.

HUGE Thanks to @MmeSurly and her beautiful brave post that has allowed me to be brave and bare my body and heart.

UPDATE:  In my rush to get this post out quickly yesterday, I worry that it feels unfinished, that I never actually said the thing I meant to say which is this:  That I am enough.  You are enough.  Our bodies are our own.  Life is hard enough as it is without having people tell us what we can or can’t do, what we should or shouldn’t show the world, or how much fun and happiness we are allotted.  

That being said, by the absolutely amazing left-me-near-speechless outpouring of love and support and stories from other women and men about emotions and hurt and strength and bravery and desires to be stronger (I could go on but this sentence is turning into a grammatical nightmare of love)…by what this post has inspired you all to say, I know that even without these extra words you somehow understood exactly what I was trying to say.  So thank you, you beautiful brave people.  My heart, it runneth over.

swimsuit