Category Archives: Feminizm Friday

People are just people, and we’re all created equal, and our private parts don’t dictate our value or potential.

Feminist Gift-Buying Guide

Being Black Friday, inevitably, thousands of frenzied shoppers nationwide are spending this morning swooping up amazing deals on generic, shitty gifts, many of which will go on to be neglected and forgotten by their recipients, if not deliberately discarded. I know because I too have a growing collection of shitty gifts I’ve received over the years and never touched, that I feel too guilty to get rid of, so they sit collecting dust.

Gifts I hated from my ex or casual acquaintances have long since found their way onto the racks and shelves of local secondhand shops, or the closets of my friends. But it’s the gifts that I hate from the people I love that are hardest for me to part with, because those gifts, as shitty as they are, are gestures of love, and I’m fucking sentimental. Sue me.

Also, it doesn’t help that I’m a hoarder. But if the shitty gifts in question are so bad that it pains me, a hoarder, to possess them, then that’s a fucking problem. How are such good people capable of purchasing such shitty gifts? I feel like we’re going about giving all wrong, and it’s become some kind of blind consumer race to cross the names of loved ones off our shopping lists.

I realize when I say “shitty gifts,” you’re probably wondering what specifically makes them so shitty. So when I say shitty gifts, here’s what I mean: a gift that is so arbitrary and generic that the person who gave it to me might as well have never met me in their life. (Money, of course, being the exception. Money is always an awesome gift.)

For instance, this year has marked the start of an unfortunate and unexpected trend—a pandemic of purses. Anyone who knows me has only ever seen me in possession of one bag. Note the distinction. Bag, not purse. In my vocabulary, purse is a dirty word. I expect this to be somewhat understood among my family and friends. The only other accessory I use to contain my shit is a black Jansport backpack I found on the ground. You’ll sooner see me hauling my shit in a shopping bag than swinging a purse.

The purses were chosen, presumably, because I am a woman, and women like purses. This is, of course, a universal fact. As a female, my compulsory fondness of purses has been predetermined by my vagina, or some arbitrary chromosome or something. But stubbornly, I’ve failed to comply, and so the purses are a curse that I will carry all my life.

But for someone who loves me so much to show me they know me so little that they had to fall back on my gender to select an “appropriate” gift is, frankly, a little insulting. Between a shitty gift and no gift, I’d take prefer no gift at all. Shitty, arbitrary gifts defeat the purpose of giving. So take extra care not to purchase generic, gendered gifts this season. Think about the individual, and what makes that person unique, instead of reducing them to a present prescribed to them based solely on their sex.

This summer, Target took great lengths to stop prescribing toys to kids based on their gender, by integrating ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ toys into one combined department. Target, despite being a giant consumer-driven corporation, which in some ways stands for everything I hate, has earned a few gold stars this year for gender-neutralizing the children’s toy department, giving individuals the option to choose based on their personal interests and preferences and not their sex. Take extra care to follow their example. Try to eliminate gendered presents from the gifts you give this year. Purchase responsibly.

Bad Romance — Concluded

PC D$
PC D$

Chances are at some point in your life, you’ve been in a shitty relationship. Or you currently are. If you have not, it’s only because a) you currently are and you’re in denial, or b) you haven’t been so far. Just wait. But if you are, or if you have been in the past, you know how bad shitty relationships can be. But a shitty significant other, if it comes down to it, you could abandon and have nothing to do with, or take to court when they’re not ready to be through. If there’s one thing worse than being stuck in a shitty relationship with someone, it’s being stuck in a shitty relationship with yourself, and breaking up isn’t an option.

Sometimes we fall in love with shitty people, who treat us like and make us feel like shit. The specific terms and particular circumstances of that shittiness manifest differently in all relationships, but in my own experience, I was swift to adopt my ex’s verbal and emotional abuse. The most damaging five words, which he carved deep into my ego were, “There you go thinking again,” as if I’m not entitled to my thoughts, which as you and I both know are golden. But I didn’t know that at the time. These words invalidated my opinion. Every time I spoke, these five words were fast to shut me up. But it was the words that silenced me, not my ex-boyfriend.

I can blame my shitty ex-boyfriend all I want, but the truth is, I’m just as much to blame for believing those words as he is for speaking them. He didn’t create those insecurities and doubts, he only fed and reinforced them. His shitty relationship with me was only a reflection of my shitty perception of myself. I think it’s important to note that distinction, because at least in my own case, my shitty relationship was only a symptom of something much, much worse.

Looking back, maybe I stayed with him because his words, as vicious as they were, were reassuring. They confirmed what I had already suspected early in my writing career: that my opinion wasn’t something worthy to be heard. If it was, I’d have to do something about it. Make a website. Write a book. Books and websites are a lot of work. Putting yourself out there is scary, and saying things is risky, and in a sick twisted way, having nothing of value to say can seem safer, because you don’t risk saying anything. At that point in my life, the self-doubt felt familiar, and there’s security in that.

But there’s no fun in suffocating every thought, emotion and creative impulse. No fucking freedom in that either. It took him leaving me for me to see that. He gave me a face to put to the voices that already whispered inside me, which made it easier for me to disengage from that side of myself, and talk back to those words every time they echo in the back of my mind… “There I go thinking again.” Damn right I do.

Bad Romance — Continued from Last Week

If you recall, last Friday, I accompanied a friend to a court-hearing regarding the restraining order she filed against her ex. Riveting stuff, actually. The courtroom is split—half waiting room, half hearing room. Everybody waits on benches for their cases to be called. Everybody has an audience, and I got to watch these no-more-than-twenty-minute windows of people’s lives.

But the one thing that struck me the most was the set of waist-high swinging doors separating the waiting room from the hearing room. And if there’s one thing I took away from Friday’s hearing, it was this: If you want to make a man a gentleman, take him to court. If there’s one sure way to get a man to hold a door open for you, it’s serving him with legal action. Each time the judge called forward a new case, the man in question didn’t hesitate to demonstrate his chivalrous ability to hold the door open for the woman who accused him, as though this single act of due respect undoes the multitude of offenses against this woman that drove her to take him to court in the first place. Yet this pattern persisted, case after case.

Defendant after defendant, obligingly holding the door open for his accuser, passive-aggressively attempting to invalidate her claims against him, to no avail. Please note: men take women to court, too, and men take men to court, and women take women to court. It just so happened that the handful of cases I observed were women taking men to court. But let it be said that any woman who takes a man to court is liable to witness a most chivalrous display. Let it also be noted that in a set of two swinging doors, if the man accused is holding one door open for his accuser, she is sure to enter/exit through the other door.

Sometimes, all it takes to get the respect that you deserve is getting someone served. (However, legal action should only be used as a last resort, when necessary.)

Bad Romance

PC D$
PC D$

They say love is a losing game, and they’re not wrong. But that isn’t how I see it. I think of love as a learning game, and it’s okay to love and “lose,” as long as you learn something from your loss, so come next time you toss the dice, you’re that much more equipped to cope with the next shitty relationship you roll, and again with the one after that.

It’s easy to get sucked into and stuck in a shitty relationship. I speak from experience. Bad relationships rewire brains. Good ones do this too, but differently. Bad relationships are liable to do considerable damage, some of which may heal naturally after the relationship has ended, and some of which may linger on for years, if not a life time.

Originally, I planned to write a featured list of warning signs to look for in your partner and avoid. But if the person I am now had warned Past Me not to go forward with my past relationships, Past Me would have gone forward anyway, that stubborn bitch. And she would have been right to do so, because if Past Me hadn’t “made those mistakes” (as some might call them), she would have never had the chance to blossom into the awesome person I am today.

The truth is, most relationships end, and many of the ones that last aren’t necessarily “successful.” So to define a relationship that ends as one that failed is not only unrealistic, but counterproductive. In the game of love, the points are cumulative. Every relationship, you level up. You become stronger and more resistant. More mature and realistic. More compassionate and understanding of your partner. More compassionate and understanding of yourself. More aware of what you need and what you want… and what you definitely don’t. A better communicator. Etcetera.

It can take a few bad relationships just to learn to identify them, let alone get out of them. And that’s why I can’t tell you to end a shitty relationship. You have to learn your own lessons and make your own decisions. But that’s not to say I can’t be a guiding light flickering in the back porch of your mind. There are some things in life we simply have to learn by doing. So do them, if you insist, but let yourself learn and grow, and when it’s time to end it, let it go.

Today goes down in history, because a dear and wild friend of mine is spending this morning (and so am I) in a courtroom opposite her ex-boyfriend, who faces a restraining order for violating her basic rights as a woman. Pardon, as a human* (this is Feminizm Friday, after all). My friend, who’s real name I decline to state—let’s call her MO-Money, sits opposite her ex today to defend her right to be free and feel safe in her own home, and it took enormous strength for her to do it, and a looooong time, let me tell you. So this is just to say, MO-Money: Atta girl.

Most of the women I’m close with have, at some point or another in their romantic careers, encountered the crazy one. The psychopath. Always a real charmer, sense of humor, real fun to be around… at first. And when we meet the crazy ones, to say we fall for them would be an understatement. Try a thousand-foot drop over the edge of a waterfall, plummeting to its rocky bottom. Try hurtling out of an airplane 30,000 feet above the ground just to discover you don’t know how to release the parachute. That’s how hard you’re going to fall for the person who tears you apart. And that’s why it can be so hard to leave them, and so hard to let them go. And that’s why I’m so proud of MO-Money, and of myself, and every person who’s ever had the balls to say that they deserve better than that.

I never found the strength to say that to my ex. The only good thing my psycho ever did for me was leave me, because I never would have left. But since he did, I know I deserve better now, and so now I demand it. But for those of you still stuck—if we made it through, you can too, and best of luck.