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Feminism

June 11, 2014

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I have a difficult time making statements on gender equality, not because I don’t have strong feelings, but because it is nearly impossible to articulate the minutia of these issues eloquently, without sounding preachy or offended, but I’m ready to talk about it. I’m ready to talk about it because, for the first time in my life, I have only male bosses. I’m ready to talk about it because I cannot listen to or look at any more intelligent, beautiful, talented, interesting women whine about their bodies & the men who aren’t interested in them. I’m ready to talk about it because we have a lot of progress to make in the way that we view ourselves and others as women. I’m ready to talk about it because I don’t always feel safe. I’m ready to talk about it, so let’s talk.

I’ve been fortunate and dedicated enough to spend the majority of my life in a healthy environment while trying to practice healthy habits, so the following should in no way condone that I think anyone should “let themselves go”, so to speak, but a woman’s body is a touchy subject (pun intended). Recently, I went to the beach for a boating day with a group of girls and before we left I overheard their conversation from the bathroom, “I’m wearing a bikini but I doubt I’ll take my clothes off…I do not look good naked right now,” “Oh, I try very hard to never be naked in front of anyone. Me naked is not pretty.” This conversation came from girls who, combined, probably weigh in around 230 lbs. COMBINED. Also, they’re rad. Let me be clear, I don’t want to thrust my bikini-body on the unwilling. Sometimes I get a little crazy with the cheese plates and I don’t feel so hot for a few days, but we were on a boat with just each other. No one else was there. I got upset, because this kind of talk breeds low self-esteem, which leads to sadness, which isn’t good for anyone.

I’m no wizard, let’s get this out there. I’ve made my fair share of dating mistakes…also probably your share, and a few other stranger’s shares as well, but if I’ve gotten anything out of all those mistakes its this: You have to value yourself the way that you want to be valued. The dating world is kind of like trading commodities, you’re not going to get a Jaguar for a mop, so try to be the Swiffer that you know you can be. I mean, right? As a side note, I think that some women advertise themselves as a Bissel and turn out to be more like the vacuum with the metal kickstand that you kept in the garage. This is the worst analogy I’ve ever come up with, BUT what I’m trying to say is that we need to stop expecting to be treated like “Princesses” just because we’re pretty. You want to be treated well, ladies? Treat yourself well and treat the people that you care about well. Love is mutual. Unless you’re Morello. Poor, crazy Morello. (OITNB! NO SPOILERS…I know) I’m tired of hearing women AND men say things like, “he should treat you better! Look at your ass, girl!”. No. We should treat each other well because we care, not because of a nice butt*. 

*I can appreciate a good booty, I know how many squats it takes to get there, mostly cause I usually do half that eat ice cream instead.

Stop sleeping with men that don’t want the kind of relationship that you do. If you both agree, and actually both decide that you don’t want to be exclusive, go for it! There is absolutely nothing wrong with dating around and being open (and safe) about it with the people that you date. However, we all know that a lot of the time women enter into situations where they want to be in an exclusive relationship and the men do not and instead of leaving the situation, the women stay, hoping to “change his mind”. This is not good. It is not good for many reasons, the first of which being that you should be in the kind of relationship that you want to be in, everyone should, men, women, friends, co-workers, whatever! This is a version of settling. I recently met someone who was in her mid-thirties at a bar with her male friend. When asked about the nature of their relationship he responded, “oh, we’re just friends! ” and she said, “It’s super complicated.” A few drinks later it became clear that she did not want to just be friends, and he was treating her terribly. He would buy a round of drinks and forget hers, he barely talked to her when other girls were around. He asked another girl out in front of her. I asked him why he still hung out with her if he knew how she felt and he didn’t feel the same and he said, “because she pays for lots of things.” This is NOT the first time I’ve heard this story about a woman with money to spare. By the end of the night he was so drunk he got kicked out of the bar and she was crying. She was crying. An attractive, interesting woman in her mid-thirties with a great job was crying in a bar over a guy she’s never even kissed. I’m not judging her for this, but this happens all the time when we lose value in ourselves. Stop thinking that its okay to be taken advantage of like this, and we all need to stop using money as leverage for sex/love/etc. Stop sleeping with people who don’t want to date you when you want to date them, and for chrissake, stop sleeping with people who want to date you when you don’t want to date them, too! This isn’t just a feminist issue, it’s a humanity issue. Have sex with strangers, have one-night stands if you want, but not at the expense of someone else’s feelings, because they’re not just feelings. This is affecting who we are, how we see ourselves, and keeping us from reaching our full potential.

Let’s all make an effort to know our worth and stop devaluing ourselves and we will  be able to achieve our goals. This is a self-esteem issue at its core; not bravado and ego and machismo, but true value. The healthy relationships around me are built on this value, built on the idea that we need each other, not as crutches or security blankets or sugar daddies/mommas, but in a reciprocal way. It’s about the give and the take, but you can’t get tricked into thinking you have nothing to give. 

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