A feminist perspective about the feminist perspective

Category: Body image

Dirty Fingers

This is going to sound revolutionary to some people (just the way I like it), so brace yourselves: My breasts are no more sexual than any other part of my body.  While they can be used in sexual ways, they are not always sexual.  My fingers can be sexual, my stomach can be sexual, the back of my knee can be sexual (there’s a spot there, trust me), but they are not always sexual, and we accept that.

I understand its ingrained in us to believe that breasts are sexy, and they can be.  But this is misused all the time.  Women are shamed for showing off their breasts because of this idea.  Seeing someone’s nipple impressions is just scandalous!  Cleavage is a crime that gets you thrown out of events!  Women are raped because the shape of their breasts are apparent, and then they are blamed for it.

But look at these fingers!

funny-fingers10My god, just look at them!  They have no sense of decency!

I know I’m being silly, but here’s the point.

My body is only sexual because of ideals of what sexual is.  Men are allowed to walk outside with their shirts off because they aren’t seen as sexual objects, but women are shamed for wearing many types of clothes, because their curves are seen as salacious.  But it’s ridiculous.  Body parts are just that: parts of our body that we were born with.  And until women can be seen as a whole person rather than parts to be judged, there will continue to be shame and displacement of blame.

Body parts are not dirty, nor are they shameful.



It’s not discrimination, it’s just good morals

Grab your boots and shovels, because we’re going to Bullshit Corner!

A woman was fired from a dentist’s office because she was too attractive.  But this has nothing to do with gender.

Oh no.

It has everything to do with morals from God.

You see, the dentist, after ten years, decided that he couldn’t control his urges anymore for his secretary, but it wasn’t his fault.  No, it was the devil’s.  And the woman’s.  She just wouldn’t stop being sexually-harassable.  He tried to make her stop, he really did!  He told her the bulge in his pants was an indication of her wrong-doing!  But God love him, he just couldn’t stop her evil ways of being born the way she was.


This pisses me off.  I tried to disbelieve the idea that 7 out of 7 men in the Iowa courts found this to be completely legit, but then when I found out my mind just said, “Yep. Of course that happened.”

I don’t see how people can look at our world and believe that women are being treated equally in the workplace, or that something isn’t wrong with firing without probable cause.  Discrimination is everywhere, and our courts are holding it up as valid!  There is nothing in this situation that is fair.

Oh well.  The internet is fired up for this news, so we’ll see what happens.

AP News

Huffington Post

Mother Jones


National Post


Gender Norms: Creating New Instructions

I wish there were a way for me to be an expert in everything that I write about, but given that I’m 26, I don’t think I’ve had the time.  So, feel free to start the conversation about this when you want to!

Ah, the need to conform to gender norms.  I’m sure we’ve all struggled with this at some point, feeling constrained by what society tells us is right for us to feel, do, wear.  In feminism, I feel like we’ve reached an impasse on what is right.  On the one hand, some of us feel that we can be perfectly happy sticking to gender norms, as long as it is our choice.  On the other hand, some of us feel as though we’ve taken a step back and are objectifying ourselves through being what society considers attractive.

I for one feel good about my gender lines and don’t mind how other people view me.  I’ve already shed my shame about what I wear and do, and I certainly don’t owe apologies to people who consider me trashy.  So why does it matter to other people?

Research has time and again told us that people will stick to gender norms.  People tend to feel positive when they adhere to the social norms that they see and mimic.  Gender norms allow us to comprehend “normal”, and when we succeed in reaching the coveted “normal”, even for a moment, we’re pleased to think that we are more socially acceptable and therefore more lovable. (Gendering the Self: Selective Magazine Reading and Reinforcement of Gender Conformity by Sylvia Knobloch-Westerwick and Gregory Haplamazian)

In fact, when we find materials like magazines that reinforce those stereotypes and we engage in them, we tend to feel more like the gender that we are influenced to be. (Same reference as before)

So why wouldn’t women, even feminists, feel better about themselves when they adhere to social norms?  Feminists may feel an inner guilt for giving in, but the reward system is so strong that we can’t argue with how it makes us feel.

Guidelines and rules are important to human beings, and even if those rules constrain us, it’s a comfort to have them there.  How overwhelming is a model of a plane or a car if there are no instructions?  How much more slowly do we have to build and contemplate what to do?  The stress is more intense!  What if we’re doing something wrong right now, and the model can’t be salvaged?

Likewise, we base our personalities on models of people we grow up around, and what culture tells us our gender is supposed to do.  While some of us break away from these gender norms and rules, many people struggle with the idea that maybe they are doing something wrong, even if they do break away from the norms.  There are no instructions for people who don’t fall into a neat little place in the “normal” scale!  (Conformity to Gender Norms Among Female Student-Athletes: Implications for Body Image by Jessie Steinfeldt, Hailee Carter, Rebecca Zakrajsek, and Matthew Steinfeldt)

This lack of instructions can cause us more stress in all life situations.  Female athletes, for example, can’t grow their strength to their full potential for fear that it will ruin the femininity of their bodies.  They still strive to fit in the gender and sexual norms despite doing what they love to do, and it hinders them.  It may seem as though a woman can’t be as physically strong as a man because they appear to be naturally smaller, but in truth women limit the way their bodies grow in order to stay within the norms. (Same reference as before)

Gender norms also force us to have personalities that are on the opposite spectrum of the opposite sex.  Researchers found that women who tended to be more gender normal were far more different from men than women who moved away from the gender norm.

Together, these results clearly indicate that the social learning of gender, operationalized as the level of conformity to gender norms, plays an important role in personality styles. This would mean that greater or lower compliance to a given set of gender norms leads to differences in personality, and that, regardless of sex, the degree of conformity to these norms establishes differences between people, even within the same sex. Furthermore, those women who adopt and are more identified with what is traditionally expected from them regarding what they should do, think, or feel have personality styles that differ more from those found in men, and those women who comply less with the expectations and feminine norms differ less from men regarding personality styles. Thus, we can state that our data suggest that gender socialization plays an important role in personality differences between men and women, because, when the degree of adherence to gender norms in women is taken into account, the differences with respect to men decrease.

(M. Pilar Sánchez-López, Isabel Cuéllar-Flores, Rosa Limiñana and Javier Corbalán  Differential Personality Styles in Men and Women : The Modulating Effect of Gender Conformity)

Just imagine what kind of lives we could lead and what kind of stereotypes we could crush if we moved away from what society told us gender should be.  Women and men don’t have to be so different from each other, and identifying yourself as a man or a woman despite your genitalia should be no special issue.  Society is dictating our personalities and confining us to being a certain way just because of the way we were born.

The temptation to stay with gender norms is a strong one, and we all struggle with it.  But we can make instructions for other ways of life!  We can learn about different choices and because we would be able to understand them, we could respect them.  Education first, people.  Create instructions for your gender lifestyle, and let other people know that it’s okay to be the way that they are.  The reward system to be happy with yourself will follow.

I Have No Uniform for my Sexuality

I’ve been thinking a lot about the way that I present myself to the world.  I’ve never been conservative in my dress, but I’ve always made sure that it had nothing to do with just being blatantly sexual.  Some of my clothes choices might be considered sexual by some people, but I’m not sure how they can justify their judgements.  I wear clothes because I love the way that I look!  My personality is on my sleeve, so to speak.

Anyway, this quote angered me.  What is a “whore uniform”?  A little ankle, as in the old days?  A calf, a knee, a wrist, an elbow?  Not having these body parts covered used to be considered scandalous, and it took us a long time to allow ourselves and others to dress the way they wanted.  Unless we want to go back to being entirely covered, there is no justification in calling what someone wears a “whore uniform”, and there is certainly no reason to change how you treat them based on what they wear.

If I wear a tie, does that mean that I’m imitating a man?  Should people come up to me and address me as “sir”?  No, because that would be ridiculous.  I think we are putting too much emphasis on what clothes are relegated to.  Maybe we’re wearing shorts and skirts because it’s damn hot outside.  I know I am.  I also love twirling in my skirts.  It’s fun to dance, to mix and match, to be bright and colorful.  My mind isn’t on whether or not I’m wearing a “uniform” when I put on my clothes.  There is no woman who has a uniform that forces her into a single mindset or a character trait.

PS:  No one should be treated like a whore.  That’s just wrong.


What Gender are You?

Gender has always been a confusing topic for me.  It’s not so much that one could be male or female.  I understand the biological forces behind being treated a certain gender.  It’s when someone isn’t mentally that gender.  I want to use the right words, treat them the right way, relate to them in the way they want to be related to.  The terms confuse me the most, and I’m not afraid of admitting that sometimes I just don’t get it.  So, for those who are confused with me, allow me to learn along with you.

Transgender:  Okay, so this is the first word I learned about not identifying with one’s original gender.  You feel you are the other gender, and are trapped inside your body.  It has to be a frightening experience.  Why can’t people understand that we don’t have to fit into certain gender roles?  And I know a lot of the times it isn’t just that.  It’s… feeling like your skin doesn’t fit.  Like someone stole the body you were meant to have, and the only way to get it is through expensive surgery.  It has to suck.

This has nothing to do with sex.  If a women feels she should have been a man, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she is attracted to other women.

Transgender according to the internet (Wikipedia, if that’s okay with you guys):

  • “Of, relating to, or designating a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender roles, but combines or moves between these.”[2]
  • “People who were assigned a sex, usually at birth and based on their genitals, but who feel that this is a false or incomplete description of themselves.”[3]
  • “Non-identification with, or non-presentation as, the sex (and assumed gender) one was assigned at birth.”[4]

Cisgender:  I don’t know.  I really don’t.  I’ve tried to understand, and I wish someone could explain it to me.  As far as I know, it’s being satisfied with the gender that you were assigned at birth and all the baggage that comes with it.  Are you the epitome of the girly girl and the manly man?  Is it being irritated with being slightly like the other gender?  I know I’m not cisgender, because I love being a boyish girl, even if sometimes I also like to be girly.

Cisgender according to the internet (Wiktionary!):

  1. (LGBT, of a person) Identifying with or experiencing a gender the same as one’s biological sex or that is affirmed by society, e.g. being both male-gendered & male-sexed.

Pangender/Bigender: This I hadn’t heard of until tonight.  The general idea is that you don’t identify as either male or female, but a conglomeration of both.  I like the idea behind it.  I don’t see why we have to conform to gender roles, or even need to feel male or female on any particular day.  Just be and let be!

Pangender/Bigender according to the internet (Wikipedia): a term used to describe people who feel that they cannot be labeled as male or female in gender. As such it has a great deal of overlap with genderqueer. Pangender people feel that they do not fit into binary genders, instead identifying as mixed gender (both male and female) or as a third gender.

Third gender: This is clearly a recognized gender in other areas of the world.  The western world is rather limited in its view of gender, and it’s probably part of the reason that I can’t understand other genders.  I think maybe this is about the same as pangender.  I know it doesn’t have anything to do with being a hermaphrodite.

Third gender according to the internet (Wikipedia): The terms third gender and third sex describe individuals who are categorized (by their will or by social consensus) as neither man nor woman, as well as the social category present in those societies who recognize three or more genders.

Androgynous: As I understand it, being androgynous is having both female and male characteristics.  It’s difficult to know if they are male and female, especially when they dress in a way that doesn’t define their gender, such as in dresses.  I also know there is a lot of discrimination that comes from this, because you are constantly degraded for not fitting into one form.  Of course, that could happen with any gender type, but I’ve seen it happen with this.  I think that’s ridiculous.  Why do we always have to fit into forms and roles?

I know.  I’ve said it several times.  I don’t mean to repeat myself, but it is bothering me that we don’t distinguish in our culture.

Androgynous according to the internet (Bing dictionary):

blending masculine and feminine: neither male nor female in appearance but having both conventional masculine and feminine traits and giving an impression of ambiguous sexual identity

“androgynous looks”
physiology hermaphrodite: having both male and female physical characteristics
Well, anyway, I hope I haven’t insulted anybody.  I really just want to understand.  I hate when I’m insensitive to someone anytime, but especially out of ignorance.  Discrimination should be diminished, and we have to start by learning the terms.

Keep it Real!

Welcome to the Keep it Real challenge, a 3 day rally on the internet to ask magazines to put non-photoshopped pictures in their issues.  This is the second day, where people are encouraged to talk about the price we pay for allowing unreachable expectations in beauty.

I’d like to say that I’m above being manipulated by pictures of celebrities.  We don’t watch TV in our house very often, and when we do it’s mostly cartoons.  I don’t read magazines, sans Mother Jones.  I don’t even go to that many movies, maybe two a year.  And yet I still see this model form.  This picture of what we consider perfection.  And I’m constantly ashamed of my body, no matter how gaunt I end up looking.

I don’t think we understand how pervasive this phenomenon is.  How many celebrities are anorexic?  When even the celebrities we admire for their thinness don’t have the self esteem to be proud of their bodies, we’ve gone too far.  I believe it’s the shaming.  When celebrities gain weight, the magazines immediately send word.  And then the rest of us feel that we should be ashamed as well for gaining any weight, no matter how little.  No one can compete with the humiliation machine.

I wish I could say that it would be great if magazines would stop photoshopping.  Unfortunately, it won’t solve the problem.  Our society is too intent on shaming itself, and we almost thrive on it.  It feels satisfying to some that a celebrity isn’t the perfect form, because it somehow pulls them down to our level.  We hate them, we love them, we want to be like them, so we drag them through the mud for being what no one actually is.  And then we end up hating ourselves.

So, we could all keep it real if we would just get off each other’s backs about our looks.  We don’t need shame to be motivated to stay healthy and happy!  Bodies worth admiring have mouths that speak kindly, eyes that don’t judge, and hands that don’t backstab.

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