Get Woke

She Speak

The Undermining Conversational Experience of Himterruption
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Feminism Is For Everyone

On Misogyny Dividing Women, Intersectional Feminism, And A Complete Annihilation of Slut Shaming
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No Needs No Explanation (Time's Up)

Male Entitlement: On Demanding An Explanation For Refusing Unwanted Advances
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Uninterrupted

On misogyny, street harassment, and politely saying good morning exclusively to pretty women
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Loneliness in a Relationship

The Case For Getting Out Of Bad Relationships With Emotionally Unavailable Partners
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Catcalls and Compliments

Defining The Difference Between A Catcall And A Compliment

June 10, 2018

Polyamory: Figuring It Out | Coming Out | Being Out

A Long Ass Polyamorous Journey

I've been polyamorous my entire life. At this point I am sure of it. And while there is a certain relief in knowing and saying it aloud, and I am lucky to have haphazardly fallen literally ass backwards into the most appropriate relationship(s) of my life, there is still a certain resentment coupled with that certain relief. Resentment because in just a month or so, I will be turning 30, and spent most of my adult life believing there was something wrong with me.

I have never loved one person at a time. Ever. Indeed, most people have not. Most people love their parents, their siblings, their friends. This is not altogether radical. It's only when it comes to romantic love and sex that people suddenly lose their minds at the suggestion that one is not enough. And while I could point to all sorts of causes like organized religion and the puritanical (hypocritical) roots of the United States, why society is like this is besides the point as far as I'm concerned. My concern is creating a safe space for people who do not fit into the confines of binary thinking to grow up feeling accepted, first and foremost by ourselves.

Dilemma 

I grew up not knowing that polyamory existed, let alone what it was. It was not in the media. It was not in school. It was not represented in popular culture and it certainly wasn't explained to me by my family. For all I knew it didn't exist. Cheating was morally wrong, and polygamy was illegal, so monogamy was the only way. Not that it was explained to me this way. It wasn't, the same way that no one ever explained to me that I was straight. (And I'm not, by the way. Holla at me, LGBTQ community!) It was just assumed that I would be. It was the presumed default setting. I can't tell you how many times a doe eyed adult crooned the words, one day, when you get married, or, one day, when you have kids before I'd even dropped a damn egg!

But my eye tended to do the thing it wasn't supposed to do - wander. And not just my eye, but my heart. I won't even get into the fact that sometimes my confused little eye wandered over to the girl in my biology class, which was odd, because I was supposedly straight. That's an article for another day. Point being, I never had just one crush. One love interest. There were always many at once. Many people with whom I could imagine a path forward. But society was pretty clear on the rules of the game, meaning going forward necessitated that I make a choice.

I can say with absolute consistency that it was making that choice that damned nearly every failed relationship I had from age 18-29.

Loss

Monogamy isn't evil in and of itself. It's a social construct, as is marriage, and it works for people. I've seen it. (::waves at big brother from another mother::) The problem with monogamy is that it has become not only the default relationship style, but the only recognized and accepted relationship style by society at large. For people to whom monogamy comes naturally, the name of the game is finding "the one", and there are definitely challenges to that. Indeed, some people never do. Some people do much later in life than they'd hoped. But what if the problem isn't the you can't find the one? What if you keep finding the one, over and over and over again?

According to society there are a myriad of issues with this. Society claims that you can only really love one person at a time. So if you've found yourself claiming to be in love with two, or three, or four - no. That isn't love. That isn't real. Further, you may indeed believe that you love multiple people, but what if each of those people only has eyes for you? Now you have to choose, society tells you. Now you have to let someone, or multiple someones, go.

I learned this particular agony for the first time when I was 19 and fell in love with someone over summer break while already in a serious relationship. I kept it chaste for as long as I could but eventually the dam broke and I don't think I need to go into detail regarding the social fallout - we all know what world we live in. I can't describe the exquisite pain of mourning the loss of not one love, but two. Or of sitting around with a legal pad and pen, making lists, trying to decide between two people. Society would have us believe it is a choice between who is better for you. But if you're not wired that way, the question you're really asking when you draw that ven-diagram or whatever brand of nerdiness you default to, is how much pain from loss can I withstand? Who will it hurt less to live without? And sometimes that question, too, is impossible.

Madonna/Whore Paradox

Oh, hi. Did I mention that I'm a woman? ::waves::

If I were a man, things might have gone a bit differently for me. In high school. In college. In the workplace. When I eventually found my niche (LGBTQ friendly/artsy/East Village) I may have still faced some struggles before discovering polyamory. But I think the story might have read a bit differently. It's no accident that in my most frustrated moments I have been found belting out If I Were a Boy in various karaoke establishments.

Rather than having been slut shamed, for example, for having been involved with two of the three straight men in my performing arts high school (not simultaneously and over the course of six years!) I may have been a ladies man. I may have been that shy guy who was into theatre and skinny jeans before they were trendy, singing protest songs in the hallway and having loving relationships without hard commitment sort of like the sixties. Instead? I was a pariah. I was labeled slutty and dirty and accused of promiscuously participating in sex acts I couldn't even define at the time. All because I'd made the mistake of getting romantically involved with more than one person in the same microcosm.

When I cheated on my boyfriend in college - with the one person I'd fallen in love with - rather than vicious rumors spreading that distorted the truth and painted me as the 7/11 of women, I probably would have experienced...well...nothing. Nothing befell the teammates of my then basketball player boyfriend. They cheated on their girlfriends. Deliberately. Habitually. Everyone knew. No one said or did a damn thing. It was "normal". But when a woman cheats, regardless of circumstances, of honesty, of remorse. The response is ludicrously disproportionate.

When I finally came to the conclusion that the only sure way to avoid hurting anyone was to embrace my single status and live out my days Clooney style, still the problems found me. Again I found love twice in the same place, and the men involved balked at the idea of not being my only one. Again I was faced with the unwelcome dilemma of choosing one or losing both, except neither was too keen on choosing me back because my involvement with them both at once meant my reputation had been mired. Had I been a man in the same scenario each of them would have felt lucky to have been the "chosen one". I would have been a catch, not a cautionary tale.

I'm not defending the cheating. That was unethical and regrettable. But besides that, the only mistake I ever made was having been born without a penis in a patriarchy.

Women live in a world that traps us in a double bind. We are plagued by the madonna/whore paradox. We are told that we will only be able to "find a husband" if we are or appear to be virginal, and pure, and good. Men are taught only to value us as more than sex objects if they are the only ones to have "had" us. Women are also taught through misogynistic social conditioning that it doesn't take much to destroy our reputations and become whores, even though men experience no repercussions for the same behaviors. We are programmed to ignore our own wants - our real wants - and instead to want to be wanted. To embrace our own objectification until the right man (who it is assumed has at this point sowed his wild oats) chooses us to settle down with. We are encouraged to work very, very hard at being worthy of being chosen (by this man who is not being measured against the same asinine standard).

My point is that being a woman in a patriarchy is hard as it is, but being a polyamorous woman in a patriarchy that doesn't acknowledge polyamory is a special kind of hell. Every choice that would lead to your happiness is condemned. Every choice you are encouraged to make would ultimately condemn you to misery. Virginity and scarcity are the pillars that you are expected to build your life upon, in a body that has an overwhelming capacity to receive love, with a heart that has an overwhelming capacity to give love. So your happiness comes at the price of social isolation and punishment, and social acceptance comes at the price of your happiness. And what's more, if you are hetero, your potential partners have been conditioned to value your love only if it is coupled with exclusivity, and to devalue not only your love, but your body and even your personhood when it is not. There is a moral value judgement that is attached to a woman's romantic life that sets her up to fail if she does not fulfill the limited role she has been prescribed, and all the while men have been given carte blanche to shamelessly capitalize on the double standard that seeks, one way or another, to entrap her.

Loneliness

Being alone seemed like the only option available to me if I didn't want to climb the exclusive relationship ladder in the traditional sense, and if what I did want was never going to happen. At first blush it may seem like being single would have obvious benefits. I could have my cake and eat it too, right? Wrong. Because again, this is a patriarchy, and I am not a man.

Leave aside ugly rumors and reputations for a moment, because while it isn't ideal, those things can be avoided with secrecy Les Liaisons Dangereuses style. It is deeper and more personal than public opinion. I don't like being objectified. I don't like being wanted only for what I look like, or only for what "fun" I can be in bed. I don't like the idea of casual sex, and I absolutely detest the reality of it. I don't like being pursued like some kind of trophy because I am not a goal. I am a person. And so given the choice of casual sex vs. no sex at all...

The physical loneliness is shit, but it's bearable. It's the emotional loneliness that starts to eat at you. And then you meet someone, and even though you know better, you try again. My relationships were deep dives. I'd go underwater for a while, but eventually I couldn't breathe and I'd come violently thrashing to the surface before I drowned. As my relationships got shorter and shorter and I decidedly became the breaker rather than the breakee, it seemed apparent that I was just more whole on my own. It seemed like I wanted to be single.

But if that was true then why was I still so sad? And if I did in fact want love, why couldn't I seem to sit still in it for more than three months at a time?

Social Pressure to Get "Wifed Up"

When I see a diamond ring I think of child labor and genocide. When I see a bride dressed like a cream puff pastry gliding down an aisle, I picture her father also carrying a bag of gold and a goat. I've dreaded the eventual appropriation of the last name of every man I've ever dated before finally coming to the conclusion that I'm never changing my name because I am me. My idea of marriage involves a beach, a sunset, bare feet, my lover, our lovers, a spiritual bond, and yeah...okay...I suppose some tax breaks. But when I do it, if I do it, it will be a far cry from the patriarchal bullshit I've been force fed since my inception.

I started to identify as non-monogamous when I was 27, and learning about polyamory around the same time. And yet I still continued to date monogamous people despite the absolute turmoil it caused for nearly three years after the fact. Not because of the social pressure I felt when I wasn't in a relationship, but because of the temporary relief from the cruelty I'd grown accustomed to when I was.

When you are the woman who goes to bars alone, and could give a fuck whether anyone is paying attention to you because you're in your own world, and who more closely identifies with Prince than Adele, people look at you a certain way. Sometimes with respect and admiration, though the assumption that you're promiscuous never goes away and those people never stop flirting and low key trying to fuck you. But there is also pity, especially from older women, warning you that your youth is fleeting, your looks will fade, and who will want you then? Be smart, they warn you. Strike while the iron is hot. Marry the self obsessed guy even though you cringe when he touches you and listening to him speak is like watching paint dry. And whatever you do get over this "girl" phase because bisexuality is only cute in bars at 2 AM in your twenties. And don't forget - you're aging!

However, when you walk in just about anywhere on the arm of a gentleman (even if he's a pompous ass dressed in a gentleman costume) and he introduces you as his girlfriend. Oh, how stark the contrast is. I imagine the only word more powerful and transformative is wife. Your status elevates so quickly you can feel yourself on the elevator! People assume all sorts of things about you, except that they're - gasp! - good things! They assume, for example, that you're a good person. ::snorts:: Like...an actual fucking person. They assume that you're not a slut! They assume that you have a brain, and then they ask you really flattering questions, like whether they can pick said brain! They forgive otherwise damning wardrobe because, alas, you are already claimed, and to comment on said wardrobe or the assets (no pun intended) it enhances would be an affront to the man that has claimed you, and the same men who are quick to throw their dicks in the ring of a single woman are very cautious not to offend a boyfriend or husband. Regardless of the satisfaction of the relationship itself, in the eyes of society, the title of "girlfriend" or "wife", the existence of a blood soaked ring on a certain finger, is the highest esteem a woman can achieve, and it is only through this achievement that she graduates from public sex object to human being, albeit a human being who is possessed by the man she is with.

And thus conformity seduces even women who balk at traditional values, because just as harshly as society punishes resistance, it rewards compliance handsomely. People will smile, and nod with approval, and flock to you telling you how cute you look with your self obsessed fool. How lucky you are to be with the man who can't find your clitoris despite the fact that it's pierced. How adorable your children would look as the father-to-be chugs another beer on his way to black out drunkenness. Calm down, any exes reading this - the hyperbole isn't about you. It's about the fact that society rewards people for being in relationships, even if the relationships themselves aren't good! Even if they lack substance. Even if the people inside are miserable. Because society assumes that everyone will eventually pair off. Society has set that goal for you. So when you're single, you're failing. And if you're in a relationship - congratulations! You did it! You win.

Except...

Sexism: Cheating

So remember how I was talking about the double standard? The double standard rewards men at women's expense. Via the double standard women are damned if they do and damned if they don't, meanwhile men can have their cake and eat it too in nearly all stages of commitment. The double standard tells men that it is natural for them to cheat, or to want to cheat, while it is unnatural for a woman to behave or want to behave in the same way.

This particular mindset made finding agreeable partners very difficult for me. Some men I tried to date would initially agree when asked about an open relationship, until they fully processed the fact that the relationship would be open for both of us. Then we were back to monogamy. Then there were guys who were fine with an open relationship with one huge caveat - don't fall in love. Which limited all options outside the relationship to casual sex. Which didn't interest me. And then, whoops, back to monogamy again. Or, the real princes would tell me all about their deep sense of morality, or how their bodies were temples and they were afraid of contracting STI's, in order to lure me into reluctant monogamy, only to later learn that they themselves were cheating!

I blame patriarchy for this. I think there are far more men who are truly polyamorous, but because of societal conditioning these men are much more comfortable experiencing the love of multiple, unwitting women who (to their knowledge) are only intimate with them. Society conditions men to see women as possessions and discourages them from "sharing" us. Via cheating, some polyamorous men can hide behind a mask of monogamy and have their romantic needs met, but will do so unethically and ironically behind the backs of women who indeed share the same desire and needs that they do. The only difference is that because women are conditioned to deny and ignore our sexuality while men are conditioned to embrace and explore it, we end up getting the short end of the stick.

Again, no pun intended.

DADT & DFIL

There was one brief time in my early twenties where it seemed like I might actually get to be happy. I met a guy, we hit it off, we started dating exclusively. About a year and a half in I told him that I thought I might be bisexual. He encouraged me to explore that, helped me through it. When I came to the conclusion that I was indeed bisexual he even encouraged me to be with women; said he wouldn't consider it cheating.

Then, about two years in I confessed, through shaky breaths, tears, and shame, that I loved him and still wanted to be with him, but I desired other people frequently and I wasn't sure how long I could keep it up. To my surprise, he expressed a similar dilemma, and together we made the choice to open our relationship. However, the agreement we came to was DADT (don't ask, don't tell) and DFIL (don't fall in love). We navigated this pretty cleanly for a while. We even eventually formed a sort of quad relationship with a couple we were close with. For a while things seemed perfect. For a while...

Then it came out that the guy on the other side of the quad was cheating. A lot. The agreement in his relationship, you see, had been "cool, as long as I'm involved". Except he was involved with several other women behind the back of his primary. When they broke, the quad broke, and it wasn't quite the same.

Shortly after that, I met someone. And my partner didn't ask. And I didn't tell. And everything seemed fine until I realized that I was, in fact, falling in love. I couldn't help it. I was wired that way. When my partner found out he made it abundantly clear that he was not okay with me essentially having two relationships at once. He was not okay with me being in love with this other person. I had to choose, and so I chose, opting to preserve what I had with my primary.

It wasn't that bad at first, even though our non-monogamy "agreements" ended up limiting me to monogamy now that the comfort of the quad was gone and I knew I couldn't enjoy casual sex. But there came a moment, and I'm shaky on the timeline here but it's not that relevant, when I'd been out with members of his family at a club and, drunk, started openly flirting with a woman. One particular family member was furious and not only accused me of trying to cheat on him but outed my bisexuality on Facebook before I'd come out to my family.

It was hard to be in the relationship past that point. As happy as my partner made me, his family was conventional, and we could only participate in our "alternative" lifestyle behind closed doors. I didn't want to feel like I had to hide or I wouldn't be accepted. I didn't want to live a lie. And if I was honest, I missed my other partner. I didn't want to choose. I wanted both.

DADT and DFIL work for some non-monogamous people. But I'm not just non-monogamous. I'm polyamorous. I don't want to pick up a random person in a bar and have a threesome. I don't want to be some couple's unicorn every now and then.

I, quite literally, love without limits. Polyamory allows me what I once considered impossible.

Coming Out | Stigma | Hookup Culture

So at this point, especially with the release of this article, I suppose I'm out. Fully, talked to my parents, posted a pic with my lover and metamour on IG - out. And I have to say...

It's fucking awesome.

There are still challenges. Stigma is a challenge. There are people who behave as though my relationship with my SO is purely sexual, because that's the only way they can understand it. There are people who assume that because we aren't exclusive, the relationship isn't serious. There are people who love me who have held my face in their hands and, with nothing but compassion, told me that we're not in love. Because our love doesn't look like what love is supposed to look like, so our love doesn't count. Happily in 2018 the East Village is one of the most LGBTQ friendly bubbles on Earth and doesn't scoff at same-sex relationships, but I often imagine that this must be what it was like to be openly gay back several decades ago. To an extent, every moment that I am in public and wearing my poly status proudly, I don't just get to have my relationships - I have to prove them. Prove that it's love. Prove that it's real. Answer invasive questions from well meaning people; questions that monogamous people in even the shittiest of relationships never get asked. Questions like: So do you all fuck each other? (Answer: It depends.)

And then there are the ramifications of hookup culture. The assumption from men who have no intentions beyond "having fun" with me that because I am in an open relationship, I am now an option for them to have sex with. They could never imagine anything serious with me, they tell me, knowing I was in a relationship with someone else. They'd have "no problem" having sex with me though. As though that's somehow supposed to appeal to me?

"Yes, please, use me!" Is that my line?

The presumption that polyamorous people are just public sexual property to be experienced at our expense to the benefit of whatever random person is interested is absolutely relentless. Polyamory translates to many loves; not many fucks. We aren't sluts. We just love more.

Sexism Again - The Playboy/Womanizer

Because I am a woman most of this has been focused on my experience, but I would be remiss if I didn't point out the challenges to being a polyamorous man as well. Particularly if you are a good looking person of either gender, the potential to be hyper-sexualized and objectified due to your orientation is greater. When I first met my current partner, for example, and subtly (or at least I hope it was subtle) inquired about his availability, I was told with unbridled enthusiasm that he was absolutely not a one woman man. He was a ladies man, I was told. The word womanizer was never said explicitly but was certainly implied. Consequently I ignored my attraction and glimmers of shared chemistry for years, but as always, the dam broke. Even after off and on became decidedly on - at this very moment, I suspect - there are still those, I'm sure, that believe that I am being taken advantage of in some way. That he, the ever active playboy, is going to chew me up and spit me out. That he's only in it for lewd sex acts, a presumption which ultimately objectifies both of us and is incredibly reductive of his character; completely dismissive of his capacity for genuine, human emotion. The depth of any of his relationships is casually trivialized in conversation while his ability to commit is simultaneously denied. I've heard his relationships described as fucking, going at it with, getting on with, and various other phrases that imply a purely sexual relationship but rarely ever as dating.

::dispels remainder of steam from ears::

Just saying. The knife cuts both ways, and the blood isn't pretty.

Visibility/Facebook

On the one hand, I get it, Facebook is not OKCupid (yet). On the other hand, monogamous people can easily select each other on Facebook and declare their relationships real. According to The Social Network, the relationship status option was the turning point that led to Facebook taking over life (literally) in the first place. Millennials don't consider relationships legitimate unless they're Facebook official. And yet currently Facebook only acknowledges monogamous relationships, or monogamish relationships, because even if you declare yourself in an "open relationship" with someone, you can only link one partner on the network, thereby perpetuating the idea that you can only have a real relationship with one person at a time - everything else is just...well...

This sort of brings us full circle. This long, angsty post, the personal anecdotes, have all been to make the point that it shouldn't have to be this damn hard. No one should have to go through life feeling like there is something inherently wrong with them, and that because of that thing that they have no control over, they will never be happy. People shouldn't be going to therapy for commitment and attachment issues and rehab for sex addiction when the only thing "wrong" with them is that they aren't like you (monogamous folk), and they don't know that any other way of life is possible. Monogamous people have models of healthy relationships to aspire to. Where are ours? Monogamous people have a road map to follow. Representation in the media. Relationship status on Facebook!

I think of all the pain that I've endured and inflicted trying desperately to squeeze myself into a box that I was never going to fit into, and I just wish I'd had more information earlier on. I think things would have gone differently if I and potential partners had been educated about other ways of love and life. Maybe then I would have been brave enough to embrace polyamory when I clearly wanted to practice it. Maybe if I'd had a name for it. Maybe if I wasn't convinced that it was bad, or wrong, or would detract from the value of my womanhood.

I can be a bit of an old fart sometimes and often fantasize about what it would have been like to live, say, in 1920 in Pigalle, before social media and smart phones and...um...penicillin? But if there is any advantage to being alive in 2018, it's the internet. The ease with which ideas can spread, forums can be joined, Youtube videos can be shared, and allies can be found.

That being said I fully intend to push this article with hashtags up the ass like #polyamory #polyamorypride #polyamorouswoman so that maybe, if there's someone sad or confused who has taken to Google, they won't have to stay sad or confused for long.

There is another way to live if monogamy doesn't work for you. You can find love that fits. Many loves, I hope.

#polylove
#lovemore

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June 03, 2018

Period Sex Aversion: Yes. It's Personal.

On Intimate Justice and Period-Sex Averse Partners

A couple of years ago I wrote a piece called Blow Job Week about the hypocritical expectation that some men have when their female partners are on their periods. Namely, the expectation that they will receive blowjobs as a substitute for sex. If you've read the article you can probably tell that I hold period-sex aversion in the same esteem regarding patriarchal bullshit as I do slut shaming, but when I wrote that article, it was is less about expressing my ideas on period-sex aversion itself and more about the hypocrisy of withholding physical pleasure from an otherwise willing female partner while simultaneously expecting her to provide physical pleasure to the very person denying her. It was a call for intimate justice. It was a strong declaration of, If I have to wait, so can you.

Still, even if one dutifully upholds the demands of intimate justice by responding in kind when one's partner temporarily suspends her sexual privileges, that still doesn't alleviate the inherent feelings of rejection, insecurity, and sexual frustration that result from having one's sexual privileges suspended by one's loving partner in the first place, especially on the grounds that one's own body is temporarily in a state less than ideal for that love making which it never stopped desiring.

Intimate justice is elusive for women, because it isn't as simple as being square on paper. It isn't about keeping score. It isn't about simply having an equitable orgasm ratio. So this time, regarding period-sex, rather than forcing the issue with logic and sarcastically screaming that I'm right (and I am) I'm going to go ahead and say the thing you're not supposed to say. I'm going to admit that yes, actually, I mind it when men are period-sex averse. Not just because I'm a feminist, and not just because it's a patriarchal staple, but because it hurts and because it's much more than a theory when you are, in fact, the woman on the receiving end of such an aversion. And while I recognize that I am required to respect it as a personal sexual preference, in a way that makes me mind it even more, because that personal sexual preference just happens to be in line with classic male sexual entitlement and privilege. Because period-sex aversion is a rejection of the essence of womanhood, it reinforces patriarchal ideas of sexual inequality between the genders, it promotes body shame, and it establishes an undue power dynamic whereby - in a male/female relationship - a man, by virtue of his personal boundaries, has carte blanche to exercise the strategic withholding of sex from the female partner, a practice to which there is no male equivalent, thereby establishing an imbalanced sexual dynamic within the relationship that is reinforced monthly at the woman's expense.

Simply put, being a feminist woman confronted with the idea (let alone the reality) of period-sex aversion is a delicate and confusing line to dance on.

Let me explain...

1. Choice and Consent

No one is entitled to sex. It doesn't matter if you're in a committed relationship or not, or whether you usually fuck like bunnies. Everyone is entitled to say no, if they want, when they want. So regarding choice and consent, it is simply improper for a woman to demand sex on her period if her partner has expressed a disinterest or a discomfort. To do so would be to ignore his autonomy. Thus, if you're a woman - even if you're a card carrying feminist who refuses to hide her menstrual cup on the bathroom line because your body is fantastic all month, not just for the first 21 days - whose partner has expressed an aversion to period sex, you have to respect that boundary just as you would any other boundary or aversion to any other sex act.

Even though...

2. It's Personal 

It's not personal, your partner may explain. It isn't about you. They don't find you gross, no no no. Of course not. It's just the...you know...the blood thing. It's just the mess. It's just the idea of...well...all that blood [insert visible cringe here] but not you, baby. No no no! I love you. You're beautiful. It's just...the fluid coming out of your body and my desire to avoid both that fluid and the place that the fluid is coming from because then I might get that fluid on me or on the sheets and that would be a travesty because it's messy and gross. It. Not you, baby. Even though...it's all happening...inside your body. It has nothing to do with you, baby. It's just...

Yeah...no. When you're a woman, of course it's personal. It's your body. Your body is the one that is bleeding. You are the one experiencing all of your hormones (which, for some of us, make us the horniest when were are indeed menstruating). And then of course, your body is the one that is being temporarily placed on the proverbial no fly list, banished to the island of "not right now" for the one week per month that your partner isn't interested in it in quite the same way as during the other three. Your body is the one responsible for the obstacle blocking the way of your once satisfying sex life. You are the one dutifully checking her feminine products excitedly to see if the "problem" has gone away yet. Yours is the body that is doing the thing that your partner isn't into; yours is the sex life hanging in suspended animation.

How could a woman possibly believe that it isn't that her partner isn't into her, when the very thing he is avoiding literally is her. There are not two versions of us. There is not the version of us on our period and then the version when off. It's just the one woman. And likewise, you are just the one partner to us. There isn't the you that looks at us with unbridled desire and then the you that looks at us with sympathy and patience. There is no solace to take in the guarantee that in just a few days, when we aren't "going through" this anymore, you will transform back into the person that cannot get enough, when right now you are the person to whom the trouble isn't worth it. It doesn't take away the sting of...well...

Rejection.

3. Rejection Hurts

Rejection is such a powerful emotion, and to be rejected by one's partner at any time, for any reason, is difficult, even when they are loving and well-meaning. However, to be consistently rejected by one's partner. In fact, to have that rejection be scheduled. That is a lot to handle. There are four weeks in a month. The average period lasts 5-7 days. That's 25% of the month. That means that if you are a woman in a relationship with a period-sex averse partner, you are going to be rejected by your partner, for certain, at least 25% of your relationship. At least! Not to mention that the rejection will occur multiple times over an extended, consecutive period. It isn't as though a woman on her period experiences "no" once for the entire week. No, we experience it every time we desire sex with the partner that, "right now", does not desire us back. Depending on your drive and the effect your period has on it, that may mean several times a day for seven days. And that doesn't count the compounded effect if other things occasionally result in rejection, such as busy schedules, headaches, injuries, etc.

It is easy to say that it's "just" a week when you are the one making the choice. But to a woman who isn't period-sex averse, this isn't a choice at all. It's a punishment. For being...a woman.

4. Inequality 

This isn't about an orgasm ratio. "If you won't have sex with me when I'm on my period, that's fine. But don't ask me for a blowjob," is a valid stance that, yes, I still subscribe to. I will not give a blowjob on my period in lieu of sex because my partner is averse to it. That just doesn't seem fair.

But the thing is, even if you don't give the blowjob, it's still not fair. It will never be fair.

It will never be fair because, unless your period-sex averse partner is a woman, and unless you yourself are also period-sex averse, your partner will never understand what it feels like to be looked over and told "no, thank you" by the person they love every three weeks. They will never know what it is like to anticipate this certain rejection with dread, to carry it around for a week, or to eagerly await that first day "back in business" when your beloved partner will desire you again. They will never know what it is like to perceive the temporary suspension of their sexual privileges as a punishment for a bodily function they cannot themselves control. They will never feel the sadness of inherent body shame that comes with feeling intermittently unwanted. They will never know how disingenuous and detached the word beautiful can sound from the person who is patiently waiting for you to be fuckable again.

So even if you don't partake in non-reciprocal sex, it doesn't make it fair. It doesn't make it equal. Yes, it is worse when you get in the shower with the taste of semen still tingling in your mouth as you quietly try to relieve the overwhelming pressure of your own unrelenting arousal. It's definitely worse that way, and definitely provokes the negative thought cycle of this isn't fair or this is bullshit. Still, that shower is shitty tingle or no tingle. Men don't know that feeling; they never will. And yet they are entitled to impose it.

Blow him or blow him off. Either way you slice it, it's not fair.

5. Programming 

Period-sex aversion feels different than aversions to other sorts of bedtime activities. It feels different than your partner saying, "Yeah, I get that there's a prostate but I'm not really comfortable with the idea of a finger up my butt." Cool, you say. Just a thought. No pressure.

The difference is that period-sex aversion is part of a bigger gender issue. It is reflective of patriarchy and misogyny and a disheartening double standard in which women are hyper-sexualized and treated like objects for male pleasure most of the time, and then taught to feel shame and disgust for our own bodies while on our periods as a result of men not finding our bodies sexy during that time.

As a feminist, while I don't feel that this is fair and I definitely feel that most men that exhibit period-sex aversion are both being influenced by and reinforcing patriarchal ideals, I also strongly believe in consent and feel that even if a man's feelings on that matter were informed by patriarchal values, even if I don't agree, there is no alternative that does not somehow border on pressuring an unwilling partner into an unwanted sex act and that is simply unacceptable. As a feminist, though, it definitely puts me in a double bind of sorts. A discussion of the "issue" past a clear point of disinterest is subtle pressure bordering on coercion and I couldn't do that to a partner. To refuse to participate (to refuse to date a person who is period-sex averse) is discriminatory and functions as an ultimatum that is as unfair as it is unacceptable. Yet to participate I can't help but feel complicit. To find myself getting excited that I finally get to have sex again, even though I was never against it in the first place, even though I wasn't onboard with my vaginal quarantine because menstruation isn't the flu...

If you're a woman, a feminist, and your partner is period-sex averse, how can you simultaneously respect their boundaries and avoid participating in an inequality you find unjust? How do you respect their wishes while refusing to endorse the idea that your body is only acceptable for fucking 75% of the time? And how do you reconcile the implications of this predicament with respect to...

6. Unhealthy Power Dynamics 

Most people would agree that the strategic withholding of sex/dangling sex to leverage it into a free meal/relationship/engagement ring is an unfair and manipulative tactic that they would not want to be subjected to.

While a period-sex averse partner may not be withholding for its own sake and while there may be no manipulation in play, the fact is that the resulting behavior is still the strategic - indeed, the scheduled - withholding of sex from one's intimate partner. The woman on the receiving end of the behavior still has the experience of only being engaged sexually on someone else's terms. She still has the experience of whether or not sex is "a go" decided for her regardless of her personal feelings on the matter.

Indeed, while the woman's period is not an inherent problem, it certainly becomes a problem when it interrupts the woman's sex life. And when the dread she feels for "period week" isn't about the bleeding itself but about the dread of the suspension of sex. When the sadness she feels during that week is not about her uterine walls contracting but of not feeling quite as beautiful, not quite as sexy, not quite as significant as she once did because her partner doesn't want her...right now. When the anticipation she feels for Aunt Flow to leave town isn't because Aunt Flow is super annoying (because nowadays with pain killers and soft menstrual cups it really isn't all that bad) but rather because she's eagerly awaiting the return of sexual intimacy with her partner...

At that point the weight of one's period has more to do with the physical and emotional impact of your partner's reaction to it than of the period itself.

So what's really going on is not:

I hate my period because I'm bleeding. 

Really, what's going on is:

I hate my period because my partner won't fuck me when I'm bleeding. 

And the feminist in me will take it one step further and say:

I don't hate my period; I hate that my partner won't fuck me when I'm bleeding. 

But how the hell do you reconcile that with consent, love and acceptance of your partner (even if, in a very real way, it feels like they don't fully accept that very female part of you)?

For me, it's like hating an unjust war but continuing to support the soldiers. I hate the idea of period-sex aversion. For social/political reasons and for personal reasons. But a loving, period-averse partner is still an individual with a personal preference in bed that should not be bulldozed over with the words intimate justice unless or until they are complicit. To be fair, their aversion may have nothing whatsoever to do with patriarchy despite running parallel to it; despite the result of said preference coming at a woman's expense, in deference to a man's sexual preference.

To women in this position, my best advice - and I wish I could do better - is to encourage talking about it. Let your partner know how it makes you feel, not to change his mind, but perhaps to allow him to ease some of the negative emotions associated with what, to you, may very well feel like a scheduled, monthly rejection. Allow him alternative ways to express his love and reassure you of his desire for you. Discuss different ways to be physically intimate together, or if the anticipation is literally too painful, discuss the need to avoid physical play past a certain point.

Unfortunately, as we know very well, womanhood tends to impose an undue burden on women. Especially in the bedroom, and this is no exception. And while - short of genetically engineering men to get periods - we can never make it truly fair, we can certainly try.

In the meantime, I guess....

Fair enough.
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March 31, 2018

Misogyny and the Men Who Love Us



It easier to ask a stranger to check their privilege than a close friend, family member or lover.
What if we all ask, every day, anyway.


In 2014 I started the blog O School - now La Femme Erotique - after several lengthy conversations with women I was close to revealed that their sexual experiences were often unfulfilling. Their pleasure wasn't just not being prioritized, it was non-existent, and though they pursued relationships with men and seemed to want to have sex, they also readily admitted that they didn't get much out of it. Strange, I thought. But why have sex if it isn't pleasurable? Further dialogue revealed motives that had nothing to do with the personal pleasure of these women, but instead motives like making a guy like them, staying in the dating game, competing with other women, solidifying commitment. Wanting to make him (whomever he might be) happy and thus aspiring to questionable goals such as being able to override one's gag reflex at will, being able to hold one's breath for long periods of time, being able to put large objects down one's throat without (much) discomfort. Not because any of these things would feel good, and in fact, it was usually the opposite. But because these things would make someone else feel good, and that's all that sex was to many of the women I spoke to. They weren't even upset about it, they were resigned to the idea that their role in this particular arena was to facilitate a pleasurable experience for someone else. Their romantic pursuits, then, were less about their own experience and more about achieving the prestige of being the best at whatever sexual act was all the rage at that particular time (though curiously, blowjobs seem to be the Chanel suit of sex acts).

That saddened me, as I was lucky enough to - for better or for worse - have discovered the joys of masturbation early enough in life to enjoy very regular and sometimes spontaneous orgasms. That isn't to imply that I had been encouraged to explore this. Rather, I had been strictly forbidden. But happily I disobeyed, and by the time I became sexually active I was familiar enough with my personal pleasure to want it and even expect it in a sexual interaction. What I found was that despite female pleasure in sexual interactions being almost incidental (like when you sit your boyfriend down to help him understand your body, and he says, "Baby, of course I want you to enjoy it too." The "too" giving away the truth that he may not even be conscious of - that his pleasure in this merging of the bodies is assumed while yours is a nice goal to have that you two can "work on") the female body seems to be inherently capable of much more pleasure in a single sexual encounter than the male body, and for a prolonged period of time. It isn't as though after orgasm our vaginas close up and our nerve endings cease to function for fifteen to thirty minutes. But if there is so much raw potential for exquisite pleasure, why is it that so many women experience so little of this pleasure in their relationships with men? Something had to be done, I thought. And I was going to do it.

"I want to be the Oprah of orgasms," I said to my best friend as we sat discussing the possibilities of my mission. Would it be a book? Would it be a YouTube channel? Would it be a blog? "You get an orgasm. And you get an orgasm. Everybody look under their seats - everybody gets an orgasm!" 

Four years later, while I still look back on the conversation fondly, I can't help but sigh at the now obviousness of my naïveté. 

My mission, you see, was to teach women how to enjoy sex. To stop thinking about what they looked like naked, or whether someone was judging their love handles, but to lose themselves to the pleasure instead. To not be afraid to ask for what they wanted, to make a suggestion, be it subtle or bold. To simply pursue their own pleasure in bed - wait for it - just like men do. Yes. These were indeed the early teachings of a very optimistic, very orgasmic, 25 year old me. 

To this day my female sexuality blog hosts less than 30 published posts. As the months went on, it got harder and harder to write things like Orgasm 101 or Faking It. Why? Well...like any responsible writer I researched. And my research seemed to be distracting me from my goals. I found myself soon writing posts about street harassment. About catcalling. About the micro-aggressions that make women uncomfortable on dates and even in long term relationships. About how frustrating it is that women are systematically made to think of ourselves as objects for male pleasure

I thought about how I felt when I declined to give a blowjob on my period when I was 20 and the guy I was seeing tried to guilt me by saying that his ex-girlfriend, who he didn't hold in the highest esteem, "at least" had done that for him. I thought about how it felt when I slept over the house of a guy I was seeing when I was 26, didn't want to have sex, and he angrily confronted me the next day as though I was required to explain why I'd failed to please him. I thought about the silent pressure to have sex before bed in nearly every relationship I've ever been in. The cuddle that turns into the caress that turns into the grope that turns into an unfavorable attitude if any of these is turned down, no matter how tired I am or how early work is, or if I'm just not in the mood or if I really do have a headache. I thought about the pressure to have sex in the morning in nearly every relationship I've ever been in. The terrible experience of being awoken from my sleep by an uninvited hand brushing intimate parts of my body, not because this counts as foreplay, because foreplay is a mutual act with a partner who is awake and responsive, but rather because they are awake, and they are ready, and suddenly I am not the sleeping human next to them, I am the sexy thing in bed which is very convenient because they would like to have sex now. I thought about the absolute obliviousness of partners who sit in bed wearing confusion on their faces when I opt to start the day by getting out of bed rather than by getting on top of them. How their eyes follow me around the room, watching, waiting, because surely I'm going to come back to bed, right? Surely I'm not going to just...get out of bed without...no...surely not. Because somehow the ease of which expectation becomes obligation never occurred to them, nor has the absolute distaste of being treated like a prostitute in one's own relationship. 

Maybe the problem wasn't women not understanding how to enjoy sex. Maybe the problem was how women could possibly be expected to enjoy sex with men in a world that doesn't even pretend to give two shits about our basic human rights to safety and comfort, let alone pleasure. 

Soon I had to start another blog altogether for all the posts - nay, essays - that were springing up like weeds all over my female sexuality blog. And shortly after Brilliant Bitchin' was born I was no longer gunning to be Oprah for orgasms. I was a feminist. I was an activist. Orgasms for all? - Sure. Maybe someday, but there were more immediate concerns. Concerns like justice, and I damn well wanted justice. 

It's a term that's being used now - intimate justice - to address some of the aforementioned trends that we see in heterosexual relationships. To address the fact that men expect to drive the sexual experience and women tend to be seen as passengers. (e.g.: In Sex and the City, every other story line was about whatever strange preference the man had in bed, and how one of the four female leads would have to adjust to his preference. What about her preferences? Why is she adjusting to him as opposed to them adjusting to each other? Think about it...) To address the irony of men brazenly declaring things like, "I don't eat pussy," and then delineating the frequency and ferocity of which they require their dicks to be sucked in order that they might consider "making" some hypothetical woman their girlfriend. To address the term "blue balls", and how it is used to coerce sex acts out of women. To address the fact that in popular culture, in our society, a patriarchal society riddled with misogyny, male pleasure is prioritized over female discomfort. Blue balls tells the listener that the problem is not the woman being pressured into performing a sexual act even though she doesn't want to. Blue balls tells the listener that the problem isn't that the man in this situation is knowingly pressuring an unwilling woman into performing sexual acts. Blue balls tells the listener that the problem is that an erection is being ignored. 

Life does a very good job of preparing women to be excellent sexual objects. Magazines tell us what to wear, how to hide our wrinkles (when we're 17), at what angle to stand when we're being photographed, 50 tricks to blow his mind in bed. We're bombarded with advertisements that almost never feature entire women, but rather fragmented bits of sexy body parts. Sweaty stomachs, red, glossy lips on an open mouth and some phallic symbol nearby like a lipstick or a banana or the top of a beer bottle. Underwear ads clearly more interested in selling breasts than bras. High heels attached to a pair of legs attached to an ass that is not attached to a person. You can't see the person - all you see is ass, and legs, and high heels, and if you're lucky it makes you angry but on some level all of us are very unlucky because all of us at one point or another have been intrigued by such an image, aroused by such an image, or inspired by such an image. You go to the movies or watch TV and you don't even get to decide what is beautiful anymore. You are told. You are told via camera angles, and slow motion, and a long pan often from feet to face (tell me - do you think it's a coincidence that a woman's face, the place where most of her personhood lies, is often saved for last?) and you immediately understand that this woman is sexy. The camera tells you not just where to look but how to feel. And if you're a woman, what you should aspire to. 

This is what life does to us, I realized, and then we wonder why our interpersonal relationships with men are so fraught with intermittent bouts of push and pull, the origins of which are supposedly inexplicable. Is it though? Is it so inexplicable, when even casual conversations harbor conceal carry instances of patriarchy, from the lover who gently and cautiously asks whether you've ever considered going down on him "to completion" (translation: it would be great if you didn't stop until I finished), to the long term partner who thinks your desire for any potential children to share both your last names is "interesting". Conceptually. Of course. Although he isn't sure how practical it is. We experience these conversations in which we are so thoughtlessly undermined, so casually, so frequently, and yet the tensions we feel in even our most intimate relationships are labeled inexplicable? We accept these backhanded apologies à la I don't know why you're upset, but I'm sorry if I did something to upset you, or, I'm sorry that you feel that way, and there's a question about where the tension is coming from? What it's all about? How about - oh, I don't know - the not inability, but often unwillingness to step outside one's own experience in the relationships with the people you profess to love the most and check your privilege! 

We tell ourselves things like not all men. No. Not all men. There are different men out there, good men out there. We just have to be patient and find them. Oh, he made a sexist joke, or likes choking in the bedroom though he can't explain why, or watches too much porn? He must not be a good man, then, but don't worry, all you have to do is find a good one. 

This is where we get into trouble. 

So much of social change is dependent on calling out the daily wrongs that we have become desensitized to as a result of being immersed in the problematic culture from birth. And even if it isn't easy and we aren't always fully prepared for this, it is much easier to call out these wrongs when they are committed by strangers.

It is not easy for me, when someone walks by me and makes an overtly sexual comment, to muster the nerve to turn and say to them, "That's inappropriate." It would be easier to keep my head down and say nothing. But I can't. The commitment I made to gender equality, to justice, demands my participation, so even as my cheeks flush and my heart beats furiously and I steel myself for the backlash - and there's always backlash - I make myself speak up. It isn't easy. But I promised. 

It is not easy for me, when I'm at work and I go next door for a large apple cinnamon tea, and the man behind the counter says, "Be careful, it's hot. Hot like you," to look him square in the eyes and say, "That isn't nice to say. It's making me really uncomfortable." And to hold that gaze, not look away shyly as though I'm the one that should be embarrassed, until I receive the apology I'm owed. No, it isn't easy. But I make myself do it, because I promised. 

Promise is key, here, because I believe that I love you is a promise. A declaration not only of love itself but the things encapsulated by the ideals of love, such as care, loyalty, trust, and respect. 

Nothing that I feel when calling a stranger on a misogynist act compares to what happens inside me when I'm sitting at the dinner table and my father makes a misogynistic joke. None of that compares to what I feel when I'm out to dinner with a male friend and he lazily comments on the bodies of the women in the room as though they're part of the decor. Nothing compares to that moment in bed where I don't want to do something, or just don't feel like it right now, and I'm met with an exasperated sigh of obvious disappointment from the man who regularly tells me he loves me. These are the moments where it's tempting to say nothing, because I don't want to argue with my dad. I don't want to start a disagreement in public with a good friend. I don't want to fight with my lover in our bed. But the minute I say nothing I become tacitly complicit in my second-class citizenship and I just...I can't. And then I'm in that argument with my dad, or in that spat at the dinner table where the word feminist is being thrown in my face sarcastically, or in that cold war with my lover over his entitlement, and these conversations for those men may never be more than annoying or exhausting, whereas for me these are not surface wounds. These are deep, fractures from which, if I'm honest, I'll never really recover. Because in each of these it's as though that promise, the one made when you say to someone I love you, has been broken. It is so much easier to potentially make waves over misogynistic injury with a stranger, than to do it with someone who loves me. Someone that I love. Someone with whom I want to have a relationship. 

Just not one in which I'm subjugated. 

I'm less interested, now, in teaching women to ask for what they want in bed than I am in encouraging women to speak up. Not just on the internet. Not just in the middle of 5th avenue when that construction worker says that weird thing. Not just on your way out of the corner deli. These interactions are important, yes, but they're fleeting, and if misogyny were a plant, this would be the flowery part of the plant that lives above ground. The obvious part that everyone can see. The part that you can cut down all you want but it will probably grow back because you didn't pull it up by the roots

What I'm realizing more and more is that the roots of misogyny run deep into our intimate lives. There are misogynist roots adorning the dinner table at which the man dominates the entire conversation and the women at the table exchange knowing glances because they know that pointing our this tendency will only make him further aggressive - waiting out his monologue is best. There are misogynist roots adorning the bed posts in the bedroom in which a woman has expressed, numerous times, discomfort taking off her bra, but her partner, though fully aware of her discomfort, repeatedly asks her to. Every time they supposedly "make love". Because it turns him on, and what's the harm every now and then. These are the moments in which we need to speak up the most. The people we need to speak to are the men in our lives we're closest to. What does it matter if we volunteer to pull up misogynistic weeds at the community garden if they're happily thriving in our own backyards?  

It is very easy to walk around thinking that we're all "woke", and that someone else, in some other town, with some other political opinion, or what have you, is the problem. It is easy to assume that only men say and do misogynistic things, not women, or that only bad men do these things, so that if there is a good man in your life and he says or does something - even if it hurts you - it couldn't be that. He's just not like that. 

We need to get over this fraudulent idea that some people, by virtue of their political opinions or ownership of pink yarn, are automatically exempt and beyond examination. None of us is exempt - we all live in the world together and there is literally no place in the world, no region and no time period in which women are not/have not been subjugated. Frequent examination is the necessary stuff of deprogramming, the stuff of revolution, and justice demands that this be done without exception. 

We cannot make exceptions. Not for our fathers, or brothers, or best friends, or boyfriends, or husbands. Never. We must always challenge, even when it's hard. Even when it hurts. Because when it comes to the impact of sexism and misogyny, that pain is felt not only by women and girls but by men and boys throughout the world. 

All of us. Without exception.  









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March 14, 2018

She Speak: The Undermining Coversational Experience of Himterruption



On mansplaining, hepeating, hephrasing, himterrupting and himpathy 

The awareness of misogyny in our every day social culture is on the rise. From calling out cat callers to finally bringing powerful, privileged men guilty of decades of systematic, habitual predatory behavior to justice, society at large is becoming, in popular terminology, woke. A part of that social consciousness has been giving a name to every day reflections of patriarchy, sexism and misogyny in order that they might be more tangibly identified, called out and subsequently dealt with.

Of course where there is feminism there is backlash, and many of the phrases that have been named: the mansplain, the hepeat, the manspread to name a few, have also been (often intentionally) ill-defined by those that vehemently resist feminist effort to draw attention to the issue they represent.

Today I will explain the definition of these words - some of them of my own creation - the origins of the ones I did not myself create, and attempt to communicate how these words are actually experienced by women in a response to repeated attempts to minimize these gender asymmetrical phenomena.

(Note: The only word I will not be exploring in depth is "manspread," because this article will focus on the conversational effect of gender asymmetrical speech habits. However, for those who do not know and/or have not seen the witty ads on the NYC subways, a "manspread" is when a man sits with his knees dramatically spread apart in a public area such as a subway, bus, bench, etc. - presumably to accommodate his genital area - such that he ends up occupying the space of more than one seat and, effectively, prevents an efficient use of the shared space. While children and adults alike are criticized for not taking their backpacks off their backs, and women are criticized if they rest a handbag on an adjacent seat (even if they demonstrate a willingness to move it once the space becomes crowded), the "spread" usually goes unaddressed (except by the MTA) as it seems to call a certain necessity due to biological manhood into question, despite the man's obvious ability to close his legs.)

Before I jump into definitions I want to briefly touch on one quick thing, and coin a phrase while I'm at it.

The Angry Feminist Paradox

The rest of this article will include definitions of words made up of other words with the words "man", "he", and "him" inserted into them. There will be tongue in cheek humor. There will be instances where annoyance and outright anger is expressed. Even in though in the earlier drafts of this, I did in fact write "not all men", I have since deleted it. Because that is not the point.

This article is about the fact - NOT my hormonal, female, emotional perception, but the fact - that men overwhelmingly speak more than women in public spaces. While in personal conversations women are said to talk more, while we may in fact use more words, men still dominate the conversation in terms of time spent talking. Men interrupt more than women, and interrupt women more than men. I have had to tell loved ones - family members, close friends, intimate partner - to stop interrupting me, and usually I am made to feel via some backhanded apology as though I am being aggressive or oversensitive.

This isn't about good men versus bad men. These phenomenons happen in our culture because we are all raised in it. Yes, there are good men out there, not as in "a few" good men. Lots of them. My father is one, my friends are some more, my boyfriend is an incredibly good man and yet - guess what - they all have at least one of the conversational habits in this article, some of them more than one. Not because they're bad, not even because they mean to do these things, but because it is something that so often goes unacknowledged that they don't even realize there is a problem to begin with, let alone that they're contributing to it.

So while I talk about these things I'm not going to sound too happy about it, but guess what? I'm talking about what it feels like being treated like a child as an adult, being constantly interrupted, having other people take credit for something I just said five minutes ago. Any normal person would be upset about these things, so I'm not interested in the backlash for being an angry feminist. We live in a world of enduring gender inequality and oppression where women's voices are not as welcome as men's in the workplace, in public space, or even sometimes in their own kitchens.

So no, I'm not happy about. It's not a happy topic, no need to serve it with a smile.

Now then...onto the article...

Mansplain

Though I have heard it ill-defined as any time a man corrects a woman, this is not what it means to mansplain, nor is necessarily mansplaining every time a man explains something to a woman. While the term is usually credited to Rebecca Solnit for her 2008 essay Men Explain Things To Me, she maintains that she didn't coin it. The experience she describes, however, does serve to illustrate mansplaining perfectly. The correct definition is as follows:


When a speaker (usually a man) explains something to someone (usually a woman) in a condescending manner. The speaker need not be an expert in the matter (and often isn't) but assumes that he is more knowledgeable in the subject area than the woman he proceeds to explain it to. Though the presumption is usually unconscious, it is based solely on gender. The experience of condescension is often punctuated by the woman in question actually being knowledgeable herself in these instances of excessive explanation, equally, if not more so than the speaker.

In Men Explain Things To Me Solnit recalls a conversation following a book party in which a man insisted that they talk about her writing. He inquired about her writing as though he'd been asking a grade school student how their flute lessons had been going. When she started to talk about a book she'd recently published he not only interrupted her but did so to talk about a very important book on the same topic that had been reviewed by the NY Times, one that she just had to read. She was so thrown by this that she lingered a bit in self-doubt before realizing that he'd been talking about her book! Her friend, however, did realize what was happening and said "that's her book!" three times before it sunk in for him. It turns out that he hadn't even read the oh, so important book he just had to tell her about in an effort to make her aware of the real writing she should be aspiring toward. He'd only read the review. Perhaps that's why he didn't realize he'd been mansplaining to none other than the author herself?

PERSONAL MANSPALIN STORIES

The "Well, Actually" Mansplain:

Some three years ago I was sitting in a cafe proof-reading Slut: Declaring war on a dirty word, when a man looked over my shoulder and asked me what I was doing. First, I knew right away that he didn't really care what I was doing, this was just an ice-breaker to flirt, but I was in a good mood and admittedly much more tolerant of being flirted with at inconvenient times back then. When I told him that I was proof-reading an article, he took one look at the title and proceeded to spend the next twenty minutes telling me about his world travels, his experience with monks, and the fact that there is no word for, oh say, "asshole" in their language. "Actually, it isn't about the word," he told me. "It is about the need for it. You don't declare war on the word, you attack the culture that needs it." Mind you that had he bothered to read the article he would have discovered that's exactly I'd done. But he had no interest in what I'd written and, in that, what I thought or had to say. What he was interested in doing was hearing himself speak as he arrogantly presumed to tell me how best to redraft the article he hadn't even skimmed.

The "Didn't Catch Your Sarcasm" Mansplain:

In a text conversation following a first date, a man made reference to my apparent multi-talents by saying, Well aren't you a renaissance woman. I jokingly replied, I'm not that old! followed by a classic lol. I thought the "lol" would indicate that I was kidding. Joking. Being a smart ass. Unfortunately the man responded by saying, No, when someone is called a renaissance person it means they are good at a lot of different things.

My sarcasm relied on the fact that the term renaissance man is pretty common knowledge for anyone outside of grade school. Unfortunately he missed it because he wholeheartedly believed that I - a 29 year old woman, and I writer at that - had never heard the term before. But not to worry. Mr. Smarter-Than-You to the rescue...

The "Dictionary" Mansplain:

I'm having trouble coming up with a specific example of this because it happens so often. But picture this...

You're sitting in a place that is noisy. Maybe it's an outdoor concert. Maybe it's a movie theater. Maybe it's a loud, crowded bar. The person you're with says something. It's noisy, so you didn't hear all of what they said. So you do what most people do when they didn't hear something. You squint your eyes (though this doesn't help you hear), lean forward a little, usually favoring the ear on your dominant side, and say (a little too loud) some variation of, "What was that?" I've been known to also say a simple, "What?" or even, "I'm sorry?".

And then, instead of repeating what they'd just said, the person speaking assumes not that you didn't hear them, but that you didn't understand them. They then proceed to define a part of what they just said. It might be a word they assume you don't know the definition of. It might be a current event they assume you hadn't heard about yet. It might be an author they assume you don't know, or a movie they assume you haven't seen, stop me anytime.

Because even in a loud, crowded place where people are asked to repeat themselves all the time, the speaker is quicker to assume your ignorance than the obvious.

(Lifehack: To avoid this altogether I've started saying, "Say that again?" This way I'm not required to give a "The issue was that I didn't hear you, not that I didn't understand," retort post-mansplaination.)

The "Here, Let Me Help You" Mansplain:

As I was closing out my personal bar tab, a man interrupted me.
"Want me to show you a trick?" he asked.
He then proceeded to explain to me that an easy way to calculate 10% was to move the decimal.
I was 25 years old at the time.
The same man also witnessed me opening a can of chicken broth and, because I was wielding the can opener in a fashion I can only describe as south paw, came up behind me and said, "Do you want me to show you how to use it?"
A can opener. Did I want him to show me...an adult...how to use...a can opener.

Mansplaining essentially attempts to relegate the (usually) woman who is on the receiving end of it to a child-like position by assuming her ignorance - as offering these "teaching" moments necessitates the presumption of her ignorance on whatever matter is being addressed - and/or doing so from a position that assumes her deference to/admiration of the speaker, even (and usually) when there is no basis for such a viewpoint. This puts women in a position of not being taken seriously in situations, or not being taken as seriously as the surrounding men or man she is speaking to, for no other reason but her gender, as well as asking her to automatically take a man's knowledge at face value based on his gender requiring no other evidence than such. No matter his merit, he is still considered the authority in all plausible forms of the exchange, even when he is wrong and finds himself corrected by her. He might fancy himself impressed in such a moment. The presumption of authority is always there, even when the knowledge to back it is lacking.

Similarly, I've also had more than one man proclaim that I am exceptionally smart, only to explain that I am smart because I know things that they do not, or have proven them wrong on occasion. So these men have automatically used themselves as the rubric for which to measure my intelligence against? How arrogant is that?!

This is all a very clinical, academic description of mansplaining. In practice it basically means being considered inferior in discussions with and by people who have no right to consider you thus. When someone tells you something you already know it is invalidating, because they assumed your ignorance, not your intelligence. When strangers tell you what you "should" do with your life, or job, or even what movie or TV show you "should" watch (because screw your preferences, they know best what cultural value you would derive from the viewing) it completely negates your sense of self, as your "self" was never considered. You become merely a sounding board for whomever is speaking to you. They could be speaking to anyone else. It doesn't matter that it's you, so long as you smile, nod, appear gracious and promise to consider their well meant advise, or thank them for the "interesting" information. When what you say doesn't matter, and what you think doesn't matter, and above all when what you know doesn't matter - despite knowing a lot, often more than those deciding your knowledge irrelevant! - then in effect you don't matter.

That is what mansplaining does to women. Makes us feel irrelevant.


Hepeat

As per the former, in instances where misogyny can invisibly dominate conversational relations between the genders, a woman's words are not always heard in the same light, with the same weight, as a man's.

One phenomenon that highlights this kind of occurrence is the hepeat. A hepeat has occurred when a woman says something that is ignored. It could be a declarative sentence. It could be a suggestion. It could be an idea. Whichever, it is ignored by her listeners. Until - and sometimes only seconds have gone by between! - a man repeats whatever she has just said. And alas, his words are celebrated like the second coming. I am not talking about communicating the same idea but with a quantifiable difference in style, verbiage or interpersonal communication skills. I am talking about literally just repeating the sentence, suggestion or idea that flew quietly under the radar. And, of course, not crediting the original source.

Examples:

MAN 1: These sexual harassment allegations are crazy right now

MAN 2: Tell me about it. Every week there's a new list.

WOMAN: And apparently the Trump allegations are back - 14 women.

MAN 2: The good news is, at least something is finally being done about these old, privileged guys being absolute creeps.

MAN 1: It's too bad it's only hitting the Democrats. Al Franken resigning, and all while Trump's still in office.

MAN 2: Yeah, but he's catching heat too. More women have come forward.

MAN 1: Oh yeah?

MAN 2: Yeah, like 14 different women...

This happens so often in casual conversation I can't even tell you. I can't tell you how many times I've found myself repeating the same sentence verbatim, if only to make sure my voice works, to see my words go unacknowledged. That must not have been very interesting, I think, except that ten minutes later a man says the same thing and now it's a conversation topic. So one could still say that I'm not interesting, but not because of my ideas, but because I'm the one that has them, which are two very different things. The former may encourage one to just...read more. The latter (short of a gender transition) one can do nothing about.

Often - and this may just be my personal experience - I find that the man who repeats what you've said without crediting you often glances over at you while speaking, or once the topic has picked up. Does he know he repeated exactly what you said before, or is the glance only subconscious, as though your words only managed to register on the outskirts of his brain, like advertisements on the train?

The world may never know.

The worst part is that when one points out that this is happening it often makes their words even less prioritized, because now rather than casually participating in the conversation like everyone else, they are demanding to be heard. And making demands on feminist grounds? - not a popular move, miss lady.


Hephrase

This one seems minor, but really it's not. One may argue that this is a very particular type of mansplain. The hephrase occurs when a woman says something, and a man takes it upon himself to put what she has said into his own words. Except...

Granted, that there are some people who just need to do this no matter what. Usually it occurs more in classroom settings in this regard and is attributed to these people being auditory learners; only by repeating and sort of explaining a concept aloud "in their own words" can they feel secure in their understanding of it.

What I'm describing is more about dominance. This can be observed when a woman starts a conversation and a man rephrases what she has just said in his own words, effectively resetting the entire conversation so he is leading it, and it's happening on his terms. 

You may be hesitant to accept my view and to this I respond, prove me wrong. Go observe. Give it two weeks. Make it a point to listen to conversations that lack gender difference. Listen to men talking to men, women talking to women, and observe the flow of conversation. Then listen to inter-gender conversation. And observe this phenomenon:

A woman speaks, says something, and a man rephrases it as if to say, so you mean, and does this as though to clarify the parameters of the conversation before it can continue. Usually he is interrupting the woman in order to do this. Sometimes by interjecting in the middle of her sentence, sometimes by interjecting while she is taking a breath between sentences but it is clear that she isn't finished speaking.

Two notable things are happening here.

The first being dominance. By rephrasing her point in his own words, and asking her to say "yes, I mean that..." and continue from there, the man has essentially taken charge of the conversation. It's like a mansplain and a hepeat in one blow. He has basically asserted the topic of conversation such that it is happening in his words, on his terms, via his understanding of the matter, and made her a participant in his conversation rather than participating in hers.

The second thing to note is that, as in many of these gender asymmetric conversational situations, it forces her onto the defensive. It forces her to either say, "yes, that's what I meant," or "no, that's not what I meant" but with either choice she is made to respond or one might go as far as to say answer to him. If she is busy defending an idea, she isn't articulating new ones. He becomes the driver of the conversation, the authority in the conversation, and she ends up trying over and over to clarify the point that he continues to derail and take his own way.

It is most noticeable when the woman doesn't go along with the hephrase and instead asserts her point again, ala No, that isn't what I said, or No, that isn't what I meant. Rather than simply listening or - god forbid - asking a question, the man will often attempt, again, to summarize her meaning in his own words, and then again, and again, until finally caving and asking in exasperated form - "well then what do you mean?" Leave alone that had he just allowed her to speak in the first place her meaning would have been perfectly clear.

Example:

WOMAN: So I was watching this great movie about the philosophy of time as a linear concept versus a continuum, where...  

MAN: So time travel. 

WOMAN: Well, no. It wasn't about time travel, per say. It was exploring the idea of whether time moves in one, constant direction or...

MAN: Yeah, I know what you mean. That's the idea of time travel. Like Einstein's theory that...

And so on and so forth. 

The argument I'm making here is that by doing this in conversation, the man in the conversation ends up hijacking the conversation rather than participating in a woman's proposed topic of discussion. Often, even if the woman stands her ground, because this tension inevitably creates a negative and disagreeable atmosphere the topic is often dropped in mutual frustration and, whether not it was his conscious intention, the woman has been successfully silenced.


Himterrupting

A significant amount of research has been done to understand how the socialization of boys and girls impact the conversations the genders have when they become men and women. One study shows that,  in public space, particularly in business, women speak 25% of the time whereas men speak 75% of the time. What's more is that women are perceived as talking "too much" when they begin speaking 30% of the time. Regarding interruptions, a recent study looked at 10 male-male conversations, 10 female-female conversations, and 11 female-male conversations. In the same sex conversations, there were 7 instances of interruptions. In the mixed sex conversations, however, there were 48 instances of interruptions, 46 of them in which the man interrupted the woman.  (Source)

Just a quick statistical plug before anyone tries to tell me that it's all in my head. (More on that later.)

What sucks about being interrupted when you are a woman is that you have been taught from the time you could understand words - in fact this was probably the method of teaching you words - that little girls are made of sugar, and spice, and everything nice. Nice. We are supposed to be nice. Which means that when I man interrupts you, you let him. The obligatory feeling of being a "lady", and being polite, prohibits you from rudely interrupting the person who rudely interrupted you and, if you dare to, you become the problem for aggressively pointing it out!

Standard interruption takes many forms, from people who interrupt randomly because their phone went off and proceed to narrate their text conversations like court stenographers, to people who abruptly proclaim that they have to use the bathroom and run for it in the middle your sentence.

Himterruption, however, is a special breed, and it usually takes two forms.

The Elaborator

This happens when the himterrupter has particular difficultly with listening. Somehow the act of listening gets confused with the act of being told or taught something, and the himterrupter seemingly cannot stand the idea of you teaching him something. Simply allowing you to speak may give you the false impression that he isn't already knowledgable on the subject you're talking about, and that just won't do, so he finds a way to interject his knowledge into the conversation by way of interrupting you in order to either define a word you've used, add a detail, or elaborate on an idea.

For example:

WOMAN: My umbrella broke yesterday. It was so frustrating. I was walking to the bank, which is usually a quick seven minute walk away, but because of the sleet —

MAN: Oh, you mean when there's a mix of rain, snow, and sometimes hail?

WOMAN: Yes...sleet.... Anyway, because of the sleet it took forever.

It could also look like...

WOMAN: I can never decide what the wear when the weather is like this and the hail is only intermittent.

MAN: Oh, you mean sleet?

[woman sighs audibly]

WOMAN: Yes, sleet. Anyway...

Why is this a problem? In both cases, while the man was technically responding to what was being said, he wasn't responding in a way that contributed to the conversation. If anything the conversation was derailed as in both instances the woman had to get back to her point after the interjection. In the first example the woman is trying to tell the story of her umbrella breaking. In the second she is talking about the challenges of dressing for inconsistent weather. But in both cases, he responds in a way that completely ignores the overall point of the story, and is clearly meant to do nothing more than demonstrate his understanding of the word sleet. These kind of interruptions are absolutely gratuitous.

The Subject Changer

Similar to the elaborator, the subject changer is seemingly incapable of listening. He is much more comfortable being the speaker. He is also much more comfortable talking about what he wants to talk about, and has no qualms about outright changing the subject.

Read any article about being a good listener. Whether the context of the article is about being a better listener in a corporate environment, in a parent-child relationship, or in an intimate partnership, one of the steps is always to essentially paraphrase what the speaker has just said when you respond, if only to demonstrate that you were listening. Another suggestion is to ask a question about what the person has just said in order to encourage them to elaborate.

Subject changers fail on both counts.

If you have lived in the world for a certain amount of time it is very obvious when a person is at the very beginning of a story. But subject changers do not acknowledge these obvious signs when they choose the himterrupt. Instead...

WOMAN: I had to worse morning yesterday. I was walking to the bank and the weather completely destroyed by umbrella.

MAN: Yeah, I didn't have a great morning yesterday either. I thought I was going to get a lot done, but it turned out to be rather unproductive. First, I woke up later than expected...

Sure, it may seem like the man is responding on topic. Technically. But he doesn't seem to be interested in what the woman just said. He doesn't even acknowledge it besides using the topic vaguely as a springboard into his own story. And what his response definitely doesn't do is encourage her to elaborate. Rather, his response assumes that she is done speaking and encourages her to listen to him.

Lifehack: While calling out someone for interrupting may feel validating, it often just ends up being the beginning of an argument or an opportunity for the person to deflect and proclaim - even if they talk significantly more than you to begin with - that you interrupt them equally or even more than they interrupt you. In a relationship you care about it makes sense to be direct about it. However, if I find myself in a conversation with a man who is relative stranger, and he tries to interrupt me, I just keep talking like I don't notice.

Women are so often interrupted that people don't think twice about it, not even when it's mid-sentence, and we just stop talking and allow it to happen.

Don't. The person interrupting you will probably persist at first, because they expected you to stop talking when they started. But at some point (and it takes longer for some than others) they'll realize that you aren't being rude by continuing to speak, they're being rude by trying to push you to stop by talking over you, and they'll back down. It's noisy game of chicken at first, but trust me, it makes a point.


Himpathy

This is a word that I first read used by Kate Manne in Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny. It is society's tendency to side with men when issues of sexism and misogyny are brought to light, and both men and women are guilty of this.

Look no further than the recent sexual allegations that started the #MeToo campaign. Women were publicly called out for hearing of allegations against men in Hollywood and immediately saying they doubt they'd behave that way, couldn't believe it, etc. which of course is an indirect way of saying that the woman who came forward was lying. When the allegations against Bill Cosby first came out, even when there were well over a dozen, TV personalities were still grappling with it. I don't want to believe it, they'd say, but why would so many different women lie? It happens on college campuses, too, when a boy rapes a girl and the school minimizes it to be some lesser offense, with a lesser punishment, or no punishment at all. And defends this decision by talking about what a bright boy he is with such a promising future, his whole life ahead of him. And wouldn't it be a shame if all that were taken away? To say nothing of what happens to a person's whole life after they are raped. Forget all about that - he's the victim now...

That is himpathy, and it is part of the paradox of living in a time when the patriarchal society is not yet dismantled.

It isn't just women's voices that are not as welcome in public space (or private space, if we're honest). Our issues aren't either. Just look at how much backlash one can receive for simply being a feminist. It is somehow seen as a dirty word, and even though gender inequality is still blatantly problematic, advocating for equality is misconstrued as an effort to take over.

Himpathy stems from the fact that because right now the scales are imbalanced in favor of men, balancing them inevitably means that some things will be taken away from men. Nothing unjust, mind you, but certainly some privileges that currently come at women's expense. Himpathy may arise in conversation when women do speak out against any of the above conversational habits, particularly if they call it out while a conversation is taking place as opposed to talking about it at a separate time (because most men are very comfortable talking about these things in an abstract way, but less so when being called out for the same behaviors).

Remember when I brought up not just a man's tendency to interrupt women, but a woman's tendency to just stop talking? That is a benefit of social inequality that men currently enjoy, whether or not they realize it - the lack of pushback from women when they are dominated in conversation. Add to that the fact that women are taught not only to be passive when enduring these things, but friendly. Ideally the patriarchy would have women stop talking immediately when interrupted, listen intently, and then later lean in intently and ask a question that encourages her interrupter to keep talking.

In studies regarding "interrupters" it has been revealed that some people - more likely to be men - are just more likely to interrupt anyone. They do it as a way to communicate excited participation in conversations. However, this tends not to damage male-male conversational balance in the same way that it does male-female balance because men overwhelmingly do not yield the floor as readily as women do. Men are more likely to interrupt back or to never stop speaking in the first place. But this also seems to be why, especially in business environments, even men who are prone to interrupt are more likely to interrupt women than other men. One writer described it as an instinct that he doesn't really notice unless he thinks about it, like instinctively opting to sit next to women in public spaces as opposed to men because since women tend to draw themselves inward, yield the armrest, etc. men know that means more space for themselves. In conversation, whether it is happening at a conscious level or not, men instinctively understand that interrupting a woman is less likely to result in a shouting match and more likely to result with them winning the floor.

Thus it becomes an expectation, and if you've ever had a man react with indignation if you've failed to sit with both your elbows on your stomach on the subway to make more space for his elbows as he plays a game on his phone, you understand what happens when such expectations - however unfair - are not met. Himpathy is what happens.

So what does himpathy look like? It can definitely take several different forms, but here are a few notable ones:

1. Gaslighting
2. Objection to Female Aggression
3. Male Behavior Defense

Gaslighting

The simple that didn't happen. Let's say you call out someone for mansplaining, and let's flesh out the situation for a moment. You both work in video editing, and he makes a comment about using a green screen for a certain type of scene. You don't agree that it would be the best approach, so you voice that opinion. Rather than arguing why it would work, he explains to you that all you would have to do is setup the green screen, record the scene in front of it, then later use the key effect to drop in the desired background. Perhaps you respond like this:

"I know how Final Cut works, but thanks for the mansplain."

"I didn't mansplain! I was just explaining..." How Final Cut works. To a video editor. Yes. Exactly.

This is going to happen, and sometimes it can be even worse than the offense itself. Moving away from conversational oppression for a moment, this happens a lot in terms of harassment. Both men and women alike seem to be more comfortable believing that sexual harassment is not or did not happen in a given circumstance, and it is not uncommon to be talked out of discomfort regarding something that you know is not appropriate. How many times has someone said something a little off color to you that you knew had sexual undertones, but everyone told you it was imagined. They were just being friendly, or you were just too sensitive, or they don't know how to talk to women. Only for it to become perfectly clear later on when a much more obvious line was crossed.

If it comes down to he said, she said (and even though gun control shifted the national conversation, I still believe that this will continue to be worked on...) his side is more likely to by sympathized with, while she is more likely to be disbelieved, and gaslighting is a way of making her disbelieve herself.

Crying Aggressive Female

Here is a real life example no more than a week old. I was at a bar pretty late and some guys I'd been introduced to that night were discussing the Trump presidency. That's a really emotional topic for me, so I kept my head turned and stayed out of it. But one of them turned to me and directly asked me whether I would want to see Trump impeached if it meant that Pence would become president, or more directly, who I thought was more dangerous and why. Now ideally I'd rather neither of them were president but rather than change the subject I started to respond directly, only to be interrupted the minute it was clear that my opinion differed from the man who had prompted me to join the discussion. Which was evident in...well...my very first sentence.

I let it go the first time. Let him finish his interjection. Then continued on with my point. The second time I started to say, "You actually just interrupted me again, would you mind letting me finish," but I didn't even get to say that because he interrupted that sentence too! At which point I pointed excitedly and said, "There! You just did it again!" To which he responded, "Okay, okay, no need to be a bully."

Let's examine...

Ignoring altogether the sexist implications of inviting a woman who isn't paying attention to you into a conversation by way of asking her opinion only to cut her off at every turn (the obvious conclusion being you just wanted her attention, you could give two shits what she has to say). Repeatedly interrupting someone is a way of asserting dominance. Talking over someone is a way of asserting dominance. I merely point out that those things are happening to me and suddenly I'm the bully?!

This happens to women all the time when they call out instances of sexism and misogyny. The situation gets flipped so that they are somehow in the wrong simply for calling out the wrong.

To use another personal example, now in reference to harassment: I was sitting in a bar (a lot of my stories start this way. Don't judge me. I like karaoke...) after coming from a jazz show so I was a bit dressed up and receiving a lot of attention. A man I didn't know walked in and was behaving in such a familiar way toward me that for a while I thought it was someone I knew and just couldn't place. I checked in with a friend who confirmed that he wasn't a regular (each of us was), and I was sure I didn't know him from any place else. Though there were other openings at the bar he chose the narrow space directly next to me to try and order a drink. Then apologized for getting too close by putting a hand on my shoulder than lingered too long. I told him it was fine but wasn't shy about pulling away from the touch. Next he tried to get the bartender's attention and - big surprise - his hand brushed against me "by mistake". He explained that he was so sorry by placing that hand on my knee. I gingerly picked it up like it was dirty tissue and dropped it into space by way of removing it. Oh no, did I just deliberately touch you without your permission? said his facial expression, and he started to apologize again. I saw the hand descending, its current trajectory set to land even higher on my thigh. This time I caught it.

"I understand that you're sorry," I said, "but I need for you to find a way to say that without touching me."

Just then the bartender arrived and this man launched into a whole sob story about how he was just here trying to order a drink and I was being so mean to him and treating him like a creep. Thankfully I knew the bartender and had witnesses to his behavior, but the point is that he tried to flip the situation into one where I was the problematic patron. All because I'd politely told him to keep his fucking hands off my legs.

See? I could have been mean if I'd wanted to...

Defending Male Behavior by Blaming Female Behavior

This form of himpathy amounts to men conceding that a behavior is problematic and unfair to women, then following it up with a "but". And the "but" is usually something that women do that provoke that behavior. It may even be followed up with, "and that's not an excuse, but..."

The thing about this it sort of is an excuse. It's a defense. It's a way of acknowledging the bad behavior but essentially saying that, as it's women who are motivating and causing it, that really it's women's fault and on us to change our behavior.

Examples:

Yeah, men do interrupt a lot, but only because women talk so much.

Yeah, it sucks that guys act creepy in bars, but women are so cold and really hard to approach so that's how we have to break the ice.

Yeah, it sucks that women get catcalled, but how do you think men feel being ignored on the street? We're people too.

Yeah, it sucks that the way rape is handled legally makes it so hard for women such that so much crime goes unreported. But on the other hand, women do lie. And that's a really big offense to be falsely accused of so...would you rather have innocent men in jail for rape?

My answer to that is no, obviously, but I also don't want to live in a world of guilty rapists on the streets unbeknownst to anyone but their victims, many of whom will not report their crimes because of the unlikelihood of them being successfully convicted.

I also don't want to live in a world where men are socialized to be dominant and women are socialized to be passive. I don't want to live in a world where men become agitated when they listen to women talk for "too long", even when that too long is 40% less than they talk themselves. I don't want every conversation I have to be peppered in with definitions and explanations that are needless, because a man didn't understand something I said, and rather than asking me a question he assumed I must be confused about something or other and this proceeded to explain. And I really, really don't want to live in a world where the best way for me to articulate an idea is to write an article or send a text or email because that's the only way I'm going to be able to get my point across without someone speaking over me, raising a finger to indicate that they want to speak over me, shaking their head aggressively to indicate that they disagree with me when I haven't even finished my damn sentence yet, or otherwise rudely interrupting me!

::takes deep breath::

I don't want to hear things like "she talks too much" and while I'm proud that people are calling out these behaviors and outright saying "let her speak", I look forward to a time when that isn't necessary.

I look forward to a time that when she speaks, she is heard.








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