Experiencing racism as a multi-racial person

*Disclaimer: This is a short story about my personal experiences, and I in no way wrote this to make broad generalizations about any race.*

I’m half-asian and half-white, so people are racist to me approximately half the time.

More specifically, because I’m mixed, people have no idea what the fuck I am, so the first thing that usually happens is they ask what my ethnicity is, usually in the most eloquent way possible: “What are you?”

Now, let’s stop there and think about the value of word choice for a minute. To be a minority, even partially, immediately demotes you – a person – to a “what”. This is a good example of a microagression: “Racial microaggressions are brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults towards people of color.”

Anyway, back to the question at hand. “What are you?”

To which I will reply, “human,” hoping to deter them.

It never works. They always want me to elaborate.

“No, no, like where are you from?”

“Seattle.”

It is amazing how many people will continue pressing the matter.

“No, like, ok…” here it comes…  “you’re not white. You look like you have something else in you.”

There it is.

I am not so sure why people are so fascinated with ethnic origins (this is not a fascination that I share), but from my point of view, people are pretty obsessed with identifying and labeling races, like chocolates in a variety box. They get upset when one is ambiguous, without a clear label. They must know. So they ask. Rudely.

It is annoying, to say the least.

As for people who know I’m a halfie, plenty of asian jokes ensue.

But I have never heard a white joke in my life. 

Keep in mind, I am exactly one-half asian, one-half white. If racism against white people exists, wouldn’t I be experiencing that as well?

No. Because for all of those naysayers out there, there is no such thing as racism against white people. Take it from somebody straddling the fence.

Now I get the usual Asian driver jokes. People ask me why am I not good at math.  why am I not using chopsticks at the Pho restaurant, why am I not proficient in the martial arts, why can’t I “speak Asian”.

I get asked how to make fried rice, but never bread pudding. My friends will do mock-Asian accents, then apologize to me when they realize I am standing there, half a person of Asian heritage. That’s fine, I’m not offended. I do mock-british accents all the time too, without feeling the need to turn around an apologize to every white person in sight.

Sometimes I wonder if instead of being half-white, what if I was mixed with a different type of minority; would the racism double instead of halve? Or would people just pick a “side”?

Obama is a halfie too. He’s African-american, English, irish, and Kenyan. But you know what comes up in the Google suggest bar when I started typing in “Obama heritage”?

“Obama heritage ARAB”

Le sigh. Oh America.

Adventures in Online Dating

I often say that publishing writing online is akin to publishing naked photos online.

It freaks me the fuck out. It puts me in a very vulnerable position, open to scrutiny, criticism, misinterpretation, and yes, compliments too. Plus, my parents read my blog, which can be awkward sometimes.

With that in mind, please enjoy this pointless drivel of a metaphorical striptease.



“Online dating is for people who don’t know how to meet people in real life,” I snidely chimed to Alex and Christine, while demurely swirling a robust red blend in my water glass.

olivia pope

They had reasonably suggested that I was still single not because of my own shortcomings, but due to my work situation (one employee in a company of – at the time – three), and my perchance for hanging out in dive bars. To them, the obvious solution was to get online. I refused.

I stuck to this sentiment that online dating was for social goobers – despite the fact that Alex & Christine (both who have online-dated) are attractive, well-adjusted, socially competent women like myself – for close to two years before breaking down and setting up an OK Cupid profile.

Surprisingly (or maybe not) online dating ultimately ended up being an exploration of the self, more so than an exploration of suitors.

The first thing I learned is that online dating was really good for my ego.

“It’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet of men!” I squealed in delight to Christine, approximately 36 hours and 50+ messages from dudes later. “I see the light! Why didn’t I do this before?”

The second thing I learned was how to be picky at the buffet.

There was the guy who was the vanilla ice-cream of men. There was the guy who made a fat joke and then remarked on his desire to shoot raccoons  with a BB gun. There was the guy who invited me to a baseball game (the tickets were supplied by his boss), and then was too cheap to shell out $6 for a watered-down beer.

There was the date that went incredibly well until the guy threw up and passed out on my bathroom floor. There was the guy that pursued me like an over-eager puppy – despite my polite attempts to communicate that he needed to cool it – until I had to send him a “break up” text.

There was the guy that I actually hit it off with. We dated for a month or two, until he began to slow-fade me.

Let me be very clear about something: I can fucking tell when you’re slow-fading me. I will give you the benefit of the doubt for a few weeks, but realistically, you are not fooling anyone. You are just being an asshole.shoshonna

For a while he rebuffed my invitations to hang out, then stopped replying to texts altogether (always with the texting), until I told him “it seems like you’ve lost interest, which is fine, but gradually disappearing is rude and cowardly.” Suffice to say, being called rude & cowardly did get a response from him.

There was the guy that treated me like a stop-n-go, then months later “humbly beseeched” for my forgiveness.

“Maybe he realized afterwards how cool you are, and he regrets it,” my friend Jackie mused.

“Maybe holiday party season is coming up, and he doesn’t want it to be awkward,” I shot back.

There was the guy who stopped talking to me after I had drunkenly called him to hang out, then told him “you’re the worst” when he declined.

Needless to say, while the buffet has been immensely entertaining to sample, I found myself walking away hungry.

girls

“That’s funny, because I wouldn’t peg you as hard-to-date”, my friend Marco told me as I relayed my dating escapades to him.

“Maybe it’s because they can tell you hate men,” Christine suggested at a girls night out, as I lamented that even Charles Manson had a significant other, but I did not.

For the record, I do not hate men.

“You have another ten years (I’m 23) before you should start freaking out”, my sister consoled me. She recently got engaged, prompting a barrage of wedding-fever-esque commentary from my parents & grandparents about how “Sophie’s wedding is next” and “the girls’ grandchildren shouldn’t be too far apart in age”.

My awkward smile has been getting a lot of face time around my parents.

But as I try to get to the root of my dating woes (is it me? is it them?), it’s hard not to feel down on yourself when every romance dissolves right around the two-month mark.

big girl pants

I guess two months is the amount of time it takes to realize that I am a psycho that will blog about you.

But in my defense, I have exercised  an enormous amount of self-restraint in keeping mum about their sexytime behaviors. So there’s that.

How do I conclude this striptease of my admittedly hilarious, yet totally depressing online dating stories?

The third thing I’ve learned from online dating: How to be my authentic self.

As I looked for a common denominator for why I had failed so miserably at love, the one thing I could put my finger on was a horrible one:

Me.

I was the common denominator.

It could be that I dress like a total bum. It could be that I stoppped wearing makeup. It could be that I’m a smoker, which is gross, or a vegetarian, which is inconvenient, or that I don’t want kids, which is for many men “pointless”. It could be because I’m an angry feminist. To which I will say; unless you are a complete fucking idiot, it is impossible to be a happy feminist. It could be because I CrossFit, which some people find butch and threatening. I could be because I’m “the most opinionated girl ever” (according to a shoe salesguy, who had only heard my opinion on the shoes in his store, but nonetheless parroted a phrase that I’ve been hearing for the vast majority of my life).

But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter.

“I’m going to throw myself a perpetual bachelorette party,” I told my sister and her boyfriend (now fiancee) as we waited for our table at Homeroom in Oakland. “Every year that I’m a bachelorette, I get another party.”

They think I’m kidding, using humor to deflect my inner hurt at being so incredibly accomplished, yet so incredibly single.

But I’m not.

Perpetual bachelorette party, here I come.

more-wine

Low Wages are Slowly Strangling the Creative Class

Income inequality is going to be a defining issue of our generation, no doubt. But one issue I think isn’t getting enough attention, possibly if not definitely from ignorance, is the mere existence of the creative class, and what the slow, drawn-out asphyxiation of the creative class really means.

Now, for a lot of people, why would you care about the Creative Class, a Marxist-sounding something you didn’t know exists? In fact,

What is the “Creative Class”?

The creative class, most simply put into words, are the artists, musicians, poets, writers, dancers, sculptors, etc. They can be rich, poor, undiscovered, wildly successful, or complete “failures” (by conventional societal standards). Not unlike runners, there is no requirement or certification to be a “creative” other than actively “doing” your creative thing. It is the restless group of people that cannot rest, cannot find fulfillment, unless they are pursuing their chosen art(s).

little shop of horrosNow, my inspiration for this post came from my good friend Alex, who had invited me to see a rehearsal of Little Shop of Horrors, a musical she’s in (also, I highly recommend Seattle-area folks go see it).

What stuck out to me was that this musical was on Bainbridge Island, a two-hour round-trip ferry ride from Seattle (but the ferry serves beer!).  A 3-hour practice for the cast amounted to a 5-hour time-suck in their days.

Not only that, but this show is unpaid. Well… for the cast at least.

All in all,  it totaled to a small group of highly dedicated artists sacrificing their time, effort, and money (for the commute) to be part of a small musical production.

And the most interesting thing about it? They were all happy. Not just happy. Ecstatic.

One cast member, Shani King, works four jobs: Coffee barista in West Seattle, Old Navy service rep, service person at Sweet Deal on Bainbridge Island, and she teaches dance once a week. “The fact that it takes four jobs to be able to survive, and then to do a show at the same time, is kind of ridiculous,” she says.

Four jobs is definitely ridiculous, but what was even more ridiculous to me was watching her go through a grueling rehearsal, with the knowledge in the back of my head that, unlike me, she’s probably not headed home to sip wine and relax at the end of the night.

So what do I mean when I say the creative class is dying in America?

usefulness of majorWell, something I remember vividly from my college admissions process, and I think still holds true today, is the devaluation of arts degrees. The idea that liberal arts degrees are a “waste of money” or have become “obsolete”. The idea that someone who dedicates oneself to deepening one’s knowledge of the arts is just wasting their time, and potentially a portion of your future paychecks.

But here’s what I always say at parties (and yes, I do say obnoxious shit like this at parties. I don’t know why people invite me anywhere. I really don’t):

The Civil War never would have happened if a fictional book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, had never been written. Because it’s not facts & science that changes minds, it’s irrational emotions. Feelings are what causes world-altering shifts in attitudes & culture.

Likewise, with our current climate change debates, it’s not the facts that prove icebergs are melting, therefore we should care. It’s photography like this, where 35,000 walrus’ need a place to rest in lieu of their preferred lounging areas (ice flows) melting, that are going to change public opinion and mobilize us in ways that a page full of numbers never could.

So when I say that the creative class, is important, you know I damn well mean it.

And when I say the death of the creative class is nothing less than a catastrophe, you know I damn well mean it.

How minimum wage is killing the creative class:

The blue line is annual earnings of a full-time minimum wage worker

The blue line is annual earnings of a full-time minimum wage worker

This subtitle’s meaning will immediately resonate with all creatives, and most likely confuse everyone else.
The creative class is the small subgroup of people who are so drawn to their art, they will die for it, with little to no recognition at all. Compare that to other subgroups that are motivated by fame (celebrities), power (politicians), or money (business people).

Now, for the creative class to actually create, certain things need to happen. For one, they need to not die of starvation, which means basic food & shelter is a must. They also need the flexibility known as “time” to actually create. I’m not sure if you knew this, but creating magnificent works of art & literature actually takes a good chunk of time out of every single day.

Historically, artists used to seek out “sponsors” (also known as patronage) who would support them while they created, and their sponsor was paid back with recognition and status. This system existed so that creatives could have the time & basic resources to refine their art, without being bogged down by pesky concerns such as supporting their basic human needs.

Enter the 40-hour workweek. A challenge, but still do-able.

Enter the stagnant minimum wage in America, that has lost value through inflation, while the prices of food, shelter, education, and other necessities have risen.

Enter the new, mostly American concept of “time debt”, that has come from people having to take multiple, low-paying jobs to pay for basic necessities. This puts such a time-squeeze on an individual, free time, sleep, productivity, and exercise all suffer.

minimum wage rent

Michelangelo probably would not have finished The Last Judgement on the Sistine Chapel if he was taking orders at four different Dunkin Donuts all over town for 70 hours a week, only to get paid barely enough to feed himself. If Michelangelo worked multiple minimum-wage jobs, he probably never would have created much of anything. He would have spent all non-working time commuting, sleeping, and freaking out.

Which is what’s happening to a lot of my creative friends right about now.

little shp of horror

Three talented women, part of the unpaid cast of Little Shop of Horrors

When I asked the cast of Little Shop of Horrors if they ever had to sacrifice pursuing their art just to survive, the answers varied, and were nothing short of amazing.

Alex stays at her waitress job, where her employers regularly violate employees rights (like not posting the schedule until one day before a shift, withholding pay, and charging their servers for their customers’ credit card processing fees), because she’s afraid if she goes to a different restaurant, they won’t give her the same hours that allow her to do musicals at night.

“I have a degree [in the arts], but I haven’t had any steady jobs in this line of work. It sucks because the kind of day jobs you get is coffee, or hospitality. And usually those are the jobs you get minimum wage for. Then taking time off of a minimum wage job to do a show where you get paid nothing is almost impossible. Having a degree in this, and trying to support myself are two completely separate things.”

-Alex Davis-Brazil

Meanwhile, the assistant stage manager, Eugene Price, put it succinctly: “I’ve generally had to make the choice between something that’s going to further my career, or something that’s going to pay me money. Generally, a minimum wage job that is going to pay me enough to live, doesn’t give me enough time to be creative. I’m lucky I have supportive parents, but that’s a luxury” (emphasis mine).

Yes, having supportive parents is a luxury, but it’s become increasingly clear that supportive parents my be a necessity, not just a luxury.

young-living-at-home

So are all Creatives doomed to live in poverty, or worse, with their parents for the rest of their lives?

(Please note: That was a joke. I do not actually think living in poverty is better than living with parents)

There are a few things we can all do. One is to start actually recognizing that the arts are, in fact, very important to society.

For instance, reading fiction actually teaches people how to be more empathetic through the practice of putting themselves in a different characters’ shoes. Photography does not just document the world, it actively changes it. We all can see how the documentary, Blackfish, is changing the public perception of SeaWorld in real-time. Rent, the musical, humanized and de-stigmatized HIV/AIDS, and taught us a powerful history lesson that American schools failed to do.

Another thing we can do is actively encourage the arts, via our wallets.

Yes, I know, nobody likes spending money when you can get things for free. Case in point: Downloading music on the internet. But hey! Tonight is Little Shop of Horrors’ “pay what you can” show. Maybe you should do more things like that. But actually pay. Don’t freeload.

The last thing you can do is – if this applies to your state – fucking vote to raise the minimum wage in the upcoming November midterm elections.  And don’t give me that “bad for jobs, bad for small businesses” bullshit. Just look at SeaTac.

An open letter to everyone who has told women “Don’t get too muscular”

This post was originally written as a guest post for Tony Gentilecore, and was first published on his blog here.


 

I have been strength training for about two years now. Before that, I was a starvation-dieter.

I began dieting around the age of 13 or 14. My freshman year of high school I discovered I no longer fit into size zero jeans and bam! Diet time. By the time I hit 21, the years of self-imposed malnutrition had left me at 100lbs, able to easily wrap my thumb & middle finger around my upper arm (“bicep” doesn’t seem like the appropriate word) and unable to open jars, heavy doors, or windows by myself.

Why am I telling you this?

During my seven years of starvation-dieting, I was never once told, “don’t get too thin”.

In contrast, during my two years of strength training I have been told, “don’t get too muscular” countless times.TG post 1

The first time it happened to me, I had excitedly been telling someone about my new squat PR. Weighing in at a (finally) healthy 125, I had just squatted 100lbs. I was in the middle of explaining  “my goal is a bodyweight back squat-” when I was interrupted with a “well, don’t get too muscular now”.

Being new to strength training, this crushed me.

For an awful few days it took my focus away from becoming stronger, and back to measuring myself by the gauge of “is my body pleasing for others to look at?”

After I got over it, my dismay turned into anger – no – absolute fury at this society in which 42% of girls 5-8 years old want to be thinner, and 10 million women are battling eating disorders (source), yet we hear the words “don’t get too muscular” far more often than “don’t get too thin.”

Now, while this unsolicited “advice” is generally never welcome nor appreciated, it brings up two issues: The encouragement of female weakness, and the lack of respect for female body autonomy.

One:  Culturally-encouraged female weakness

Let me tell you right now, women who strength train know how hard it is to build muscle. If you tell a woman who strength trains “don’t get too muscular” then congratulations! You have just ousted yourself as a totally ignorant fool who doesn’t even lift.

The problem is that women who don’t strength train don’t know how hard it is to build muscle, and so this phrase, “don’t get too muscular” will seriously deter them from ever picking up heavy things in the first place.

This is a big problem. Naomi Wolf explains it better than I ever could:

A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.”
― The Beauty Myth

When women strength train, it is an act of borderline social disobedience. “Don’t get too muscular” is the phrase of choice used by people who are threatened by strong women to put them “back in their place”. And it’s working.

We have three generations & counting of women who have been brainwashed into voluntarily physically debilitating themselves.  Three generations of women who have been more focused on losing weight than running for government. Three generations of women have would rather be thin than intelligent. Three generations of women that would rather let the men-folk open jars for them, rather than develop the strength to open jars for themselves.

Now, I am not advocating that people start going around, accosting teenage girls with desperate pleas of “don’t get too thin! Put some meat on dem bones!” But to be completely honest, I probably would have benefited very much if I had received the message “don’t get too thin” at some point in my adolescence.

So. If you are going to say anything to a woman about her body (which you shouldn’t be doing in the first place, as I am about to explain), “don’t get too thin” is 1000% preferable  over the completely moronic “don’t get too muscular”.

Two: Lack of respect for female body autonomy

blog 2Why do people think it’s appropriate to tell women what they can & can’t do with their bodies in the first place? What makes someone think it’s perfectly acceptable to tell a woman “don’t get too muscular”?

This is an issue that’s been going on since the dawn of time, with female body autonomy being disrespected from reproductive rights, to personal space in public places, to -yes – appearance, weight, & fitness.

Most tellingly, no woman – no matter what kind of body she has – is immune from invasive suggestions on how she should be caring for her body. Women who strength train are warned against getting too “bulky”, “muscular”, or (my absolute favorite) “manly”. Women who are on the larger side by far endure the most unwanted commentary. From people remarking on what’s in their shopping carts, to what they should order at a restaurant, to what type of exercise they should be doing, to what they should be wearing whilst exercising… it never stops. Even thin women can’t escape the self-appointed body police, who unhelpfully pester them to eat more because “men like women with curves”.

 

If you are a man, and the idea of a random passerby raising knowing eyebrows at your gut whilst commenting on your ice-cream cone sounds invasive and preposterous – that’s because it is invasive and preposterous. You are just lucky enough to not experience it every day. Sometimes multiple times a day.

Men, for the most part, do not have to entertain this type of “well-intentioned” advice, because people actually respect male body autonomy. This is something that women would like to enjoy as well.

The people who tell women what they should do with their bodies are, frankly, so arrogant they believe their “benevolent suggestions” are actually doing the woman a favor. Y’know, helping us be more attractive to potential mates.

This completely disregards the fact that women do not exist to be aesthetically pleasing for others, and we (this may surprise some) often do things for ourselves.

Which brings me full circle to my anecdote in the beginning, about the first time someone interrupted my squat-excitement to not-so-helpfully remind me to avoid bulky she-man status.

Women who strength train are doing it for themselves, not for you. Women who lift weights have already eschewed social norms by touching iron in the first place, and I guarantee they give negative fucks about your opinions on their bodies.

So next time you are tempted to “help” a woman by telling her not to deadlift things because you don’t like muscular women, remember that nobody cares about your stupid boner. Especially not the lady deadlifting 200lbs in the gym tank that says “GET SWOLE”.

But even more importantly than not telling this to women who already have the ability to overhead press your girlfriend, don’t say it to women who aren’t strength training yet (like your girlfriend).  Because chances are, with every “don’t get too muscular” a girl hears, weight gets added to the already-heavily weighted scales that tip women away from becoming strong, healthy, and powerful, and towards a life of cardio, carrot sticks, and misery. And no woman deserves that.

If you (or a lady-friend) are ready to start getting strong, I highly recommend Krissy Cagney’s Beginner Strength program. She is an extremely knowledgeable professional, but more importantly, Krissy embodies female empowerment and is the type of coach that can actually change a girl’s life for the better. 

Personal: Should I Start Online Dating?

Hi readers!

In lieu of my 2-years single anniversary (yes, I did take myself out on a date), I have decided to take matters into my own hands.

I had always considered online dating to be for people too socially awkward to meet people in real life.

However, at the age of 23, I have finally come to terms with the fact that  am too socially awkward to meet people in real life.

But online dating (or apps? Are those considered the same thing?) is not something I know too much about. Halp!

Please feel free to leave online dating advice, stories, and recommendations in the comments section.

Lord knows, I need all the help I can get.

 

online-dating_o_533911

Dress Coded: An Education on (unnecessary) Sexualization

dress-coded-1

When one Illinois middle school cluelessly decided to ban leggings & yoga pants because they were “distracting to the boys”, they probably didn’t have any idea it would be the catalyst to a national conversation about dress codes in school.

I mean, dress codes are like, so un-controversial. Until now.

Now, all sorts of interesting stories are surfacing. Girls wearing the same regulation gym outfits, but the curvier ones are getting dress-coded. Tall girls getting dress-coded for short garments, even though they’re finger-tip length, while short girls seem to not draw the same leg-bearing ire. One girl getting sent home from prom for wearing pants. Another girl was sent home from her homeschool prom because male chaperons said her dress was “causing impure thoughts”…for the teenage boys, of course.

So… Many interesting stories indeed.

The leggings ban irked me immediately for two reasons. The first being that these girls are in middle school, which means they are 11-14. Stop making them out to be devilish little nymphets, you creepy Humbert Humberts. These girls are not wearing yoga pants/leggings to show off the prepubescent shapeliness (ha!) of their backsides. The main reason girls (and adult women!) wear yoga pants is because they are heaven compared to the alternative:

Traditionally “cute”clothing for young women are notoriously restrictive and often painful.

The following images are from IMPRESSION, a photo series that shows what women wear, by the imprints left on their skin .  Here’s what form-fitting jeans look like:

jeans 2 impression jeans impressionjeans 3 impression

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does that look comfortable to you?  Because it looks pretty damn painful to me.

Keep in mind that loose or baggy clothing for girls is neither “popular” nor “attractive” and even borderline socially unacceptable. Professional women: would you show up to the office in a baggy pantsuit? No? Then why would these girls show up to school in baggy jeans?

(This is a bit off topic but…) I really bothers me how schools insist that girls wear bras (this starts at, like, age 8-14 when girls start budding. Many girls and/or their moms have embarrassing stories of female teachers quietly pulling them aside, and delicately suggesting that she get a training bra), but then simultaneously decree that bra straps are inappropriate. This is like insisting all boys must wear socks, but the tops of socks sticking out of the shoes are inappropriate.  It’s just… so arbitrary.

bra 1 impression bra 2 impression

Anyway, back to my point: the (un)comfort of women’s clothing. Obviously girls are going to pick yoga pants/leggings over form-fitting jeans that cut off the blood flow in the hips. It’s not about looking “sexy”. It’s about comfort. To twist this innocent reason around and treat these girls as if they are temptresses is incredibly disrespectful.

The second reason the leggings ban irked me was the “reasoning” behind it.

It’s “distracting to the boys”

Ugh. Every sane person on the internet immediately called bullshit on this incredibly sexist statement. The basic and very valid counterargument:  Girls clothing is not and should not be responsible for boys’ behavior.  I’m actually not going to go too deep into this. I know if you’re reading my blog then you probably understand & agree with the counterargument. I wanted to take this conversation in a bit of a different direction;

One. 

It’s yet another reminder, and reinforcement, that a girl’s appearance is more important, and demands more attention, than her other, non-visible qualities. You know, qualities like intelligence, perseverance, athletic ability, tenacity, creativity, a hard work ethic… attention to those attributes seem fade away rather quickly once an inch of skin is exposed.

Instead, it teaches her to view herself in a sexualized gaze, from an outsider’s point of view. At an increasingly young age, getting dressed in the morning turns from “does teal clash with yellow?” to “is this too much shoulder? Can someone see down this shirt? Would someone be able to look up this skirt on the stairs? What happens when I sit or bend over? I should test that.”

It’s not necessary a bad way of thinking when getting dressed. But it’s a pretty damn insidious sign of something ugly in our society, when middle-school girls are worrying about people looking down their shirts, and adjusting what they wear because of it.

And schools, the institutions that are supposed to be teaching our kids the importance of education, teach the opposite when they pull a girl out of class because her tank top straps are only two inches wide, not the three inches regulation. It doesn’t matter if she’s the valedictorian working towards the Ivy Leagues. If one day her shirt rides up a bit too much (maybe it shrunk unexpectedly in the wash?), she could get sent home to change (perfect attendance award? who cares!).

Two.

Female bodies are not public art.

They are not for your viewing pleasure.

Or viewing displeasure.

Schools are teaching girls, at a very, very young age, that they are on-display, and that is not ok. They’re normalizing some pretty scary behaviors that women must put up with almost every day:

  • receiving unsolicited comments from complete strangers on clothes and/or appearance
  • fielding “suggestions” from others on how dress, apply makeup, or even style hair
  • being forced to change clothes because someone in an authority position demands it
  • experiencing the unwanted & unnecessary sexualization of her body by older persons
  • responding to all of the above with compliance and politeness

Not only that, but for women, the feeling of being watched is unsettling but very common. I feel on-display when I’m waiting for the crosswalk sign to change. I feel on-display when I’m at the gym. I feel on-display at the grocery store… the list could go on. Usually it’s because I see the leers, the quick up-down flick of the eyes, the possible mental-undressing (many guys have told me apparently this is a common, almost knee-jerk mental reaction, to imagine a woman’s clothes off? Idk, let me know in the comment box). Its pretty jarring to hear that some schools have become one of those places that treat girls like they are objects on display.

I think what we’re hearing online is girls expressing that the strange, inconsistent enforcement of the dress codes is sexualizing them against their will. I’m pretty sure every single private schoolgirl has been subjected to some crass “naughty schoolgirl” joke, or unwanted attention, due to their uniforms.

It’s not the girls.

It’s not their uniforms.

It’s the outsider’s gaze sexualizing  them.

Right now schools seem to be doing a really good job of teaching girls being female in public means their bodies are on display for scrutiny. And schools are doing a really bad job of teaching boys that staring is rude (to put it lightly).

Until this changes in schools, I highly doubt the more mature, serious variations of unwanted sexualization – street harassment, sexual assault, and victim-blaming – will ever fully disappear.

All I have to say for now is:

If you’re a teenage girl in high school, it will all be over soon. You will graduate (or exit with grace), and enter the real world where nobody cares if leggings show the shape of your butt, because everybody wears leggings and everybody has butts. And there is nothing inherently sexual with either of those things.

These Female “Privileges” Suck (but also prove my point)

Dear Mark Saunders,

I see that you are a writer of men’s issues, and have taken it upon yourself to expose some of the insidiously institutionalized sexism that American men suffer from on a daily basis. Your article was titled “18 things females seem to not understand (because female privilege)” and I clicked on it, bracing for the usual dribble such as “we don’t like your pixie cuts”.

I was instead blown away by the incredible amount of  ignorance & misogyny I had unwittingly stumbled upon. Yes! A veritable goldmine of men’s issues & female privileges!

MRA

Although I’m not sure you are quite clear on the definition of a privilege.

Privilege: a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people. 

When I saw your post was a list of privileges I thought to myself, “oh good, something to remind me of how great it is to be a woman.” Too bad it was a list of literally the most pathetic, least useful privileges (& some non-privileges) ever. How ironic!

The vast majority of the list is unsupported by sound reasoning, logic, or statistics. So here I am fuming & taking 4 hours to refute an 18-point list that probably took you 30 seconds to write, when I could be watching Fringe on Netflix.

And, uh, Mark? You forgot the most important female privilege of all:

Yoga. Pants.

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Becoming a Lady-Beast

Hello! So with the flurry of media attention my blog has been getting out of late, I’m also getting a ton of questions from fellow ladies about what my exercise & diet plan looks like. I’m a huge advocate for lifting heavy, but it’s true I’ve also never gotten very specific about which lifts you should be doing. Hence…

Sophie’s Guide to Becoming a Lady-Beast

bear deadlift

The first step to becoming a lady-beast is to roar.

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Why You Should Care About Eating Disorder Awareness Week

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Hi all! Today I’m going to talk about something that strikes very close to home for an unfortunately large number of people: Eating Disorders.
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Workout Music!

Hi all! It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about anything substantial, but I feel like I need to post something new, so here’s a whole bunch of my workout music. I make these playlists for work, and the Cody audience seems to really like them, so I thought I’d share here too.
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