Short Not Sweet

The initial challenge of this project was to turn all my sordid, strange, Seattle non-relationships into one-paragraph stories. My roommate had been consoling me, “this was a chapter in your life, and tomorrow you’ll turn the page and start a new one.” To which I laughed (snorted, really) and replied, “he was just a paragraph.” In the beginning it seemed like reducing these men into a few sentences would be impossible, but interestingly enough, by the end I realized there wasn’t very much to say about them after all. 


Small Dogs. Spring – Summer 2013.

What I despised most about his ridiculous papillon was not it’s own terrible behavior, but the behavior it inspired in him. But if a man would rather have his ex-wife’s yappy dog in his bed than a woman, let him. One night he drunkenly blurted out “I can’t believe you put up with my shit”, and in that moment I realized: I do not have to put up with any man’s shit.


Drunk Dial. Fall 2013

For the record, I never called you a “piece of shit”, I said, “you’re the worst”, but I guess you were correct in that you knew exactly what I meant.


Summer Bummer. Spring – Summer 2014

Like Lana Del Rey, he emitted such a curated essence of tragic, talented artist it was insulting to accuse him of putting on a persona, yet that’s what it reeked of. His dreamy remixes on SoundCloud, his floral prints and designs, his insomniac habit of wandering around with a camera at night attracted me like a moth. However, if someone claims to be lonely yet still rejects your company, take the goddamn hint.


Double Blind. Winter – Summer 2015

None of your bus sketches, meticulously detailed, portray women. It is possible you were simply hesitant to draw unsuspecting women riding public transportation. But like the women on the bus, you saw me regularly and never bothered to study what was in front of you. Here is a good lesson to learn: If I am not what a man is looking for, it is not worth the effort to open his eyes.


Sweet Chocolate. August 2015

The first and only time you brought me home, you introduced your newly-exed girlfriend as “my roommate”.  She clawed off your flimsy wrapper and a hot, sticky mess emerged, oozing onto my hands. I should have refrained from greedily licking you off my palms, but instead I comforted myself with nibbles until I realized I was making myself nauseous. Two addicts chasing a sugar high, trying to find the right balance of bitter and sweet.


Half Baked. ? – March 2016

We often like to think “the one who got away” is a matter of unfortunate circumstances. “The one who did not prioritize me” is a significantly less enjoyable way to remember you. I followed your trail of breadcrumbs across the Atlantic, only to discover you had been satiated by someone more scrumptious who arrived on your doorstep ahead of me.  In hindsight I am glad I avoided being coaxed into your oven, to be roasted alive with unrequited desire for your consumption. I crumbled like cinnamon sticks beneath your fingertips and discovered a sweetness only released when crushed.


Message Read. April – June 2016.

Are you fucking serious“, I screamed and threw my phone against the laundry machine. Cruelty is to treat a woman with indifference after she has opened her body to receive you. I am a goddess, and when my dress slips off my shoulders and crumples to the floor, I expect men to do the same. I know it is important to your self-esteem that you are seen as a “good” guy, not like the others. You view “players” with scorn, as if they are beneath you and you are somehow different. Let me reassure you: You are not.


Stranger Thing. August 2016

It is hard to continue giving men the benefit of the doubt after this one, because no millennial with a conscience would promise to not Netflix Cheat on Episode 4, only to proceed to string me along for the next three weeks and then have the gall to feign surprise at the very predictable outcome, as if this completely unnecessary behavior was in no way as intentionally drawn-out as this fucking sentence.


All Kaps. November 2016

I Am Not Sure Why You Capitalized The First Letter Of Every Word You Texted Me. Like your grammatical choices, much about you was a mystery I frankly lacked the motivation to understand. But by the time we met I had become shipwrecked by loneliness, nails chewed ragged, lips picked dry, growth creeping in the cracks. I like to think you texted me I LOVE YOU in all caps because you knew I was too far gone to hear it unless you screamed.  


Unpack This. April 2017

There is a jar of sand in my room from the beach we danced upon, your hands replacing the ocean breeze in gently ruffling through my hair. Granules of rock, softened by the rhythmic lapping of the sea and hastily stolen by the fistful from Belize. The sand is now preserved forever, sealed behind glass like the memory of you. I am thankful we were not given the luxury of time, because then we would have had the opportunity to sour.


Engineering Consent. July 2017 

Robots do not experience insanity because machine learning algorithms prevent them from doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I wish I was one of those robots you built; rational and emotionless and unable to be electrified by rejection when you chose her over me. We often emerge on the other side vowing to never make the same mistake again. The trouble is that while machines have reliable data storage, over time humans brains tend to forgive or maybe just forget. 



National Domestic Violence


Abuse doesn’t come from people’s inability to resolve conflicts but from one person’s decision to claim a higher status than another. So while it is valuable, for example, to teach nonviolent conflict-resolution skills to elementary school students… such efforts contribute little by themselves to ending abuse. Teaching equality, teaching a deep respect for all human beings — these are more complicated undertakings, but they are the ones that count.”
Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men

Racism is to White America as domestic violence is to people who have never experienced it: Difficult to comprehend but easy to assign blame. Usually upon the wrong party.

The best way to describe how the systematic racism present in every pillar of life in the United States – from the job market, to housing, education, wealth distribution, incarceration, and healthcare – affects black communities would be to characterize it as an abusive relationship.

Nationwide domestic violence.

protest sign 2Black communities experience physical abuse at the hands of the police, financial abuse at the hands of the municipal courts, and emotional abuse at the hands of the media.

This is neither an exaggeration, nor a wagging finger at black communities for being “victims”. Far too often discussions about violent relationships revolve around the abused (“Why does he continue to make excuses for her? Why doesn’t she just leave?”), and ignore the actions of the abuser. This will not be one of those conversations.

Abusive relationships consist of emotional and/or physical abuse for the purposes of gaining & maintaining total control over the target. Abusers use manipulation, coercion, violence, and intimidation to wear the subject down. The most telling sign of an abusive relationship is fear.

protest sign 4 . jpg

If you have not noticed the chants and signs of the protesters, the numerous Op-Eds, the weeping parents (then you are fucking blind); the United States has created an environment in which black communities live in near-constant fear & intimidation of the state. Black communities have their children taken away by Child Protective Services at higher rates (source 1, source 2) for minor infractions (Baltimore Mom is currently being investigated by CPS) or false rumors prompted by something as innocuous as an Instagram Photo. Black communities are incarcerated at disproportionately high rates, effectively breaking apart families, crippling their earning power, and in the case of felons removing their right to vote. Black communities have their assets seized by authorities for little or no reason, such as in Missouri where city governments treat their black citizens like personal piggy banks to be shaken down for money at a whim (source). And they are murdered in broad daylight by police officers – the vast majority of whom will never face an internal investigation let alone criminal charges, while those we have had the luck to catch on video still miraculously come out unscathed (or $600k better for it).

But an abusive relationship starts long before punches are thrown and shots are fired. It starts with emotional abuse and manipulation. Abusers will often isolate their subjects and remove their social safety nets so they have no-one to turn to, nowhere to go. Abusers will often use manipulation to fool others into thinking their subject is the crazy one. Bandcroft calls this “the Water Torturer”.

“The central attitudes driving the Water Torturer are:
You are crazy. You fly off the handle over nothing.
I can easily convince other people that you’re the one who is messed up.
As long as I’m calm, you can’t call anything I do abusive, no matter how cruel.”

― Lundy BancroftWhy Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men

Sound familiar?

During Baltimore Uprising our six (SIX!) media conglomerates provided incredibly biased, sensationalistic, and derogatory coverage of the protests. Word choice is important, and they chose to call protesters “thugs” and the protests themselves “riots”, while simultaneously bypassing footage of the vastly larger peaceful demonstrations.

10,000 strong & totally peaceful in Baltimore. Photo credit: Black Westchester

90% of the media in America is owned by 232 media executives (who I’m guessing are a bunch of old white guys). Baltimore residents were publicly demonized by the media and criminalized by the National Guard for daring to raise their voices. For daring to express their discontent at this continued abuse. For daring to demand justice Freddie Gray.

“Your abusive partner doesn’t have a problem with his anger; he has a problem with your anger. One of the basic human rights he takes away from you is the right to be angry with him. No matter how badly he treats you, he believes that your voice shouldn’t rise and your blood shouldn’t boil. The privilege of rage is reserved for him alone…. Then he uses your anger against you to prove what an irrational person you are.”

Lundy BancroftWhy Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men

This is how the media manipulated us:

Baltimore’s anger towards America’s crooked judicial system was distorted by the news until the subject of their anger (their abusers: the police) was no longer the focus. The the six police officers murder suspects enjoyed temporary anonymity while CNN happily published Freddie Grey’s rap sheet and looped coverage of young black men stomping out windshields. By diverting attention from the cause of their outrage, Baltimore’s anger became the subject.


When the true cause of Baltimore’s rage was concealed from view and only the violent effects were broadcasted, Baltimore’s justified anger lost it’s justice in the public eye.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is textbook emotional abuse. Many of us sided with the wrong party back in April.

The media conglomerates operating in America (all six of them) may have fooled us, but they aren’t fooling the rest of the world, who have been looking on in horror as our rampant police brutality problem crisis quickly became an international embarrassment. On May 11th, 2015, the UN released a scathing review of the United States.

“Use of excessive force by police was a major part of this year’s UPR, and the fact that we still don’t have a reliable national figure to know how many people are killed by police or what the racial breakdown is of those people is a travesty,” [Alba Morales, Human Rights Watch] said. “A nation as advanced as the U.S. should be able to gather that number.”

The Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment. (AlJazeera America, 2015)

no comment

When the media is biased (which is always. Facts dribble down through multiple layers of corporate filters before ending up on our television screens) it manipulates public perception. Influencing public opinion to the point where “Six in 10 whites thought people in Baltimore were just looking for an excuse to loot” (The Atlantic, 2015) is textbook emotional abuse and manipulation.

Now let’s move on to financial abuse.

Financial abuse is a method of exerting control over the subject by cutting off financial resources.

Financial abuse includes sabotaging the subject’s attempts to get or keep a job or dragging down credit scores. More aggressive forms include forcibly taking the victim’s money or refusing to provide enough money to subsist on. More subtle forms include periodically breaking or hiding the subject’s belongings (forcing him/her to buy replacements unnecessarily), or demanding that money be spent on the abuser’s wants instead of on the subject’s needs.

Now, let’s break it down with a real-life example, and hopefully we will all have a better idea of the infuriating catch-22 black communities are stuck in:

  1. A black individual in poverty gets a minor fine – say for speeding or driving without a seatbelt. We know that in Missouri, black drivers were 66 percent more likely than white drivers to be stopped. This happens because “80-plus municipal courts and 90-plus municipalities profit from poverty by extracting money from residents for minor infractions such as moving violations, occupancy permit violations, business permit violations and code violations” (Washington Post, 2014). Now, look one paragraph up: Financial abuse involves forcibly taking the victim’s money.fuck you pay me
  2. Because this individual is in poverty, he or she lacks the funds to pay the ticket in a timely manner. When you live paycheck to paycheck, a $90 ticket is the difference between food and electricity. The federal minimum wage has stagnated at $7.25 for the past six years, and minorities are disproportionately concentrated in low-paying jobs. Financial abuse is refusing to provide enough money to subsist on.
  3. This results in a suspended license and a traffic court date. “Defense attorneys in the St. Louis area have come to call these “poverty violations” — driving with a suspended license, expired plates, expired registration and a failure to provide proof of insurance” (Washington Post, 2014). Because many low-wage workers do not have the flexibility to take time off for court dates, or the resources to find alternative transportation, they weigh the risk of being fired against the risk of driving on a suspended license, and choose their job. Financial abuse includes sabotaging the subject’s attempts to get or keep a job.
  4. Missed court dates, outstanding fines, and driving on a suspended license results in an arrest warrant, and this individual is thrown in jail. By the time this person gets out, he or she has probably lost their job, and owes even more money to the municipal courts. In debt and without any source of income, credit scores tank. Financial abuse includes dragging down credit scores.
  5. Now this person who was already in poverty is in deeper debt, with an arrest record that makes it difficult to get a new job, and no way to rectify the situation. This is how the cycle of poverty is both created and perpetuated. “In Calverton Park, for example, about a fourth of the residents live below the poverty line — and 66 percent of the town’s revenue comes from fines issued and collected by its court. In Pine Lawn, which I visited for my original report, nearly a third of residents are below the poverty line, and nearly half the revenue comes from the court. In Normandy, it’s 35 percent below the poverty line and 41 percent revenue from fines, court fees and citations” (Washington Post, 2014) Financial abuse includes demanding that money be spent on the abuser’s wants instead of on the subject’s needs.

protest sign 5

Now tell me the system isn’t rigged. Just try to tell me that racism doesn’t exist, or that financial abuse isn’t a central part of keeping black communities in the hole. I dare you.

So now we’ve covered emotional abuse & manipulation by the media, and financial abuse by the municipal courts. With all of this in mind, it is finally time to talk about the most obvious, openly egregious type of abuse: Physical abuse in the form of police brutality.

The most prominent link between racism and physical abuse is the trait of the abuser to see you as property rather than as a person. The dehumanization of black bodies and the inability to see the humanity of other races, is central to racism.

“Objectification is a critical reason why an abuser tends to get worse over time. As his conscience adapts to one level of cruelty—or violence—he builds to the next. By depersonalizing his partner, the abuser protects himself from the natural human emotions of guilt and empathy, so that he can sleep at night with a clear conscience. He distances himself so far from her humanity that her feelings no longer count, or simply cease to exist. These walls tend to grow over time, so that after a few years in a relationship my clients can reach a point where they feel no more guilt over degrading or threatening their partners than you or I would feel after angrily kicking a stone in the driveway.”
― Lundy BancroftWhy Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men

The systematic dehumanization of African Americans by the United States stems most obviously from slavery. But I think most of White America really had no conception of how brutal slavery was until they saw Django Unchained (which honestly was still an understatement), and even then the mental cartwheels people do to dismiss the very relevant fact that America was built on the backs of black slaves continues to amaze me.

amy shumer

10 points for Amy Schumer

Despite the fact that American wealth was accumulated through the exploitation of black families who have never received reparations for their work or suffering, White America continues to view Black America as more unintelligent, unmotivated moochers of the social welfare net.

“In 1990, when first assessed, roughly 65% of whites rated blacks as less hard-working than whites, while just under 60% rated blacks as less intelligent than whites.”(source)

white opinions

Please note that the above graph only stretches from 1990 to 2008. So what if racial attitudes radically changed in the past seven years? …Don’t worry, they haven’t. Most recently,

“Over 3 in 10 white millennials believe blacks to be lazier or less hardworking than whites, and a similar number say lack of motivation is a reason why they are less financially well off as a group. Just under a quarter believes blacks are less intelligent.” (Washington Post, April 2015)

True cognitive dissonance and/or denial at it’s best: Caucasians rely far more often, and far more heavily on our social welfare programs than their black counterparts, yet still have the gall to call them “lazy”.

“…distribution of benefits no longer aligns with the demography of poverty. African-Americans, who make up 22 percent of the poor, receive 14 percent of government benefits, close to their 12 percent population share.

White non-Hispanics, who make up 42 percent of the poor, receive 69 percent of government benefits – again, much closer to their 64 percent population share.”

-(New York Times, 2012)

Or for all you visual people:

“Poor” is defined as income that is 125% of the poverty threshold. Under this definition in 2012 20.8% of American citizens were considered poor.

But I digress. Back to physical abuse.

It is important to recognize that the brutality of slavery was present 150 years ago, and if you are a millennial, some of your great grandparents were alive for that. Three generations. Scars do not heal that quickly.

That means that when you encounter African Americans in your daily life, their great grandparents were dealing with shit like this:

Slave owners used to outfit their workers with "iron bits" or iron masks to keep hungry plantation laborers from eating the cane sugar they were harvesting.

Slave owners used to outfit their workers with “iron bits” or iron masks to keep hungry plantation laborers from eating the cane sugar they were harvesting.

Or this:

A youngster in a Georgia forced labor camp around 1932 is subjected to an ugly form of punishment. – Photo: John Spivak

A youngster in a Georgia forced labor camp around 1932 is subjected to an ugly form of punishment. – Photo: John Spivak (Please note- 1932 is long after the civil war)

That was then, this is now:

Tamir Rice was twelve years old when he was shot in a park within eyesight of his living room. Original reports claimed that police pulled up and repeatedly ordered him to drop his “weapon” (an airsoft gun with the orange indicator taken off). When the above surveillance video surfaced, it became obvious that the responding officers were fucking liars because they shot him less than two seconds after pulling up. This happened in Ohio: An open-carry state.


Michael Brown was gunned down by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. If you think he deserved to be shot for stealing a cigar… I don’t know what to do with you.


John Crawford was gunned down inside a Walmart because he was holding an airsoft gun that he had picked up off the shelf inside the store. And again, this was in Ohio, an open carry state. But everybody knows Open Carry laws are only for white people.


And we all know about Trayvon Martin.

George Zimmerman has six mug shots from a spattering of domestic violence charges and gun altercations. He still owns guns.
Trayvon Martin has an obituary.

George Zimmerman has six mug shots from a spattering of domestic violence charges and gun altercations. He still owns guns. Trayvon Martin has an obituary.

I wish I could do every slain individual justice in this blog, but the truth of the matter is there are too many. Which is fucking depressing.

police brutality

Click the image to read more in-depth profiles about these victims of police brutality. The FBI collects statistics on citizen deaths every year submitted by police jurisdictions (it’s voluntary, not a requirement, so…. selection bias much?). They separate these deaths murders into ““Justifiable Homicide by Weapon, Law Enforcement” and… well they actually don’t publish numbers on non-justifiable homicides (murder) by law enforcement. Also, I heard on NPR that the annual FBI statistics reports are complete bullshit, and should be taken with  a grain pound of salt.


So how do we break the cycle? In traditionally (tradition, how horrifying) abusive relationships, the woman either successfully escapes, or she dies.

Here’s my solution for social constructs of this nature (sexism, racism, homophobia, etc.): We all have to chip away at the block with our tiny hammers, our individual voices. An ocean is made of a million drops, and it takes all of us to create change. I do it by writing. Other people do it by public speaking. Artists will create thought-provoking pieces, etc. I firmly  believe that opinions are changed not by facts, but emotions. (So while STEM is important, it bothers me that the humanities have gained the reputation of being “useless”)

The Civil War would not have gotten it’s timely momentum if it had not been for Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a fictional novel published in 1852 (by a woman! Harriet Beecher Stowe) that allowed people to empathize with slaves in a way that was not possible before, when the vast majority of Americans viewed black people as objects, as property, but certainly not people.

So whatever you can do to speak up, raise awareness, provoke thought, stimulate difficult conversations, just do it (sharing this post counts… I suppose). You may think your talents are useless, but everybody has something to contribute.

This is easily the longest post I’ve ever written, so I’m going to tie it up with a bit of my opening quote from Bancroft: “Teaching equality, teaching a deep respect for all human beings — these are more complicated undertakings, but they are the ones that count.”

Racism and our other social ills that continue to plague us in 2015 can be solved with the simple concept that all people are people (I never thought I would have to say that, but apparently it’s necessary), and every person deserves basic human decency, basic respect.

With the concept of respect, I often hear people say, “You have to earn my respect. Respect is not given, it is earned.”

To which I will say, “Wrong, asshole.”

Respect for another person’s humanity is a baseline requirement if you are a decent person. Nobody should have to earn the right to exist without being dehumanized. Black people deserve to exist without getting shot in the streets, without being profiled as shoplifters every time they step into a store, without people automatically assuming the worst of them. Full stop.

Respect is going to be the oil that greases the gears of our society, currently rusted and crusted up with the ideas of the old, the traditional, the conservative (looking at you, GOP).

I will leave you with this:

“Abuse and respect are diametric opposites: You do not respect someone whom you abuse, and you do not abuse someone whom you respect.”

― Lundy BancroftWhy Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men]

Sexism and my “Truman Show” moment

The usual spate of year-in-review articles by the media has made it clear that 2014 was a great year for feminism.

Note: It was a great year for feminism, not necessarily a great year for women.

2014 was the year of Leaning In, the year of #YesAllWomen, the year of Beyonce,

had to do it

had to do it

Laverne Cox, Emma Watson, Niki Minaj, & T-Swift, Ruth Bader Ginsberg (Long Live Notorious RGB), Hilary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and all of their respective flavors of feminism. The year we refused to sweep domestic violence under the rug. The year of Title IX. Plus, we kicked off 2015 with the Sisterhood of the Traveling Golden Globes.

But 2014 was also the year of the Isla Vista killings, Hobby Lobby,  and 70 new abortion restrictions. The Paycheck Fairness Act did not pass for the fourth  time, and women are still not guaranteed equal rights in the US Constitution. Online, it was the year of Gamergate, and a celebrity nude leak that turned a large majority of the country into sex offenders. Oh, and leggings were banned in schools.

In short, 2014 was the year we acknowledged sexism and feminism, but didn’t really do anything progressive about it.

Let’s make 2015 the year we finally take action.

Take action? How?! you may be asking yourself.

I have a few suggestions on how to make 2015 a better year for gender equality.

But first, let me regale you with a (relatively) short story:

(or you can just skip to the bottom, you sound-byte ninnies)

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there was a lass known as “the feminist one”, but it had not always been that way.

For the first 20 years of my life I did not notice the social troll known as sexism living in my closet. Not to say I was completely oblivious. The men at my first job (age 15) had nicknamed me “Sophie the Trophy”. I had taken a Gender Studies course at McGill, where “Killing Us Softly” and “Miss Representation” were part of the curriculum. I had weathered my fair share of sexist digs.

But the concept that sexism actively affected me in very real ways was, by and large, foreign.

That all changed when my good friend Bridget explained to me the “Schrodinger’s Rapist” theory, and I read the original post in full. This is what I call my “Truman Show” moment.

truman sho

Truman checks out a light that mysteriously fell from the sky

Much like how Truman was tipped off by one small detail that made him cognizant to many more small details which ultimately reshaped how he perceived his reality, Schrodinger’s Rapist was my feminist catalyst.

This line in particular:

“Is preventing violent assault or murder part of your daily routine, rather than merely something you do when you venture into war zones? Because, for women, it is.”

Never before had it occurred to me that the burdens of personal safety I undertook on a daily basis were actually female burdens of safety.

While men don’t necessarily have it easier, women definitely have it harder.

How does that logic work? Something like this:

logic by lck 2
logic by lck

Little things like texting a quick “home safe” confirmation to friends, bringing my drink with me into the bathroom stall, checking the backseat of my car before getting in – these were all things I thought everyone did.  And then I asked around and found out that none of my guy friends bothered with those precautions.

These small details that pepper my daily routine – driving 5 minutes to my bus stop so I don’t have to walk alone in the dark, wearing earbuds with no music so I can hear my surroundings – essentially what women do to stay safe (and what men don’t do) because of our gender became strikingly obvious in my new state of Femlightenment.

Hungry to understand,  I started reading feminist blogs, and the “woman” section of the news (a section that I had previously avoided because I thought it would be full of baby stuff).

The next “big” detail that really began to rub me the wrong way was the “male as default” phenomenon: The idea that it’s a man’s world, and it is women that must adapt to this landscape accordingly.

For example, linguistically, “mankind”, “man”, and “guys” are all perfectly acceptable ways to refer to humans, “women included” going unsaid.

But vocabulary is the fluffy, “privileged, white, first-world feminism” stuff, as critics like to say.

And the “male as default” phenomenon is not fluffy, it is downright dangerous.

women aren't bad drivers. we're just more likely to die

women aren’t bad drivers. we’re just more likely to die

Male is the default in the car industry, with automotive companies using only male crash test dummies, despite the obvious fact that women drive cars too. This raised the risk of  moderate injury for women in car crashes by an astounding 71%, and the risk of serious injury or death by 47% (source). And we only realized this in fucking 2011. New requirements for female crash dummies were not put into place until 2012 (read more here). Shit like this is unacceptable.

Male is also the default in drug research, with scientists using only male test subjects in animal trials, and a heavy bias towards men in human trials (source). “Researchers avoided using female animals for fear that their reproductive cycles and hormone fluctuations would confound the results of delicately calibrated experiments” (Slate). This reasoning is curious, as female humans also have reproductive cycles and hormone fluctuations, but experimental drug trials will often be administered to women without ever being tested on female animals first. In other news, men continue to avoid period-stuff like the plague. To absolutely nobody’s surprise, women to experience higher rates of adverse drug reactions than men.

This is when I realized sexism was an active effort, rather than a passive “this is how it’s always been” shrug. It is so much more than a shrug.

gender-gap-busienssSexism defies logic. Even though women are better adapted for work in isolated & confined spaces such as submarines and spaceships (women used less oxygen, required less food, and produce less waste), they continue to face systematic barriers to joining  the ranks of astronauts and submariners. (sources 1, 2, 3)

Sexism defies capitalism. Even though a revealing study showed that companies perform better financially with more women in leadership positions, only 14.6% of executive officers in the 500 highest-grossing American companies are women (source).

You know when that typical jerkoff says, “If the gender pay gap exists and we can pay women less, then why don’t companies only hire women?” just reply, “Because sexism trumps capitalism, asshole.”

It seems like the only thing that beats sexism is good ol’ racism. But that’s a topic for a different day.

Anyways, the more I learned about the pervasiveness of sexism, and feminist theory, the more I started talking about it. For a long time I was afraid of being the “obnoxious feminist” every time I spoke up. I’m sure many people do think that of me. That’s ok. Because something unexpected started to happen:

It started rubbing off on the people around me.

A few months ago a friend excitedly called me to let me know that at her waitressing job an old man tried to pay her by reaching to put bills down the front of her shirt. Rather than giggling it off, she turned away with a flat “no”, and walked away.

“I thought of you,” she said.

I had also started interrupting my guy friends’ sports banter whenever they used “raped” in place of “dominated” or “won” or “triumph” (because really, when you think about it, how fucked up is that?).

It would go like this:

“Holy shizzle, did you see that game? The Seahawks RAPED the 49ers!”

“Could you use a different word, other than raped?”

“Oh yeah, sorry.”

That’s really all it takes. If the dudes in your life are decent people, they will apologize and use a different word.

Sometimes it takes a few times to stick. If my friends use “raped” again – it seems fairly common in the context of sports – I’ll take it a bit further.

“Oh my gawd, they raped in that play!”

“Hey! did you realize that 1 in 6 women have been raped, and there are 12 in this room?”

Watching the most recent Seahawks game, I overhead a friend start to say “raped” – only to stop and self-correct without any prompt. To me, that was more exciting than the touchdown.

Which brings me to my one suggestion for improving gender equality in 2015:

Talk about it. Talk about sexism.

Acknowledge it.

All of it.

Even the stuff that you disagree with.

It’s been a slow process, but over the past year I’ve seen my friends – of all genders – stand up against sexism with increasing frequency, due to their increased awareness.

None of this is limited to female-centric problems. Men should, of course, feel free to speak up about their  gender-specific problems too, because the road goes both ways. Sexism is solved by women and men speaking up and raising awareness to their gendered issues that would otherwise go unacknowledged.

Acknowledgement is a pretty low bar, by the way. It’s the least we can do.

Sexism in developed countries is not one thing we can easily point fingers at, like Saudi’s driving ban, or FGM, or forced veiling. Rather, sexism in first-world countries is an aggregation of small details.

Likewise, the solution to sexism is going to be an aggregation of small details.

Change the discourse, change the culture.

Here’s my easy, anybody-can-do-it short list of things you can do in 2015:

  • Practice compassion and actively put yourself in others’ shoes. Often I stop and think “this would (or wouldn’t) be a problem if I was a man.” And likewise, it would behoove men to sometimes stop and consider “this would be a problem if I was a woman.”
  • Stop over-sexualizing breasts. Don’t freak out and complain when a woman breastfeeds in public.
  • Listen & believe women when they tell you something. Like the fact that we don’t like cat-calling. Or the 30 women accusing Cosby. That is either the most elaborate hoax ever, or… you know… true.
  • Believe rape victims of any gender. Victims of violent rapes experience less PTSD that victims of non-violent rapes, because survivors with physical evidence are more likely to be believed. It is that important.
  • Down with revenge porn! Don’t take or share explicit photos without consent. Delete that shit and tell whoever shared it that s/he’s a grade-A asswipe.
  • And stop fucking using the word “girl” to describe fully grown women.

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.


“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:


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.


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.


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. 

Dress Coded: An Education on (unnecessary) Sexualization


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;


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!).


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!


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


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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