It is no fun being a Feminist Killjoy

It is no fun being a Feminist Killjoy (as the name would imply).

It is no fun being the girl at the Seahawks party who asks the friend-of-a-friend that she just met to stop yelling the word “raped” (“DID YOU SEE THAT? WE JUST RAPED THEIR DEFENSE”) when there are other perfectly good words like “dominated” or “wrecked”, only to realize that:

  1. When you attempt to propose alternative words for “raped”, most of the following suggestions will feel unnecessarily sexually violent and,
  2. When you interrupt to a dude at a sports-watching party to unwittingly (I swear!)  define “rape” via synonyms, when two seconds earlier he had been inhaling hot wings and yelling at the TV in 12th man bliss,

You have officially begun your transmogrification into a Feminist Killjoy. Congratulations. Here is your complimentary cross-stitch lapel pin from Etsy that says ironically (or not? I can never tell) “male tears” with a pair of ovaries making a cute little Feminist-Killjoy-ovary-heart-frame around the edges.

The last time I wrote and published a blog post was May 21, 2015, 2:48pm PDT. Well over a year ago. Or 11,544 hours / 692,640 minutes / 41,558,400 seconds, depending on how you want to think about it.

Well-meaning friends and coworkers have asked me if I am still writing, or when I am coming out with a new blog post, and I wouldn’t really have a good answer as to why I had stopped writing for so long – only that I had.

Perhaps I could have said [Dr. Evil voice + pinky] “I am spreading my devious feminist seeds of mind-control via inception in my friends’ brains, rather than to the masses via blog.”

The truth is that righteous outrage is exhausting. Being fully aware of the extent of the dehumanization of women – both in your own little bubble and around the world – on a daily basis is simultaneously maddening and draining. I wake up, wait at the bus stop and lean against a wall so my backside isn’t available for the occasional brush (or grope) of a passing hand. Then I read the news about how ISIS has established an official system of sex slavery of kidnapped Yazidi women, complete with menus of the going rate per age range, starting at age six (source).

A few years ago, feminism was the movement that finally helped me figure out how to put into words the vague notion of “something here is not right” that I felt deeply in my bones, yet despite my impressive vocabulary, could not articulate. A few years ago I discovered something fresh and shiny and new and passionately heartbreaking. A few years ago, I would have written 3000 words about the Yazidi women and children, and maybe researched how plausible it would be for me to fly to Syria and hypothetically, singlehandedly kick ass à la Liam Neeson Taken-style with my nonexistent retired-special-ops-skills from a past life and rescue all of them (even though Liam Neeson only cared about rescuing his daughter and none of the other trafficked girls, because most men don’t give a shit about women other than the ones directly related to them).

But I didn’t. Because, as Angela Dworkin says, “it is an agony to be fully conscious of the brutal misogyny which permeates culture, society, and all personal relationships”, and agony every day, all day, for several years will wear you down. And I am only in my twenties. I’m a fresh peach! I have many, many more years to spiral down into the agonizing descent that is the Feminist Killjoy staircase. But I am already exhausted.

If I were to be completely honest when someone asked “why don’t you write anymore?”, I would say “because it doesn’t make a difference. Because the world is a terrible place for women. Because about 3-4 women are murdered a day, the vast majority (94%) by people they know (source). Because one in five women experience rape or sexual violence at some point in their lives (source), but that doesn’t take into account the multiple assaults one woman may experience in a lifetime. Because I am tired of providing a multitude of sources and surveys that confirm the wage gap is real, and campus sexual assault is pervasive, and sexism exists, only to wake up the next day to the news headline “56% of men believe sexism is over“. Because no matter how much I write, it won’t stop the tide from coming in, or the flood of violence from happening. It won’t stop the daily sexual intrusions I navigate like an obstacle course I never signed up for. It won’t stop the ebb and swell of the whims of powerful men who dislike the concept of female autonomy, tossing around the right to control my goddamn reproductive system like a rowboat in a tsunami. It won’t stop the never-ending news feed of women being photographed, stalked, hacked, raped, stabbed, kidnapped, beaten, and murdered. My blog is not a tampon, it will not stem the flow our blood.”

But I didn’t say that. Because a few years ago I may have been a sprightly, vivacious Feminist Killjoy, but now I am a droopy Feminist Killjoy.

Like getting a tattoo, after the adrenaline and excitement wears off, being a Feminist Killjoy is painful.

In the 481 days since I last wrote a blog post, a lot of things have happened.  Beyonce (I LOVE YOU!!) orchestrated Formation during the SuperBowl, in Black Panther outfits no less, and sent white america into a tizzy. Then she dropped Lemonade, an ode to “the women expected to never air our grievances in public. We are the women expected to stay loyal to our men by staying silent through abuse and infidelity… When our love and commitment and struggle is met with disregard and disloyalty, we are not expected to be angry” (Ijeoma Oluo). Lemonade was not an ode to women, but to black women – the women that white feminism so frequently (conveniently) forgets, yet Lemonade is unforgettable. Speaking of white feminism: Taylor Swift got a new love interest, then became disinterested, and a whole generation of new, young, budding feminists had to reconcile a lifetime of unconscious bias and the knee-jerk reaction to call her a slut with their newfound respect – in theory – for a woman’s’ sexual decisions.

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign heated up and sexism reared its ugly head again: A female politician’s favorability drops dramatically every time she must campaign (source). People have theorized it is because we have been socially conditioned to dislike women who assert their claim to power, which is, may I remind you, a prerequisite to public office – and for the second time in nine years I am reminded quite viciously as to why I have never felt personally compelled to become a community leader and run for office.

In the past 481 days, a good friend of mine excitedly called me to tell me about some skeeze at work. She is a waitress, was carrying full trays in both hands, and a man at one of her tables waved her down and tried to pay his bill by shoving cash into her little boob pocket (to be clear: the boob pocket is little, not the boob).

“I usually would have laughed it off and let him do it,” she told me, but this time she turned away and said “FUCK YOU, CRUSTY PERVERT” (just kidding, she is a waitress, I am sure she said something polite but firm), and didn’t let his hand anywhere near her boob pocket. To some people, this story is very inconsequential. To others, particularly women in the service industry, it is a feat of resilience in an industry & employment situation that is constantly shortening your skirt, denying you paid sick leave, taking your tips, ruining your holidays, and making you bend over with the motto “the customer is always right” while the customer tries to stuff cash in your crevices. My friend recognized inappropriate, entitled, sexualized behavior, identified it accordingly, thought to herself “this is not right”, and stood up for herself by refusing a sexual intrusion by a customer who had the upper hand in the power dynamic, all while holding two trays and handling the entire situation with class and aplomb. 

Then she called me to tell me about it, because she was proud of herself, and I was proud of her. And proud of my feminist-inception-mind-control skills. Take THAT! rude, sexually aggressive customer. Sophia here, to thwart your boob-grabbing attempts via feminist rhetoric.

I have a lot of stories like these. I have become the go-to person for  friends’ sexism-based grievances. I know you guys are all super jealous, because being the designated Feminist Killjoy means that every time a friend (goddesses, all of them) gets groped, or hit on by a coworker twice their age, or followed down the street, or had their contributions dismissed at work, I am the first to hear about it.

Maybe what I meant to say was that I haven’t written in 11,544 hours because I have been watching the girls and women of the world unfurl and demand space, and I have felt less alone. I am no longer yelling into a black hole, because the black hole is filling up. (I know that’s not how black holes work, but you know what I mean).  Other women have raised their voices and so did President Obama and Justin Trudeau and Hillary Clinton and Jimmy Carter. And fucking Beyonce.

Does writing on this blog help stem the tide of misogyny that washes over us every day? Maybe that guy will say “dominated” or “wrecked” next time he’s sportsing. Maybe I won’t have to stand with my backside against a wall to fend off opportunistic butt-grabbers in the future. Maybe I will see a woman President in my lifetime.

It is no fun being a Feminist Killjoy, but it is definitely worth it.

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

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. 

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.

Continue reading

New Years Post!

Hi all,  I  realized I haven’t blogged (or written any words at all) for a long time, so I thought I’d get back in the groove with a new years post. Now, I’m not very good at commitment, and new years resolutions usually tend to be a massive fail on my part. My goals tend to be like rollover minutes… except in years. Oh well, here it goes then:

1) Get that goddamn pull up.

WOW. It’s been over a year since I’ve started strength training, and I still haven’t got that pull up. Yes, it is kind of my fault. I’ve gotten close on occasion, with really consistent training, but then something would happen (l moved, I got a second job, I went on vacation, I moved again) and I’d stop training for a few weeks & BAM! No more pull up progress. Right back to the beginning.

2) Get a booty.

Ok, yes, another fitness goal. A lot of you know I’m kind of obsessed with nice booties and getting one for meself. So, this year if I haven’t done anything else in a day, I will do at least 50 squats.

3) Finish a story & publish it. 

I currently have one story written down and two more in my head. By 2015, I need to have completed & sent out at least one. 

4) Plant an herb & vegetable garden.

Many of you know I’m not generally a fan of small animals (or children), but this year I got a basil plant and it really made me like growing plants! Ok… most of the basil is dead… but that was like a practice round. This year I’m going to plant & grow some edible stuff.

I had all these other little things in my head like, “wear a little black dress once a week” or “wake up by 9am on weekends” and of course, the vague but relevant “be more awesome”, but I think I should just be realistic and keep the resolution count at 4.

Now that they’re public I have to do it! Or, at least I hope that’s how it works.

Working on something new…

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