Girls don’t like boys who “don’t like girls who…”

My office is very casual, so I can get away with wearing pretty much anything. A few days ago I showed up to work wearing a nice high topknot, a full face of makeup including lipstick, and a decent looking outfit. The following day I showed up in a ball cap and a plaid shirt, with a bare face. Still presentable, just less shiny. My co-worker sees me in said ball cap and tells me she thinks that I “dress like a boy and a girl”. She has a tone in her voice that infers she is not impressed. Right, yes. Thanks for that. It reminds me of when my grandmother gives me her rendition of the “boys don’t like girls who…” speech when I’m exhibiting a habit she deems unladylike (ie: wearing a ball cap, swearing, not crossing my legs, etc.)

Lately, it seems as though the topic of women’s “trends” that men hate is all over the Internet. Well, they can choke on their opinions, thank you very much. This also goes for anyone who thinks that women should embody a certain persona in order to be considered an attractive sexual partner. Pro tip: no one wants to date/hang out/have sex with someone who feels their opinion is more important that someone else’s based on what’s between their legs.

The list of complaints is extensive. Boys don’t like girls who… wear baggy clothes, wear revealing clothes, wear too much makeup, don’t wear makeup, are smarter than them, swear, don’t shave, have short hair, etc. I could go on for a while. I have never once heard someone say “Girls don’t like boys who…” and that means something. It means that women and girls have been continuously forced to act, dress, speak, and carry themselves in a certain way for the sole purpose of appeasing any and all potential sexual partners. Our society has been putting pressure on us to fit into a mould of the ideal female, one that suits a very small amount of us. I refuse to change myself to fit someone else’s idea of who I should be.

I have a quick list of what trends men should avoid if they want to be considered a viable sexual option (or a decent human): obsession with ‘natural’ beauty, jokes about periods, lack of acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community overall but maintaining an obsession with lesbian sex, catcalling and other predatory behaviour, unsolicited dick pics (does anyone think these actually work?), and pushing your opinions about women’s aesthetics onto people who simply didn’t ask.

Ladies, however many times you’ve heard that speech, I hope you all continue to act like you. You can’t please anyone but yourself, so do what feels best for you. Don’t change yourselves or settle because for every person who thinks “boys don’t like girls who…”, there are like five people who love you the way you are. You don’t exist to be someone else’s desire.

-D

Next Question

We need to talk about The Wendy Williams Show. More specifically, Priyanka Chopra’s interview with Wendy Williams which aired this past week. Regardless of the sex of the interviewer, questions directed at female guests are often sexist and centre around stereotypically feminine topics such as fashion, hairstyles, and dating, and tends to stay away from content regarding their actual achievements.

The Wendy Williams Show is your average talk show: celebrity interviews, beauty advice, gossip, etc. Recently, she had Priyanka Chopra on her program as she was promoting her new movie Baywatch. But instead of asking Priyanka about the movie or her other achievements (she got her start as a Bollywood actress, has starred in 50+ Bollywood films, and continues to act in India after having made it in Hollywood), Wendy grills her on fashion, dating, and the love life of her friend, Meghan Markle. The movie was not mentioned until the last two minutes of the interview.

I know that this is a typical avenue for talk shows to take but what makes it more concerning is that Wendy was being entirely anti-feminist.* She spent the majority of the interview talking about Priyanka’s attendance at this year’s Met Gala. The conversation was originally centred around the dress and hairstyle Priyanka chose for that night (which is kind of blah in itself), but quickly turned into badgering due to her single status at the event, with Wendy blatantly asking “Where’s your date?” as if it were a necessary accessory. She tries to minimize the aggressiveness of her statement by adding “just asking” at the end. Priyanka gracefully stated that she doesn’t need a boyfriend, or even a date, to enjoy those events, and further that she isn’t really looking to date at all. In order to move the conversation along, Wendy suddenly agrees with the narrative that a date is not a requirement for red carpet attendance, completely negating the inferences of the previous question.

When asked about Meghan Markle, Priyanka was quick to point out that Meghan is her own person with separate and worthy achievements, aside from who she’s dating. When asked about Meghan’s love life, Priyanka didn’t have much to say and she shouldn’t. It’s not for her to tell, and she respects Meghan enough not to say too much. Wendy, on the other hand, continued to push questions about Meghan. It is one thing to ask women questions that would never be asked of a man (like what designer they’re wearing, etc.), but it’s another not to accept the answers as given, to push farther until you get the desired answer.

Additionally, when asked her opinion of Meghan’s relationship, and whether she thinks the pair might get married, Priyanka didn’t have much to say. I’m aware that it seems to be how society works, but asking women’s opinions on the lives of other women is gross. It’s a recipe for disaster with a singular goal: to create tension. We love to pit women against each other, but why? To promote a feeling in women that we are never good enough; we need to be like that girl, have shinier hair than her, a cuter partner, or be thinner. It is high time that we stop comparing ourselves to each other. We’re all cute, smart, hard-working, etc. and we as women need to build each other up, not comparing achievements, or tearing each other down. Take the first step and tell the women in your life that you’re proud of them.

-D

To see the full interview, click the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZmuf5SH_Qw

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*I am aware that it is unlikely that Wendy comes up with all her own questions, etc., and there are producers who steer the show’s direction.

Sexpectations

About a week ago, actress Abigail Breslin (known for Little Miss Sunshine, My Sister’s Keeper, Zombieland, and Scream Queens) took to Instagram for Sexual Assault Awareness Month likely in hopes that she would help unite sexual assault survivors of all kinds in knowing they were not alone. Her post is a screen capture of text that states one is not obligated to have sex, regardless of their romantic situation (ie: dating, married, etc.), with the caption “i knew my assailant #SexualAssaultAwarenessMonth #breakthesilence”. You can find the photo below and the post and comments here:

< https://www.instagram.com/p/BSu98GoA-Hj/?taken-by=abbienormal9&hl=en >

By doing this, Breslin had let her followers in on an intimate and personal fact about herself, which was likely difficult for her to do. It’s just one very public example of what tons of people go through every day. It is difficult for anyone who has endured such a violation and such pain to be able to share their story, if only for the further mental suffering that it would cause. But in today’s society, the stigma surrounding victims of sexual assault takes on tones of blame and disgust directed toward the victim, not the perpetrator. While Breslin’s post was met with many comments from followers who thanked her and were inspired to share their own survival stories, she was also met with many intolerant, anti-feminist, judging, and minimizing comments.

One commenter urged her to “prove it” because “anyone can say they were assaulted”; they further asked why she didn’t go to the police, and added that releasing this type of information “wasn’t going to help [her] career honey”. Unfortunately, this mentality is rampant in our society. It perpetuates the highly sexist notion that if an act really was sexual assault, then the victim would have reported it, and if they didn’t then it was consensual. Or it was made up for attention. Now, I’m not saying to report it or not to report it, that’s something each individual has to decide for themselves. What I am saying is sexual assault survivors feel they have a target on their back regardless of which avenue they choose. People are conditioned to judge and demean the victim of an assault, which is evident through the constant questions of what was she wearing, whether she drinking, whether she was flirting, etc. They are made to feel shameful, embarrassed and used. The veracity of sexual assault accusations is consistently questioned out of blatant sexism and a view that women are the lesser sex*, and because of this, many victims are hesitant to come forward with claims. In reality, only 10% of sexual assaults are ever reported and, even then, they are not guaranteed a conviction or any sanctions. Survivors don’t need your opinions on their experiences, bodies, or well-being; they need your support. And to be clear, support does not come in the form of pressuring someone to share their story, or to report the assault or to do anything on their behalf — support comes solely in the form of being there for someone, opening yourself up as a trusted person to talk to if they need it.** Listening and being a good friend is free, by the way.

The other issue I encountered while reading the comments of Breslin’s post is the absolutely insane notion that if you are dating or married to someone, they are entitled to sex from you. Comments on the post of this nature range from “dating isn’t consent, but marriage absolutely is” to “if you don’t want to have sex, don’t get in a relationship”, and lots of nasty stuff in between. That’s not the way bodily autonomy works. To be frank, reading through those comments in preparation for this post made me uncomfortable, nervous, angry, and helpless all at the same time. What bothers me most is that the ‘issue of consent’ is still an issue at all. For something that I perceive to be so cut and dry, I am shook by the sheer amount of people, including people I know personally, who still throw around hypotheticals and ‘what ifs’ to justify when sexual assault is okay. There is not a single situation in which sexual assault is excusable, not a single one. No one ever “deserves it”, no one is ever “expected to put out”, and sure as shit no one is ever “asking for it”. Sure, sex is a part of life, but sexual assault/rape is not sex. It is because of these skewed views of sexual assault, the oppression of victims, and justification for perpetrators (whether it’s a stranger or your husband) that rape culture is still very much a thing in society.

– D

*I am very much aware that sexual assault can occur to anyone, and am not trying to say this is a female-only issue whatsoever. For the purposes of this post, women are the group in question.
**For those who may need it, I am ready to listen.

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Thick Girls, Thick Skin: Sports Edition

When I was younger, I was a competitive figure skater. Looking at me now, you might find this surprising. From ages 4-16 I competed in out of town tournaments and often came home with at least one medal each time. I woke up early for practice before school, and was back at the rink after school, practicing at least 5 or 6 days per week. Costumes, routines, tight hairstyles, glitter, hairspray, and bruises were a big chunk of my life for a long time. I loved skating, but I eventually stopped to pursue other things.

I was always on the chubbier side and I developed earlier than lots of girls, and I definitely stood out in a sport that was dominated by very thin and athletic girls. One particular incident in my skating career sticks out as a turning point in my life. I was sitting on the bench at competition with 8 other girls (together, referred to as a “flight”), all of them thin, blonde, and dressed as Barbie while I was not as thin, a brunette, and dressed as a baseball player. It was 1998, and Barbie Girl” by Aqua had just come out and was so popular that each of those 8 other girls in my flight were doing their routines to that song. I did mine to “Centrefield” by John Fogerty. I was 7 years old at this time, and I already knew I was different from those girls; I knew I looked different than them, but I never thought of that in a negative way. One girl in the flight, we’ll call her Casey, wanted to rub my face in the fact that I was different. While waiting for our flight to be called for warm-up, Casey stood up and went down the line of girls still sitting, pointing at each one and saying “Skinny, skinny, skinny”. When she arrived at the end of the bench, where I was sitting, she screwed up her face and took a sharp breath in. She deemed me “not skinny”, and all the girls laughed, like we were playing some twisted game of Duck, Duck, Goose. We were all 7-9 years old. That was the first time I had a negative body image and also the first time I thought you had to be skinny to be involved in sports. I had to compete against Casey for the rest of my career, as we were always in the same bracket, and every time I saw her, it stung a little more.

Through my later years of figure skating, I was still thicker than the other girls, and though I had pushed that incident from my mind, I couldn’t help but hold on to that negative image of myself. When I eventually quit figure skating, the way I saw myself had something to do with it, though I never said that out loud. Despite the notion that only thin girls were athletic, I still played other sports in high school. And I was ridiculed for it (particularly by other schools during tournaments). My teammates were cool and supportive, but each tournament came with fat-themed nicknames and jokes yelled from the stands while I was serving a volleyball or taking a penalty kick, and I knew they were directed at me. I remained publicly stone-faced, but internalized all their comments. Skip to university, where I still played intramural sports, but my self-esteem had severely deteriorated.

Skip even further, to the present, where I play intramural sports for my law faculty year-long. For the very first time, I hesitated to sign up, being afraid that my self-esteem and my body image couldn’t take any more. Up until this point, I had been bullied in grade school and high school, had some nasty stuff said to me by boys in the street or at the bar, and had heard girls criticizing me when they thought I wasn’t listening. Most of this behaviour was regarding my weight. Cut back to me standing in front of the sign-up sheets for sports: for the first time ever, I walked away. I didn’t want to spend one more year being the team’s token fat girl. A chubby thorn among the thin and dainty roses. Two weeks later, when the final day to sign up came, I was persuaded by two girls in the year above me to join a few teams so we would have enough players. I told myself that I was in higher education and that people weren’t mean in that way anymore, that we had all grown up and seen the light about body-shaming. I was wrong. My most recent jab came just a few months ago, during a girls soccer game while I was taking a corner kick. Behind me in the bleachers were the boyfriends and friends of the girls on the opposing team, and as I backed up to get a running start I heard one guy say, “I can’t believe they let the fat girl take the kick.” He didn’t hush is voice, he wanted me to hear.

During the past year or so, I have gotten a lot better about the way I see myself. And it took a lot of self-inspection to see that the comments from these other people weren’t my problem anymore. I currently play softball, volleyball, and soccer intramurals, allowing me to play sports at least twice per week. The people I play with (both girls and co-ed teams) are amazing, and we are all friends. In addition, the presence of thicker girls in the realms of sports and fitness is growing, and that really helps. In 2015, Women’s Running magazine featured a plus-sized girl on their cover (see below). Model Ashley Graham has been extremely vocal about the time she spends in the gym or playing sports, her message being that you can be a part of a team, or be as fit as the next person, and still be thick. More and more, athletic clothing lines are offering plus-sized options, including Old Navy, Forever 21+, and, most recently, Nike. This is really amazing progress, but the stigma still stands that bigger girls can’t be athletic or fit. In many men’s sports, being the biggest person on the team is seen as being an advantage, but everyone scorns the thick girl even when she possesses drive, motivation, and/or an amazing skill set.

The point of this novel-length post is this: Size does not automatically equate to health or fitness. Sports are a big part of my life, and I won’t let anyone tell me I can’t play because of my size, and neither should you. Trolls will offer their unsolicited opinions and tell you that promoting an “unhealthy body image” (ie: being bigger) is wrong, but what is truly heinous is making assumptions about someone’s abilities, personality or life experiences based on their appearance.What’s that saying about a book’s cover? I hope all you folks see yourselves in your best light. Whatever size you are, you can do whatever the hell you want.

– D

PS If anyone was wondering, I beat out all those Barbies for the gold.

women's running

Professional Prejudice

I’m sure a lot of you folks have been on job interviews. Maybe they went well, maybe not so much. For any men out there: for even one second, did any part of you wonder whether you didn’t get the job based on your clothing/hair choices? Unlikely.

Today’s post is about something I’ve been struggling with a lot lately, especially in a law school, and that’s what it takes for a woman to be seen as a professional. Dressing business-like is already harder for women than it is for men. For the most part, men can pick out a suit or pants and a dress shirt and be done with it. Shower, shave, pick a tie, and walk out the door. Their bodies are entirely covered, likely in a neutral colour, and they probably look great. For women, it’s a much more complex process.

Recently, law firms in my area hosted interviews to hire potential summer students. Although I did not participate in the process, many of my friends did. For the most part, they all prepared the same way. However, in addition to having to prepare actual answers to possible interview questions, my female friends also spent a lot of time preparing their outfits and how they’d wear their hair and makeup. Now, this is where guys might throw their heads back and laugh at a girl meticulously choosing a “look”. It’s no secret that women are judged more harshly than men based on their appearances in almost all situations, including job interviews and other professional settings. When getting ready for an interview or to meet someone important, we constantly struggle with how we will be perceived. How high of a neckline? Skirt or pants? Heels or flats? Jewelry or none? These might sound like inconsequential decisions to many men and even some women, but the struggle to be perceived as competent and powerful yet feminine, as well as to be taken seriously, is SO real. We are constantly told that dressing in an over-feminine manner (which, in some places, could even mean just wearing a stereotypically feminine colour or a skirt of any length) is a distraction and somehow shows that we don’t take our jobs seriously. Yet when a girl rocks a pant suit or wears no makeup, she’s considered to be too masculine and unapproachable, and receives the same criticism.

I want women to be taken seriously when applying for articling positions or summer internships, or whatever other job they want. I hate the idea of my friends stressing out in their rooms the night before an interview, wondering how to put together a sophisticated outfit that will show both professionalism and femininity. I hate that they stressed over whether to wear their hair in a bun or a ponytail, or to straighten it or not. I hate to think about them considering exactly how to apply their makeup so that it’s subtle and “natural”, even though they might not wear makeup at all in their every day life (for more rants on makeup, see Of Makeup and Men (Mar 9)). The unfortunate truth is that many feel the need to make these decisions, in order to be seen as a hireable candidate. Why does this stuff matter? I’m all for looking clean, professional, and competent, but why does so much extra work have to go into this process for a woman? What a waste of brain power.

After the interview process at my school, I learned that the firms hired many less women than men. This is infuriating particularly because many of the women who interviewed this year are at the top of their class. Plenty of genuinely smart and hard working women were not offered summer jobs, and why not? I can’t say for sure. It makes me nervous to wonder whether their gender or their outfits were part of the reason. The world is missing out on some amazing minds because they can’t get their heads out of their asses long enough to realize that women do not play second-fiddle. In the work force, in whatever form that takes for you, men and women should be seen as humans overall, and the best PERSON for the job should be chosen.

I can’t stop the world from spinning the way it does, but know this: ladies, your resumé, your personality, and your carriage all say more about you than anything you could ever wear. I hope none of you spend a single second doubting yourselves and what you’re about, because being sure of that is way more important than what’s on your back.

They say that it’s a man’s world… but it doesn’t have to be.

**Edit: the original copy of this post stated specific statistics regarding exactly how many men and women were hired through the interview process, however, I’ve discovered that the information given to me was false.

business

– D

No Longer “Robin” Girls of Justice

As a law student, I tend to follow many court cases throughout their duration. Lately, a lot of these cases are instances of sexual assault. Of course, you don’t need to be in law school to find this topic of interest. It affects everyone, literally everyone.

Some recent notable cases that you might have heard of include Brock Turner’s 3-month sentence for raping a girl behind a dumpster, or Jian Ghomeshi’s trial (of which he was eventually acquitted) plus the backlash directed at his defence attorney, Marie Henein.

The one I want to talk about now is not so much about the perpetrator, or even about the victim, unfortunately, but about the judge. You may know Justice Robin Camp of the Federal Court of Canada simply as the “knees together judge”, and for good reason. While sitting on a case regarding a sexual assault, Justice Camp asked the victim why she didn’t “just keep [her] knees together” or “sink [her] bottom” into the sink in order to keep her vagina blocked from any unwanted penetration? MAYBE BECAUSE SHE WAS BEING ASSAULTED, ROBIN. AND MAYBE BECAUSE IT’S NOT HER JOB TO AVOID BEING RAPED. One of the things I find interesting (like freaky, not cool) is that Justice Camp’s own daughter, Lauren, has been a victim of sexual assault. She has penned a letter expressing her support for her father, calling him “no sexist brute”. Many others have supported Justice Camp, calling his comments “problematic” but not grounds for his removal from the bench. I disagree, and so did the judicial council. Read on.

This post has a happy ending for all. It was announced today that Justice Robin Camp has RESIGNED from the bench after a removal order was recommended by the judicial council. Thank your lucky stars, I know I am. No longer will this man be able to excuse the actions of sexual predators, and victims have that much more of a fighting chance to get justice in their cases.

Here is the CBC News alert for those who want to check it out: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/justice-robin-camp-judicial-council-1.4017233

If there are any sexual assault survivors reading this, let me say that you are loved and you have worth.

– D

Of Makeup and Men

Today I saw a meme on Facebook about how International Women’s Day was supposed to be March 6th “but women take too long to get ready so we moved it to the 8th”. I happen to know the poster was a middle-aged male divorcée who will remain unnamed. That in itself is no reason to be twisted up, but paired with a sexist meme about a day that’s important to more than half the population, and you got yourself a fight. Congratulations, you’re part of the problem.

If you’re someone who doesn’t require a routine in the morning, or if your routine is very simple, that’s great. Do you. But why attack someone whose routine is longer or more complex? Some people think that the length of time a woman (any woman) takes to get ready in the morning concerns them. Let me capitalize this for dramatic effect: MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.

Makeup, specifically, seems to be a hot topic. Those memes you see about having “trust issues” when a girl takes off her expertly-crafted makeup? Those are made and shared by assholes. We have all been conditioned to view men as attractive without makeup on because that’s what society thinks is acceptable. I hope we can one day not differentiate, and see someone for the person they are rather than for the products on their face. Makeup is about pride and self-care, whatever kind you rock. Some folks seem to think makeup is about vanity, which is why I think it gets knocked so often. People don’t like to see women appreciating themselves or believing in their attractiveness. But for a lot of people, putting on makeup is about them feeling good about themselves. For some people, it’s art.

Ladies: looking your best, in whatever form that takes, is about what you want and how you feel comfortable stepping out into this world. The Internet is full of people telling women they’d look better with no makeup/natural makeup. Let me just tell you something, the Internet knows nothing about “natural makeup”. You can’t satisfy anyone but yourself. If you wear a full face, you’re wearing too much; if you go bare-faced, you’re labeled as looking sick or tired. So just do whatever you want.

This year I told myself that when someone says I look tired, I’m going to say that I am tired, because smashing the patriarchy takes a lot out of me. I’m tired from taking a full course load in law school. I’m tired from organizing and hosting educational conferences. I’m tired from winning student government elections, so I can eventually effect some change. I’m tired from doing interviews for networks and magazines about my work, in order to spread messages that are important to me.

My point being: we’re all badasses. We work, we study, we create, and we slay. What is or is not on my face does not affect the fact that I’m a leader, and that I have worth. And I feel the same about each and every one of you.

So, again, do you. Express yourself. Feel beautiful. Wear makeup, or don’t.

Kristen Bell GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

– D

The Inaugural Post

Hey everyone!

Forgive this rookie for a fairly basic first post. I have never run a blog before, but today I felt overwhelmed with what I was hearing and seeing on social media and the straw finally broke the camel’s back. I needed an outlet.

Today is International Women’s Day and I am vv proud to see tons of people standing up for themselves and the women in their lives. However, for as many positive things I saw, there were also negative comments. Anti-feminist comments being posted today of all days by people who I considered to be educated, informed, and, frankly, better than that.

I suppose the theme for this post is: it’s never too late to start. I wrote a little about this this in the About section of this blog, but I’ll reiterate. I am a law student, 25, female, Ojibwe (among other things). Until recently I considered myself well-read, educated, and wise to the ways of the world. I was ignorant to a lot of social justices issues, including women’s rights and feminism, for a long time as I’ve lived a privileged life thus far, and have never been personally victimized by them. It wasn’t until a friend introduced me to the issue in a different light that I began to see it was bigger than me, and the way I felt it did or didn’t affect me. I’ve been woke for just under a year now, and I want other people to realize the way that I did.

Whoever you are and whatever you identify as, feminism is for you. Once and for all, feminism is a movement for human equality. And if this angers you, think of the most important woman in your life. How would you feel knowing she’s made less money her whole life than her male counterpart, or that she’s likely been sexualized or objectified, or thought of as less-than, just because she’s a woman. If this “doesn’t apply to you”, then you’re a robot and congratulations for fooling us this whole time.

But if this angers you in a good way, if you want to be a part of something and make your voice heard, follow me. Together we can wake the world up.

– D

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