Like A Virgin

 

The holidays happened and I apologize to you readers (if you’re still out there) that I haven’t posted in a while (thank you for reading!). I hope your New Year and holiday season was full of love and fun.

Now, I’m an atheist. A non-believer in the sense that I don’t hold stock in any kind of higher power, god, force in the universe…what have you. I was raised Catholic, but don’t practice any religion. I’m fine with people that do have a faith they find important to their lives, as long as they aren’t using it as a way to attempt to hurt or shame others (which happens way too frequently I think). Despite my non-beliefs, I still really dig Christmas and it kind of makes me a hypocrite when I wish my loved ones a, “Merry Christmas” but the parties, the drinking, the food, visiting family and friends is the just too good to pass up.

Being a dutiful daughter this year, I agreed to attend the Christmas Eve service at the United Church my mother is a part of. For probably the millionth time in my life, I listened to the story of the Virgin Mary and Joseph looking for room at the inn, the baby Jesus in the manger, the Three Kings… blah blah blah… which was punctuated by my four year old niece whispering, “Two more songs and then we can go open presents!” I was with her on that.

My mind drifted away during the reading, I started to think about how fantastical this story really is and how shitty it must have been for Mary. Think about it: a fourteen-year-old girl who has never had sex awaiting her pending marriage is visited by an angel in the middle of the night who’s like, “You’ve been chosen to have the son of god.” Then bam, she’s pregnant. Then she has to explain to her fiancé, who at first is all like, “Imma dismiss her quietly” (instead of stoning her for being a hussy, I guess?) He doesn’t believe her and how lonely and sad she must have felt. He doesn’t get on board until an angel talks to him and is all like, “Nah, don’t do that. She’s got god inside of her.” So then he decides to stick with her. Then, they have to travel for a really long time and she’s riding a donkey at nine months pregnant, then there’s no room at the inn and has to have her baby in a stable full of animals, and everyone is like, “Look how magnificent this baby is.” I would be thinking, “Look how fucking resilient this teenage girl is.”

This poor girl who’s never had a chance to even know her body by the way of sex or intimacy goes through literally one of the most painful experiences she’s ever had, and she didn’t even get the chance to have the fun that goes along with conceiving a child? Shit, that is one huge undertaking. Her virginity is so important to the story that it’s now permanently part of her name, the Virgin Mary. Not the Strong Mary, or Resourceful Mary, or Dedicated Mary, the virgin part is what defines her. I couldn’t help thinking with my pervy brain, did she just never have sex with her husband after the baby was born? What is it about virginity that bears such importance?

 

I’ve mentioned this before, I attended Catholic School, and since I could remember this idea of virginity as pure and righteous and sex as a means to procreation was the party line. In high school we were inundated with the message that you only had sex once you were married and if you didn’t wait, you were sinning. The virgin/whore dichotomy was pretty set in stone.

But what sex meant in a heteronormative Christian context was a very clear cut P in V action, and for many this is the marker for losing one’s V card. Needless to say, this doesn’t cover homosexual sex and as Dan Savage points out in his commenting on the phenomenon of Christian teens engaging in unprotected anal sex in order to preserve their virginities, then his husband would be a ‘virgin’ too.

I can understand why these folks look for these kind of loopholes (no pun intended—but you should watch this hilarious video full of glorious puns on the subject).

I was an awkward teenager and completely nervous about boys and even though I actually never had sex during this time, I developed a pretty strong attitude that all this fuss about staying a virgin was out of the question for me, and I really didn’t understand why god would care so much about what I did with my vagina.

Then I went away to university and frosh week was basically someone handing you a condom every four minutes. I was still pretty nervous about dating and just didn’t do it. Then the next year rolled around and all my friends seemed to be having sex. Then I, ironically enough, started working at The Condom Shack, a sex boutique.

Yes, I was a virgin working at a sex store. I felt almost like I’d skipped a step somewhere, selling dildos, lubes, condoms, oils, having never really used them myself. The women I worked with were tenacious and knowledgeable and I really did get an education. I was given a sense of empowerment about how to protect my body from pregnancy, able to explain the inner working of products that could (and would) give me pleasure, and a voyeuristic glimpse into the sex lives of many, many people.

But this started a panic in me. Shouldn’t I have sex? It looks like everyone else is having it. It was the complete opposite pressure that I had felt in school. It was a confusing time, and again, the P in V was the ultimate thing. It was like I was living a lie, and in my panic and conflicting ideas I just kind of, got it over with. I was dating someone for a while and it just… happened. He wasn’t a bad guy, but after I felt like it was supposed to have more decorum, more of a feeling like a milestone had passed. I’d felt so much pressure from either side about it and now that it was over I wasn’t even sure if I felt different.

I didn’t have the tools to really negotiate what it is I wanted from sex. It took some experience and growing up to really figure out what it was about being a “virgin” that really bothered me, that I am many things and that this is not the be all an end all of my existence. Now I can honestly say that sex is not something I “get out of the way” and that I have a lot of love and respect for myself and have a healthy sex positive attitude. I even proudly call myself a slut for crying out loud.

I can only hope that Mary, if only the way that I finish this grand tale in my mind, was able to move past this label of being a virginal woman in her own mind, and that she could be a mother, wife, woman, and sexual being. Maybe even after Jesus’ went off to “spread the word” her and Joseph were able to find a room at an inn all to themselves.

Yep…I’m a slut.

As a six-year-old, my favourite past time during recess in the schoolyard wasn’t double dutch, hide-and-go-seek, or kickball. I mean I did do those things, but there was something above all these that I preferred most to engage in. With great pleasure and delight my favourite game to play was: kiss the boys.

Or more specifically, chase and kiss the boys because they regarded girls as “gross” and my mushroom-cut-jumper-wearing self would run around like a maniac doling out deplorable pecks once I’d corner my selected boy of interest. It wasn’t because I liked these boys, it was because they hated it so much that made it fun. I most relished taunting one red haired boy named Shawn who would scream in terror and disgust as I aimed to plant a fat one on him.

Picture 3

Who wouldn’t want THIS?

 

It was something that became a bit of a problem and I still have a report card from that year that reads, “Susie is a good student, but she needs to stop kissing all the boys.”

This statement from my educational institution worried my mother and she sat me down, and in retrospect, she did a great job in gently explaining why this wasn’t appropriate behaviour. Thinking back to this report card now I chuckle at how I was, “slut shamed” as a first grader (my teacher totally had a point, I mean, forcing someone to kiss you against their will is… not great).

You’ll be happy to know, I did grow out of this phase and now I get a more positive reactions from the people I try to French (THANK GAWD). However, with this freedom of partaking in consensual smooches real slut shaming is something that has become a reality.

This past summer I was having a conversation with a friend she talked about her dating life and stated, “I think I’m a bit of a slut” she said in a tone that wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing. I could relate. In a slut shaming culture I’ve had my fill of moments like in high school (when I was a VIRGIN) because I was open about the idea of sex before marriage (Catholic School) people had a certain “ideas” about me, and in day to day things like how much make up I wear or if my skirt is too short. “Well I mean you don’t need to use the word slut if it has bad connotations, how about ‘intercourse enthusiast?’” I joked.

I’m of two minds about the term “slut”. On the one hand, it’s an absolutely heinous epithet used to degrade, devalue, insult, and undermine women. It’s part of a culture where specifically women who exercise their right to be sexual beings, or are just rumoured to get down in the bedroom, are punished for these acts or perception of these acts. Whereas, speaking in a heterosexual context here, men who have the same amount of sexual experience are called a stud or a player or something that is not nearly as damning or demeaning. Within this binary where sexual promiscuous women or girls are labeled as immoral or dissolute, men are regarded as virile and masculine (the sentiment boys will be boys comes to mind) the balance of power and agency is uneven.

On the other hand, as events like Slutwalk, and even some celebrities and organizations have moved to reclaim the word slut as a positive term, allowing for a reworking and reframing of the notion to enable women to take pride in their sexual agency. Re-shifting the power of the word as opposed to keeping it in the negative realm where it’s used to reiterate and replicate misogynist ideas that are harmful to our society as a whole is a truly paramount and I think admirable task.

There was a point where I decided that calling myself a slut was just fine with me. A few months about I was chatting with a male friend and was relaying a story about a hook up I’d had. I talked about how my date and I spent a few hours before hand just asking one another questions about our sexual histories, flirty questions like, “When did you lose your virginity?”, “Where’s the craziest place you’ve had sex?” etc, etc until we ended back at his place…

 

 

…I had a really great time and it was just understood that we weren’t dating and unless we ran into one another at the grocery store we weren’t going to see one another again.

My friend looked at me. “I think you were tricked.”

“What?” I responded.

“I think he tricked you into sleeping with him.”

“Oh you mean the super hot guy who I wanted to get weird with tricked me into it? Was I BAMBOOZLED into intercourse? The whole thing was just his magical powers taking effect so that I had no choice in the matter?”

My friend’s logic relied on the concept that all men want from women is sex and that women are somehow “giving it away” if they succumb to this. He didn’t consider my desire in this situation, and in the back my mind all I could think was “I’M A SLUT DEAL WITH IT.”

It felt really empowering. The more I thought of myself this way and took the meaning of the word to be positive it was something I just… dug.

So yeah, I do think that calling myself a slut in the right context is something I would like at my disposal. I refer to a, “really slutty weekend” with friends in a completely affectionate and joking way. I wouldn’t use it in a derogatory way towards another or myself and that’s how it works for me.

However, I can understand why others wouldn’t want to. Words, labels, epithets, and monikers carry a lot of weight in the way that we identify ourselves. For other individuals out there, to be called forward to “reclaim their inner slut”, or embrace this term maybe marred with too much violence, nuance, and consequence and they simply decide it’s not for them. I think that’s just fine too.

I may be a slut, but I do try to not be an ignorant slut.

The F***ing F Word

This may be old news to some, but this past week TIME magazine release a poll, “Which Word Should be Banned in 2015?”

The fourth annual banishment poll written by Katy Steinmetz asked readers to vote a word offends so much, so deeply it will prompt you to, “seek out the nearest pair of chopsticks and thrust them through your eardrums like straws through plastic lids”. With that lovely imagery to illustrate the amount of disdain for said word to be annexed from the English language with previous year’s words being OMG, YOLO and twerk, TIME released this year’s candidates.

Obvi, when perusing this list of possible terms up for execution, there are a number you can trace their lineage directly to the Interwebs, popular songs, and marketing campaigns. These despicable suspects were chosen to conjure the ire of those who wish to create some kind of standard for language and to suss out those utterances to be dumped post-haste with, “no salvation nor return.”

Maybe I could point out the mild irony of a publication calling for censorship? Perhaps I should note that some of these, “words” are in fact, phrases? But hey, I don’t to knit pick. I guess I could discuss the idea that the English language, since it has been recorded has been constantly evolving and if it didn’t, thou wouldst speaketh thusly, or…whatever. Or, possibly there is something larger, more immediately pressing about this article that I should call attention to?

Picture 3

What… might… seem… wrong…

 

Oh, think I found it—one of the vigorously and passionately chosen words to be abolished from our every day speech: feminist.

I can’t even…

The sound wisdom and reasoning behind this choice:

“You have nothing against feminism itself, but when did it become a thing that every celebrity had to state their position on whether this word applies to them, like some politician declaring a party? Let’s stick to the issues and quit throwing this label around like ticker tape at a Susan B. Anthony parade.”

 

First of all, why you trying to take my Susie B parade away from me?! It’s literally the only time where it’s socially acceptable for me to wear my lady cravat and drink malt liquor from a mason jar in public.

Picture 3

Turn down for what? Indeed.

 

I just want one fucking day where I can get turnt on equality.

 

A resounding, “What The Actual Fuck?” exploded in reaction to the inclusion of this term in the poll, with many calling shame upon the house of TIME. There was a general call to disrupt this kind of casual misogyny, and the outrage was noted by the editors at Time with a note updated on the top of the list on November 12th,

 

“Editor’s Note:

TIME apologizes for the execution of this poll; the word ‘feminist’ should not have been included in a list of words to ban. While we meant to invite debate about some ways the word was used this year, that nuance was lost, and we regret that its inclusion has become a distraction from the important debate over equality and justice.

–Nancy Gibbs”

 

This “apology” is listed on the top the list on the website and for a second when reading it I thought, “Yeah okay Nancy, even though your justification is bullshit and reeks of privilege and ignorance, thanks for apologizing bae.”

But then, as I looked down the list—I assumed was now edited—and was momentarily distracted by the question that if, “kale” was banished what would we than call kale, because I mean the plant still exists right? Maybe something like, ugly-health-plant, wrinkled-fountain-of-youth-thing, or yucky-good-for-you-leaves, or I’m-better-than-you-om-nom-nom-nom? Okay, so some of those still need some work.

 

And wouldn’t you believe it, even after this apology, “feminist” is still on the motha fucking list!

So basically ‘Nuance Nancy’ was all, “sorry not sorry” crying crocodile tears on November 12th when they detailed that the results would be posted on the 19th. Do you honestly not have the technology to just take it off?

“Feminist” actually ended up being the word most voted for. Now, this could be due to trolling by 4chan, as some suggest, but why was it alright for a major publication to feel like it was okay to ban this word?

Going back to the reasoning Time lists to get rid of this term, that you have “no problem with feminism” but can’t stand the word feminist, is a really fucking stupid thing to say.

It’s like, “I have no problem with freedom, but I don’t like the word free” –said no one ever.

By having a problem with people using this word with pride and affection strongly suggests that you DO you DO have a problem with it.

You have a such a enormous problem with it that the idea that “every” (But feminism is for EVERYONE that’s what makes it so GREAAAT) famous folk is proclaiming themselves as a feminist, and you’re so tired of constantly hearing these beautiful celebrities espousing the idea that we are equal and that we shouldn’t treat girls or women differently simply because of your sex is so assaulting that you’re done with the word all together, and it also makes you sound like an ASSHOLE.

joe

Just shut up and take off your shirt Joe. GAWD.

 

I don’t see any urgent call to shut up celebrities when they’re selling us perfume, soft drinks, phones, or shoes, but as soon as they start to articulate an identity that could perhaps do some good for the cultural awareness of issues—then you be all ugh, stap it!

I guess there are no “feminist tampons” or “misogyny free moisturizer” for these people to peddle. Maybe this is the problem? This seems to confuse. The discerning few step back, but wait—this is just about boosting your popularity, right? Why is feminism so popular. Get it outta ma face. Time suggests we should just stop using this word and start talking about the issues, then everything will sort itself out. Right. Because taking away a term for a person to identify with a certain cause, credo, belief, or institution is the first building block for that particular ideology to thrive, right?

I believe that feminism and feminist are tricky words, labels that are misunderstood, misused, and as we can see, maligned. It’s not something you can cover quickly and in no uncertain terms.

To simply call for the doing away with this term, instead of say, using your position as an editor or journalist for a national magazine to discuss the intersectionality of race, gender, sexuality, class, and cultural background and how feminism or being a “feminist” operates differently within these frames, or the problem with creating an umbrella term for a complex and complicated movement? I mean, as an influencer, you do have some power to start a discussion, yaasssss?

I don’t mean to be bossy, or be accused of bullying here, but this is a big fucking deal. . The consequences of suggesting that this is futile word that is something to be shuffled off is a basic* affront for all those trying to articulate a way to say equal rights for all.

I am a feminist (if you haven’t guessed).

To me, it means that everyone is privy to the same rights and privileges as anyone else. These equalities include and are not limited to: equal pay for equal work, freedom from harassment or discrimination, control over ones own body and choices, the right to vote, drive, proper education, resources, unbiased healthcare, the ability to move throughout the world without the threat of danger due simply to the way one chooses to look and act, freedom from unwanted objectification, the right to sexual expression.

As a feminist, I believe all of these rights belong to all genders, sexualities, races, and cultures, so why should I stop calling myself one?

 

*I don’t think I used this one right. The “basic bitch” thing escapes me.

 

 

 

 

Should I Stop Being Such A Girl? (Date Me)

So, I’m fourteen years old and wake in the middle of the night to the most intense stomach pain I have ever experienced. Holding my abdomen, thoroughly convinced that my appendix is about to burst, I walk into my parent’s bedroom and shake my mom awake, “My stomach hurts really, really bad.”

She blinks a few times looking at me in the dark, not impressed or convinced, “You’ll be fine, just go back to sleep.”

“I think I need to go to the hospital.”

“Susan, you are fine!”

I am not fine. I am dying, and she won’t believe me. I’m so angry with her and that after chugging down some Pepto Bismol I curl up in bed, my stomach aching, convinced this is how I was gonna go. I relished with teenage angst the thought that she would come to wake me up in the morning, but I would not stir, for I would never wake again, because I would be DEAD. Oh, how she regret not heeding my warnings about my impending departure. She’d berate herself for her dismissive tone and wish she could go back in time and get me the medical attention I needed.

Yep, she would be so fucking sorry.

In the morning, I realize I had just gotten my first period.

Embarrassed, I sheepishly tell her the news. Handing me a pad the size of a hamburger, she proclaimed, “You’re a woman now.”

“M-AW-M!”

It’s a funny idea: that I’d crossed some kind of thresh hold simply by being afflicted with fertility. The grand concept she was presenting me with was that I was a girl when I went to sleep, but a woman when I woke (alive). Making my way through my early twenties I cannot say that there was a solid moment where I actually felt that I came into, “womanhood.” Most of my adult life has been more about thinking about how these traditional ideas of gender and sexuality intersect with identity. But let’s say if I was to play along with this, my coming of age has been fraught with moments I suppose I could say were when I could claim I was now, “Woman”; Maybe it was when I moved out of my parents house for good? When I first paid my taxes? When I lost my virginity? The first time I called myself one?

I’m really not sure. It’s almost like… I used to think…I had the answers to everything…But now I know… Life doesn’t always go my way…yeah.

I know I’m not a lady.

I know I’m not a “good girl.”

Perhaps I’m, like Britney so eloquently articulates, both. Or neither. Words are fluid. Gender is constructed. Identity if an ongoing process. I think I’m cool with that. I can be many things at once…

BUT WAIT, my FAVOURITE publication, Elite Daily Douchebag Binaries has provided me with another brilliantly written, culturally impactful, cutting edge article: “10 Signs You’re Dating a Woman, Not A Girl” that would disagree with that. Especially if I’m going to attempt to mack on dudes.

Oh, it’s bad to girl?

The title of this article might be misleading to some, as it may suggest that it catalogues ways to avoid committing statutory rape: (Sign #1: Her DOB.) However, this wise man points out the label of “girl” and “woman” have nothing to do with age (whew!) but rather warns that there are humans with fully matured female bodies roaming the world, never actually having achieved this fabled womanhood, that sacred and coveted point where they are no longer just a “girl” (blech). I’m so happy that a man (not a boy, he states) has the gumption and knowledge to alert me and others to the perilous traps of finding yourself dating one—because that’s a bad thing to be right? The more I think about it, there are a lot of examples proving that to talk, act, or throw like a girl is obviously rilly, rilly bad.

So perhaps I can glean some tips from this list?

 

  1. Girls like to dress in revealing clothes because they think they look sexy – women know they look sexy no matter what they wear.

Girls think. Women know.

Okay, so as I understand it, my body is open to public scrutiny to men because, like, how else would I know how to dress and act?

I’ve been told over and over again not to dress like a slut, but I should be sexy though right?

I never considered that when I put on a tight skirt or low cut top I should not think I look sexy. I should never think I am attractive in any way. I thought that thinking something looked good on me was an empowering step. I didn’t even realize how wrong I was. I’m thinking about it the wrong way; because I’m THINKING. Stupid girl thoughts—get outta here!

I should just know. I must, like Neo in The Matrix, embrace a higher way of perceiving myself and the world.

Picture 38

There is no spoon, er, hot skirt.

 

 

  1. Girls expect their men to know how they feel and what they’re thinking – women use their words.

Girls be bitchy.

I mean, it’s not like females are under societal pressures to be agreeable and appeasing. Nope. I mean all he’s saying is to not be a girl you just, like, can never be a person who may have difficult time articulating your thoughts and feelings.

Girls only do this, not like, just people in relationships in general.

And I mean, it’s not like there is a chance that speaking up about my wants and needs might make me appear vulnerable and needy in a way that’s condemned as clingy and emotional—hysterical even. That never happens. Obviously, I should be more a woman about this, and accept this writer’s alert to the fact that men are emotionally stunted and are not going to be able to open themselves up to starting a dialogue with me, and we women should all, “accept their counterparts’ shortcomings”, while having none my girly own.

Okay, so men don’t like that. Stop it. Never be angry. Never have conflicting feelings. Just, fucking, take a lesson from Socrates and know thyself,  so thoroughly and completely in every single waking moment so he doesn’t have to put up with my bitchy shit.

 

 

  1. Girls expect you to pay the tab – women are financially independent.

Girls are greedy spoiled brats who only respect men for money.

Only girls have the capability and tendency to want free shit. Just girls. Nobody else.

I can’t write about this again. I just…I can’t.

 

  1. Girls go out and get wasted – women can hold their liquor and know their limits.

Girls are alcoholics.

Don’t be an alcoholic.

Got it.

But only because I don’t want him to think he’s dating a girl.

Only because of that.

  1. Girls can’t wait to update their Facebook status to “In a relationship” – women forget they have a Facebook.

Girls internet bad.

Perhaps I shall smack my head on something in order to develop some sort of amnesia about what social networking sites I am signed up for? That might help. If I have a concussion maybe I’ll refrain from celebrating any of my life events on the interwebs, until of course, my womanly instincts kick in and I wait the appropriate amount of time (3 man weeks?) before mentioning anything.

Because girls are like, “yeah!” and women are like, “meh.” Right?

  1. Girls watch junk TV – women read.

Girls are dumb.

Never keep up with pop-culture in any way. Cool.

I don’t know who Kim Kardashian is and I have never seen her butt.

 

  1. Girls talk about trivial matters – women know how to hold a stimulating conversation.

Girls are dumb. Super dumb. So dumb. Like stop being a dumb girl.

Yeah, I mean I guess it’s very true that there are no girls that demonstrate any kind of intelligence.

 

  1. Girls eat salads – women eat whatever the hell they want.

Girls eat salads.

Girls eat salads?

Girls…eat…salads…

First of all, he states that girls, “just to go home afterwards and chow down on a pint of ice cream.”

How does he know what I’m eating after the date is over? Did we not say goodbye?

I wonder if this includes all salad. Like is potato salad girly? Would caprese be off the table? What if I add steak? What does it say about my specific gendered label if I got ambroisa salad?

Picture 39

Nah, just kidding, ambrosia salad is asexual.

 

I am so glad he’s telling me what to eat. I cannot for the life of me find any other example on the internet where someone is trying to tell me that the food I eat says something so intrinsically fundamental about me as a person. I was having a hard time figuring out how my eating habits are directly linked to an arbitrary label for my gender, but now I have this.

Thank you. I’ll just shut up and eat my chicken McNuggets with sweet and sour sauce, AND ranch. Like a woman.

  1. Girls stick to what they know – women are always searching to widen their horizons.

Only girls tend to not widen their horizons, and “they’re hoping to find a man to pick them up and show them the way.”

Like, to tell them what’s wrong with the way they are acting?

Like, an article that lists off, say 10 signs of what it means to act in a way that is unappealing to them?

Like, perhaps an articulation of how dissatisfied they are with behaviours they’ve witnessed from having the “unfortunate luck” of dating these reprehensible creatures we shall now categorize under the umbrella of, “Girls”.

I should stop listening to things like that?

 

  1. Girls need guardians – women don’t need anybody but themselves.

Girls need friends, mentors, and a community.

Just like stop being such a girl and be a lone wolf and shit, right? I’ll just wipe out all my contacts in my phone now.

 

I think I got it. I’ll live by this list making sure to purge myself of any tendencies that may mark me as the dreaded girl. I will now be an ideal candidate for the romances of a toenail painting self-actualized man choosing me out of the hoards of tyrannical girls who so blemish the dating lives of men.

Would I then be your girlfriend?… Wait.

And now, I call bullshit.

Would it really have been so hard, to simply write an article listing off signs that you might possibly be in a relationship with someone who is not meeting your needs? Instead of involving the pitting of terms “girls” vs. “women” essentially infantilizing the way females act, maybe he could just say, “Hey ladies, I don’t like it when some of you do this.” He obviously has an idea of what he wants from an ideal partner: eats salad sometimes, not just because she thinks she has to, does not go home and eat anything else (and supposedly he will KNOW), is interesting and intelligent and has some guilty pleasures, emotionally mature so he doesn’t have to be, women who know what they want… but I cannot for the life of me figure out what it was or is about being a girl that would make me incapable of these things.

This kind of Goldilocks misogyny (he wants these ladies to be JUST right) is a dizzying example of how perceptions of gender, specifically for females, can be damaging. By reinforcing a pathologizing and condescending perceptions of women and how they act as directly correlated to a moniker associated with their gender creates a world in which binaries define us, and ultimately hurt us. The same can be said about “acting like a man” thus creating a conception of masculinity that disallows males to articulate their emotions, for example.

And what the fuck is so wrong about being a girl? Why do we have to take this word and flip it around and make it synonymous with stupidity, assholery, and general shittiness? There are millions of girls in the world who are strong, independent, curious, dynamic individuals, and to use this term to malign those you don’t like undermines their attributes and achievements.

I don’t want to feel that when I did identify more with the term “girl” meant it was a bad thing. I don’t want young women in my life to feel that they should be ashamed of saying they are a girl, and when they are ready to be called a “woman” it is not as though they are shuffling off some ugly cocoon.

I think whether or not you call yourself a girl, boy, man, woman, or something in between or outside of this, you should be able to without some dirt bag using it as a way to shame you.

 

Call Me Crazy (Yes This is About Jian)

A few years ago when a very intelligent sensible friend of mine leaned in close and whispered, “You know Galen Weston has a sex room? Like a room of pain?”

galen

Yeah, that guy.

 

I laughed. I couldn’t help it. This was a rumour coming from someone that does not know, and has never known anyone in Mr. Weston’s circle. Why did she feel compelled to tell me this? What is it about human nature that we are so titillated by the idea that someone else is a sex freak? Why is this any of our business, whether or not it’s true? We both giggled about it, she admitted this was just something she had “just heard” and we moved on to joke about what President’s Choice products would be suitable for said—alleged—sex room (Szechwan sauce? Licorice whips?).

decadent

It would, for sure, be called the Decadent Room.

I joke, obviously.

In no uncertain terms am I suggesting that this is true. But did it intrigue you? What about these kinds of rumours do we love so much? Why does it seem more interesting when it’s a celebrity as opposed to say, Bob down the street?

I was going to write something this week about Halloween costumes and the right everyone has wear whatever the fuck they want (stop slut shaming, goddamn it) but when the story broke out last Sunday about Jian Ghomeshi and his termination at the CBC, it’s all I can talk about.

I first heard about the story when checking my Facebook (duh, I’m a Millennial ‘tis where I get my news) and his statement starting with “Dear Everyone,” (hey, that includes me!) he claims to have been fired because his sexual preferences including BDSM, “a campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex girlfriend and a freelance writer.” That anything you hear about him in subsequent weeks will be “lies” and that he was being persecuted for these practices.

Shit, I thought. To be fired just for a kink? There didn’t appear to be any legal allegations against him, and I thought back to my friend and her comments about Mr. Weston, if this sex room was actually true would it in some way damage the brand of PC? It was something we were talking about with absolutely no evidence.  It’s conceivable, maybe there would be those who would sneer in disgust towards a public figure who had a kink. Maybe this is what happened to Jian? Perhaps the CBC was so squicked out by his practices in the boudoir that they felt compelled to give him the boot.

Not at this Broadcasting Company!

But something didn’t seem right.

I read the Facebook statement again.

I tried to imagine myself engaging in sex with someone, completely convinced any rough or BDSM-like acts were mutually pleasurable and agreed upon, only to one day have this used against me. I try to think about how I would be truly taken aback and hurt and angry if I lost my job because of it. What would I do?

I read it again.

I tried to imagine what it would feel like to have a sexual relationship with a high profile personality and what I would do if that person crossed the line. Made me feel uncomfortable. Even hurt me. What would I do?

I read it one more time. This fucker is well-written. An emotionally charged defense of his actions that brings you over to his side, lists his credentials as a professional, a job he lost, “based on a campaign of vengeance.” He brings up his dead father and references himself as a solider (too soon though, right?).

Something started to bother me.

Almost like a well crafted magic trick, the statement had me looking the other way: at the narrative that he was a maligned pervert who had done nothing wrong,  as a member of the BSDM community (which I would argue is not completely represented and understood), he was being martyred in some way. His call to “Everyone” was framed in the idea that BDSM should not be discounted, misunderstood, or stigmatized (which it should not). HOWEVER, by suggesting that this woman’s untrue accusation is simply a product of her anger and maliciousness and had, “found some sympathetic ears by painting herself as a victim and turned this into a campaign” it asks us to totally buy into a likelihood that a jilted ex girlfriend in her early twenties would totally just go out of her way to drag his name through “the mud”, because, you know: bitches be crazy.

He relies on the believability she’s one of those crazy-making girls who fabricates lies and slanders anyone, even someone in the public realm, because like, he broke up with her. His call is to sympathize with him, pat him on the back and sigh, Jian, I’m so sorry you had to interact with the insane lady. To believe that a woman would go so far to destroy the life and livelihood of this man simply because he was denying her a relationship is, the more I thought about it, offensive.

 

I did try to keep this in mind.

 

I honestly felt that we were never going to get more information about what happened and that, with this first, very strong media statement by Jian, if this woman really was attacked or abused the consensus would be that she was anonymous, therefore, her legitimacy would be fiercely doubted. From this statement alone, what we knew about her is that she was young, her feelings were hurt, and she was a liar. It would simply be that she was insane and vengeful. Perhaps a person like this could exist outside of a Telenovela, and if it ended up being the story, how would this effect the next high profile star accused of violence? How would we start to view women involved in these kinds of cases?

But then the other very large and disturbing shoe dropped.

As of today nine women have come forward with accounts that they were beat, choked, and abused by Jian Ghomeshi. Without consent. Without warning. Without any sense of the “adventurous” Jian wants us to believe.

Nine women swept up with their “jilted” emotions?

Nine females unable to help themselves but take up the victim stance?

Nine ladies all working in conspiracy to defame a Canadian radio host?

NINE?!

Let’s say that all of these women are just nuts. Like Winona Ryder in The Crucible crazy. Let’s say it’s a conspiracy constructed by vengeful lovers who decided one day, while filing their nails distressed with boredom and heartbreak that they would set out to destroy the reputation of an honest, hardworking, kinky man…

Or, let’s say that’s bullshit.

Jian?

“I want to thank you for your support and assure you that I intend to meet these allegations directly. I don’t intend to discuss this matter any further with the media.”

Oh, wait, NOW you don’t want to talk to the media. Before you WERE the media and you had control over the situation and now that it’s not in your favour, you don’t have anything to say. Before you were crying us a river—let’s say painting yourself as a victim to find a sympathetic ear, shall we?

There have been a number of articles and discussions covering a many number of issues when looking at this situation including: thoughts about the difference between abuse and BDSM, consent, consent, lack of consent,  why so many incidents of rape and abuse go unreported, the apparent “open secret” that Jian was weird and creepy with women, the court of public opinion, the existence of a graphic video, the strategy of his $55 million dollar lawsuit, why many women fear revealing their identities, and the fucking teddy bear.

TEDDY

W-what?

I am not a journalist, and I am not trying to report these allegations of proof of his actions. For all intents and purposes of this post I am specifically discussing his strategy when it comes to the “crazy ex” narrative. We can never really know the full story.

Maybe there are women who he had sex with who were into the BDSM scene who he had consensual rough sex with. Perhaps he found some individuals who were into his particular kink. Sure, I can see that, and that would be something that’s not anyone’s business. But there are obviously some who did not feel that way. There are women who felt like they were assaulted. For these women who have stepped forward with this sentiment: I believe them.

From last Sunday to this, obviously public opinion about Jian has shifted dramatically. There was initial support for him. I even had a friend’s post on Facebook how upset they were about his firing (funnily enough, after the last week there’s now a whole lot of RADIO FUCKING SILENCE from these folks). But as more information is released, instead of heeding his warning about the angry, contemptuous women who are out to get him, it appears that more than one person is asking the glaring and obvious question:

WHY WOULD THESE WOMEN LIE?

“Because they’re mad at me.” Is not a suitable answer.

“Because this freelance journalist isn’t a fan of mine.” Is shit I will not buy.

“Because they were suddenly rejected and abandoned and are retaliating against me.” Is really fucking unlikely.

I consider these women who have stepped forward to be brave. I can only imagine what it would be like to so publicly discuss violence they’ve experienced.

I’m glad to see that, as opposed to what Jian would have us believe, their stories are being taken seriously and that they are not being dismissed under the idea that they just can’t handle their emotions and want to see an innocent man’s reputation be destroyed. Luckily, they aren’t being viewed solely through the lens he would have us see this first woman. Hopefully, those who have experienced violence and trauma can start to heal and possibly, we can hold someone accountable for any harm they’ve caused.

But hey, call me crazy.

 

Made of Honour: How Do You Wedding?

My little sister is engaged. She asked me to be her Maid of Honour. Immediately I was all like, “YUSSS”—

And then, “Wait. How do you do that?”

I’ve never been in a wedding party. I’ve only been to a handful of weddings, mostly family. I’m not really sure how to start. All of a sudden it’s weird I don’t have a Pintrest board about cute wedding ideas, of which there are like a million. When is everyone Pininterting these things? Maybe I’m missing something. But maybe it’s because, personally, I don’t aspire to get married or have children.

Sure, I can remember being a little girl and fantasizing about a wedding imagining the flowers (orchids), the dress (PRINCESS), and the thought of my husband waiting for me at the altar (Eric from The Little Mermaid). However, that fantasy started to lose it’s allure as I entered puberty.

Sorry, Eric.

Even when I was in a long-term monogamous relationship, I was never itching to walk down the aisle. If someone would ask if he and I were going to get married I’d usually say something like, “We pretty much already are. We live together. We share everything. Basically we just haven’t had this big party.” I meant it. I did feel like we were married. The only thing missing was the marriage license and cake.

Now that I’m currently single, these questions gets a little tougher to answer, “Don’t you want someone to take care of you when you’re old?” Ugh, life is not The Notebook, and statistically speaking; if I married a man he’d be dead years before I kick the bucket.

“Don’t you want to get married?” I feel when this question is posed, if I say no, the burden to argue against the institution as a whole is somehow placed on me (don’t even get me started on the not wanting kids thing, another post perhaps). As though I’m saying marriage is bad. But that’s not what I’m saying. What I am saying is the traditional notion of marriage, as I understand it in Western Culture, specifically for me as an ex-Catholic Torontonian, is not for me.

I’m fine with being alone. I’m fine with the idea of spending a long time with a partner. I don’t think all relationships that I’ll have are going to last, “til death” and I’m somewhat dubious about why there’s so much pressure around tying the knot. I do believe in love, but I don’t really need the marriage or wedding thing—and if I did ultimately get married, I think it would be for other people (family, friends), legal reasons, or to maybe even to finally get a Kitchen Aid mixer as a wedding gift.

Picture 15

I love you. More than you’ll ever know.

To me, marriage is more  like a distant country I’m not particularly keen on visiting (Antarctica. Not hatin’ just sayin’ and you’re a continent, I know) or a television show everyone else is obsessed with that I just can’t get into (House of Cards—I’m the WORST). I know I’m poking fun here, but I’m not putting any judgment on people who get married and humans who place importance on it. This is just how I feel.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love going to weddings. I fucking adore planning parties. There are really wonderful weddings and truly successful marriages. It’s a beautiful thing to want to be part of someone’s life so intrinsically, so fully, that you stand up in front of everyone you know and love just to let them know. Hell, the last wedding I went to I almost starting bawling the moment I saw the bride. She was so beautiful and so in love and I can’t wait to see that for my baby sister, and more friends and family who get married in the future.

That being said, I understand being a Maid of Honour is not the same as choosing to have a wedding and I’ve gone on a little bit of a tangent about myself, but let’s keep talking about me and back to my original question:

What does it mean to be a Maid of Honour?

Starting from the basics, I decided to literally find out what a Maid of Honour is. I looked it up in ever so up-to-date Merriam Webster dictionary:

 “ an unmarried lady usually of noble birth whose duty it is to attend a queen or a princess”

Unmarried: Check. (SEE ABOVE)

Noble Birth: What year is this?

Attend a Queen or Princess: I say this in the best way possible: my sister is a princess.

Just in case you were wondering, the “Matron of Honour” is someone who is married, because we really must ensure that a woman’s marital status is constantly defined because if we don’t know if she’s married or not how do we know if she belongs to someone?

 

I promised I wouldn’t get worked up about this.

The last couple of weeks of  looking through bridal magazines, online forums, and Women’s Health (apparently) for the duties of a MOH (we short form, we busy) it appears that my main responsibilities are to help organize, plan, co-ordinate, and ensure it’s a good time.

Also did you know the MOH gets to:

“Make sure you taste everything for the caterer. Go to all bridal fairs and cake tastings.”

SO, eat a bunch of free food and cake? However will I manage to struggle through it.

“Help shop for dresses (the bride’s and the bridesmaids’). And the MOH pays for her own entire wedding outfit (including shoes).”

I like shopping. I’m really excited to help my sister find the dress for her. Not gonna lie, I’m pumped to pick out a kick ass dress for myself. The paying doesn’t bother me, I mean, weddings are expensive so I don’t mind buying a dress, as long as it isn’t hideous (vain!).

I love the emphasis here on paying for the entire outfit –including shoes! Like there’s been someone who’s like, “Okay, I’ll buy this dress but I mean, you’re making me where my OWN shoes for this!” Who are these people who draw the line at footwear?

“Attend all pre-wedding parties.”

Uh, yeah duh, sounds awesome. Planning parties? Getting people together? Serving up miniature food and specialty cocktails. This is my jam. I’m so ready.

 

 

The downsides seem to include:

Apparently my mother is going to turn into a monster and she needs to be medicated.

And finally, what most articles suggest is that the stress of holy matrimony will send my sister spiraling into a kind of stress frenzy where she is constantly overwhelmed and it is my duty that she be, “kept hydrated”, “feed”, and helped to get dressed and go to the bathroom. I also need to make sure to “plump” and “shake out” her dress, and keep people from talking to her for too long at the reception line. I know my sister is an adult and is going to manage this just fine, but it makes me giggle to think of her turning into some kind of deranged infant in a unmanageable dress with some kind of anxiety disorder who you mustn’t try to spook.

Even though I would appear to be ultimately unqualified given my personal perspective on marriage, my inexperience with weddings, and my apparent irreverence and ignorance, I will try my very best to make sure to not be a MOD (Maid of Dishonour) about any of this. Like, say, making one of the happiest occasions in my sister and my fiancé-in-law(?)’s life all about me in a blog post? Oops, sorry won’t be such a navel gazing piece of shit, it’s all about you from now on, okay?

With that, I reiterate my answer to my sister’s query if I will be a supportive, loving, excited, and not so sassy right-hand unlady to her at the event she is so thrilled about and deserving of—regardless of my own personal issues—if I can be there with her through this process and celebrate her love:

I do.

 

 

Okay, Stupid-AGAIN! Even Stupider. Or, Why my Vagina is worth more than a G&T

Earlier this week I was casually looking through my OKCupid messages, and THIS happened.02-001

2-002

02-003

Let’s take a second to unpack this bag of shit, shall we?

Now, why did I respond to this in the first place you might ask? I suppose I was curious as to why this guy would reference the—somewhat outdated— Borat quote that is meant to be a satire on this kind of misogynic attitude. He was just trying to get my attention, and in a moment of weakness and annoyance, he did. I decided to inquire if this fuckhead thought he was being HI-LARIOUS, but his subsequent messages surpassed any kind of real assholery I could have imagined.

The logic here is staggering. It depends on three things:

1) He has a valid point. (NOPE)

2) If we did go out on a, “date” and not just, “skip to the sex” I would expect him to pay for everything. (NOT TRUE)

3) Then the gigantic leap of a notion that when women accept a man’s offer to purchase her something she is inherently entering into some kind of contract wherein her body is now openly available to him because he dished out some cash for her apple martini and appeteaser, and this makes her just like a, “prostitute.” (DEAR LORD!)

 

Now, I am not placing judgment on sex workers. I respect their choices. I don’t think there is anything morally or ethically wrong with those choices. But I am not a sex worker. I have made that clear to some individuals in a polite and in no uncertain terms through this dating site, without judgment. Really, I mean if that’s what you’re looking for, cool, I’m just not it.

But this uncouth human being is not actually asking me for services as sex worker. He’s using the term, “prostitute” in a negative sense to somehow convince me to have sex with him (for free!) lest be a labeled a whore.

Obviously this dude has MAJOR issues with women and how to treat them (like people, maybe?) but this message did get me thinking about dating, gender roles, and money (what else would I be thinking about?) When I stop to think about it, I have two conclusions:

 

I like when my date pays for things.

I do.

I think it’s nice. They grab your dinner or drinks and or tickets to a show. I always offer to pay, and it is nice to have someone simply just want to take you out and show you a good time. I like the feeling of being treated.

Doesn’t everyone?

I like paying for things for my date.

I do.

Especially when the date is going well. I like when the bill comes and I wave my hand in objection, “I got this.” There’s a pleasure I feel when I can offer something to someone I think is interesting, fun, and attractive.

Doesn’t everyone?

In neither of these circumstances am I thinking about this as an exchange for sex.

For me, there has never been a time where I’ve thought, “Oh, he paid for the tapas, I’m not that into him, but I’ll throw him a spitty HJ for the monetary trouble he’s gone through.”

Nor am I thinking, “Yeah, boy. You better eat that poutine I’ve purchased for you. You’re gonna have to eat something else* later to pay me back.”

*My pussy.

I understand that this there is a social construction that does set up the expectation—in a heterosexual relationship—the man pays to signal that he is interested in his partner, and that, opposed to two friends catching a movie, it’s a way to connotate a romantic interest. It is, in fact, a social construction I participate in all the time. But it doesn’t me a hooker.

It’s about chivalry (not dead, just sick?) like when a man opens a door for me, or let’s me take the only cab on the street at 2 am. This behavior is motivated by the fact that I am a woman, “Ladies first” is the phrase that comes to mind. I am very happy to receive these gestures (even though I’m not a lady).

judy

I know, Judy.

But personally, I do believe, like paying for stuff,  chivalry should not only be exclusive to men. We can all be generous.  We can all be polite. No matter what our bits are.

That being said, I don’t think there’s anything wrong if, say, there’s a relationship where there is one partner who pays more than the other. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it being split right down the middle. This is just a personal preference I’m talking about here. But I don’t think there should ever be a underlying power dynamic that the person who accepts free drinks, or gifts, or whatever is somehow expected to return the favour through sex. Or, on the other hand one partner is paying not because they want to, but because they think they HAVE to. That just spells disaster. Case in point: this message I received.

Obviously this doo-doo has lived his life in such a way that he has some to resent the very notion of buying something for a woman. Maybe I’m going too hard on him? Perhaps the pressure of financing every single sexual opportunity has driven him to the point of believing all women who take any kind of gift from him is a sex worker. The societal pressure of being, “the provider” simply because he has a penis may have just pushed him over the edge.

Maybe you might think I was overreacting by telling him off. Maybe, you think I’m just being a silly feminist (ugh) who just can’t face the truth and if I intend on living in the world I should just suck it up. I mean, he does think I’m hawt.

 

I awt nawt be such a twat about his awffer.

Maybe, as he says, I’m just being “rude”….

…Hmm…. NOPE. Dravid67, I don’t take it back. I refuse.

I don’t want to live in a world where someone thinks they can buy me a G&T and get a full tour of my concavity for the night. Or even worse, turns this logic around on me like it’s fucking MY FAULT he’s using this tactic to sleep with women, disrespecting and resenting them for it, and then telling me I should just forgo the whole thing so I can have the supreme pleasure of a sexual encounter with this:

02-004

100% Asshole.

Why do you bring me these things internet? WHY INTERNET?

I promise next week I’ll write something that isn’t a huge rant against a hideous stranger.

 

Solo in the City: An Education in Fear

I haven’t posted in while and that’s because I was on vacation in New York City.

Be jealous.

This was my first time in New York. This was my first time travelling alone.

I won’t bore you with the details of my trip, but I had a fantastic time.  No music or podcasts, no social media or texts, I was on my own. Just me.  The ability to go where I wanted, when I wanted, was liberating.

Also, when you’re alone nobody can judge you for eating pizza every day.

I ate it all.

Before I left on my trip, I started to notice a pattern. I’d tell people about my plans, letting them know I was going solo. Most reactions were, “Oh that’s so fun, you’ve never been? You’re going to have a great time.” This was usually followed by recommendations for what to do in the city…. But then there would be further advice: “Be careful”, “Watch out.” One male friend relayed a cautionary tale about a female family member who had gone to New York and almost been forced into a van by a group of men, “Watch out for that.” Essentially his message was to watch out lest I be attacked, kidnapped, or sexually assaulted. Don’t get raped. I understand that these warnings from family and friends come from a legitimate place of concern for my well being, but I couldn’t help the nagging feeling that no one (or at least not as many people) would be saying this to me if I were a man travelling alone.

I started to get defensive. Particularly sarcastic and facetious, Oh… So…DON’T GET RAPED? Well, shucks I never thought about it that way…But I’m on vacation goddamn it! I already have to worry about figuring out the subway and THIS too! However will I manage to make it?

 

I started to take these comments as a little patronizing. I mean, I’m a woman already living and working in a big city who does a many number of things alone. At night even. Unaccompanied. The horror.

But when I actually thought about it, I realized how much this is actually on my radar. There is an education I’ve received based on the fact that I’m a biological female: Always be on guard. Don’t take drinks from strangers. Don’t walk alone through the park. Don’t wear certain clothing if you don’t want to be considered a slut, and therefore somehow more susceptible and deserving of an attack.

This is actually the way I move in the world. There are places I won’t walk alone after a certain time of night. If I’m at a bar have had drinks, I will most likely opt to take a cab home, not only for convenience, but for safety. If I do walk, especially at night and there is a man by himself walking behind me, I’ll use the reflection from storefront windows to see where he is. Often, I’ll slow down or stop, pretending to check something on my phone and let him pass me so I can keep on eye on him. I get nervous when a car slows down next to me. Then there’s the key trick–I’ll slip them between my fingers in the advent that a three inch key is going to save me from the attack that I have been warned will, statistcally speaking, come.

Stay back.

It’s a sad realization, but the truth is—I live a lot of my life in fear.

I didn’t always have this fear.

I grew up in a small town where we didn’t lock the front door, or even our cars. I would walk around town without the slightest notion that anyone would ever want to hurt me.

Then I grew up and moved to Toronto.

In my second year of university I was living just outside Moss Park. It’s a pretty rough area with quite a few homeless or under housed people. There were sex workers who were very friendly, but there were times where my roommates and I would encounter a man in a car attempting to pick us up. Occasionally, you would hear a popping sound in the distance followed by sirens that could have quite possibly been gunfire. But we weren’t scared.

There was one night where I was walking down Sherbourne after having gone on a date. I had just past Filmores, a particularly suspect strip club. It was the end of summer at about 2:45 in the morning. I was wearing a white sundress and had walked, for the most part, alone from Queens Quay. As I rounded the corner, a cab stopped next to me. The driver pulled down the window, “I’ll drive you home.” I responded that I didn’t have any money and I just lived around the corner, “That’s fine you don’t have to pay. You shouldn’t be walking here.” I accepted his offer and directed him to my house. He was almost angry with me. “Young girls like you shouldn’t be walking about all alone so late” he said. Before I stepped out the door he instructed me, “Next time, take a cab home.”

My education continued when several attacks were reported on the campus of my university, stories from friends about being followed or threatened, catcalls and sexually aggressive comments directed towards me on the street. Once I gave the finger to a group of men in a car who had called out, “I want to fuck you in the pussy” they threw a beer bottle out of the window that shattered at my feet. It’s quite an education, to learn that you’ll never be safe, just because of your biology and appearance.

The irony is, is that if a cab driver offered to drive me home for free now, I would probably be hesitant. I wouldn’t trust him.

Now I’m not the first person to point this out, but maybe if we conditioned men to you know, respect women as equals and escape this whole rape culture thing, I wouldn’t have to live with such fear. What would it look like if men were given the same kind of education when it came to not harassing maligning or disrespecting not just women, but other bodies and identities that have been deemed fair game for this kind of treatment?

When I say gender, you say equality!

I didn’t take a vacation from this fear. It’s something I carry with me. But I will say there was never a time on my vacation where I felt unsafe. I encountered some of the loveliest, nicest, kindest human beings. From strangers offering me directions, friendly hellos, interesting conversations, I felt nothing short of welcome in the Big Bad Apple, but I was still on guard.

 

 

Tall Tales

“You’re really tall.”

As a woman standing at five-foot-nine this is something people say to me. Mostly men. Particularly from men shorter than I. As though I am unaware.

It’s not exactly a compliment.

It’s not exactly an insult.

It’s kind of like an accusation.

Sometimes I think they mean it as a good thing, and then it’s not?

Yeah, being tall is Awe–WAIT, WHAT?

More often than not, it’s a shitty observation that comes with the subtextual message that I am somehow doing wrong by being such a fucking–TALL PERSON. It makes me feel immediately self-conscious: Is he trying to say I’m too tall? Is there something wrong with being tall? Does he think I’m ENORMOUS?

For example: I recently attended a friend’s wedding, and after the toasts, the meal, and the cake cutting we all hit the dance floor. The gentleman who had been sitting across the beautifully decorated dinner table sidled up to me,

“Wow. You’re really tall. I was going to talk to you… but you know, you’re so tall.”

“Oh, well, I mean we have actually spoken.”

“I know, but I meant, like, talk to you.”

Now, how the fuck am I supposed to respond to that? I mean…He’s right. I am tall, extra tall in the heels I’m wearing. But this statement wasn’t about me, it was about him, he’s five-foot-six or something and I guess he just can’t help himself but alert me to the fact that my height excludes me from being a prospective sexual partner. And because, women’s bodies are like, you know, public property wherein comments about their physical appearance are offered freely and without consequence, I guess I should just be happy that a man is speaking to me and just eat it, right?

I don’t get it; in the Western ideal of beauty we worship tall, long legged, super models and actresses. High heels are marketed specifically to women. But I’ve found that once those uncomfortable, overly priced, fuck me pumps have you looming over a man, he’ll take the opportunity to knock you down a peg with a look up and down and make an announcement that makes you rethink what exactly you are supposed to look like.

I just can’t win.

Maybe I should react in kind, making declarations about men without offering a clear indication of what exactly I mean by it:

“You have hair on your face.” (subtext: SLOB)

“Your hands are medium sized.” (subtext: WHAT DOES THAT MEAN ABOUT YOUR DICK?)

“You have lips.” (subtext: DON’T YOU THINK THAT MAKES YOU WEIRD?)

I guess my insecurity about my height goes back to the seventh grade when I hit puberty and shot up five inches in a summer and suddenly had breasts. School dances provided horrifying opportunities where I would awkwardly slow dance with the boys a solid foot shorter than me, their hands perched lightly on my waist, the space between us not because we were, “leaving room for the Holy Spirit”, as my teachers used to say, but because in comparison to these prepubescent boys I was a gigantic sweaty weirdo they didn’t want to get too close to. Inevitably, my crushes would end up “going out” with the petite, cute girls in class.

And so, in the wish to be a smaller, lighter, cooler girl I began to slouch, like really slouch (much to the horror and constant objection of my Chiropractor father).

Picture 11

It took me years to have the confidence to stand up straight. Boys finally caught up with me and we could start talking and dancing at eye level, but there is still a small part of me that just wants to slouch my shoulders and droop my head forward, lest I be noticed.

So what’s with this unwritten rule that heterosexual men are supposed to be taller than their partner? … I guess…It’s because… they’re better than us right? Something…about… how they are supposed to be physically stronger and, just like, more superior? That’s it right? Okay, I’m being too facetious, I recognize and can sympathize with an impossible and prescriptive beauty standard, and I know there is pressure on men to be tall and fit and just like Jon Hamm. I get it.

Just listen to Tina.

 

What I came to quickly realize when I started to date, specifically online, and when using the app Tinder is that a lot of men mentioned their height (and those who did all said they were 6 feet tall… really… are you all six feet tall?!)

I had a Tinder date a little while back. I really liked this guy’s photos. He was hot. In the description section he stated, “These photos make me look taller than I really am, I’m 5”8” I was like, Okay, That’s really a problem for me. A little shorter than me shouldn’t be a big deal right?

HOWEVER, when he showed up for the date, he was more like five-foot-six. It didn’t bother me so much that he was shorter, it was that he was a short LIAR.

Like, I get that everyone lies a little bit when they are dating, like little white lies like making your job sound more exciting than it actually is, and that you work out and eat kale or… whatever, those are lies that can go on for a long time before the other person realizes you’re a phony, but to lie about your height? That’s something you can tell right away. The date didn’t go well for other reasons (he kind of sucked as a person), but I couldn’t help but be simultaneously bothered by his deceitfulness and ultimately reflective about the nature of our heightist society where we all feel pressure to look and act a certain way.

Now, I’m a vapid, beauty obsessed, shallow asshole like the rest of us, and I do tend to find taller men more attractive, which makes me a huge hypocrite, but I have never walked up to a shortie and been like, “Damn. You short.” Because that would not be kind of me. I would be commenting on something they just couldn’t help, so why do these men think it’s okay to point out my stature in a negative way?

 

I am tall and am going to continue to be so until I’m an old lady and start to shrink. But in the meantime I’m going to stand up straight, own my height, and maybe instead of just pointing out that I stand at a different altitude, just be nice to me and see me a whole person and if you say something about my physical appearance it should be something respectful and maybe complimentary?

Because, really,  everybody’s the same height lying down, AMIRITE?

Drunk in Love (Or Not)

The end of summer is upon us and that means the kids will be going back to school, sweaters will emerge from our closets, pumpkin will find it way into a many number of our food and drinks, and the last ditch effort for the summer fling is in full force.

My friend just got engaged so I ask her out for drinks, she brings along her friend who is going to get married in two weeks. We pre-drink at my place and end up at the Drake. It’s a Saturday night in Toronto after midnight, so there is a line everywhere, and the Drake is no exception. I politely approach the bouncer at the head the line in the hopes of ascertaining how long the wait will be when the bride-to-be comes up behind me, interrupting my overly polite request:

“We’re here for Dave’s* birthday party.”

“Dave who?”

“What do you mean Dave WHO?! We’re here for his BIRTHDAY!”

This girl was serious.

He looks the three of us up and down and I try to surpress a smirk when I see that the five-foot-three bride-to-be has successfully flummoxed this six-foot-two ominous looking bouncer. He unclasps the velvet rope ushering us in, “You still have to pay cover,” he says in a slightly muted voice.

We peer into the dance floor; it’s loud, crowded, and haunted house level dark. Last time I came here a guy spilled his drink down my back. The memory of ice cubes in my panties comes rushing back.

The bride-to-be decides this won’t do: We have to get up to the top patio. The stairs to the patio is guarded by another bouncer who, although he has the physique to match his position, is a baby faced man in his mid-twenties, nervously playing with the radio leading into his ear. She doesn’t even look at him. She starts to ascend the stairs with confidence and we follow until the bouncer puts his arm out like a police officer directing traffic.

“We’re at capacity.”

“We are here for Dave’s birthday!”

“We… We…” He fumbles with his radio.

“How are we going to get the bottle service going if we aren’t up there?! It’s for DAVE!”

This goes on for a little bit, this young man not sure what to make of us, I’ve decided to look unimpressed and aloof to the whole affair and let her do her thing, which at this point I’m realizing she does super well. I’m out of her league when it comes to the cool, confident party girl. At her insistence, he let’s us up the stairs and we find ourselves out on the packed patio.

An extremely intoxicated man approaches me:

“Do you read?”

“What?!” (the music is really loud)

“Do you READ?”

“Yeah.”

“What do you read?”

“Books.”

“What kind?”

“The, well, the fiction kind, and… you know… Books.”

“Weird. What’s the last book you read?”

“Love in the Time of Cholera.”

“I don’t know that one.”

“It’s kind of popular.”

“Who wrote it?”

“Gabriel Garcia Marquez.”

“I don’t know her.”

I just walk away.

 

We grab some drinks and my friends eye a cute boy with a ponytail standing at the other end. I approach him:

“Hey my friends like your ponytail.”

“Oh yeah.”

My friends join us and one starts to play with his hair.

“Susan’s got really long hair!”

He puts his hand in my hair.

“Nah. Not enough volume.”

“Well, fuck you too.”

“Sorry?”

“I said fuck you too Ponytail, I was just trying to introduce you to my cute friends and you insult my hair!?!”

You’re dismissed.

Maybe I was just a little drunk.

Maybe I was about to get my period.

Maybe I’m just not cut out for this particular crowd.

I’m more comfortable sitting on a patio in Kensington, dancing to 90’s hip-hop at Clinton’s or The Garrison, or even playing Ms. PacMan at Get Well. There’s a certain frequency these places like the Drake seem to function at, where the top 40 music plays with an overtone of YOLO an undercurrent of find someone to hook-up with or GTFO. I’m having fun with my friends, but there’s something about the room that makes me feel uncomfortable, and I’m slightly off put by the obvious desperation of the waning summer and I guess I was putting out a not so great vibe. As one gentleman articulated,

“I’m gonna guess you’re twenty-six.”

“That’s not that far off.”

“I think your friend is twenty-four.”

“I’ll tell her that.”

“The only reason I say you’re older is because of your attitude, you know… You just, you’re talking to me but you got this attitude like, ‘Yeah you’re a nice guy, but FUCK YOU, you know’?”

I thank him for his feedback and try to relax a little. We start chatting with a group of guys who came together,

“So do you party?”

“Ye—Wait. Are you asking if I go out and have fun at parties or if I do cocaine?”

“Both.”

“I go out to parties.”

“Do you want to come back with us and do a mountain of cocaine?”

“Oh, no thank you”

“Why not?”

“It’s a very nice offer, really, but no thanks.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t want to.”

“WHY?”

“Because I said no.”

“What did you think we were going to molest you?”

“Well NOW I do.”

We quickly run out of things to talk about.

Being technology obsessed and pretty narcissistic, I take a SnapChat to send out to everyone I know. In the middle of recording a short video, I feel a hand slip around my waist, and a man’s face in my ear.

“What are you SnapChatting for?”

He pinches my waist.

“None of your business.” I take a step back from him.

“Oh… I just… I’m with those guys.” He points to the men my friends are talking to.

“I don’t know those guys.”

He makes a quick exit.

The bride-to-be comes over to me, “What did you do that for?”

“He touched me without my permission.”

“That’s what guys do Susan, you’re hot and they want to touch you.”

I don’t have the time, energy, or blood-alcohol level to explain to her that, although, I am a big fan of being touched, kissed, fondled, fucked, you name it, by men—HOWEVER, this must come with my explicit permission and I am not comfortable living in a world where women’s bodies are seen as public property. Plus, that fucker pinched me really hard.

And then it hits me—Not only am I not cool enough, but I am also too feminist for this bar.
(On this particular night. I’ll go back for like, brunch and maybe a show or just drinks–really not tyring to pass judgement on the Drake as an institution).

I don’t want to participate in a culture where I have to act in a certain way just for the pleasure of men. I’m not against receiving a compliment, but the lesson she was attempting to relay to me is that I should enjoy male attention and accept it as some kind of validation based solely on my physical appearance.

 

And so my night continues in this fashion. Just being myself, which seems to assure that I will be going home alone tonight. Case in point:  A man in a suit offers to buy me a drink and I make a joke about Rohypnol. On out way back down the stairs a woman walking up lets me know my fly is down—AWESOME.

We hit the dance floor and I remember I can’t dance, but fuck it, I’m dancing for me, not for anyone else. A man from the sidewalk sees my friends dancing and taps on the glass, I’m flailing away as they wave and laugh.

I got moves.

I broke one of my rules that I’ve acquired after years of living in the city: Don’t stay on Queen Street West after last call. At the strike of 2:30 the clubs and bars vomit out crowds of unruly, drunk, horny, people all trying to either get food or a cab, and now I was one of them.

I leave my friends at the epic line at the poutine joint, I do have to work in the morning. I start walking down Queen and pass groups of all kinds of folks and I try to hail a cab, but there are none to be found, so instead, I start walking. At this point in the night, as a solo woman, I have to decide whether or not I take a side street where it’s quieter, but that comes with the danger that if someone attacks me there’s no one around, or I take the major streets and deal with the catcalls, but with the safety net of witnesses. (Patriarchy!)

I choose the main streets, walking up Ossington ignoring the calls of “Where are you going?” and “You’re hot!” When I finally reach College I see a cab and raise my arm. When it stops, a man about my age walks up to the door as well.

“Oh I’m sorry, I don’t want to steal your cab.”

“No, no.” he says, “Ladies first.”

I’ll take it.

Let’s say I’m too feminist for the bar, but I’m not above taking the cab based solely on the fact that I am female. I say thank you, and really mean it, and take my silly ass home.

*There is no Dave.