My Least Favorite Trope (and this post will include spoilers for The Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Matrix, Western Civilization, and—cod help me—Bulletproof Monk*.) is the thing where there’s an awesome, smart, wonderful, powerful female character who by all rights ought to be the Chosen One and the hero of the movie, who is tasked with taking care of some generally ineffectual male character who is, for reasons of wish fulfillment, actually the person the film focuses on. She mentors him, she teaches him, and she inevitably becomes his girlfriend… and he gets the job she wanted: he gets to be the Chosen One even though she’s obviously far more qualified. And all he has to do to get it and deserve it is Man Up and Take Responsibility.
And that’s it. Every god-damned time. The mere fact of naming the films above and naming the trope gives away the entire plot and character arc of every single movie.”
This is why most movies are BOOOOOOOOORING
At my dear friends wedding today and I’m struggling with liking myself. I’m trying to be present for them and their day, but I can’t help but feel the tugging sound of my inner voice telling me that I am gross, puffy, chubby, ugly etc. etc. etc (lies lies lies). So, instead of letting it swallow me whole, I reached out to my bestest friend - she who knows me best and grounds me the most. She was just here over the weekend and I felt amazing - present in my body, confident. She looked me directly in my eyes and told me I was beautiful and, for whatever reason, I believed her. I believe her when she tells me the truth. So, I picked up my phone and sent her a text. What she said brought tears to my eyes:
"You just have to remember that its all an illusion. Whenever you think these things, take a moment to breathe and see yourself through my eyes or Jason’s eyes. You’re beautiful, healthy, loving and perfect. We brought each other here to help each other remember our greatness."
How lucky I am to have people in my life who love me this way and who can hold the necessary space for me as I try and navigate moving through and away from my toxic self image. So, as I take a moment to recalibrate my thinking on this very special day, a wedding to celebrate the love between two incredible women, I hope you too take a moment to remember your own greatness exactly as you are, right now in this moment.
TW: porn, eating disorders, body dysmorphia
Porn is a difficult thing for me. From a strictly feminist perspective, I stand by sex work as real work. I think porn is a complex industry and, within that industry, feminist porn is being made, which I think is a good thing. However, largely I think the porn industry blurs too many lines when it comes to consent, objectification, and the co-opting of bodies as product. I feel pornography is a successful mechanism of patriarchal capitalism - through the heterosexual male gaze, sex and bodies become mere products to consume which feeds into a larger economic system that survives on oppression. This is also the very system that produces the conditions which coerce people into this kind of work (although not all sex workers are coerced).
Additionally and on a personal level, as someone who has suffered from eating disorders and experiences agonizing body dysmorphia, pornography has become something that makes me feel inadequate as a human being and as a lover. It brings up for me confusing feelings about femininity and my own failings at successfully performing a particular kind of femininity. Pornography it seems is a paradigm that, like many other aspects of western culture such as advertising etc, makes me feel like I fail, that I am a failure. Logically, I understand that this isn’t true - it is an illusion. I fail at nothing in this regard because I can only be who I am. I cannot be all of the people - all of the porn stars, all of the celebrities, all of the models, all at once. However, pornography is very good at inciting this toxic thinking for me. Instantly I begin to compare myself - I reflect on recent intimate moments with my partner and begin to cringe at all the ways my body is different than porn stars, the ways my body responds to pleasure etc. Ultimately, I am deeply psychologically and emotionally triggered by porn.
So, what do I do when I see my partner has been watching porn? How do I navigate these personal and political feelings? How do I acknowledge and respect my partners privacy and understand my partners own desires and dependence on pornography for self-pleasure while respecting my own needs and position with this cultural phenomenon? What do I do when knowing that my partner has been engaging in this sex market makes me feel emotionally unsafe? Does anyone relate?
So, during my twenties, my personal mission was to face, confront, and heal my herpes diagnoses (the original inspiration for this blog!). After dedicating much of the last 6 years to this crusade (this blog, attending UC Berkeley and focusing all of my feminist research on the subject, personal therapy etc.) I feel quite settled into and fully accept the fact that I live my life with HSV. So, at almost 30 years old, it is time to face, confront, and heal my profoundly deep and dysfunctional body image. It is my hope to share with you all along this journey just as I have with herpes. Thank you for your love and support! Lets do this!
If you have ever looked upon another persons body and deemed yourself righteous and arrogant enough to judge it as anything less than PERFECT exactly how it is, then you are a fool. As if you are the all-seeing, all-knowing omnipresent judge of what the “truth” of beauty is. What kind of fucking world do we live in? The saddest part of all is that I too am one of these fools who has placed this arrogant judgement most squarely upon my own reflection. Such a fool am I to think I have eyes clear enough to see who I really am.
TW: domestic violence
Feminist/animal studies friends! Have any of you seen Dawn of The Planet of the Apes? I just saw it and wow, quite a lot is going on in this film! What were your thoughts?
Do you believe that sex is a basic human need? Is it necessary to have a healthy sex life to have a happy, fulfilling, and stable life?
These are two great questions, but I don’t think they are mutually exclusive. I think sexuality, in all of its forms (including asexuality, which IS a sexuality) is intrinsic to the human experience. Considering it a basic human need, however, is a difficult question to consider. Our sense of identity/self is always tied up with sexuality and sexual awareness. This is not easily extractable as some singular ‘biological’ expression of human consciousness, but also a constant moment-to-moment negotiation with societies and cultures that are saturated with sexuality. Furthermore, as social people, we are constantly negotiating the sexuality of others and situating ourselves in relation to that as well. So, is the act of sex a basic human need? For some people, yes. For others, no. Has it become a fundamental part of our human socio-cultural experience? Yes, I would say it has - even if only in a symbolic sense. Regarding your last question, I would argue it is not universally necessary to have a healthy sex life in order to live a happy, fulfilling, and stable life. Not in the slightest. There are plenty of people who are ace, demi, or celibate (there are many, many shades of sexuality here) that are leading wonderful and beautiful lives. I suppose the last thing I will say here is that I am always very reluctant to extract something like sex, for instance, and thing of it as a singular modality of life. Nothing is ever extractable. Everything is tied up together, just like a rhizome. We cannot think of sex without thinking of economics, history, gender, race, ability, geography, language etc. These things are constantly in conversation with each other affecting the way an individual comes to understand the self and then relate with the outer world.
A fantastic satire on both the ridiculousness and hypocrisy behind rhetoric surrounding female* modesty.
The Sex Uneducated Needs Your Help!
I am reaching out to all you lovely people to see if you could help me?
I recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Gender and Women’s Studies. I still live in the Bay Area and plan to remain here for the foreseeable future.
After blogging for years about gender, sexuality, sexual health, and social issues along with my years studying these aspects of life academically, I want to do it professionally!
If you or anyone you know has a position in the Bay Area for a company or non-profit that deals directly with these issues, please contact me!
Thank you SO much!
All the best