Tag Archives: feminism

Notes From a Novice Feminist

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“Weren’t you scared? I would be scared!”

“You’re so brave.”

“Well aren’t you just an independent little thing!”

“You did it by yourself?! * look of approval* I’m impressed!”

“I think it’s great that today’s females are so adventurous.”

These were just a few of the remarks made to me in response to me telling people that I went on a vacation by myself… 9 hours away… And I drove. Oh… and I’m a woman… Almost forgot to tell you that. Not that it matters. Yet apparently it does.

As I’ve gotten older I have become more and more a feminist. Not by choice but kind of by the natural progression of my life. I’m a 31 year old single woman with no kids, no husband, and no prospects… Yet. I went from living by myself in a 2 bedroom apartment to choosing to move into my best friend’s basement… Just because I could. I spend most nights recluse in said basement with my heating blanket, candles and Netflix. When I’m not at home I’m throwing myself into my job, or I go on a date here or there when I find someone that seems worth the discomfort of wearing my “date bra”, or you can find me doing a variety of other activities. Sometimes if I’m feeling extra saucy I’ll actually hang out with real live people! Regardless of where I’m at or what I’m doing, I am always looking ahead to the next thing I’m going to do or the next place I’m going to travel to, and in most cases I visualize myself doing it…. Alone.

Let me circle back to “You’re so brave!”, my vacation, and why I have lived a life that has organically made a feminist out of me.

I went on a vacation by myself to Nashville. I stayed at hostels, used Air B&B,  visited with a couple friends for a couple days as well (See… I’m not a total recluse!), but mostly mingled with strangers or roamed the streets solo. I met some amazing people, ate some amazing food, and listened to some amazing music. More importantly I learned so much about how to let peace guide me, about the need to sometimes guard myself from even well meaning individuals, how obsessive planning can steal your child-like wonder, and how I can make a home wherever I am if I go with the mentality of not just “What can I take from this place?” but “What can I give to it?”

I didn’t divulge many of the details of my trip to most family and friends, except for a select few… And by few I mean probably only one. I come from a small town and with most small towns come a small town mentality that usually silently (or loudly) fears the unknown and unfamiliar. I come from a culture where woman grow up to become wives and mothers who support their families from the kitchen, from the PTA, from the church pew, and who always ALWAYS seek to be better for the betterment of your family and friends. If you go somewhere… say off to college… it is usually safe to say that you will come back as an engaged woman. If you didn’t then people would wonder what you did while you were away those 4 years!  Don’t get me wrong. The kitchen, the pew, the PTA, the family… I want that. In my heart I want it. Here’s the thing though, currently I have none of that… Not for lack of trying. So what’s a girl to do when she isn’t living her ideal life? She creates a new ideal!

I wasn’t going to wait until I had a boo to travel with or to go out to dinner with. I wasn’t going to just snag the next “nice guy” I met simply because I know he’d be nice to me and keep a roof over my head (like being treated respectfully is as magical as spotting a unicorn and as if my own money wasn’t enough to give me basic shelter). I was going to travel, eat, drink, and play by myself if it meant that I would be able to experience a life full of adventure and discovery!

Doing so definitely pushed my boundaries and comfort zones. I had to get past what I felt people may have been thinking when they saw a woman sitting in a crowded restaurant alone eating dinner, or the pangs I felt in my heart when I felt not empowered but very much alone while I sat next to a couple in a dark movie theater… while also trying to hear the movie over the sounds of their tongues slapping against one anothers (talk about feeling awkward!). I had to create a life which clearly defined the roles of loneliness vs  being alone. Taking a vacation by myself was for me the true test. Like a game of chicken between me and my independence. In the end both won the game because I found more of myself when I pushed my independence passed a new limit. Though there is more where that comes from.

The older I get the more I refuse to let my gender or race, my circumstances, general consensus, small or fearful thinking to limit the amount of fulfilment or contentment I have in my life. Regardless of if I’m traveling the world or spending another quiet night on my couch, I will be at home with both worlds within me. The adventurer and the recluse. The social introvert. The single woman with the spirit of a gypsy and the heart of a housewife. I can be it all. I am it all.

That is why as I’ve gotten older I have become more and more a feminist. The older I get the less defined I want to be. The less defined I am the more I do things that people think are brave when really if a man did them it would be seen as “being a bachelor”… When really it’s just “being”. Being in the moment. Being an active participant in your life. Being the creator of moments instead of just hoping that the moments that happen to you are ones you can survive.

Don’t be astonished by the things I’m doing that color outside the lines… I have much more I hope to do… and  there have been women doing much more long before I came to exist. Instead create a life that makes you astonished with yourself. That makes you say “Wow! I did that!” That makes you more and more believe that you can do anything you put your mind to because… Well… Look at everything you’ve done thus far… And many of those things you did while experiencing fear and anxiety, and yet you did it!

I’m not brave. No braver than anyone else.

I’m just refusing to stay stagnant waiting for someone or something.

I am that someone. And I’m doing something.

Why Catcalling Should Be the Death of the Music Industry.

And every other industry for that matter… including the fashion and beauty industry.

If you haven’t seen it already (which most of you have), there’s a video that’s gone viral that shows a woman being videotaped while she walks all around New York City for a day. In the video she walks around silently as she’s being catcalled, approached, or addressed in one way or another by men on the street as she walks by. You hear everything from the obviously sexual remark, to “Hello” or a “Good morning”. The point of the video is to showcase the harassment of women and what we can be subjected to. It is raising awareness, raising eyebrows, and  flaring some interesting debates.

The thing that gets me are all the comments on Facebook or YouTube attached to this video. Most of which are some variation of disgust with men, and how women are so sick of being treated like this, or that the men that say these things are perverts or something. Here’s the thing: The men in this video… the men some of us women encounter who make comments that make us feel uncomfortable… they are all just one piece of a very big puzzle. A puzzle that is made up of music, social media, culture, and dare I say… Women.

Oh Lordt… I can feel the hater rays from some people already! Do me a favor… put on some shades and hear me out before you rule me out.

Music is full of lyrics that make the female body seem as if it is something to be made a spectacle of, not necessarily appreciated in the more respectable sense of the word. You have Nicki Minaj who has turned butts into something like an episode of Animaniacs! You’re like “Okay… This is hilarious, and weird, and awkward, yet way too entertaining to stop watching!” You have Meghan Trainor who, with good intentions, may be sending the message that women with “Bass” are better because they got that “Boom boom that all the boys chase.” Then you’ve got hip-hop and R&B, of which 90% refers to women’s ASSests in numerous NSFW ways. Well… I hate to break it to you but these artists didn’t make themselves popular… We made them popular! You may say that you don’t approve of women’s bodies being objectified, but yet when some of you hear “Wiggle” by Jason Derulo, you ask your friend to hold your drink because THIS IS YOUR JAM! Curse those tricky beats with their seductive bass! Gets even respectable people every time!

Social media would all but almost shut down if girls would stop posting videos of themselves twerking, and if we’d stop sharing them… Even if just for the shock value. Again, we are reinforcing that bodies aren’t interesting in and of themselves… Not unless we wiggle, jiggle, and gyrate! This only contributes to what some men see when they look at us. Projections of music videos and YouTube videos that were made by men AND women, and then shared by men AND women, are being played out in their minds toward us. If we are not part of the solution, then we’re part of the problem.

Lastly there’s culture. You’ve got pop culture all over magazine covers, billboards, and ideas are being shared through commercials that say that a woman IS her body or the way she looks. There are products that touch a woman’s insecurities, and are advertised as something that will make her more visually appealing. So we buy into it because we feel unattractive, or we’re trying to snag a man, or because we need our ego boosted. Then we go out into the world looking and smelling good, and then we feel uncomfortable if we are noticed for all the OUTWARD things we just paid a lot to have in order to look attractive. ATTRACTIVE. As in to attract others by appealing to their senses. I’ll just give you a minute to let that sink in.

This world is full of extremes and everything in between. It may not be fair and it may not be right, but it’s a fact. It always has been and it will be long after we’re gone. Catcalling is not a new concept. There have been women long before us that it made to feel uncomfortable as well. The differences between then and now is the extreme frequency and broad types of platforms in which women can be made to feel harassed or objectified. The other difference is in the way in which women view themselves. If a woman was called a “Bitch” then, it was viewed as offensive and disrespectful. Today many women say a “Bitch” is just a term for an independent woman who knows what they want, so they don’t shy away from that word anymore. We are also owning our sexuality more. We are allowing ourselves to be more sexually assertive and not letting ourselves be defined by “Male” or “Female” sexual roles. Women are even making pregnancy sexy! The red carpet is full of pregnant women in down-to-there v-neck dresses while flaunting their baby bumps. So many women view their bodies less gingerly then before, which changes the way others view their body too.

There are so many messages about the female body, and many of them are telling us that a woman’s body is a spectacle. That it’s something with visual impact… like art… Which it really is! Yet what we forget is that what we the artist intended in creation, the observer takes by way of interpretation.

Men need to be reprogrammed on how to be appreciative, but respectful of a woman’s body… And to be respectful of even the women who don’t respect themselves. Ladies, we need to be respectful of our bodies, as well as the bodies of other women… even if they don’t respect it themselves. People, we need to stop participating in the very thing that we hate. Catcalling is catcalling. PERIOD. I’ve seen women do it to men. I’ve seen men do it to men, and women do it to women. I’ve seen a “hot” person catcall to someone and get a MUCH LESS disgusted reaction then “Other” types of people that catcall within the same stretch of sidewalk. Let’s call it like we see it: Most times there are conditions and exceptions based on… based on whatever! Who really knows except the person that’s being approached by men. Or women.

So can we really say we hate it? ALL catcalling across the board? Do we only hate it when it’s the wrong person, or when we aren’t entertained by it, or if we’re not in the right mood for it? Does it depend on if it serves us in the moment, or if WE are the aggressor?

I guess these are questions only you can really answer for yourself.

Yours Truly, Andrea