Trivializing Rape

Finals are over, thank god. This semester was, to understate it, quite rough. As I was gathering my things from my last exam, I overheard two girls as they walked by:

"I feel like I just got raped in the butthole."

Really? Raped in the butthole? I'm sure I hate topology as much as you, but I'd hardly say a stressful final is on the same level as anal rape.

But hey, I get it. I know you didn't mean literal rape. People often use rape to mean "destroy" or "totally annihilate." As in, "we're totally going to rape the other team." And to be fair, it was a really hard exam.

To use the word so carelessly trivializes sexual assault. Nearly 1 in 5 women will experience rape at some point in their lives. It's not something to take lightly or throw around. It affects people you know and care about and can leave lasting scars, physically and emotionally. It's like throwing around the word "retard." Don't.

Personally, I think the worst part of saying rape carelessly is that you're ignoring all the other aspects of actual assault. Everyone heals differently, but for some victims, it can take years just to feel normal again. You get to walk away from that final. You get to forget all about it. It may be funny to you.

Rape isn't funny.

It's just a word. But there are over a million words to choose from. Here's a bunch of synonyms for "destroy". I know what you were trying to say. Next time, just try to say it differently. Again, my GPA may be a joke, but sexual assault isn't.

Picking a Lube

As a followup to my previous post about choosing vibrators, today we're going to talk about picking a lubricant!

"Why should I use a lube?" you may ask. "You're crazy, Reagan." I get that a lot. But in all seriousness, lube is important. I made a list, so you know I'm serious.
  • Makes butt stuff possible
  • Less pain during intercourse (or fingering/masturbation/anything involving penetration) 
  • Lube makes things slicker, and more sensitive 
  • Lube makes things safer

Let's talk about safety for a moment. Vaginal dryness (or just insufficient lubrication) can be a result of hormone changes, irritants, medications, or anxiety. If you're using a condom, dry sex (sex without lubrication), can increase the chance of the condom breaking. Dry sex can also result in small lacerations, or micro-tears, in vaginal or anal tissue, which makes for a much higher risk of STI transmission.

Of course, there's always the possibility of "too much", even with a good thing; things can get a little too slippery. It may take some trial and error to figure out how much you need. Additives in certain lubes can also be irritating, and spermicidal lubes that may contain nonoxynol-9 can actually increase the risk of HPV/HIV transmission. So, you know, avoid those.

Back to the fun stuff. As far as basic lube types go, you've got three main options.

1. Oil Based Lubes 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9pW6PwEayQ
First up, oil. For the sake of argument, let's include any product you may want to slather on your bits that has oil in it, including butter, whipped cream, mineral/vegetable/coconut oil, or petroleum jelly.

While these things can be fun for external play, they should not be used internally; they can prevent the vagina from cleaning itself and trap bacteria. Oil also isn't recommended for anal use; there's a higher risk of infection. Furthermore, oil can coat toys and make it difficult to clean off bacteria, so be careful.

Oil based lubes can be a solution for people who experience irritation with other products because they don't have additives, but remember, never use oil based lubes with condoms. Oils will degrade latex and cause it to break down, so oil based lube is incompatible with barrier protection.

Pros :
  • easily accessible (just check your kitchen)
  • less irritation
  • fun for hand jobs
  • yummy 
Cons:
  • can't use with latex
  • can lead to infections
  • messy, difficult to clean up
  • don't put whipped cream in your vagina or butt

2. Water Based Lubes


Water-based lubes are awesome and all purpose, they clean up easily and can be safely used internally and with all toys and contraceptions. They do tend to dry out, but they can be revived with more water or saliva, so it's not hard to get going again (I've never actually had an issue with lubes drying out, but I do hear it's a thing that happens).

However, they're water soluble, which means they're not effective in water, so they're kinda useless in the shower/pool/hot tub. Look for one that's paraben free; parabens are linked to a lot of health problems. Some water based lubes (especially flavored ones) also contain glycerin, which can encourage yeast infections.

There's also a wide selection of flavored and sensation lubes that are typically water based. Cooling and warming sensations can be pretty awesome, just try a little bit first to make sure there's no irritation.

Check out sliquid, a water-based lube that's natural and safe.

Pros:
  • most commonly used
  • safe for internal/toy use
  • washable (don't worry about messing up your sheets)
  • wide selection of flavors and sensations

Cons:
  • incompatible with underwater activities 
  • can contain parabens/irritants (check the labels, and know what you're allergic to)

3. Silicone Based Lubes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CH0eSyII8aw
Silicone lubes are another popular choice; they last much longer than water based because they aren't absorbed. They're safe to be used internally and are compatible with showers. Silicone lubes are little more expensive, but you'll use less than you would with water-based because you won't need to reapply, so it evens out. Pink Silicone is a great, natural choice (OhJoy did a glowing review on this one too).

I tried to resist dragging Frozen into this. I really did. Honest. 
Be careful though, silicone lubes cannot go on silicone toys. They'll melt them. Seriously. Silicone silicone reactions. The lube will break down the material of your toy and it'll get gross and fall apart.

Silicone lubes can also be a little tricky to clean up, be sure to use soap and water, and be careful not to get it on sheets. Use them sparingly. 

Pros:
  • long lasting
  • use in shower
  • good for people with sensitive skin
Cons
  • can't use with silicone toys
  • can leave a slick/greasy residue
  • can stain sheets/be difficult to clean
  • most taste bad



That's about it for the basics, but there's always more. Collect lube samples, figure out what you like and what you don't! Go wild, my lovely deviants.


How to Choose A Vibrator

Last week, my friend took me with her to Adultmart. No sketchy sex shop here; it's clean, it's bright, everyone's friendly, and the selection is incredible. Wednesdays are ladies' nights, which means 20% off (and when I went, only women were there, which was refreshing). Thursdays are discount nights for college students, so regardless of your gender, you won't be left out if you've got a student ID.

As far as actual toy-buying goes, things can be a little scary for a first timer. Nicer stores (like Adultmart) often have floor models of some of the vibrators, so you can test them (against your wrists, perverts). For things that aren't on display, you can ask to see things out of the box. Since you can't return sex toys, it's important to make sure you know what you're getting.

There's a lot of advice out there for picking out a first-time vibe, but I figured I'd go over some major points here. So here we go, how to choose a vibrator.


There are so many different kinds of vibrators, so first, think about what stimulation works for you. Do you prefer clitoral stimulation? Vaginal? G-spot? All of the above? If you're a first timer, I'd suggest sticking to something external and simple, like a bullet vibe (OhJoySexToy has a great piece on this). If you're looking to step it up, some people love rabbit dildos, which can deliver both penetration and clitoral stimulation, but I find it can be hard to enjoy both at once.

Think about how you intend to use your toy. Do you relax best in the shower? Find one that's labelled waterproof. Do you want something discrete? There are a lot of incognito vibes, like a lipstick vibrator, which you can throw in your purse or not worry about you roommate finding. As far as power goes, if you'd rather not wait between charges, be sure you look for one that takes batteries. Some, like the Hitachi Magic wand, plug in to the wall, which makes them really intense. We'll talk about that next.


Many vibrators feature a variety of pulse patterns, and of course, the type of toy you buy will affect the intensity altogether. Some have more of a "buzz", while others are more of a "rumble". Floor models are great for testing this out, just click them on and try them against your wrist (Lelo suggests touching them to the tip of your nose; if it makes you feel like you're going to sneeze, it'll get you there). Turning on a store model can also give you an idea of how loud it's going to be. For some, that's not an issue, but the Hitachi is crazy intense and probably too loud for a dorm room.

Some vibes can be softened with a "tickler", like a silicone bunny or nubby cap to diffuse the vibrations a bit. Of course, size also matters; bigger vibes will tend to distribute the vibrations over a wider area, making them a little less intense.


Alright, this is super important, so bear with me.

Water-based lubes can be used internally and are safe with all toys. However, make sure you look for one that's paraben free; parabens are linked to a lot of health problems. Check out sliquid, a water-based lube that's natural and safe for everyone.

As far as silicone lubes go, they're pretty slippery and last longer than water-based, which makes them ideal for playing in the shower and often favored for anal, but you have to be really careful with what toys you use them with. Silicone lubes cannot go on silicone toys. They'll melt them. Seriously.

Different materials should be cleaned in different ways. There are some nice summaries here and here. Please, keep your toys clean and yourself safe.

It's pretty tempting to sacrifice quality for a bargain, but this just isn't an option with sex toys. If you're putting something inside of you, you should know what's in it. Here's some general guidelines:

Don'ts
  • Don't use jelly toys. They have phthalates and other toxic solvents that will be absorbed by your body, which can cause headaches, cramps, and nausea. They can be oily and smelly and melt. Stay away. 
  • Don't use porous toys, they're difficult to clean and can harbor bacteria. PVC, jelly, rubber, vinyl, and cyberskin may feel nice and have attractive prices, but they can accumulate bacteria, mildew, and fungus. EW.
  • Don't use anything marked "For Novelty Use Only"
  • Don't use anything that smells weird or rubbery
Do's
  • 100% pure medical-grade silicone is hands down the safest for penetrative play. 
  • Hard plastic/acrylic is safe.
  • Natural materials, like glass, metal, wood, and ceramics are safe. 

Be picky about brand names. A list of reputable companies can be found here.

___________________________________________________________________

One last thing, look for quality. A shotty vibe is going to die on you a lot sooner. If you're a fan of toys and you want one that's going to last, make the investment.

My favorite find this week was a sleek black pocket-rocket: Doc Johnson, ABS (non-porous and non-toxic hard plastic), phalate free and waterproof, for about $15. Sometimes good things come in small packages. At the end of the day, have fun hunting, and find something you're attracted to. If you find a toy and you think its sexy, go for it. Of course, there's a lot more out there beyond vibrators, so I'm going to have to go back next week. Until then!

Things You Can Call Women

A week ago, this Buzzfeed article, "6 Reasons You Should Stop Referring to Women as "Females" Right Now" took off, a pretty angry article about something I've generally considered to be a non-issue. The basic idea is this: using the word "female" is horrendously sexist and offensive.

The article argues that referring to someone as a female "reduc[es] a woman to her reproductive abilities", which is "dehumanizing and exclusionary". I've honestly never felt that way, I've never even thought about it, because as far as I can tell, using an adjective to emphasize a certain characteristic doesn't reduce the subject to those characteristics.

Let's say I'm looking at the Mona Lisa. And I say, "hey, that painting's pretty brown". That doesn't mean I see the painting like this:

If I was was talking to a trans man who said he used to be biologically female, I wouldn't correct him and tell him "the word you're looking for is woman", because it's not. He was never a woman. Female and woman are not always the same thing, the article is right about that, but that doesn't make either a bad word.

Of course, that doesn't mean that generalizing females (or women!) is ok. Let's go ahead and do what the article suggested, looking at "female" usage on Twitter.  Here are some I just came across.

There's dozens, more, but frankly, none of them would be any less offensive if they said "women" instead. They're all pretty shallow and heteronormative,  but I think that's because of the mindset, not just because they used "female". Generalizing any group of people like this is offensive towards everyone. 


The article also claims that nobody ever refers to men as "males", which isn't really true. That doesn't make it more or less sexist, though. This one is pretty offensive, but again, I don't think it'd be significantly less offensive if it said "men". 

Nitpicking like this is a non-issue that the feminist movement risks its credibility for. If you personally have an issue with being referred to as female, of course you can ask people not to, but it's this sort of generalized, angry article that's making people think feminism is petty. And it's not. There are so many more important issues to be addressing.





For me, the tipping point was finding this second article. Written by the same people and released immediately after the first,  it provides a helpful list of alternatives to calling women "females". I'm starting to this this whole thing is a joke. "Goddess"? "Perfection"? Imagine for a second two men released a list like this, demanding that women call them "kings" and worship them as Gods. This is not equality. 

Genitals


Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychoanalysis, had some really interesting theories about women. Freud theorized that a defining moment in female psychosexual development was when a young girl first realized that she did not have a penis. "Penis Envy" marked the beginning of her transition to her adult sexuality, where she began resenting her mother. Ultimately, Freud believed that penis envy explained why women (supposedly) wanted to be men.

When I was born, my wonderful mother, fearing that I would resent her for not gracing me with a dick, decided to try to instill in me a love of vaginas. It worked; I came home from first grade eager to show her how I had spent the day learning to mush the skin on my arm together to resemble labia majora. Luckily for me, my rendering wasn't very accurate, and none of my six-year-old counterparts knew what a vulva was, so they didn't know to laugh at me.

Note, this is an actual project my mother encouraged.

Why am I bringing this up? This story, TIFU by letting a feminist parent bring snacks to my 2nd grade class, went viral on Reddit and recently got picked up by Buzzfeed and Huffington Post. The tl;dr version is this: Radical crazy woman who thinks she is a feminist brings in vagina cookies to a second grade class, freaks out when the teacher says no and send abusive emails. Yes, vagina cookies.

These aren't the cookies she brought in, these are just inspiration for later.
Trust me on this, second graders love sugar. Not one of those kids was going to complain about eating cookies in class. So let's look at some of the things that parent tried to do right.

Pro Parent:
  • Brought cookies to class! Yay!
  • These cookies included all kinds of vaginas, not just cookie cutter genitals (it's a pun, get it?). "There were small, puffy, white, brown, shaved, bald, and even a fire crotch with beef curtains." That's fantastic. Nobody should feel ashamed of their differences. 
  • Body-positive. There shouldn't be a stigma against our own bodies. Why should we perpetrate a culture where we cast ourselves as shameful and inappropriate? Celebrate them!
We'll look back at the parent in a moment, but for now, let's talk about some of the problematic word choices.
  • The title of the post "Today I Fucked Up by letting a feminist..." This parent is NOT a feminist, but phrasing like this encourages the idea that feminists are crazy. Not cool. Remember this post? Or more recently, Emma Watson's speech about gender inequality? The original post did address this, acknowledging "No longer referring to [the parent] as a feminist because she isn't. She's just bat shit crazy". True that.
  • "...before my second graders develop vaginal PTSD" Vaginal PTSD. Apparently, hearing the name of a body part is a serious traumatic event.


As for the other parents that angrily demanded to know why their 2nd graders came home and asked what "vagina" meant, why don't you just tell them? Take it as an opportunity to actually parent your kid. They'll figure it out sooner or later, they may as well learn it from you. 

At the end of the day, I was raised in a sex-positive household, but that doesn't mean everyone was. You can't force your beliefs on other people. I think parents who prevent their kids from taking sex ed are wrong, but that's their decision, not mine. You can't decide to expose a classroom of seven-year-olds to vaginas if that's not how their parents are raising them, and you can't force a teacher to do it for you.

Whatever that parent tried to do right, she went very far in the opposite direction when she sent the teacher an email calling her "close minded", accusing her of being a cliche, and wishing domestic abuse on her in a mess of horrendous grammar mistakes.




Again, let's clarify that this woman is not a feminist. Just crazy. You can (and should!) love and celebrate your body. But you cannot force your beliefs on other people. You cannot wish domestic abuse on anyone. You cannot expect everyone to be ok with frosted genitals. I love the idea of vagina cookies, but I'm not going to feed them to 2nd graders. 

Seriously, who wants to make these with me?
Want more? Here's a relevant Jezebel article about saying "vagina". VAGINA.

Rape and Nail Polish



Introducing Undercover Colors, the "first fashion company that empowers women to prevent sexual assault". This may have come across your Buzzfeed or other internet surfing recently, a nail polish that can detect date-rape drugs.


This idea is pretty cool, and the awareness it raises is awesome. Sexual assault is a huge problem, and products like this help to bring it to light and get people talking.

But it's not going to stop rape. Not even close. 

Firstly, the people who would stop to check if their drink has been spiked would probably be the type who wouldn't leave it unattended in the first place. Secondly, the most common date-rape drug is actually just alcohol. Thirdly, anti-rape underwear didn't stop rape. Neither did the anti-rape condom, or anything else on this absurd list.

Anti-rape products can actually cause more harm than good. The Guardian addresses this, pointing out the danger of the "as long as it isn't me" mindset. Products like "anti-rape" nail polish may help individuals avoid getting raped, but does nothing for preventing rape as a whole, and opens the gate for victim blaming after an incident, like asking whether or not the victim was wearing her anti-rape nail polish. Feministing goes into more detail about the difference between "avoiding" and "preventing".

We need to stop teaching people that rape is only going to happen with unattended drinks and stranger danger. Yes, a rapist may be a roofie slipping creeper in a bar, but it could also be a best friend or even a significant other. We need to teach everyone that the most important thing is consent, and that without a clear, freely given "yes", sex is never ok.

We need to hold rapists accountable, and stop blaming victims. The problem isn't that women don't know if there's a roofie in her drink; it's that people put roofies in drinks. Alexandra Brodsky, one of the founders and current co-directors of Know Your IX, puts it very nicely, "... I really wish that people were funneling all of this ingenuity and funding and interest into new ways to stop people from perpetrating violence, as opposed to trying to personally avoid it so that the predator in the bar rapes someone else.”


10 Reasons I'm Sick of Tinder

After 500 matches, I believe the spark has finally gone out in my love affair with Tinder. I'm really, really sick of it. And slightly repulsed.

1. Every time I slip up and mention a guy's name in front of my parents, I have to quickly make up a different backstory for them.


Yeah, we met, um, two years ago, through a girl I met at camp. In New York. Once. Yeah, absolutely nothing sketchy going on here. Please don't look at my phone.

2. I don't have the stomach for these pickup lines anymore. 



WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU. WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL. 



3. Do you have any idea how hard it is to try and keep up ten different conversations at once?


Are you Josh with the motorcycle? Or Josh with the dog? Or the Josh that goes to UConn? I don't want to scroll back up to the beginning of this trainwreck of a conversation, so help me out here. 


4. The lack of punctuation is actually driving me crazy.


"your hot". MY HOT WHAT.


5. Everyone has the same name as my ex.


Or some variation of "Connor/Conor/Conner". How is that even possible? Did all of your parents plan this? Was there a baby naming party I missed?

6. Everyone is cheating on everyone.




7. I still don't know how to tell my friend her brother has a tinder. 


I can't even look at him. Shirtless mirror selfies really ruin the way you see someone.


8. Relatives keep asking why I'm single. 


So nice of you to ask, as a matter of fact, no, I haven't met any nice boys lately. 

9. I don't want to look through your stupid "tinder moments".


 It's like snapchat, but worse, and with surprise dicks. SURPRISE. 


10. I'm starting to feel a little desperate.


Seriously, I keep getting blocked. But I'm pretty, right? I'm funny! ANSWER ME.


I'm done. So done. 


Awkward Questions

"Do you have any STDs?"

Oh God, what an awkward question. Part offensive, part paranoid, and altogether unavoidable.

I guess the general rule is that if you're not coming in contact with someone's junk, it's none of your business. And trust me, I don't want to be the girl to freeze before locking lips and ask about any history of cold sores, but I don't want to be at risk.

XOJane's Ask Emily answered a question about how to approach the subject, and frankly, I hate the response. She wrote that the boy asking sounded like he was "in danger of becoming one of those guys whose STD paranoia sucks all the fun out of casual sex." She goes on to recount her experience trying to suck off a guy after a first date, when her partner stopped her and screamed "Don't put your mouth on it!" First of all, good for that guy. I wouldn't trust unprotected oral on a first date either. And as much as it probably offended her, he had every right to stop her. Sex carries risk. And people are allowed to protect themselves.


As for the "STD paranoia" that "sucks the fun out of casual sex", I guess I've got it too. And it can make for some awkward questions. But nothings worse than not being able to relax because all that's running through my head is some variation of "Oh god what if he kissed a girl with herpes and he didn't know it and its not showing but I'll still get it because viral shedding and I'll bet he's never used a dental dam in his life and don't like a quarter of people have an STI?"

That said, the conversation doesn't have to be awkward. The classiest way I've come across is  simple. "Before this gets too far along, I want to let you know I got tested in _____, and my results were _______. What about you?"


At the end of the day though, everybody can lie. Whether or not they mean to. Most sexually active people will get at least one type of HPV in their lives, and most of them don't know they're infected. Whether or not you ask, be prepared either way, and know how to protect yourself.

Just Now on Twitter

Alright, so I tweet fairly often, and I generally just goof around on it. Usually I choose nonsense avatars because I think it's hilarious to imagine my nonsense tweets coming out of their mouths.

My latest and greatest
Anyway, a little bit ago, I tweeted this picture.


I found it while I was browsing on Imgur this morning, and I felt like it summed up my feelings on the whole #WomenAgainstFeminism thing (which I have written about before). Misandry is the hatred of men (the opposite of misogyny). A misandrist is the type of person pictured, the type of person that #WomenAgainstFeminism is attacking, a person that hates all men and tries to paint the entire gender as evil. That's not what a feminist is. 

The problem isn't that feminists hate men (they don't). The problem is how many misandrists have confused their movement with feminism, who have declared that feminism means men are evil (they're not).

Anyway, that tweet got a lot more attention than I meant it to, and things got a little crazy. I got a handful of replies and private messages from a mix of people who either thought I was:

  1. An anti-feminist, and told me it was therefore my job to hunt down feminist nazis and "burn them at the stake"
  2. A feminist, and told me they were laughing at me, or that I should burn myself. 

Anyway, I tried to tweet again to try to clear things up.


Let's be clear here (unlike the grammar of that tweet, yuck). That's not what feminism is.  I believe it's wrong to portray an entire movement or gender as evil or pedophilic. I will never defend rape, regardless of the gender of either party.

I'm a feminist because I believe in equality. For everyone. Equally. And I think muhfeelz is an asshole because they have an entire twitter dedicated to accusing women of supporting female rapists, not because of their gender (which, come to think of it, I don't even know).

Anyway, everyone was quickly blocked and muted (so forgive the lack of more screenshots because apparently when you do that, everything disappears), but I didn't want to pretend this didn't happen. Because it did. "Feminist" is still a bad word, and apparently, justifies wanting to burn someone. And that's a problem.

My twitter is not an outrightly feminist twitter, and wasn't the place to start a flame war. Nobody should ever be telling anyone else to burn each other.  Just be decent to each other. And let me go back to tweeting nonsense.

Birth Control as Birth Control

The summer before I left for college, I went to ask my doctor about starting birth control. I figured I'd plan ahead, odds were that I'd be sexually active, and I wanted to have time to adjust to the pill before I had to leave home.

She was a young, mousey brunette, in a cotton maternity dress, though I couldn't tell if it was just for comfort or actually covering a pregnancy. I didn't want to ask. She leaned towards me, scrutinizing my face, and said, clicking her pen, "Actually, I can prescribe you a gel that will help with your acne more effectively."

Firstly, my face is just fine. When I tried to explain that I really just wanted contraception, she cut me off and asked me if I was sexually active. I said, "I guess, technically, not right now?" For a brief, sarcastic moment, I considered joking about pregnancy, but I didn't want to call attention to the possible baby bump. "Let's just wait on that," she told me.

We don't always like to think about women having sex. We don't like to think about women enjoying sex. Which is why so many of the arguments against the Hobby Lobby Decision, which allowed companies to deny access to contraceptive care on the basis of religious freedom, focus on the fact that contraception use isn't always related to sex. In the National Journal, reporter Lucia Graves argues, "Even if these women never have sex once in their lives, they need to be on birth control." And she's got a point; birth control can be very important for the health of many women. But we can't ignore the 99% of sexually active women who have used the contraception as contraception. The Guardian urges people to stop making excuses. Women are people. And many people like sex. And that's good. That's wonderful. That's healthy. That's human. And that should still be covered by insurance.

People who support the decision started the hashtag #CloseYourLegs, and argued that "whores" who want to sleep around should pay for their own contraception. Sluts should keep their legs closed. Yikes. (Side note: Hobby Lobby continues to cover vasectomies. Double-standard much?). Also, it's not even true; a much higher proportion of married than of never-married women use contraception (77% vs. 42%). But even if it was only us "unmarried sluts" using birth control, that's still not how health care works; Slate has an article that explains it well, but the basic idea is this: the Department of Health and Human Services mandate involves women paying for their own contraception, using insurance benefits they earn by working. 

The decision won't just prohibit the pill, it prohibits all contraception counseling. For a doctor's visit to be covered by the health insurance, the doctor couldn't talk about sex or contraception, and that's terrifying. ThinkProgress addresses this well, "Counseling and education about contraception has been a basic part of a medical visit forever, even before the methods themselves were covered. Before we had prescription drug coverage, we certainly had coverage for the visit to your doctor, and there were never any limitations about what you could talk to your doctor about.”

People are going to have sex. Surprise. So having available contraception and understanding how to use it is the most effective way to stay healthy and lower unwanted pregnancy rates. A study found that birth rates among the teens who received free birth control had less than a fifth of the national teen birth rate (just 6.3 births per 1,000 teens, compared to 34.3 per 1,000 teens nationwide in 2010). Abortion rates were less than half of both the regional and national rates. Dana Singiser of Planned Parenthood says it well: “To prevent unintended pregnancy, women need full information, full coverage and full choice for what type of birth control works best for them.”

Let's just think about that for a second. Hobby Lobby is against abortion. So they're limiting contraception and counseling. They're literally restricting the most effective resources AGAINST unwanted pregnancies and abortion.

The biggest problem with this ruling (which all three female justices ruled against), is the precedent it sets. Feministing points out that a boss "could cry "religious freedom" and get out of offering coverage for anything he disapproves of — from vaccinations to AIDs treatment". In her dissent , Ruth Bader Ginsburg admits: “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.” This article elaborates; the exemption could extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses), antidepressants (Scientologists), medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus). Which shouldn't happen, right? We know that sounds wrong, because we know it's not ok to dictate another person’s medical decisions. Fun fact, that still applies even when that medical decision regards a woman’s reproductive health care.

I got a new doctor, I've been on the pill for awhile now, and I still feel ok about it. I'm human.

The Bechdel Test

The Bechdel Test was adapted from Alison Bechdel's comic Dykes to Watch Out For, in a 1985 strip called The Rule. The test is meant to bring attention to how women portrayed in movies, and involves three criteria.
  1. The movie must have at least two named female characters. 
  2. The characters must have a conversation. 
  3. That conversation must be about something other than a man. 
If a movie fails to meet any of those criteria, it fails the Bechdel Test. BechdelTest.com keeps an updated list of movies and how they fare. Only about half of the movies in the database pass.


Surprisingly, a lot of popular movies don't even come close. Look at the Social Network (2010). None of the women talk to each other, rather, they exist solely as one-dimensional objects. In an interview Stephen Colbert did with Aaron Sorkin, the film’s writer, Colbert notes that the women portrayed "don't have much to say because they're high or drunk or fucking guys in the bathroom." Sorkin explains that's because women are prizes. Charming. 

Note, the Bechdel Test isn't a real test. It doesn't actually prove anything about how sexist a movie is. Take Gravity (2013). It fails right away, because there's only one named female character, but it's not a sexist movie. Rather, I think Dr. Stone is a well-protrayed three dimensional character.

Passing the test doesn't guarantee that a movie isn't sexist, either. Twilight: Eclipse (2010) passes all three criteria, but there's enough sexism in ten minutes of that to make me gag for weeks. 

The test isn't always clear. Look at the The Lego Movie (2014). Does Unikitty count as a female character? (Actually, can a lego even count as a male character?) I loved this movie, I didn't think it was sexist, but until right now, I didn't realize how few females were in it. That's the type of thing the Bechdel Test is meant to bring attention to.



It's not about checkmarks. It's about trying to get people to realize that portraying three-dimensional characters, both male and female, is an important thing. Failing the Bechdel Test doesn't mean it's a bad movie. Honestly, I don't cry when I don't see strong women in the media, I just think it's weird that having well developed characters isn't the norm, and we should represent real life better. Really, I'd just like to see better movies, not just half-assed attempts to fill quotas.

This is not what I want. 
Often, we find movies that technically pass the test, but only with cliched and superficial characters. That's why movies that fail the test generally perform better than those that pass. Most established filmmakers are male, and there's a lot of well-developed male centered stories, and a lot of good male centered movies. People know how to write three dimensional men, and audiences have been satisfied with that for awhile. 

However, things are changing. Box office sales are falling, and part of that is because women are getting tired of movies that don’t speak to them or accurately represent them. On the other hand, movies aimed at women are reaping the benefits, like The Fault in Our Stars, Frozen, and Maleficent, which made more domestically than Amazing Spider-Man 2!

Look, my life doesn't always pass the Bechdel Test. Sometimes my friends and I talk about Russian literature, and sometimes we talk about cute boys, and that's ok. What's not ok is portraying women as prizes or sending the message that only guys are people. So let's try to balance it out, shall we?



P.S. I just saw Bad Words. It fails the Bechdel Test, but I like all the characters, and it's effing hilarious. Go watch it.

The New F-Word (#WomenAgainstFeminism)

On Friday, this Buzzfeed article went viral, featuring posts from a tumblr called WomenAgainstFeminism. A handful of people shared it on my newsfeed, which was a handful too many for me. Most of the posts look something like this:


Equality? That's literally what feminism IS. Look, I changed some of it, now it makes sense. 


The tumblr isn't actually against equality, it just criticizes the feminist movement for being sexist. Ironic. Most of the signs focus on "real equality", not demonizing men, being capable of being independent. In other words, feminism. 


Feminism means equality. That's it. But feminism has become a dirty word. Here's how I see it: #WomenAgainstFeminism (I'll just say WAF from now on) attacks the extreme slice of feminists who equate feminism with misandry (the hatred of men) and play the victim card a lot.


Example. This isn't what feminism is about, this girl hasn't actually been victimized by men looking at her. "Stare Rape" isn't a thing, it just discredits people who have actually been raped. This is pretty damn offensive, and is part of the basis for WAF. So I guess I get it. WAF is attacking women for their extreme, and often offensive, viewpoints.

I say "attack" because of the aggression and insults they use. It's not just that they find some feminists misguided, they blatantly accuse all feminists of being "[j]ust a bunch of whiny brats looking for attention by competing to see who can tell the biggest 'weak woman' story... insecure narcissists who want to be praised for saying the glass is half empty and claiming they are victims, as if that makes them morally superior to the rest of us who stand on our own two feet."

WAF accuses all feminists of simultaneously projecting their issues with men onto all women, putting men on a pedestal, and accusing all men of being evil. WAF attacks feminists in a way that generalizes the entire group as being awful, and they're doing this because they believe that feminists generalize all men as being awful. In other words, they're doing exactly what they're criticizing.

You're getting pretty pretty damn hypocritical there, WAF
Every group has extremists, in this case, it's feminists who claim that the glass is always half empty and that all women are horridly oppressed by men, the "feminists" (picture me making big air quotes here) who confuse the movement with misandry. Extremists can make any group look bad, but that doesn't mean they represent the entire movement. It doesn't mean you have to demonize the group and remove yourself. Of course I'm offended by the extremists. I'd like to distance myself too, and claim that I'm not like that, but honestly, I probably fit their definition pretty well. I have a blog, and I tend to whine about feminist issues, so let me reiterate my mission for this blog here.

There have been three major waves of feminism. Currently, there isn't a fourth, but many people have advocated for one because of the lack of activism in other waves of feminism regarding current issues, such as domestic labor, harassment, discrimination, body and slut-shaming, reproductive freedom, violence, and so on. Look at how far we've come. I'm not oppressed; I can wear what I want and say what I want. I can make my own choices, and that's fantastic. But it's not universal. There's still more to talk about, and we won't get anywhere by demonizing men, and especially not by demonizing each other. I'm not comfortable sitting still with the way things are. That's why I write this blog. That doesn't mean I'm accusing men, and that certainly doesn't mean I see myself, or other women, as victims just because of gender. I know not everyone agrees with me, and I wouldn't force anybody to. At the end of the day, I support political, social, and economic equality regardless of gender, and that's why I'm a feminist.

The anti-feminist movement is not new. People have been accusing feminists as being man-hating and crazy for centuries. Look at the anti-suffragism movement in the late 19th century. It was composed mainly of women, and portrayed suffragettes (those who advocated for the female right to vote) as masculine, accused them of destroying their families, emasculating their husbands, and aiming for female supremacy.

There's a ton more of these over here, if you're into that sort of thing.

What's up with all this man hating? I don't hate men. I love men. Seriously, guys, call me. 

Real feminists do not hate men. Many real feminists are men. The movement is against female supremacy, it's against all supremacy, because sexism hurts everyone. Hell, look at the gender gap in prison sentencing, most women will be sentenced for less time than a man for the same crime, and I think that's sexist and unfair.

I understand the desire to separate yourself from the extremists who give feminism a bad name, even if you still believe in the same things. I'd like to do it too, but I won't. I call myself a feminist because I want to align myself with the movement before me. Because I recognize and respect how far we've come, and I'm proud.

I don't think its helpful to demonize an entire movement. WAF is destructive. They promote things like slut-shaming and belittle problems that are actually huge issues. They're trying to destroy a movement that promotes equality just because of a handful of extremists who don't understand what feminism is supposed to be.

This is called slut-shaming. It is not ok. Also, since when are feminists sluts?

If you don't want to be a feminist, that's perfectly fine. But you're not going to get anywhere by accusing other people of being "whiny narcissists". I don't agree with people who equate feminism to misandry, but I don't think they're weak or evil. I also don't think that WAF is evil, just misguided. As my personal favorite commenter put it, WAF seems to be saying one thing...




Laci Green, though I sometimes disagree with her, and who sometimes annoys me, makes some very good points in her video about why she's a feminist. Check her out here.