The Teresa Jusino Experience

Create Like An Activist

Tag: women (Page 1 of 3)

NEW AT BEACON: "Fall TV 2014-15 – The Girls Are Back! Mindy and Jess Return to FOX!"

It’s time for my weekly post at Beacon! And as shows continue to return for the current season, I’ll be spotlighting the shows I think are worth watching. This week, two of my favorite, female-fronted comedies returned to FOX. It’s all about The Mindy Project and New Girl!

EXCERPT:

One of the things that made me fall in love with [New Girl] from the pilot was the honest, real depiction of modern-day friendships. Many women I know are primarily friends with guys, and I loved that there was a show that was capturing that dynamic. The last thing I wanted was for any of the guys to be a love interest for Jess.

Then, Cece (Hannah Simone) and Schmidt happened. And Jess and Nick happened.

And while Jess and Nick were a cute enough couple, I think they make better friends, and I’m glad the dynamic is back to the way it was at the start of the show. It isn’t that Jess is One of the Guys – she’s very much a girly-girl. But she and her roomies look out for each other. They are friends, with no ulterior motives, and I like seeing that on television.

If you want to read and comment on my full post, you’ll have to subscribe to my work over at Beacon! Starting at only $5/month, you’ll be able to access all my pop culture criticism, as well as the work of 100+ other journalists writing about the topics you care about. Check it out! Once there, please click the “Worth It” button on the bottom of my article! (That is, if you actually like what I’ve written.)

Thanks! 🙂

Pike and Trident Premieres TODAY!

I’m very excited to announce and support a new, female-led digital series called Pike and Trident, which launched TODAY! It’s the story of two museum curators from the future – Myrtle Pike and Trudy Trident –  who must time-travel to regain important historical artifacts that were lost when one of them, ahem, SCREWS UP. 🙂

If Doctor Who and Game of Thrones had a baby girl, it might look something like this.

The series was written by and stars my good friend, Patty Robinson, and co-stars the lovely Kim Turney. It’s co-directed by Turney and Jan Bryant, who is also the stunt coordinator. And stunts there are! One of the coolest things about Pike and Trident is the fact that so much focus is placed on sword combat between the two leads. This series is great, in part, because Pike and Trident are the opposite of besties, and watching them be at each other’s throats even as they need to rely on each other to get out of trouble is a lot of fun!

Right now, only the pilot is available, with more to come soon (and hopefully, they’ll be able to raise the money to continue the show as scripted – though there are currently plans to regularly put out supplemental digital content from the world of Pike and Trident). Check out the pilot (below!), then head on over to the Pike and Trident website, and “like” the show on Facebook, to keep up with future content and episodes.

If you love female protagonists, time travel, sword fighting, sci-fi, and general badassery, give Pike and Trident a whirl.

It’s my Talk Like a Pirate Day gift to you. Arrrrrrgh! 😉

NEW AT BEACON: "Joan Rivers: Unapologetic"

I write a pop culture column over at Beacon. So it would be remiss of me to not talk about the passing of one of pop culture’s loudest satirists, the inimitable Joan Rivers.

EXCERPT: 

I’ve spent most of my life not a huge Joan Rivers fan. 

I know, I’m not supposed to say that now that she’s passed away (she died yesterday at the age of 81), but considering how outspoken and brash she was throughout her career, I’m sure she wouldn’t begrudge me the opportunity to speak my mind. 

Her jokes always seemed a bit dated to me – women either being sluts, or “not being able to catch husbands,” etc – and I found the way she tended to laugh between each joke, as if she wanted to fill in just in case no one in the audience found her funny, a bit grating. People of my generation have known of Joan Rivers’ existence for our entire lives. However, unlike Robin Williams, she rarely appeared in a context that we were allowed to enjoy as children, so we didn’t “grow up” with her in the same way. Her stand-up was either on late-night talk shows, which we couldn’t stay up and watch, or it was on cable, where it was allowed to be as raunchy as she could make it, and we weren’t allowed to watch. So, unless we were specifically interested in pursuing comedy as a career, my generation primarily grew up knowing Joan Rivers as That Annoying Woman on Awards Show Red Carpets Who Doesn’t Have Her Facts Straight and Is Embarrassing Us All. We grew up with parodies of Joan Rivers, and very often, Rivers seemed like a parody of herself. 

And this is a horrible shame. 

It wasn’t until I watched the brilliant documentary about her life and career,Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (IFC, 2010), that I truly began to understand just how much she contributed to comedy, to show business, and to feminism.

If you want to read and comment on my full post, you’ll have to subscribe to my work over at Beacon! Starting at only $5/month, you’ll be able to access all my pop culture criticism, as well as the work of 100+ other journalists writing about the topics you care about. Check it out! Once there, please click the “Worth It” button on the bottom of my article! (That is, if you actually like what I’ve written.)

Thanks! 🙂

NEW AT BEACON: "All About That Bass: White Girls and Booty"

This week’s Pop Goes Teresa column over at Beacon actually talks about pop music. Or rather, one particular pop song that my pals Maighread, Jason, and Alison turned me onto.

I discuss Meghan Trainor’s debut single, All About That Bass and how, while it’s a great song, it throws women – particularly skinny women and Women of Color – under the bus.

But it’s still so damn catchy!

EXCERPT:

But even just looking at the photos above – Miley Cyrus during a performance of We Can’t Stop; Lily Allen in her video for Hard Out Here; and now Meghan Trainor’s video for All About That Bass – you can see that even in videos created by white women trying to make a positive statement, black women are being used. Sure there are other white women in the videos, too, but they’re not the ones being grabbed. They’re not the ones being used as visual aids. They aren’t asked to be props in addition to being performers. 

And yes, in the case of someone like Lily Allen, she’s doing something like this to speak out about how wrong it is that this gets done. I get it. But you know that by doing stuff like this, you’re just making it happen more, right? And it’s hard for me to respect a message coming from the Mileys and Lilys and Meghans of the world when they aren’t even willing to bear skin and get grabbed in the same way in their own videos, staying above the demeaning treatment while attempting to comment on it.

Actually, scratch that – of the three examples above, Miley Cyrus is the most balanced! In the We Can’t Stop video, she does grab black women’s asses, but they also slap her ass. What’s more, she grabs other white women and lets them grab her. And also, there are scantily-clad people on both ends of the gender spectrum. Really, she just wants people to live, love, and say who and what they want to. Point: Miley Cyrus. (At least on the video. That live performance was another story…)

If you want to read and comment on my full post, you’ll have to subscribe to my work over at Beacon! For only $5/month, you’ll be able to access Pop Goes Teresa, as well as the work of 100+ other journalists writing about the topics you care about. Check it out! Once there, please click the “Worth It” button on the bottom of my article! (That is, if you actually like what I’ve written.)

Thanks! 🙂

NEW AT BEACON: "The Angel of Verdun: Nuanced Female Characters"

Posts once a week at Beacon. That’s how I wanna roll. 🙂

Anyway, here’s the latest at my pop culture column over there. It’s about the difference between “Strong Female Characters” and “Nuanced Female Characters” and why I think Rita Vratasky (Emily Blunt) in Edge of Tomorrow is a great example of the kind of female character we should be clamoring to see in films.

EXCERPT: 

I hate the phrase Strong Female Character

“Strong Female Character” carries with it a judgement that I don’t think its users intend. After all, what does “strong” mean? Does it mean physically strong (and so, are we defining strength according to stereotypically male criteria)? Does it mean emotionally strong (and so, does this mean that if a woman cries, falls in love, or protects her children she’s not strong)? Does it mean assertive and ambitious (and so, can more average women not be “strong characters?” And how do we square that with the fact that, with male protagonists, the Hero’s Journey is often defined by his starting out as an ineffectual schlub who grows into leadership. Was he not a “strong character” until the very end)? 

My preferred phrase – and what I think most people mean when they say “Strong Female Character” – is Nuanced Female Character.

What those who want gender parity in pop culture want in their female characters is complexity. We want them to be more than girlfriends, doormats, or prizes to be won. We want them to have their own inner lives and goals in the stories we watch. Even if they’re not the protagonists, we want them to be fully-realized people, not caricatures. We want them to have strengths and flaws. We want them to have, or at least want and earn, agency. Most of all, we want them to have a reason to be in the story that doesn’t boil down to: Plot Device.

If you want to read and comment on my full post, you’ll have to subscribe to my work over at Beacon! For only $5/month, you’ll be able to access all my pop culture criticism, as well as the work of 100+ other journalists writing about the topics you care about. Check it out! Once there, please click the “Worth It” button on the bottom of my article! (That is, if you actually like what I’ve written.)

Thanks! 🙂

NEW AT BEACON: "When Feminism Becomes a Marketing Tool"


Finally, a Beacon post about something OTHER than the movie, Noah! 🙂 In my latest over at Beacon, I talk about the current trend of using feminism to market products: when it’s effective, when it isn’t, and whether doing it at all is OK.

EXCERPT:

Not to be left out, Pantene put out an ad that focused on the double standard inherent in labels placed on confident women who work hard (“bossy,” “selfish,” “show-off”) as opposed to men who do the same (“boss,” “dedicated,” “confident”). The ad encouraged women to #ShineStrong (and apparently one way to do that is by washing your hair with Pantene, rather than – I don’t know – getting a Masters Degree), and again put the onus on them to not “let labels hold [them] back,” while not acknowledging that beauty companies are a big reason why women focus so much on their looks as their only asset, which leads to the labels this ad is warning against.

These ads are the equivalent of your older sibling grabbing your hand, slapping you in the face with it over and over, then asking “Why’re you hitting yourself? Why’re you hitting yourself? Why’re you hitting yourself?”

If you want to read and comment on my full post, you’ll have to subscribe to my work over at Beacon! For only $5/month, you’ll be able to access all my pop culture criticism, as well as the work of 100+ other journalists writing about the topics you care about. Check it out! Once there, please click the “Worth It” button on the bottom of my article! (That is, if you actually like what I’ve written.)

Thanks! 🙂

TERESA'S BOOKSHELF – "CHICK LIT" EDITION: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Book: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (2004)

Author: Susanna Clarke

Chosen because: Female author; female illustrator – Portia Rosenberg

Finally, after almost three years of picking it up and putting it down again (and I know when I started reading it, because I was using my ticket stub from Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark on Broadway in 2011 as a bookmark), I finished it!

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke…I have BEATEN YOU.

It’s the story of two magicians in 19th Century England. Mr. Norrell is an old fogey who thinks that being a magician is an elite thing that requires decades of study, tons of books, and isolation. Jonathan Strange is a handsome, younger man who becomes one of Mr. Norrell’s best pupils, and thinks that magic should be more accessible to everyone and that Mr. Norrell is totally unfairly hoarding his knowledge (not to mention all the books in his kick-ass library!). Wackiness – including several people being stolen away to Faerie, travel and war, and one instance of a severed finger – ensues.

A large part of me enjoyed the hell out of this book. It was as if Jane Austen wrote a Tolkien novel. There’s tons of humor, well-rounded characters, and a seemingly huge knowledge of genre. Clarke clearly knows and loves English fantasy literature. Also, I’m a sucker for books for adults that have illustrations, and Portia Rosenberg’s illustrations do a great job of  evoking the magical environment of Clarke’s 19th Century England.

So, why did it take me three years to finish it?

Well, at 846 pages, it’s long, and not an easy “Harry Potter long.” It’s a dense book with even denser footnotes from alternate-history books that don’t even exist. The actual plot, though it involves a bunch of characters, is actually really simple and straightforward, but it often feels bogged down (and lost) in world-building. You could probably cut 200 pages from this book and have it be the same book, so that made it a bit of a slog. The parts I loved, I loved because they were more Austen than Tolkien, because of the commentary on humanity, manners, and our relationship to magic and stories. The parts that lost me – or rather, the parts during which I found myself distracted by other, shinier books – were the in-depth passages that dissected the faux history of magic in England.

I know, for many of you that’s probably exactly what you loved about the book. Fine. That’s why you’re you, and I’m me. 🙂

I have a thing about footnotes, too. If you’re going to build a world, you should be able to weave it seamlessly into the narrative. Footnotes, to me, scream The story doesn’t actually have anything to do with any of these details, but AREN’T THEY COOL? No, not really. I’d much rather get back to what the characters are doing, thanks.

Not that all the characters were great. There were entire swaths of characters – like the entire Greysteele family, for instance – who only seemed to exist to do this one thing, and I was all Couldn’t you just cut this whole stupid, boring family out and have one of the other characters do this one thing? Cause this family takes up a lot of prime real estate and they’re SO BORING.

The thing is, I kept coming back to the book, because much of it was well-written, and fun. Most of the characters also kept me coming back. It’s a testament to Clarke’s writing that I enjoyed getting to know these people, and I found myself wanting to get back to them. In addition to the titular magicians, the black servant, Stephen, was fascinating as he struggled between escaping from Faerie and going back to an England that looks down on people with his skin color. Strange’s wife, Arabella, was also interesting, and I found myself thinking that she could’ve done a lot better than Jonathan; and Norrell’s mysterious servant, Childermass has an intriguing journey from monosyllabic toughie to magic enthusiast.

This is Clarke’s first novel, and it’s a doozy. It’s really ambitious, and she’s clearly a talented writer. I just wish that she would’ve gotten out of her own way a bit, and trusted the fact that her story was good enough without all the superfluous footnotes and alternate history. The ending of the novel made it seem like we haven’t seen the last of these characters, and I feel like there must be a sequel in the works (there’s also a BBC mini-series in the works). I’m looking forward to it, and I hope that Clarke will go back to basics, keeping the magic, but losing the world-building for its own sake.

Women in Film: RAZE

Film: Raze

Director: Josh Waller; Writer: Robert Beaucage

Chosen because: Female protagonist and a predominantly female cast in a stereotypically “male” genre; Produced by Zoe Bell, and two other female Executive Producers  – Rachel Nichols, and Allene Quincy

I really need more people to go and see the film Raze, which is now in several cities across the country, because I need to be able to talk to more people about what they think about the ending!

Raze opens with a young woman named Jamie (Rachel Nichols) talking with a guy in a bar. Next thing she knows, she’s unconscious and wakes up in a dark, underground room. As she tries to escape, she meets another young woman, Sabrina (played by awesome stuntwoman and actress, Zoe Bell), and they walk together under the pretense that they’re looking for a way out.  But Sabrina leads Jamie into an enclosed, circular, stone-walled room with a steel door that shuts behind them and starts kicking the crap out of her for no reason. When Jamie asks her why, Sabrina says “Because we have to.”

Sabrina isn’t the only woman there. There are about fifty or so chosen (rather, kidnapped) by this crazy and ancient cult that does this every year because something-something-Greek mythology-something-something-women are powerful-something-something.  The women have to fight each other, tournament-style, to the death. The “winner” gets to leave and is crowned Princess of I Fucked All These Bitches Up, or somesuch. In order to force them into fighting rather than just escaping, killing themselves or letting themselves be killed, each woman has a loved one that the cult is targeting and has surveillance on. So, if the woman refuses to fight, she risks someone killing her child, or her husband, or her parent…

I enjoyed this movie muchly, because:

1) It was an amazing metaphor for what women face on a day-to-day basis. Not that we’re pitted against each other in brutal fights to the death – but we are pitted against each other in other ways. Especially if we’re powerful. Because God forbid there be more than one powerful woman at the top, amirite? It was also a great metaphor for how women are taught to do things, or sacrifice themselves, or put themselves through hell for other people. These women were encouraged to fight “for your daughter,” or “for your mother,” or “for your fiance.” But Tracie Thoms’ character has an amazing line where she basically says, “Any of those people you care about can be taken away from you anyway. You have to fight for yourself.” You have to deem yourself worth saving, because at the end of the day any other reason for staying alive doesn’t matter – you should be doing it because you want to survive and thrive.

2) There was a diverse cast of women. I don’t just mean racially, though they were that (shout-out to Tracie Thoms and Rosario Dawson, who is also in this film). I mean as far as personality types. There were women who were scared, there were women who were brave, and there were women who were driven insane by the experience. And there was one woman who loved violence and couldn’t wait to get her hands on anyone and everyone. It wasn’t just a parade of “kick-ass women.” They were real, average women under crazy, heightened circumstances. Some, like Zoe Bell’s character, had military training. Others had kickboxing experience, or gymnastics experience. They were all chosen because they were a certain level of physically fit/trained so that the fights would be interesting…but they weren’t Superwomen, and that’s what made this film so frightening, and what many of these women had to do all the more amazing. To top it all off, one of the leaders of the crazy cult is a woman, played by Sherilyn Fenn, and she sees what she’s doing as beneficial to women – well, to the one woman who survives. Sabrina asks her at one point, “How can you do this to other women?”

Her answer is not fucking cool.

3) There was also some crazy-amazing fight scenes, and if you’re a fan of stylized, violent fare, like I am, you will LOVE this. At first, the fights were too brutal to watch. But by the middle of the movie, I was actively, viscerally rooting for certain characters to kick other characters’ asses. So, not only is this a movie about women and their place in the world, but it’s about violence and how we, the viewers, respond to it. Even if violence isn’t your thing, you have to admire the phenomenal fight choreography. It takes a lot of work to make a fake fight look so intensely brutal.

Anyway, all this doesn’t mean the movie was perfect. Some of the shots, particularly when related to Sabrina and her daughter, were really heavy-handed and schmaltzy. And then there was that ending; that ending that I personally didn’t like, but that I know could be great conversation fodder – I’m still not sure if “being conversation fodder” is good enough for an ending, which is part of the reason why I want to hear what others think about it!

In any case, go see Raze if it’s playing in a city near you. And then find me so we can talk about it. 🙂

YOU ARE HERE: WriteGirl's Latest Book Has Launched!

The new WriteGirl anthology has arrived!

The new WriteGirl anthology has arrived!

I continue to be awed and inspired through my involvement with WriteGirl. Every year, WriteGirl publishes an anthology of work written by both mentees and mentors in the program, and this weekend was the book launch of their latest publication. It’s called You Are Here: The WriteGirl Journey, and it’s a beautiful volume that contains some really affecting, emotional prose and poetry, as well as some wonderful writing exercises for the teenagers in your life.

The book launch was held at the Mark Taper Auditorium at the L.A. Public Library on 5th Street in DTLA, which is a beautiful building and a great space to work (support your local libraries, y’all!). I was there volunteering to help sell books at one of the book tables at the event, but I was also able to attend the actual reading…

2013-12-29 21.46.12

The Mark Taper Auditorium is such an awesome venue. It’s so great that they partnered with WriteGirl for this event!

I'd heard this girl read her work before at other WriteGirl events, and she's amazing. Such a lively reader!

I’d heard this girl read her work before at other WriteGirl events, and she’s amazing. Such a lively reader!

It was incredible. About fifteen girls read their original work from the anthology, and I was flummoxed by how good their work was. It reminded me of how much potential and fearlessness I had as a young writer, and I have to say I envied them. They wrote in a way that I used to, but seem to have forgotten. Putting everything on the page shamelessly – because when you’re a teenage girl, you don’t care how “melodramatic” you sound. You’re not guarded, or ashamed of your feelings. And even though many of the girls seemed nervous to be reading their work in front of people, some for the first time, they certainly weren’t nervous about committing their intense, unfettered emotion to the page, and it gave me a huge amount of respect for them. It also reminded me that that part of myself is still in here somewhere, and I have to remember that even though my craft as a writer has improved, it needs to be balanced out by the fearlessness that only disappears with your youth if you let it.

Another wonderful reader whom I met earlier while I was at the book table. We bonded over the importance of getting the right "vibe" from a journal before choosing it. :)

Another wonderful reader whom I met earlier while I was at the book table. We bonded over the importance of getting the right “vibe” from a journal before choosing it. 🙂

If you’d like to support and encourage that fearlessness, I strongly urge you to get a copy of You Are Here! It’s a great read for adults, and it can be an inspiring gift to give a teenage girl in your life, even if she might not otherwise be into reading or writing on her own. There’s something about reading the work of your peers that’s different and special, and if you can give that gift to a young woman you know, it can be an amazing thing.

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And lastly, there’s going to be one last volunteer training on February 1st, because there are still so many girls who need us. So, if you’re in the Los Angeles area and want to help, it’s not too late! Visit the WriteGirl website to find out more!

After all, if WriteGirl is good enough for Michelle Obama (she presented WriteGirl with the 2013 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award), it should be good enough for you! :)

After all, if WriteGirl is good enough for Michelle Obama (she presented WriteGirl with the 2013 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award), it should be good enough for you! 🙂

TERESOPINION: Benevolent Sexism

Several months ago, my friend Jean sent me the article I discuss below, told me that I should write about it on my blog, and that she wanted my “Teresopinion.” Not only did I feel strongly about the article in question, but I LOVED the term “Teresopinion!” 🙂 So, I’m making that a regular feature on the blog.

If you have an article, an issue, or a specific problem about which you’d like my Teresopinion, email me at theteresajusinoexperience[at]gmail[dot]com with “TERESOPINION” in the subject heading! I will only mention you by first name, and if you don’t want that, tell me, and I’ll call you Anonymous.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Submission: “Benevolent Sexism” by Katherine Connell (National Review Online, December 2012)

TERESOPINION:

Feminism is the idea that women and men are equal, and as such should have equal agency in their lives, and an equal ability to design their lives however they like without fear of legal or social consequences based on gender. Taking that one step further, I’d say that feminism is the idea that “the masculine” and “the feminine” are equal, and as such no one should face legal or social consequences based on which part of themselves they choose to present.

In short, your gender, whatever it is or however you choose to present it, shouldn’t prevent you from living life as an autonomous human being.

If you believe that – CONGRATULATIONS! You’re a feminist! Whether you choose to call yourself that or not. You might not be an active feminist, but you’re a feminist, make no mistake. And the fact that so many women don’t want to call themselves by that name has a lot to do with sexism, which is the very thing that active feminists are trying to eradicate.

In this article, a skeptical Connell concludes with the following:

Because benevolent sexism is so much more insidious than old-fashioned “hostile sexism,” social scientists are forced to be creative in their attempts to measure it and analyze the negative effects they know it has on women. Consider the scenario constructed by Juliet Wakefield and her colleagues in their study of how women avoid seeking help in the context of “a dependency-related stereotype.” The university women selected for the experiment are individually allowed to “overhear” a fake phone call the female researcher supposedly receives from Joe the plumber, who is working in her apartment and has moved some of her furniture around without asking. After she hangs up, she says to some of the participants in the study, “Sorry about that — my plumber is such a typical man — he thinks that women are incapable of doing anything on their own!” To the others she says, “Sorry about that, my plumber is the most impatient person in the world.” It turns out that the young women exposed to the former statement — which sounds as if it is describing something a bit more hostile than benevolent — were subsequently less likely to ask for help with solving some anagrams, and they felt bad about themselves when they did ask for help. Conclusion: “All in all, our findings underline the point that the benevolent sexism in everyday banal interactions can be consequential for women’s emotions and behavior, and is, therefore, anything but banal.”

I tried to reflect a little on whether my banal interactions with benevolently sexist men have been undermining my emotional health and affecting my behavior without my realizing it. The other day, I asked a male co-worker for assistance with a technical issue. It’s hard to know if he was subtly robbing me of my agency, because he didn’t reply, “Oh, the network server, that’s so difficult and frustrating for a woman to grapple with. Let me do it for you,” as did the man in a script presented to students in the 2011 study “Damned if She Does, Damned if She Doesn’t: Consequences of Accepting versus Confronting Patronizing Help for the Female Target and Male Actor.” Instead, he just sent me the relevant link and went back to work.

I don’t think most women actually want to live in a world where men don’t offer to help them lug heavy suitcases up staircases or hold doors for them or propose marriage — never mind going down with the Titanic. If feminists find these things deplorable and in need of eradication, they can hardly be surprised when women fail to identify with their cause.

Here’s what I think about all of that:

  1. While I think that Juliet Wakefield’s study is flawed (so…are you saying it’s a good thing or a bad thing to ask for help? What exactly are you trying to prove?) Connell is missing the point of the experiment. The point isn’t that men shouldn’t give help when asked. The problem is when men offer unsolicited help on the basis of gender. Long story short, if you’re a dude and you’re offering the same unsolicited help to a woman that you would offer to another dude? That’s cool. Thanks. Very nice of you. If you’re a dude, and you’re offering unsolicited help to a woman that you wouldn’t offer to another dude because she’s a woman and you assume she needs your help? Not cool. When Connell ends with her example of asking a dude for help in her office? SO not the point. She asked for help, and he gave it to her. Done and done. That’s how it should be. Now, I’ve heard guys complain when women want to offer help by making them talk about their feelings; the guy doesn’t want to talk, and the woman insists that it’ll make him feel better and that guys need to “learn” how to talk about their feelings more. That’s annoying, right? Let’s make an agreement right now: no more unsolicited help based on gender stereotypes. If you’re offering someone help, ask yourself if you would offer that same help to someone of your own gender. If you wouldn’t, chances are, you’re offering it based on a gender stereotype, and you should probably rein it in until you’re asked. Yes, that goes for women, too. Because that guy will talk about his feelings when he’s good and ready.
  2. All women are not the same. There isn’t such a thing as “what women want” or “what men want.” That’s kind of the point. Things like behavior and emotions are only gendered insofar as human beings have made them that way. When Connell ends with: “I don’t think most women actually want to live in a world where men don’t offer to help them lug heavy suitcases up staircases or hold doors for them or propose marriage — never mind going down with the Titanic. If feminists find these things deplorable and in need of eradication, they can hardly be surprised when women fail to identify with their cause.” it DRIVES ME CRAZY. First of all, no one can speak for “most women.” Secondly, women shouldn’t be judged negatively if they DO want to carry their own heavy suitcases or propose marriage. Thirdly, men shouldn’t be judged negatively if they say YES to a woman who proposes, or if they don’t insist on helping a woman with her heavy suitcase after she’s already declined.
  3. Lastly, I wish people could just be honest about what they want and need without having to hide behind a specific gender role. This way a woman could say “I want to marry you” or “I want to join the military” and a dude could say  “Lauren, could you help me carry this up the stairs?” or “I want to join a ballet company” and both people would get a resounding “meh” from everyone else BECAUSE WE WOULDN’T EVEN CARE THAT MUCH.

Making the world safe for that kind of honesty is what feminism is all about.

Bottom Line:

  • Benevolent sexism? Totally a thing. It’s especially dangerous, because it seems nice, but it’s one of many things that contributes to the larger problem of prescribed gender roles. And small contributors to large problems are often the most difficult to fight, because they’re the easiest to ignore, and when left ignored for too long, they fester.
  • People aren’t afraid to call themselves feminist because feminism is “too feministy,” they’re afraid to call themselves feminist because of what people who buy into prescribed gender roles think about feminism (and do to people who call themselves feminist).
  • All anyone who labels themselves a feminist wants to do is make the world safe for all people to live autonomously without being prevented from doing so by their gender, no matter what it is, or how they choose to present it. If you believe that, then call yourself a feminist proudly! It’s nothing of which to be ashamed.
  • Yes, I wrote this, and yes I stand by it. My point was that women shouldn’t consider themselves less feminist for receiving help, and I was using the agony experienced during our periods as an “out.” Like, if you feel guilty about letting guys carry heavy stuff, don’t, because you also have to deal with a gremlin chewing on your entrails. It was a semi-joke post written when I was hopped up on ice cream and Little House on the Prairie.

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