Dear Gentlemen Of The World:
Hello. My name is Sara Benincasa. Pleased to meet you. I’m an author and a comedian and a human with a vagina, otherwise known as a “lady-person.” I’m about to school you in exactly how to tell a stranger lady that she is great. I’m also going to teach you how not to talk to girls you don’t know.
But first, I’d like to tell you a story. I know, women be talking, am I right? But seriously guys, listen up, for I have knowledge to share. Useful knowledge. Think of my words as tools, and your brain as a box in which to place said tools, and a mutually satisfying encounter as the project you are building with these tools.
Okay then. On to the story. Keep reading »
Last week, I was in a conversation on Facebook in which I admitted to not liking kids. (My comment: “Real talk: I don’t actually like babies, actually, or children.”) I thought about taking it down as soon as I posted it. An hour later, I was still thinking about taking it down. No one paid much attention to the comment; it’s not really a secret among my friends that I feel this way, although one friend wrote “Yikes,” which I’m still not sure how to respond to. Nevertheless, I felt like I had crossed some serious line. I post everything I write — mostly personal essays that connect to my political beliefs — on social media. As such, this status is definitely not the first time I’ve insulted someone with my beliefs. Yet affirming my dislike of children on Facebook seemed like a whole new level of evil.
But still, I didn’t take the status down. Keep reading »
As a kid, I was used to standing out for lots of reasons, like my “Star Wars” obsession or the black eyeliner and vampire chic that made up my high school wardrobe.
I never expected my race to be one of those reasons.
I grew up as an Asian-American among Asian-Americans, so I certainly wasn’t used to being viewed as what we English Lit majors call “the exotic other.” Even when I went to college in St. Louis, it wasn’t that much of a problem. I did go on a date with a guy who went on about his trip to Japan and the extreme “femininity” of its women, but that was about it.
It wasn’t until I moved to the UK that it kicked in: men – and it was always men – shouting “NEE HOW MA” or “KOH-NEE-CHEE-WAAAH” or even “Me love you long time!” as I walked down the street; starting conversations with “Soooo … are you from … China?” before they’d even asked my name; playing up their supposed interest in Asian culture while going on about how “feminine” and beautiful Asian women are. Keep reading »
“Game of Thrones” is one of my favorite shows on TV, not just right now, but of all time. I must be some kind of magical unicorn, because by virtue of the fact that I have a vagina — I literally just double-checked and, yep, still packing lady parts — I am supposed to hate “Game of Thrones.” This is according to Thrillist’s Renata Sellitti, who wrote an article about why women “hate” the show and offered advice for how “Game of Thrones”-loving men can entice their girlfriends into watching it with them. It is, as you might expect, the biggest pile of direwolf excrement I’ve seen on the internet this week. I am tempted to print out her article, pull down my smallclothes and make water all over it, that’s how bad it is. I’m breathing wildfire I’m so pissed. As Cersei Lannister would say, if she were a woman of the 21st century, BITCH, PLEASE.
Now, I don’t disagree that there are certainly some women out there who hate “Game of Thrones.” (I just don’t happen to know any of them so they clearly weren’t in Renata’s control group. … She polled a wide variety of women in order to determine that basically all of us hate the show, right? I’m sure she did.) But there are also some women who hate “The Bachelor,” “The Real Housewives” franchise and whatever other female-targeted TV shows likely litter Renata’s DVR queue. (I’m not hating on your boob tube choices, girl, I watch those shows too.) And there are certainly men who hate “Game of Thrones,” possibly even for some of the reasons Sellitti claims women are turned off by the show. Oh, yes, the reasons. Let’s review and refute them, shall we? Keep reading »
I have a specific problem when it comes to dating. I mean, I have many problems (I’m attracted to unavailable guys, ranging from gay men to to fictional characters), but there’s one that has significantly affected me.
I’m short. I’m 4’11”. I’ve been this size since I was about 12 years old. So, NO, to answer the question you were probably wondering and men on dates have actually asked me, I am not a little person. If you take a look at me – either by Googling me or assessing my corporeal being — you can tell that I am of average proportions.
Now, while there are obvious perks to being petite (Saving money by shopping in the children’s sections! Wearing high heels guiltlessly! Getting picked up spontaneously! Wearing a hoodie to a Mexican restaurant and getting a kid’s burrito!), there are some times where I do get the short end of the stick, pun heavily intended. I don’t just mean that I have to weed out all of the shady men who have a petite girl fetish, but something about being a short lady brings out the alpha — or, unfortunately, misogynistic — in some men in a variety of ways. Keep reading »
“It’s unfortunate because he’s a great guy, he just has stupid advisors around him.”
This is Reebok CEO Uli Becker, as tweeted by Footwear News, speaking about the rapper Rick Ross. Amongst Ross’ “great guy” credentials? Rapping in a song by Rocko the following lyrics about drugging and raping a woman: “Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it/I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.” When critics decried his rapey lyrics and he got dropped by at least one radio station, Ross called the whole thing a “misinterpretation” because he never said the word “rape.” (Ross also added he wants all the “sexy ladies, the beautiful ladies” to know rape is bad.) After getting dropped as a Reebok spokesperson, two weeks after the initial kerfluffle, he finally issued an apology, calling rape a “crime” and “wrong.”
I was reminded of Rick Ross just yesterday when I read about Constable Jason Peacock, a veteran Toronto police officer who was found guilty of assaulting his then-girlfriend and damaging her home. On Christmas Eve morning 2010, Peacock showed up unannounced at her place and refused to leave; he punched holes in her walls, smashed glasses, overturned her kitchen island, and shook her hard by the shoulders. In her statement, his then-girlfriend wrote, “There was a period where I thought he was going to kill me.” The judge who sentenced Peacock to 100 community service and $4,300 in restitution fees called the officer “a good man who, but for his involvement with [the ex-girlfriend], led not only an unblemished by exemplary life.”
Or what about the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, who was defended by John Thompson, Jr., a former Georgetown coach, as a “good man” who did “something that he maybe would be sorry about.” That “something” that Paterno should “maybe” be sorry about was allowing child rape to happen.
Let me be the first (apparently) to tell you, guys. You are not good men. Keep reading »
On April 22, Anna-Megan Raley, under the pseudonym of Claire Crawford, wrote a blog post for CBS Houston titled, “Is This Girl ‘Too Chunky’ To Be An OKC Thunder Cheerleader?” In the post, she spotlighted Kelsey Williams, a three-year veteran of the Thunder Girls, the dance team that performs during the home games of the NBA’s Oklahoma Thunder. Referring to a picture showing Williams in her uniform — a bra-like halter top and short shorts — Raley questioned whether Williams was “bad-looking,” noting she had “pudginess around her waistline.” Although she praised Williams for being “comfortable wearing that tiny little outfit,” she wished the dancer had “a little more on top, if you know what I mean,” and asked readers, “Is this chick ‘too chunky’ to be a cheerleader?” Then the half-assed statement, “We think she’s beautiful,” followed by a poll allowing readers to vote on the options: “She has no business wearing that outfit in front of people” or “She could use some tightening in her midsection.” Keep reading »
Moving through the world as someone who identifies as bisexual or queer, I’m always navigating difficult experiences that compartmentalize my sexuality. I’ve been labeled “indecisive” for not being more assertive in which sex I prefer to date. I’ve been called “disgusting” because my desire to date women makes some people uncomfortable or possibly more accurately, question their own sexuality. And, of course, I’ve been told that my experience is a phase that will soon become a distant memory as I evolve into heterosexuality, find the perfect man, marry and become a Quiverfull woman who embraces domesticity and leans away from my career.
But none of these experiences trouble me as much as a recent experience I had in which I, and women like me, were named sexually perverse. The U.S. Supreme Court hearing regarding California’s ban on same-sex marriage has surfaced some polemic debates on the rights of the LGBT communities. In my experience, when opponents to marriage equality aren’t being downright nasty they’re crafting negligently harmful stories that characterize same-sex loving people as menacing. We’ve all heard some of the narratives: “Gay people will convert our children,” “Giving gays the right to marry will compromise the institution of marriage,” “Gay people lack a moral compass which is why they’re okay with being gay,” and “What’s next, sex with animals?” Keep reading »
Don’t get me wrong, I am a sucker for the message “seriously, though, you’re beautiful.” And I agree with the viral clip, so many of us get distracted by all of our perceived flaws. We get caught up in criticizing our appearances and miss out on our own beauty. We are often more generous toward strangers than we are toward ourselves.
I like that the Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign is pointing all of this out. I hope it starts a bunch of conversations. And I hope that my reaction is interpreted as a continuation of the conversation, rather than nitpicking criticism. Because I really don’t want to nitpick, I just want to point out some things I noticed as I was watching.
In the clip, some lovely, thin, mostly white women who are all pretty young describe their appearances to a forensic artist, who sketches them without looking at them. And then other people describe these women, and the artist starts all over again, based on the new description. At the end, the women are shown the two portraits of themselves, and they can see how differently the sketched faces turned out, based on the descriptions. They realize that they’ve been unnecessarily critical of their appearances. Keep reading »
This piece was cross-posted with permission from the Ms. Magazine Blog.
On Tuesday, Mother Jones released an audio recording of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaking with members of his reelection staff. Much of the conversation focused on actor Ashley Judd, who, until recently, was rumored to be mulling a run against the current Senate GOP leader. For the most part, the recording is typical opposition research. An aide rehearses Judd’s public politics: She loves Obamacare, is pro-gay marriage and self-identifies as a feminist.
None of this, of course, is much of a surprise — Judd campaigned for President Obama and has spoken publicly on behalf of NARAL Pro-Choice America. More disconcerting than the rehashing of Judd’s political ideology, however, is when the discussion veers from policy to Judd’s reproductive choices and then quickly to her mental health. Keep reading »