My name is Emma. This is my feminism.

My Life As Liz (and the Illusion of Choice)

I’ve only seen a few episodes of My Life As Liz, and I’m really just using it as a starting point for this post, which is mostly just guna be me talking about what I’ve been thinking lately.  It might also get a little personal and a little sexual… just warning you now.

Ok, so I got really bored on my day off, and watched all of 2 Broke Girls, and then needed something else to watch.  So I started watching My Life As Liz.  I don’t think I’ll continue watching it – I didn’t find it all that entertaining – but it did reinforce an idea that I’ve already been thinking a lot about.  We have the illusion of choice, but we will be severely punished if we choose “wrong.”

The example from My Life As Liz is that Liz has chosen to reject the traditional Texas ideal of a tan, blond, superficial girl in favor of being herself.  I think it’s important to note that she used to be all of those things, and then chose to change.  I think a lot of times people tend to think that if a girl doesn’t look the way she’s “supposed to” it’s because she can’t, and is therefore jealous of the girls who can.  But for Liz, that is not true at all.

On the flip side, people also tend to legitimize their hatred of ugly people by saying that if they tried hard enough, they wouldn’t be so ugly.  Obviously they just don’t care about or respect themselves, so why should anyone else?  (Unfortunately, I literally had this conversation with a group of my friends.)  The message here is very strong – if you want to be liked, you better do your best to look conventionally attractive.  It’s all a contest to see who can make themselves look least original and most like Barbie.

But then we also say that women who have succeeded in looking like Barbie are asking for male attention (read: sexual harassment and assault).  So essentially what we’re saying is, you can choose to look conventional, in which case you obviously want to be raped or gawked at, or you can choose to look unconventional, in which case you are undeserving of any respect from men or women, and if you are in high school like Liz, you will definitely be made fun of and outcast.

So why do women “choose” to objectify themselves?  Because it’s what we’re supposed to do.  Because we have learned that if we don’t, we are disgusting and will surely be outcast, while if we do we might be sexually assaulted.  Because we know that, as women, regardless of how it actually makes us feel, being sexually harassed by men should make us feel empowered, because our sexuality is our source of power.  Is being outcast, hated, disrespected, and seen as disgusting if we choose differently really an option?

Here’s another example – shaving.  Nobody is forcing us to shave.  Women do it for themselves, not for men.  If we hated it that much, we would stop.  Right?  Cuz the other option is pretty fucked… that we have to shave half of our bodies.  That we do not have a choice about what our bodies look like.  That our bodies have become so regulated that we are no longer in control of them.  That razor and lotion and shaving cream and waxing companies have brainwashed us so entirely that they don’t ever have to worry about not making money.

But look at Clementine Cannibal.  I have mentioned this before, I know, but I just think it is such a dramatic example of what I’m talking about that I have to bring it up again.  Because she chooses not to shave (including her armpits), she has been yelled at and verbally harassed, as well as thrown down the stairs.  Can I say that again?  SHE WAS THROWN DOWN THE FUCKING STAIRS BECAUSE SHE DECIDED NOT TO SHAVE.  What the FUCK.  So tell me again… women CHOOSE to shave?  For themselves?  Really?  And the fact that they will be physically assaulted if they don’t has nothing to do with the fact that they never consider not shaving? 

Here’s another example (the personal one… but ‘the personal is political’ as they say).  So, inspired largely by Clementine Cannibal (and that amazing picture of her <– ), I decided to try not shaving for a while.  Specifically my pubic hair, which I have always felt really shameful and stressed about, and didn’t actually know what it would look or feel like if I let it grow as long as it wanted. 

Here’s a little back story.  When I was 15 and my self esteem was at an all time low, I was all about this sketchy ‘dating site,’ and talking to random guys online.  Of course, the talks got sexual, and they would always ask if I shaved, and say that smooth was sexy.  One guy even told me he could tell through girls’ jeans if they shaved or not – and I totally believed him.  So I was always scared that everyone could tell through jeans, so I always shaved.  And I always hated it.  It hurt when I walked or moved or had sex (ironically, since that was theoretically why I was shaving in the first place).  I got bad razor burn, and it itched and bled.  But I always shaved, and I always thought that it said something bad about me if I had any stubble or hair left, or if there was any indication that hair had ever grown there at all.

Fast forward 7 years, and I’m still shaving (but now with just a trimmer so it doesn’t hurt like it used to).  I’m still stressed out about not having my hair perfect before sex, I still don’t know what my hair would look like if it grew, I still get out of bed to shave my legs in the middle of the night before going to have casual sex.  Obviously, I am still very uncomfortable with my hair and very aware that I have to shave. 

So then I get really into feminism, read about Clementine Cannibal, and decide that if she can do it, I can do it.  So I decide to try not shaving.  I text my fuck buddy and explain that I’m not going to shave my pubic hair because I don’t want to and I have always hated it.  He says that’s fine (gee thanks for the permission).  So the next time I go over to have sex, he gets off, I wait for him to continue for me, and he lays back, stifles a laugh, and says mockingly, “So… why don’t you wanna shave your pubes…?”

Now this was clearly not a real question, but a criticism, so I did not reply.  I guess he thought that meant he should go on.  “I mean, I get that if you’re using a razor it can hurt, but if you just trim it…” (Nice of him to say that I don’t have to cause myself pain for his sexual desire.  What a gem.)

I got up and left.  And I was very proud of the fact that I did not cry.  I was pissed at him, but I wasn’t ashamed of myself.  Despite the fact that, (here’s the sexual I was warning you about) he just fucked me til he came, then laughed at and criticized my body when I was still laying naked and vulnerable beside him in his bed.  Like, come on.  That’s pretty brutal.  Really.

But my point here is, if you don’t shave, people think they can do brutal things to you (ranging from mocking your naked body to throwing you down the stairs), and it will be completely justified because you chose not to shave.  See how it’s not really much of a choice?

I know this post is already too long (maybe a different colour will help break it up??) but I want to extend this to another topic or two.  Occupy Wall Street and the Montreal Student Protest are two issues that I strongly support, and – regardless of what you think of what they’re actually protesting – I think it is unquestionably important that they are able to protest.  But they kind of aren’t…  Sure, in Canada and the States we have ‘democracy,’ and people have ‘the right to protest.’  Sure we do.  Oh, but if you actually try to use it, you might lose an eye, be pepper sprayed, definitely arrested, and quite possibly a victim of (unpunished) police brutality.  So… would you like to join the protest?  Not really huh?  Well, that’s your choice, I guess things won’t change.  (I wonder who this system is working for…)

A personal, less extreme version of this is my recent criticism of a certain company which I suppose I won’t name since they apparently are going to sue me for talking about what happened with them.  Supposedly, we ‘vote with our dollars’ and we should let a company know if we disagree with their practices / are boycotting their company, but sometimes, you will be personally attacked, threatened, and accused of harassment and slander if you do speak up.  But of course, you ‘have the right to share your opinion.’  What kind of democracy would this be if we didn’t?

What kind of ‘free country’ would this be if we didn’t have the right to make choices about our appearances, our body hair, or our government?  Imagine if we weren’t allowed to criticize companies, tell the truth about our experiences, or protest the way our country is being run?  Wouldn’t that be terrifying?  Good thing we live in such a progressive, free, democratic country.

Oh wait…

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Sex And The City

Overall, I think Sex and The City is really good.  It has its problems, but I like that it’s basically about their friendship more than their relationships with men and that there’s a huge focus on their sexual desires.  There have been times when I felt automatically ashamed of my own sexual desires, and then thought of the Samantha, Carrie, Miranda, and even Charlotte, and realized that there is nothing shameful about wanting sex.  I feel like that is not a message we get too often from mainstream media; we’re supposed to be sexy to look at, but we’re never supposed to actually want it, that would be slutty. 

So I’m glad that there’s a show all about women’s subjective sexualities, where they talk about what they like and what they don’t like, and there is very little judgement about it.  I like that Sam is so open and willing to try anything, and is proud of it.  My goal is to be as comfortable with myself and my sexuality as she is.

Sadly though, at this point I think I am actually more similar to Charlotte.  Also like Charlotte, I want to be a mom more than anything, and that has often stifled my sexuality.  Moms are supposed to be sweet and loving and nurturing, and I see myself being all those things.  And in my mind – at least in the past – those things were not conducive to sexual desires.  “Bad girls” are supposed to want sex.  Sweet, loving mothers can maybe want to ‘make love,’ but it has to be about the love and not the sex.  Just wanting sex because you’re horny is only for ‘bad girls.’

Of course, I know this is really not true, but it has taken a lot of work to create an idea of myself that can include both of those identities without feeling ashamed of one.  So I found it really interesting when, in one episode, Charlotte decided not to have anal sex because she didn’t want to be “the up-the-butt girl” because nobody marries her.  “Whoever heard of Mrs. Up-The-Butt?”  Charlotte says she wants children and nice bedding, and therefore can’t have anal sex. 

Obviously there is a parallel here between the way she thinks of mothers and therefore herself and the way I do.  It made me feel better to know that I’m not the only one limiting my sexuality to ‘nice’ things so that I can still be a good mother one day.  But at the same time, when Charlotte says it, it really sounds a little ridiculous.  If, in her bedroom, alone with her partner, she had anal sex, of course that wouldn’t change who she is.  It wouldn’t actually make her “the up-the-butt girl” at all because our sexual acts do not define us.  This wouldn’t be something that she would have to share with every man she ever dated,* so why would it limit her ability to find a husband?

These judgements are not really coming from other people, but from within ourselves.  They are no doubt influenced and encouraged by our culture, but we are the ones inflicting this judgement and shame on ourselves in many ways, because we are the only ones who know our entire sexual history.  If we gave ourselves permission to want what we want without editing and censoring our desires to fit cultural ideals of feminine sexuality, then we wouldn’t ever have to be ashamed of those desires, regardless of what the culture or other people think of them. 

When Charlotte is explaining to her boyfriend why she won’t do anal, she starts by saying “I want to, but I can’t.  I mean, actually no, that’s not true, I don’t want to.  Or maybe I do.  I don’t know what I want, but I’m afraid if I don’t then you’ll dump me, and if I do, then I’ll be the up-the-butt girl.”  And I think that might be the worst part about it.  That it is so hard to separate what you want or don’t want from what you think is socially acceptable or not socially acceptable.  And that we substitute social judgement for our own desires in many cases.  Charlotte doesn’t know if she wants to try anal or not, but she knows that she is not supposed to, so she doesn’t.  That’s really sad, ’cause who knows what pleasures we are depriving ourselves of because of the stupid voices in our head passing judgement all the time.

I’m working hard on shutting them up.

*like you have to with herpes.  And maybe my desire to be married (which is actually steadily decreasing) and have children made my herpes diagnosis even harder to accept.  Because who ever heard of Mrs. Std?

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Dawson’s Creek

I have probably seen this entire series 4 or 5 times.  I love it.  It’s like my emotional comfort food.  And what could be wrong with Dawson’s Creek? (Besides the fact that, if we’re being honest, it’s a pretty lame show.)  It’s a pretty tame, fun-for-the-whole family type of show.  There is not a lot of objectionable content.  They don’t drink or have sex unless something is terribly wrong, or they are in deep, passionate love (respectively).  There is no swearing.  They are all just trying to be the best people they can be.

This is especially true for the earlier episodes.  I am now into the last season, which is a little bit less tame, and a little bit more objectionable.  Dawson is now working with Todd on a movie, and Pacey is working as a… financial something-or-other with a bunch of douche bags.  And both Dawson and Pacey are very much being influenced by the men they work with who are quite sexist and likely to objectify women.

We hear Dawson talk about how looking at his girlfriend Natasha makes him think only about sex.  This is something season 1 Dawson would never have said.  Natasha is cheating on Dawson, lying about their relationship, and lying to him, but he doesn’t really mind cause he gets to keep ‘shagging’ her (in the words of his director Todd).  Natasha is pretty clearly there for her sexuality.  She uses it in the film she is acting in.  She uses it to try to get into a concert.  She uses it to play a trick on Dawson on Halloween, and to continue a sexual relationship with him while also sleeping with someone else.  (Not that I have anything against multiple casual sex partners.  I just think all involved should know that they’re casual sex partners and not think that they’re in a romantic relationship).

We also see Dawson tell his director Todd that he will ‘get him some extras’ to have sex with.  Sorry??  How exactly do you ‘get extras’ for someone to fuck?  Is there a purchase you can make?  Or do you just use your authority position to sexually exploit them?

Later in the season Dawson pitches a movie to a middle aged, white, male producer.  Of course, Dawson wants to tell the story of his own quaint life, but the producer will only support the movie if there are “a minimum of 3 nude scenes.”  He wants the movie to be “wall to wall boobs.”  And actually, I think this is a really important comment on the industry.  This part is not really fiction, is it?  A lot of movies are wall to wall boobs.  Because the people making these movies are middle aged, white men who want to see topless young women.  It seemed kind of ridiculous to see this old man demanding topless teens, but unfortunately I don’t think it’s too far from the truth.  

In ‘the college years’ both Joey and Audrey have scary encounters with would-be rapists.  Luckily, it’s super easy to fight off a man who wants to rape you if you actually don’t want to be raped.  What?!  After kicking her would-be rapist’s ass, Joey says, “I guess those kickboxing classes really paid off.”  Right.  Because one kickboxing class can ensure that any woman can kick any man’s ass.  If we were all just better prepared, we wouldn’t have to worry about ever being raped.

And Audrey is alone in a parking lot, drunk, with a guy who is trying to pull her into his car to rape her.  But no worries.  She also kicked his ass like it was nothing.  I’m going to assume that the makers of the show wanted to comment on rape without having to deal with the consequences of it actually happening.  But I think the comment they ended up making just played into the myth that if women really didn’t want to be raped, they could fight it off.

When Chad Michael Murray was in the show as Charlie (yum), there was also a bit of a comment of female sexuality.  Jenn was very into him, and was very clear about that.  She started what she thought was a relationship with him, which included a lot of sex (hello, it’s Chad Michael Murray!).  Apparently he didn’t think they were exclusive, so he cheated on her with another woman.  They broke up.

Then Charlie met Joey.  She was very standoffish, and said she didn’t want anything to do with him since he cheated on Jenn and clearly lies to get laid.  Charlie fell for her, and was extremely persistent (following her to LA when she told him not to).  So I guess there are two ways to read this.  Option one is that Charlie would actually be more likely to fall in love with Joey (who is super annoying and uptight, though admittedly less-so during the college episodes) than Jenn (who is adorable and fun and open).  Option two, nobody likes easy, slutty girls, only girls who are hard to get.

Take that as you will.   Maybe I’m reading too much into it.  After all, Joey is supposedly this amazing girl who “doesn’t know how beautiful she is*,” as they say all the time, and is the love of both Dawson and Pacey’s lives.   So maybe we’re just supposed to believe that Charlie actually loved her too.

And now I must talk about Pacey.   I love Pacey as much as the next girl (actually, I love him way more than the next girl, but this is not about my obsession with fictional men), but what he did to Emma was verging on unforgivable.  Pacey was always a chivalrous ladies’ man, and stayed that way ’til the end, but there were a couple glitches which I would like to think were caused by his perverted, male chauvinist boss Rich.  

Pacey talked his roommate Emma into being his date for a work function.  She then found out from other women at that function that the guy with the hottest date won $1000.  When she confronted Pacey about this, he gave a lame ass apology (compared to the dramatic, heartfelt apologies he has given Joey for really stupid things), but said that he brought her because he really thought she would win.  And then she kissed him! 

Like the using her as an accessory, trying to make money off her sexuality, allowing all the men at his office to judge her body, all without her consent doesn’t matter, cuz O-M-G he thinks she’s hot!  What?! 

I hate that!  I hate that whenever anyone says anything nice about a woman, they talk about what she looks like.  Even Pacey does this all the time.  Any song about a woman, whether it’s a love song or a drinking song talks about what she looks like.  The best complement you can give a woman is that she looks good.  And the worst thing you can say is that she’s ugly and fat.  I’m so tired of it.  And as much as I love Pacey, he would have to do a lot better than just telling me I was hot to make me get past that.

He would also have to listen to a lot of feminist rants, and let me make him into a true feminist.  Then he would be perfect!  (I’m guna be single forever aren’t I…?)

Anyway, I love Dawson’s Creek (as lame as it is sometimes), and in terms of sexism and misogyny it’s really not bad.  Watching these episodes this time around just really bothered me. 

*But it is very important that she is beautiful, and equally important that she doesn’t think she is.  Ugly women are obviously no good.  And neither are confident women who can see their own beauty and think they look damn good.

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Boy Meets World

I used to love this show.  Obviously, I’m a grown up now… so I don’t watch it anymore (pretty sure no one watches it anymore).  But I just wanted to comment on one part of one episode that always stayed with me.  I can’t remember what the episode was about, or what the context was, but I vividly remember Corey saying to Topanga, “You’re not gonna be one of those women who doesn’t shave her legs are you?” and Topanga saying “I haven’t decided yet.”  Cue laugh track… because it would be SO RIDICULOUS for a girl to think she wouldn’t have to shave her legs when she got older. 

When I watched this show, I didn’t know what feminism was, or that I was passionate about it.  I didn’t know that one day I would realize how fucked it is that we have to remove hair from our legs (and underarms, and girlie bits* and eyebrows, and maybe our faces, and anywhere else that it’s not ‘supposed to’ be) or risk being ridiculed or worse.  But I have never forgotten that conversation.  And it was very clear that I did not want to be “one of those women.”  

I don’t watch kids shows anymore, so I don’t know if this policing of femininity is a theme at all  (although I assume it is), but I think it’s very interesting that Boy Meets World chose to include that scene.  I guess it was important to them to make sure young girls knew that feminism was a bad thing before they even knew what feminism was.  Ugh!

No wonder feminism is so stigmatized and feminists are so hated.  We have been taught to hate nonconforming women since we were little.  Sometimes as directly as being encouraged to laugh at a girl who dares to consider not shaving her legs as an adult.  (Of course, the issue never comes up again, and we can safely assume that she did decide to shave her legs.)

* I also think it’s fucked that I still feel awkward saying vulva, vagina, cunt, pussy, or any other more appropriate, more grown up word to refer to that area than ‘girlie bits.’  I’m working on it.

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So, I’ve been feeling guilty, like I’m completely biasing everything, because I’m ignoring my actual favourite show.  I’m supposed to be looking critically at the media around me, and the show I watch most… I just refuse to criticize.  I’m sure there are some issues in it that I could comment on, but I don’t want to.  Angel is what I watch when I need a break from all this shit.  I just get lost in another world where things are a bit more black and white, and someone else is making the tough decisions. 

But I have thought of how I can relate Angel to feminism without having to criticize it.  First let me explain how I’ve been feeling lately.  There is a link on the left to a post called ‘I don’t want to be a feminist anymore‘ which is pretty much how I feel at the moment.  Once you start posting feminist articles and ideas online, you definitely get some backlash.  It’s interesting actually, because the people who are arguing so strongly against feminism are actually proving how necessary it is.  If we had gender equality, then demanding gender equality would not threaten anyone.  Feminism would not be threatening to men if they did not benefit in some way from patriarchy.  I’m learning just how well this system works, because as soon as you question it, you can very easily be labelled ‘one of those people.’  And nobody wanted to be ‘one of those people,’ nor does anyone want to listen to them.  They are clearly crazy, with their conspiracy theories, and their ‘the government is out to get me’ thinking.  This system works.

So posting things in general, and then defending them, and reading all the shit that people say about you and your thoughts gets tiring enough.  Then there’s this whole thing with the Ranch, which is much more personal and much more frustrating.  I never wanted to take it any farther than just an email and removing my support.  Then their response was actually worse than the fact that they’re having those contests in the first place.  Then, where I posted the email I have been getting some backlash.  I just feel so spent. 

People are telling me there’s no point, nothing’s gonna change. What can I expect from a bar? I have to pick my battles.  If I’m against that, I have to be against so many businesses and exploitative practices.

Then, I watch Angel.  I watch this group of 7 people fight evil.  Evil will certainly always exist.  They will never ‘win.’  No one will win at the end.  None of it matters, so all of it matters.  They’re not fighting for a prize at the end, or to see if good or evil wins out.  They’re fighting for every little injustice, every person they save matters because that is all that matters. 

And even if it didn’t matter at all, they still have to fight.  When you believe in something like that, you always have to fight.  It’s no longer a choice.  Feminism is no longer a choice for me.  I will always have to fight, whether or not we can ever ‘win.’

In Angel and Buffy, everyone knows that demons exist to some extent; most people just ignore it because they don’t want to know.  People who talk about demons are often put into mental institutions, despite being some of the sanest people in the city. 

I think most people know, to some extent, that misogyny and sexism are everywhere.  But who would want to deal with that?  Instead, it’s easier to focus on the fact that, for 5 minutes Canada had a female prime minister.  That it’s illegal to not hire someone for their gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.  That we just hate fat women because it’s “unhealthy.”  (Apparently it’s not as unhealthy for men to be fat, and being anorexic is actually healthy for women?)  That there are some women CEOs.  That plenty of women aren’t raped.  It’s easier to pretend that we have achieved equality.

And as soon as someone points out the demons we all see, we restrain them and throw them into a mental institution.  Well maybe not literally… But we definitely imply that they don’t know what they’re talking about, that there only seeing these problems because they’re looking too hard for them, and that they should absolutely not be listened to.  Like I said, the system works well.

But if Angel, Cordie, Gunn, Wes, Lorne, Fred and Connor can keep fighting an evil that will always exist, we can keep fighting the patriarchy.  Sometimes it’s exhausting and it seems hopeless, but what choice do we have?

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1 Girl 5 Gays

I think this show is awesome and so important.  I am definitely pro-gay (or whatever the opposite of homophobic is), but I don’t happen to have any gay friends… or actually really know any gay people (that I know of).  So, unfortunately, when I see a gay couple in public somewhere, or even on TV, it is still very remarkable to me.  I definitely notice it more than I would a straight couple.  So, if even I automatically recognize it as something different from the norm, it kind of make sense that some people get to be so homophobic.

I clearly remember an instance in middle school where some kids were called a girl a lesbian.  I told my older sister about it after school, and I said ‘ew’ to the fact that she was supposedly gay.  Her reaction completely gave me the guidance I needed.  All she said was, “Emma!” and then I knew that we were not homophobes.  All I needed was someone to tell me that.  Without a non-homophobic model, I adopted the attitude of this very homophobic culture.

So for people who never had any guidance in tolerance – or worse, whose parents are actively anti-gay – homophobia is an understandable default.  I would never defend homophobic actions or speech, but I do think it’s extremely important to look at the culture that continues to produce these attitudes, and then try to change that culture in order to fix this problem.

And that is exactly what 1G5G does.  It shows many different gay men each week sharing their opinions on a variety of different issues.  Just having a show that exposes people to what gay people are really like is huge.  Some of these guys fit the ‘gay man’ stereotype, but most don’t.  Some are hilarious, some are sweet, some are assholes… it’s almost like their real people!  This is such an important message because if you don’t know gay people, it’s too easy to assume that they are all the same.  I think it’s just as important to see gay men that you hate as it is to see gay men that you love.  Because even if your view of what a gay man is is a positive one, you still can’t just lump them all together into one person.  (I was joking before… they actually are real people.)

My one critique is that I wish there were more lesbian shows.  I read an article a long time ago (that I just searched for online and couldn’t find) that talked about the lack of lesbians in mainstream media.  Usually, when shows include homosexuality, they include gay men.  I feel like in some ways there’s almost less stigma for gay men.  There’s stigma and stereotypes about any ‘deviant’ sexuality, but  the stereotypes about gay men are usually that they are funny, sarcastic, flamboyant, and a friend any girl should want.  Then when you look at lesbian stereotypes, they’re either making out for men’s pleasure, or (if they’re actually gay), they’re butch and bitchy and ugly and scary.  No stereotype is productive, but I think I’d rather be seen as funny than scary. 

So I think breaking down stereotypes about lesbians is just as important as breaking down stereotypes about gay men.  I loved the lesbian episodes, and I wish they were a regular part of the show.  Lesbians definitely need to be seen as entire people as well, not just as fetishized objects or scary bitches. 

(When I think about it, my three favourite shows actually all feature very prominent lesbian characters: Grey’s Anatomy, Buffy, and Glee.)


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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Let me start by saying that I LOVE this show, so clearly I am biased.  But I like to think I wouldn’t love shows that weren’t at least a bit feminist.  I have read conflicting things about Buffy from different feminist sources.  Some think it really does show female empowerment, while others point out problems with thinking that.

Some people think that it’s bad to show female super heroes in fictional places who have fictional super powers because it makes it seem like we have achieved what we need to.  There’s women super heroes, what more do we need?  The fact that she does her super hero-ing in heels and skirts with perfect hair and make-up doesn’t matter.  I get it.  It does matter.  Buffy isn’t a perfect feminist, but I think that’s the point.  She’s supposed to just be some girl who happened to be a slayer, and that’s what she is.  She gets progressively more hardcore as the series goes on, but she’s never perfect. 

One thing I remember bothering me is when Riley is first telling Buffy that he has feelings for her, he lists all the great things about Buffy, including that she is beautiful.  When he is done, Buffy seems to have zoned out a little, and says “You lost me around beautiful.”  So even for Buffy who is super awesome and badass, the nicest thing you can say to her is that she is beautiful.  Because if he had just said that she was smart and funny and strong and independent and confident and all the other things that she is, it wouldn’t have mattered if she wasn’t also beautiful.  Because above all else, that is what women want to be. 

But, despite a few little things like that, I really think Buffy does more good than bad.  It’s very open about sexuality, especially considering that it was made in the 90’s.  Women in the show certainly have their own sexuality, which I think is extremely important to show.  It also follows Willow’s realization that she is gay in a really positive way.  She doesn’t come out and then become a different person.  She’s still the same Willow, just with a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend.  

So yes, I realize Buffy is not perfect, but we have to start somewhere.  Making a show about a physically strong woman who is leading a group of men and women independently is a step in the right direction for sure.  Miss Representation points out that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see.’  We have to show strong women in media, even if they’re not perfect.  Even if some people think that means we’re tricking the world into thinking we have achieved equality. 

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Teen Mom 2: Finale Special – 2012

I just finished watching the first half of the Teen Mom 2 Finale Special, and was super impressed with Kailyn, Jo, and Jordan for talking about something that no one else has on 16 and Pregnant or Teen Mom as far as I know – STDs.  This is something that we all (at least in Canada) learn about in sex ed classes, but never think will actually happen to us.  When my doctor told me I had herpes, I didn’t think about the health effects, I thought about what people would think about me, what I thought about me, and what it meant about me as a person.   The doctor might as well have told me I had cancer, it felt that surreal and that horrible.  But, unlike with cancer, there was stigma and moral judgements.  I was finally the ‘dirty slut’ people had often implied I was.  (I know cancer is much more serious than herpes, but at the time, herpes felt like the worst thing in the world.)  Now I know that it’s not really a big deal, except for the shame that creeps up now and then.

I think it is so important to have people in media speak out about the reality of STDs because they do happen.  They also happen to decent people, and having one does not make you a bad person.  But this is not what we see in the media.  Too many people make awful, offensive jokes about STDs, and those of us with STDs are too ashamed to speak up. I’m so impressed and inspired that Kailyn was strong enough to talk about this issue on TV.  If she can talk about it, then so can I. 

Please use condoms, even if you’re on birth control.  STDs are not fun.  Also, please stop making ignorant jokes and talking about STDs as if they’re a moral issue.  Nice people have STDs too.  Be careful and be respectful. 

Teen Mom 2: Finale Special

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