So much of our culture caters to giving men what they want. A high school student invites model Kate Upton to attend his prom, and he’s congratulated for his audacity. A male fan at a Beyoncé concert reaches up to the stage to slap her ass because her ass is there, her ass is magnificent, and he wants to feel it. The science fiction fandom community is once again having a heated discussion, across the Internet, about the ongoing problem of sexual harassment at conventions — countless women are telling all manner of stories about how, without their consent, they are groped, ogled, lured into hotel rooms under false pretenses, physically lifted off the ground, and more.
But men want what they want. We should all lighten up.
It’s hard not to feel humorless as a woman and a feminist, to recognize misogyny in so many forms, some great and some small, and know you’re not imagining things. It’s hard to be told to lighten up because if you lighten up any more, you’re going to float the fuck away. The problem is not that one of these things is happening, it’s that they are all happening, concurrently and constantly.
These are just songs. They are just jokes. They are just movies. It’s just a hug. They’re just breasts. Smile, you’re beautiful. Can’t a man pay you a compliment? In truth, this is all a symptom of a much more virulent cultural sickness — one where women exist to satisfy the whims of men, one where a woman’s worth is consistently diminished or entirely ignored.
I could blather on for a million years but I will probably never approach the snarky yet poignant affirmation of the importance of sparkly glittery pop music that is this song, next time some dude at a party tries to tell me why the Totally Non-Mainstream Music He Likes is important and complex rather than frivolous and manufactured, which sounds like a straw man situation but actually literally happens to me like every other week because the world is a goddamn pathetic wasteland full of losers, I’m just gonna start yelling “IT’S NOT HARD, IT’S NOT HARD, IT’S NOT HARD, IT’S NOT HAAAAAARD.”
I mean, what kind of a person doesn’t respect “I’d rather make a song they can play on the radio / that makes you wanna dance”?
“I’ve encountered people constantly assuming sex is good and that having sex is just something you do in healthy relationships. This creates a situation where, hating sex is a character flaw caused by those terrible sex-negative tropes society presses on you, and obviously only Bad People don’t consent to sex.
That’s rape culture. This is what environments that assume sex is unambiguously a good thing do. Saying, “It’s consensual sex that’s good” doesn’t actually fix the problem. It just creates a situation where you must be consenting to sex, because if you aren’t, you’re not having enough sex and then you’re “sex-negative”.
See, it only fixes a problem where you’re like, “Well I don’t really want to do this right now”. It does not do anything at all to help people who find sex painful. It does nothing at all to help a person who doesn’t want sex, but thinks they do because it’s been so heavily normativized they have to have sex, and have to have it in this specific way. All the, “But make sure it’s consensual!” thing does is tells the person, “Well maybe if you don’t want sex this time it’s okay, but remember you still must be having it some of the time!”
See, to actually fight rape culture you need to say “Sex is always optional. You are never obligated to have sex.” You must always be concerned with consent, and that means you must accept that the answer may very well always be no, despite the fact there’s this belief sex is the greatest thing ever.
And if someone never wants sex, then sex can’t really be a good thing to them, because it’s always unwanted.”—Sex Positivity is Rape Culture in Disguise (via babecrew)
“I’ve become skeptical of the unwritten rule that just because a boy and girl appear in the same feature, a romance must ensue. Rather, I want to portray a slightly different relationship, one where they two mutually inspire each other to live– if I’ m able to, then perhaps I’ll be closer to portraying a true expression of love.”—Hayao Miyazaki (via nitrateglow)
Not physically. In that sense, you are free to wander wherever you would like. You have a used car and your legs work fine, although most gray afternoons find you immobile, wrapped up in your torn comforter, knees curled halfway to your chest.
You wander up and down the aisles of the grocery store, the furniture store, the bookstore, gazing across rows of pristine things you could own. You have a debit card in the pocket of your jeans, you could slide it at any moment and bring home your favorite Sonic Youth album or a loaf of whole grain bread in an attempt to patch the gaping emptiness you feel nestled between your lungs.
It isn’t an absence of anything, the feeling that has snuggled up between your stark rib bones and dusted itself across your stomach (mistaken for butterflies back when you used to actually feel nervous anticipation about first dates or walking into a crowded room). Instead, it is completely tangible. You picture it as a charcoal color, a little cloud formed inside of you where you cannot reach. When you exhale, you half expect it to dislodge itself and climb up your throat, slither out between your teeth. You would come face to face with it and laugh for the first time in a few weeks.
But it is there to stay, the gnawing emptiness. Every time your friend calls and you turn the screen of your phone to face the table, it expands. When you can’t quite drag yourself from your tangled blankets for a glass of water to soothe your cracked lips, it climbs a little higher in your throat. Some days you think you are letting it win, you are allowing it to steal your words and put your entire life on mute.
And other days (rare and shiny) you fight back. You wake up and your hair falls across your shoulders just right and you see the pavement as an adventure begging to be taken. You turn up the music crashing through your headphones until it is almost unbearably loud and as you walk to the beat, you think nothing has ever been as pure as being alive. City air still scrapes through your nose but it feeds your lungs and your cells. You breathe deeply because you want to expand outward, take up as much space as you can. You deserve the space, you are full and today you smear vivid watercolor trails behind you as you traipse down the sidewalk.
Even as you breathe on the treasured days, the days when you get the perfect level of drunk to spin around in the middle of the crowd or when someone tells you you’re beautiful, you know you are still gray on the inside. Even if your yellow hair (your red lips and pink cheeks) paint you as a rainbow, your insides are still sketched graphite. And so you wait for it to resurface, you wait for your bones to hollow out so they are weaker than a bird’s. The emptiness will pull you down again and when you’re a shell you will seek solace in the folds of your sheets. You will not answer the doorbell when it rings insistently three, four, five times and you will see your life as a series of carefully plotted events on a bulletin board.
First you get up and go to history class like you should, and then you work under the fluorescent hum of office lights and you smile when you get an extra Friday off. You will marry some nice, outgoing boy who knows how to talk to you at just the right volume and you’ll celebrate Christmas with your family and a face full of phony teeth.
Empty means you don’t paint and you stop writing, you tuck away the letters you once used to form the pretty ideas of your youth and you stare at the ceiling, trying to make sense of a life for which you are sure you didn’t sign up.
If the sky outside looks gray, it is probably just a reflection of what rests between your lungs.
“Eventually something you love is going to be taken away. And then you will fall to the floor crying. And then, however much later, it is finally happening to you: you’re falling to the floor crying thinking, “I am falling to the floor crying,” but there’s an element of the ridiculous to it — you knew it would happen and, even worse, while you’re on the floor crying you look at the place where the wall meets the floor and you realize you didn’t paint it very well.”—Richard Siken (via blutgifte)