Sit Like a Lady?

I sit like a woman.  I cross my legs, shove my knees together, and fear showing my underwear.   Even if I’m wearing pants. I realize now that sitting in such a controlled way requires more concentration and energy than it does for a man.  When I move, I have to remember to cross my legs, readjust my skirt, and take up as little space as possible.  I ask myself if my seating position is remotely provocative.  Every time.

If I have to pay attention to the minute details of how how I’m conducting myself, I have less mental facilities to use for curing cancer. winning elections, or running a tri-athalon.

I read somewhere that women sit in a small area, whereas men spread out, take up more physical space and dominate the discussion, especially in a mixed group.  So, maybe I should sit more like a man.  Lean forward, spread my legs to take up the full chair, stretch my legs out on the floor.  But it’s hard to change the way you sit, hard to undue years of social conditioning.

   Do you find yourself sitting like a lady and resenting it?  Or am I reading too much into my sitting patterns?

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The Myth of the Angry Feminist

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    I’d love to know where these angry feminists are.  You know, the ones that you deny any relation to, the ones that men fear.  I’m starting to wonder if they even exist, or if they are no more than boogie-men of the conservative imagination.

Look up the stereotype.  Google “angry feminist.”

The most extreme feminist I ever met didn’t believe in shaving and identified as trans.  H* is a vegan eco-feminist, who fights for all oppressed beings.  H is the most extreme feminist I know, and yet, H has never once became  the angry feminist stereotype, no matter how much I inadvertently annoyed her.

I suppose that I could be considered an angry feminist, given my penchant for feminist speeches, or my inability to see past the sexism in a commercial.  Or my addiction to reading feminist blogs, where the women speak out, uncensored.  But I don’t hate men.  I’m a cis-bodied straight white female, who is interested in getting married and raising a family.  I love working with men, I love being friends with men; I just happen to be a warrior against the patriarchy.

But even I defer from the “angry feminist” label.  I still shave my legs and my armpits, hating myself and the process as I do.  I shy away from using the word patriarchy, and I try to preface my feminist beliefs with examples, so that my cis, able-bodied, white male friends will listen.

Instead, they criticize my technique, saying that I don’t get to the point quickly enough.  It is another variant of the tone argument.  These boys can play Starcraft for hours on end, build robots from scratch, and can deconstruct all of the current political speeches, but they cannot listen to a three minute explanation of why something broke sexist norms or expectations.

We eschew the angry feminist label, as if we can make our opinions more legitimate and more palatable to outsiders.  As if distancing ourselves from the mythical demon makes us a more reliable source.

Instead, the very presence of a mythical “angry feminist,” serves to discredit all of us, even the most mild-mannered of us.  The presence of a mythical “angry feminist” forces us to distance feminists from anger, forces us to hold our tongues, forces us to be polite to the men who insist that we have achieved equality, that the real reason for pay discrimination is that women’s childcare interferes with the quality of their work.

The mythical “angry feminist” teaches us that no matter how furious we are, that no matter how wrong the injustice we are fighting, no matter how abhorrent the rape joke or rape apologist is, we still cannot be angry.

Cloaked in the language of power, we avoid anger at all costs.  We believe that if we remain rational, if we remain calm and devoid of emotion, then we will be taken seriously.  That our words will matter.  If we scream and shout, pounding our fists to the ground, we will be dismissed as hysterical, or asked the ever insightful, “Are you on the rag?”  As if women don’t have legitimate reasons to be upset.

If we scream and shout, we become the irrational “angry feminist” the thing to be avoided, feared and made the subject of endless jokes.  If we scream and we shout, nobody will take us seriously.  But even if we speak calmly, devoid of emotion, presenting the facts, does it make a difference?

On days like today, when I’ve just finished listing all of the latest news in the War on Women, I wonder if it makes any difference if I present Paul Ryan and the GOP and their supporters with a detailed list of facts, statistics, and scholarly research on rape and pregnancy.  The information has been presented, taught, explained to them again and again and again and again.  And still they don’t hear us.

If everyone is deaf, it doesn’t matter if you scream for help or ask nicely.

What is Rape? By Jessica Valenti

English: Profile picture of author Jessica Valenti

English: Profile picture of author Jessica Valenti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is Rape? By Jessica Valenti

In this Nation article Jessica Valenti discusses our cultural ignorance of what rape is and its diminished definition.  Valenti discusses how the diminished definition impacts women and its significance in a larger context.

Full disclosure, Jessica Valenti’s books made me a feminist.  Keep ’em coming, Jessica!

Sexy Fill in the Blank

Sexy Fill in the Blank

I love Halloween, but why is it so hard to find a costume that is feminine but not sexy/slutty/lingerie?

My best costume was a Barbie Doll, blonde wig (looked terrible) and pink shoes and a pink dress.  People thought I was Elle from Legally Blonde, which was close enough.  I was a pre-law major at the time.  It was lots of fun, and I covered myself from neck to knees.

What was your best halloween costume?  Tell us in the comments!

Everyday Sexism. Are We Really Powerless?

This post talks about the Everyday Sexism Project, a website designed to list the incidents of sexism in women’s daily lives. This website helps to give you strength, to keep going, and not to give up. It helps to know that you’re not alone, dealing with ignorance and prejudice.

A Girl With Questions

Woman-power symbol (clenched fist in Venus sig...

Here’s something you might not know about me: I’m a bit of a control freak.  If ever a situation arises wherein I lack control, it tends to bother me. A lot. As a woman who has difficulty giving a hairdresser free rein over her fringe, I find it particularly hard to relinquish all power to Mr Random on the street, or Mr Banter in the office. Yet that’s what I find myself doing almost every day, when confronted with casual sexism.

As I pointed out in my last post, every woman’s experience with sexism is slightly different to the next, as are every feminist’s reasons for identifying as such. Personally, my feminist Kryptonite is the issue of casual, everyday sexism.

‘But we’ve moved on from the 50s – we’re a civilised bunch!’, I hear you say (possibly). You’d be right in thinking that sexism isn’t quite as prevalent or overt…

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