Research

Real Women

From Hanne Blank:

Real women do not have curves.   Real women do not look like just one thing.

Real women have curves, and not.   They are tall, and not.  They are brown-skinned, and olive-skinned, and not.  They have small breasts, and big ones, and no breasts whatsoever.

Real women start their lives as baby girls.  And as baby boys.  And as babies of indeterminate biological sex whose bodies terrify their doctors and families into making all kinds of very sudden decisions.

Real women have big hands and small hands and long elegant fingers and short stubby fingers and manicures and broken nails with dirt under them.

Real women have armpit hair and leg hair and pubic hair and facial hair and chest hair and sexy moustaches and full, luxuriant beards.  Real women have none of these things, spontaneously or as the result of intentional change.  Real women are bald as eggs, by chance and by choice and by chemo.  Real women have hair so long they can sit on it.  Real women wear wigs and weaves and extensions and kufi and do-rags and hairnets and hijab and headscarves and hats and yarmulkes and textured rubber swim caps with the plastic flowers on the sides.

Real women wear high heels and skirts.  Or not.

Real women are feminine and smell good and they are masculine and smell good and they are androgynous and smell good, except when they don’t smell so good, but that can be changed if desired because real women change stuff when they want to.

Real women have ovaries.  Unless they don’t, and sometimes they don’t because they were born that way and sometimes they don’t because they had to have their ovaries removed.  Real women have uteruses, unless they don’t, see above.  Real women have vaginas and clitorises and XX sex chromosomes and high estrogen levels, they ovulate and menstruate and can get pregnant and have babies. Except sometimes not, for a rather spectacular array of reasons both spontaneous and induced.

Real women are fat.  And thin.  And both, and neither, and otherwise.  Doesn’t make them any less real.

There is a phrase I wish I could engrave upon the hearts of every single person, everywhere in the world, and it is this sentence which comes from the genius lips of the grand and eloquent Mr. Glenn Marla:

There is no wrong way to have a body.

I’m going to say it again because it’s important: There is no wrong way to have a body.

And if your moral compass points in any way, shape, or form to equality, you need to get this through your thick skull and stop with the “real women are like such-and-so” crap.

You are not the authority on what “real” human beings are, and who qualifies as “real” and on what basis.  All human beings are real.

Research

Redefining Realness

From Janet Mock:

People assume that I was in the closet because I didn’t disclose that I was assigned male at birth. What people are really asking is ‘Why didn’t you correct people when they perceived you as a real woman?’ Frankly, I’m not responsible for other people’s perceptions and what they consider real or fake. We must abolish the entitlement that deludes us into believing we have the right to make assumptions about people’s identities and project those assumptions onto their gender and bodies.

Research

How Slut Shaming Becomes Victim Blaming

Francesca Ramsey (chescaleigh) talks about her experience with date rape.

Policing women’s bodies and behaviours casts a far wider net than simply slut-shaming. These attitudes leads to blaming victims of rape for their own attacks.

“If someone rapes you, it’s the rapist’s fault, not yours. I wish someone had said that to me. I wish I’d had someone who told me that it wasn’t my fault and that I should speak up.”

 

Research

Miss Representation

Miss Representation – Official Trailer from The Representation Project on Vimeo.

“Like drawing back a curtain to let bright light stream in, Miss Representation (87 min; TV-14 DL) uncovers a glaring reality we live with every day but fail to see. Written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the film exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.

In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader. While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.

Stories from teenage girls and provocative interviews with politicians, journalists, entertainers, activists and academics, like Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson and Gloria Steinem build momentum as Miss Representation accumulates startling facts and statistics that will leave the audience shaken and armed with a new perspective.”

The Representation Project

Research

The Creepiness Question

From blogger Foz Meadows:

There’s a poisonous double standard in our society which says that it’s reverse-sexist and wrong for women to feel threatened by creepy-awkward male behaviour because our fear implies that we hold the negative, stereotypical view that All Men Are Predators, but that if we’re raped or sexually assaulted by any man with whom we’ve had prior social interaction – and particularly if he’s expressed some sexual or romantic interest in us during that time – it’s reasonable for observers to ask what precautions we took to prevent the assault from happening, or to suggest that we maybe led the guy on by not stating our feelings plainly. The result is a situation where women are punished if we reject, avoid or identify creepy men, and then told it’s our fault if we’re assaulted by someone we plainly ought to have rejected, avoided, identified.

Indeed, the idea of ‘winning the girl’ – of overcoming female objections or resistance through repeated and frequently escalating efforts – is central to most of our modern romantic narratives. (Female persistence, by contrast, is viewed as pathetic.) And the more I think about instances of creepiness, harassment and stalking that culminate in either the threat or actuality of sexual assault, the more I’m convinced that a massive part of the problem is this socially sanctioned idea that men are fundamentally entitled to persist. Because if men are meant to persist, then women who say no must only be rejecting the attempt, not the man himself, so that every separate attempt becomes one of a potentially infinite number of keys which might just fit the lock of the woman’s approval. She’s not the one who’s allowed to say no, not really; she should be silent and passive as a locked door, waiting patiently while the man runs through however many keys he can be bothered trying. And if he gets sick of this lengthy process and just breaks in? Well, frustration under those circumstances is only natural. Either the door shouldn’t have been there to impede him, or it shouldn’t have been locked.