Tag Archives: feminism

Strangers with Compliments

I don’t think I ever despise humanity as much as I do when online dating. Don’t get me wrong – there are some amazing people out there! I’ve made terrific friends and dated some awesome people, but that’s after much sifting the wheat from the chaff.

beautifulI’ve been using OKCupid lately, and, unlike Tinder where at least I’ve swiped right, anyone can message you. I despise this aspect of OKC. In the grand tradition of catcalling, men frequently think that their inaugural attentions should be reciprocated, and what’s more appreciated. As if saying “you have beautiful eyes” in an initial message to me means I owe you something.

Someone’s virtual presence on a dating site does not entitle you to their time, effort, and emotional energy.

pulling-me-towards-myselfA compliment is not a transaction. In this case, it’s an overture. When your overture is ignored/rejected or I just stop responding, that has to be ok. Whether I just haven’t been online in a few days because I’ve been busy, or I just don’t like you, or I’ve realized you’re a creep, I don’t owe you my words.

The only time I feel like someone deserves a response is when we’ve been talking for a while, real conversation, and we’ve made plans to meet. That’s just courtesy. Otherwise, you’re a stranger, and I don’t owe you anything.

Here’s a fun case study of a jackass whose message I didn’t respond to. It’s intended to be silly and to elicit a response. I took the bait because the underlying heart of this is (A) it’s okay to be manipulative to a woman to get what you want from her and (B) demanding her time is perfectly reasonable. FALSE.

He kept trying after that, saying I took things the wrong way. No. Bad mansplainer. Bad bad bad. You and your patriarchal subtexts are not welcome in my life, or in my inbox.

i-hate-youI look forward to continuing to break society into pieces.

My Thighs are Applauding (Shamu, Chub Rub, and our Secret Bodily Shames)

“When I said cute dress, I didn’t think you’d wear leggings underneath,” he said, resting his hand on my knee as we sat having drinks by the fire at a rooftop bar. Given I didn’t know quite how fancy the date was, I had asked if I should go with a cute dress or jeans. He’d suggested the dress, and realizing that if we walked anywhere my thighs would be rubbed raw, I stuck a pair of leggings on underneath. I feigned some excuse about how it was cold, but in actuality, I was trying not to blush that they were necessary to keep my curvy self rash-free.

I wasn’t bothered by his personal preference that I didn’t have them on (while I do take suggestions on occasion, no one gets to say what I wear but me), but the fact that I too would have preferred otherwise and couldn’t figure out how to make that happen.

it burnsThis chafing issue has plagued me for much of my life. I vividly remember getting splashed at the whale show at Sea World. My parents shepherded one drenched and exhausted little girl to the car. Yet as I walked back to the entrance, my legs burned. They felt like they were on fire, my soaked jean shorts suddenly grating my chubby thighs. I found myself hobbling, legs splayed, walking with a weird figure 8 motion as I tried to keep my legs apart, tugging my new black and rainbow t-shirt with a panda on it as far down as possible in a vain attempt to stop the pain.

That was the beginning.

take off pansIn the fifteen years since then, I’ve nearly stopped wearing dresses, skirts, and shorts, and on the rare occasion I don one of these non-pants articles, I typically only do so with a protective layer of leggings underneath.

I hated the rubbing feeling, the red rash on my inner thighs, spoiling my walks places, making even a short errand uncomfortable. And the sound! That slight smack-pull-smack-pull as my thighs rubbed against each other made me cringe. I was convinced everyone could hear my chatty thighs which inevitably screamed “LISTEN TO HER FAT THIGHS. SHE’S SO FAT THEY’RE CLAPPING THAT SHE CAN EVEN WALK.”

These days, the sound doesn’t bother me (they’re applauding my awesomeness!), but the burning that accompanies the sound does. It’s hard to have a night out dancing with your friends or strolling around town when you’re walking like you’re sheltering a herd of puppies beneath your thighs.

And then, low and behold, I saw that episode of The Office in which Andy contends with nipple chafing as he runs. WHAT. Chafing happened to people! Or at least, to Andy “Nard Dog” Bernard. I felt less alone, at least in that “oh, well, if it can happen to someone on tv, maybe I’m not being individually punished by the chub gods with my freaky thighs” kind of way.

I heard a rumor deodorant would help, but it was a shortlived solution, and there’s only so many times a day a girl can sneak off to apply antiperspirant to her thighs without beginning to loathe the smell of cucumber Dove.

oh my godA few years, many thigh-hole riddled pairs of leggings, and way too many sticks of deodorant later, I happened upon an article on chub rub. And not just any article-an article with actual preventative measures and garments! It was a revelation unto me!

And by “a few years later,” I mean last week.

So I’ve ordered a few different products! I used one today, wearing that same dress I’d worn with leggings on my date. It wasn’t the best choice given the nearly freezing weather when I got in the car, but I spent all day thrilled that I could walk around in a dress comfortably AND see my knees at the same time. Hello knees! You are beautiful, you dimply lumpy bumpy bendy things!

So what’s the moral of this? It’s simple. I felt so alone about something so normal. Something that was in the realm of my control, and I didn’t even know it. Why the hell don’t we talk about these things? Why did it take me 25 years and American sitcoms and the internet to realize my thighs weren’t outliers but were perfectly a-ok, and simply victims of friction? We all have bodies. We don’t have to be alone in the struggles bodies inevitably bring.

I’m challenging myself to talk more openly with people about the challenges of embodiment. Oily hair, sweaty thighs, that weird chin hair that sneaks up on you every few months…brace yourselves my friends. I want to know your tips and secrets!  I want to share your mucus-y, rashy, painful woes!

After all, as the newly half-score old great piece of cinema that is Highschool Musical reminds us, “we’re all in this together.”

Mooncycles: the podcast your heart has been yearning for

Logo by Angelique
Courtesy of Mooncycles creator extraordinaire Angelique

Once in a while you stumble upon a piece of media that speaks to your soul. I am so fortunate to have friends who continually place inspiring works right in my grasp so I don’t even have to stumble on them! Two of my best friends run an amazing podcast called Mooncycles that always leaves me absolutely inspired and inevitably with a tune stuck in my head.

Are you a woman? Do you know a woman? Have you ever seen a woman, perhaps at the park, on television, or during a family vacation? One time at a Waffle House in an obscure part of Maryland did you sit near a woman? Perfect. The Mooncycles podcast is for you!

Featuring songs performed by women and dealing constructions of womanhood and relevant issues, it’s a great way to gather some new playlist fodder and to give yourself an opportunity to ponder constructions of gender. They often center it around a relevant theme, with the most recent episode focusing on motherhood in honor of Mother’s Day and their own amazing mothers, Pam and Iantha, both of whom I treasure in my heart.

The ladies with their sweet mommas
The lovely Mooncycles ladies with their sweet mommas

Both Gabi and Angelique are passionate about women and gender, social justice, and the creation of spaces to showcase and focus on female musicianship. Plus they rock at charming, insightful banter. I know. I’ve spent more hours than I could count sitting in beanbag chairs eating dino nuggets and over-analyzing Fifty Shades of Grey with them both.

Oh, and they’re both incredibly talented musicians in their own right who can eloquently speak to the nuances and power of music. Gabi is a singer/songwriter with a powerhouse voice, Angelique sings like an angel and does insane vocal percussion and mouth trumpet. It makes going to karaoke with them a bear and a half, but I still love ’em to death.

I’m also elated to announce that Mooncycles is the intended cornerstone of what I’m planning to call Button Hooks, a periodic round-up of media that’s relevant to Tinder Buttons.

So what are you waiting for? Get your Mooncycles on!