If this had a title, it would feel less like living.

So I rarely write, you know, creatively these days. It’s not really my calling. I don’t have a lot of faith in my abilities. But this is something that I’ve literally worked on for years—OK, like, two, but that counts. It began as a diary entry (oh, oh, how painfully cliche), but it spoke to me, somehow. So I wrote it again. And again. Finally it became something I could revise and send out to colleges as a personal statement, and apparently that’s where I left it. But for some odd reason, I was trolling through the “COLLEGE AND OTHER DISASTERS” folder left on the computer back in December and opened it up and…I fixed it. I’ve never shown it to anyone who wasn’t my English teacher, my sister, or a stranger in an admissions office. So this is kind of a big thing. But I feel bad about neglecting this blog, so I’m going to post it. I don’t think it’s particularly good, but I do think it’s particularly me, so:

IF THIS HAD A TITLE, IT WOULD FEEL LESS LIKE LIVING

My heart is pulled in many directions.

A large part of me longs for childhood—or at least for childhood the way I remember it. Hot sidewalks. Jelly sandals. Popsicles that dribble red juice down your front and leave a mother-shocking stain. In my mind, childhood is a bright and impenetrable summer. I am perpetually seven years old and unendingly content. A tree-shaped mulberry bush looms in my back yard and I, a berry-purple changeling child, settle blithely in its shade.  The world can’t be much bigger than my two-block area and there is no freedom like watching my toes twinkle out across the scorched pavement. Grass and sky and bicycle make up the bulk of my world.

            Another part of me, of course, wants to pick up and run as far away from where I am as I possibly can. I want to scrape the suburbia off the bottoms of my shoes and slink into a coffee shop where I can become another person altogether. It’s dimly lit. Soft, foreign music oozes out of one corner. I can sit in the back and wear a beret and sip a drink with a very French name and discuss art, and politics, and music and culture. I emphasize why I know everything, why I am right and the world is wrong—after all, I am young and intellectual and I see the world the way it is. They’ll talk about me one day. I’m a mover. I’m a shaker.

            But the wisest part of me—unnostalgic, unromantic—see the foolishness in both lines of thought. The sensible teenage girl can take a step back and see that the life I have now, callow and boring as it may seem, will last a life time. I am what I am. And what I was. And what I will be. Once I dreamed of finally being a teenager, a member of that glamorous and exciting race of mall-goers. Ten years from now, I expect I’ll look back and laugh at my flighty, naïve self. And I’ll love that self, too. I’m not a half-formed being; I’m a human, a woman, a girl, an identity, a person. Right this very minute, that’s what I am. I do and I think and I feel. Even in the standstill heat of a suburban summer, even in the hazy mind of a snarky and dissatisfied college student-to-be, I am living.

            The life I am making is important. And by that I mean the one I am making right now. Throwing a green rubber ball for my little white dog to chase; crowding in front a microwave with my father and sister while we mercilessly blow up a marshmallow Peep; midnight conversations with a good friend; drawing until my hands ache; watching television until three in the morning; getting lost in a book and not wandering back for several days, homework, hot Cheetos, new shoes, long walks, bad decisions, triumphs and heart breaks—I am exactly who I am. It’s the here and the now, it’s the almost, and it’s the has been. I am living in the present.

            My block-romping days are over. My coffee shop lurking has not yet begun. I am a little barefooted child in a violet dress on an August morning. I am an eighteen year old girl with a wild mess of curls and a spring in her step. I am a smooth artist peering skeptically over her dark glasses. My name is Brigidh, which means warrior queen, but I’m called Bridie, which just means strong.

            The girl I was. The girl I am. The woman I hope to become. They are one person: one maddening, infuriating, goblin-grinned human being. That grin is my own. Her skin is my own. And life is a beautiful thing to let flicker in your hands.

(I hope you enjoyed that. Thank you for reading it. I should probably go to bed now.)


The hair “down there”…and there…and over there…and way over here…

Body hair, sometimes called androgenic hair, is the all-encompassing term for, as it sounds, hair that grows on one’s body. The good old reliable Wikipedia defines it as “the terminal hair that develops on the human body during and after puberty.”

Which made me laugh, of course. Terminal hair. We usually associate the word terminal with death, for instance, a terminal disease. Which is funny, because the point of the post is that body hair won’t kill you.

Here is a helpful diagram, should you find yourself under-informed.

Thanks, Wikipedia, in particular for how hilarious this looks on a black background.

There are some things you probably know about body hair. For one, it’s naturally occurring, and everyone has it. (Even that really conventionally attractive girl in your math class has to shave her legs to get them to look like that. I’m not kidding!) You’re also probably aware of the western standards of shaving/removing it, but I’ll spell them out anyway: men are expected to shave or at least maintain the hair on their faces; women are typically expected to shave/wax their legs, underarms, and, depending on who you ask, pubic regions, as well as remove any “unsightly” facial hair they might have. Yup. Old news.

But think about those two facts together:

1. It’s natural.

2. Get rid of that shit!

OK, what? What’s wrong with my body hair?

Shaving and maintaining facial hair has been around pretty much as long as our species has had the tools to do it. But what about that long list of other stuff? (And it’s mainly lady stuff. *coughpatriarchydoublecough*) Where did THAT come from?

Let’s start with the legs and armpits, since the hair on those parts of my  anatomy was definitely the hair I was supposed to be the most ashamed of in, I don’t know, sixth grade.

Apparently, women starting shaving their armpits when sleeveless dresses came about, around 1915. Prior to this, I guess no one worried about hair no one but their sexual partners were likely to see. Which is sensible, but also strikes me as a little odd–but I’ll get to that later. Anyway, I guess the real campaign for bald underarms began with an add in a magazine called Harper’s Bazaar, featuring a woman in a sleeveless garment and showing off her perfectly clear underarm. Hot, I guess. This magazine was aimed at the upper class, but by 1922, lady razors were available in the Sears Roebuck catalog, which is where even the serfs got their shit. The reasons sited for this practice seem kind of shaky to me. Advertisements claimed it was hygienic (but um then why don’t men shave their armpits). Pretty much the only other justification was “it’s fashionable,” and who can argue with that? We’ve been shaving our pits ever since. Sort of.

Leg shaving was a different battle. Sleeveless dresses became a big deal, but hemlines didn’t stay short for long. There was a brief period of legginess in the 20s, but skirts lengthened again in the 30s.  But eventually we all got into short shirts and nylon stockings, and somewhere along the way we decided that we needed to loose the hair. And so, we shaved!

I really like the picture Wikipedia chose to include with their leg shaving article.

I wish there was more information on the history of shaving. But there doesn’t seem to be a lot. If I asked my parents, they’d point me to the 70s. The internet claims that ladies started lopping off their pubic hair after the 70s, but doesn’t actually say that that practice began in the US in the 80s. I found one source that babbles on and on most interestingly about removing pubic hair–the author says the practive goes back as far as 10,000 BC. It came in and out, appearing little in Western culture until after the Crusades (god, we got everything cool from them), but was eventually outlawed, and didn’t come back into play until the 20th century.

There was certainly pressure from advertisers, as with shaving underarms and legs, but I don’t have any reports as to how many women actually shaved their pubic areas. The 60s and 70s are notorious, of course, for everyone, men and women, rocking it natural. Then, at some point, we abandoned it and ran around with no hair on our vaginas (sometimes). The presence of male pubic hair has been pretty constant. Removing it completely has never become a widespread trend, apparently, though it does come in and out of style.

I just really wanted to include this charming illustration from “The Joy of Sex,” ca. 1972.

These days, media images would have you believe that all ladies shave their pubic areas, but this is obviously not true. I know lots and lots and lots of women who don’t, which is an amusing disconnect between Allure spreads and the reality of everyday vaginas.  Obviously there are lots of people lacking female bodies who are totally fine with it, too–successful relationships can exists without carefully maintained pubic hair.

It’s important to remember that shaving body is not something that exists in all cultures; in fact, women shaving off…pretty much everything…is largely confined to English speaking norther Americans and Western Europeans. It’s not everywhere. It’s not an inherent quality of beauty or hygiene, and it’s not a class indicator, and it’s not a requirement. There are cultures that would find an adult woman with a hairless pubic area as repulsive as westerners are supposed to find a hairy one.

OK, OK, that’s down. Shaving exists and has for a while. Shaving trends change, blah blah blah. Now it’s time to address the question everyone’s asking: To shave, or not to shave?

I completely understand the anti-shaving argument. (One that, I’ve noticed, is usually confined to women. Guess they have a greater surface area to gripe about.) Whether you’re crusading for the conservation of pubic hair or the sort of person who feels that no one should shave anything, I get it. I totally get it. It’s expensive. It’s a pain in the ass. It’s time consuming. It’s really only successful because there’s someone there to convince you that you’re ugly and terrible if you don’t do it. All those disposable razors can’t be good for the environment. There are actual complications: cuts, razor bumps, ingrown hairs, etc. Choosing some kind of an alternative is just as risky; products like Nair are full of all kinds of scary chemicals, and waxing is painful and can land you with a nasty infection. What the hell is wrong with us?

But I also understand why some people choose to shave. To be 100% honest, I kind of like the way my legs feel when I’ve actually bothered to shave them. I don’t know if this is because my female strength has been sapped by the media and I am a slave to capitalism (can I get an LOL), or if I’m actually opposed to the prickly sensation leg hair brings about. I also have rather sensitive skin, and it’s hard for me to wear, say, tights and leggings, for some odd reason, without shaving my legs. They get irritated if I let the hair grow, I swear to The Flying Spaghetti Monster. There are probably other people who have similar issues. Course hair is not super attractive, in many people’s opinions. That’s cultural. I get that.

There’s also a hole in the “don’t shave anything!” argument, in that people holding that opinion are often not opposed to face shaving. To this kind of uncomfortable, bad-at-feminism person, I’d like to say this:

I think he’s rocking it.

If you can understand why a male-bodied person might not want to deal with that, you can understand why female-bodied people might be annoyed by their terminal hair, too. And that’s something we need to respect.

But there’s another problem. I worry that the presence of body hair, particularly in females, has somehow become wrapped up in sexual worth. I get the impression that girls are convinced that they can only be attractive if they shave it all. And I get this impression because I get that exact impression; periodically, despite being aware of how stupid it is, I wonder if the body hair I sometimes have any sometimes don’t is somehow wrong, and will result in my rejection. I have overheard classmates, in my (thankfully completed) four years of high school slamming young women for not shaving. And while it pleases me that the pressures of high school and beginnings of…female actualization?…resulted in many female classmates brandishing their leg hair and talking about how they hadn’t bothered to shave, it was always qualified with “It’s so gross, teehee, it’s really disgusting, I should be ashamed, teehee.”  Where did this idea come from? I can’t answer that. But I know that if women were once content with hair as long as it was covered up in public, but presumably seen by sexual partners, the idea is either new or has had very little staying power. We as women have definitely been conditioned, of late, to see the presence of body hair as wrong, and if the douchebaggy, sexist males in my class are any indicator, a lot of heteronormative young men have been conditioned to feel the same way.

This makes me sad. It’s just hair.  The idea that it will damn you when you wear a skirt to class, take off your pants in front of your lover, go swimming, or stretch in a sleeveless top…it’s sad. I think sex ed classes (not that I ever got one) or “you’re pubescent now” seminars or whatever should stress the fact that shaving is a choice. But they don’t. And other that writing this blog post and only shaving when I feel like it, I don’t know how to fix the problem.

But I don’t want to end on a bummer, so I’ll leave you with a song they most definitely don’t play on the radio, a flow chart I found on the interwebz somewhere,  and a strong suggestion that you really think about your relationship with your razor.


Gray People are destroying America. (And possibly Canada.)

(Too many of my posts lately have been heavy with social commentary and the mocking of xenophobia. Which, I mean, yeah, is kind of the sort of thing I gear this blog towards, but I also miss the old days (as in, like a year ago), where I just made fun of hipsters and talked about Mario.)

SO. Ahem.

NEVER TRUST GRAY PEOPLE

Lessons I’ve learned.

I watch a lot of cartoons. I read a lot of books. I soak in a lot of pop culture. And I’ve noticed that these forms of media have all sent a strong warning all these years: never trust gray people. I’m honestly a little concerned about how deeply this has been ignored. We’re in danger here, people. Our artists have made it very clear that anyone with a grayish skin pigment is not to be trusted. War criminals and man eaters are among their ranks. We need to be on the alert.

Example #1:

SHAN YU (and all the other Huns) from Mulan

GRAYEST guy ever! He’s heavily armed, probably smells bad, and is undoubtedly very dangerous.

He also has yellow eyes. I can see why he freaked out the Chinese.

An AVALANCHE cannot KILL HIM.

Um. Yeah. Loud and clear.

 

Example #2:

ERIS, GODDESS OF CHAOS from Sinbad

Honestly, if the title GODDESS OF MOTHERFUCKING CHAOS didn’t clue you in, yes, I’m disappointed in you, but at least her greeny gray skin will gross you out before you make any deals with her.

I also spy some unibrow action, which should be Physical Clue #2. Everyone knows unibrows are a fashion statement of the evil.

Not that that really worked out for Sinbad.

Um, yeah, guys. That happened.

 

Example #3:

HADES from Hercules 

He’s gray. His hair is made of fire. God of the Underworld and all.

Yellow eyes are obviously a gray people trend.

I think it’s pretty self explanatory. Notably, The Fates are also kinda gray.

And sharing one eyeball. Degenerates.

 

Example #4:

ZOMBIES

When they’re not green, they’re gray.

Why does the one with her tits out have vampire teeth around her neck?

I honestly think this is a serious concern, in the wake of our obviously-looming zombie apocalypse.

 

Example #5:

URSULA from The Little Mermaid

She’s ugly. She’s nasty. She’s a Sea Witch. It’s pretty much spelled out for you right there.

You’d think she could use all that dark ocean magic for a makeover.

I mean, just look at where she LIVES.

Honestly, Ariel, sweetie pie, there were more that enough situational cues there.

 

Example #6:

LORD VOLDEMORT from Harry Potter

If you’re not aware of Voldemort’s faults, you’re not allowed to read my blog. Go home.

But seriously, Voldie. Ew.

He also has no nose. Deeply suspicious.

If that doesn’t unnerve you, I don’t know what will. OH. This:

I can’t make this shit up.

 

Example #7:

VAMPIRES

Vampires really only come in gray.

And really, what kind of a dumb shit trusts vampires? Not your kind of dumb shit, I hope.

 

Example #8:

ORCS (in particular from LotR)

These guys are just gross.

Yuck.

And they’re VIOLENT, too:

Yeah…they’re a threat to society and need to see a dentist.

 

Example #9:

MEWTWO from Pokemon

Mewtwo. Such an asshole. Trying to take over the world and shit. That’s not cool, man.

I hate evil pokemon, and so should you.

I tried to find a satisfactory clip of him, but they all made me angry, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

 

Example #10:

ALL OF THE SO FAR NEGLECTED DISNEY ANTAGONISTS from Every Freaking Princess Movie

Maleficent

Come on, no one with horns can possibly be a good guy.

Snow White’s stepmother, who’s also a witch and a queen

She’s gray-ish.

Cinderella’s stepmother

I know she looks almost flesh-colored, but don’t be fooled, this is one gray hag.

Mother Gothel

It’s not youth she gets from Rapunzel’s hair. It’s beige flesh.

Cruella Deville

She. SKINS. //PUPPIES//

What have we learned? Gray people are a threat to life as we know it. They will tear down the values of our society and put old people on death panels. Stop them. Stop them now, while there’s still time.


Parking in cars with boys at night.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have nice, soothing black and white short films to tell you how to live? The world would be so much simpler!

In the 40s, 50s and 60s, life’s questions were answered for young people. Toss difficult decisions and individuality! It’s all right here!

Question: How can I become popular?

Answer:

Female: Don’t park in cars with boys at night. Spend your new found free time in Teen Town with all the swell kids. Other than that, do your hair and nails before 5 o’clock, and you’re set.

Male: Keep in mind that the girls you park in cars with at night mean nothing and will do little to bolster your social standing. And hey, when you ask a gal out, keep in short and don’t ask her to make too many decisions on her own. She has sandwiches to make, and feels a little uncomfortable outside the kitchen.

Got it.

Does anyone else think Carolyn sounds like she’s on rhinoceros-strength sedatives?  

Question: How can I prevent myself from dying alone with 72 cats?

Answer:

Male: Aim low. Reeeeeeeeally low. No girl will turn down a man who’s validated her self worth.

Female: Try not to talk too much, honey.

Solid.

“I had loads of fun!”

Question: What do we do about those people with vaginas who smell nice?

Answer:

Female: NEVER LEAVE YOUR HOUSE, lest you find yourself suddenly murdered, raped, or “in trouble.”

Male: You’ve pretty much got free reign here. If she’s out by herself or stupid enough to be cajoled, she’s asking for it. Have fun now!

Ohmigod, Judy.

Question: What if I don’t fit in?

Answer: Go home and cry.

It’s a little late for tears, isn’t it, Barbara?

Question: Wait…so…men…can have sex with…men…?

Answer: NOT IN THE EYES OF GOD, THEY CAN’T!

Stay out of public bathrooms. 

I’m going to stop before this gets even more absurdly long, but I assure you, youtube will send you on a magical Social Guidance Films journey that you’ll never forget.

My god.

I’ll end with a plan for my life:

1. Park in cars with boys at night. Often. Proceed to eat lunch with them the next day and engage in vaguely suggestive conversation.

2. Kiss him senseless on the lawn by way of goodnight.

3. Answer the door when I’m babysitting and–and–talk to strangers at malt shops.

4. Wear the right skirt with the wrong sweater.

4. Public bathroom parties.

I know I’m just setting myself up for destruction. Why do I have to be such a rebel?

Fuck this shit.


How do you want to look?

The internet is a place of confessions (and, you know, porn), so let’s begin with one of mine:

I’m kind of a sucker for reality TV. I don’t watch it regularly, or anything–though my mother might argue otherwise during these empty summer months–but it amuses me. And my favorite sort of reality show is the let’s-feel-good-and-look-at-everybody-getting-married-and-being-attractive kind, such as:

My Fair Wedding with David Tutera,

He makes sad women and weddings into princesses and royal balls!


Say Yes to the Dress,

In which women say “yes”…to the dress…

Four Weddings,

These bitches don’t mess around.

and Amazing Wedding Cakes.

I just really like cake, actually.

You get the picture. I’m also far from above a little Bridezillas, Toddlers & Tiaras, or Dance Moms action. There’s nothing like sitting on your couch and making fun of the sick and petty while simultaneously assuring yourself that you could do it so much better. I’m a little bit ashamed, but it is what it is.

I’m sorry, OK?

But my favorite sort of trashy reality show is, by far, the fashion-y ones. When no one’s home, I sneak in ancient reruns of Project Runway. It’s my crack. I don’t know what it is that compels me to do this, exactly…I like fashion? I like clothes? I like style? These are probably the main factors, but they don’t come anywhere near excusing me. I understand that.

And if you, dear blog reader, are familiar enough with the Style Network to make a few connections here, you may be thinking, ah! She surely merges her desire to watch nice, fat, awkward people with low self esteem be given presents and 40 minutes on a TV show with her desire to watch people talk about clothes! And, uh, you’d be right. Kind of.

What sort of show am I referring to? There are more, but I can think of one prime example: How Do I Look? The premise is essentially this:

Awkward person, usually a female one, with poor sense of style is brought onto show. Family members and perhaps friends are there. Family members usually complain about how her poor sense of style is separating her from her loved ones/preventing her from attracting “the right kind of men”/holding her back professionally/making her a social outcast/akin to stopping on puppies. She proceeds to defend herself a bit, but eventually says “Wow, I was wrong!” and then cries because she’ll finally secure a job, man, and self worth. Also she changes her hair. The End. 

And I used to think that was awesome. I mean, I knew it was stupid and contrived, but I was like, “aw, look at that poor 32 year old woman, she should love herself!” And then she does, and she gets a bunch of free clothes and a vacation.

But now I’ve reached the ripe age of almost-18, and I’m the founder and sole member of the NeoFeminist Liberation Brigade (as of right now), and I criticize everything, and I see that there’s more to it than that. It’s icky.

Let me walk you through a typically icky episode of How Do I Look?:

This is Bethany. She’s someone’s idea of a goth girl.

Honestly, do you know ANY cyber goths who do that every day?

Bethany could stand to meet with convention a little more, couldn’t she?

“This 41-year-old nurse needed Jeannie’s help shedding her goth look in order to be taken more seriously at work—and to help repair her relationship with her sister.”

They should have known better than to name her Bethany. That sounds to me like it might be a Satan worshipper name.

Dammit, Bethany.

You’re probably terrifying. It’s ok, though. We’ll fix you.

Everyone knows nurses love cocktail dresses!

There, now that you’re fit to be seen, your sister can finally love you!

THE END.

Alright. Seriously. What the fuck. It might not be so horrible if it was more “hey, maybe that’s not super flattering, want a free make over that’s you-oriented, and a puppy?” But it’s not. It’s “CONFORM CONFORM CONFORM NO ONE WILL LOVE YOU UNTIL YOU LOOK LIKE THEM WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU STOP BEING DIFFERENT.”

And you know what? I already did middle school. Hell, I already did high school. I’m tired of that crap.

So when they tell a woman that her appearance is wrong, and it’s the reason no one will ever love her, and she will never get a job or make friends because she’s not conventionally attractive enough, red flags don’t go up. Red…MURALS…go up. That’s fucked up. That’s exactly the message we try so hard not to instill in children by singing about the person that they are inside.

And hey, host Jeannie know that there’s a person inside. She just doesn’t matter as much as the person outside.

Jeannie gets to wear a purple tweed strapless dress with a yellow belt and teal shoes because she’s thin, attractive, and a little bit famous. You can’t, though.

And even then, sometimes they take someone who’s obviously really satisfied with how they look, or really cool, or really cute, and tell them the same damned things and make them look boring. WHAT THE HELL.

Like poor Sakari.

Hot shit!

Aw, hell.

LUCKILY, the show, while sending icky messages, is fake as hell. You can visit Sakari’s blog and note that she’s every bit as cool now as she was then. Mwa ha ha! And I admire her for just going in and getting a bunch of free crap. Who wouldn’t? I should scam that show.

But it’s still gross.

And we don’t actually have to put up with this shit. With the conceptual help of my sister, I have created a great idea for a new show. It’s called How Do You Want To Look?

I’ll host.

Enter person A, who is any gender. (Or doesn’t identify with either, whatever.) Person A is not satisfied with his/her appearance, or perhaps has been recommended to come on the show by a loved one.

I say, “Hey, person A, you’re gorgeous.”

Person A says “Thank you! But I’m dissatisfied with my appearance.”

I say, “OK, how do you want to look?”

Person A describes how she/he wishes to appear. I proceed to help conceptualize, sketch out some ideas, perhaps. Then, the whole party goes to a thrift store or some weird indie shop (because we all know the only people who will watch my show will be thrifty hipsters). When we get all the hot new clothes home, we, I don’t know. Break out the Bedazzler. Perhaps we then take person A to a salon and change their hair into something cooler, or we do some make up tutorials, or something.

And I can’t very well afford to give out free vacations, but we’ll throw person A a party, and they can show up looking cool, and everyone will tell him/her how attractive she/he is. Then we’ll play “Don’t Stop Believing.” It’ll be awesome.

Someone find me a network. I have work to do.

And I’ll do it in this fantastic hat.


¿Por qué tengo que hablar tu idioma?

Sometimes the assumed universality of the English language really bothers me.

English is my first language; I speak it easily, fluently, successfully. For me, English is not a problem. Though it’s a complicated language, it’s not something I can really remember learning. I happen to have been born in the US to English-speaking parents, surrounded by English-speaking neighbors. At school, everyone spoke English. No real attempt was made to teach me a second language until ninth grade. (In middle school, you could sign up for before-school German class, but I think all of two people in my grade ((myself include)) actually signed up, and the average session must have included five or six disinterested students. I learned almost nothing.) I had to make sure the title of this post was grammatically correct with Google Translate–I hope it didn’t lie to me–because even after four years of honors Spanish classes, I’m still pretty shaky when it comes to communicating en español.

Meanwhile, signs are in English. Nutrition facts are in English. Legal documents are in English. The overwhelming majority of advertisements, TV shows, movies, etc, are in English. In short, to me, it seems, it kinda sucks to be an American who doesn’t speak English.

And yeah, yeah–I understand that English is the USA’s official language. That’s fine. That’s cool. I understand why it’s sensible to have one, established language for legal proceedings and communication. I understand that the US was a country (you know, in 1776, as they say) founded largely by English-speakers. Makes sense. But I’ve met an unpleasant amount of people to whom it is more than that.

I can recall a girl in some middle school class who was personally offended by a Spanish glossary in the back of our math text book. It’s not as if there wasn’t a glossary in English. There just also happened to be a handful of pages that explained all those exciting mathematics terms in Spanish, too. She took this an affront, and a personal one, to the very moral fiber that is the USA. Her argument appeared to be that people who come to this country should come speaking English. That was all of it. I’m not really sure how she got morality tied up in that, but hey, it was a disturbing Catholic school. She managed. I felt like saying “Hey, Cindy-Sue,  tell me all about the Italian (or something) your ancestors came here speaking a few generations ago, and then shut the fuck up.” (I didn’t, of course. I was less interesting in those days.)

And then there’s everyone’s awkward bigot uncle. In my case, I’m periodically ranted to about how English is the most dynamic, awesome, practically holy language ever, and so much better than French, and also Spanish, and hey, how about that border control? 

To summarize this point: It’s silly to think that English is the only language making contributions in this country of immigrants. It’s just kind of the one that won out. 

But it’s bigger and more annoying that that, too. English, as my Current World Issues class this year beat into my head, is the language of commerce. It’s becoming the global tool to communicate. Afluent countries pretty much all take the time to immediately teach children English. Business is so often conducted in English. Our beloved internet has so much English on it. Most (?) movies–and this may be my native-speaker bias–are in English. Sciencey stuff is, I think, usually published in English. The list probably goes on, but it’s late and I’m lazy, so whatever, think of examples yourself. 

…it kind of weirds me out. I have this automatic ability to communicate globally. And though people keep saying that Spanish and Mandarin are going to be just as important (perhaps there’s truth to this, perhaps there isn’t, I cannot say), it doesn’t really feel like the truth. I am a 17 year old girl living in the right kind of bubble for my language skill set. English feels like the king of the world. 

And that makes me sad. I can’t really speak Spanish. No one ever really made me try, and I didn’t make myself try until it was a little late. (And yet I feel little shame; I’ve yet to see anyone come out of that school’s Spanish program actually speaking Spanish without having had some outside influence.) But when I say words in Spanish, they roll off the tongue so delightfully! Last night I watched Water for Elephants (pretty good, if you’re curious, also, spoiler), and I thought the sweetest part was the elephant who spoke Polish. I think Chinese characters are beautiful, and that and all related character-based systems of writing fascinate me: such a magically foreign, interesting was of transmitting language! 

And I feel as though all that and more is devalued by the global insistence on the English language. I think the concept of something being lost in translation exists for a reason.

But then I remember that I’m a proponent of positive globalization. I can go on and on about how cool it is that we can all (for a given value of all) communicate so quickly and effectively now. And then, well, I feel kinda like a jerk for thinking all of these things at the same time.

Is there a medium? I both adore and abhor the idea of a uniflavor culture stew. You know, the kind of stew where all the components taste the same? I want a heterogeneous, yet pluralistic and freaking awesome, yet unified culture stew. It should punch me in the societal mouth with its exciting tastiness. 

But I’m not a terribly good cook. 


The Sluttiest Graduate

OK, for one thing, I’m one a muthafuckin BLOGGING SPREE. It’s kind of weird. Why am I so motivated with my internet? …probably explains why I’m so completely unmotivated outside of my internet.

Anyways. Tonight’s topic, kiddos, is SLUT SHAMING.

Google the word “slut.” Wikipedia will define it as: a term applied to an individual who is considered to have loose sexual morals or who is sexually promiscuous. The term is generally pejorative and most often applied to women as an insult or offensive term of disparagement, meaning “dirty or slovenly.”

Have you seen this video? See this video.

I think she does a fantastic job.

OK,  but really, we’ve been working so hard to make this a message all girls and women will hear, so why does THIS

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show up on my tumblr feed, huh? Who told the maker of this ridiculous poster that this was OK????

Where does this come from? Why can’t we get this idea that girls who engage in sexual activity are bad?

I am going to be 18 this summer. (Late birthdays. Feh.) I am graduating high school this Sunday. It’s time to be a big girl.

And there’s some bitch on tumblr (with 27,136 notes) who thinks it’s OK to chastise “whores” about their promiscuity.

“And so, I give you the winner of this year’s Lawndale High School Diane Fossey Award for dazzling academic achievement in the face of near-total misanthropy… Ms. Daria Morgendorffer!”

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(Actually, I went to the school awards ceremony only this morning, and unfortunately the Dian Fossey Award is not a real thing. Also, I am not Daria.)

But sometimes, the human race really makes me hate it. To the point that I’m worried about going off to Hippie Centre, USA to fix it.

I seriously hear this all the time: “Oh my god, that slut. Oh my god, she’s such a slut. She looks like such a slut. That skirt is so slutty. What a whore! Such a slut!” Things pop out of my mouth occasionally! “Man, had I known So-And-So’s parents would be here, I’d have dressed like less of a slut!”

What. The. Actual. Fuck.

And what are the forces at work here? A big part of my peer group’s problem might be the four to thirteen years of Catholic school and ability to ferment in their upper middle class white kid juices. But there’s a…special sauce in our culture that tells girls not to wear anything “revealing” for fear of looking like a slut, to limit the number of members of the opposite sex she is friendly with for fear of looking like a slut, to abstain from sexual activity for fear of looking like a slut, to keep low the number of sexual partners for fear of looking like a slut, to avoid talking about her sexual activity for fear of looking like a slut, etc etc etc etc etc. 

And I’m so fucking tired of it. (Is it worth noting that this is from the point of view of a 17 year old girl not currently engaging in sexual activity?)

And really. Really. I know this man/woman cultural double standard has been examined a thousand times. Let’s do it again.

Guy has casual/not so casual sex, and his male peers are all: WAY TO GO, BRO.

And his females peers are all: What an ass TEE HEE THAT’S HOW BOYS ARE THOUGH

Chick has casual/not so casual sex, and her female peers are all: OMG WHAT A SLUT.

And her male peers are all: I’m gonna get some of DAT RIGHT DERE.

People complain about this for a reason. It’s real, and it’s fucked up, and no amount of ranting on the internet seems to change the mind of ignorant, 12 year old tumblr bitches or nasty high school boys or nasty college girls or people they actually allow on talk radio. It’s everywhere. Misogyny is institutional. And yes, there are things ebbing away, but that only makes the strict gender adherence laws and ideas about what a woman should do, it seems, stronger and more prone to bouts of strangulation.

So what do I do about this?

I’m going out into the world pretty soon. Which is exciting! Only been waiting my whole life. …but then there’s this:

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and it’s like I get so angry I don’t know how to act.

Sex is not a dirty thing. Sex does not damn you. If you and your consenting partner are ready for it, aware of the risks and taking precautions, there is nothing wrong with sex. This is so simple to me.

But it’s not so simple to everyone, it seems, and I don’t know how to deal. This is becoming an emotions-meets-social-ethic issue here. I am a woman. When/if I choose to engage in sexual activity that certain facets of society might think of as wrong, what do I become? It doesn’t change who I am to myself, of course. But I really, really hate the idea of being something sick/wrong/sinful/dirty in even a stranger’s eyes based on whether or not I have had my hymen stretched out/when I have/how often I have.

I want to live in a world where no one sees me as an intact vs. stretched hymen.

Don’t use the word slut. (Not the way most people do, anyway. I’m aware of the “slut walk” thing, and that’s cool, I guess.) It’s sick and it’s wrong.

Please let me finish growing up in this world without being labeled as such.

I’m not a slut.You are not a slut. We will never be sluts.

We’re human beings.


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