Saturday, February 28, 2009

Oxytocin: An Inconvenient Truth

Oxytocin is a mammalian hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. 

It is released by the pituitary gland in the female brain during intercourse.
It's chemical formula is C(43)H(66)N(12)O(12)S(2)
It's purpose is to fuck us over. 

"Us" being the ambitious, confident, self-respecting singles whom are forever on a quiet prowl for  a new mate and a little fun- hopefully in that order. Not that our lives revolve around this quiet prowl. They certainly don't. Its merely a sport, something to do when we're not focused on our career, our reading, and our far more important girl friends. 

We like our sport. It's light and fun, yet requires just enough tact to work our critical thinking skills. And it allows us to feel empowered by our sexuality. And we're not ones for passing up a chance to feel empowered. 

But there's a problem. This pesky little hormone called oxytocin. It's rarely discussed (so infrequently that spellcheck doesn't recognize the word so it's underlined in red every time I type it), but it's affecting gender relations in a major way. 

Oxytocin is believed to be responsible for the woman's desire to form a monogamous bond with her sexual partner. So if you've ever been angry at fuck buddy for saying "I'm just afraid you'll get attached," you might want to consider that he's actually on to something. And if you're anything like me, that'll make you even angrier. 

We don't want to be men. But we do want be equal. So if they can run around sticking it in with no afterthoughts than theoretically so can we. Or have it stuck in. Or something. 
But when we go looking for a new prospect we have an old one on our minds. When our skin touches new skin we're remembering the old. And eventually this new skin may become more important than the last. But we can't take much consolation in that as we're doomed to repeat the cycle soon enough. 
Like it or not, when we let someone into our bodies we're connecting to them mentally. That damn chemical is leaving our brain whether we want it to or not. So maybe even the most detached of us have to brace ourselves. We might miss them. We might care about them. We might get jealous. We might even fall in love with them at some point. But at the very least, we'll want them to call. Even if it's just to say they had a nice night. 

We need to stop blaming ourselves for that.
It's not our fault.
It's science. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Salute to John Locke

I haven't been updating as regularly as I would like to be and its because my miserable mac is sitting in Tekserve on 23rd street. So until they work their magic I'll have to type in haste from this communal Dell in between my classes.

I only have 10 minutes, but a whole lot of thoughts. I've been thinking lately about the nature of people. Now, I've always been a John Locke gal myself- people are born good but are corrupted by society, right to life, libery, property and all that. But it's suddenly taken on a new meaning to me.
As a gender's studies minor, a Sex and the City addict, a woman, and a self-proclaimed feminist, I've spent a whole lot of time contrasting the behaviors and wiring of men and women. We just seem so astonishlingly differnet by nature. Our roles flip-flop, our designs clash, and our efforts at communication rarely translate.
It's so easy for me to harp on that, effortless in fact, because it's what I observe in my daily life.
But here's what's not so easy to see.
We're all people.
We all want the basics.
Friendship, love, sex, kindness, generosity, laughter, a good night's sleep and a bangin' desert.
Or as Mr. John Locke put it, "life, liberty and property."
He was probably just referring to men, but I'm in an optimistic mood so I'm gonna give him the benefit of the doubt here and assume that by "every man" he meant every person. I would normally get pissy about this. But because of my pleasant dispostion I'm going to say that his faulty language is a reflection on his upbringing, not him. And besides, I've essentially had a weird crush on him since 8th grade so I'd like to think he can do no wrong.

Believe me, I know how easy it is to be angry. Not only easy, but important. Anger leads to action which leads to progress. In fact this blog originated from a place of anger and I can't say I regret it.

But maybe the guy whose words made it to our constitution had it right. Maybe its not so complicated, or cocophonous or tragic. Maybe the hardest thing to remember is the simplest of all. I know I'll forget it soon, but at least for today, maybe I can put aside our genetalia and hormone levels to be a little kinder to people and remember that all genders aside, we are one race.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sex and New York's Finest

After watching Billie Piper having yet another threesome on Secret Diaries of a Call Girl, I started thinking about sex (not much of a stretch, given what I was watching). They say sex is the tell tale sign of what's going on in a relationship. Well the relationship between the two genders is a clusterfuck of confusion and I suppose our views on sex is the tell tale sign.
We have more access to sex ed. than any generation before us. We knew what part went where years before we planned on exercising that knowledge and yet...
No one knows what it is. 
Our parents define it as an expression of love. Our friends define it as something to do on a Saturday night. The romantics view it as an advanced level of intimacy and the cynics as a power struggle. 
As for me personally, I can say that at some stage of my life I've viewed it as all of these things. But the more I age the less I understand it. It seems that the goal of the modern, new age woman is utter detachment. Love is one thing, sex is another. It's fun, and liberating, but God help him if he dares to hold your hand. But the trouble with that is when you separate the two, it suddenly becomes very hard to reconnect them. If sex is just sex then what do you do when you fall in love? And more commonly- if you've trained yourself to box away your emotions, are you even still capable of falling in love? 
But here's where the real injustice of it all lies. I love the modern new age woman. She's smart and funny and powerful and could entertain me for hours with her stories. In fact she'd probably do it over a really trendy drink I would never think to order. She's the cream of the crop, New York's finest, the lunch date you write on your calender. 
But she's always alone. It's not that she doesn't want a relationship, she's just distracting herself until she finds it. And what's wrong with that? 
Nothing, as long as she's happy. But I find she often isn't.

Please don't think I'm judging her. I've known her, I've been her, I'm certain I'll be her again. I wouldn't have a blog like this if I couldn't still smell the remains of her well-chosen perfume. But as I reflect on past relationships and ponder those of my future, I have to pause and ask myself, "What exactly are we striving for?"

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Scum of the Subway

Perhaps New York can't celebrate a day of love without following it by a day of crude rudeness. Maybe it was trying to compensate for a full day without anger, cynicism and the occasional hint of misogyny. All I know is the Big Apple was in rare form today. The traditional hustle and bustle resumed- hurried steps, eyes down, chin to chest to avoid the harsh winds.
It was well past midnight and after struggling to find a non-gated subway entrance, I burst down the stairs, glad to be out of the cold. As usual I was waiting an unjust amount of time for the shit blue line train to arrive. I sat down on the wooden benches and more or less twiddled my thumbs. Next to me, not sitting, but rather perched on the bench was a relatively normal looking man in his mid 30s. Glasses, clean brown sweatpants and matching hoodie with some embroidery on the back. Not the image of refinery, but certainly not homeless.
Two pretty young girls (I'd guess between 16 and 19) walked by.
"Hey baby, this yo sister? You two sisters? mmmm I like sisters"
"Shut up and leave me alone," snapped the older one as she continued to walk by.
He exploded.
"Fuck you, mothafuckin slut. You need a dick in yo mouth ho. You betta shut the fuck up before I punch you in the mouth. Slap yo wrists till ya hands fall off. I'll knock your fuckin heads off bitches. Fuckin bitches. Whatchyou gonna do about it bitches? Yall are nothing but mothafucking bitches. Yall can't do shit. "
The two teenagers were already gone, but I was still sitting next to him. I wanted to jump out of my seat, break his nose, and tell his suddenly repulsive face that I hated him and everything he stood for. That he was the lowest form of human. That he was scum of the subway I step on.
But I couldn't move. I was frozen with fear. And suddenly I felt it. This was the fear that forced women into submission for centuries. It was a deep rooted animalistic fear that you were actually in physical danger. That violence could erupt at any moment if you don't stand very still and divert your gaze.
The damn train came at last and I made sure I was on another car. But the damage was done. I felt hungry eyes on me from all directions. I felt violated. I felt dirty and worthless. But most importantly, I felt a century of history and progression evaporate before my eyes. And it was that which truly frightened me.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Note On Valentines Day

Now, I have to admit, when I first woke up I skeptical. It all seemed very Medieval to me. The way men performed grand gestures expecting nothing in return but perhaps the key to her chastity belt. Very reminiscent of chivalry, the code of knighthood, and the Virgin Mary, if you ask me. I've always been more interested in medium sized gestures in every day life. Perhaps I'll show up at work with his Americano and return home to Breakfast at Tiffany's rented and placed in the DVD player. Or if he's sick, maybe I'd show up with a tray of chicken soup, tea, 4 kinds of cold medicine, and a shot of whiskey and expect the same when germs are spewing from my nose.

But all of these sticky pink hearts on the windows of restaurants and shrimp cocktails and hotel bookings well it just seemed... a tad forced, if not entirely driven by the female. And while I'm all for the woman taking the wheel, I would never want to see her demand something from her significant other, it's just too desperate.

Then I got on the subway- an automatic pool of diverse humanity and gold mine for an observer of gender relations. Every one on it, both male and female were wearing red, including myself.  Now I was merely wearing it to get discounts on my evening's events, but I felt an instant connection to everyone. Men carried roses and women carried floral shopping bags crowded with purple tissue paper. A lesbian couple felt no shame in a little PDA, and a group of teenagers' shoulders shook with laughter within their matching red t-shirts. It was lovely. I talked to three others donning red and it wasn't sketchy, or funny, or anything like that- just nice. We were all people. And we were all happy to celebrate love.

It made me wonder about the subjectivity of romance. I always thought I would be embarrassed if some guy performed some grand, loud public gesture. I'm not really the kind of girl who dreams of surprise picnics on a beach somewhere with sunsets and champagne. In fact, despite my efforts, I've even been a little judgmental towards girls who expect chocolates and roses waiting for them. But maybe I wouldn't be embarrassed. Maybe I'd like it. Maybe experiences have taught me to defend myself and snicker at those doe-eyed flower loving females. Or maybe, just maybe, those girls get the flowers because they expect them. It's a horrifying thought to someone whose never expected them a day in her life. Perhaps there are holes in my design. But I can take some solace in the fact that i connected to about 10 strangers today, because all of New York was uplifted by some intangible spirit. Despite the February weather, the city itself seemed gentler, and everyone in it a good deal kinder.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Six Facts About Women

Here are a few common misconceptions and additional fun facts about women.

1) Women have bodily functions. That's right. We poop, fart, and burp. I can't believe I even have to write this, but you'd be amazed how many men would like to believe otherwise. And for some reason it's always more grotesque when a woman does any of the above. Well guess what, men? It's pretty nasty when you shit too. 

2) Women don't glow, they sweat. We are human! We are athletic. We like to push our bodies and be physical and active. We get pit stains and our hair gets frizzy and it feels amazing. So my apologies if I have mascara on my cheek. 

This one's my favorite.
3)Women Masturbate. By God, women masturbate. Often more than men, due to the beauty of the multiple orgasm. I know women who tell men they never masturbate but confide in their friends that they actually do. The fact that they feel the need to lie is appalling to me. Female masturbation should not be taboo. It's healthy and totally normal.

4)Women get their period. It's not gross. It just is. Every woman between the age of 13 and 50 has it  for one week of each month. That's almost a quarter of our lives! And here's a question: Why should I have to go to a pharmacy to buy a tampon? Having my period is not a medical condition! When I asked the street vendor on 72nd street if he had a tampon there was no need for him to get uncomfortable. And frankly, he should've sold them. I shouldn't have to find a duane reade- Im not buying medicine. 

5)Women get yeast infections. It sucks, but it shouldn't be any more embarrassing than an ear infection. It's not an STD. It's a build up of sugar. Almost all women will have had at least one and I don't see any reason why it has to be kept so hush hush. You treat it. It's done. No big

6)Women like sex. We're not doing it to please men. We actually like it. The media fully covers how eager men are to get laid (um, American Pie?). Well we are just as eager. We are sexual creatures. Human beings love being touched. Why should women be any different?!

So there you have it. I just needed to get that off my chest. And I hope I live to see the day when a woman can stand atop a mountain and yell to the valley below, "I have my period! Does anyone have a tampon?!"

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

To All The Women of "Generation Meh"

Dear Women,

I suppose I should start by introducing myself. In my future posts I may come off as a middle-aged lesbian living with her 5 cats, bitter about the failure of the Women's Movement in decades past.

Not that there's anything wrong with a woman like that. In fact, I would adore a woman like that. But for the sake of introductions, I will say that am a 20 year old (just this past month!) heterosexual who is actually quite phobic of cats. 

I am, however, bitter about the failure of the Women's Movement in decades past. I'm bitter because I see a rapid regression in our society in regards to women. I'm bitter because when I go off on a rant about the cultural inequalities women face every day both men and women laugh at me. And maybe it is a little funny to see a five foot tall girl go off like that, but still.

 We're in a scary time. Our generation has the weight of the world on our shoulders, quite literally, and we're too afraid to act because we're overwhelmed by the task at hand. We feel powerless. So instead we turn to apathy and accept the title of "Generation Meh" because, meh, why change it.

But I think we can. I think there's 50% of the population that isn't quite accounted for. I think there's 50% of the population that is misrepresented in the media, that is deterred from living up to their potential, that is deferred from sharing their voices. 

So, women, let's band together. We are special. We are valuable. We are intelligent, witty, sexual, powerful creatures. We all have a story to tell. So let's tell it.