Monday, March 30, 2009

Librarians Are Sexy by Daylight Too

"What's a four letter word spelling Phi Beta Kappa? That's me! I'm as bright as a girl can be. So bright someone else who can not tell a fig from a frigate is off with my Hecky at sea!"
-Richard Maltby Jr. (Starting Here, Starting Now)

In middle school, the smartest girls in the class can be the prettiest. But they can rarely be the most popular. The popular girls are busy seeing movies with their friends and having premature sexual experiences while the smart girls are home studying. But when the smart girls try to talk to the popular boys, they're smart enough to know to play dumb. When asked to hang out they quickly reply "I can't I... have a date" and conveniently leave out that they have a giant test to study for. 

How do they know?
How do they know at so young an age that it's not sexy to be smart? That when you talk to boys you dumb yourself down so as not to frighten them away? You want to be cool- you shut your mouth. And you open it when you have something to say about lip gloss.

I wish I can say it's changed much since those days of disney channel and spin the bottle in basements. But every now and then I find myself using an innate filter when sit across my date over dinner. Not if it's someone I'm comfortable with, but if it's its a second date I don't want to frighten him away. No, it's not just that. I don't want to intimidate him. If I sit there and start talking about chemical differences between men and women and how it affects society what would he think? He might think it's sexy. 
But I highly doubt it. 

Even I, clearly opinionated and outspoken, shut my mouth. And open it when I have something to say about lip gloss. 
It's tricky because both men and women censor themselves to appear attractive. That seems to be something more human that gender assigned. But why is it the what makes a woman attractive is a closed mouth? If a man is brilliant it's a plus. I nabbed a winner. If a woman is brilliant it's threatening and lacking femininity. 

A big problem I have with our generation is that it seems that the average girl is trained to be dull. Her potential is not cultivated because that would interfere with her sex appeal.
People, not just women, will always put sex first. They want to be attractive to other human beings. That's not my issue. My issue is that smart does not equate sexy. 

So here's the plan: If we're all smart, then they'll have to pick a smart girl cause that's the only option they've got. And they'll will pick her because men will always pick sex over no sex. Unless you're married. 
We can have the brains and the boo. 

So crack open those books ladies. Let's stop being afraid to be smart. We're SO much better than that. 

Saturday, March 28, 2009

All My Single Ladies

There is a breed of woman who are single. Not single at the moment, just single. Previously, continuously, perpetually single. These women were the 16 year old girls who were told by 24 year old men that they're a tease. That they lead men on. These women were the 20 year old girls who come home from college to a mother's nagging about why they never have anyone special to discuss. These women do not lack experience. They date. They have sex. They even get attached. They wear short spandex dresses with stilettos and often find themselves the recipient of the kindness of strangers. Male strangers. 

They are masters of the first date. They can be charming, mysterious, innocent or devilish, adorably quirky or entirely generic. But when these nice men who buy them drinks begin to request a little more sincerity they panic. They tell the man it was lovely getting to know him, but "believe me, you don't want to deal with me. You're such a nice guy and I don't think I'm the right girl for..." For what? For a nice guy.
Because the guys they want to pin down are the ones running so fast they can't see. The guys they want are unreasonable, irrational, emotionally unavailable, and utterly unresponsive.  They're complicated, vulnerable, angry, and incredibly intriguing. They're totally un-fulfilling yet entirely delicious. So basically, they're Chinese food. 

It is commonly said by nice men that women want an ass hole.
While there seems to be an undeniable pattern of great girls liking unworthy narcissists, I don't think its because that's what they want. 
Maybe, just maybe they can't accept the nice guy because they don't feel nice. They're trouble and they know it.  They're dark and cynical and emotional.  They're never going to say their sibling is their best friend. They're never going to hold your hand before they've slept with you. They're never going to be a nice girl. And they're sorry for that. 

But where does that leave them? Somewhere in between a sweet, genuine hand holder and a mysterious, flaky tool bag. They're neither here nor there. And so, they return home for spring break, reluctantly telling their mothers, that no, they do not have a boyfriend and no, they are not a lesbian. Maybe it would console these mothers to know that they're trying. They just haven't found a sweet asshole yet.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Changing is for Animorphs

I was walking down the street yesterday when I passed a restaurant window cluttered with homemade ads and flyers. Being uninterested in 14 year old babysitters and apartments I can't afford, I continued to walk without taking much notice. But one sign caught my eye:
(it read)
getting your man to communicate and stay faithful: a seminar in behavior

To be honest, I kind of thought we were beyond this. But the more I talk to people, the more I leave stunned. Somewhere in the city there's a girl who was cheated on who wonders if she did something wrong. There's a girl who wonders if she needs to be better in bed when her friend-with-benefits stops calling. Even the great Carrie Bradshaw dedicated 80% of her hypothetical life to trying to change Big. And even after her "you can't change a man" episode, she still went back to him. Only this time, she wasn't trying to change him- she was trying to change herself. 

Is this what its come to then? You can't change a man so change yourself? It hardly seems modern, yet it exists in all the subtleties of our culture. It exists in self-help books, it exists in the subway ads, and lord knows it exists in every. single. romantic comedy from Grease to Legally Blonde. Yes Elle ditched the dick in the end, but girlfriend would NOT be a lawyer if he hadn't brought her there. 
And yes I do love both those movies. And no, I have not seen a more recent romantic comedy than Legally Blonde. But maybe if they stopped aiming to give little girls a complex, I would start funding them with my 11 dollars. 

If we try to change ourselves, we are accepting the label we have been given throughout history. We our kneeling before our king and bowing our heads and saying "as you wish, Sire." And worst of all, we are beating down the strength and beauty we have to offer the world. 
But what happens if we don't change? Do we end up alone, untouched and unwanted? I realize a relationship takes work and requires compromise. But I'll be damned if I'm left with the whole burden on my shoulders, I have enough knots in my rhomboid as it is, thankyouverymuch. 

However I do have to wonder, out of mere curiosity, exactly what we're supposed to be changing into. I guess I'll have to call the number I took off the flyer. 

Just Kidding.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Moon-Fire and Tasseled Bras

Happy St. Patrick's day, one and all!

My roommate and I celebrated for a solid 24 hours which is a real testament to the Irish given I'm an Italian Jew and he's Japanese and Black. However after a full day of liver damage you actually reach a point where you can keep consuming without any noticeable impact so I feel I can post with an undeserved level of coherency. 

Our final stop of the evening was a certain bar I frequent that hires burlesque dancers to perform. The bar has a small closet-like stage whose walls are clad with silver streamers and lights. A few days a week, a scantily clad (sometimes wigged) woman comes in to dance seductively on the stage and occasionally remove an article of her already limited clothing. I can't count the amount of times I've gaped in admiration at these dancers in their tasseled bras and cut-off boy shorts. Throughout my visits, my fascination with the job had become more and more obvious and my conversations with the dancers had gotten longer and longer. Soon enough, I was actually thinking about it. I learned what dance school I'd need to study with, who I'd have to contact, and what a good stage name for me would be. One of them even invited me to the Burlesque Brunch. And the more I saw, the more intrigued I was. The more I watched, the more I felt I could be up there. I could do that. 

I've always had a fascination with sexual women- dancers, strippers, porn stars, even prostitutes. It's been there for as long as I can remember. I was that weird kid that stuffed her training bra at 8 and watched inappropriate HBO shows behind her mother's back. I new from a disturbingly young age that women held this weird sexual power that men didn't seem to have. As if their lust for the female body overwhelmed them in such away that they lost control over their rational. It was... well there was no name for it. But I knew what it was. It was those sexual rays, that fire- but not a warm fire like that from the sun. It was a darker, more irresistible fire. A moon-fire. 

Many of my friends are surprised when I tell them I love a porn star or that I want to be a Burlesque dancer-even if I may never get the guts to go through with it. It appears to go against everything I stand for- it's degrading, it's viewing women as sex objects and only taking interest their bodies. Well part of me wonders if they have a point. But consider this: a woman, hell, a person, is both mind and body. The goal shouldn't be to totally distract from the body, because that is a beautiful thing a woman has to offer. And if that woman can feel beautiful and sexy enough in her own body to share it with others then why is that bad? Why should we be ashamed of our breasts if we have them? They're not a device made for men by men. They were made for us by who knows what, so is it wrong to display them?

And then there's always that moon-fire. To be up there on that Burlesque stage with flick of a leg and a come hither glance is so powerful. To have that kind of confidence, that understanding of your own moon-fire that you can just harness it and dance must be so liberating. We aren't just bodies, but we aren't just minds either. It's almost taboo to discuss, but there is an undeniable power in our sexuality, and there's nothing degrading about that. Maybe that's why Burlesque was originally invented by a woman.  

***Added note: I also believe that one reason men have subordinated women is because they are intimidated by the sexual power women hold. They probably figured (and accurately so) that if they could create an environment that restricts the woman to such extent that she is totally unaware of her own moon-fire, they could control her. It's worked for centuries, but if you ask me, the jig is up. So ladies, do us all a favor and spend some time standing naked before a mirror. Really look at what you've got. After all, it's pretty fantastic.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Musings On International Women's Day

Happy International Women's day!

No, I'm not making that up- it's actually been around since 1911, but I haven't heard of it until... well about 5 minutes ago, honestly.

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in our culture I forget what goes on outside this little bubble of technology, hipster moms, and tranny bars. There are billions of women whose culture is a mystery to me, whose struggles I'll never understand. There are 8 year olds having their clitoris cut off, there are 12 year olds bearing children. Jesus, I'm 20 and I can't even bear a relationship. In comparison my trials seem so trivial and my complaints frivolous. But I guess that isn't fair. We can't blame ourselves for the circumstances of others. I guess all we can do is educate ourselves and try to gain a little perspective. And maybe, with enough knowledge and drive we can build up the courage to act.

So here are some interesting statistics about women internationally:

While it's important to reflect, I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer. There's no reason why we shouldn't celebrate this holiday. So now that you have an excuse, cut off a slice of that chocolate cake you bought when you were PMSing and pour yourself some bubbly. 

A toast: to women everywhere.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Isn't It Ironic

If all the women of the world decided to line up and parade through the streets, I believe the leader of that line would be Alanis Morisette. I mean her Jagged Little Pill album was positively flawless and I felt liberated just from watching her in the "Thank You" video. And don't get me started on "Uninvited"- it just always feels right.

Now I would say, all good music aside, that Alanis is a pretty good-looking lady. But if you can find a single straight guy to make that statement, then hell, I'll buy you a Magnolia cupcake. You've earned it.

None of them find her attractive because she's angry and bitter and loud. And yet that's why women love her. And not just the angry bitter and loud women. In fact, I find the quiet ones tend to like her even more.

A certain individual read my blog, and for inexplicable reasons felt a strong sense of hostility towards me, and all of the sudden had very strong opinions on the downside of feminism. Now I have wonder what brought on this reaction. Is it because I'm now viewed as angry bitter and loud, and therefore no longer attractive? Or did he feel personally attacked or degraded in my written attempt to empower women?

What I tried to explain to him (before our phone call was so rudely interrupted by angry deer) was that just because we can be angry bitter and loud doesn't mean that's all we are. I am not a Man-Hater. I may get angry because I see a sexist commercial , I may get bitter because I meet a hot guy and find out he's gay, and I may get loud because... well, because sometimes I fall into a character called Kelly-the-Clinger and that requires some chops.
But I also get really excited to see a guy again after a successful first date. I get nurturing when someone I'm involved with is sick. I think it'd be really nice to cook a guy dinner for no reason, and I think it'd be really nice if he did the same.

What I'm trying to say is, I'm not an ice queen. I have feelings softer than resentment, I have colors brighter than grey. My goal isn't to create a battle of the sexes, its to establish a union that suits us both. I still consider myself a feminist. I still notice sharp differences in the genders. But I'm not saying men are dispensable. I think in the past women have needed men too much. But I still think we need them, just not in the same way. I think the genders need each other.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm sure I'll be going off on an angry rant about our oppression before long, and I'll mean everything I say. But maybe keep in mind that underneath all that anger, I'm still a person who smiles at the prospect of love and sighs at the thought of a perfect kiss.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Ride It Like Rosa

The deed is done!

I had class in the morning so I packed my props into a bag and prepared to head out. However, my sign was bigger than my body (not much of a feat) so I had to carry it separately. As I left my apartment I got one of those delightful cat calls we all know and love, except this time I was prepared. I held the sign over my ass in response to him so the conversation more or less went as follows:
"Hey baby, mmm those are some tasty legs"
It was pretty liberating.
But it only got better.

My giant poster board was soon accompanied by a pregnant belly, a poofy floral dress, red lipstick, and a platinum blonde wig (the contrast with my eyebrows was in fact as frightening you'd expect). I was about to waddle down the steps to the 6 train, but something across the street caught my eye. It was City Hall. I smoothed my wig, held up my sign, and I crossed that street. I know I wasn't protesting a law, but I simply couldn't resist.

Now I was ready for my ultimate mission. I was taking that 6 train all the way up and all the way down. 
Everyone was staring at me from the moment I walked on the subway. There were reactions- a corporate man rolled his eyes, a girl giggled, but for the most part it was a quick glance and then they were over it. So I figured I needed to up my game. 

At the next stop I loudly removed my heels and replaced them with slippers. A man in the corner started laughing and I couldn't help but laugh with him as I was being pretty outrageous- even for me. At the following stop I pulled out a duster and started dusting the seats. That hooked the tourists. They asked if they could take some pictures so I happily obliged and offered them the statement I had typed out to explain my purpose in this MTA excursion.

Now that one person was reading the statement everyone was curious. So before I knew it I was passing it out to the majority of the cart. It was thrilling to see people reading something I wrote and taking an interest in something I'm so passionate about.
I could go into more detail, but I'll just brief you as it's Friday night and you're probably getting ready to go out for drinks. 

-The majority of people who asked me for a statement were gay men (of course thats merely an assumption, if we ever knew for sure our lives would be a lot easier...)
-The age of women who asked for a statement ranged from about 28-55. 
-Most men wearing business suits rolled their eyes and some changed cars
-The only people who rejected my statement when offered were girls on the Upper East Side
-A group of teenagers in Harlem asked me if I was from the Tyra show
-Some people actually thought I was pregnant and were really nice to me. They were just as mean to me when they found out I wasn't. 

But just as I exited the subway after at least 2 hours of riding, I heard a man behind me chuckle and in his thick accent utter, "only in America."

And I think it was that, more than anything else, which made it all worth it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Good Afternoon, MTA, Can I Fix You a Cucumber Sandwich?

Last year I lived across the street from City Hall. Sometimes I would be awoken in the morning by loud angry protesters. And I would think to myself how nice it would be to stand on those steps and scream for the rights of women. Big signs with bold letters and chants and that burning energy that can only stem from a desperate cry for change. 
But what good could City Hall do? I don't have a law to protest. Because our inequalities are not political they're cultural. Our oppression is not in the constitution, its in the new Burger King commercial with the mini-sliders and the 12 chicks in bikinis. 
I created this blog to attack it culturally.
And now I'm doing something else.

This Thursday (March 5th) at 3:15 you can find me in the front car of the 6 train heading uptown from the first stop.
I will be dressed in a blonde wig as a pregnant housewife.
I will also be carrying a sign that says "WOMEN ARE STILL OPPRESSED"

To be honest, I'm a little nervous about it. It's pretty bold and up front, and maybe a little extreme. I'm a little afraid I'll piss off the wrong man and he'll follow me home or something. But that's exactly why I need to do this. I shouldn't have to live in fear like that. None of us should. We should be able to voice our minds in a strong way without feeling in danger. 

In the past 30 years, feminism has died. No one is angry any more. It seems we've all been struck dumb with apathy. Let's bring it back. Let's share our voices. Let's tell women we can do better.
Let's ride the subway.

I'm expecting to be riding the train alone, but I'd love it if you could come. 

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Treeless Seed

Disclaimer: This particular post may be highly cryptic 

When a seed is planted in the ground everyone thinks of the tree that will form from it. But that tree will only grow with proper care. With light and water and a nurturing hand to provide it with those things. With out it, there's no tree. But the seed exists regardless. So I would like, if I may, to focus on the reality- the cold hard facts. The seed that's shoved underground and buried alive. 

I try to look at the beauty in the world. I've always thought it was a beautiful place. I never owned a camera because when I took pictures I felt like I was trying to capture something that was too free to pin down. I didn't want to waste any time looking through a lens in fear I might miss something (that being said, thank you to those who aren't lazy bums and own cameras. Were it not for you, I would have no record of my life. Not to mention a dreadful default on facebook). 

But as we grow up we experience new things. And some of them are bad. And some of them make you feel like you've been mistaken. Some of them make you feel like you've been shoved under ground and buried alive. And as you lie in the cold hard Earth, you wonder if maybe you'll never become a tree. That would require a gentle loving hand, and the only hand you know is the one that forced you in the ground. 

We deserve to see the beauty. We've earned that, it's our right. But when you spend your life being stripped of your naiveté layer by layer, when your pushed further and further away from the sunlight, how do you grow?