Sunday, January 30, 2011

Who wears short shorts?

Two nights ago I had a few friends over and one of my friends started talking about how she went over to her cousins house and found her cousin wearing a pair of short shorts. She went up to her cousin and yanked at her shorts asking "WHERE are your pants!?!"  She then proceeded to tell me that she reprimanded her cousin for dressing like a slut and ever since her cousin hasn't dressed like a "slut".  

First of all I hate the word slut, its just an awful word, but what really irked me about this whole situation was my 11 year old sister was in the room wearing short shorts. Now her shorts were not indecent at all (my sister is a twig and the shorts were very flattering on her), maybe weather inappropriate, but not scandalous in any way shape or form.  But, as my friend was going on about her cousin I noticed my sister tugging at her shorts while asking if her shorts were too short. Sadly I was not able to interject at that point to tell her that her shorts were fine, I really wish that I had. I did, however pull her aside later and told her my friend is full of crap and not to listen to a word she said.

About three years ago I went bowling with my friend for her young womens and young mens combined activity. I was having a great time with a lot of my friends and was feeling really cute because I had just bought a new shirt and decided to wear it that day.  Now I'm a female of ample breast size, so really anything I wear I have a little cleavage going on.  Apparently I had, for one lady, too much showing and she asked my friend to tell me I needed to pull up my shirt because I was "indecent".  She didn't even ask me, she asked my friend to tell me. What. The. Hell, right?  It made me feel so bad about myself that I never wore the shirt again.  How damaging to the self esteem of a 17 year old girl!!!

One of my favorite feminist writers, Jessica Valenti, has a chapter in her book He's a Stud, She's a Slut and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know, called He's a Hipster, She's a Ho. In this chapter She discusses how a woman is judged based upon how she looks. "Women are never, ever supposed to dress shlumpy or seem unkempt-but on the other hand,we're chastised if we dress too "sexy"." That is my favorite line from that chapter.  There is this idea that no matter what we do we can't win when it comes to what we are wearing. If we go out in sweat pants people will most likely cringe at the site of us, but if we go out with a little too much cleavage showing we are told we look indecent and will most likely be called a slut.

Remember how I said I strongly dislike the word slut? Well here is why, the word slut is a way to control women.  You call a girl a slut to control what she wears and how she acts. It supports the whole idea that her body is not her own, its everyone else's.  This idea is more apparent in religious cultures. She has no right to dress how she wants because if she is too scantily clad a young man might look at her and want to, in my dad's words, "do the wild thing".  At this point you are putting the fault on her and not on the young man's actions. So many rapes are blamed on the woman because she was wearing a mini skirt and it makes me crazy! Because, you know wearing a mini skirt is asking for it! By wearing something like that she obviously wanted to have sex, never mind the fact she said NO!

The whole idea of modesty is very damaging. It makes you feel ashamed of your body, like there is something wrong with it.  And that is truly a tragedy! At the end of the each chapter in Jessica Valenti's previously mentioned book, she gives advice about how to change theses double standards.  She says that as women we have the right to wear what ever we want, be it ripped jeans and a t-shirt or a sexy mini skirt and a cute top. Don't let anyone make you feel bad about what you like to wear and if you hear someone commenting on how another girl is dressed speak up! In the book's title chapter she says that we need to stop calling each other sluts and don't let the men in your lives do it either. Take back control of your body and don't feel ashamed of it, embrace it and love it. I seriously wish I had this book when I was 17, so I could have told the lady where to stick her modesty!!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Once in a Generation a Musical Comes Along...

I got the privilege of seeing Spring Awakening about two weeks ago and it was absolutely amazing!!!  If you read my dad's blog you will know he has already talked about Spring Awakening.  Well as he is 25 years older than I am, the message spoke to me a little differently.  He saw it as a great reason why parents need to teach their children about sex and what is going on inside their bodies.  While I whole heartedly agree with that,  I saw it more as an anthem for my generation.  The story  does on a whole deals with what happens when teens are uneducated about sex and the shame society puts on them for any and all sexual desires.

My favorite character in the show is Moritz.  He tries his hardest to succeed in school, but he starts having dreams of a sexual nature and it completely disrupts his life.  He doesn't know why these dreams are occurring, yet he somehow knows how all the adults will react and because of this he becomes completely racked with shame and guilt.  

On the other hand you have Wendla.  In the show she ends up having sex and becomes pregnant. (She is completely ignorant about where babies come from so she has no idea that sex is a "sin")  When she finds out she is pregnant her mother freaks out on her.  Wendla's reaction is very different than Moritz's.  While Moritz is ashamed and lets his sexual desire dismantle his life to the point he can't handle it and thinks his only escape is to take his own life, Wendla takes the news that she is pregnant and decides that she is happy because she loves her baby and the father of the baby. She doesn't let the shame get to her even though her mother is VERY disappointed.  Her mother however, is so driven by that shame that she forces Wendla to have a botched abortion, leading to her death. Which the family covers up blaming her death on anemia. 

The sad thing is that it's been more than 100 years since the original play was written and nothing has changed.  There is still the shame that comes with having sex before you are married.  I have had plenty of friends feel that they are horrible people and they aren't worth anything just because they had premarital sex.  And it's not because what they did was wrong, but because they have been told over and over that they have sinned. And when you are told over and over that you are no longer chaste and pure and that you are now tainted and no man will want you, you start to believe it.  One of the many messages in Spring Awakening and possibly my favorite, is that sex is OKAY!!!  And if you choose to have it or not that is your choice, but don't feel like less of a person because of what you have chosen.  In short the point I'm getting at is that Spring Awakening is a great show with wonderful music and great characters!  It has something everyone can learn and or relate to!!! 



Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Barbie Effect

From a very early age girls are taught beauty is everything.  From the time we get our first Barbie to our first tube of lipstick and even on our death beds the beauty status quo is instilled in our heads. I like to call it the Barbie effect.  Our obsession with beauty can't be harmful right? Wrong! As a society we are so focused on looking perfect or rather the lack of perfection, that we go to extreme lengths to fix what we deem ugly about ourselves. Its from these insecurities that make-up companies thrive off of.  Now don't get me wrong, I love my make-up and will continue to use it, but that love comes from ads on t.v. telling me that with a little touch of lipstick and I will be more desirable to not only men, but to society on a whole.  As you are waiting in line at the super market beauty is being subliminally shoved down your throat by the way of fashion magazines. "Simple make-up tips to catch his eye!", "Get the perfect beach bod in 2 weeks!", "How to shed those pounds and reduce the appearance cellulite!" Most of the covers feature a super hot babe with a slim and fit body and big boobs.  I mean my hell!  How can we not be completely obsessed with being perfect!?!  But, most of these girls have been digitally enhanced!

Here is a before and after of a magazine cover. She is a beautiful woman to start with, so why do they feel the need to change her? They have slimed down her already slim body, lightened her skin and hair and have gotten ride of her smile lines. By doing this they have set an unrealistic standard of what is beautiful and will ultimately damage a little girls self esteem. The whole cover is one big "Your not perfect just the way you are and we know how to play off your insecurities by telling you what needs to be fixed!" Notice the diet pill advertisement in the top left, "Skinny Pills" is in big bold print with the "Yes they work!" in bold as well, before they state in small print "But, read this first". By having the "Skinny pills, Yes they work!" in bold they subliminally play off of our already low self image and thus make you want to buy their magazine to figure out how you can make yourself skinnier.  I am not immune to this epidemic of skinny. I often find myself looking in the mirror from every which way, poking at my stomach and trying to suck it in. I try to remind myself that I am a healthy looking girl and am not fat, but in the back of my head I still feel that I am inferior to these models and even to my skinnier friends.  But, sadly enough, my skinnier friends have the exact same issues.  One friend in particular is a twig, but will still ask me from time to time if she if fat. Its very upsetting to me that we feel that way.  Now, its not only girls who are plagued with body image issues. Men are equally obsessed, but theirs are a different kind dealing with how to get more muscle and girls wont like you unless you are a stud muffin! But, as I am not a man I can't really speak from personal experience on what their body issues are. It truly makes me sad that we can't feel comfortable in our own skin and that we try so hard to obtain beauty.  In my perfect future these obsessions wouldn't exist and people would be judged based upon the beauty that comes from inside rather than the way they appeared on the outside. And hopefully by doing so we could get rid of things like anorexia and low self esteem!  A future like that would be truly wonderful!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hello blogging world, my name is Kate!

Hello everyone!  I would like to thank you all for taking the time to read my first blog post, I'm pretty excited about it!  I decided to start a blog because I have a lot to say and figured why not share it with all of you.  I guess I will start by telling you a little about myself.  I'm 20 years old and have lived in Utah my whole life.  I am the daughter of an Atheist and a Christian.  As of now I don't know what I believe and honestly I'm in no rush to find out.  Though my parents religious view are vastly different, they were able to see past all that and have been happily married for 24 years.  Which, I think is a great example for us all!  They always want what is best for me and my siblings.  My dad has been telling me since I was a wee little one running through the mud, that I can do anything and everything boys can do and that a man is not needed in order to live a happy life. So it should be no surprise to you that I am indeed a feminist. Now I'm not the "Men suck and are all scum bags!" kind, but rather the "We are all people and should be treated as equals!" kind. It's also impart to my parents (well them and I think there is some part of me that was just born stubborn and independent) that I am so opinionated.  They have taught me to stand up for what I believe is right and to fight what I feel is unjust.  A girl with a mind of her own? Scary, I know! Which funnily enough is where I get my nickname.  When I was little my dad had nicknamed me Kate the Cursed in reference to Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew.  In the play Kate is a very independent woman with a mind of her own and refuses to give into anything less than what she wants for herself, but her father tries to impose societies wants on her. Sadly she is broken into submission by the end of the play, but I guarantee you that will not be the end of my story.  If you read the about me section of my blog you would have seen that I am into the arts, mainly theatre.  I believe the arts are a great way to express ones inner thoughts and feelings.  Theatre in particular is a great place for people to free themselves and feel they belong to something.  Every show I'm in or help out with I feel as if my family has grown.  They are like the family you get to choose, don't get me wrong I'm rather fond of the family I was born into, but you know what I mean!  I also feel it is a place where you get to know more about who you are as a person and how far you can push yourself to achieve what you had no idea you could.  I have seen plays move people's lives and change their out looks on the world. I don't think there has ever been a football game that has done that (I'm not a sports hater, I rather enjoy them, but they don't evoke thought).  Now on a more frivolous note, I am really big into clothes! Particularly 1940's and 50's fashion. There is something so amazing about the simplicity and class those decades brought to the world. Oh and the music from those era's can you say AMAZING!  I can't really think of anything more to write about myself...  I hope you will continue to read my posts and maybe we can discuss some things and share ideas. Thanks again for reading!
                        Kate the Cursed