Musings on Life for the Queerly Inclined

Posts tagged ‘women’

Letters to Public Interactions/Institutions

Dear CTA conductor,

You, the one who looked directly at me as I boarded the train, and told me to smile: I will smile when I damn well please and not on command.

Fuck you,

Tamar

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Dear Lincoln Park drug stores,

Stay classy.  Chicago never ceases to come up with brilliant ideas, including this:

Yep, that’s right–the local CVS has a booze section.  Make that an extensive booze section.  New England and its liquor stores can suck it.

Mostly wine and spirits.  The bottles of hard liquor had locks/alarms on them because, ya know, CVS goods usually aren’t worth more than $10.  Classy.

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Dear guys in the truck,

How exactly did you imagine this scene would go down?  I’m honestly curious.

On Friday evening, I was driving to meet a friend.  Having jumped Spider-woman-style directly from the shower out of the window and into the car (as ya do), I realized this would be a putting-mascara-on-in-the-car trip.  (For the record: yes, this is unsafe behavior and I indulge highly infrequently.)  Un/fortunately, there are a couple of intersections within two blocks of my house at which the lights take forever to change.  One of them will actually stay red for up to three and a half minutes (apparently the average wait time at a red is one minute…nobody informed my neighborhood).

While waiting at a long stop light and applying makeup, I heard a light but persistent car horn.  “What is that?” I wondered, “The light is clearly still red.”  The horn kept going.  Turned out it was coming from the enormous truck next to me.  I looked over to find two men–clearly just off work–leaning (head, shoulders, and arms) outta the front passenger window of their company truck, waving madly at me and grinning.  Ummmm…really?

You think ima respond well to that?  I already had a mascara wand next to my eye and was watching both the traffic light and my own rear-view mirror.  You think that was a good time to demand my attention?  Please.

The start of another classy night in Chi-town.

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Dear Sprinkles,

Thank you for your genius.  Talk to y’all later–I’m moving to DC stat.

Love T

P.S. Alternately, maybe I’ll just bake rainbow cupcakes with le brother, because that doesn’t involve leaving my kitchen.

Video

“Somebody’s gotta be the best. So why not me?”

Aaaaaand this is wonderful.  Perfect timing.  (Though I gotta admit it’s ever so slightly jarring to hear a 55 y/o woman’s voice coming outta a 9 y/o girl’s mouth.)

I’m a soccer-star-fairy-princess! Duh.

When I was five years old, I decided I wanted to be a soccer player when I grew up (that is, whenever I wasn’t being a movie star or a fairy princess).  I wasn’t especially good at soccer.  In fact, I barely knew how to play.  That wasn’t the point.  I had just learned that women’s soccer wasn’t taken as seriously as men’s soccer and that, comparatively speaking, not very many people watched it.  My five-year-old logic went like this:

“Surely the only reason people take men’s soccer more seriously is that there aren’t very many women playing soccer and so people don’t know about it.  If there were more women soccer players, it would be a much more popular sport and everyone would support it.  Ergo I should be a soccer player and help make it really popular.  If tons of little girls become soccer players, then everyone will pay attention.”

A+ plan, right?  This was 1995 and Mia Hamm was becoming a household name, after she became the youngest USA woman to win the World Cup in 1991.  A whole generation of girls was being ushered into sports camps.

June 23rd marked the 40th anniversary of Title IX (law requiring gender equity in federally funded educational programs, including sports).  Growing up as a post-Title IX child during the “girl power” 90’s, I never really grasped the significance of this law.  I still don’t have a thorough enough understanding of what it was like to be an aspiring female athlete pre-1972.  My family has never been big on team sports.  I follow figure skating like some people follow football (complete with the stereotypical yelling at the TV and threatening to throw things), but I grew up basically ignoring team sports–men’s and women’s equally–so I wasn’t immersed in the culture that glorified men’s teams and disregarded women’s.

When I was three, I began figure skating; when I was 14, I moved over to dance.  Stereotypes aside, these are definitely girl/woman-dominated activities.  (Side note: if you think figure skating isn’t a sport, you are hereby dismissed.)  My friends who were athletic were skaters and dancers.  Again, no connection with dominant sports culture that prioritizes men.

It wasn’t until college that I had friends who were athletes in the world of team sports.  Going to a historically women’s college, the athletes were almost exclusively women.  (Now I’m that weird kid who thinks rugby is primarily a women’s sport and gets confused when people talk about ruggers being upwards of six feet.  Yeah.  Same goes for crew.  Why do people think of this when they think of rowers?)  I began seeing what it means to center sports on women’s teams and how much of these athletes’ lives and passion would be overlooked in a setting that didn’t value them.

Watching this video, something finally clicked.  In it Laurie Priest, MHC’s Director of Athletics, explains that “at Mount Holyoke, women are treated as first-class citizens, because all the opportunities are for women.  Women are not the sideshow.  They get top billing as the only show in town” (4:57).  Ah ha.

That’s what Title IX gets us–confirmation that women are just as deserving of a top-billed spot and consequently merit all the training, facilities, and support that will get them there.  Next step: getting women’s athletics to be recognized with the same prestige accorded men’s.  Oh and maybe I should stop referring to half-time as “intermission”…

Hey, I Just Saw This! And This Is Crazy!

I would like to address an event that’s near and dear to our hearts–read: a raging controversy in some circles and up for passionate debate–the Miss USA pageant.  Yes, that one, run by Donald “These are the most beautiful women…oh and I guess I should say they’re smart too…did I mention I’m rich?” Trump.  I’m not gonna dissect pageant culture right now, except to say that the whole discussion of beauty standards still applies (except that, ya know, there’s no androgyny in this line-up).  Instead, I’m gonna jump right into the important stuff: they made a music video.  That’s right, all the contestants dusted off their mime skills, busted out their best dance moves, and jammed to Carly Rae Jepsen’s musical classic.  As Carly Rae would say, you should know that, so if you have no idea what I’m referencing, go watch and then continue reading.


1. South Carolina is wearing gold sequins.  Approve.

2. I love NY because she’s miming/dancing like she lives for these moments (0:29) and I’m liking the bold purple and green~~props to you, NY.

3. Who is the awk man at 1:29 (boy band import?) and, more importantly, 1:57?  Anybody else reminded of a bad werewolf impression?

4. New Mexico is working it while riding backwards on an escalator (1:41).  Skills.

5. If I were in this, I would be Virginia at 1:48.  Yep.  All of the time.

6. Oh heeeeeeey there 1:26.  Can we talk about the massive dose of queerness that just popped up?  Now they’re dancing at 2:45~~this is love.

7. There are matching bikinis.

8. Dear Donald Trump, until you came into this video, I did not miss you at all.  Why the awk cameo at the end?  You’re fired.

BREAKING NEWS: Queer Ladies Love Maddow

Autostraddle recently released its annual line-up of the 100 “Hottest Queerest Women in All the Land.”  For those of you who don’t spend your time fawning over queer culture websites (who are you?!), Autostraddle is a popular site for “news, entertainment, opinion, and girl-on-girl culture.”  What does this actually mean?  It means all the women (and others) of the queer (and other) persuasions just freaked out about how much we all loooooooooooove Tegan and Sara and OHMYGODRACHELMADDOOOOOOW!!

As usual, this year’s list is full of myriad talented, accomplished, and very attractive individuals.  But flipping through the pages, it’s impossible not to notice that most of them look pretty similar.  There is certainly some diversity of gender presentations–I’m always happy to see that–but the vast majority of these women are white.  Moreover, they’re predominantly young, slim, and white.  I counted fewer than 20 women of color on the list, as well as the cast of The Peculiar Kind, grouped together as #64.  None of them are in the top 10.

How do I know the exact number of women of color on this list?  I don’t.  It’s obviously not possible to decipher a person’s racial and/or ethnic identities just by looking at them or their name, but it’s apparent that the list is dominated by light skinned women, most of whom are repping similar sizes and body types.  So really, what this list tells me is that Autostraddle has rounded up yet another group of people who embody queerness as something that belongs primarily to young-ish, thin-ish, white people.  This misrepresentation happens all over the place.  Queerness is generally marginalized in mainstream everything (shocking to hear, I know), but as long as the few queer individuals that do appear show only a sliver of the queer community (the white, cisgender, and usually class-privileged sliver), then we’re continuing to divide and marginalize within our supposed community.  And that shit needs to stop.

EDIT: Apparently some clarification is needed.  The problem is not a lack of out LGBTQ people of color.  The problem in this case is that there’s a wide array of women of color who are routinely overlooked in favor of white women, who get the bulk of the recognition and publicity.  We cannot pretend it’s some sort of accident that hot people lists–and other images of which bodies our society/media consider beautiful–are overwhelmingly white, unless they’re specifically categorized as POC.  The same goes for ability, body type, size, and cis/trans* status.  This shit is old and needs to be changed like now already.

Fuck Modesty~~It’s a Social Construct Anyway

Who’s heard One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful”?  Everyone who’s turned on a radio or been subjected to someone else’s in the past year, your hands should be up.  For those of you not intimately familiar with the lyrical prowess of this artistic masterpiece, it includes such confessions as: “The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed.”  Oh yeah–they went there.  Heavy stuff.

For real though, let’s talk about this song.  Specifically the final message of the piece: “You don’t know you’re beautiful.  That’s what makes you beautiful.”  Umm…really?  The person to whom the song is directed (presumably a young woman) is described as shy and she “smile[s] at the ground.”  Her beauty comes from her immense modesty and even insecurity, the implication being that if she were aware of these things, she would be less attractive.  Hmmm.  I feel similarly about Orianthi’s “According to You”, which is all about deriving a sense of worth and attractiveness from another person (read: a man telling a woman that she’s good enough).

These examples follow a long tradition of popular media that perpetuate the notion that women must be attractive, but excessively modest.  Beauty is presented as external attributes combined with self-conscious body language.  (I’m telling you, people, these numbers rank up there with Beethoven’s 5th).  Everywhere are messages telling us–especially women–to be more self-critical, to rely more on other people for validation, rather than developing our own senses of pride and accomplishment.  Where are the songs that extol self-confidence and self-sufficiency?  Confirming one’s own wondrousness, whether or not one has a date?  When these songs do appear, they often still rely on someone else’s gaze i.e. “You hurt me and now I’m finally coming back to show you how much better I am alone” (aka Kelly Clarkson’s go-to song).  What if you’re always straight up fantastic?

On the flip side, if these songs help some people feel better about themselves, that’s great.  I guess what I’m trying to tell you is…my #1 hit (which will, of course, debut at the top of the charts) will be called “I’m fucking fabulous and y’all besta deal with that.”  It’s time for everyone to rock their own marvelousness without fear.

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