Saturday, December 27, 2014
I used to think that women were equal to men.
I was delusional.
After thousands of years of being pinched, painted, corseted, negotiated and sold by our daddies as the decorated broodmares they called “wives,” we wear pants. We vote. We own property. And with a 20 percent pussy pay-cut, we can even hold a job. We should be grateful, right?
Like most of us, I danced the independent woman charade. I played sailor with the boys. I worked. I traveled. I fucked bachelors and paraded the bars with artificial liberation. I got into a prestigious school. I was allowed in Corporate America. But like my mother, grandmother, and all the women before, I was incarcerated. My shackles were just a bit lighter.
Incarceration is the yank of hot wax ripping pubic hair from my throbbing vagina. It’s the swollen blisters from the stilettos that elevate my rump to the supple, fuckable shape men like. It’s the itch of a black lace thong flossing my ass cheeks. It was the pressure to join the Navy boys in their cackles of sexist gossip as if I was rushing into an elite fraternity. Incarceration is every female magazine being a recycled instruction manual for molding myself to be the perfect balance of sex kitten and angelic bride. Incarceration was being told to preserve my hymen as the ideal clean, unsullied marital livestock. Incarceration is the deprivation of chivalry, manners, friendship, intimacy, and romance that is replaced with a dick down my throat, slap on my ass, and cum on my tits followed by passive aggressive criticism about my sexual track record when I refuse to water myself down and plaster on an innocent, delirious, girlish mask. Incarceration is the way men dangle their fictitious respect for us as treats for our proper, ladylike behavior. Incarceration is the embraced and digested idioms of “boys will be boys.” Incarceration is a man saying he respects a woman who doesn’t spread her legs right away. Incarceration is a woman expected to date like a soccer goalie, shuffling back and forth to block the balls constantly flying in her direction and shamed the moment she lets one slip in her net. Incarceration was wondering what I did wrong every time my lovers disappeared. Incarceration is when nobody writes a happy ending for a woman without a man.
My wakeup call wasn’t some light switch of empowerment. From as early as preschool I feared that if I didn’t grow up to be the pretty princess men fawned over, I was a failure. That mentality was my disease. It got me raped. It made me feel dirty and devalued because my cherry wasn’t popped on a bed of rose petals. It fueled an adolescence juggling starvation and vomiting until my throat bled out and my stomach acid burned through the plumbing. It made me snort coke, smoke meth, and routinely gulp down narcotic petri dishes in hopes of obtaining hallucinogenic intimacy with junkie boyfriends. But most of all, it made me waste my youth chasing, obsessing over, fighting for, worshipping, clinging to, and crying over one after another loser. At some point, I just quit giving a fuck.
Man has ruled the majority of our history. Rarely could women get jobs, education, property, and political rights. Women had to devote their lives to beauty, virginity, and reproduction. They had to be skilled in patience, loyalty, and male ego nourishment. They had to tolerate mistresses, tempers, beatings, and belittling for the roof over their head. That has all changed. Women can support themselves. But what has happened is that emotional evolution has not caught up with our economics. We are still haunted by the outdated myth that women need men.
This book isn’t about burning bras, shaving heads, or growing bush between our thighs. This book is not meant to be an exorcism of femininity, sexuality, or romance. This book isn’t about disowning all of our gender roles. This book isn’t meant to bash men, but to address the detrimental ways all genders have been told to act. This book is my rigorous trek to emotional freedom.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
My best friend is gay. We are both 29 years old. We grew up in southern cities- me in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Rowland (my pen name for him) the suburban pocket of Dalton, Georgia just 30 minutes south of it. While I spent my early 20s in California and studied at UC Berkeley, the epicenter of liberal progressiveness, Rowland posed as a beer guzzling, woman chasing Kennesaw State frat boy. He came out at 23, spent a few years rummaging through the queens of Midtown, and has settled into a tranquil, middle ground Sandy Springs condo with his boyfriend. Having lived both extremes of Southern clichés and the explosion that proceeds an adolescence in hiding, Rowland has been my interpreter for the 2 years I’ve been back in the south. He understands southern culture and the strait men in it. After all, he pretended to be one for 23 years. Rowland and I aren’t just best friends. We spend hours every day with our headsets glued to our ears talking while he works from home and I clean my room, run errands, or drive from place to place. Not speaking to him for a day feels like missing essential limbs on my body. Naturally, he knows every gritty detail of the men I’m involved with. And there have been a lot of them. My romantic track record is splotchy and scattered. I haven’t had a stable, long-term relationship since high school. In a decade I’ve had a handful of monogamous partnerships with a 3-month- maximum lifespan, one two-year long distance and very off and on romantic fiasco, two 18-month celibacy stints, and quite the hefty stack of casual hookups. At first glance, this baffles a lot of people. I meet the checkmarks of a desirable partner. I’m ambitious, intelligent, reasonably pretty, active, healthy, and a lot of fun. I hold that unique combination of beauty, brains, and humor. Besides some daddy issues and a bad relationship with my family, I’m mentally sound, emotionally and financially independent. I’m frequently told that I’m a catch, but I don’t even need that third party validation. I already know that I’m awesome. I attract men quickly, but I lose them just as easily. Rowland and I have had countless discussions analyzing and deliberating on first dates, first kisses, the backgrounds of my men, their red flags, redeeming qualities, and the fallouts in hopes of figuring out why. Our strongest conclusion is that I can’t keep a man because I put out. It’s true. If I am uninterested in a man, no physical action occurs on the first date and no further dates follow. But if I’m into him, I almost always sleep with him by the second date. This is for a few reasons. I enjoy sex because it’s fun, feels good, and I believe that intimately connecting with someone is one of life’s greatest experiences. I have the sex drive of a teenage boy (I have literally been like this since I was about 9 years old.) And, I do not like playing hide and seek with my vagina. If there is a mutual attraction between a man and I, I do not see the point in blocking the physical exploration our bodies desire as if we’re high school sophomores dry humping denim burns into our thighs because it’s a sin to go “all the way.” I’m a military veteran, Berkeley educated author who has backpacked foreign countries alone. I’m pushing 30. Pretending to be a dainty, frigid pillow princes with a girlish innocence would be an insult to the woman I’ve fought to become. I have earned my sexual freedom and intend to shamelessly bathe in my every orgasm. However, despite the respect my lovers voice for my anthem, their actions state otherwise. I’ve been with every form of man imaginable, from the innocent, golden-hearted boy next-door who open doors, pays for dinner, and would likely follow the old school chivalrous extremes of throwing their jacket into a mud puddle so their lady could safely cross to the semi-fem, tattooed, pierced, skinny jean wearing hipster who cheers on women’s rights and is openly aroused by my alpha characteristics. Even though I have sampled a wide variety of flavors, each taste has one commonality: Once my bra is stripped, my humanity is tossed on the rug in the corner of my bedroom right along with it. Sometimes, I’m okay with that. But other times that connection obtained through hours of deep conversation, Sushi and sake shooting, hand holding, intimate explorations, and curling our bodies together through dawn diminishes the day after penetration. I’m left feeling like I’d dreamed of a 72-hour boyfriend. My head spins with a mild, emotional hangover. They leave remnants of our encounter like condom wrappers in my garbage can and bruises on my body, only to disappear into the abyss of my Facebook friend’s list. We don’t message, comment, or like, but deleting one another would show too much acknowledgment of each other’s existence so they just remain as a sporadic splash on my newsfeed. To them, I am sex and nothing more. I am the edgy girl the vanilla, suit and tie wearing Buckhead young professional wants a wild ride with. I am a shiny, fascinating foreign object the timid farmer’s son finally got the courage to touch once he was shitfaced drunk on New Year’s Eve. I am the woman who will listen to their jaded, recent breakup turmoil, fulfill all of the sexual desires their ex girlfriends never satisfied, and politely release them without demands, guilt trips, or expectations. I am easy and it is starting to seem like they are programmed to detect that. A decade of being that girl is no coincidence. Here are the reasons Rowland and I have summed up my roles as every man’s collateral damage:
· I have a dirty sense of humor.
· I am open about every aspect of my life, including sexuality.
· I wrote a memoir with a high level of sexual content and make zero attempts to try to hide that.
· I have pink hair, a nose ring, and visible tattoos.
· I often wear skirts, dresses, tight jeans, push up bras, and various other fitted ensembles that show off my figure.
· I am tough and confident, which leaves men assuming that I am bulletproof.
· I don’t play games or throw men through hoops and obstacles to get to me.
· I prioritize my career over my relationships because I am in the building process, causing men to assume that I’m happy with my chronic fuck buddy status.
· I have a type A personality, which emasculates men and makes me a desirable conquest, but too much of a handful to deal with beyond a fun romp in the sack.
· I don’t swat away advances when I am enjoying them.
I’m sexually open and experimental.
I’m sexually open and experimental.
· I’m low maintenance. I don’t want to challenge a man. I just want to enjoy him.
The other day, Rowland sent me a blog to read. You can check it out here.
It is called “Modest is not the Hottest” and was written by a young wife named Natasha Craig. She is my opposite. She is a young, fresh-faced brunette who is beautiful in a simplistic, earthy way that does not require makeup. She is sweet and uncontroversial. She emulates wholesome Christianity. While my writing is of sex, feminism, government corruption, and scandal, hers is of optimism, fairy tales, and love stories. If I were more like Natasha, I would have a boyfriend and my mother would love me.
Natasha writes of pop culture’s pressure for women to be “hot,” meaning to dress in sexually provocative clothing. In the end, her point is that women should aim to be “beautiful” rather than “hot.”
We as women want to be loved. We want to be valued, we want someone to surprise us with roses, and write us cute love songs on our guitar, we want to be in love with a man we call our best friend. But somewhere along the line, we have been falsely led that in order to be loved, in order to be valued, we need to be sexually appealing and that if we are appealing, that the love we seek will come to us.
I can’t deny that her article rattles my comfort zone. I buy myself flowers because no man has ever sent them to me. I have slept with a handful of musicians who did not hold me valuable enough to provoke their artistic inspiration.
Some will embrace it, seek it, and enjoy it. They will give you attention, they will make you feel special, and they will tell you how much they want you. And they will continue to tell you everything you want to hear, making you believe you really care. But once they get what they came for, they will be content because they did not want anymore than that.
And that is what happens to me every time.
Natasha pleads for us to change. She begs us to change for the jealous wives, the slut shaming men, and most of all, for ourselves so that our modesty will make us worthy of a man’s love. She advises us to not be “hot,” but be “beautiful.” She defines hot as plunging necklines, short skirts, and fitted clothing, elevating “beautiful” to a superior level because it leaves room for the man’s imagination and dangles a subtle peek at something for them to chase.
But here’s my greatest dilemma: I love who I am right now.
I love that, after nearly a decade of post bulimia weight gain, I finally have the body to wear fitted clothing. I love that my legs are toned from hiking and 8 mile runs. I know that when I’m an 80-year-old woman, I’ll be glad I pushed my boobs up and rocked them proudly while I still could. I love that I am a girl that a man can be himself with, can drop all the uptight protocols, mind games, pricey wining and dining, blue balls, and teases hidden up the sleeves of so many of my peers. I love that I am witty, smart, and strong. I am proud of my accomplishments of my past and goals for my future. I love that I can go on week long backpacking trips, outwit anyone with perverted jokes, and punch out any man that pisses me off. I love that I’m good in bed. But most of all, I know that the way men have treated me in the past has curbed the immense appreciation I will have for the right ones in the future.
I know the real reason Rowland sent me that blog. He’s my best friend. He cares about me. He wants me to be happy. He sees my ever-revolving slew of men. Although he won’t admit it, a part of him thinks that maybe- just maybe- life will be a little bit easier for me if I hop into a closet as he once did. The fact is, I know that if I washed out the pink in my hair, threw on a turtleneck, cleaned up my language, kept my book a secret, batted my eye lashes, and flinched every time his hand brushed against mine, I could get a man to stick around a little bit longer. Maybe I could fake my way into being his girlfriend. But my life would be a charade, just as Rowland’s was in the arms of a woman.
“Maybe the problem is that we are trying so hard to be hot when we need to work on being beautiful,” says Natasha.
But Natasha is very wrong. The “problem” isn’t in the way a woman dresses, the way she carries herself, or the men she beds. The problem is that she does it for him and not for herself.
I looked back on every man I opened my heart to and spread my legs for a little too quickly for. I thought about every man I clumsily let slip through my fingertips, every man I fucked it all up with. I asked myself the most basic question that I could not believe hadn’t crossed my mind once before: Did any of them even meet up to my expectations? Were any of those men worthy of my love and devotion?
Of course not.
For a very long time, women needed men. They needed them to hunt for food and protect their young. Once civilizations modernized, they needed men for legal and economic protection. From the birth of societies until merely this past 100 years, the majority of governments did not allow women to own property. Women have only been able to financially support themselves for about 50 years. Of course, a woman’s life was once based on luring a man into a marital commitment. Naturally, a woman’s ultimate achievement in life was the quality of husband she landed because he defined every aspect of it. This is why women built their lives around making men want them and tolerated any abuse, infidelity, and degradation that followed. But that time has passed and although they can be wonderful, ladies, YOU DON’T NEED A MAN.
So wear that sweater because you’re cold. Hike up that skirt because you’re hot. Wear that outfit because you think it’s cute. Sleep with him because you feel like it and withhold because you’re not ready.
Love is great. Love is beautiful. Love makes you a better person. Love transforms your world into absolute paradise. But love isn’t love if you faked your way into it.