Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Bachelor - Please Excuse Me While I Go Throw Up

I somehow ended up watching the Bachelor. I swear I've never watched this show before, but one day I was really bored and ended up watching the entire current season. The results of this show are laughable. According to Wikipedia, every couple the Bachelor has brought together have broken up. The gender relations are INSANE!

First of all, the man gets to have all these women to himself, but heaven forbid we find out that any of the women have feelings for another man. What kind of double standard is that?

Ben and Courtney
Ben and Nicki
Ben and Lindzi


What struck me most, though, by the recent episode, was the fact that Ben (the Bachelor) went on three dates with the three final women and gave each of them the option of an "overnight date," where they spend the night in a beautiful fantasy sweet. When he hands them the card with the overnight invitation, each of the women gets a very distinct expression on their faces. It's a mixture of surprise, offense, pleasant anticipation, and frustration. Should these women accept, they tend to preface with a "Normally, I don't spend the night with just anyone..." or a nervous laugh and shifting eyes or the avoidance of answering the question directly at all. It's clear that the women don't want to look too forward by accepting. But they do accept in the end. The scene ends with lots of kissing in the "fantasy suite", and Ben politely, but firmly closing the door on the camera.

As silly as this show is, I think those moments are illustrative of the time we live in. We're in a strange transition period. I would say that today, it's accepted that a woman would want to spend the night alone with a man. It's generally accepted that she has the right to choose that, and that's fine. However, we haven't crossed over completely. Like I said, we're in the middle of a transition. A woman can spend the night with a man, so long as she still attempts to look demure and puts up a little bit of a protest. So long as she doesn't give up that "femininity" too quickly. It's fine for the man to request the night together. Ben shows no qualms in giving the women these cards. He has nothing to be ashamed of. But it is apparent that these women are not in the same fortunate position.

We're moving to a point of recognition that men and women should be able to express the desire for sexual contact with others without negative judgment and stigma. But we aren't quite there yet. I think that's a good realization to come to, I just think it's really sad and pathetic that I had to watch the Bachelor to come to it. Ugh...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Loyal Daughters and Sons


I'm glad that Loyal Daughters and Sons is falling in the same week that we are reading about rape and sexual assault. These are important issues. The show makes the point that (especially at Notre Dame) it's really hard to talk about sexual assault. This starts with it being hard to talk about sex in general -- look out for one monologue in particular titled (The Unicorn).

I, personally, am pretty comfortable talking about all these "taboo" issues. Dating, tampons versus pads, hookups, whatever. Let's talk about it. Let's have it out. Everyone wants to talk about this. Everyone wants to know that other people are thinking about the same things. No one ever says anything.

It can have a lot to do with how you're raised. Some people are raised thinking that talking about all those things is shameful, inappropriate. I can't say that I was particularly encouraged to talk about them. It took me years to get comfortable with my sexuality. As I've mentioned before in this blog, I was nicknamed "The Nun" in high school. But somehow, I became comfortable with it. 

I still get the awkward suspicion from people though. It might be the funny look I get from a friend when I mention staying overnight in a friend's room (regardless of what may or may not have happened between us). Or it might be the feeling that I get from my parents when I talk about someone I'm interested in. Like it's still something to be ashamed of. People still communicate to me that it's inappropriate to talk about these things or be frank about sexuality, and quite honestly, I'm tired of it.

I'm an adult under the law, capable of making my own choices about what I believe to be right and wrong. And I believe that these are things we need to talk about. If we don't start talking about the basic issues, how can we ever hope to conquer the bigger issues like sexual assault? People need to be more open about these things. We have to start somewhere.

Friday, February 17, 2012

On Being Single and a Control Freak

I debated writing this post. It's a lot to let the Internet know, but I think it's important enough that I want to share it.

When I read Bordo for class the other day, I could hardly believe what I was reading. It was like someone had picked my brain and slapped it down into a Feminist Theory book. Specifically the parts when Bordo discussed the impacts of anorexia.

I have, historically, had a complicated relationship with body image. Sometimes I love how I look. Other times, I find it tragic. Overall, I'm pretty confident though. So, it was surprising to me when a few weeks ago I noticed that my eating habits were getting out of whack. I was eating hardly anything throughout the day, then binge-eating at night. The next day, I would try to make up for the binge by not eating a lot, and the cycle would continue.

It got better for a while, but returned with a vengeance not long after. It was much worse. While it never became full-blown bulimia or anorexia, I realized I was standing on the edge of something quite serious. Being a psychology major, I know the dangers associated with eating disorders. I know that they are not effective or healthy. Then I thought to myself, do I really need to change how I look? And I had to be honest. No! I am actually pretty happy with my body right now. So where were these strange eating habits coming from?

Bordo answered that for me. She said that eating disorders "allow[s] her [women] to feel powerful and worthy of admiration in a world... 'from which at the most profound level [she] feels excluded' and unvalued." Bam. There it is. For me, these funky eating patterns weren't about my body. They were about control.

A little over 2 months ago, I experienced a breakup. It was my choice, but no matter what, breakups always are hard. And as my mother reminded me on the phone the other night, in the past 4 years, between high school boyfriends and college relationships, I have spent very little time as a single woman. So I'm adjusting. I'm trying to find ways to feel good about myself that do not depend on a guy telling me how great I am all the time. I think Bordo hit the nail on the head. Controlling (or thinking you are controlling) your eating habits is a way for people to feel worthy.

This article has been very therapeutic for me. Knowing that I'm not the only one who knows this experience has helped. When I read this article after a whole day of denying myself food, I really realized what I was doing to myself. I don't need to deprive myself (or over-indulge myself) of food to be okay. I'm happy to say that I'm getting back on track.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Flexuality Test

Yes, a second post in one day. But I just found this quiz on the blog of a friend of mine and had to share it.

http://flexuality.wordpress.com/take-the-test/

This is a survey that you fill out about your sexual and romantic preferences. It analyzes your answers and gives you feedback on them. It doesn't tell you "You're bi! Straight! Gay!" or anything like that. It shows you where you land on different spectrums of sexuality in a really neat and comprehensive way. A lot of the questions are very thought provoking, and I really appreciate this tool. Of course, it isn't perfect, and it is not the be-all and end-all. But it's worth looking at!

What Happened to Dating?

Recently, friends of mine have been going on dates. Real, honest dates. With people who they find interesting. Not people they've already hooked up with four or five times before, but people that they want to get to know. Why hasn't this happened sooner?

One of my friends commented that he doesn't think he's ever been on a date with someone he hasn't already kissed. This is what college culture has become for a large portion of the population. You kiss someone first (and quite often do a lot more than that) before you actually decide to build a relationship with them. In a way, young people are now awarding themselves more and more "free passes." Now, it is socially acceptable to experiment with a physical relationship before introducing the emotional relationship.

This makes me uncomfortable for a lot of reasons. The biggest one, though, is how dangerous this can be. So many people hook up with others, hoping that it will lead to a relationship. They can end up being seriously hurt. The risk of sexual assault increases greatly through this hookup culture, too. There is no emotional bond on which to generate trust with someone before you allow yourself to be physically vulnerable with them. There isn't a lot of room for communication about what both parties expect from the encounter. It's a recipe for disaster, and too many times, I have seen it go wrong for people I love.

Needless to say, I am thrilled to see my friends actually going on real dates these past few weeks. It gives me hope to see that just because hook ups have become the norm, it does not mean that they are the only option. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Tangled





My friend and I had a fun conversation about the portrayal of men and women in princess movies the other night, specifically, Tangled! Now, I have to warn you - this post will contain spoilers about the movie. My friend and I had a lot of fun discussing this. We agreed that, most likely, no one who made the movie meant to make huge statements about gender, but it can be fun to make these interpretations.


In this interpretation of the story, Rapunzel's hair is magical and has healing powers. Therefore, Rapunzel (a woman) is the holder of great power herself. Awesome! However, her hair is also a contributor to her imprisonment. It is because of her power that her mother chooses to imprison her (and the hair itself is just very cumbersome...) Not so awesome.

So! Isn't it interesting that at the end of the movie, a man cuts off her hair? Is it that he is robbing her of her power? Is he freeing her from imprisonment? And if he is freeing her, why does she need a man to free her?

Disclaimer: I love this movie and I don't mean to discredit it. It's just something fun to think about! Let me know if you have anything to add!