Archive for the women’s liberation Category

Podcasts and Vibrators

Posted in Masturbation, raising daughters, single moms, single parenting, women's liberation with tags , , , , on April 24, 2016 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

So, something different and interesting happened to me the other day: I got interviewed for a podcast. I was a little nervous when he showed up at my house with very official looking equipment (soundboard, microphones, headphones and lots and lots of wires), but I managed to relax and enjoy the experience.  The interview questions and organic conversation led to discussion of my blog, as well as several fairly explicit subjects. Not a problem for me, but it will make it a bit awkward if friends who knew about the interview want to have the link for the podcast.

This is the same scenario that led to one of the most frank and, for my daughters at least, mortifying conversations over lunch ever.

They both knew I was being interviewed. Over a lunch out at one of our favorite local restaurants, they asked me how it had gone. I described the equipment and what it was like in detail and they both seemed excited.

“So, we’ll get to listen to it, right?” Asks my twelve year old, her face beaming with excitement over what she probably imagines is my famousness.

Awkward pause as I quickly think back to the some of the topics of choice: My recent purchase of a vibrator, butt plugs and anal sex.

“Uhm…” I stall, trying to think quickly. “Probably not. It has a lot of bad language in it.”

“Mom.” The fourteen year old looks at me with the sort of disdain only a teenager can manage. “We’ve heard lots of bad language.”

“Yeah, but this was excessive.” I insist.

“We don’t care, we just want to listen to you.”

“I talked about several things I don’t think you guys would want to hear about and you wouldn’t really understand.”

Another eye roll from the teenager. “I’m sure I would.”

I take a deep breath and say, “Well, do you guys know what vibrators are?”

Much to my surprise they both nod.

“Oh.” I’m a bit stumped now. “Well, I told a story about one.”

“What sort of story?”

“Well, I told a really funny story about the last time I bought one.” I take a sip of my tea and watch their faces carefully. They just look at me with no expression, then suddenly I watch a look of horror cross the face of the fourteen year old.

“What?” She exclaims loudly. “You bought one??”

“Well, yeah.”

She stares at me in mortified horror. “Do you keep it in the HOUSE?”

“Of course I keep it in the house. Did you think I’d keep it in the storage shed out back?”

The twelve year old pipes up: “Because then spiders might crawl on it and it would get spiderwebs and stuff.”

Keeping a very straight face, I nod. “That probably would be bad.”

Fourteen year old: “YOU KEEP IT IN THE HOUSE???”

“It’s really not a big deal.” I reply calmly. “When you get a few years older, we can go and get you one if you want. It’s a normal thing and I’ve already told you that if you were curious about your body then you could…”

“Oh my god!” She moans, burying her face into her hands. “Please just, just stop talking.”

“Okay, okay.” We sit there for a moment. “But when I was your age…”

“Stop. Talking.” Hissed at me from behind her hands.

I can’t resist. “But you certainly don’t need a vibrator, you could just use your hands.”

Let’s just say that if looks could kill, I would be very, very dead.

Perhaps it’s strange to have a mother-daughter lunch that involves discussion of vibrators, but I always want them to be comfortable with their bodies and sexuality. Growing up, every time I touched myself I was certain I was doing something unholy and wrong. I want my kids to know I won’t judge them for something natural.

Still…perhaps over burgers and fries at lunchtime isn’t the best timing. And the podcast, for them at least, will have to wait a few more years.

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What A Difference A Year Makes

Posted in Relationships, self-esteem, self-improvement, women's liberation with tags , , , on February 3, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Today I went out with some friends for lunch and over coffee and quiche, the conversation turned deep and intense. Discussion of past relationships and their effect on our psyches, revelations of chinks in our self-esteem, our fears and insecurities. I shared with them a realization I’d had just the other day that disturbed me: Whenever someone asks me how things are going, I always feel like I need to qualify it if I’m not in a successful relationship. It occurred to me the lens through which I see myself and my worth as an individual is colored very intensely by whether or not I am successfully coupled with someone. That struck me as ridiculous and limiting and I felt determined to change the way I see myself.

After the conversation, I got to musing about the past year of my life. This time last year I was a complete mess. The final phase of my relationship with D had ended with great finality and my self-esteem and emotional health were depleted. I went into a deep depression and felt like I had fallen into an abyss I’d never be able to pull myself out of. I hadn’t experienced such bleakness since the end of my marriage and I despaired, feeling completely broken. I questioned life, even knowing I had to continue living for the sake of my children. Yet dragging myself through the motions of trying to live with the weight of sadness which lay on my heart was exhausting. The realization that I wanted to cease existing because of the level of pain I was in terrified me. I knew I couldn’t continue any longer.

So I went back into therapy. Boy, was that a grueling and uncomfortable process! A brand new therapist who refused to be gentle with me, who refused to allow me to hide. Instead, he relentlessly pulled back all my layers until I felt fragile and exposed. Only when I was completely naked and shivering emotionally, sitting and weeping until I thought I’d be ill, did he say “Now. Now I finally feel like I see you. Maybe it’s time you let other people see the real you too.” I hated him for months while I tried to do the hard work of dealing with all of my accumulated shit.

I went back and tried again with an ex-lover whom I’d walked away from during the turmoil with D. It was a mistake and I realized too late his issues were trigger buttons for me that I couldn’t accept, so I ran before I could love him. I still feel sorrow knowing I hurt him, even as I know I could have loved him and it would have ended in more pain for both of us. I found another lover who swept me up in his intense, sexy madness until I felt drenched in pure, undiluted passion. When it was over, suddenly, I learned how to feel my grief and anger completely, then release them. I let him go and this time, unlike with so many others, I didn’t try to make it work when it clearly wasn’t going to.

I sit here tonight in my cozy little cottage home, sipping a glass of wine and looking out at the snow that’s falling down, contemplating where I’m at in life. Several times over the last month or two, I’ve felt pure joy for no reason at all. In fact, yesterday and today I was mostly filled with contentment and for a few moments, profound happiness.

The unusual feelings coursing through my body–lightness, hope, freedom, joy–elicited such an intense response I felt tears come to my eyes. I think in the last year, all the hard work and soul-searching I’ve been doing has started to finally pay off. The albatross of my failed relationship with D finally lifted from my neck and set me free. The feelings of diminishment are gone; I feel empowered, strong and healthy. Even my troubled relationship with the father of my children has given me fresh perspective on the end of my marriage and all the pain that resided there.

I’m not naïve enough to think this feeling will last forever. I’ve struggled with depression off and on most of my life. Yet I feel like I’ve pulled myself up out of the abyss and at least for now, achieved a victory. What a difference a year can make in someone’s life! My realistic hope is that my determination last year to get healthy emotionally and physically and the work I’ve done since then will allow me to maintain the momentum, so those moments of happiness begin to string together into a necklace of light I can wrap around myself in moments when the darkness comes. Memories that whisper, “Hey, you’ve been here before and you made your way out. You’ve got this!” and help illuminate my path.

For right this moment, I’m going to try really hard to enjoy pleasures as they come: Making snow angels with my children until our cheeks are crimson with cold and laughter. The cozy comfort of warm blankets while the snow falls outside. The bittersweet taste of chocolate on my tongue while I dive into a good book. The luxuriousness of a hot bubble bath and a cold glass of wine. The pleasure of touching and being touched. The joy of singing at the top of my lungs while I clean my house. The look of amazement on my daughter’s face when we achieve baking the perfect cheesecake.  The strength and power in my body when I do downward dog or warrior pose. The realization that I’m powerful and complete all by myself and that a partner is something I want, not something I need.

The hope and promise that each day brings when I’m not so lost in the darkness I can’t see it. For at least tonight, that necklace of happy moments is hanging around my neck, lighting my way into the year to come.

 

The Illusion of Beauty: Part 3

Posted in body image, objectifying women, raising daughters, self-esteem, women's bodies, women's liberation, women's rights with tags , , , , , on April 22, 2013 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.” ~ Dr. Steve Maraboli

“Health makes good propaganda.”  ~Naomi Wolf “The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women”

In 2013, the cry amongst the media is for “healthy” bodies. Of course, what is healthy? Who decides what is healthy and what is their incentive/motivation when doing so? The doctor attempting to sell yet another diet book? The companies trying to convince you their product will make all your body image woes disappear? Once again the ideal body for a female is slender, but with rock hard abs, defined arms and large breasts:

Perfect body

Victoria's Secret

perfect-female-body

Of course, this look is completely impossible for most women to achieve. Others will come close with serious food deprivation, hard physical training and sometimes surgery. It’s not enough to just be “thin” anymore, unless you are on the runway.

In the fashion world, skeletal thinness is still used by runway models who have become the perfect human clothes hanger:

thin model 1

thin model 3

There’s another place and time this look was seen:

concentration camps

Concentration Camp Inmates

How is it that there are people who favor a look only attained by torture, starvation and near death? The rise of anorexia and bulemia (in girls as young as 8!), the increase of hospitalization and even death among young women has made some people sit up and take notice. The efforts of specific organizations who attempt to raise awareness about the havoc being wreaked on our young women is slowly shifting the consciousness. A rising tide of rebellion is beginning and although still not enough to completely infiltrate and break down the cult of beauty that has our culture in it’s grip, it is creating cracks in the foundation. Today, more people are recognizing that beauty comes in many shapes and sizes. Better yet, marketers are starting to realize (finally) that showing size 0 models to the average size 10-14 woman is not serving them well. Slowly, slowly, we are starting to see women that, although still almost impossibly beautiful, look more like women who don’t starve themselves into an unnatural state.

Plus sized model 2Ford Models Celebrates The Publication Of Crystal Renn's "Hungry"Plus sized model 3

It’s a start, a good one, to showing women that it’s okay to be human beings…healthy, happy human beings who don’t have to fit into a mold created by society. There are women who are naturally thin and women who are not. There’s nothing wrong with being thin, athletic and toned…just as there’s nothing wrong with having breasts and hips and thighs and a stomach. Finally, the designers and industries that cater to women are starting to realize WE are the consumer; we’re just not going to take the abuse anymore. It’s still a slow road: These mannequins, used by a Swedish store, have sparked much controversy. While many have reacted very positively and praised the use of  mannequin models that resemble the average woman, some have claimed it encourages obesity.

Swedish mannequin pic

Of course, the use of size zero mannequins and models, some with legs hardly larger than a person’s arm, has encouraged anorexia and bulemia for years. It’s encouraged depression and low self-esteem in women and, increasingly, in very young girls. Showing only women who look like prepubescent girls with large breasts has perpetuated an unrealistic fantasy for men, who begin to believe that is how all women SHOULD look, when very few women will be able to attain it. It has equated “thin” with “good” and “healthy” and anything over a size 8 (and sometimes that’s considered too big) with “bad” and “unhealthy”. Plus sized models start at a size 8, when the average  American woman is a size 12 or 14. And yes, there’s an argument to be made that the average American diet is unhealthy, thus leading to a problem with weight. Setting up unrealistic, unattainable and in some cases, unhealthy, standards for women to look to is NOT the answer. Even very thin women can be heard lamenting about the few ounces of extra weight they have on their bodies…despite a predisposition toward thinness, healthy eating and diligent exercise. How do women learn to feel comfortable in their bodies when they are being sent constant messages that say they are unacceptable?

Plus size vs straight size

A “plus” sized model compared to a “regular” model

How can we get to a place of acceptance that we are more than our bodies, when we are constantly being told that our bodies are all that matter? On top of that, the constant message is our bodies are NOT acceptable unless they are starved and exercised into a form that is often unnatural. Even our little girls learn from an early age that beauty has a specific size:

woman object 4

How do we teach our young women (and our young men), that the female body can be beautiful in many shapes, many sizes? When do we stop acting like we all need to resemble barbie dolls in order to be acceptable, beautiful…good?

I want a different world for my daughters (and myself), yet sometimes am unsure how to effect change in such a rampantly superficial world. What can a single individual do to promote a healthier, more diverse culture of body image? Here are the things I’ve come up with that I CAN change:

  • Avoid negative talk about weight or shape. No more talk about “fat” or “skinny” and no more judgement language about bodies. Bodies are bodies, neither good nor bad.
  • Don’t use food as reward or punishment and avoid negative statements about food. Provide healthy food, then let your child make their own choices about it.
  • Compliment my child on accomplishments, talent and effort. Children should feel they are valuable and valued for more than their appearance. Only complimenting girls (or boys) on the way they look (“You’re so pretty!” “What a cutie.”) links their self-esteem to their looks. Teach my children from an early age they are so much more than just their bodies or faces.
  • Restrict media images. From the Disney Channel to the Victoria’s Secret catalog that comes in the mail. Discuss the media images with my daughters.
  • Help them to understand what is normal and healthy, especially during changes that may naturally involve their bodies changing. Keep communication open.
  • Write to designers/clothing stores/magazines and inform them of what you like and what you don’t. Use my dollars to reinforce my values. If I really dislike the way “American Apparel” or “Guess” uses images and models and I don’t feel they support healthy body image, then I won’t buy their clothes. A single consumer won’t make a huge difference, but change starts with one person, right? If a company DOES promote positive body images, then let them know that too.
  • Finally…love and accept my own body. My children will follow my actions more than my words. Work hard on accepting that I am not defined by my body, then realize that my body is beautiful. Let my children see that it’s okay to not look like Barbie and still take joy and pride in my appearance. It’s fine for them to see me making healthy food choices and exercising…that’s just modeling good health. What’s not okay is for them to constantly hear “I can’t eat that–it’s got too many calories” or “I need to stop being lazy and workout”. What’s not okay is for them to constantly be hearing about the latest diet or technique for losing weight. They learn from me, so I need to make sure I’m teaching them the right things.

Finally…realize how ridiculous it all is. Women spend a large chunk of their lives as slaves to the beauty ideal…which can’t even stay constant! We are slaves to something that shifts with political culture and socio-economic changes. We’re letting people who run the fashion industry (and let’s be honest: Should gay men really get to decide what a woman’s body should look like??) tell us what we should look like. We are starving, running, body-building, tweezing, waxing and even cutting ourselves open in an attempt to be “beautiful” and “sexy”, when those words could be/should be defined in many different ways! Realize the ridiculousness of it all and refuse to participate.

Tiny Fey, who is quickly becoming my hero, sums it all up nicely.

funny-Tina-Fey-body-image-quote

The Illusion of Beauty: Part 2

Posted in body image, objectifying women, raising daughters, women's bodies, women's liberation with tags , , on April 17, 2013 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

“Beauty is in the eye of beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye”

The notion of female beauty is a fluid one, subject to rapid shifts depending on culture and who’s running the fashion industry. Beautiful, sexy, healthy: These words all shift with the decades. Yet they greatly influence how we perceive ourselves and how we feel we measure up with others in our society. The obsession with female beauty and the ideal body is not a new concept. Throughout the ages, artists have been attempting to capture the curves, grace and mystique of a woman. Men pursue beautiful woman; women want to be beautiful. But what is beautiful? How has our perception of beauty changed?

From artwork of the Middle Ages, which showed women with hips and breasts and a rounded stomach:

Birth_of_venusrubenesque

To artwork and images of the 1800’s:

Pierre-Auguste_Renoir_-_BaigneuseExotic-Dancers-In-1800s-8

In fact, being “thin” was not a lasting trend that was considered beautiful or fashionable until the 1920’s, when the flapper styles came into vogue. There were exceptions to this rule: Before the Civil War, tuberculosis ravaged the nation; called the ‘wasting disease”, one of the side effects was severe thinness. This look gained popularity for a brief time, until the antebellum era, when voluptuousness was again on the rise. Lillian Russell, a theatre actress who was around 200 lbs, was considered a great beauty. Curves ruled the scene until the Roaring 20’s, when women began to push for more independence. A boyish figure was the look of the decade…

flappers

Until the 30’s and 40’s, when Marilyn Monroe and other actresses brought curves back into the spotlight:

Marilyn

curvy vs skinny 1

Then came Twiggy: A British teenager who was part of London’s “Swinging 60’s”, Twiggy’s ultra-thin, androgynous look changed the fashion industry overnight:

twiggy

The 90’s brought a mixture of body styles, from the curvaciousness of Cindy Crawford, who was once dubbed “too busty” to be a runway model:

cindy crawford

Juxtaposed with the “waif” look of Kate Moss:

kate-moss-calvin-klein-obsession-4

In 2013, where are we with body image? What is it that we’ve determined is the ideal beauty?

To be continued…

The Illusion of Beauty: Part 1

Posted in body image, objectifying women, raising daughters, self-esteem, women's bodies, women's liberation, women's rights with tags , , , , , on April 15, 2013 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.” ~ Helen Keller

My youngest child has cheeks that are rosy with color and she loves to don a swimsuit or shorts and bare her skin to the sun. She is a lovely, sensitive, smart, artistic, incredible little girl. She is also quite chubby.

Three and a half years ago, she looked like a little ghost: Pale, with dark circles under her eyes. She was constantly sick and would be doubled over with stomach pain nearly every time she ate. After taking her to doctor after doctor, she was finally diagnosed with an autoimmune disease: Ulcerative Colitis. Freqeunt bleeding and a 106 fever even landed her in the hospital; it was a scary event for her father and I. This resulted in a massive dose of steroids to try to manage the severe symptoms. It worked. It also left her with raging emotions and a wicked appetite. Her weight gain was so fast and so significant, that I commented to someone once that it looked like this child had eaten the child she used to be. After awhile, we were able to wean her off the high dose of steroids and begin a more long-term approach.

Today, she looks like a healthy kid. A kid that plays and colors and sings and makes it to school. A child that looks at me and sometimes my breath catches, because she is so amazing, inside and out. Yet…

As a woman who has struggled with body image, I am concerned. As an adult who knows the way this superficial world works, I feel trepidation. When she reaches for seconds at meals or wants to have a big slice of bread for a snack, I struggle with how to react. I don’t EVER want her to feel like she is less than the beautiful, amazing girl she is. So when her pants don’t fit anymore, I simply buy new ones. I never disparage or comment on her body and I only use positive language. I stopped calling myself words like “fat” in front of my children long ago. Still, I know the way the world is; as she moves into adolescense, if the weight issue hasn’t resolved itself, I fear she will suffer the consequences. So I feel a bit sick inside: How do I meet this situation? To treat her differently than her sibling (who looks like a wraith no matter what she eats) around the subject of food will bring an awareness of her own body that I really don’t want her to have. To not take any action feels like setting her up for failure. I have been struggling with this dilemma for months…

And I’m angry. I’m angry at a world that punishes us for how our bodies look. I’m furious at a culture that believes objectification is okay. And I’m not certain that the average person is aware of how insidious, how prevalent, it is. Let me help put it in perspective:

 

woman object 1woman object 7woman object 5woman object 6woman object 8woman object 11woman object 2woman object 10woman object 9

woman object 3

What do these images convey about women? They are nothing more than the sum of their parts: Breasts, thighs, ass and legs. Because of this they are interchangeable; we don’t even need to show their faces! They are vapid, empty vessels waiting to be filled by men. Merchandise, to be used and displayed as desired. If the female model’s face is even shown, it is often void of expression. Afterall, she is simply an object and objects don’t think or feel. She is a coat rack, a fantasy, an apex of thighs, a valley of breasts, a hole (while the guy fantasizes about his real passion, as exemplified in the ad for the car), a product…not a human being.

As if those ideas weren’t degrading enough to women, there is also the implied violence and oversexualization present in the majority of the photos. A man between a woman’s thighs as other men look on, a man possessively clutching a bare breast with one hand while grasping a woman’s head with the other, text reading “NOW OPEN” above a photo of a woman’s spread legs. The apathy and bared breasts of a model who looks to be barely out of her teens, selling riding pants.

Do we really need to wonder why we live in a culture of violence toward women? These images were a few culled from thousands just like them. The message that women are the sum of their sexual parts, they are objects, they are prized only for their beauty and sexuality…this is the daily message blared at us from magazines, billboards, television and the advertising industry.

Women: Is this what we want for ourselves? For our children? Men: Is this the norm you’d want for your mother/sister/daughter?

How did we get here?

To be continued

A Must Read for Parents of Boys!

Posted in Parenting, rape, Relationships, self-improvement, women's liberation with tags , , on March 21, 2013 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Going hand-in-hand with my blog from yesterday is this article that I happened across: To End Rape We Must Raise Our Boys To Be Kind

In order to tackle a problem, we must recognize it and take some step toward a solution. This seems like one small step, amongst many that will be needed, toward a better world for our kids.

I Am Not Responsible For Your Penis (An Angry, Long and Possibly Disjointed Rant)

Posted in Dating, online dating, women's bodies, women's liberation with tags , , , , , , on March 20, 2013 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

I’ve read a bunch of stuff about relationships over the last few years and included in that is a lot of research on understanding the minds of men. One book even contained a complicated system for attracting a man that involved specific eye patterns and subtle hand gestures that were supposed to mesmerize him into attraction. I laughed quite a lot, then threw the book in the garbage.

There is one “dating/relationship guru” that I’ve read quite a few articles by: Eric Charles of A New Mode. He has some interesting things to say and doesn’t seem highly gimmicky, which I like. I became a fan on Facebook and see his posts come across my newsfeed fairly frequently. After reading his articles, his posts, etc., I’ve come to some conclusions.

  • I think it is valuable to be given insight into a man’s mind, because women think so differently. In terms of sheer honesty, he lays it all out there. The good, the bad and the ugly. Forewarned is forearmed, right? So he’s doing women a service, isn’t he? However…
  • I always wind up feeling like he gives men a free pass to be assholes. Now, I’m sure he would fall back on the “forewarned is forearmed”, but there is a particular segment that finally sort of gelled why I found several of his posts off-putting….

Mr. Charles has been very outspoken about the fact that men who say they don’t want a relationship, for whatever reasons, really just don’t want to be in a relationship with you. That if he’s continuing to date you/sleep with you and yet won’t commit because of ANY cited reasons (My life is a mess, I need to focus on my career, I’m just not ready to commit, etc.), that what he’s really saying is that he’s happy to continue hanging out/having sex until the woman he wants to be with long-term comes along (the woman who, clearly, isn’t you).

Here’s my problem with this: Doesn’t that mean these men are liars? If they’re willing to string a woman along for sex, knowing they don’t really want to be with her (and most of these men know the woman wants a relationship), doesn’t that mean they are users? Doesn’t this put the responsibility on the woman in a weird and unfair way? Instead of constantly having to arm women to recognize men who lie and use, shouldn’t there be more information teaching men to not be douchebags?

So many of the questions I see being answered on this site (and with good reason) involve: How can I tell if he’s really interested in me? How can I know if he considers me his girlfriend? What can I do to get him? What can I do to keep him? Some of the messages are fantastic and I applaud Eric Charles and his professional partner Sabrina Alexis for trying to empower women with some of their statements. Be the attraction, instead of the attracted. Live your own life and stop waiting for a man. Be happy with who and what you are, instead of seeking that in a relationship. Bravo! However, there seems to be this pervasive undercurrent that makes women feel like they’ve always somehow erred in the dating/relationship world. They’ve probably been too needy, clingy, dramatic, too uptight, promiscuous…they must have been either too much or not enough of SOMETHING. So much of the dating advice for women feels blaming; If we had done more or done less, it all would have worked out! What about the men??

To me (and I’m about to go out on a fragile limb, because this is controversial), this conjures up all the discussion about rape and how women can prevent rape, another situation where the onus is placed on the woman. Because if you get raped, obviously you simply didn’t take enough preventative measures, right? You wore the wrong clothes, or were in the wrong place. You were too flirty, sexual and didn’t take enough safety measures. We are constantly, as women, inundated with information on how to protect ourselves from physical attack. (Thank God for some stirring in the media by organizations who aim to put the responsibility of preventing rape back on the place it belongs: Men who rape and a society that creates men who rape. (Men Can Stop Rape Organization).)

Yet women are also constantly being inundated with ways to protect themselves from emotional violations.

Yes, men and women are different and it’s crucial to work at understanding the differences if you want to have a great relationship. I realize that little girls are trained from birth on to play into a culture that is screwed up about sex and relationships and it isn’t ONLY men who create this environment. This blog, today, isn’t about the women. 🙂 Why can’t we start teaching boys from an early age to respect women? Why don’t we start training them early about women’s needs? How women respond? How about teaching them that it’s not okay to lie to or mislead a women to keep sleeping with her, just because they want to put their penis somewhere? That using a woman’s desire for a relationship and her emotions just to get laid is not okay? Impress upon boys from an early age that women have value beyond the decorative and sexual. Teach boys to be men of integrity.

I realize there are lots of men who DO have integrity; this is simply a rant because I’m tired of feeling like men frequently get a free pass for bad behavior. I’m exhausted by the daily conflicting messages women get about everything from looks to careers to relationships. I’m sick of the sly insinuations and subtle to overt criticisms, often conflicting, that still exist and break a woman down. I recently received a disrespectful email from a man on a dating site, stating that my hair was pretty and looking at it made his dick hard. I responded VERY negatively and then relayed the exchange to a dear family member, whom I love and respect. His response? “Good god, what kind of pictures do you have up?” When I wear a cute dress on a first date that shows some cleavage and my date attacks me in the parking lot, is it my fault? Can he not help himself, because he’s a man and wants to have sex? There are many who would say yes.

Bluntly put: Women should not have the constant responsibility of helping men control their dicks.

Whether we are talking about emotionally misleading women in relationships just to get some nookie, disrespecting them with your words and actions, or forcing yourself upon them physically. Do all men do this? No, definitely not. However, I do think there is still a cultural trend to be more forgiving of men who behave badly concerning sex and relationships. Instead of outrage, there’s still a rueful “boys will be boys” headshaking that goes on;  to the women who have been left with the consequences of WHATEVER the behavior was, there’s almost a “well, you should have known better” attitude. Or, what did you do to deserve it?

And yes, I know that to a certain extent, this is just the way it is. I know that Mr. Charles’s forewarned-is-forearmed approach is to help women deal with the reality of how many men approach dating and relationships and I mostly respect and like his advice. I can see that some things I might rail against are built-in, biological imperatives. Men are probably always going to be more sexually-oriented, while women are more relationship-geared, but there’s more going on with our dating/sex/relationship culture than just biology. I also recognize I am living in a world in which women are still second-class citizens, bound in part to the rules that are created by a society that does not respect them. On some days, like today, I just need to acknowledge that it sucks.

Still, I will continue to monitor my physical and emotional safety. I will try to apply my garnered “wisdom” to all my dating adventures and relationships, to ensure I’m not being misled or lied to. I’ll still closely watch what I do and say around men, in the hopes that they don’t get the wrong idea about me. I’ll look over my shoulder in dimly lit places, to make sure that I’m not about to be prey and hope that my dates manage to control themselves at the end of the night, so it’s not awkward or dangerous. I’ll still always think about birth control and disease prevention, because it’s my body and life most affected if I don’t. I’ll continue to watch for the verbal and non-verbal cues with men I’m dating, to try to find out if I’m being played or used.

And I’ll hope that perhaps we get to a place one day where women don’t have to feel so vulnerable, emotionally or physically. There are a lot of things that would need to be different in order to make that change in the world. Because it’s easy to say “Well, that’s just the way it is.” Yet for any significant change ever created, it had to start with someone who said: No, this is not acceptable.

So, let me state it clearly: NO. This is not acceptable. Where to go from here, I’m not certain…