Archive for women’s bodies

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…

 

 

 

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Prolific Thoughts About PMS From A Hormonal Mind

Posted in women's bodies with tags , , , on October 30, 2012 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

According to a recent study done by the University of Toronto, PMS may be a myth. Right now, I’d like to hunt down each individual researcher and punch them in the face, then weep over their prone bodies and beg their forgiveness sixty seconds later. Or maybe bake them some cookies and try to help them UNDERSTAND why PMS is NOT a myth by using compassion and reasoning…I’m tearing up just a bit thinking about how copacetic the conversation would be. Wait…maybe I should just go with the punching. Yeah…clearly they are idiot people who have a problem with women. Hmmm…I think it’s time to go and take some more midol for the cramping and hideous back pain.

PMDD (the medical term for PMS)  is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — the “psychiatric bible” – and has been shown to cause depression, insomnia and  other behavioural and physical symptoms in the second half of the menstrual  cycle. Of course, Dr. Sarah Romans goes on to state that the disorder is relatively rare. She further spins the study to lay out the idea that women use “PMS” to fully vent anger, sadness and irritation 1-2 days a month, because the rest of the time we are expected to be lady-like. That by allowing ourselves a medical reason to be cranky or cry, we can still work within society’s parameters of acceptable behavior for women.

Personally, I think this woman needs to be punched in the face (but according to her, I’ll only allow myself to think it for a few days a month, while suppressing my rage the rest of the time).

While I do think she has a glimmer of an intution about something real in how our society treats and handles women’s emotions, I also think she is a loon. By conducting a study (which primarily seems to have consisted of finding flaw with previous studies) and stating that PMS is a myth, then laying out a feminist framework for why PMS has become a crutch for women within our society, she actually undermines women and the way their bodies work.

W0men’s bodies are constantly in a state of flux (no pun intended), chemically. Our hormones ebb and flow like the ocean and have even been linked (although studies both substantiate and refute this, depending on where you look) to the cycles of the moon. During the second half of the menstrual phase,  or pre-menstrual and menstrual, estrogen and progesterone levels start to decline Without getting too technical, during the luteal phase of a woman’s cycle (beginning at ovulation), if the egg that is released is not fertilized, estrogen and progesterone levels begin to drop. These hormonal levels are at their lowest with day 1 of the follicular phase (menstruation).

At neuronal synapses, estrogen increases the concentration of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. It affects their release, reuptake, and enzymatic inactivation. It also increases the number of receptors for these neurotransmitters. So in other words, the good stuff that makes us feel happy and have a balanced mood. The common side effects of low progesterone are severe migraines, unexplained anxiety, the feeling of malaise, hot flashes, poor sleep patterns and vaginal dryness.  So what do you get when both estrogen and progesterone drop…

Oh, wait…you get PMS!!! The chemical changes that take place in our bodies in the latter half of the luteal phase and in the beginning of the follicular phase are real, not imaginary and not a cultural phenomenon. It leads to back pain, leg pain, stomach cramps, fatigue, breast tenderness, migraines, mood alterations and many other symptoms. Of course, no two women are the same, so the extent to which any woman will experience any or all of these symptoms depends on her own chemical makeup.

Personally, my back hurts like I’ve been hit with a baseball bat for about a week and I have serious stomach cramps for 3-5 days. Emotionally, I cry easily and feel a bit blue. I crave sugar, which rarely happens any other time (Sweets, especially chocolate, raises the serotonin levels in the brain and increases endorphins. This probably helps combat the dropping estrogen levels). The study claimed that women use PMS as a crutch to verbalize things they’re already unhappy about…well, maybe. For me, the things I’m already unhappy about feel extra intense. A song on the radio that talks about lost love, which any other time might make me feel a bit nostalgic or sad for a moment, while “PMSing” will have me sobbing like a baby. Is this a crutch? Or an amplification, due to altered chemicals, of pre-existing situations? No one claims pregnancy hormones are false or a myth, yet these are the same chemicals changing our bodies during our menstrual phases. I’ve not heard claims that “‘Roid Rage” is not true; tricking the body into believing it’s getting extra hormones (testosterone) clearly causes mood/behavior changes. What makes PMS different?

I think part of the problem lies in the fact that the term PMS has been abused and used to justify bad behavior. So let me make this simple (because as supreme ruler of the universe, I will clearly have SUCH an impact): Hormonal changes do NOT make it acceptable to act like a bitch. It doesn’t give you the right to vent your anger, sadness or hostility on anyone. There have been times when I know hormones were altering my emotions, so I would avoid situations or conversations until I was more level. PMS should be much like a warning label on a drug that reads: Do not operate heavy emotional situations during use. Know your triggers and how you react. Each woman is different. For one woman the changes that happen during her cycle may be a blip in the month; for another, it may be a challenging time physically and emotionally. Regardless, it shouldn’t excuse behavior that is unkind or irrational. Men shouldn’t get a free pass for behaving badly due to the extra testosterone that flows through their veins; women don’t get to excuse bad behavior because of PMS. Let’s keep life simple and sweet by taking responsibility for ourselves and our emotions and knowing when we need to nurture ourselves a little more because of changes in our bodies.

When I’m on the hormonal drip, as I refer to PMS these days, I would probably choose to stay home and take a hot bath rather than have the “relationship” talk with someone I’m dating. If I suddenly feel lonely and sad and think to myself, “Maybe if I call my ex-boyfriend, he’ll reassure me that I’m loved” (which is stupid at any time of the month, but somehow more attractive as an option when I’m hormonal), I realize I am not behaving rationally and I just DON’T. If my children are driving me nuts and I want to either yell or burst into tears, I give myself a time-out in my bedroom and then suggest we all go get ice cream. Ibuprofen and herbal heating pads are my friend. I avoid at all costs listening to anything by Adele, because I know it will lead to sobbing fits. I can’t begin to make relationship decisions, because it would be disobeying my hormonal drip warning label of AVOID OPERATING HEAVY EMOTIONAL SITUATIONS. I know I’m altered for a few days (okay, a week); it’s my responsibility to alter my decisions to compensate for that.

So, to say PMS is a myth is ludicrous and disrespects women and nature. To act like PMS gives us a pass to do whatever we want disrespects women and gives us a bad repuation. Show yourself some love by respecting your bodies during this time. If the woman in your life has PMS, show her some love by realizing she may behave like someone on a mind-altering drug (oh, because she is). Forgive her if she loses her temper and cries more easily. Get her a heating pad and some chocolate. Above all else, remember this: