The Only Thing I’m Going to Say About “Fifty Shades of Grey”

So I haven’t read it and I haven’t watched it and I don’t intend to. But I am coming to realize that it would be remiss of my duties as a feminist if I did not at least acknowledge this cultural phenomenon in some way. I intentionally know very little about this story/book/movie, except from what I have been exposed to from the media and various conversations and what not. I do know that I walked into a supposedly family friendly book store last week, which featured a prominent display depicting an image of a woman with her arms bound over her head and a man looming over her holding her face. Hey, I’m all in favor of doing whatever you want to do with whomever you want to do it with, in the bedroom (or whatever other room of your choosing), but I don’t necessarily want to see pictures of it while on a family outing.

Here is a few other things that I think I know about the story.

  • It features a young girl, naive, repressed, etc. She sees herself as plain, dowdy and boring, but others think she is quite pretty and interesting. (Can we get past this trope already!!??)

  • She meets a rich, handsome hero under dubious circumstances.

  • She is intrigued by him, even though he seems to be rude and self absorbed pretty much right off the bat.

  • They go out.

  • There is something about a contract, to which she agrees. Supposedly the contract dictates multiple details of her life including but not limited to what foods she can and cannot eat. (How little self esteem does one have to have for this nonsense to fly!?)

  • There is something about a helicopter ride.

  • At some point he sells her car without her knowledge. (I’m sorry, but if someone sold my car without my knowledge, I’d report it stolen and press all kinds of charges. I mean, people develop emotional attachments to their vehicles, develop memories, etc. i.e. “I had this car my senior year of college, and we road tripped down to Pensacola during finals week.” I don’t care if I’m driving a beater. It’s my property and no one has a right to sell it except me.)

  • There is some sex in the story.

  • Somewhere towards the end he beats her up and prompts her to count to six. From everything I have heard this scene is disguised as a sex scene. But apparently she is not into it and she is crying and upset. So really he’s just hitting her and getting off on it despite or because of her reaction. I don’t know which is worse.

  • Finally, she stands up for herself to some extent and walks out.

There. That is the full extent of my knowledge. It may or may not be accurate. Feel free to let me know one way or the other. I’ve heard countless readers/ movie goers say “Oh, but wait!” and “Don’t worry. In the end she actually SAVES him!” and so on.

But I guess the question I have always come back to is this. Why would she want to? What is so fascinating about this obnoxious thug that she must invest so much of herself into leading him to redemption? It is not our job as women to ‘fix’ our men. This mindset continues to remain prevalent. It’s disgusting. Men are capable of self control, self awareness, empathy, and accountability. Can we please start saying so out loud?!

There are so many things about the story that make me want to run the other way, and of course I am appalled that such a large portion of the population has been sucked into this narrative.

I don’t get it.

There is another list which I must post here. I would like for you, dear reader, to join me in a small game. See how many similarities you can find between the two lists.

  • Controlling behavior

  • Possessiveness

  • Makes major decisions without consulting partner.

  • Criticism and control over details of partner’s life, appearance, eating habits, etc.

  • Isolation

  • Sexual pressure

  • Demands for actions, sexual or otherwise, the partner is uncomfortable with.

  • Holding partner responsible for emotional state.

Do you see it?

This is a partial list of warning signs for an abusive relationships compiled by the National Domestic Violence Hotline. These traits are not romantic. They just aren’t. I’m a little concerned that the ticket sales are indicating that so many movie goers seem to think they are. Keep in mind that I HAVE NOT seen the movie, nor have I read the book. Please feel free to let me know if I have any of the details incorrect.

In the mean time, here are a few helpful links for anyone who might need a resource for help.

NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE: http://www.thehotline.org/

RAPE AND INCEST NATIONAL NETWORK: https://www.rainn.org/

Of course if one needs immediate help, call 911.

Feminists are angry about Kirsten Dunst quote?

So this morning I’m doing my usual fiddling around on Facebook thing, when I noticed that Kirstin Dunst is trending. Ah, I say. I like her. She was in ‘Spiderman’. So I click on it to see what all the hubbub is about that might cause her name to be trending on Facebook. Turns out that Kirsten Dunst recently had an interview with Harper’s Bazaar and apparently she gave an opinion on gender roles. Fine good. Here’s the quote:

“I feel like the feminine has been a little undervalued,” she told the magazine. “We all have to get our own jobs and make our own money, but staying at home, nurturing, being the mother, cooking – it’s a valuable thing my mom created.”

Okay. No biggy I can agree with that. Then she goes on to say:

“And sometimes, you need your knight in shining armour, I’m sorry. You need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman. That’s how relationships work.”

Okay. I don’t terribly agree with that for all people, but if that’s what works for her then so be it.

But wait a second…

The headlines are saying that Feminists are all up in arms about the quote. I am on nearly every feminist newsletter and Facebook page out there and I haven’t heard a peep about any of this. I mean, I’m seeing phrases such as

…Feminist are chanting “Off with her head!” after Marie Antoinette starKirsten Dunst‘s latest comments on gender roles were revealed in the May issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK. …”

And...

…Huge buckets of excrement quickly fell from great heights….”

Whoa. That’s pretty extreme.

The comments section under each posting in Facebook, showed scads of people vilifying all these raging mobs of feminists that surely must be rioting in the streets somewhere based on what the media states. But from the actual feminists websites… crickets.

So I went looking.

On Jezebel.com I found ONE article, a rather short one at that, which clearly states that Kirsten Dunst is not “not paid to write gender theory” and her statements are not all that surprising. The writer’s opinion is stated and the article wraps up in a fairly tame manner. Hardly a pitchfork welding mob that I had expected.

Then I hopped on over to Feministing.com, the finger on the pulse of all things feminist. In their Weekly Feminist Reader they include, this week links to various articles. For example, a discussion on what women are reading, another on the whole Hobby Lobby situation, still more about those living outside of traditional binary gender identity, and so on… but nothing about Kirsten Dunst. I even put her name in the search bar. The first article that came up was from 2007.

Next I jumped over to the pages that I follow on Facebook. I saw a meme about Rush Limbaugh calling malls museums for women, another one about a child bride who had her face burned with acid after refusing the advances of her much older groom. Yet another about laboratory-grown vaginas. Another still about a Cecelia Payne Gaposchkin, a female scientist who discovered that the sun is made of hydrogen, yet her name is never mentioned in high school science classes. 

But nothing… I mean, NOTHING about Kirsten Dunst.

Weird. The only hint I can find that we are supposed to be angry about this, is various media outlets reacting to the short barely-paragraph regarding the quote. Everything else I have seen and found has been in favor of her statements. Facebook’s trending page showed pages upon pages of troll-bait statements vilifying anyone who dares to call themselves a feminist, the scourge of society, the detriment to all things traditional and sacred! Name calling, woman bashing, DOWN WITH THE CRAZY FEMINAZIS!!! In other words, actual mob mentality right there on the screen. 

So where then are all these angry riotous feminist mobs calling for Kirsten’s head on a platter? I’ll tell you where. They don’t exist. We are all too busy trying to support the equal pay act, or to put an end to rape victim blaming, or to stop the objectification and over sexualization of the female body. You know, the usual stuff. But we all know feminism is a bad word, so if we can be marginalized even further this easily belittles anything valid or reasonable that we might have to say.

“Hey everyone! Let’s pretend like the Feminists are angry about Kirsten Dunst and we won’t have to do anything important or make any actual changes to society. Yeah! That’ll be great!”

At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy nut, it’s a set up y’all. Really, it is.

Novella time

I’m working on the Novella today. Don’t have to go in to work. I am happy to hang with the fam today since it’s going to be super nice today. I’m always torn between getting some words in and hanging with the fam. I suppose there’s worse problems to have. Heh. 

Top Five Writer Things

I’ve decided to try more blogging. I enjoy it. It’s good practice. Plus it gives me a place to make a list of my current projects. This is just a status of what I’m currently working on and possibly what goals I have for each project. To start with there is…

1. The Novel: I finished this gem during NANOWRIMO if 2012, with the lofty goal of having it edited and ready to market in time to write the sequel during NANOWRIMO of 2013. Ha! Little did I know that editing a book is akin to staring into the deepest darkest pit of ones soul, reaching in and ripping out the bits that don’t seem to make sense. It’s like untangling spaghetti. But the good news is I’m about halfway through the editing process with a clear view of where to go with it. That brings us to….

2. The Novella: This one is a bit of a pulp piece. Though originally it was inspired by the events of a dream that I had, it has spiraled into something more like a quick story to get out on the market. This is the one I will probably pitch on Amazon, and maybe under a pseudonym… But in order to keep my story muscles working, I’ve also been writing…

3. The Short Stories: I’m compiling these and trying to get them organized for the purpose of shopping around to various publishers that are taking submissions for anthologies. Getting my name out, that sort of thing. Problem here is that the older stories from a long time ago seem to have been written by someone else… Someone with a marginal bit of talent that has not been honed quite as well as I would like. Hm. One of these stories is especially obvious in this respect, in that there is a chunk in the middle that I had added later. So the story is terrible, then becomes awesome, then returns to terrible. I need to go and rewrite some of it. But once they are all ready, then I will be attempting to submit them as I can, which brings me to…. 

4. The Spreadsheet: Have I mentioned that I like to build spreadsheets? They are like little organized magic charts. I love them SO MUCH!!! So I have built one in which I can keep track of various publishers, what their requirements are, and what the due dates are. Also, because of the magical nature of the spreadsheet, I can also make a column for what action I have take and whether or not I have heard back from that publisher. And so on. For the sake of having five things on this list, the next thing that deserves mentioning is…

5. The Blog: Hey, that’s this! What you are reading right now! How ’bout that. I recently read a great blog post about finishing things that made me continue to think on things as I have been in a certain direction. I have always approached the blog with a healthy amount of trepidation. That is I see so many other blogs that are so well written I find it a bit intimidating that my blog should be just regular stuff about my thoughts and ideas. Who wants to hear that stuff? Thing is, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I take the time and exercise the self discipline to utilize the BICHOK technique for the purpose of training myself to become a better writer. 

So that is what I shall do. I hope you enjoyed reading my top five writer things. Have a nice day!

Open Letter to a Colossal Asshat

Dear Sir,

 Your blog post (Found here, seriously go check it out. It’s a real treat!) regarding the practice of tipping a restaurant server has recently come to my attention and I have had the extreme honor to peruse your blog since that time. You have given a very concise and well researched list as to why tipping is something you choose not to practice when you dine at a restaurant. I would like, if I may, to respond to these reasons.

1. You act as if you’re my best friend

Your first concern is that in your estimation the wait staff seems to be too friendly towards you. There is a reason for this. When a person attends a restaurant, they are there not only for the food, but also for the ambiance. I know that is kind of a big word, so I will explain. Ambiance is the surroundings, decor and personality of the place which sets a certain mood and puts the patrons in a certain frame of mind. This includes the color of the walls, the type of wall hangings, the curtains, tablecloths, plates, glasses, and yes, even the personality of the wait staff. If the employer has a certain expectation of how the staff is to interact with the customers, then that is what they will do. If you do not wish for this interaction to occur, then you may get your food to go. Or better yet, keep your sorry self at home, learn to cook your own meals and leave us civilized folk alone.

2. You don’t get paid enough

Let me explain to you something about the restaurant industry. It is a Gratuity driven market. Big words again. I know. So let me break it down into smaller pieces so you can digest it more easily. The restaurant pays the servers for the side work and non-service elements of the job. When a customer chooses to sit down and purchase a meal from the establishment they immediately enter into a contract with the server, the person who brings them the food. That contract is an understanding that there is an exchange of services for the purpose of receiving compensation. YOU pay the server, because the server has done a job for you. Even if that job consists of nothing more than carrying a plate of food ten feet. (There is so much more involved, but I digress.) If you choose not to pay the server, then you have essentially become, not only an asshat, but also a thief. It is not fair to say that the server is not getting paid enough. No tip and the server is not getting paid. Period.

3. You’ll spit in my food if I don’t tip you?

I know it was a long time ago for your brain to remember, but if you really concentrate you may recall a few sentences ago when I alluded to what a server actually does besides carry a plate of food ten feet. The server takes the order from you, being certain to document all of the weird little “side of onions, no salsa” stuff that customers often like to specify. They bring you the beverage, then the rolls, in a timely fashion. Not too bad, so far. Then they must communicate to the kitchen what food you would like and how you want it prepared. This includes the “side of onions, no salsa” stuff that annoys the crap out of everyone who has ever worked in a restaurant ever. The kitchen then prepares the food and (pay attention because this is where it gets good) the server checks the food, makes sure it is what you ordered, makes sure there is extra onions and no salsa, (or whatever) and then gets it to your table while it is still hot. Now, this next step might require a little bit of concentration. Add about twenty more people doing the exact same thing as your server in a space only slightly larger than a phone booth all reaching for the plates, adding ramekins of dijon, and so on. Your server has brought you a hot plate of food from such an environment, free of any foreign debris. At least they did until you posted this article to which I am responding. You can rest assured that you have probably had your food spit upon plenty since the original publish date of your article.

4. Bringing me my food isn’t worthy of being paid extra

Please see number two. A server is not getting paid extra. A server is getting paid.

5. Money doesn’t grow on trees

Ah! Finally something that we can agree on! You are correct. Money doesn’t grow on trees. Therefore if a job has been performed then compensation must be given. It’s simple really. You try to say that leaving a tip for a server is akin to a favor, that is doing something that you don’t have to do. Okay, technically you don’t have to leave a tip, but neither do you have to go to a restaurant in the first place. Let’s expand on this idea for a moment. Say you have a busted pipe in your kitchen. You call a plumber. They come to your house and fix the pipe. You get charged for the replacement part and for the service rendered. I can see you perusing over the bill and casually saying “I’m not going to pay this silly old part because I don’t have to. I’d be doing that plumber a favor.” It doesn’t really work that way, does it. If you don’t want to pay for the service, then don’t call the plumber. Likewise, if you are not going to tip, then you should not set foot inside a restaurant. Period.

To sum up, I’d like to point out that the amount of karma that you have brought upon yourself by posting this article is worth far more than anything that I or anyone else could say to you. You are obviously a sad little man with who has drawn the short straw in life and feel the need to pick on those you perceive as less than you. I have no pretense of thinking that I can change your mind and heart into becoming a 20% tipper merely from reading my blog. But I take comfort in knowing that you have to wake up everyday and look in the mirror. You have to walk through your day with your own thoughts as your company. You have to go to sleep at night with the knowledge of your actions resting on your conscience. The anger and sadness that seeps through in your writing is more indicative of the kind of person that you are, and refusing to leave a tip is merely a symptom of your hubris. (I’ll let you look that one up all by yourself.) In closing, as you walk through life enjoying said karma, I have but one more question for you.

Would you like that for here or to go?

The Black T-Shirt

So yesterday I went to a national store (rhymes with small-fart) to buy a black t-shirt. I knew going into the store that I needed a Large. How do I know this about myself? Well, it’s my body. I know I usually wear a large in shirts that are demarcated in the standard S, M, L sized brackets. Used to be that I wore mediums (Even then I still wore large, cuz I liked the baggy look.), but since I’ve had kids now I tend towards Large. Do I feel bad about it? Not really. It’s just something I know about myself.

So my family and I poke around the store for a bit, pick up some other things we need, so on and so forth. What I initially wanted was just one of those plastic bag-o’-black t-shirts that I see so often in the men’s section. (I have a husband, so yes, sometimes I’m in the men’s section.) But guess what! Those kinds of t-shirts don’t exist for women! But alas, I needed the t-shirts, so we meandered over to the women’s section. I thumb through the stack of shirts, pick out a Large and have my hubby hold it up to my back to see if the shoulder seams match up.

“This one looks like it’s too small,” he states.

“Too small… It’s a Large,” I say.

So we rummage around and find the next size up. The X-L. He holds it up and it seems to work. We grab a couple and head to the check out lines. Of course I spout a few angry sentences about the Conspiracy to Keep Women Down and how the arbitrary sizes of clothing is becoming rampantly ridiculous. My dear husband, being used to such expressions, nods in agreement and we continue on our way.

So here’s the thing. I don’t know if it’s because I lived the first seven years of my life in a European country, or if because I went to a Liberal Arts college, or if because I’m a smart person who understands that people are more than the whole of their parts, but for whatever reason I have never subscribed to the American notion that a woman’s worth lies in her appearance or her size. It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine when women verbally shame their own bodies or each others. There are FAR more interesting things about a person than what they look like. If we want to talk about it, let’s at least use the language geared towards personal health rather than appearance.

I began to follow the natural thought process through. If a person is told from infancy through a barrage of media imagery and language, by her friends and family, by those she loves and respects, that it is super important to be skinny and desirable and if one is not skinny and desirable then one has absolutely no value as a person and should hide herself from the world lest she burn someone’s eyes out for accidentally glancing in her direction, then she might be a little bit upset for having to wear an extra-large t-shirt. So if she is upset by this, then she believes she must take action to somehow acquire a different or smaller sized t-shirt (As she very well should! Freakish She-Monster!).

She now begins to renew her focus on obtaining a smaller physicality (Even though she’s already normal sized). Her mind is now in a cycle of counting calories, portioning out food, scale gazing, waist measuring, number crunching, and let’s not forget the emotional weight of the shame heaped upon her for being such a hideous waste of humanity. So what is the problem with this, you say? Why should it matter if a woman wants to focus on loosing weight? Well, I’ll tell you why it matters.

When a woman is devoting her brain power to this arbitrarily defined standard, she is not focusing her energy on… say, writing a novel, or researching a scientific phenomenon, or digging up a new dinosaur bone, or writing a marketing plan, or finishing her homework, or devising a method for reducing green house gas emissions in the atmosphere, or laughing with her children, or flirting with her spouse. You get the idea. How much brain power do women as the larger portion of society spend worrying about size and appearance? I’m just going with experience here, and I haven’t done any kind of formal research, but a good bit of my Facebook feed consists of people bemoaning their size or what diet they are on or how they have fallen off their diet, so on and so forth. These are accomplished strong women with bright brilliant minds who I frequently enjoy engaging with in discussion. So what about you, you ask? If you are wearing an Extra Large t-shirt you must be a huge beast of a woman. How do you manage to fit out the door every morning! Thing is, I fall square in the middle of the ideal weight range for a woman my age and height. Blam.

When I see things like an Extra Large label on a t-shirt for a woman my size I cannot help but think that there actually IS some sort of secret society all working together to keep the women distracted from merely existing to their full potential. But that can’t be right… can it?

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