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An Open Letter to Every Female Celebrity Claiming She’s Not a Feminist

December 30, 2014 9 comments

I read a headline today – one is a veritable slew of its ilk – that left me fuming. If I were a cartoon character, smoke would be pouring out of my ears. But this proclamation, as if it were some kind of moral high ground, has been completely in a fit.

“I don’t consider myself a feminist.”

DARLING. Sweetie, perhaps you don’t understand. You see, I don’t think that word means what you think it means. It is not a prompting to burn your bra, eschew all men, and became a man-hating cave troll. Clearly, there’s a gaping chasm between the word and its actual meaning.

As such, let me explain. No, too much. Let me sum up – and I’ll use small words, so you can understand. (Are you catching on to The Princess Bride theme, yet? Good. I’d hate to send the Brute Squad after you.

Feminism means equality – that women and men are equal. It means that you think men and women should be paid the same for doing a given job. It means that women are people and have the same rights as men.

That’s it. Period. It’s not a complicated concept. Feminism is about choices. It’s about making them for yourself, because you have options. If you want to stay home and be a housewife, that’s totally a valid choice. If you want to become an engineer, good for you. Being a feminist means believing that you should have right to make that CHOICE.

So, when a famous woman makes a statement like that? It’s pure ignorance. But what I don’t get is the almost perverse sense of glee that accompanies it. As if you take pride in the fact that you don’t believe that inequality exists — like it is a myth or a child’s fairytale.

Guess what? If I don’t believe in gravity, I’m still not going to fly if I jump off my roof. (Don’t jump off the roof, kids! That’s how limbs get broken.) It doesn’t matter if you haven’t been confronted with the difficulties of being seen as unequal. They still exist, even if they haven’t landed on your head like an anvil. Also, I’d wager that you have encountered them, simply by virtue of the fact that they’re so engrained in our culture that we almost don’t notice anymore.

Yes, I’m a feminist. I believe that I should be paid equally for a job. I believe that it should be my choice to have children or not. I believe that any parent who stays home to raise children is a badass, and I applaud that decision wholeheartedly. Your mileage may vary, darling. Just be careful your closed eyes and open mouth don’t lead you into the Fire Swamp.

I hear it’s full of R.O.U.S. No one wants to build a summer home there, savvy?

On Shonda Rhimes, Race, and the New York Times

September 19, 2014 Leave a comment

Let me start off by saying this: I’ve been a fan of Shonda Rhimes’ shows since Grey’s Anatomy first debuted. I was all over the tequila, the Mer/Der romance, and the awesomeness that is Cristina Yang. I loved how Bailey was teeny tiny, but commanded respect. I’ve watched Private Practice, and Scandal. And yes, I’m totally THERE for How to Get Away With Murder. Because I haven’t found a Shondaland show that doesn’t appeal to me.

Here’s my second confession: I’m a five-foot-five white girl. I love Olivia Pope. I never once looked at her and thought she was an angry black woman. Does the show address race? Sometimes, yes. In a way that has importance and relevance, reminding us that it is still an issue in society today. Because it is. Anyone who tells you differently isn’t paying attention.

So, imagine my surprise when I was reading this article in the NYTimes, when I discovered the insane analysis and reduction of the characters, by the writer. Let’s just take a look at the first line, okay? Here:

            When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called “How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman.”

Are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING me? No. NOPE. That is not okay. It’s insanely offensive. First of all, if you reduce characters to be ONE stereotypical thing, you’re clearly not paying enough attention. What I find incredibly appealing about ALL of Rhimes’ characters is that they’re multifaceted. No one is all good or all bad. They’re FLAWED. And they’re human. To imply that Rhimes simple writes angry black women is derogative and shortsighted at best.

Let’s look at another quote, shall we? Behold:

             Be it Kerry Washington on “Scandal” or Chandra Wilson on “Grey’s Anatomy,” they can and do get angry.

Okay, hold up. Find me a character on either of those shows who DOESN’T get angry at some point. Why is anger the defining characteristic? This isn’t reinventing the wheel, guys. Characters do things. They have feelings, and they’re not always pretty. No one gets angry more spectacularly that Cyrus Beene (Scandal).

Now, there’s also this:

            One of the more volcanic meltdowns in soap opera history was Olivia’s “Earn me” rant on “Scandal.”

First of all, as a longtime fan of the show (and a Scandal-Thursday tweeter), let me explain someone about Liv, as a character: she never reacts for no reason. This “rant” wasn’t a meltdown. It was a woman standing up for herself in a relationship, drawing lines and boundaries. There was nothing tantrum-like about it. To reduce it to such a definition is unobservant at best.

When I got to this part, though, I felt like the top of my head was going to pop off:

            Even now, six years into the Obama presidency, race remains a sensitive, incendiary issue not only in Ferguson, Mo., but also just about everywhere except ShondaLand, as her production company is called.

First of all, Scandal does address race in the context of both the character and the plotlines. It’s not freakin’ utopia. Second of all, you know why race may appear to be less of an issue in Rhimes’ shows? Because she casts widely and diversely. And it’s pretty damn wonderful.

I’m skipping ahead in the article, because a large chunk of it made me apoplectic. I can’t even comment on it without cursing every other word. Let’s address this little gem:

            [Rhimes’ characters] struggle with everything except their own identities, so unconcerned about race that it is barely ever mentioned.

Um, what? First of all, all of the characters (at some point) struggle with identity. Otherwise, it would be a very boring show. Again, Cyrus had a complicated backstory and though gay was once married to a woman. So, if that’s not an identity struggle, I don’t know what is. Additionally, on Scandal, several scenes between Liv and her dad effectively illustrate how race has affected Liv’s identity. Go watch this, especially the ‘twice as good’ part. I’ll wait. I’m pretty sure that scene invalidates the abovementioned statement.

I have to wonder, honestly, why the Times thought that steaming pile of bullshit was fit to print. I have no clever closing line for this post. I’m just furious that something like that was thought to be good reporting.

Of Logic and Lady Parts

September 20, 2013 19 comments

“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” – Mark Twain

            Yesterday, someone insulted my intelligence, questioning my ability (as a WOMAN) to be logical. And normally, I’d just let that go, because that opinion is loosely based, not in reality, but in bullshit.

            Except, really. No. That’s not okay.

            A friend of mine and I were having a twitter conversation about logic – technically, it was in regard to asshats on the internet and how they tend to FLAIL and sputter at things like REASON. In the midst of that conversation, another Tweeter (Twitterer?) joined in with the quip, “No offense, but…” followed by a graphic that depicted men’s logic as linear – and women’s as, well, a hodgepodge of intersecting, crazypants lines.

            This does not fly. Certainly, almost always, when someone begins a sentence with, “No offense, BUT…” whatever follows is, indeed, a steaming pile of WTF, lightly coated in NO. This was not an exception by any means.

            Logic is not gender-specific, folks. A man can have haphazard logic just as easily as a woman. Unless he is SPOCK, because he’s not so much a MAN as he is a Vulcan. But I digress.

            The beautiful thing about people is that we are all people – inherently different, based on things like personality and interests. As a woman, I am not predisposed to erratic behavior or subpar reasoning skills. This is not some kind of genetic inalienable absolute. Sure, I can be irrational. I’ve shouted. I’ve had FEELINGS, and I’ve done The Wacky. But that isn’t because I have lady parts. It’s because I am a person. And people have moments.

            But I also have to point something out. My ability to be logical is not mutually exclusive to my ability to have conflicting, or confusing, thoughts. Because, hey, life is nuts sometimes. And it doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Occasionally, I wish it did, but I also think that might be a bit boring.

            I’m very good at reasoning things out. I don’t approach a situation hysterically, even when I have The Feels, or passion about something – and I certainly don’t need someone to hold my hand to walk from Point A to Point B. I am not, in fact, an idiot.

            See, accusing someone of being illogical based on her sex isn’t just a sign of bullshit. It is also a sign of an entire mentality wherein we craft false opinion based on stereotypes – thinking, somehow, that it’s okay to pull that kind of crappy move. It’s not. This isn’t a whoops moment. It’s not an accident. It is, in fact, a pervasive bit of misogyny. Perhaps in its most mild form, but it is still there. You cannot wash away the stink or sting with an, “Oops! Sorry. My bad. It was a dumb moment.”

            That’s not a moment. It’s not a joke. It’s an insult. And I don’t care for those.

            Here are some fun facts about me. I have an IQ of 143. I argued my way through graduate school. I don’t routinely use words like pastiche and la parole, but I can. Just because I don’t talk like that in my everyday life doesn’t mean I’m not capable of it. I just don’t want to be the toolbag at a dinner party who people need a dictionary to converse with. To suggest that I cannot, as a woman, be logical is an attempt to underscore my education, my intelligence, and (honestly) who I am. I would never walk up to a man and assume he’s full of logic and reason, simply because he possesses a penis and a pulse. Logic and reason isn’t genetically encoded to the Y chromosome. In fact, I wouldn’t assume anything, because that’s a shitty thing to do to someone you don’t know well – and I’d argue that it’s also a shitty thing to do to someone you DO know well.

            It is a shame that I have to say this, but I do: think before you speak. Is what you’re about to say rude? Insensitive? And possibly made of NONSENSE? Okay. Then, to be frank, shut the fuck up. Don’t be a troll. Don’t be a dick. And don’t insult my intelligence.

            Any questions?