The Radical Notion

Encouraging women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians

Terminology (or, This Isn’t Sex) February 25, 2010

Terminology (or, This Isn’t Sex), Pt. 2 found here

There comes a time in every grown-up’s life when they have a sobering revelation: their parents were right.

Well, maybe.

One of the things I’ve noticed during my Feminist Journey ™ is how I’ve become critical of things that I used to think were totes cool. Well, okay, that’s not news, but I have more, I swear! I’ve become critical of things I not only used to be interested in, but used to support because I thought they were progressive, or empowering, or some vague force for good in the world. Case in point: Cosmopolitan Magazine.

15-year-old TRN: OMG there’s this magazine that talks about SEX and it’s right there in the CHECKOUT LANE and it acknowledges women’s libidos and doesn’t call them sluts and helps them have better sex and become Fun, Fearless, Females! Clearly this is not only hot, but AWESOME. I feel so morally superior to all those prudes who don’t want me to read it, because they’re afraid of SEX, especially premarital sex, and especially the ladies doing it. They just don’t like women being happy with themselves as sexual beings! I feel validated in being a female with an actual sex drive! Cosmo is the best magazine ever!

22-year-old TRN: OMG I immediately die a little inside when I meet someone who takes Cosmopolitan seriously. I can’t believe I ever liked that magazine. Sure, it does manage to stray away from the Madonna-whore dichotomy of women’s sexuality, but that’s about the only good thing I can say about it. Its sex tips are not only repeated every month, but completely ridiculous. It’s so heteronormative that I don’t think I’ve ever, in the dozens of issues in multiple languages I’ve read over the years, seen a single mention of a non-heterosexual romantic or sexual interaction. It promotes hackneyed gender stereotypes and “relationship tips” (I once read one where they advised women to pretend not to be able to do certain things, i.e. open jars, in order to help your man feel manly). Oh yeah, and they’re also rape apologists.

Obviously, there are many reasons why I think differently now then I did in middle and high school. But you know what? If someone had actually said the latter paragraph to me when I was at the height of my Cosmo phase, I might have listened – probably not as much as I do now, but I would have least understood the idea that there were objections to Cosmo other than OH NOEZ LADIES HAVING SEX AND LIKING IT. It’s gotten to the point (documented well by Ariel Levy) where the social conservatives in our society are demonizing sexuality and fetishizing virginity so much that any frank depiction of sex, particularly with women involved, comes as a relief (you think women should cover up all their skin? Well, I’m going to get NAKED!). Of course, it’s usually a false idol, as objectifying women and portraying them as perennially thin, hairless sex machines just dying for a good “pounding” is neither novel nor particularly helpful. But I wonder how much of the criticism that when I was a teenager I mentally labelled as “socially conservative” (or “prude”, or whatever the hip terminology was) was actually based on principles that I would agree with now. (more…)

 

Body Hair In Commercials April 6, 2009

As apparently body hair is my bête noir, please allow me to share with you three FOUR recent commercials that dealt with the PHENOMENON that adults grow hair on their body on places other than their scalp and their perfectly arched eyebrows.

This first one is by Boost Mobile (via); the thesis of the commercial seems to be that their product is less “wrong” than others. The main character in the commercial says that her luxurious armpit is “not wrong”, but it’s ambiguous as to whether or not we are supposed to take that at face value (she’s right, body hair isn’t wrong!) or laugh at her (dude, her armpit hair’s three feet long! WTF?). In any case, insinuating that if women were to let their body hair grow, it would be even more rampant and uncontrollable than that of men is both idiotic* and does nothing to stop the perception that the only thing that stands between a woman and utter bestial hideousness is a Schick.

Speaking of which (via)… (more…)

 

The Social Construction of Femininity March 24, 2009

I’ve been super-busy this semester, and so haven’t blogged in a while. I’m going to try to rectify this by writing several posts that have been kind of mulling around in my head for a while. So – onward!

I’ve thought a lot recently about the relative importance placed on the physical appearances of men and women. And this post isn’t about the male gaze, or the fact that women’s physical appearance is deemed much more important and “relevant” in whatever social context they happen to be in – at least, it’s not only about that. I think it’s impossible to fully extricate oneself from these interconnected positive feedback loops of social mores, but I’m going to try and discuss a separate but related issue: the artificiality of a woman’s expected appearance.

Hopefully this isn’t too TMI (it wouldn’t be in a patriarchy-free world, but I digress), but as I go to a women’s college and rarely wear clothes that don’t cover my entire lower half, I sometimes go for a very long time without shaving my legs. This really shouldn’t be a big deal – but it is. It really is. Regardless of the fact that this blog is (somewhat) anonymous, it took me a minute to get up the courage to type that. What if one of my not-very-close friends reads that, and then they know? What if somebody stumbles on this blog from a random Google search, realizes that I’m the author, and then they know? What if I become suddenly inundated with antifeminist trolls, who are already far too eager to accuse one of being a “hairy-legged feminazi”? Or worst of all – what if somebody I’m interested in dating finds or is told about this blog, and reads this post? (more…)