brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

Just saw “Mad Max: Fury Road” and it was utterly fantastic in so many different ways. Is it a perfect movie? No, of course not. But one thing I noticed was how many of the marginalized characters had agency, made their own decisions, controlled their own lives. There’s spoilers in this, so I’m going to tuck the text behind a fold.

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Gender and Hair

Monday, 15 July 2013 17:34
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

If you follow me on twitter (and why wouldn’t you follow me on twitter?), then you probably already know that I buzzed most of my hair. I left the fringe but the rest is about 1/2 an inch long, very Riot Grrl I guess, pretty dated maybe, but oh my gosssshhhhh I’m so much cooler than I used to be. Hair is hot and hair is heavy and now when there’s a breeze it goes straight to my scalp and neck instead of getting lost in my hair first. It’s pretty awesome.

I’ve spent most of my life with very long hair. I cut it around my senior year of high school and since then have been going back and forth, growing my hair to its longest length (waist length) and then cutting it relatively short again… usually chin length or so.

I was what some people would term a tender headed child. I had long, very fine, very dry, hair and it snarled and knotted constantly. Combing/brushing it was constant agony. Keeping my hair in braids or buns might have helped, but very fine dry hair is also slippery and it would escape. Detangling spray would also help but I don’t think it existed then. So I complained a whole bunch and my mom finally gave in and cut off all my hair.

She might have been pregnant at the time. I’m unsure of the timeline. But I know she stopped hand crafting delicate little girl gowns out of satin and lace, complete with frilly aprons and bloomers, around the time my brother was born. And I started wearing hand me down clothing from my older male cousins. With very short hair.

It.

Was.

Awesome.

Unisex clothing was very much a thing in the early 80s (I was born in 1979), and it wasn’t as uncommon then for little girls to wear clothing that wasn’t pink and plastered with butterflies. But the combo of “obviously” little boy clothing (including a totally bitchin’ pair of yellow canvas shorts with a million loops and tabs and a clip on compass that I called my safari shorts) and short hair meant that suddenly strangers treated me very, very differently.

Suddenly I was “sport” and “tiger” and strange adult men would comment on how big, strong, brave, handsome I was. They’d ruffle my hair and give me candy. People don’t frown and narrow their eyes or make comments when I scrambled around and climbed on things and yelled.

It was amazing.

Eventually my hair grew out again and my mom forbade me cutting it again and I was encouraged both explicitly and implicitly to be more feminine. To dress a certain way, and act a certain way, and talk a certain way, and maintain certain interests while dropping others, and to wear my hair long.

My hair’s short again, shorter than it’s been since that very first hair cut, and I adore it. I probably won’t keep it this short forever– I get bored and like to change things up– but I’ll be keeping it for a while. It feels very liberating.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

There’s a Jenny Craig ad featuring a woman sobbing because she realized there were no photos of her and her infant daughter, but now she’s lost a bunch of weight she can take SO MANY PHOTOS and REALLY LIVE HER LIFE.

This commercial makes me so, so angry.

Look.

There is nothing preventing you from taking photos of your fat ass, or living your life, but you. I super hate the societal message that women who are fat should hide away and never be seen, should exist in a state of shame, should do everything they can to reduce their physical bodies to an acceptable size. It leads to ill health both physical and mental, and it leads to people putting their lives on hold, waiting forever for the magic moment when they’re slim enough, when they’re good enough, when they’re deserving enough, to actually live.

Get out there and live.

Bust out the camera and take photos of yourself, have family and friends photograph you.

Then look at the photos.

You may hate the way you look, but seriously, the more you look at them the more used you get to them, and the more you’ll get to like them. Pretty soon you’ll stop focusing on your belly or thighs or double chin or weird hair or the way your shirt bunched up or your crooked teeth or your zits or whatever the problems are. You’ll just see you. And you’ll see you having fun and doing things and being with people you love.

I have very few photos of my mom, because she spends most of her time hiding from the camera “feeling fat.” Looking through family photo albums there’s a weird sense that she doesn’t exist. When she is photographed, she’s usually hiding behind someone or something, or half out of the photo, or something like that. One of my favorite photos of her is her on the stairs with a terrible haircut, a perm that went awry. My dad took it to document her awful hair, and she’s laughing, and you can see her brilliant smile and sense of humor and how gorgeous and full of life she is. Another snapshot is her on the day she graduated from college, holding her diploma triumphantly, in her weird hippy shirt and her hair longer than she usually wore it. She’s so alive, so present. Her favorite photo of herself, one that she carried around in her wallet for years (and might still have), is her standing in the sunlight in cut off jean shorts. She’s at her slimmest, and she keeps it to remind herself of how perfect she was then. She was taking prescription amphetamines and spending time she normally would have been sleeping running on treadmills to use up the excess energy. She was also in her 20s and hadn’t had kids yet. But oh, how she clings to that photo. It’s like something out of the long-running (now ended) syndicated comic “Cathy.” I mean, at one point, Cathy pulls out a photo of herself at her slimmest and compares her current fat self to it.

There’s a quote I ran across once and now I can’t find it again. I don’t know if it’s from a story, a blog post, a song lyric, or what. “We were young and beautiful and didn’t even know it.”

We’re all young and beautiful, and we don’t realize it, don’t recognize it. Especially those of us raised female. We worry about our fat and our breasts and hips being too large or not large enough. We fret over our skin and hair and posture. We’re perfect, but convinced we are imperfect and those imperfections make us unlovable. And we get older and bigger and more wrinkled and our hair thins and we lament our lost pasts. Why didn’t we take more photos? Why didn’t we run around enjoying our bodies? Why did we spend so much time hating ourselves? But we’re still unkind to our bodies, still viewing them with suspicions, still expecting perfection and disappointed in the reality. We had from the camera, too fat, too wrinkled, too female.

And our family looks through photo albums and we’re not present, we’ve made ourselves invisible.

It’s easy to pick up a camera and take on photo taking duties. It’s a service. It’s part of the emotional heavy lifting that’s expected of women. But it’s also an excuse. If you’re handling the photos nobody else has to. If you’re the only photographer, it’s an easy out, an easy excuse to not be in the photographs yourself.

Please stop doing this.

Take photographs of yourself, let others take photos of you. Leave a record of your life, be present in your life. Just live. Stop thinking about your body and live, exist. Give yourself permission to exist and take up space. Stop being afraid of not being perfect, not being good enough. Stand in front of the camera and just be.

When Niko was an infant, my sister-in-law snapped of photo of me sacked out on the couch holding him. I hated the photo when I first saw it, the first tens of times I saw it. I’m so fat. Look at my chins. Look at that huge mole. Ugh, my hair. Ugh, my hairy arms. Ugh, my crooked glasses. But the more I saw it the more used to it I got. Yes, I’m fat. That’s how my body is. I’m fat and I’m hairy and that’s just me, it’s how I am. And look at me, there with my baby, relaxed and happy and both of us safe and comfortable and asleep. It’s an intimate moment, a photo of us just being together and loving each other. I love that photo now, and Niko loves to look at it.

You are who you are. Please, please, stop putting your life on hold until you’re a better version of yourself. Start your life now and actually live it.

And take some photos.

You’ll appreciate it later.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

You’ve probably seen the latest Dove viral ad campaign. It’s a video available on you tube about how totally awesome Dove is because of their decade long “Real Beauty” campaign and how now they’re going after the people who are REALLY evil: “art directors, graphic designers, and photo retouchers.” Not ad executives and companies, no. Just those evil artists who for reasons TOTALLY UNKNOWN make women feel bad ON PURPOSE about their bodies. But how to “catch them in the act!!!” and “make them reconsider”? They needed a plan! So they created a Photoshop Action and released it into the wild, where it will be used by amateurs who want to make wedding and baby photographs look better. Billed as a “skin glow effect” they posted it on reddit and other places where art directors, graphic designers, and professional photo retouchers TOTALLY hang out and get their totally professional Photoshop Actions, Brushes, etc from.

In reality, all the Action does is revert all changes made to the original image and pop up a scolding message.

Don’t manipulate our perceptions of real beauty.

Of course, to undo that reversion, all one has to do is hit… well… undo.

BAM! A totally effective message that will OBVIOUSLY CHANGE THE WORLD FOREVER!

Or, more likely, go viral and make Dove look totally awesome and progressive because they just love women so much and are so willing to take on those horrible evil photo retouchers who are just the WORST, right?

Dove, remember, is owned by Unilver which has those atrocious Axe commercials (women! they are fuck beasts for fucking!) and SlimFast (women: you are fat cows, stop eating!). If they really wanted to push for long acting real social change, they could apply pressure to Unilver to at the very least stop marketing Axe the way it’s marketed.

Of course, they could also change their own advertising as well.

I mean, if Dove really thinks womens’ bodies are beautiful and we should all stop altering our perceptions of real beauty, maybe they shouldn’t find new body parts for women to be ashamed of? I, for one, never knew my armpits were ugly until Dove told me so.

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If Dove really thinks womens’ bodies are beautiful and we should all stop altering our perceptions of real beauty, they wouldn’t market Firming Creams, and their criteria for casting calls wouldn’t be quite as shameful (beautiful skin and hair only! No zits or scars, those are GROSSSSSSSS).

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If Dove (and Unilever) really thinks womens’ bodies are beautiful and we should all stop altering our perceptions of real beauty, they wouldn’t market skin-lightening creams (which are physically as well as emotionally harmful) around the world.

Like diet companies who co-opt HAES and Size Acceptance verbage, and companies who practice Greenwashing, Dove is taking Body Acceptance language and using it to sell product. They are telling women what they think women want to hear for the sole reason that they want to sell products to those women. There’s nothing inherently wrong with companies advertising their wares. What’s wrong is the incredibly hypocritical advertising Dove uses. They aren’t trying to change the world, but they very willing to use social justice and activism language to sell their products and their subtle form of body hate. Dove doesn’t give a shit about your body or how beautiful you feel, they just want your money.

One of the worst things is that Dove is actually in a position to make actual changes in the industry. Instead of telling everyone that we should pat them on the back for promoting size acceptance and bodily diversity (while actually showing a pretty narrow range of sizes and skin colors), they could just use a wide variety of women of different body types and ethnicities. They could show instead of telling. They could push for Unilever to do the same with other ad campaigns as well. And they could pressure Unilever to drop the body shaming, sexist, manipulative language and images that other Unilever products use. But Dove isn’t doing that. Instead, they’re creating viral videos that do the bulk of advertising for them (saving them money) and creating good will among their users. It’s an effective ad campaign, but it’s also an insulting one.

Dove claims that they’re against distorting perceptions of beauty, which is harmful to women, while telling women that their armpits are ugly and their skin is saggy and their scars are gross and their frizzy hair is uggsville and their dark/uneven skin is THE WORST, but hey it’s ok because they can spend money on products to make them prettier YAY GIRL POWER WOOOOO now how about a nice round of SlimFast for all? The hypocrisy is thick on the ground.

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Ladymags

Friday, 8 July 2011 12:57
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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I want to say that it’s been, literally, years since I’ve read Cosmo or other magazines-aimed-at-sexy-young-ladies. Which isn’t to say I don’t read magazines aimed at women, because I do read Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living and I’m aware that they have their own issues with sexism and aspiration and stuff. But I’ve been a lot happier and healthier since cutting fluffy fashion mags about dieting and sex and spending and enforced femininity/gender roles out of my life. There’s a common area on the 2nd floor of the building I work in, and I’ve been eating lunch there, and someone left out a stack of old Cosmos; and every time I walked past them I had this almost physical itch to pick them up, to read them, to open up their bright candy colored covers with scantily clad women on them and read about SEVEN SEX SECRETS ABOUT YOUR BOYFRIEND EVEN HE DOESN’T KNOW and THAT ITCH: IS IT DEADLY and FIVE HUNDRED MUST HAVE FASHION ITEMS ON SALE NOW etc.

I grew up as, you know, that girl. I had terrible glasses and terrible hair and terrible fashion and smelled weird and had no friends and poor social skills. I hung around adults aching for their approval. When I was in high school and early college, magazines like Cosmo were a little doorway into what the world considered “normal.” That normalcy included a LOT of body shame and disordered thinking, to an extreme that even I– desperate to fit in– picked up on. And maybe if I’d been more mainstream all my life I wouldn’t have picked up on it, but having it suddenly thrust at me wholly formed, with no real previous exposure, it really stuck out. But I kept reading them, because that’s what women DID. They read the right magazines and wore the right makeup, and wore the right clothing, and bought the right things, and did the right exercises, and knew all about how to please their men in bed and out of bed, and if I could just figure out the right secret code to life I could fit in and be successful too.

Oh, internet. Thank you so much for allowing me to meet other women who didn’t follow ladymags, for exposing me to so much feminist writing. It was like a frigging lifeline.

Self worth is way better than this season’s hottest lipgloss.

On the other hand, thank you internet also for allowing me to meet so many Fancy Ladies, Fops, and Dandies who enjoy the hell out of this season’s hottest lipgloss, makeup, nails, clothing, shoes, and accessories FOR THEMSELVES and not because they HAVE TO, and showing me that I can do the same. Fanciness and fashion doesn’t have to be the enemy, you know?

More and more I’m finding a healthy middle ground and it’s so great to have so many resources.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for awhile know that in the past, I’ve grappled with disordered eating. It mostly took the form of binging and fasting (where “fasting” is “going 2-3 days without eating until I’m so hungry I consume the entire world, then freak out about it”) and severe calorie restriction (like, trying to live on 500 calories a day, mostly in the form of diet soda). I’m also really, really fat and it took me a while, but I’ve gotten comfortable in my body. It’s a fat body, but it’s MY body, and (at least until recently) it more or less did what I wanted it to do, when I wanted it to do it.

I used to do a lot of manual labor. I used to dig up (small) trees and haul them around; muck out horse stalls and wheel around overloaded wheelbarrows full of sodden straw and manure; toss around 75 pound bags of flour and sugar; unload trucks full of slate, mulch, compost, etc; work all day in the hot sun.

When I started trying to practice Health At Every Size (HAES) and intuitive eating, my weight stabilized. (I also stopped eating so much dairy, because it makes me ill. It helped me listen to my body more.) I mean, I had a kid 2 years ago, and I had no problems losing all the (minimal) weight I gained while pregnant. I currently weigh the same amount I did before I conceived.

Only I feel fatter than I used to. Like, I feel like I’ve gained 20 pounds or so. My clothes don’t fit well. I feel sluggish and confined. I’m a lot more sedentary than I used to be (this has been a long, cold, wet winter and I don’t have a driver’s license, so going out and doing things and moving is… challenging) and I think I’ve lost muscle and gained fat.

I don’t like my body like this.

So I’ve started working out and holy shit am I out of shape. I used to dance competitively. I used to Irish Step Dance, which means I basically used to jump up and down for an hour or two at a time. I can’t even imagine doing that now. Well, I mean, I can imagine it… and when I put my head down to work out, I’m done far too soon. It’s depressing. I’m still working on it, working out, waiting for the snow to melt and the temperatures to break so I can actually leave the house with the toddler in tow. We can walk a mile to the library, to the park, etc and that’ll help.

But I’ve gotten into some bad food habits as well and I need to correct that. I don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, I’m a sucker for bread (especially with butter), and I could stand to stop eating so much pre-packaged processed food. We have an actual fruit bowl in the dining room, on the table, and having the fresh fruit RIGHT THERE AND VISIBLE is helping us remember to eat it (Niko calls apples and oranges myommyom balls) and I’ve upped my fruit intake quite a bit. I found some great recipes for cauliflower and we’ve been doing a good job of eating more cooked veggies AND more salad (we splurged and got fancy dressings, croĆ»tons, flavored almonds, etc for extra fancy restaurant style salads).

So I’m doing what I can to, in general, improve my body’s health. But the urge is there: to stop eating entirely; to count and reduce calories to almost nothing; to go on a faddish crash diet; to try to win that elusive prize of thinness by any means necessary even if it means shaking hands and dizziness and vertigo and poor health. It’s so sick. There are foods that make me ill (upset stomach, mouth rash, migraine… not all at the same time) and I should keep a food diary so I can track what it is that’s making me sick so I can cut it out of my diet. But I fear that if I start logging food I’ll start restricting again. That way lies madness, and by “madness” I mean “obsession and compulsion and terrible anxiety nightmares.” There are times I wish I could just not eat ever again, never put anything in my mouth again, shed my physical body entirely and just drift away.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from brigidkeely.com/wordpress.

Kate Harding’s piece on The Fantasy of Being Thin is a really important piece that more people should read. It’s a fantasy I’ve succumbed to myself, both in relation to weight and other things. My life will just be perfect when I finally…loose weight, clear up my skin, find the perfect way of organizing my closet, find the perfect lipstick, find the perfect book shelf, start baking my own bread, get a better job, learn to drive, get a different hair cut, buy better clothing, live in a different building.

If I could just change everything about my life, everything about me, if I could just become unrecognizable and completely different, then I can finally do all the things I want to but am afraid of. Then I can finally be happy.

I used to spend a lot of money on products I never used, mostly make up and skin care and hair stuff. It was like… shouldn’t owning these things count for SOMETHING, even if I don’t actually use them, or only use them sporadically, or use them and then take a shower to wash them out again because I don’t know HOW to use them so just look like crap? I’m making the token effort, here! I’m being an appropriate consumer! Doesn’t that count?

I’ve been fidgety and anxious about my hair lately. About six months after I gave birth, it started dropping out in fist fulls and clumps; a fairly normal post-birth experience that is nonetheless freaky as all hell. I went and got my hair cut from mid-back to jawline. The hairdresser called me “brave.” Then she asked about the bald spots. The shorter hairstyle helped a lot. There was less hair clogging the drain, less hair forming tumbleweeds that drifted forlornly across the floor, less hair for Niko to grab and yank. And it dried faster, out of the shower. It’s down to my bra straps now, and I’m torn between continuing to grow it out and getting it cut short. Very short.

The problem with me and short hair is that my hair, like my nails, grows very very fast. This means that unless I oil my nails regularly, they are very dry and brittle; and this means that it’s very expensive for me to keep a short hair cut maintained. I’d need to go in every two weeks or so or I’d start looking weedy and shaggy. And unlike curly hair which can be very forgiving of home cuts, my hair is very straight (except for the hair that fell out and grew back in) and shows mistakes very, very clearly.

I’m getting to the point. Bear with me.

Someone on my friendslist posted about a haircut recently, very short, with slightly longer bangs. See, you keep the bangs a bit longer, and can play with them and style them. It’s a style that I like. It’s a style I’ve thought of getting before. It’s a style I was lusting after during our recent heat waves where my hair went a week once without ever being dry (it was either damp from the shower or damp from sweat almost the entire week; it was AWFUL). It’s also a style that, to look its best, to look “on purpose,” needs styling and product.

And how likely am I to purchase and use product? To spend time on my hair other than dragging a comb through it and then pulling it back with an elastic?

Do I really want this hair cut, or do I want to be the kind of person who can get a short, edgy hair cut and look good in it, and who has the time and know-how and interest (and money) to maintain the hair cut? Is this where I am, or is this where I want to be because I’m unhappy with something much bigger about where I am?

I’m not sure. I think it’s the latter.

But I need to start living in the now and the reality and stop chasing after the fantasy. What I am, what I have, isn’t bad. I need to take better notice of that.

brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from brigidkeely.com/wordpress.

I say I’m not a fan of sports, but really what I mean is that I’m not a fan of how sports is packaged, presented, marketed, and treated in the USA. Anything played by women “doesn’t count” and isn’t REALLY a sport, and all sports fans are male. All of them. Every single one. Women: fuck them!

This was really encapsulated this morning, when I wanted to repeatedly punch the tv.

The World Cup is happening, you see. This is a big Soccer thing. I mean, excuse me, this is a big Men’s Soccer Thing. The Women’s Soccer thing already happened and got no press coverage because, you know, cooties.

So Ana Belaval, who does “around the town” type features, was at a local small bar interviewing male people who were there getting drunk at 8:00am. Something happened on a tv screen behind her and the crowd went nuts and she snapped her head around. “What was that? What happened?”

The male anchor there said: “It was just a yellow card. Don’t worry about it. You wouldn’t understand.” His voice dripped with condescension. I mean she was, after all, a girl. How could she fucking even BEGIN to understand something as complicated as a SPORT? That is MAN TERRITORY. Yes, that’s right, how could a Latina who worked for Univision possibly understand Futball better than a White Male? IT BAFFLES THE IMAGINATION. I’m not trying to say that every Latin@ is obsessed with futball, but considering that it’s been popular in South American way the fuck longer than it has been in the USA, I’m willing to bet that she grew up watching games while Mr Man did not.

You wouldn’t understand.

You’re just a girl.

They then had 3 men read off a list of 7 “rules” that their wives/fiances were expected to follow during the world cup. Basically: don’t walk in front of the tv, don’t change the channel, don’t expect any attention or interest or interaction, keep them drunk and fed, and don’t expect them to go anywhere or do anything unless it involves the Cup.

Classy, dudes!

If any person ever read a list of rules that demanded I crawl on the floor rather than walk in front of the tv (unless I have beer), I would smear that person into a fine paste with my mind, and then leave and never come back. Ever. Because fuck you, that’s why. My role as a human being is not to serve some dude food and keep him drunk and be subservient to a bunch of other dudes kicking a ball on the tv.

Maybe if I weren’t JUST A GIRL I’d have a different opinion about a woman’s place with regards to sports. And maybe if the world of sports wasn’t so constantly, aggressively, hatefully misogynist I’d participate in it.

I am in a HUGE GOD DAMNED FUCK THE PATRIARCHY mood today, I tell you what. Something happened on the train last night that almost made me puke out of rage. RAGE. I should be able to go out in public without becoming so enraged that it shoves all the blood out of the way and fills my veins.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from brigidkeely.com/wordpress.

Nesko and I watched “The Exorcist: The Version You’ve Never Seen!!!” recently, although since I’d never seen “The Exorcist” before any version would be one I’d never seen. I was afraid it wouldn’t stand up, that it would be hokey or awkward or corny. It wasn’t! It was a good movie, very interesting, and I’m keeping me eyes out for a copy of the book it was based on.

One of the most interesting things in the movie (to me) was the way Regan dressed. In the first part of the movie, because she’s dressed in nightgowns and kept to her room/bed, she wears jeans and plaid shirts. She’s a girl, 12 years old, and she’s wearing clothing that’s really gender neutral. Other than possibly having buttons/zippers on the “wrong” side, or minor fashion detailing/stitching, her clothing is something a boy or a girl could wear and look good and feel good. I didn’t pick up on her being presented as a “tomboy” either. She was just wearing clothes.

I was walking around outside the other day and a big group of kids and their caregivers was walking in the other direction. There were 15-20 girls in the group, and every single one of them was wearing pink. Most of them were also wearing ruffles on their shirts and jeans. They weren’t dressed up, but they were ruffled and pink and heavily gendered. Some of the boys had non-gendered clothing, plain jeans and t-shirts, but most of them had macho things like “king of the playground” or “here comes trouble!” or something (as opposed to, you know, “‘princess” or “diva” or “flirt” or “cute”).

Children’s fashion is so excessively gendered at this point that seeing a girl in plain jeans and a plaid shirt jumped out at me as something to be noticed. There are people who claim that there’s no point in being a Feminist any more, no point in pushing a Feminist agenda, because wow! Feminists won! The world is a Feminist playground and women are in control and men are on the decline and becoming weaker and less powerful and less effective every single day. But there is an incredible divide between what’s acceptable clothing for “boys” and “girls,” and while it’s considered appropriate to dress a girl in “boy” clothing it’s not acceptable to dress a boy in “girl” clothing because that will turn him gay or something. Because “male” is still the default, and female the exception to the rule.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (Default)

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I don’t really like watching movies very much because more and more it’s becoming incredibly obvious that movies aren’t aimed at me or people like me, where “people like me” are “female.” You know. Roughly 50% of the population. Also, these people think and have thoughts and notice plot holes large enough to drive a semi through.

I’m not even going to touch on the ingrained, established sexism of the motion picture industry, despite the fact that women outnumber men when it comes to movie consumption. What I am going to touch on is 2 things:

    The Trailer for “Killers”
      The movie “Dog Soldiers”

      In “Killers,” Katherine Heigl plays a woman who goes from the over-protective, domineering, patriarchal custody of her father to the marriage bed of her husband, who is a former assassin for the CIA and Ashton Kutcher. He, of course, has not told her of his past because relationships based on lies and omissions are the best kind of relationships. Predictably, his past catches up to him and he winds up having to kill a lot of people while he protects and bosses around (dominates) his wife. Apparently he kills/has his wife kill a lot of female people? In brutal ways? God knows there isn’t enough of THAT in the world! What a novel concept: a man causing the deaths of lots of conventionally attractive in blood spattery violent ways!

      WHAT I WOULD LIKE THIS MOVIE TO BE: Heigl is the former assassin! Or current assassin. Either way, she is capable of taking care of herself and doesn’t need a man to protect her. In fact! Her past catches up to her and she winds up– shocking idea– protecting Kutcher. I think it would be really awesome to start the movie with the conceit that she’s just an innocent young woman, sheltered from the world, oh heavens what on earth will she do with this massive phallus gun??!? and then shit gets real and she shows her sharp shooting ability and saves the day instead of being saved. And possibly also she is not a white woman. Is that at all within the realm of probability?

      “Dog Soldiers” is not a werewolf movie about soldiers, it is a movie about soldiers and the bonds of brotherhood and also there are werewolves in it. That’s how it’s been described, anyway. What it actually is about is about trying to kidnap and experiment on local non-human people, and then breaking into their house and busting shit up and eating all their food and being surprised when they want to kill you. I mean, duh. Also, except for the female character and the main male character, everyone else was pretty interchangeable and flat… including the bad guy soldier character. I mean, they had characteristics like “likes football” and “is married” and… uh. That’s about it, I think. One guy’s really fast, maybe? I don’t even remember. The female character acts sympathetic towards them and then suddenly towards the end of the movie it’s like someone else started writing her or perhaps somebody realized they’d written themselves into a corner and OUT OF NOWHERE she starts talking about how the main character is a dudely dude who hates women and she’s just a bitch and it’s that time of the month and then she reveals that she unlocked a door and let the werewolves in. And also she is a werewolf. WHAT A TWIST!!! (this is after a really nice bit where someone was talking about pack dynamics and alpha male and female and I thought to myself “huh, cool, nice bit of parallel there, maybe this movie isn’t as bad as I thought” and then no, it really was.) I mean, it’s not a BAD movie, but you know. It’s not a good one. Also, the bad/evil guy is needlessly bad/evil. Relentlessly. For no reason. He’s just a massive evil dick, like he wakes up every morning and takes his “pure evil maliciousness” pills which make him do irrational but evil things like command a soldier to shoot an extremely expensive tracking dog which would have traumatized the dogs handler, and when the soldier doesn’t, he does it himself. Because he’s just so hard core evil that murdering dogs is second nature, even when that would require a lot of paperwork and explaining and also the cost and inconvenience of having to purchase and train a new dog.

      WHAT I WOULD LIKE THIS MOVIE TO BE: Actual defined characters would have been nice. In a movie where almost everyone dies, if you have a small group of people, it’s kind of boring unless you actually care about and are invested in the people being torn apart. Realistic evil and moral grey areas would have been totally cool too. Also, the fact that the soldiers commandeered someones’ house and ate their dinner and busted shit up really goes unremarked. Honestly, I would have loved it if all the myths and legends of monstrous beasties eating people were just that– myths and legends. And the werewolves were hunting prey animals like deer or something, and they only attacked the humans because the humans were 1) trying to capture and experiment on them, Ultimate Weapon style and 2) broke into their house and fucked shit up. I mean, if I were a werewolf and somebody came into my home and ate my dinner and locked me out etc etc etc I would probably go apeshit on them. I mean, I’m pretty sure I’d do that even without being a werewolf. But that gives you a nice moment of “who is the real monster here.” Is it the humans who invade a sentient beings’ home and place of security, or is it the furry fanged creatures who simply want to be safe? Also a female character who is an actual fleshed out character and also isn’t an evil bitch monster would be totally rad.

      Obviously, I want to see movies that don’t actually exist, except in my own head. I know there’s a few movies that veer close to the preferred vision of “killers” that I have, and I’ve yet to see “Ginger Snaps” which is apparently the most awesomest werewolf movie in all of existence. But I’m getting tired of movies that are “close,” especially as one of the big, glaring failures tends to be “women don’t really exist as characters, except as props/accessories for men or else bitchmonsters.”

      (Oddly, and a second viewing may not hold up, I found “Quantum of Solace” to be exactly what I wanted in a movie, especially with regards to the female characters… one of whom is in a position of authority over Bond and the other of whom has her own agenda and motives, uses Bond to further them, doesn’t sleep with him, doesn’t get killed, and needs the same kind of saving that a male character would have needed… and also is physically scarred but still considers herself attractive and is considered by others to be attractive, as opposed to being considered ugly, flawed, damaged, pretty-except-for, etc.)

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (Default)

Mirrored from brigidkeely.com/wordpress.

There’s a lot of guys who do this thing, in public, that is really aggressive and potentially threatening and invasive and all around douchey, and I’m pretty sure they’re not aware that’s how their actions are perceived, because if they were aware of that they’d stop doing it. Maybe. There’s a lot of aggressive, entitled, douchey guys out there, though.

Anyway, this is the thing:

When you are a dude in public, especially if you are with other dudes in a group, and you happen upon a lady who is minding her own business reading a book or eating an ice cream cone or working or whatever, and you want to know her name, give her yours first. Don’t just demand her name. Especially don’t follow up with questions about where she lives.

Because that? Is threatening. That’s now two pieces of private information you’ve tried to get out of her, and could easily lead to stalking.

And there is a LOT of pressure on women to play nice and answer the question. Because, you know, he’s just being friendly. They’re just questions. What possible harm could it do?

But it’s one of those things that makes women feel unsafe, especially because if she doesn’t answer these (very personal, private, could endanger her life and security) questions, she doesn’t know if the guy asking them will start screaming at her and calling her an uppity bitch.

Maybe you are thinking to yourself “huh, how could simply knowing a woman’s name and neighborhood make her unsafe?” Here is the thing. It’s really easy to watch women, especially in a big city. It’s easy to narrow down where a person lives, what public transit routes they take, including what block they live on, what apartment they live in. It’s easy to get access to women. It’s especially easy when you know that woman’s name. “Oh, hey, I’m here to see [woman's name] and I think her buzzer is broken? could you let me up?”

I mean, think of how normalized-as-romantic this incredibly scary behavior is, how often it’s portrayed in romantic comedies.

So, you know, your harmless questions can actually be very alarming. Especially when the flow of information is only going one way.

So be mindful of that. If you MUST intrude upon a woman’s personal space (like, maybe she’s the most attractive woman in the known universe, or she has a tattoo with an obscure quote on it you recognize, or she’s reading your absolute favorite book series about soul-bonded dragons, and you know in your heart of hearts that you are soul mates), open with your own name first. Get the flow of information going both ways. Make it a conversation and not just an interrogation. And be mindful also of the fact that women don’t owe you anything. They don’t owe you a smile, or a conversation, or answers to your questions. If they don’t want to engage with you, that doesn’t make them bitches or whores or nasty people out to get you. It makes them human beings who don’t have the time, interest, energy, or whatever to expend upon you. And that’s their right, to not interact with some stranger who is making unreasonable demands on them.

Sometimes when a woman is being interrogated by a stranger (who, when male, usually is taller, stronger, louder, and heavier than her, all of which put her at a physical disadvantage), she might try to turn attention away from herself and ask questions of the stranger.

This does not mean the woman is trying to bone you, is giving you permission to “have sex with” (rape) her, is flirting “aggressively” with you, or is, in fact, interested in you/your dick. It also doesn’t mean you can then suavely segue into demanding to know what female celebrities she wants to have sex with, nor does it mean you can loudly call her a prude when she doesn’t answer you right away. I mean, you know, maybe she’s flirting with you and wants to get all up in your business. Sometimes people connect in the most unlikely ways! But it is not probable. More than likely she is trying to get you to talk about yourself (most peoples’ favorite topic of conversation) so she no longer feels like you are stalking her. She’s trying to redirect the conversation in such a way that she no longer has to actively take part in it. She’s reduced to this strategy because most women are not permitted by strange men they meet in public to opt out of conversations the men initiate.

Think about that for a minute.

If you are male, are you routinely dragged into personal conversations by other people? Do they ask you personal questions over and over again, getting louder and more persistent? Do they insult you if you refuse to talk to them or avoid answering the question? If you are reading a book or listening to music via headphones, do people assume that you owe them attention, that they can monopolize your time, that if you don’t fawn over them you are somehow at fault?

Because that’s pretty standard for women who go out in public.

If you feel the need to apologize several times for you/your group and your “obnoxious” behavior then consider changing your behavior. I mean, if you are acting obnoxiously and then apologize for it and then keep acting that way it pretty much cements that fact that you’re an epic jackass with no regard for the feelings of others, and no care at all for how you’re impinging on their social/physical space.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (Default)

Mirrored from brigidkeely.com/wordpress.

Despite what the commercials claim, dieting isn’t going to fix all your problems.

No, joining weight watchers isn’t going to prevent jerks from slamming into your desk and spilling coffee all over your shirt. Nor will joining weight watchers prevent rain from falling from the sky and getting you wet.

I just… what?

Dieting isn’t some magic fix that will repair everything that’s wrong with your life.

Also, if you are an adult, don’t be surprised if a child’s size chair is too small for you. No amount of Special K magical special diets will turn an adult’s butt into a child’s butt.

Adults and children are different sizes. Children are smaller than adults. Yes, there are especially large children and especially small adults, but in general, child-sized things are child-sized because children are smaller than adults.

As baffling as the weight watcher’s commercial was (seriously? coffee spills can be solved by losing weight? only fat people spill coffee when jerks bang into them? rain, which once fell on the just and unjust alike, now targets fatties?), the Special K commercial seems more harmful. There’s the push to shrink female bodies, to reduce them to non-adult sizes. There’s existing rhetoric about how dieting mentality infantalizes women by removing their ability to chose what to eat, that dieting mentality punishes women for defying the ideal feminine norm and growing hips and butts and breasts (you know, secondary sexual signs). But now the message is coming clear: adult women are fucking hose beast lard bags if they don’t fit neatly into furniture scaled for children. Women: they need to remain child like and child sized or they are useless and terrible and need to be fixed. Adult women: there is something wrong with them.

The hell?

Note also that both commercials show conventionally attractive women who do not appear fat, or even chubby, and who have children. Ahh, true womanhood. Hot and fertile.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (Default)

Mirrored from brigidkeely.com/wordpress.

I love vampires so hard, guys. I really do. I’ve been really into vampire literature since I was 11 or 12 (before that it was werewolves), so on the surface books like Twilight seem like a perfect match, right? It’s Vampires! And they interact with the world! But there’s this “older, more physically and socially powerful man grooming/stalking/courting a younger, less powerful woman” theme that I hate. I’ve always hated it, and it is RIFE in YA lit, in fact pretty much all literature, aimed at women.

Most of the women I know have been sexually assaulted, molested, and/or raped. While some of the perpetrators were the same age or younger, or were female, most of them were older men who spent time grooming them, stalking them, and manipulating them. I don’t know if the women I hang out with are unusually unlucky, if broken people attract each other, or if they just talk about shitty stuff that’s happened to them more than other women do. The Powerful Older, More Experienced Man trope may be sexually thrilling in fiction, but in real life it’s freaky as fuck; and it’s something that’s touched my life both directly and indirectly. When I was 17 I was sexually assaulted at work by coworker with seniority, who had laid down a ground work of intimidation and silencing action ahead of time. Two of my girlfriends, both under the age of 18, had been raped– one by a boyfriend, and one by somebody she grew up calling “uncle.” The boyfriend’s stalking ended after a year of threats; the uncle encouraged the second girl to tell because “nobody would believe her anyway.” Both young women had powerful, assertive men roll up in their lives, treat them specially, “watch them sleep” as it were, and then fuck their shit up.

It’s a fantasy I can’t get behind. I’ve seen it play out in real life, and it’s pretty twisted. A guy who’s interested in you and climbs a tree to peek into your bedroom generally isn’t checking to make sure you’re safe. In real life, he’s likely to send you a photo of your room with a note saying he knows where you sleep at night. It’s a threat. He can get you at any time.

You aren’t safe.

It isn’t very sexy.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (Default)

Mirrored from brigidkeely.com/wordpress.

I want to open this by saying that if you’re a dude I interact with in a positive way, this is not about you. I have male friends who are feminists and if I had a problem with their behavior I’d address it to them directly.

This is directed at dudely dudes in general who are dipping their toes in this crazy thing called feminism.

Here are some pointers for you!

  • There are a LOT of resources about feminism available both on line and in print media. It is extremely lazy and demanding to drop into a conversation about feminism and demand that the people participating drop what they’re doing and educate you on certain matters. Nobody owes you anything. You do not innately deserve women’s attention, nor do you innately deserve personalized educating. Get off your ass and do your own reading; stop trying to change the subject to yourself. You are not the center of the world.
  • Feminism is a large movement with a large number of active and involved participants who are out working to make very real changes in the world. Will your male participation be welcome? In theory, yes. In practice, if you demand respect and attention and accolades simply because you have a penis, you are in practice an entitled douche bag. Feminism does NOT need men as participants to be taken seriously. In fact, that’s the whole POINT of feminism: that women do not need male approval to function. If you act like an ass and are asked to leave a discussion, please don’t rant about how feminism “needs more men” and shouldn’t waste a “valuable male ally/resource.”
  • If you feel compelled to open conversations with “If you have an issue with a feminist who JUST HAPPENS to have a penis, I don’t know WHY so many people TAKE ISSUE WITH WHAT I SAY” than the problem is YOU. If people keep calling you on the same shit, you need to examine that shit and change it.
  • It is utterly hilarious in a very bad way to have a dude talk about how he’s really new to this whole “privilege” thing and then demand that someone help him explore what his privilege is. Congratulations, you know a buzz word. You also fail utterly to comprehend anything about it, and are proving your inability to read or think critically.
  • Guess what: including praise about a woman’s body with praise about her mind isn’t really praise. “Joan has a great ass! And she’s pretty smart, too.” is insulting. “Joan is so smart! And has a bangin’ heiny” is also insulting. Congratulations! You approve of her body type! Who gives a shit? Why do you feel compelled to mention that? Why are you unable to separate your physical attraction to her body from her actual accomplishments and skills?
  • “The Patriarchy” exists. “Rape Culture” exists. They permeate all aspects of the world. Ridiculing women for taking to task book authors, writers for television, web comics, etc because they’re not focusing on “real issues” does nothing except prove how little you get it, how little you actually value and respect women, and how little you are aware of the work that feminists are doing around the world. Ignorance: you’re soaking in it.

If I have the time, I’ll work up an article about vaccines and morons next. It will have to go through many revisions as I remove insulting language and cusses and sheer ranting.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (Default)

Originally published at brigidkeely.com/wordpress. You can comment here or there.

Dr. Tiller, one of the few doctors in the USA who is willing and able to perform late-term abortion, was shot to death while leaving church services. He has been shot before, his clinic has been bombed, the women who have gone to him for health services have been intimidated, terrified, threatened, and injured. Now he is dead, murdered by a person or group who doesn’t believe that women have the right to make decisions about their health.

Late term abortions, those performed after 20 weeks, represent only 1.4% of total abortions performed by doctors in the USA. 1.4%. Even if you nudge the definition of “late term” back to 12 weeks gestation, a time where the fetus is maybe sort of possibly viable if you have cutting edge technology and millions of dollars to spend on health care (or a willingness to declare bankruptcy instead of paying astronomical medical bills), the total of abortions performed is only 6.2%. Yet late term abortions are presented by those who call themselves “Pro Life” (yet aren’t above murdering people) as incredibly common. Save the babies! It’s an epidemic of murder! God’s baby garden is getting too full of precious miracles!

Of course, the women who chose late term abortions generally do so not because they suddenly realize OMG I AM PREGNANT OH NOES if only I weren’t such a slut! I better get rid of the evidence and murder this baby! They do so because they are physically or financially unable to have an abortion earlier, because a sexual partner or family member prevented them from having an abortion earlier, because they did not know that it was possible to get an abortion or that it was ideal to have an abortion before X weeks. In other words, most women who have late term abortions do so out of ignorance or fear of someone hurting them. Those eager and willing to murder men who provide medical services to women, however, are quick to paint these women as too stupid to make any sort of medical decision for themselves, even when it’s the efforts of these murderers that have ensured that young women in this country grow up taught little to nothing about their bodies and contraception, and have fought to deny funding to organizations that provide contraception and reproductive health services, and which assist women who are having financial difficulties while pregnant.

So women whose much wanted babies are hydrocephalic or have malformed organs or don’t have brain tissue or are already dead and starting to rot are pretty much fucked because the doctors who can provide needed medical services to them are either prohibited by law from providing those services or have to worry about being murdered if they continue to provide these medical services. Assuming, of course, that the women themselves can make the journey, often across state lines, to a medical provider and then can safely enter and exit his or her clinic without getting harassed or assaulted themselves.

People who claim to be religious and who claim to “respect life” value the “life” of a lump of poorly formed non-viable tissue over the life of the woman carrying said tissue in her body. People who call themselves “pro life” have no issue with attacking women. While claiming to “respect life,” they seek to inhibit women’s access to health care, contraceptives (one of the best ways, if not THE best way, of reducing abortions is to reduce the amount of unwanted pregnancies) and contraceptive education. After negatively impacting her reproductive health, these individuals have also tried to strip away social safety nets that can help women with children. Funding has been pulled for health care, WIC, food stamps, and child care and welfare programs. Women are expected to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” while also going into debt paying for vaccinations for their kids. They are expected to go to work and support themselves and their kids, but child care is so expensive that it’s very possible to turn over one’s entire paycheck to a day care facility. There’s a reason so many little kids from economically depressed backgrounds are shaken to death or otherwise killed by their care providers: their moms can’t afford anything better for them.

Women are expected to be virginal creatures, and if they have sex these “pro life” assholes expect them to be punished for it. They deserve pregnancy, as a punishment. They deserve poverty, as a punishment. Women aren’t meant to enjoy sex, and those who have sex out of the strictly defined marital bed deserve to be punished. And since a potential baby has more value than a living woman, even if the fetus is non viable (and conceived during heterosexual wedlock in accordance with Christian religious values), said fetus should be treasured and made comfortable despite any risk to the mother’s health. Because, you know, those women had SEX and sex is BAD when women have it, and they need to just shut the fuck up already and PAY THE PRICE. And if that price means KNOWING that their babies don’t have heads, they need to just continue gestating them for 28 more weeks with all the physical pain and discomfort that pregnancy entails and also the emotional discomfort and pain with knowing that their babies are going to be born DEAD, and carry that lump of malformed tissue “to term” and either push it out their disgusting, filthy cootches or else have major abdominal surgery to remove it. Because every life is sacred, as long as it’s not an adult woman’s. Sure, the precious angel fetus might die and start to rot and poison the woman and kill her slowly, but that bitch shouldn’t have been having sex anyway, am I right? Sin of Eve and all that.

There is a continual chipping away at my rights as a human being. Women should be able to go to clinics to get cervical exams without assholes who claim to represent Jesus shoving pictures of dead babies at them and harassing and assaulting them. Women should be able to visit womens’ health doctors without worrying about being shot to death doing so. Women should be considered, wait for it, rational human beings who are capable of making their own health and reproductive choices; not treated as childlike innocents who need these choices made FOR them. Time and again individuals and organizations have targeted people who provide medical services to women and have stalked, harassed, threatened, and killed them. Places where women receive medical care have literally been bombed and destroyed. Clinics that provide reproductive medical services (often to less affluent women) like PAP smears, vaginal and cervical exams (you know, to detect cancer), and contraceptive services (which, you know, prevent pregnancy), are picketed and pressured to not open. Women seeking medical care are verbally harassed and sometimes assaulted or murdered. This has been going on for YEARS and rarely is anything done about it. This is terrorism directed at women, and it’s going unpunished.

I’ll leave you with this graphic:
Chart of Abortion and Reproductive Issues

December 2015

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