Feminist Sexism


I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m a happy reader of Cosmopolitan magazine. I think that it broke a great deal of ground on openness about female sexuality. I have a year’s subscription that I got for just $5 off Amazon during a sale. I generally enjoy reading Cosmo, but there are certain aspects of the magazine that I just can’t stand. The fact that a great portion of it only caters to straight women is just one of them (come on Cosmo, grow a backbone like Oreo!).

At any rate, I was finishing up reading the July issue (does it irritate anyone else that magazines come out the month before the date they’re labeled for? It’s like new cars that are called the next year’s model), which had Demi Lovato (yeah I’m gonna be honest I didn’t know who she was until now) on the cover in a hideous yellow zipper dress with cutouts, her obvious hair extensions blowing in the breeze. Headlines include “SEX SUN FUN,” “Sex He Craves,” and “Cosmo’s Weird Little Love Rule (It Works!).” I have to flip through four pages of ads before I get to the contents. Let’s turn to page 108, shall we, the “Weird Little Love Rule,” or, why I’m so pissed off right now. All quotes are directly from the article.

“Why He Should Love You – This Much – More Than You Love Him” (This Much in smaller type)

What. The. Fuck.

Excuse me, what did you say? My man should love me more than I love him?

First of all, Cosmo always, and I mean always, assumes that men who are complete assholes are the most attractive to twenty-something-thirty-something women. It’s “a lot easier to fall for the guy who doesn’t acknowledge your existence.” I’m sorry, but I actually enjoy being treated like a human being as opposed to a piece of ass, so stop encouraging us by including the topic in every article. This article apparently needs to assure the readers that a man who loves you more than you love him is still attractive and totally “doable.” Strike one for double sexism.

Secondly, it assures the readers that a man loving you more than you love him is putting the woman in a position of power. It assumes that women think men who are into them are clingy and needy, instead of just falling for them. Even when the article discusses how relationships fluctuate, having less feelings for the other person is considered having “the upper hand.” Like you’re competing with your partner and whoever is more cold-hearted wins. Ever heard of equality in a relationship? Strike two for double sexism.

Also, “experts agree that picking a guy who digs you about 10 percent more than you dig him is smart.” Smart. As in, if we don’t we’re doing it wrong. It must be true because “experts[!]” say so! Strike three for sexism against women, IN A WOMEN’S MAGAZINE!

The last, and perhaps the most frustrating issue I have with this article is that it emphasizes that men who are more into you than you’re into them let you be yourself from the beginning – instead of hiding your true self weeks, months, years before you’re comfortable around him. Did it ever occur to the writer, or the editors, that you should be authentic from the get-go regardless of whether he likes you more or not? If you’re authentic and he doesn’t like you, well sucks for you but at least you didn’t have to waste your time pretending. Strike… four(?) for double sexism again!

If you’ve read the article you may agree with me, you may not. You might feel that I’m oversimplifying it. Yes, it’s true that relationships ebb and flow with time. But authenticity is the most important thing. Cosmo fails in its mission to empower women with some of its articles, like this one, and promotes treating men like cattle. Sex tips are great, health and gynecological information is also awesome in Cosmo. But they should stay away from love because…

Who cares who loves who more in the beginning, the goal is to be happy, healthy, and in-love. It’s not a game. It’s not a competition between men and women. We cannot remove sexism from our society without acknowledging that men and women are EQUAL because they are HUMAN.

Thank you for reading!

Why Every Girl Should Have a Little Katniss in Her…

Last night I had a dream that I was Katniss Everdeen, à la Skyrim-themed Hunger Games. Needless to say, with all the mixed political intrigue, I had a hell of a headache in the morning, and a boyfriend asking why I’d kept elbowing him in the side all night (Because I was shooting arrows of epic sneak skill, DUH).

Now re-read the title of this post. Now back to me. This is not the post of Hunger Games love that you were looking for. On the contrary, I’m not an avid Hunger Games fan (which I regard as a great position for a grown lady such as myself to be in). There is no reason for adults to hold these young adult novels in such high esteem. And no, I’m not harping on the Hunger Games as a story that’s been told better before, I’m just saying that the quality of writing is meant for teenagers, not adults with the greater range of life experiences to help them better understand and appreciate more sophisticated science- and dystopian-fiction.

What I am here to explain is why I think Katniss could serve as a great role model (in SOME aspects) for young women just starting to think about their grander purpose in life. I think that Katniss is unique in her personality, or at least far more unique than that dreadful Bella Swan whose personality is simply whatever you imagine it to be (I’ll make this comparison several times, so bear with me). Tread carefully, here be spoilers.

Katniss does not ask to become a heroine. In fact, as she muses several times, she ISN’T much of a heroine at all. She’s actually kind of a stone-cold bitch. She knows that she’s not affectionate, or understanding, or feminine, or even particularly nice. A girl after my own heart…

When I first picked up the book, it was several months before the movie was set to release, and I hadn’t a clue what I would be in for, plot or otherwise. I honestly, did not 100% realize Katniss was a girl until she put on her mother’s dress to attending the Reaping. That is true literary gender-equality right there.

Katniss has a certain feminist facet that isn’t even apparent to her. She uses men to her advantage, such as Peeta, because she knows that her own personality is not going to get her far in achieving her goal – survival. She does not expect anyone to protect to her, she independent, strong, and overall a decisive human being. If she was not fictional I’d guess that her independence was a function of the death of her father. I was impressed when she said goodbye to her family in the first book and had the balls to tell her mom that she wasn’t allowed to get depressed again. Katniss took charge, told it how it was, and would not accept failure.

One particular scene which stands out in my mind as a solidifying moment in Katniss’s development is in the third book when she overhears Peeta and Gale talking about her. Throughout the books there’s been this contrived love-triangle between them, and the boys agree that Katniss will choose the one she can’t “survive” without. Instead of crying about what she hears, Katniss gets angry. She can survive without either of them, and how dare they try to demean her like that! I find it highly unfortunate that she ends up with either boy at the end of the book, but in this moment, her independence from others, particularly men, is solidified.

Katniss is talented. She can actually do something practical and physical. She may not have a single romantic bone in her body, but she does have an ability that she honed and improved over years of practice. She may have had a slight talent for the bow as a child, but she worked on the skill diligently. Peeta also has a talent, which originally served as a point of humor, but also saved his life in the end. These serve as reminders that hard work pays off. If you have a skill that you’re proud of, it may just become invaluable to you one day, so don’t you dare give it up.

The entire plot of The Hunger Games hinges on Katniss’s sacrifice of herself to inevitable death to save her sister from the same fate. She didn’t do it to stand up to the unseen political forces bearing down on her, and she obviously didn’t do it because she felt prepared for it. She did it because she didn’t want her little sister to suffer, a point that became sadly in vain later in the series. She volunteered because it was the right thing to do. Often I felt that Katniss was the only character, aside from Peeta, who had any moral compass at all. Yes she killed people, yes she was a practical, desperate, even ruthless participant in the slaughterfest, but she functioned on something I see as a primal moral code.

Katniss has the capacity to challenge young women. As opposed to Bella, who is nothing more than an amorphous shell who lets readers mold themselves to her submissive and co-dependent character, Katniss makes readers compare themselves. What would they do in her situation? Would they pretend to love a boy, just to survive? Would they throw a tracker jackers’ nest at him at the slightest hint of betrayal? Would they question their best friend’s motives and have the courage to call him out when they seemed less-than moral?

What I’m trying to say is not that every girl should act like Katniss, but rather that they should examine themselves and decide what exactly they determine as “moral.” Katniss isn’t always strong. She breaks down, has fits, does stupid shit, and hurts feelings. But she is real. Real in the sense that she is goal-driven, purposeful, and talented. I hope I can teach my daughter to be that way without throwing her into a maliciously political pit of death, but we’ll see.

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