Feminism


While I was home over Christmas, I had my yearly facial with the awesome esthetician I’ve been seeing since I was 15  (15, and then in the throes of dermatological unpleasantness).  She is the mistress of the art of extraction, and my first visit to her was as much a cultural touchstone of my entry into modern womanhood as my first trip to the gynecologist.  Though no less painful than my first pap, at least the esthetician rubbed my face and shoulders down with essential oils, and I had glowy skin a week later, once the zits she coaxed to the surface and the redness had subsided.  The gyno just poked me with a metal spatula and gave me the pill… which made me break out.  (Sudden stroke of brilliant idiocy – spas that also offer pap smears!  I am trademarking that business idea right now.  Whole Women’s Health & Beauty sees you inside and out!).

Sadly, after treating my skin for almost 15 years and my own mother’s for 30, our esthetician was hanging up her tweezers, imported creams, and bug zapper to retire.  This would be the last proper facial I will have in a while, as I’ve yet to find anyone half as good.

Lying back in the chair, listening to Enya, snuggled in my quilt, wholly safe in the hands of a professional, I was sad, and wanted to mark the occasion somehow.  What about… a lip wax?  I’d been annoyed at the downy hairs on my upper lip for some time.  Terri is the only person I would let wax and pluck my eyebrows, given her skill, and the only person I trusted to tell me if an upper-lip wax would be a terrible mistake, or a bold move forwards. (more…)

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It’s a little move I like to call “The Reverse Douche.”

(Japan brings us Vagina Bubbles from Hell, from Female ninjas:  The Magic Chronicles).

Very, very thankfully, I have had only two stalkerish episodes in my life, outside of the usual bad-breakup scenarios in which one party has a more difficult time moving on; in that scheme of things, I have been guilty of my own share of unwanted phone calls or emails for the subsequent week after The Bad Talk.  Fortunately, I can take take a hint, and believe that the one or two boyfriends I’ve had who have ended things against my wishes still regard me fondly (I base that on friendly, occasional Facebook hellos that indicate we are in good stead and happy with our mutually infrequent communication).  I wish them well, they wish me well, and there is no drama or involvement.

Yeah, so.  While I have pursued a few guys beyond the point where they displayed disinterest, I can say with honesty that I’ve never harassed anyone or caused them fear (to my knowledge; I am sort of paranoid about that now, but given the “Ice Queen” accusations more commonly thrown my way and my general unwillingness to destroy someone’s car or call their mother to tell them what shits they are, I’m pretty sure I haven’t crossed that obvious, glaring line).  Which is a good thing, as I just spent about four hours of my afternoon reading the entire contents of Psychotic Letters From Men, as fixated on this blog as I was watching the final seasons of The Wire.

I was glued to this site to the point that my live-in Boy Person was annoyed that I would not go out into the rare London sunshine for a walk or a drink, so obsessed was I with reading about Terrible Men and The Women Who Despise Them.  Why is this site so good?  A few reasons. (more…)

This weekend I went to see Iron Man 2. I should have walked out ten minutes in, but as I am wont to do when it comes to a movie I just spent $15 on and waited on line outside to see…I stayed. Bad decision. Iron Man 2 a terrible movie overall. Tony Stark is a douche of massive proportions with a hateful personality. In Iron Man, Stark was a narcissistic jerk who learned a lesson: caring for people and doing good is better than being a war profiteer. That was the first movie. Inexplicably, in this second installment, he’s a bigger dick than he was before his big redemption in the original. Stark’s character is so insufferable that it’s really quite a feat he is the alleged “hero” of this story. And the sexism. Good god, the sexism. It comes with a dose of Fox News-style wingnuttery!

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Right Arm and Hand

A few months ago I started taking weekly classes in hand-to-hand combat.  I needed some exercise, hate gyms, fantasize about being an action star, and “have a lot of aggression,” so it seemed pretty logical.  I’ve also been assaulted in real life and nurse an obsession with horror films and literary thrillers; I am fully alert to the presence of danger! walking down a city street and have a tendency to plot evacuation points whenever I am in a room for a prolonged period of time, so why not put all this occasionally justifiable paranoia to use and actually learn how to defend myself rather than just fantasizing about it?

The classes have been everything I hoped for and more.  I mix it up by attending beginner’s-level classes to work on my basic skills and advanced-level classes for variety.  While already outnumbered 10:1 in beginner’s, I am usually the only woman in advanced classes, and I thrive on it.  Aware that I may be regarded as weaker, more delicate, and less intense (and therefore an undesirable sparring partner) intensifies my aggression and need to prove myself.

I am not just a girl, I think, I am a threatI may be physically weaker, but I can be faster, smarter, and unexpected, and that is what makes me more dangerous.  It’s getting into a mindset that I think will serve me well in life in general.  Focus, train, emphasize your strengths, protect your weaknesses, and if ever cornered and in doubt, go for the balls.  Hard. (Note:  That’s not the playground tip – read on).

Particularly in the advanced sessions, I am often outclassed by people who have been training months and even years beyond my experience.  Almost all these guys are gracious partners and, while still challenging me, offer useful tips and assistance.  In turn, I do my very best to learn from them and give them the opportunity to get the training they are paying for by being a good partner (and it is a lot easier to attack than defend, so I think I do alright).

And sometimes I get the shit kicked out of me, if it’s a good class.  What follows are a lot of pictures of bruises, and a few thoughts on the nature of injury. (more…)

I am an attractive young woman.  Evaluations of my level of attractiveness and the relativity of my youth will vary from person to person (not to mention day-to-day), but generically speaking, this is a fair statement.  I am also a professional in an industry populated mpstly by men.  As such, I am largely at a disadvantage, but retain one *unique* advantage based on my personal presentation, if I choose to cultivate it.

This is a song familiar to a lot of you.

My office wear is carefully calculated to appear appropriate in the service of my own physical and mental comfort.  Any aspect that could be challenged as “alluring” or “radical” is studiously balanced out.  If my pants or skirt are form-fitting, my sweater or blouse is loose or non-confrontational.  If my shirt is vee-necked and tight, my trousers are wide-legged and paired with a blazer.  My hair, which is highlighted red and blonde, is subject to much comment by male colleagues (usually that it is too red and they prefer me blonder).  I take it into consideration, but still wear silver-hooped earrings every day, because I like them, and their size and shape belies how much my ears stick out (I hate my ears).  Every day, I wear an extremely high-quality, fake silver Rolex and a tasteful silver ring I bought on the street in Barcelona.  I take pride in the fact that people who have worked with me for years are surprised to find out I have a tongue stud, because I chose a subtle one ten years ago.

Pantsuits and pearls are for client meetings, with discreet pearl-drop earrings and straightened hair.  I have one gray suit and one black pinstriped suit.  I wear them with shined, heeled black boots for external meetings, or burgundy Franco Sarto heels for meetings in the office.  I bought both suits half-priced in a sale for $300, and then spent $100 in alterations.  I don’t own a skirtsuit because I haven’t found one that fits me well enough to merit alterations, although I have a gorgeous turquoise shift that my mother bought me from M&S when she visited me last year, which is very professional without looking matronly.  I keep it in the coat closet at work with a spare set of pantyhose, in case of an emergency client meeting.

Having been compared to a librarian, a schoolgirl, and a flight attendant at the office, I am careful to ensure I don’t look too costumey.  I once wore a tight black sweater over a crisp white shirt, with a black skirt and buckled leather boots and realized, mirthfully, that I looked like a Pilgrim, but no one noticed. I wore that outfit again for Thanksgiving, for my own private tribute, because I am an American in the UK. (more…)

This morning a column was sent to me, reminding me that long time journalist and Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, Ellen Goodman was hanging it up.  As we all turn our sights to the new year and the prospects it might bring, it’s worth the time to think about what and who has come before us.

Via GazetteXtra.com

“BOSTON — It is one of those moments when I feel like a time traveler. I look out the airplane window and watch a young woman on the tarmac directing our jet to its gate. As she waves the signals, I fall into a silent, familiar reverie: “I remember when.”

What I remember, of course, is a time when no woman would have been hired for this “man’s job.” What I remember is when my generation opened the door for hers. If I talked to her about the old days, I wonder, would she listen as politely as if I were talking about walking four miles in the snow to school?

I am time traveling these days because on Jan. 1 I’ll be ending my tenure as a syndicated columnist. While my colleagues are busily sizing up the decade with lists—Twitter in; Tiger out—I’m quietly sizing up the last four decades.

Cleaning up the office, I found a clipping from 1969 when, as a young reporter, I was sent to cover this brand new phenomenon called the women’s movement. The next Sunday, I picked up the paper and was stunned to find a one-word banner headline over my byline: WOMEN.

The editor’s note explained: “Today’s Sunday Globe attempts to fathom this phenomenon of the female revolution.”

My own story said that “a female revolution is sweeping the land, in some cases subtle and unspoken, in others dramatic and defiant.” This brazen decision—on the day after the Manson killings no less—to lead The Boston Globe with WOMEN jeopardized the editor’s career but redirected my own. Ever since then, from my perch as an observer, I’ve tracked this story—WOMEN—more consistently than anything else.

How to sum up the time and distance we’ve traveled? Advance and backlash? Forward march and stall-out?

Today, half the law students and medical students are female. But only 15 of the Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs. We had the first serious woman candidate run for president—and lose. We had a mother of five, a governor and a Title IX baby run for vice president—as a conservative.

The Equal Rights Amendment was defeated because people were scared into believing that women could end up in combat. Now nearly a quarter-million women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, 120 have died, 650 have been wounded. But still no ERA. (more…)

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