When I knocked on the door, a middle-aged man answered. After determining that we were in agreement about needing to end the Iraq war, I launched into a conversation about the organization I worked for and how we were organizing to end the war. At one point he stopped me, saying, “You know what women should do? They should stop having sex with men. That would end the war.” I don’t remember how I responded, but at that point in my life as a young canvasser I was probably just flustered and kept going, hoping to get him to take some kind of action. I do remember that I felt annoyed and deflated. Why was I wasting my time knocking on doors trying to use my powers of persuasion to inspire people to take action when I should just be telling men I wouldn’t have sex with them? While I was passionately sharing my political views, was he just thinking about me as a sexual object? (more…)
Spoilers ahead for the mid-season finale of Scandal.
Our popular culture is light years behind reality when it comes to depicting women’s reproductive choices. Even though 1 in 3 women will have an abortion before the age of 45, the subject is rarely portrayed on TV. In the rare times there is an abortion story, it’s usually fraught and sometimes tragic (although in real life 95% of women don’t regret their abortions), or a convenient miscarriage happens so viewers never have to cope with a woman making the decision to terminate a pregnancy. (more…)
It’s hard to know what it’s like to feel unsafe in your own skin if you haven’t experienced it yourself. If you’re not a woman, you might not relate to the knot in your stomach when you hear footsteps behind you on a dark night. You may never have gone through a complex list of calculations to figure out how to get home without fear of being attacked. You might not have taken up the slightly comforting but probably ridiculous stance of weaving your keys through your fingers, as though you will be able to expertly deploy this improvised weapon in the face of danger. (Comedian John Mulaney captured this disconnect well in a hilarious standup bit). (more…)
We’ve been told throughout our lives that there are things that women or men are just naturally better at. Giving these restrictions an air of biological determination makes it easier for people to dismiss complaints that these expectations are limiting or unfair. But despite a long history of claiming men and women’s brains are just different, there’s not much science to back it up: (more…)
As women, we are constantly defined by our reproductive choices in a way that men rarely if ever are. We face what Jia Tolentino calls “dread-laced, prematurely exhausted timing questions that arise when you are born into a body that many people see as pre-ordained into service to other people.” It’s well known that women who decide not to become parents face a special kind of stigma. But when women do follow what is presumed to be their natural path, they are still badgered about everything from when and how they conceive to what they eat when they’re pregnant to when to what kind of schools they send their kids to. These life decisions can overshadow the many other things that women do in their lives, and that may hold a more vaunted position in the formation of their own identities. (more…)