Women

Can we please talk about male entitlement?

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News flash: no one owes you anything. Image via Everyday Feminism.

Last Friday night reminded me of why I avoid going out: men. And no, not all men—just a certain type of men. The one who prowls clubs looking for a partner to do the dirty with. The one who thinks he’s entitled to your attention. The one who’s shocked to find out he’s not.

But that’s what it’s like when you go out in a small town.

It was karaoke night—and there were only around 20 patrons in the entire club. It was the first time I’d gone out in months—with my mum and best friend, no less. But of course, when there’s a woman, there will be a man thinking he’s entitled to her attention.

A random guy came up and put his hand on my back.

“Come on, come up and dance. Support my buddy,” he said.

Firstly, no. Take your hands off me. You have no right to touch me—even if it is just my back. The location isn’t important: the lack of consent is.

“No thanks!” I replied. Because dancing in front of some random dude who thinks that’s a sign i’ll go home with him is probably the last thing I want to do.

“No?” he was shocked I’d refused—and with no excuse either!

“No,” I responded, smiling and waving my wine glass.

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Yes, I am happy with my wine. No, I don’t need your attention. Image via Inside Amy Schumer.

With that, he left, shaking his head. What a shock that must have been! A simple “no”, rather than an excuse. I didn’t tell him I wasn’t drunk enough to go dance, I didn’t tell him I had a boyfriend, I didn’t tell him I wasn’t at all interested: I just told him no—and that’s how it should be.

Ladies and gentlemen: you don’t owe anyone anything. It’s not bitchy to refuse. It’s not rude to refuse. It’s your right. Just because a member of the opposite sex happens to smile at you doesn’t mean you have to do anything. You don’t owe him anything. Women do not exist to pump up Male egos.

I’ll repeat that: women do not exist to pump up male egos.

And really, if your ego can be shattered by a person saying no, you probably weren’t all that good to begin with.

Zoe is a journalist with a passion for all things wacky and strange. Like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter for more!

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I don’t want children. But my stretch marks are still beautiful.

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Image via Instagram, @LoveYourLines.

Stretch marks. Those tiny and sometimes not so tiny pink lightning bolts that adorn most of our bodies. They signify life. They signify change. And often, they signify you’ve created. We have all seen those posts praising women for their post-baby bodies, proudly showcasing their stretch marks and soft bellies—and that’s absolutely fantastic. I am utterly ecstatic for them—they’ve done something absolutely phenomenal, and have the courage to tell society to eff its standards of womanhood: that idea of a skinny, yet big-breasted, yet curvy woman with perfect skin, long hair and a sweet, meek smile. We see posts about women openly declaring love for their bodies, stretch marks and all, saying phrases like “my body created life” and loving it more because of that.

While this is so fantastic and awesome, I can’t help but think it creates a dichotomy between two kinds of women—a divide—between those who have and want children, and those who don’t or can’t.

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Image via Facebook.

Is this just another way we women have been conditioned to pit ourselves against each other?

I haven’t given birth—nor do I want to. And like most women, I have stretch marks too—around my thighs, around my hips, and around my breasts. It’s inevitable. It’s a part of life, growing and changing. And as I age, I come to love my body more and more—even if it isn’t supermodel skinny, even if my belly is soft, even if my thighs touch, and a whole lot of other things that happen. But why can’t my stretch marks and soft belly be celebrated as “beautiful”, even if I haven’t given birth to achieve them? They’re a fact of life. And I think emphasis needs to be taken off celebrating bodies based on what they have or haven’t done.

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There’s already a significant stigma against women who don’t want children. That oh, you’ll change your mind or your life isn’t complete until you’ve had kids or you don’t know happiness until you’ve heard your child’s laugh or worse: you’re still young. You’ll realise how great having kids is.

Thanks. I didn’t realise my life, my worth and my value revolved around popping out miniature versions of me and my partner (gosh, that would be trouble). I’m perfectly happy not going through that experience, thank you very much.

As a social community, we adore and stand behind women who’ve had children and choose to wear bikinis in public. We stand behind these mothers, and we call them brave (which they are). But should we really be teaching and continuing this idea that we can only love ourselves entirely if we’ve borne children? Is this really the message we want to send to young girls? “Your life isn’t complete until you’ve had a baby”.

We should all be proud of our bodies, and proud of our tiger stripes. And if we continue to praise women for their soft bellies, stretch marks and so on, only if they’ve had children, we continue to perpetuate this way we differentiate and place value upon different choices. We continue to perpetuate the idea that children complete your life—which is obviously a terrible notion for women who don’t want children, and women (including trans women) who can’t. Just because my body hasn’t been through a miraculous experience like giving birth does not mean I am any less deserving of celebration. I shouldn’t have to go through that to be comfortable with my lack of a thigh gap, with my stretch marks, with my comfy belly. I am a happy, healthy human being: isn’t that enough?

We need to celebrate our bodies, not for what they have or haven’t done, but for the simple fact that we are human—and all humans deserve to be able to celebrate their bodies: and be supported and cheered for doing so. There’s so much negativity in the media about women: please, ladies: can we just love our bodies for how they are?

Zoe is a journalist with a passion for all things wacky and strange. You check out more of her work on Facebook and Twitter.

Orange is the New Black addressed something really important–and we need to talk about it.

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Tiffany Doggett. Image via Buzzfeed.

Why are we so afraid to call it rape?

Rape culture is very real and very dangerous—but Orange is the New Black isn’t afraid to tackle it. In the latest season of the hit Netflix series, we see conceptions of rape addressed—and reformed—through the characterisation of inmate Tiffany Doggett.

Doggett was raped last season by a commanding officer at Litchfield Penitentiary—a man who was supposed to be responsible for her safety. Instead, officer Charlie Coates took advantage of her and raped her: but it wasn’t how we usually see rape represented on screens. Doggett wasn’t screaming. She wasn’t frantically trying to beat him off. But we could see from her face that she desperately didn’t want to be there.  It doesn’t matter if she didn’t fight tooth and nail to stop him—or even if she didn’t tell him: it is still rape.

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Image via Cosmopolitan.

This season, Doggett confronts Coates, making sure he’s not raping anyone else. But here’s the kicker: he didn’t even know he’d raped her. “But I love you,” he insists. “It’s different.”

“But it didn’t feel any different,” Doggett responds.

It didn’t feel any different because it isn’t—rape is the unwanted penetration of oral, vaginal or anal cavities. So, why are we so afraid to call it that? We live in a society where we’re so focussed on blaming the victim: what did they do to provoke it? What were they wearing? Were they drinking? Had they slept together before? Were they in love? Where they in a relationship? Why didn’t they yell for help? People voice these questions as if any of these factors negate a heinous crime. Newsflash: it doesn’t.

One in six women and 1 in 33 men will be raped within their lifetimes. One in two transgender persons will be sexually assaulted, as well as 44% of lesbian women, 26% of gay men, and 61% of bisexual women and 37% of bisexual men. This is a major problem—yet instead of tackling these issues, we’re too focussed on blaming the victim.

As a woman, I’m afraid to walk home alone at night—even though my bus stop is only 500m away. As a woman, I am afraid when a group of men walk towards me. As a woman, I make sure I’m not too drunk to keep my wits about me. I make sure my dress isn’t too short. I make sure I don’t lead anyone on—and even then, I’m not safe.

Doggett was raped in a prison environment meant to protect her.

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Most rapes are not reported, and even if they are, they’re not likely to result in a conviction. This must change. Image via Waging Non-Violence.

Our actions do not give another person permission to so much as touch us. Even if I walked down the street naked, I’m still not “asking for it”—because my body is mine, and every human being deserves that right. But some people still don’t seem to get the concept of “no”.

Maybe you loved them. Maybe you knew they were horny, so you just let them do it. Maybe you did try to stop it, but gave in because it was easier than fighting. Maybe there were tears in your eyes, as you stare at the wall, wishing you were anywhere else. Maybe you cried when it was over and they were asleep or gone. Maybe they did love you. But then, maybe they didn’t. Maybe it was a cruel and vicious crime—and actions or intentions don’t change that.

As women, we’re so programmed to feel like we have to please our partners—even if we don’t want to. But love is not an excuse for rape: nothing is. And this line of thinking, this notion of “oh, you can’t call it rape after it happened” is absolute bullshit, and a massive cultural problem. Maybe you were too scared to speak up—maybe you’re too afraid to confront in your own mind what it was, and only realise what it was later. It is “not making it up” to get someone in trouble—because only one in six rapes are reported, and only 17% of rapes are actually convicted.

Rape affects every facet of your life. It restricts your sexuality.  It restricts your chance at future relationships. You lay awake, crying and reliving those moments. You flinch at every rape joke, or mention of sexual assault.  This is not okay.

But we live in a society that would rather blame the victim than prosecute the victim. But it is not the victim’s fault—it’s the rapist’s fault.

Rape is an unforgivable crime—and we need to stop sugar coating it.

Stop telling me I “don’t look like a gamer”.

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Accurate. Image via Big Bang Theory.

I don’t feel comfortable. Maybe it’s my anxiety, but I’m not so sure. My palms are sweaty. My breathing escalates. I feel their eyes on me. You don’t belong here, they snicker.

I pause. Well . . . Why don’t I belong here?

I’m talking about my recent visits to various comic book and gaming stores. Now, I love gaming. I’ve loved it ever since Sonic the Hedgehog came out on Sega, followed by the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro games on PlayStation1, various PlayStation 2 games, and now my PlayStation 4. I’ve gleefully wasted countless hours of my life mashing buttons and yelling with glee at the screen. I’ve finished my favourite games multiple times, and if I’m ever not responding to Facebook messages, it’s probably because I’m gaming—can’t talk, killing zombies. But for some reason, whenever I visit a nerdy store—filled with things I love dearly and would gladly spend my money on—the eyes of other patrons tell me I don’t belong.

Is it because I’m a woman?

Is it because I don’t “look like a gamer”?

Is it because I wear pretty floral dresses and bright red lipstick?

Is it because I wing my eyeliner sharp enough to cut the haters, have my nails done and carry cute handbags?

Whenever I go into these stores, I feel like I have to justify myself. I have to prove I like these things. I have to prove I’m not a poser. Because obviously, my appearance is directly linked to what things I can and can’t enjoy, and how good I am at said things.

It is not posing when a female enjoys games, anime, comic books or other like things. Believe it or not, we’re not trying to act cool to impress boys (or girls). Here’s a crazy idea: maybe we enjoy it—just like you.

Instead of judging and hating each other, we should be promoting acceptance, love, and mutual enjoyment of cool and quirky things. After all, aren’t we the same geeks that were (most likely) picked on in school? Teased for liking things that weren’t the norm? Stereotyped as nerds and weirdos?

I am a nerd. I am a geek. I’m a weirdo. And I’m a girly girl. But you know what? I’m proud of that. I love these things, and I can’t wait to experience more. And if you’re ever tempted to judge someone else, maybe you should take a good hard look at yourself. Stop looking at me with those eyes. I do belong here—F off. I can’t hear you over the sound of me winning, anyway.

Stop telling me I can’t wear heels to uni.

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Image via Medical Daily.

There seems to be a stigma attached to women who wear high heels to uni—or anywhere casual, really. People say: why would you do that? That’s really silly. Don’t your feet hurt? Your feet look like they hurt.

News flash: if I wear heels, it’s because I want to—not to please you. Do my feet hurt? Probably. But at least I feel confident and pretty. Besides, it’s not like I always wear heels. I rarely do. Please, stop judging and be on your merry way. There are actually a lot of benefits I think people don’t realise—particularly in the colder months.

They look fabulous.

Now, I don’t think of myself as a vain person—but looking down at my feet or catching a glimpse of my shoes in the reflection of a window or glass door makes me feel confident and sophisticated. To me, wearing heels can signify professionalism. When I’m in the city or interning at a magazine in the city, all I can think about is how fantastic and confident they seem. While I have worn huge and gorgeous heels in the city (and yes, they do kill), I can’t help but feel it’s worth it. Besides, you can always pack flats: the best of both worlds.

They give you height.

I’ll admit, I’m a short ass—just below five foot three. Actually being able to see the top shelf, or over the sea of people is awesome. Plus, when you wear heels, you’re less likely to step in puddles and have to walk around with soaked converse or ballet flats. Winning.

Shoes, glorious shoes. Image via Express.

They make you work more.

It’s no secret that it does take more effort to wear heels—but, something I noticed today, is that it has the effect of making you feel warmer. Which makes sense—you’re exerting more energy in moving. The result: warmth. Fantastic for the upcoming winter months.

Because I want to.

But seriously, I don’t need your validation. I am not conforming to some kind of stereotype of women needing to wear damaging and painful heels. I’m doing it because I want to, and because it makes me happy. And if it makes me happy to occasionally don some heeled boots or a pair of pumps, then that is exactly what I’ll do.

Love yourself—all of yourself—no matter what your style.

New abortion laws: one small step for womankind

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Yesterday, the ACT introduced new legislation which decrees there will be 50-metre exclusion zones around abortion clinics, preventing anti-abortion protesters from congregating and harassing women outside of ACT medical clinics.

The Health (Patient Privacy) Amendment Bill was introduced by Greens member Shane Rattenbury in July, who believes women should have access to abortion services without fear of abuse.

“This is fundamentally about a woman’s right to medical privacy,” he said, inviting would-be protesters to raise their concerns to the Legislative Assembly instead.

Anti-abortion protesters have been gathering outside abortion clinics for the past 16 years, according to Angela Carnovale of the Women’s Centre for Health Matters.

“Even silent vigils convey judgement,” she said.

The amendment is one step closer towards reproductive equality, as under current legislation, women do not have control over their own bodies. The NSW Criminal Code states that any person who obtains or assists with an unlawful abortion may be sentenced up to ten years imprisonment. The 1971 case of R v Wald set the precedent that an abortion is lawful if it was deemed necessary to protect a woman from serious danger to her life, self or mental health.

Basically, if a practitioner doesn’t believe a woman meets this criteria, she cannot get an abortion. This sets the dangerous precedent that women and their opinions do not matter—they are secondary to an unborn foetus, and therefore second-class citizens.

End 12 is a Greens pro-choice campaign that has long fought for exclusion zones around clinics, as well as the decriminalisation of abortion. It believes women have the right to choose without fear of prosecution or harassment. A survey by the Greens indicated 86% of Australians believe abortion should legalised, while 76% did not know abortion is a criminal offence.

Greens senator Larissa Walters believes these laws are archaic, dangerous and regressive.

“They have no place in modern society where women should always have their own control over their bodies.”

Exclusion zones are set to come into force in six months.

9 things Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck taught me

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Trainwreck is a hilarious analysis of modern relationships, and breaks down barriers of what it is to be a woman. Also, it’ll tell you how to get a condom unstuck—and other vital tips below.

  • Your sexuality doesn’t define you!

I cannot stress this enough. Ladies, say it with me: your sexuality doesn’t define you! You want to sleep with multiple partners in one night—or no one at all? Awesome! Because honestly? We’re grown-ass women. Do more—and who—of what makes you happy.

  • Know when to say “no”

Whether it be to a super bitchy boss, or a hook up with a strange 16-year-old whose safe word is pineapple: know when to say no. If something feels wrong, it probably is.

  • Beware of sexy talk

Especially if your partner really isn’t into it. Otherwise, you may get some golden responses like “I’m going to put my pecker in you” and “fill you with my protein”.

  • It’s never too late to say sorry

You really do only live once; why hold onto petty arguments? If you love someone, tell them. Bonus points if you say sorry by choreographing a cheerleader dance routine where you’re the star—extra bonus points if you can’t dance.

  • Watch your come backs

No, really. Think before you speak—if you don’t, you might reply to an insult: “you know what I do to assholes? I lick them.” Errr, okay.

  • There is a wrong time for alcohol

I’ll admit: I’m a fan of wine (and vodka). Okay, maybe too much of a fan. Amy Schumer must be my spirit animal.  But there is a point where you have to take a good look at yourself and ask: “Am I really okay?”

  • Receiving head without giving

Well, if you follow in Amy Schumer’s footsteps, close your eyes and pretend you’re asleep.

  • Full-proof writing tips

Like, say . . . don’t show up to work drunk. Also, don’t sleep with your interviewees.

  • And finally . . . how to get a condom unstuck from your cervix

Behind me, I heard: “I’ve had that happen”. Is this seriously a problem? Well, if it happens to you, simply make a hook with your finger—happy hunting.

Love all of who you are—even the sloppy parts. At the time, you were doing exactly what you needed. Bless you, Amy Schumer!