trinsy: (bovvered)
Dear Men,

Like many women, I work a job in which customer service is integral. Specifically, I’m a barista at a coffee shop, but the details aren’t important for the purposes of this letter. I could work in a restaurant or in a grocery store or on an airplane, and everything I’m about to say would still be relevant, so take note:

Don’t tell me I look nice. Don’t tell me I have a great smile. I’m not at work looking for compliments. I’m not at work looking for your attention. I’m interacting with you because you’re a customer. I don’t need you to tell me I have a nice smile. I’ve seen pictures of myself. I know I have a nice smile. I’m smiling at you because you’re a customer. Smiling at you is my job. I don’t need you to say anything about it. I just need you to tell me what you want to buy from me. That’s also my job.

If I were guy, you wouldn’t say anything about it. If I were a guy, it wouldn’t even occur to you to say anything about it. But if I were a guy, I would still be smiling at you, because smiling at you and pretending you’re not creepy as hell would still be my job.

On a related note, I’m not your “darling” or your “sweetheart”. I’m the person handing you your overpriced latte. No, it isn’t cute or endearing or nice when you call me that. It’s patronizing. If I were a guy, you’d call me “sir” or nothing. I’m not asking you to call me “ma’am”. I’m fine with nothing. I’m not fine with terms of endearment you haven’t earned the right to call me.

I don’t need you to validate me with unnecessary compliments on my personal appearance and inappropriate pet names just because you’re a man and I’m a woman. I actually know exactly where I fall on the scale of attractiveness. I know which of my features are working for me and which aren’t. I don’t want your stamp of approval, and I certainly don’t need it. I didn’t have braces for eighteen months for you. I had braces because crooked teeth bother me. I didn’t do my hair this morning for you. I did my hair this morning because I felt like it. I don’t know you. I don’t care what you think.

So please, stop with the creepy compliments to female cashiers. Stop with the “darling”s and the “sweetheart”s to your waitresses. We don’t want it. We’re just doing our jobs. We’re just hoping that if we grin and bear your patronizing creeper act, you’ll remember to tip. Stop being arrogant enough to assume it’s because you’re validating us. You’re not. Not even a little.

Thank you. Have a nice day. Now take your patronizing, arrogant, creepy bullshit, and shove it up your ass. Who knows, those smiles you apparently like so much might even become genuine once you do.
trinsy: (I came back)

Women of the twenty-first century,
We’re told that we can have it all:
Be the hero of our story,
Be the beauty at the ball.

Have the powerful career.
Be the ideal mom and wife.
Be successful, be fulfilled
In our corporate/domestic life.

But ultimately, as we know,
(We learn the truth from our TVs)
The sole objective of our lives
Is finding a man we can please.

Our respect men demand from us,
(By which they mean, give up our own)
Leaving us with this paradox:
Need someone or be alone.

Woman’s real occupation
Is of course subordination,
For a woman who can save herself
Will never get a man;

And without a man, all is not well:
A woman is an empty shell –
She spends her weekends with her cats,
Finds solace where she can.

For man it is perfectly fine
To fall in love and keep his mind.
But woman gets the dreadful choice:
Lose out on love or lose her voice.

“But be content!” our TVs shout.
“You have the choice to go without.
That’s more than your grandmothers had.
And are things really quite so bad?

Keep your career, just on the side.
You might have to give up your pride,
But you’ll have kids, a husband too
(The natural destiny for you).

And if that is not what you want,
Then don’t complain about your lot,
Though we’ll all judge and pity you,
And speculate that you’re a shrew,

Of course it’s fine. Go do your thing!
We’ll look pointedly for your ring,
And do our best to make you cry –
But rise above it. Go on, try!”

But if we do try to stay free,
We’re told our lives misery.
They put us down, they howl with rage,
‘til we go willingly to our cage.

Enlightened women in our pantsuits,
We put on rings and keep our minds mute,
Ingrained with this phallicy:
We’d be unhappy were we free.
trinsy: (bovvered)
Argh, I am so fucking frustrated right now!

See, I have to write this research paper on Jane Eyre. Which is fine, whatever, because there are actually a ton of resources on Jane Eyre, except none of them are about what I want to write about and I don't actually agree with any of them. Because I really don't care what a bunch of academics say, Jane Eyre isn't a feminist novel, it's a stupid story about stupid people being stupid about the stupid problems they have because they're stupid! That's how I feel, and no number of articles arguing otherwise is going to change my mind.

Okay, so Jane refuses to be Rochester's mistress. Bully for her. You know, he's only tried to trick her into bigamy because, to paraphrase, "I knew if I told you the truth, you wouldn't marry me, and I wanted to marry you because I love you so much, so I didn't tell you the truth, but now that it's come out accidentally, even though I tried to trick you into doing something I knew you wouldn't want to do, will you be my mistress anyway?" And then when she refuses, he physically assaults her. Yeah, I can't imagine why she runs away from him after that. </ sarcasm>

Having said that, when she does run away, she does it in the most idiotic way possible. Yeah, I get that she doesn't have time to contact her uncle or gather money or whatever, but at least take your jewelry to hock along the way. My god, woman, do you have any idea how to be fugitive? What the hell is your plan?

And then - and then - she finds these long lost cousins (and let's not even get into how convenient that is) and her guy cousin is a total controlling asshole, and she lets him control her. "Oh, I want to learn German but you want me to learn Hindustani even though that will be of absolutely no use to me in the life I've planned for myself? Guess I'll learn Hindustani then." Wow, what a strong, independent woman! </ sarcasm> And the only reason she doesn't give in to said asshole cousin's demand that she marry him and become a missionary with him (and in the proposal he not only insults her in every possible manner but attempts to emotionally blackmail her by telling her she'll be damned to hell if she doesn't do what he says)? Because she hears the voice of Rochester! That's right, she doesn't give in to one manipulative bastard because the hold of another is stronger! Hurrah for women being able to think for themselves! (And that's not even talking about how afterward she hopes her bastard cousin will forgive her, even though she has nothing to be forgiven for and he should be the one begging her for forgiveness!)

And then she goes back to Rochester and immediately starts back into referring to him, even in her head, as her "master", which is way creepy, and he's all, "Why did you run away? I know I said I would break you in half if you didn't comply with my demands, but I only said it because I'm so in love with you! Of course I would never hurt you (even though I totally did)! I was so worried about you! Why didn't you just trust me?!?!" Oh gee, I can't imagine! Maybe because you tried to trick her into bigamy? I mean, just possibly. Also, great, so in real life, Rochester is totally the guy who beats his wife and then cries about it and blames it on her. Awesome. Yeah, this one epic love story right here! </ sarcasm>

And you know what? I get it. I get that it's fiction, which means when Rochester says he's reformed, he probably has. But in real life, that doesn't happen. In real life, Rochester is so very much the guy you don't want to date. I can make that distinction, but a lot of people can't, and it disturbs me. It's what disturbs me about Twilight and The Notebook and a lot of other "Epic Love Stories" that in real life would be very bad news. And it's why I have a problem with Jane Eyre being held up as this paragon of feminism when in real life we'd probably be trying to get her into counseling for Battered Wife Syndrome ASAP.

But the most frustrating part is that I can't write any of that for my research paper because I can't find any research that fucking agrees with me! Because everyone thinks Jane Eyre is this amazing feminist declaration. And you know what? It isn't!
trinsy: (don't be so daft)
**I feel like this is way more coherent in my head than it is here, but I think this conveys the basic idea...

Here’s the message I’ve been sent since I was a child, and I don’t think it’s specific to me: “You are less of a person because you don’t have the daddy-daughter bond. You are less of a person for something you have no control over. You are not worth as much. You are inferior. You are less than.” I actually used to believe that, too. They throw statistics at you all the time, and it’s hard not to assimilate the idea that you’re messed up because you didn’t have a daddy. You never stop to think that actually, it could just be you’re messed up because people are telling you you’re messed because you didn’t have a daddy. You actually can have only one parent and still be fine, funnily enough, as long as you don’t have people insisting the opposite or you’re smart enough not to believe them. It’s a rare person who’s that smart when they’re nine.

I figured it out eventually. Looked at my life one day and realized that, hey, incredibly, I was okay. I lived in an all-female household, and we were all okay. We did basic household fix-it jobs (painting, plumbing, putting up the Christmas tree, etc.), we made it through, we were happy overall, and we didn’t need any men to do it. I’d always been told that I needed a man to take care of me, and suddenly I realized that, actually, I didn’t. I’d been taking care of myself for years, and my entire life I’d been taken care of by women. And I was fine. I am fine. My entire life is one big argument against the idea that every woman needs a man in her life. You know what I found out after I realized that? To society, realizing that isn’t okay. After I started telling people about my epiphany, I was warned that I needed to rid myself of that notion at once because no man would ever want a girl who didn’t think she needed him.

I used to be pitied and patronized because the man in my life left me. Now I’m condemned because my very existence proves the societal myth of female dependency is a lie. Apparently, if you don’t have a dad, you aren’t allowed to be happy. You aren’t allowed to be okay. Your fate rests in the hands of that man, and if he doesn’t choose you, you can’t win. Ever. Maybe one day, if you somehow, incredibly, manage to stumble upon and/or seduce some other man who, against all logic, actually wants and chooses you, but even then there will be whispers of “daddy issues” or “problems submitting”. Your dad sets the tone for your entire life, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

That’s dumb. Even the women in my life have perpetuated this idea, and it’s not true. My mom says that maybe I’m right, but “I have to accept the reality of the world.” I have to accept the reality of a society that won’t accept me because my dad couldn’t be bothered to know me, and yet I refused to let his selfishness break me. I’m too scary to fit in, and that’s “just the way the world is”.

You know what? I’m not going to keep apologizing because my sense of self doesn’t conform to societies expectations for me. “That’s the way the world is” is the argument that sustained slavery, and it’s just as unsound in this case. Perpetuation of oppression does not validate it. You’ll never get me to pretend that it does.

You know what else? If –– whether because of social constructs or your own insecurities –– you need me to downplay my own strengths to make you feel better about yourself, you don’t deserve my respect. Especially if you feel it is my duty to do this simply because you happened to be born with a penis and Y chromosome and I did not.

Also, men don’t get to claim “respect” as their gender-specific desire, any more than women get to claim “love”. I am a woman, and I also desire respect. That’s really the issue. I’m being told I have to choose one or the other (and to a lot of people, by not valuing love above everything, as my gender supposedly dictates I should, I’m essentially choosing neither). I want both. Everyone wants both. I don’t think anyone, male or female, would say, “I hope to die unloved but respected,” any more than anyone would say, “I want to be a person everyone loves and nobody respects.” They’re both important. We all want both, whether we pee standing up or have menstrual cycles (or both). Honestly, I fail to see how sexual organs and hormone levels would have any impact on these basic human desires.

Contrary to how I’m sure it appears, I don’t actually hate men. I really, really don’t. I’m just sick of being told that I’m wrong. Not that I’m wrong about this issue, but that my very essence, my awareness of who I am as an individual is wrong. And yeah, men get the greater part of my ire here because apparently they’re the ones who are too insecure to handle the existence of girls like me. But that’s their problem. Why should I suffer for their insecurities? You know what the whole issue stems from? It’s insecure men trying to make women insecure so they can feel better about themselves. Well I’m not playing, and threatening me with a lack of romance isn’t going to get me to do so. If that’s what romance costs, it comes at far too high a price, and honestly, why would I want it? Why would I give up my independence and individuality to become a kowtowing bimbo for some chauvinistic asshole? That sort of romance sounds like it sucks. It definitely doesn’t sound like love.

My existence is not wrong. I don’t need a man to take care of me. My father’s inadequacies don’t get to define me, and neither do the insecurities of other men. And society may condemn me for that, but it will never be able to convince me otherwise.

June 2013

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