Friday, May 16, 2014

Subjects, Objects, and Verbs

Right now I'm in my pajamas, but pretty soon it will be time to choose an outfit based on whether or not I want men to have impure thoughts about me. Not.

The war on sexuality, the pervasive fear culture in which we live, and the effects of the patriarchy don't just hurt women, they hurt men too. When our perfectly natural thoughts of finding someone attractive, even sexually attractive, are labeled as wrong or "impure," it's unbelievable anyone would suggest that feminism is irrelevant.

It's even more unbelievable that anyone would suggest feminism is irrelevant to my generation; that it's not only necessary but imperative members of my generation speak out and take action to combat the attitudes that contribute to unhealthy physical and emotional outcomes for our peers and put forth and support the policies that can bring about better outcomes.

Any time someone speaks out on the topic of female costuming and how what a woman wears doesn't give men the right to objectify them or disrespect their boundaries, the same argument is made:

"But when you dress that way, men are going to check you out. They are going to have thoughts."

Guess what? You're right. But your argument is invalid. It doesn't matter how a woman dresses, men are going to have thoughts. They are going to have perfectly normal and healthy thoughts. They are going to have thoughts about conservatively dressed women, scantily clad women, and all manners in between.

Very little attention is paid to the way men dress. Yeah, honey, so glad to know you want me to think your junk is so valuable that you're wearing $30 boxer shorts. I think I now hear the sound of a thousand guys now screaming, "THAT''S NOT WHY WE DO IT!" and I would like to personally thank each and every one of you for proving my point.

Trying to shame men or women or condescend because both sexes are capable of finding people attractive is bullshit. It's our behavior that defines us. Finding a man or woman attractive is not objectifying. Being unable to think of a man or woman as something other than a physical body or a toy for one's pleasure is. Thinking about a man or woman sexually is not impure or wrong. Not respecting boundaries is. Assuming that a woman is wearing a corset top or a man is showing the label on his boxers to beg for sex is ridiculous and puts confines on the ability of both sexes to express themselves for their own individual reasons. 

That's what it all comes down to in the end, our own individual expression. Feminism is not an anti-sex agenda. The policies feminists have advocated  have liberated both women and men sexually. Many of those policies, such as access to birth control, are under attack. Sex education that promotes and encourages healthy attitudes is under attack. Equal pay is not yet a reality.

My generation has a place at the table in the discussion and promotion of these, and countless other issues. Attempts to relegate us to the kiddie table are direct attacks on this country's future. Once again, it's our behavior that defines us and all over this nation, there are people from multiple generations working together to forward the causes they believe in. We fight for the expansion of opportunities for young people in our democracy so that those young people can act as individuals and the expression of their individuality is on equal footing with older Americans. We fight for equality so that both women and men are on equal footing with one another.

My public/writer/activist life is separate from my private life. There are many people interested in Madison Kimrey and who like to make assumptions about me. That's a form of objectification too that has nothing to do with sex. I'm very guarded in who I let get to know Maddie, but one thing that's true in both my public and private life is this:

I'd rather be one person's shot of liquor than everybody's cup of tea.


  1. You may rather consider yourself a 'shot of liquor', than a 'cup of tea', but I'm thinking you are actually more a 'nice glass of liqueur'. The differences are subtle, and I would be slightly surprised if you knew the difference, you are 12 years old, but not surprised that you would understand that there is a difference. I think I'm finally over the fact you are only 12 years old, and can talk knowledgeably about sex, liquor, voting, etc... I know the problem was my perception all along, but I won't let that influence my expectations of your abilities any longer. Your abilities speak for themselves!

  2. Madison. You have just earned a place somewhere in one of my books. Right now I'm working on an urban fantasy series that deals with the issue of the patriarchy and even more serious subjects like human trafficking and sexual slavery. (Nothing explicit because that's not the point). In the first book I introduced a character who insists that what she wears is HER business and anyone who had a problem with it could try to do something about it. She's a particularly powerful "parahuman," which, in her case, means she's got somewhere near the strength and toughness of Marvel's She-Hulk. So she can enforce her own preferences in this matter regardless of anyone's objections.

    In the second book I team up seven very different women to go after a bunch of evil bastards who have created a growing industry for slaves in this post-apocalyptic world. In the nation-state of Cali, at least.

    One of the messages I want to get through from the start was that what a woman wears should be up to the individual woman. As men, I believe, we should respect and defend the right to make their own choices. And, as men, we can treat them with respect regardless. I understand that we men can't help it that the presence of attractive women make us slightly dumber. Being slightly befuddled is no excuse for behaving as if we have no sense of judgement or inhibitions whatsoever.

    That, apparently, is what alcohol is for.

    I truly believe that wisdom can emerge from men and women of any age, and you show me that my younger protagonists are not as farfetched as they might at first seem.

    I will say this. Your emotional intelligence seems much higher than mine was at your age. I daresay you probably had great parents and I envy you that. But you strike me as a young woman poised to help change the world and I wish you all the luck along the way.

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