Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Body Politic

From panties that allow you to bleed on the faces of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, to increasing awareness of the tampon tax, to a coordinated effort on behalf of women to inform Indiana Governor Mike Pence about what's happening during our menstrual cycles, periods are on-trend for Spring in the political arena.

Just about every girl in health class or in sex education, even in abstinence only sex ed, learns about menstruation. Do you know what girls aren't learning? They aren't learning that the way to tell if a guy likes you or not isn't whether he still wants to talk to you after you give him a blow job.

In the absence of any real connection to female empowerment, yet another generation of women is starting to have sexual experiences that are focused solely on men. While we need to continue to take action to improve outcomes for future generations through comprehensive sex education that encourages women to advocate for their own pleasure, we also need to take action to improve outcomes through civics education that encourages women to advocate for their own power. When a girl answers a question about her first sexual experience with, "I think my body looked okay, he seemed to enjoy it," that's not just a reflection of our prudity when it comes to women's bodies. It's a reflection of our politics.

When women turn down a man's advances because we don't like their actions, we get blamed and told we have a bitchy attitude. When we show up at the Governor's Mansion to demonstrate for our reproductive rights, we're given a plate of cookies and told, "God bless you." We shouldn't dress too provocatively because if we do we're both "asking for it" and undesirable at the same time. We shouldn't shout when we're giving a stump speech because that makes us unelectable but we shouldn't speak too softly because then we're not powerful enough to lead. When we have the audacity to expect those we choose to be intimate with to be intimate with us, we're dirty whores. When we have the audacity to expect those who are elected to represent us to protect our rights and access to services, we're dirty whores.

When young women are confused about whether or not to send a picture when a guy asks for it, when they don't enjoy sex at all but feel like "getting sex out of the way quickly" is the only way to get their boyfriends to watch a movie, when they pinkie promise their fathers that they'll remain virgins until marriage instead of deciding for themselves what they want, they relinquish power. When young men turn to pornography for sex education, when they base their identities on what they can take from women, when they label and value women based on what they will or won't do in the bedroom, they learn that objectifying and coercing is the way to attempt to obtain pleasure and power. If more women start to truly respect and value ourselves, we'll expect men to do it too. If more men start to truly value and respect women, they'll expect other men to do it too. This is on the top 10 list of what Conservatives are most afraid of. If the patriarchy breaks down, if rape culture breaks down, and if equality advances, they will be the ones relinquishing their power.

I'm thrilled period politics are on-trend for Spring. Those of us women who get it need to continue to demonstrate that we're not ashamed to not only talk about our bodies but are also not afraid to demand our legislators listen to us talk about it. Talking about periods, something young women regularly experience, are informed about, and therefore can relate to, and directly relating this with the laws that are designed to regulate our bodies and the lawmakers who attempt to enact them is a powerful demonstration that young women won't get in their Civics 101 textbooks. And maybe, just maybe, if we can continue to demonstrate to young women that we're capable of demanding that our lawmakers respect us through deeds not words, it can help them to be more confident in demanding respect through deeds in their personal relationships too.

Our society should not be working based on a system of coercion, control, and relinquished power, but more like this:

1 comment:

  1. Excellent article that exposes what women of my generation have known for decades; the sexual dynamic between men & women has NEVER been equal for all the reasons you state so eloquently in your blog.