Why I Am a Feminist (or, Applied Examples of the Prevalence of Rape Culture)

Here’s a true story. Last night, I was hanging out at a pretty chill bar, having some beers and just having a nice time. Three guys and a girl came in and sat near me. They seemed to be about college age, and I paid them little mind. One guy seemed to take notice of me, came over and started talking to me. I already had a good feeling where this was going, believe me.

“Who are you here with?”

“Myself.”

“Ohh!” he grinned smugly and reached a friendly arm around my shoulders. I stiffened, but attempting subtlety with this guy was like playing a Mozart concerto for a warthog. He continued to have a distinct lack of regard for personal space during this entire encounter. I pulled away, and kept having to, again and again, as he pressed his body “casually” against my side.

I had been talking to the bartender about how I’m moving to a different part of the city. The guy next to me started saying, don’t move, I’ll cry, we should hang out, we should get married, hahaha. You know, in that joking-but-not-really sort of way. I said no, I don’t think my girlfriend would like that.

He stared at me in disbelief.

“I’m gay.”

“Are you really?” he seemed dubious. You know, just because I don’t fit whatever the damn stereotype of a lesbian is, doesn’t mean this shit doesn’t piss me off after a while. But I was amiable enough still, even at that point.

“Yes, really.”

Then came the questions, the utterly unoriginal and predictable questions…

“Hypothetically, if you were straight, would you find me attractive?”

“Hypothetically, if you were gay, would you find your friend attractive?”

He guffawed and made a joke of it. I settled for telling him there is no hypothetical, because I’m not straight. He was good looking enough for sure, but he was also smugly self-assured to the point of intolerable cockiness, and that is SO unattractive in anyone, regardless of sex.

“How do you know you’re gay? Are you sure?”

“How do you know you’re straight?” I retorted. Another offhand joke.

“So you’ve never dated a guy?” I didn’t find this worthy of answering. And so on and so forth.

I shot him down, again and again. Apparently, though, “you’re so pretty” is a valid excuse to ignore increasingly not-so-subtle hints to go away. Because, apparently, pretty women NEED to be convinced, cajoled, and outfoxed despite what they may have to say in the matter. Too bad for him, it’s a rare person who can run any sort of intellectual circles around me.

“So can you give me tips on how to make girls like me?” I wasn’t sure whether this was some kind of facetious reverse psychology, though now, looking back, I really don’t think he was clever enough for that. I just sort of rolled my eyes in answer.

There were plenty more questions, liberally interspersed with complaints that I was mean, an asshole, and that I should be nicer to him. I pointed out dryly that no one forced him to come over to me, and that despite my “meanness” he was still glued to my side. Yet another hint for him to go away, and it was laughed off: “Yeah, well you’re pretty.”

I was there first, though, and other than him, had been enjoying my night, so I didn’t feel like I should be the one to have to move. Hey, I’m stubborn like that. He was annoying, but somewhat tolerable in a “look at this dumb asshat” kind of way. Until.

“Have you ever kissed a guy?”

I didn’t answer. It’s none of his business. (Yes, but I wasn’t about to encourage him. I know more than well enough from experience.)

“So,” he pushed, “would you like to try?” I’d had enough.

“You’re disgusting and rude. Get the fuck away from me.”

He tried to play it off as a joke; then, seeing that I was having none of it, turned to one of his friends and called me a “feminist” in a decidedly mocking tone. I tartly informed the lot of them that “feminist is not a pejorative, and neither is gay, for that matter.”

Blank stares. They didn’t know what “pejorative” means — big surprise — and I had to explain… yeah.

Then another guy in his group joined in on ganging up on me, saying condescending things, and I was really starting to get mad. Meanwhile, Douchebag #1 was making little comments about what an asshole I am, and that I didn’t need to be so “mean” to him and his friends.

Throughout this, their female friend meekly tried once or twice to tell them to leave me alone, with little to no effect. They ignored her, and the three guys kept up the hateful diatribe. The kicker was when Douchebag #1 called me “this feminist idiot.”

REALLY??

“Get the fuck away from me before I punch you.”

“I’ll call the cops on you if you touch me.”

“Oh, so a big man like you can’t handle a little ‘feminist idiot’ like me?”

He kept making little comments to his friends, just loud enough for me to hear. It was clearly a case of sour grapes, and I would have laughed if I hadn’t been so angry.

“No wonder straight girls don’t like you. It’s because you’re an insufferable douchebag.”

“Oh, I can get all the girls I want, it’s easy.” I raised an eyebrow, remembering the query for help with said girls not too much earlier.

“Ha, is that so? Why are you bothering me then? Go find one of them and leave me the fuck alone. You’re disgusting.”

He got pretty huffy at this. “Me, disgusting? You’re disgusting.” This from the charmer who was trying to make out with me ten minutes before. Sour grapes, indeed. I was fed up, and turned to the bartender.

“Get these fucking misogynist assholes away from me, please.” Thankfully, the bartender had my back at last and told them to get out. Douchebags numbers 1 and 2 went outside, along with their mouse of a female friend. Finding himself left alone, the third guy came up to me, vaingloriously trying to defend his comrades-in-misogyny.

“They’re not usually like that, they’re just drunk, you don’t have to be mean. Don’t take it out on me, I wasn’t saying anything. But I guess you’re in hostility mode now. But don’t be mad, they’re good guys.” I really had no patience for him and his lame apologies for his disgusting friends, and I told him as much.

“Maybe you should get better friends who aren’t assholes, drunk or sober. Ever heard of guilt by association?” He wouldn’t leave me alone, though, and bugged me for several minutes until I deigned to placate him with an offhand comment just to shut him up. Still, he kept at it until I flat out told him to go away and leave me alone. He didn’t like it, but at last he left.

There are more details I’ve left out, and choice epithets I was called, but I don’t really feel like typing out the whole play-by-play. Needless to say, this is probably the worst treatment I’ve had as a gay woman in Philadelphia in a long time.

After they left, I broke down crying. The bartender was very apologetic, saying nothing like that has happened there before, and that those particular people are regulars. Ironically, he told me, the owner is a gay man and he’s never had any trouble with them. Bitterly, I pointed out that the owner is not an attractive woman whom frat boys would just love to talk into bed in order to show her what a “real man” is. The bartender was nice enough, but I really think it was a case of too little, too late. I have to wonder if that is because they were, in fact, regulars. And I’m upset that this fact made a difference.

He walked me out, effusively apologizing, telling me that he hoped I wouldn’t pass judgment on the bar due to a few unruly patrons. He stayed with me as I unlocked my bike, looking worried. As I pedaled briskly home, I had to keep fighting back tears. Later, it was a long time before I could get to sleep, playing the whole scene back in my mind, seething with rage. It made my stomach turn. To be honest, it still does.

If there is any question in your mind that we are living in a rape culture, a culture in which young men think they can say and do anything to a woman in pursuit of sex, just because he finds her attractive, regardless of whether or not she is interested, and feels perfectly justified — nay, entitled — in hurling verbal (or physical, or sexual) abuse at her when rebuffed, simply because his pride and ego have been hurt, think again.

This is rape culture. This is why Steubenville and a million other similar and unreported cases happen. This is why the media has such crocodile-tear sympathy for the high school rapists for their lost scholarships and “ruined lives,” and not a word of concern for the victim, whose life is the one which is truly ruined.

This is what women and girls put up with, all the time, gay or straight; and by lieu of lifetime exposure, are led to believe that it is normal and right. This is what boys are taught is their due and their right. She was asking for it, she was drunk, she was pretty, she was dressed “like a slut,” she was alone, ad nauseam. Nor does it end at women — gay boys and men, as well as trans* people suffer parallel, if not completely similar, fates.

The worst part is that I feel guilty that I should be “thankful” that it didn’t end up far more tragic, far more dangerous, far more lethal. And that may be the most enraging piece of this whole scenario.

I am thoroughly disgusted. Rape culture must end, and it is everyone’s responsibility. Let’s start a revolution.

Sankta Lucia Dagen / St. Lucia Day

Being a Swede, today is one of my favorite holidays. Traditionally, the girls in the household dress all in white and the eldest gets to be St. Lucia, with a crown of lights, bearing coffee and buns to the parents. It’s a whole big thing. A few years back I fulfilled my lifelong dream of playing St. Lucia in a public performance. This is like being homecoming queen basically and it’s awesome, everyone wants pictures with you and you are the star. Anyway, I thought you’d like to see some pictures I totally googled and don’t own at all. I’ll link when applicable, or if you own it, I’ll take it down if you like.


 

The Lucia song with Swedish lyrics, if you're of a musical bent.

The Lucia song with Swedish lyrics, if you’re of a musical bent.

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Traditional St. Lucia performance in a Swedish church.

Very traditional Swedish "Christmas Greetings"

Very traditional Swedish “Christmas Greetings”

Lucia and her attendants

Lucia and her attendants

Traditional lussekatter, saffron buns.

Traditional lussekatter, saffron buns.

Now for some more sobering photos. Here’s some history.

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The martyrdom of St. Lucia. Apparently the artist is unknown, but it looks early Renaissance to me.

The martyrdom of St. Lucia.

The martyrdom of St. Lucia.

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This is pretty metal. Not Swedish at all, but I liked the image. After her mother was healed on a pilgrimage, Lucia was inspired to give money to the poor. Her fiance was outraged and turned her in for being a Christian. She cut out her eyes and sent them to him.

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This has nothing to do with St. Lucia but came up in the image search. Apparently she is a character on “Spartacus: War of the Damned” which I haven’t seen but now feel a burning urge to hunt down post haste. There is just something about female warriors that drives me wild.

Hope you enjoyed my interesting visual foray through the story of Sankta Lucia.

 

Ramblings and November Wrap-Up

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So November has been a busy month. I haven’t gotten much knitting in lately — yeah, bet you didn’t know that I’m a knitter, yes I like to get my grandma on whilst listening to either audiobooks or some really evil death metal (seriously). I love metal, and knitting to metal. I enjoy the juxtaposition. Anyway, this is the start of a hat pattern from Knitty. It’s a pretty self-striping 70% merino, 30% soysilk that I bought a few years back for some legwarmers and had a bit left over.

Anyway, regarding NaNoWriMo… welp, I’m not a winner (i.e. 50k words in a month), but I’m actually okay with that. By the end of today I’ll have 20k of quality work, with an estimated 70k or so to go. It’s been slow going with the simultaneous research, and life… well, by NaNo standards I suppose. I don’t consider 20k in a month all too shabby, since I’m pretty sure this is the most I’ve written in a month to date — and that’s not counting the other shorts I was working on as well.

I’ve made a personal resolution to write 1500 words every day. No less, but more if I feel like it. That’s 10,500 a week, 42k a month. If I can keep it up, that’s pretty good, and quite doable. That’s doable. I have two three more novel ideas gestating in my brain, so I think 2013 will be a busy year. I just have to come up with a suitable reward system for myself. Maybe more masturbation? Dinner? In that order? I don’t know.

So I’m going to NYC next weekend because I have a new ladyfriend-type-person, and I may or may not be getting laid, a lot. Hint: it’s the former. Sorry to rub it in. Actually, not really. Soooo, between bouts of marathon lesbian sex, I’ll be checking out a couple museums, one of which being the Museum of Sex. I’ve actually not been there before, and I’m quite looking forward to it. Rest assured I’ll be taking lots of pictures and posting them here, Dear Reader. Unfortunately (for you), there will be no (public) pictures of the marathon sex. I kid, I kid. There will be mental pictures, emerging in future writings, and you will be reaping the benefits in an indirect way. I can’t help you with your real life sex drought, though, I’m afraid.

In other news, my cat has been sick, and let me tell you, nothing quite puts you in the mood to write smut than wrapping up a cat who knows what’s coming in a blanket like a vengeful burrito and forcing antibiotics in pill form down his maw, then holding his mouth shut to make sure he swallows instead of spitting it out like a college freshman at her first frat party. Is that inappropriate? Oh well. He’s fixed, so it’s okay. I know what I’m doing, trust me.

The burrito is so he doesn't scratch the hell out of me while I give him a pill. I'm not hurting him, except for his pride, I promise.

The burrito is so he doesn’t scratch the hell out of me while I give him a pill. I’m not hurting him, except for his pride, I promise.

Edit: I couldn’t resist. May the gods forgive me.

vengefulburrito

NaNoWriMo Inspirations

So I went and visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Rocky running up the stairs, for you non-locals) the other day to take some inspiration photos for my novel. I thought my wonderful fans would get a kick out of seeing some of them. ❤

Bust of Louis XV, father-in-law to Marie Antoinette and notorious lecher

Bust of Louis XV, father-in-law to Marie Antoinette and notorious lecher

Portrait of Madame du Barry, mistress of Louis XV, by Elizabeth Vigee-Le Brun

Portrait of Madame du Barry, mistress of Louis XV, by Elizabeth Vigee-Le Brun

My plotbunny. A plotbunny is like an earworm - something that gets stuck in your head and you have to write it down. Isn't he adorable? He's my more-helpful helper.

My plotbunny. A plotbunny is like an earworm – something that gets stuck in your head and you have to write it down. Isn’t he adorable? He’s my more-helpful helper.

My not-so-helpful helper

My not-so-helpful helper

Close-up of Artemis

Close-up of Artemis

Marble of Artemis. I forgot to take a photo of the plaque so I don't remember the artist.

Marble of Artemis. I forgot to take a photo of the plaque so I don’t remember the artist.

Sevres porcelain vase with a scene of Diana and Callisto after a painting by Jean-Jacques Lagrenee

Sevres porcelain vase with a scene of Diana and Callisto after a painting by Jean-Jacques Lagrenee

Detail of Diana and Callisto

Detail of Diana and Callisto

Writing desk with Wedgewood plaque, c. 1785

Writing desk with Wedgewood plaque, c. 1785

Writing desk with porcelain plaques and inlays, about the same time period

Writing desk with porcelain plaques and inlays, about the same time period

Recreation of a Parisian salon, c. 1782

Recreation of a Parisian salon, c. 1782

Recreation of a Rococo room. I forgot to take a picture of the plaque so I can't properly cite it.

Recreation of a Rococo room. I forgot to take a picture of the plaque so I can’t properly cite it.

Recreation of English Drawing Room, c. 1775

Recreation of English Drawing Room, c. 1775

Beautiful Rococo room, no citation, sorry.

Beautiful Rococo room, no citation, sorry.

Detail of Ceiling in Turquoise Rococo Room

Detail of Ceiling in Turquoise Rococo Room

Figure of Diana Being Bathed by Her Attendants, unglazed porcelain made by Sevres porcelain factory, c. 1790

Figure of Diana Being Bathed by Her Attendants, unglazed porcelain made by Sevres porcelain factory, c. 1790

Detail from "Allegory of Sight (Venus and Cupid in a Picture Gallery)" by Jan Brueghel the Younger. The fifteen-year-old boy in me found this hilarious.

Detail from “Allegory of Sight (Venus and Cupid in a Picture Gallery)” by Jan Brueghel the Younger, c. 1660. The fifteen-year-old boy in me found this hilarious. Who says art history has to be stuffy? 😉

Another detail from "Allegory of Sight"

Another detail from “Allegory of Sight”