Friday, March 26, 2010

GI Jane Strength

When I was younger, my dad didn't treat me like a "girl" when it came to physical activity. If there was heavy lifting to do, I pitched in. It didn't even occur to me to say "But Daa-aa-aad, I'm a girl, I can't carry that much," though I'm sure I did my best to come up with some pretty convincing excuses. I did "boy" work. I carried as much as a kid could, I mowed the lawn, I helped clear down trees, I did whatever work had to be done. Sure I was weaker than my brother, he was older than me and much larger, but I don't think it ever made much of a difference. There wasn't often much that needed lifting that he was able to carry and I wasn't. So I was pretty surprised when I was helping my boyfriend rearrange his room one day, and he took the TV out of my hands because he was afraid it was too heavy for me. Again, I'm sure he was stronger than I was, but for practicality purposes, it didn't often matter. I was actually pretty offended that he didn't think I could lift a TV, like I was some worthless damsel who needed a guy to do every little thing for her. I wanted to be treated the same as the boys.

I wanted to be TREATED the same as the boys. I had absolutely no desire to be a boy. In fact, I had a nightmare that I was a boy once. It was horrible. I wasn't even stressed about having once been a girl and now having to fit back into society as a boy. I was simply freaked out by having a penis. Nope, I'm a girl, I have a vagina, and as much as I complain about it, I'd like to keep 'er, thanks. Anyway, the point is, I loved (still love) being a girl. I just didn't want to be treated like I was too weak for anything. In practicality, I wasn't too weak for a whole lot. Sure, I would lose at arm wrestling and probably couldn't do as many push-ups (though I could rock the sit-ups! Ha!), but what did it matter when I could still throw the football pretty far, I could climb trees, run faster than a lot of the boys, and even lift a TV.

A rule that I have for myself now, since I do a lot of moving, is that I'm not allowed to own anything that I cannot carry without the help of one other person (of about my strength). If my female roommate and I can't carry my desk, I have to get a new desk. So far, it has never been a problem. I've never had to trade anything in for a lighter model. So it doesn't matter in my life that my max. strength is probably less than most men; I don't strain myself to my limit on a daily basis. Even after growing up and men are supposed to be much stronger than women, I still want to be treated the same.

Men and women should be equal, not actually BE the same. Men and women are different, and as we learned on Sesame Street, differences are good. This brings about all kinds of problems, though. Men and women should be treated equally, yet fairly at the same time. So in high school gym, when they're testing how many push-ups students can do at a time, yes, men can generally do more. So what does this mean for the treatment of men and women in areas where they are not the same, like physical strength? (I just watched GI Jane, that's why I'm on this topic right now.) GI Jane wanted to be treated exactly the same, no vagina handicap. Is that how it should be, or should we go back to the physical fitness test in high school ( in which girls' goals are lower for everything (except the flexibility test. So vice versu, should we treat guys like they can stretch as far as girls can?) The feminist in me screams "No! GI Jane says NO!"

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My Mother's Story

I had a friend in high school who got pregnant our junior year. She didn’t believe in abortion, so she didn’t even consider it. She had a boy, and in several ways, he saved her life. That baby gave her a reason to be the best she could be. I’m so happy that she got to have this miraculous, life-changing experience.

That’s the common story. Let me tell you the story rarely told, my mother’s story.

My mother did not raise a child in poverty with an abusive alcoholic or with no one at all. She was not on welfare, living in a trailer down the road from her parents. Instead, my mom went to college, got a job, and lived a life she was proud of. I had two parents, both of whom had time to help me with my homework. I went to college. My kids will probably get to go to college. I’m here today because my mother did have an abortion. She waited 10 years until she was ready to have and support children. She waited until one day she could ask her daughter if I think she made the right decision. I love my life. I love that my mom got to live her life. I love that life that my children could now live. I love the decision my mother made.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I've got another moral problem that isn't really a big enough problem for me to be worrying about it this much. I've started dating this guy. I adore him. *Mushy girl things* This is by far the best relationship I've ever been in. There's just one little problem--he's chivalrous. He holds the car door open for me, insist on paying for stuff (or at least paying for more stuff than I do), carries things for me, etc. What happened to the whole Miss Sexy Independence thing? That was so working for me. I want to change my own tire. I want to pay for my own dinner. So that I know if he leaves, I can live my life. I am independent. I don't need a man. (But I really like having one).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Try These on for Size: Different Perspective on Rape Prevention Tips

Rape Prevention Tips
  • If you see someone walking alone at night, leave her alone.
  • Don't drug people's drinks.
  • If a woman is dressed beautifully/provacatively, try talking to her politely. Do not rape her. If you think you might rape her, hand her a phone and tell her to dial 9-1-1.
  • Always carry a rape whistle. Hand it to a person you think you might rape, and let her use it to call for help.
  • Always travel with a buddy at night. If you think you might rape someone, warn your buddy and ask them to stop you.
  • Remember, if someone is alone in a vulnerable place (e.g. an elevator, a laundry room, etc.), do NOT molest her.
  • If you stop to help someone with car trouble, remind yourself not to rape her.
  • Know other-defense. If you think you might rape someone, punch yourself in the nose or groin. 
Don't Blame the Victim
It's not their fault
We've all seen the "rape prevention" tips they give to young women. However, these tips limit the behaviors and freedoms of the victims, without addressing the attacker's behavior. Imagine a world where would-be attackers followed the tips above; rape might actually be prevented. In such a world, would-be victims would not believe that (or be treated like) they were attacked because they were walking alone, or they didn't have mace, or were dressed to provocatively, or because they trusted a friend that they shouldn't have. Everyone should have the freedoms to dress how they want, walk where they want, trust friends and lovers, and not be constantly afraid. It is not their fault. 

*These are not real rape prevention tips. Most perpetrators of rape are someone the victim trusted, usually a romantic partner, ex-romantic partner, or close friend, not strangers. The "rape prevention" tips we're all used to are designed to prevent rape committed by strangers, which only makes up 2% of rape cases.