Feminism, Rape Culture, LGBT Rights, and Lady Gaga

Well.

I had an idea for how this post was gonna go, but an unexpected development concerning a very… interesting quote from Lady Gaga might just make this post better or worse.

So. To start off,¬†let’s talk about that quote.

Says¬†Lady Gaga, famous singer and performer, “I’m not a feminist. I hail men, I¬†love men, I celebrate American male culture – beer, bars, and muscle cars.”

Dean Face 4

And that, my friends, is where my respect for American pop culture and celebrities abruptly stops and careens off a cliff.

My friends, can we just analyze this brilliant quote for a second? Starting with with her implicit suggestion that feminists do not¬†like men. Guys, the very idea of feminism is not that women are better than men, or that women don’t¬†like men, but that men and women are equal. So if feminists believe that both genders are equal, what possible reason would we have to¬†hate men?

And I just¬†love Gaga’s definition of “American male culture”: beer, bars, and muscle cars. So her quote not only insults feminists, but it also portrays men as being nothing more than sex objects.¬†Like, wow, way to go,¬†Gaga. Thank you for reminding us that not only women suffer from body image issues and¬†low self-esteem.

So, why is this important?

Well, I was originally just going to make a post about¬†Lady¬†Gaga’s new inspirational and¬†thought-provoking single “Do What U Want” (featuring R. Kelly) and the two different possible takes on the message it sends, feminist and non-feminist, when I realized that¬†Lady Gaga is, in fact, not actually a feminist. Which made it a bit awkward, because I had originally thought that she was going for the do-what-you-want-with-my-body-because-nothing-you-say-or-do-can-hurt-me message, but it turns out that the only message she was trying to send was I-don’t-care-if-you-rape-me-it-doesn’t-matter-to-me-and-totally-won’t-damage-me-physically-and-psychologically. Because rape victims, male and female, can be driven to extreme depression, anxiety, and suicide. Not to mention that raping a man, woman or child can earn you fifteen years in jail or more.

So why is a song encouraging rape such a smash hit? Why do we have¬†lyrics¬†like Do what you want/What you want with my body/Do what you want/Don’t stop,¬†let’s party mixed in with such an energetic, catchy tune? Why is this song played in schools, in workplaces, all over the world? Even the part of the song that could be mistaken for feminism, as I originally thought it was¬†(You can’t have my heart/And you won’t use my mind but/Do what you want (with my body)/Do what you want with my body), actually seems to emphasize the idea that women are independent and have their own¬†lives, but men can still do whatever they want to them and they won’t be affected because they have these traits. I mean, women can never win, can they? Whether they are strong-willed or weak, extroverted or introverted, no matter their¬†looks or personality or whatever safety precautions they try to use, women are always asking for it. This isn’t a pop song; it’s propaganda endorsing rape culture.

Rape culture, for those of you who don’t know, is a set of beliefs in society that rape, harassment, and discrimination against women is perfectly acceptable.* It also endorses heterosexuality as the norm, and discriminates against and¬†puts down queers. Doesn’t appeal to you? Unfortunately, rape culture is present in all aspects of American culture, whether it be the common use of the phrase “boys will be boys”, the misconception¬†that the only existing sexualities are heterosexuality and homosexuality, and¬†telling women that the only way to avoid rape is to change their behavior, instead of telling the same thing to men.

Actually,¬†let’s break those examples down.

The phrase “boys will be boys” is used across the globe, is used by parents, teachers, and administrators alike, and is a pretty sorry excuse for rape¬†and/or harassment.¬†Like, seriously? You’re going to comfort a little¬†girl with a skinned knee and tears streaming down her face by saying, “Oh honey, that’s just what boys¬†do”?¬†You’re going to mend her broken heart by telling her that boys will be boys? There are people who will and do say these things to rape victims. And tell me, what is the point in that?¬†Women and girls shouldn’t allow themselves to be pushed around by the opposite gender. We shouldn’t be targeted based on our sex appeal.** Because more often than not, women aren’t “asking for it”. And men¬†have no right¬†to a woman’s body unless she gives consent, and a nice outfit is not consent.

A surprising number of people have no knowledge of¬†the existing sexualities other than heterosexual and homosexual. I¬†should know; even I had no idea about them until recently, and that was thanks to Tumblr¬†(see, Mom, Tumblr can be fun and educational). But I know now, and I find it horrifying that there are people¬†like me that are so¬†(but not intentionally) oblivious to what is now one of the most pressing and influential issues of our time. Because it’s not even gay rights anymore, it’s equality for¬†LGBT people across the globe. And understanding of different sexualities is the first step to achieving it.

And this is where rape culture comes in.

Pop culture’s treating gays,¬†lesbians, transgenders, bisexuals and people of other sexual orientations¬†like they’re special is one of the reasons that we still have this issue. Because they’re not. They’re just regular people. And I’m not trying to imply that they’re not special, everyone is in their own way, of course- but you don’t stop African Americans on the street and say, “Ohmygod. You’re BLACK? That’s so cool! I’ve never met a black person before…” We’ve got to stop thinking of¬†heterosexuality and cissexual gender identity as the norm, because there is no normal in sexual orientation and gender identity. There is no normal, period. Is there a “normal” skin tone? Is there a “normal” gender? Is there a “normal” music preference? The short answer is no, so heterosexuality is not “normal”, it is a type of sexual orientation. So¬†let’s stop treating other gender identities and sexual orientations as “unusual”, and start accepting them as we do our prized heterosexuality. Because haven’t we already¬†learned our¬†lesson? Hasn’t the enslavement of African Americans, the devastation of Native American culture, the Holocaust taught us anything? Prejudice, discrimination, and war seem to have dogged our tracks throughout history, but history is made every day. And it’s never too¬†late to change our actions.

And finally, “tips” to prevent rape. Whether it’s “don’t stay out too¬†late”, “don’t wear anything too flashy”, or¬†“don’t overdrink”, these all seem to be measures¬†women¬†need to take. I mean, wow, these articles make it sound¬†like rape is inevitable. Tips for the Apocalypse: 1. Carry a waterproof bag to store your essentials. 2. Use a flashlight. This can be used when the power goes out…

But rape isn’t unavoidable. It’s not something you can’t prevent,¬†like death. It’s not a woman’s fault if she gets raped.¬†It’s the attacker’s fault, and always will be. So it’s a mystery to me why these “tips” don’t look more¬†like this:

Ten rape prevention tips:

1. Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks.

2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.

3. If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to rape her.

4. If you are in an elevator and a woman gets in, don’t rape her.

5. When you encounter a woman who is asleep, the safest course of action is to not rape her.

6. Never creep into a woman’s home through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or rape her.

7. Remember, people go to the laundry room to do their laundry. Do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

8. Use the Buddy System! If it is inconvenient for you to stop yourself from raping women, ask a trusted friend to accompany you at all times.

9. Carry a rape whistle. If you find that you are about to rape someone, blow the whistle until someone comes to stop you.

10. Don’t forget: Honesty is the best policy. When asking a woman out on a date, don’t pretend that you are interested in her as a person; tell her straight up that you expect to be raping her later. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the woman may take it as a sign that you do not plan to rape her. ***

Now, this is not to say that only women get raped, and are only¬†raped by men. There are plenty of male rape victims,¬†men¬†raped by women and other men, and I’m sure that there are women that have been raped by other women as well. But there is a reason for the common stereotype of heterosexual rape, and that probably has to do with the idolization of heterosexuality, another aspect of rape culture¬†(see above paragraph). It’s actually rather annoying. How many love¬†songs can you name that explicitly sing about a¬†LGBT¬†couple? Not a¬†lot. Personally, I can only name¬†2. But I’ll save the flaws of pop media for another day.

But despite the fact that these tips are only for aggressive straight males who struggle with urges to do harm to women, I¬†like these tips. Because all too many rape victims have to¬†live with the misconception that the rape was their fault, which of course isn’t true. You don’t condemn a store for getting robbed and¬†let the robber walk free. You don’t warn stores about the dangers of robbery, but neglect to teach people not to steal. But for some reason, we don’t use the same philosophy with rape. And that’s something that needs to change.

So thank you for suffering through my tangent, and I hope you¬†learned something today that wasn’t just Paige is a hardcore feminist. I know I’m only 13, so you don’t have to take me seriously. But if you do, please help me in making this world a better place.

Thank you for listening, and have a nice day!

Paige

 

 

*There’s a good article on rape culture¬†here, if you want to¬†look into it.

**Actually,¬†lots of women don’t actually dress for guys. Some women dress the way they do because it makes¬†them¬†feel good, not the people ogling them. So if you¬†like the way a woman is dressed, instead of saying something derogatory,¬†COMPLIMENT HER! Say, “Hey, you¬†look nice.” I mean, it’s better than the alternative, right?¬†That way, both you and she can walk away feeling better, instead of worse.¬†

***Source

Concerning Science, grades and hashtags

I don’t think you know this, but I’m VERY upset right now.

Yesterday in Science, we received a very quirky assignment involving coded messages and atomic numbers. Basically, we have/had to write a sentence in code, the code being a mixture of atomic numbers for the¬†atomic symbols and¬†random¬†letters that didn’t fit (atomic numbers: min. 20,¬†letters: max. 5). So, for example, if you wanted to write “popcorn”, you would write 84 15 27¬†86. Or, if you wanted to write “Sherlock”, you would write 16 1 68¬†L 8 6 19, because there’s no¬†L, Rl, or¬†Lo element in the periodic table. And Mr. Ryan would pick his favorite to go in the test, extra points if it’s yours, etc. But seeing how mine turned out, I don’t think I can even hope for that.

I don’t know if you’ve ever done something¬†like this, but it is surprisingly challenging. Well, I guess it isn’t exactly rocket science, but it is harder than you’d expect, I’ll give it that. Which would explain why I don’t want to change mine, even though it is the way it is.

But as I was contemplating possible messages, inspiration struck. Unfortunately.

Well, I’m not really sure if it “struck”. I had been thinking about crafting a message making fun of people who say things¬†like “YOLO” and “swag” and overuse hashtags on a regular basis, but I’m not sure if my message channels that motive to poke fun or what I was trying to avoid.

My message, translated into regular English, reads:

Who uses hashtags? I use hashswags.

Even I, the creator of this “masterpiece”, had to stop and stare for a few seconds at the words I had scrawled into the paper.

Okay, I’m sorry, but I have to be frank. What the heck was I thinking? That is just… bad. And just proves that I cannot go five minutes without making a stupid pun.

And what’s even worse is that my teachers (Mr. Ryan especially) have come to expect this kind of work from me. Subconsciously, my mind thinks, “Boring writing assignment? I SHOULD SPICE IT UP A BIT.”

Or I just start writing down my exact thoughts.¬†Like the memorable “cow eye dissection videos” assignment.

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Or that time I wrote a letter to an imaginary kid called Joe who was concerned that he had Marfan syndrome, and Mr. Ryan had an epiphany about my personality.

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Cold sense of humor-edited

 

I have such good grades in Science class.

-Paige

Baby names: you’re doing it right

Some people¬†loathe their names. Others¬†love them. Still others¬†don’t mind their names, but will jump at the chance to use a¬†pseudonym. Me, I feel¬†like there’s no use being irritated with something you can’t change. And your parents spent a¬†lot of effort handpicking the perfect name for you out of thousands of other names, and even if you did change it, it would be difficult for you (and your friends) to get used to calling you/responding to your new name, and it would probably take a¬†lot of time, paperwork and effort,¬†so why not just roll with it?

But whether you’re named after your grandfather, your aunt Mildred, or discovered your name through 1000 Perfect Baby Names for Your¬†Little Angel¬†by Clementine Sugarberry, I’m sure you can agree that my parents did it right.

We don’t have any relatives named Paige. My parents never had any old family friends, role models, or deceased pets named Paige. But we did have a DVD of the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast, and that just so happens to be where it all started.

Around the time I was born, my sister Claire, almost two at the time, had an almost unhealthy obsession with the movie Beauty and the Beast. Every day, without fail, she’d pop the DVD in the DVD player, plop herself down in front of the TV, and wouldn’t move for the next two and a half hours. Belle’s beautiful singing would fill the apartment, the cutlery¬†would sing and dance, and my sister would stare at the screen, captivated by the fairy tale that would unfold before her eyes every day, as Belle and the Beast slowly fell in¬†love. And the next day,¬†like a moth drawn to a¬†light, she’d gravitate toward the DVD and eagerly slide¬†it in. And so it went.

One day, as Claire participated in¬†her daily routine, my mom whimsically¬†decided to examine the fallen DVD case. She flipped it over, scanning the back, not sure what she was¬†looking for, when suddenly,¬†Belle started to sing. I wonder who voices Belle? my mom wondered. Her eyes fell to the name in small print: Paige O’Hara. Paige O’Hara…¬†she thought. Paige…¬†She tested the name out on her tongue. “Paige.” She tried again. “Paige.” What about… “Paige and Claire.” The more she thought about it, the more she¬†liked it. “Honey? Come here! I have an idea!”

It’s kinda funny, thinking about my namesake. I happen to harbor a fierce passion for singing, and a¬†love of books. I¬†like to think about¬†life in the great wide somewhere. And I even kind of¬†look¬†like Belle.¬†The only thing I’m missing is an enchanted prince, but that’s probably not going to happen.¬†Is this fate? Is my sister a god?

I hope that you take a moment to think about your parents, your sister, Disney, or whatever has shaped you into the person you are today. Try to think about the things you can do for others this Christmas, and the things you can do to be a better person!

Happy Holidays!

Paige

I’m exhausted (but Doctor Who makes it all okay)

If the good citizens of Earth can agree on anything, it’s that insomnia sucks.

Like, you know, you get home¬†late with your friend from a great dinner after watching your high school’s dance production of Alice¬†(it was really good), with the mind to get some rest, and wake up in time to watch the Doctor Who¬†50th Anniversary (3:50 am), which your friend has slept over for on short notice. And INSTEAD OF FALLING ASLEEP, you¬†lie in bed,¬†listening to the sound of your own breathing for about 3 hours, trying methods such as reading Charles Dickens to try to bore yourself to sleep and¬†lying REALLY REALLY STILL before giving up and stuffing yourself with brownies while watching the Graham Norton show at¬†1 o’clock in the morning.

I mean, unless you’re some crazy productive/fandomy person (or little kid)¬†who¬†looks for all excuses to stay up¬†late and do stuff, I don’t think anybody enjoys insomnia.

Lizzy alerted me to her consciousness by replying to the text messages I sent her while she slept with a “Wow”, “Niiiiiice”. Granted, my texts were not what you would call “cordial”- verging on hysterical, in fact- so I can only be grateful that she did not take offense, if her¬†manner of text can tell us anything about her true feelings.

We armed ourselves for the inevitable feels- courtesy of Moffat, of course- me with a bowl of brownies, Lizzy with a bowl of brownies and her TARDIS mug, and prepared for awesome.

Lizzy and I, um… “Hungout” with Isaac (the cool Whovian who dressed as the Doctor for Halloween, you remember him) during the program… which in retrospect probably wasn’t such a good idea, as the only remarkable things about that Hangout were our vacant expressions and various Doctor Who related side comments. And the program was GREAT, by the way. Totally worth the insomnia. (Will I regret that statement? Only time will tell.)

For it is time for me to depart this post. Farewell, my friends! I’ll see you when I see you!

Paige

Halloween, you know Wii love you

I hope you’re all recovering from your sugar hangovers quite well.

So this Halloween, I went as a goth (again). It is a sad truth that I am a very¬†lazy, do-it-at-the-last-minute person, and hey, I own black¬†lipstick, eyeliner (well actually, the eyeliner’s my mom’s, but whatever) and clothing, as well as various goth accessories, so why not go goth again?

Lizzy, who was staying at my house Tuesday to Thursday (Halloween), went as Rose Lalonde from Homestuck, which I thought was awesome. So to those non-fandomy kids at school, we looked like goth twins with our lips coated in tar. Oh, how I pity them.

This was the costume breakdown:

Me: Goth

Lizzy: Rose Tyler Lalonde (Homestuck)

Isaac: The Doctor

Brady: Genderbended¬†Allison¬†from the Breakfast Club¬†(I think it was Allison? Correct me if I’m wrong)

Sam: Jade Harley (also from Homestuck)

Olivia: Batman (Btdubs I still have your mask, Olivia, you left it at my house. When do you want it back?)

Topaz: Devil

Yeah, I know. You’re jealous.

So I live in a neighborhood that gets really popular on Halloween night, which means we have to spend a ton of money on giant freaking bags of candy. So naturally me and my friends pilfered sweets while we waited for Brady and Olivia to show up.

We didn’t see Olivia for a while, so we¬†left to receive our annual free candy. The bottom of my bag was barely covered before we made a unanimous decision to crash at my place and play MarioKart. Our screams could be heard across the neighborhood as we raced the track of¬†Rainbow Road with an almost suicidal death rate. I think Lizzy took a video of it.

Olivia arrived shortly after. We smiled knowingly as she held up her bag of treats.

The game turned to Super Mario Bros, and I took a moment to marvel at my friends’ camaraderie as they collapsed into collective¬†laughter as the screen turned black¬†instead of screaming at each other. It was moments¬†like these when I deeply appreciated the bond I had with my friends. It was¬†like… a puzzle, where the pieces all fell into place, I thought as¬†I smiled to myself. A feeling of friendship.

I hope you had a happy Halloween!

Paige