Disrupting-Dinner-Parties

Last week, I walked into a gas station wearing a slinky red dress.

My friends and I were on our way to a dance; we needed gas; I walked into a gas station wearing a slinky red dress.

It was a test, obviously.

I knew there would be stares, knew there would be comments. This is what happens, when you are female-bodied and you wear a red dress at night. Men stare, and they comment, because obviously you are wearing that dress so they can look at you! Why would you wear a dress – especially a slinky dress, especially a red dress – if you didn’t want to be stared at?

Head up, eyes forward, absolute refusal to acknowledge the eyes raking me up and down. Don’t make eye contact. Eye contact is an invitation to approach.

Of course, not everyone waits for an invitation. 

“Daaaamn girl, you look good in that dress,” says a man as I walk past him to the waiting car. I don’t turn, don’t make eye contact, don’t smile, don’t acknowledge him in anyway. Acknowledgement is an invitation to escalate.

This guy, he’s really not all about the invitations.

“What, you can’t say ‘thank you,’ bitch?”

Not a recommended response for safety reasons. But oh, it would feel so good.

I keep walking, to my car, to my friends, to safety. If they were not waiting for me, I might not have had the option of being a bitch. If the lot were a little less well-lit, my car a little farther away, I would not have had the luxury of dignity and aloofness. I would have had to smile at this man as he commented on my body, appease him, try to walk that impossible line between not-inviting and not-antagonizing. The line that women walk every time they navigate public spaces, the line that men have never once had to consider, the line that in all reality does not exist because the men who harass us don’t give a flying fuck what signals of interest or non-interest we’re sending out.

I used to walk a lot further on the not-antagonizing side of the Bullshit Line. I had a horror of being rude, of hurting someone’s feelings. I had been trained in a thousand ways to smooth over any situation, at the expense of my own comfort and safety. So I followed the “rules,” illustrated brilliantly by Harriet Jay in her “Another Post About Rape.

“You could flirt back a little, look meek, not talk, not move away. You might have to put up with a lot more talking, you might have to put up with him trying to ask you out to lunch every day, you might even have to go out to lunch with him. You might have to deal with him copping a feel. But he won’t turn violent on you, and neither will the spectators who have watched him browbeat you into a frightened and flirtatious corner.”

Following the rules is meant to offer us protection. Protection from the unpredictable violence of strange men, as long as we appease them. Protection from the censure and ostracization of those around us, as long as we don’t cause a scene by having emotions or enforcing our boundaries.

Protection – until the man we have let inside our boundaries rapes us, and all of a sudden following the rules is used as proof that we didn’t say “No” loud enough, so it wasn’t really rape.

For every time she lowered her voice, let go of a boundary, didn’t move away, let her needs be conveniently misinterpreted, and was given positive reinforcement and a place in society, she is now being told that all that was wrong, this one time, and she should have known that, duh.

I have given my phone number to a man who creeped me out, only to have him call me incessantly for two weeks until a male friend answered and told him to fuck off. I have smiled and laughed uncomfortably with an old man on the bus as his friendly chat suddenly came to involve references to my “cute little butt” and revelations about how he waited to get on the bus until he saw which one I was getting on. I have moved a man’s hands gently off my body, over and over, laughing to soften the rejection, to not offend, until at the end of the night he tried to forcibly drag me onto a dark beach.

So now I’m a bitch.

I don’t make eye contact. I don’t smile. My body language is guarded, closed off, aloof. When men approach me, I shut the conversation down or move away as quickly and unambiguously as possible.

The bitch approach is not any safer than the appeasement approach. The specter of male violence is a real threat, as the experience of this woman so vividly illustrates.  And we can never, ever, count on bystanders to come to our defense.

On a Sunday morning last year, I went into a grocery store wearing yoga pants.

My friends and I were making brunch; we needed bread and eggs; I went into a grocery store wearing yoga pants.

Their asses are a ten, but their torsos are, like, a zero.

We were standing in the checkout line. A man got in line behind us, and started talking to his friend about my body. How fine my ass was. How much he’d like to see it jiggle in a g-string. How many dollar bills he’d throw at it. How much he wanted to take shots off the freckles on my neck.

I stood with my back to him, hands clenched, stomach knotted, shaking with fury. Acknowledgement is an invitation to escalate. Do not turn around. If you say anything it will only get worse. It will get worse and it will be your fault. What were you thinking, wearing yoga pants to the grocery store?

And then this asshole started on my freckles. My freckles. They’re on my neck, a part of my body that feels so vulnerable, that feels innocent and worthy of protection in a way my other curves never have. When he started talking about my freckles I felt violated in a new and horrible way, and I couldn’t take it anymore.

“I can hear you,” I snapped, whirling around to face the man I had yet to even see.

As if these things would have been okay to say if I couldn’t hear them? If only I had found the right words. Then, he would have backed down. Then, the crowd around us would have come to my defense.

He laughed in my face. “What? If you thick, you thick. I’m just saying what I see.” His friend – a woman – laughs in my face as well.

The people behind us in checkout line watch, silent. My friends, standing before me in the checkout aisle, watch, silent.

“You need to stop. Right. Now.” I grit through my teeth.

“Don’t need to be stuck-up about it. If you thick, you thick,” he says again. He is grinning. He has won and I have lost and we both know it. He is a man and I am a woman and I have no right to my own body in public spaces. Not if I’m thick.

I turn around because I can feel tears starting and I don’t want him to see them. He is about to start in again when friends of his show up. “Let’s go,” he says. “Some stuck-up bitches here in this aisle.”

I have this to say to the man in the grocery store. To the man outside the gas station. To every man on every bus and every street corner who has stolen my time and violated my space and passed judgment on my body as if it is yours to approve of and consume:

Fuck you.

I do not owe you anything. My body is mine, and if claiming it as my own makes me a bitch, then so be it. I will be a bitch until the day I die.

Considering the history of our relationship and the circumstances of our engagement it seemed perfectly natural for us both to have engagement rings and I was very confused by the happy but quizzical looks I was given when I told people I was looking. “Oh really?” “Huh, I’ve never heard of that!” and “I wish my husband was like you, I can’t even get him to wear his wedding ring!” are just a few of the many responses that I’ve received from friends and family. But my question is why should that be the natural response?

What do we immediately think of when we think of engagement rings? (I’m being intentionally heteronormative/gendered here, bear with me)

  • A man professing his love and commitment to a woman with a physical object.
  • A man proving that he’s financially stable enough to support his wife in their marriage.
  • Visually affirming to the world (or at least other men) that a man has claimed this woman as his property.
  • All the “unity” and “commitment” and “eternity” feel-good fuzzies.

But almost all of these things just serve to perpetuate our society of gender inequality!

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS- please share widely!

Are you interested in writing for DDP? We’re looking to expand our writer and editor pool.

We’re an awesome group of people who care about intersectional social justice, with a (very not exclusive) focus on gender equality. We also write about racial justice, class issues, LGBT rights, mental health, and dis/ability, among other things–and the way those systems of privilege overlap.

Writing for DDP has been incredibly rewarding for me. Disrupting Dinner Parties is an all-volunteer collective feminist blog that posts new, original content every weekday and receives about 1,000 views per day. Internally, it’s a supportive, fun, thoughtful, and thought-provoking community who help each other think through complicated issues and give constructive feedback on each other’s posts.

We’re looking for guest posts from those interested in becoming permanent editors, and from those just looking for a venue for a single article. We’re especially looking for historically marginalized voices: gender non-conforming or trans people, people of color, people from the dis/ability community, queer people, and others. Please email disruptingdinnerparties at gmail if you’re interested in writing a guest post or becoming an editor.

Please share this with your social networks!

Depression has been creeping up on me lately.

Like a fog at the edges of my thoughts, like a sinister undercurrent to placid waters, something I keep catching out of the corner of my eye.

Telltale signs – I find myself lying on the couch, staring at the ceiling for far too long as messages to get up and go outside get mysteriously lost between my brain and my limbs. I open the fridge and feel repulsed by the healthy, delicious food I cooked just yesterday; close it to make myself toast with butter, for the third time that day. I bury myself in distractions, simultaneously too anxious to rest and too exhausted to concentrate on anything worthwhile.

Relatively speaking, these symptoms of depression seem solidly non-terrible. They’re not even in the same ballpark as what I’ve experienced during other depressive episodes, or what my friends with chronic depression live through almost every day. But they’re still hard. And they still scare me. They fill me with deep, stomach-clenching dread – not for what they are, but for what they might herald.

I have become a hypochondriac of my mental health, scanning my own thoughts for the tangled threads of violent self-hatred and despair that characterize my experience of depression. I wake up every day afraid of myself, thinking: Will today be the day it comes on full-force? Will I be back in that place where I feel like I’m drowning? And so far, every day, the answer has been: No. No, I can still breathe. But now I’m trapped in a self-fulfilling prophecy, anxious about about my own anxiety. On days when the answer is No, all I can hear is: Not yet.

This worrying, of course, is doing me exactly zero good. Depression isn’t something I can stop in its tracks if I catch it early enough. It’s not a cold that I can cut off at the pass with some Vitamin C and a good night’s sleep; I can’t remove suspicious-looking emotional moles from my brain. I’m not entirely fatalistic – I know there are ways for me to practice self-care and mitigate the symptoms. I can establish healthy habits, I can call my therapist, I can invest in a full-spectrum lamp. But there is a point at which, if the depression is coming on, it’s just going to come. And I’m going to have to ride it out the best I can.

Whoops.

The thing about depression is that it’s not the symptoms themselves that scare me. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not psyched for them. They suck. Depression is one of the hardest things I’ve ever lived through – and I’m a cancer survivor, so like, the bar there is pretty damn high. But I’m also fairly practiced at surviving shitty things. That’s not what I’m scared of.

I’m scared that my depression will turn me into someone who is not worth loving.

I’m scared of who I become under its influence. Someone who binge-watches vampire TV shows, who never comes out of her room, who can’t bring herself to call her friends or go dancing or write blog posts. Depression strips away all the external markers of my personality. It strips me of my ability to do any of the activities that validate my sense of self-worth, while simultaneously filling my head with a litany of my own worthlessness.

I’m scared that I will ride it out, make it through to the other side, and look around to find that I have lost all of my friends.

It’s a lot to ask of someone, isn’t it? “Hi, I’m worried that I’m about to turn into a miserable lump for an undetermined number of weeks or months. You’re going to need to put in way more than 50% of the effort into this relationship in order to hang out with me, and hanging out with me probably isn’t going to be any fun at all. How about it?” It’s a lot to ask. And already the depression is trying to convince me that I don’t deserve to ask it of people.

But even though I didn’t ask – it was offered. I confided my fear that I was getting depressed again to a friend, and this is what he said:

“If I can support you during the depression, let me know. I can come over and give you hugs and we can watch really terrible TV shows. I can go out and get you the foods you feel like you can eat.”

Those are such simple things. But they mean so much to me, because they remind me that my friends love me even when I am not strong.

I don’t need to check off a certain number of boxes in order to be worthy of love. I don’t need to be pretty enough, smart enough, healthy enough, giving enough.

I don’t need to graduate top of my class or win employee of the year. I don’t need to write a certain number of blog posts or organize a food drive or win any dance competitions. It’s great to do those things. I want to do those things. But if I can’t, nobody will stop loving me.

I don’t need to keep my room clean or change my clothes every day. I don’t need to eat a certain number of vegetables or be able to do even one push-up. Those things are important. I want to do those things. But if I can’t, nobody will stop loving me.

Winter is here, and that’s a really hard time of year for a lot of people. If you know someone who is suffering from depression, one of the best things you can do is offer to meet them where they are and support them in small ways. Remind them that you love them, even when they are not strong.

And if you are like me, and you feel depression coming on, or if you are already there, maybe you have been there for months or years – hang in there. Remember that you are worthy of love, no matter how sick you are, or how long you have been sick. Remember that you are enough, all by yourself. You do not have to be good.

Why More Feminists Should Watch Game of Thrones

If I were to identify the central theme of Game of Thrones, it would be power. Some characters have a lot of it; some don’t. The show asks questions about what people are willing to do to acquire power, what they do with it once they get it, and how they handle themselves if they lose it. Game of Thrones is set in a highly patriarchal fantasy world, which means that society works to rob women of power. But instead of accepting this as a given, the show asks how women face up to their powerlessness in this world, and how they might empower themselves despite the strictures of the societies they live in. This doesn’t always result in “strong ass-kicking badass women” (though sometimes it does) – more importantly, it results in some of the most three-dimensional and well-developed female characters in the whole fantasy genre.

That, for me, is the bottom line of how worthwhile a book or TV show is from my feminist perspective: how many multifaceted, interesting,real female characters are there? I’ve read books by women, with no objectionable problematic elements, in which the answer to that question was zero.

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Here’s a question: why the fuck can’t I complain about my period to anyone and everyone? In the filing cabinet of the subtle ways in which sexism shapes our lives, I feel the unofficial ban on talk…

This is why I talk about my period. And if anybody dares tell me to stop, I make a big deal out of it.

What, you can talk about your dick and draw it all over the world but heaven forbid I say that the reason I feel like death is because I’m on my period. NEWS FLASH. HALF THE POPULATION IS WOMEN. GET THE FUCK OVER YOURSELF.

New Video: D.R.A.M. - Cha Cha. 

In the visuals for “Cha Cha” — which arrive just as #1EpicSummer has been pared down to EP size for commercial release — D.R.A.M. disrupts quiet family dinners and parties with plenty of animated accompaniment before finishing up in a shower of confetti. Co-directed by Nathan R. Smith and D.R.A.M. himself with visual by GDBYM and animation from Casey Drogin, the video is truly a collaborative labor of love.

Watch here.

Renisha

Babe let’s go on vacation to Toronto!
Secretly I’m having one of those moments where I just want to leave.
Flee.
Be anywhere anywhere else but here.

Secretly I am hoping to scope out Canada.
See if I could build a life at the end of the Underground Railroad.
See if perhaps it is the magical place I am running to in dreams that leave my teeth pounding in pain.
Maybe I could raise a son there, maybe he would be safe!
Maybe I could call for help in times of trouble without fearing for my life!
Maybe they would love me.
Imagine that.

Then I remember.
I do not belong there.
I belong here, and only here.
Which, really, means I belong nowhere at all.
Am truly seen nowhere at all
Am safe nowhere at all

Usually I shield myself from such thoughts.
With outrage, activism, avoidance, apathy
Sometimes, too well
So that when the face of a missing black girl ignored by the media scrolls across my timeline
I don’t even click share.
So that when another child is hunted down
I don’t even follow the latest.

But today I am having one of those moments when the pain slips through all my mental dams.
Rises thick and swift and hard through the air of my mind.
Today it hurts.

Renisha

Poem by Dominque

Posthumous BD nod, Audre Lorde

“I was going to die, sooner or later, whether or not I had even spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silences will not protect you…. What are the words you do not yet have? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language.”

I began to ask each time: “What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?” Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed, “disappeared” or run off the road at night. Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever.

Next time, ask: What’s the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end.

And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.” - Audre Lorde

I’ve always had and obsession with short hair. I remember at seven years old I would always beg my hair dresser to cut my hair short. Unfortunately, the premise in my house was that “girls have long hair” and since I wasn’t footing the bill… my hair remained long. It began the downward spiral that so many people, especially women, go through… that my body is not mine. That the society around me could dictate how I was supposed to look.

Who I was supposed to be.

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I am not broken

Today is the day. I studied myself in the mirror, stomach in knots as I prepared to head out the door. Badass imitation-leather jacket: Check. Favorite, most flattering pair of jeans: Check. Knee-high don’t-mess-with-me boots: Check. I didn’t own any lipstick, but in that moment I wanted it desperately – wanted one final touch to tell the universe:Today I am invincible.

Invincibility is important for doctor’s offices, I’ve found.

This doctor was a stranger, an old man who read my name off a chart and discussed my lab work with professional detachment. No, he told me, as if discussing the weather. You will never be able to have children biologically. Your ovaries are shut down. Your body cannot support a pregnancy.

Invincible, I matched him calm for calm. I thanked him for his time, and I made it all the way out to the elevators before I started to cry.

Motherhood is glorified in our society. On the surface, this seems like a great thing – of course motherhood should be respected and celebrated! But in the words of my favorite Cracked.com author, there are two ways to dehumanize someone: by dismissing them, and by idolizing them. The gestational capabilities of women have been used to define them and justify excluding them from society for centuries. (A particularly hilarious/infuriating example of this mindset is the Cult of Domesticity, which ruled in the Victorian Era and continues to haunt us to this day).

Elevating motherhood to the position of sainthood also, ironically, provides justification for not supporting it. If motherhood is its own reward, why should years put into raising a family be regarded as a financial contribution during a divorce settlement? If truly being a “good” mother means you never hesitate to make sacrifices for your children, never feel tired or angry or overwhelmed, why should society provide resources to help you in times of struggle?

This Olympics commercial made me tear up, sure, but you know what’s an even better way to say “thank you” to mothers everywhere?  How about free, high-quality prenatal and postnatal care? Or mandatory paid maternity leave, an area where the United States fails miserably?

Additionally, the cult of motherhood serves as another arena where women can “fail.” Be a mother, and love every single second of it, or you are a bad person/woman! But only if you’re married! And middle-class! And you’d better not prioritize your career anymore, or you’re an unfeeling monster! Also, your children and neighbors will hate you unless you buy this product!

As someone who has been avidly interested in feminism since the age of fifteen, I figured I had this whole cult of motherhood thing pretty well dissected. I could have written you a twenty page paper, MLA or APA format, on why it is bullshit and damaging from a political, legal, and psychological perspective. But I never really understood it until I received my diagnosis last fall.

See, here’s the thing. Dealing with infertility is going to be different for everyone who experiences it. It’s deeply personal, tied up in so many facets of the self. For some of my friends, this news would have come as a minor disappointment, or even a relief. For me, it was heartbreaking.

I am mourning the loss of so many things: The opportunity to connect with my mother in this specific, intimate way, trading stories and getting advice from her. That first, secret moment I imagined having with my children, when I would feel them and know they existed before anyone else. Children who could have had my brother’s eyes, my mother’s smile, my partner’s grandfather’s ears.

I am okay with mourning these things. I have support from family and friends, and grief will heal over time. After all, I know in my bones that all you need to make a family is love.

Do you know what I’m not okay with, though? I am so very much NOT okay with the thoughts that come out to haunt me in the middle of the night.

I’m a failure as a woman. I’m not even really a woman any more. I’m nothing.

I’m broken, damaged, incomplete. No-one is ever going to want me now. Even if someone loves me in spite of this, they will always secretly resent me for not being able to give them children.

My body is barren, a place where nothing grows. My womb is like a crater on Mars. My womb is the blast site after a bomb has gone off.


These thoughts are claws in my gut, lashes on my back. They twist me in on myself with guilt and self-hatred and despair, and they are not okay. They are BULLSHIT. I would never think these things about someone else who couldn’t have children. Nobody in their right minds would ever think these things about anyone. But this is the dark side to the worship of motherhood. This is the inverse of all of the empowering, celebratory messages about pregnancy and childbirth that I have absorbed my whole life. This is what you get.

I know there are so many more facets to this issue. I’m cis-gendered, white, and bisexual, so my relationship with societal pressures re: fertility and biological motherhood is actually relatively straightforward. I can’t speak to the experiences of trans women, who have been told they’re not “real” women because they lack the organs for childbearing. I can’t speak to the experiences of men who might long to be mothers, instead of fathers (because those roles are conceptualized so differently in our society). I can’t speak to any experience but my own.

Nonetheless, I wanted to share my story, because it highlights for me how insidious and vicious and destructive sexism is, even when it seems to be benign or celebratory. Because I hope that by focusing attention on these thoughts of mine, maybe I can burn them away, like ants under a magnifying glass in the sun. Because maybe somebody out there feels like this too, and maybe they can read my words and know that they are not alone, and that we are not broken.

Read the original post here

Think of a roaring fireplace or bonfire.  It’s so hot that marshmallows burst into flame instantaneously and it almost looks like that the flames will lick the sky.  Now think of all that energy trapped into one coal or one piece of wood that glows.  That is exactly what positivity is; it is ready to be a gigantic fire-disaster, but in the best of ways.  It is the fuel to get you to the moon.  The imposter or the hater may like to tell you otherwise but that glowing ember or bottomless well of motivation, determination, hope, positivity, energy, and confidence is always inside of you growing stronger every time you hear or think something negative.  It eats away all the shadows of doubt and all you are left with is light.

 

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