Author Archives: lmolson89

Where To?

When I think about growing into my feminism, I think about how it has effected my trouble with body image. It used to be one of the driving forces in my life. Feminism has taught me to place my worth elsewhere and that I can be happy and healthy at any size. It has taught me that those are truths, but they have yet to be realized, it’s going to take more therapy than you can get writing a blog. So while it’s no longer in the fore front of my thoughts, my less-than-stellar self-esteem kind of lurks under the piles of topics to be addressed at a later date. Kind of like that story about the boy on the bus in high school. This project made address it and put the way I practice my feminism under a microscope of sorts. Sometimes I feel like losing weight means betraying my feminism and giving in to the media lies. I probably won’t know what will make me happy until the pressures of college life are behind me.

Autoethnographies have been criticized for the very fact that they seem to be a form of therapy, as if that lessens the validity of the content. If anything, I’ve gained a clearer understanding of the way I observe and filter through my personal lens, which I hope might make me a better researcher if I decide I want to continue with post-graduate academics. Self-awareness and the owning of your social location gives you clearer perspective and I think it makes for more honest writing.

People keep telling me how brave I am for telling these stories. Maybe because I’m sharing my secrets and misgivings? I wish I could agree. A lot of the time, I just feel selfish and like I’m retreating from doing real, important work that could benefit others. I’ve gotten calls from both of my parents regarding my writing. It’s terrifying that they’ve read these recent posts, but comforting that they want to check in with me. Honestly, I planned on retiring this URL and focusing on my more professional website. However, since so many people have invested time to read my little undertaking and have told me they want more. So more they shall have. Check back soon for stories, art, and media regarding our bodies and the things they go through while we live in them.

Smaller

The summer when I was eleven, the adults in my life made me a deal: if I lost a dress size by the beginning of the school year, I would be rewarded with a new wardrobe. Neither my mother nor I remember exactly who’s idea it was. The Christmas when I was 16, my father, always the protector and I wouldn’t want him to be otherwise, gave me a gym membership. I didn’t ask for it. My parents wanted nothing more for me than to be happy and healthy and to them, that meant losing weight. When I was little, I got enrolled in dance classes. Tap was totally my jam, but gymnastics scared me so badly that I wouldn’t even try cartwheels. To this day the sensation of falling freaks me out something fierce. That’s why, after several years of reluctantly trying to learn how, I still don’t know how to ride a bike. Or roller skate. Or ice skate, for that matter. In kindergarten, I was signed up for a tee ball league. I was the only girl on the team and it stung when I ended up hitting the tee more often than the ball. Later on, in softball, it was the ball that was usually hitting me.

Last week’s topic of body fantasies reminded me of this photographer:

Fantasy No. 2 by Jen Davis

Fantasy No. 2 by Jen Davis

 

Davis’ work depicts her own fantasies as well as what seems to be a struggle between acceptance and loathing of her body, themes that tie in to a great deal of what I want this blog to be about. The odd thing for me is that I discovered her in an article about how she would be undergoing lap band surgery, a procedure in which an adjustable silicone band is placed around the upper portion of the stomach to stifle food consumption. According to this article, in 2011 she was struck with “horror” that her body hadn’t changed since she began this series of photographs at 23. She had the surgery that summer. She seems to be doing well, but while reading about her, the most striking feeling I conjured up was loss. As if Jen gave in to her loathing and that maybe I should too. I don’t know why I feel like I’m being deserted when someone I look up to decides to get thinner. It’s like all this body positivity training is a bullshit veil to cover up the fact that there’s something about each of us that brings us a shame that we can’t shake. Am I wrong or am I just a cynic? Or maybe both/and?

Just like bullying can be a way we police eachother, dieting and extreme weight loss methods like gastric bypass and Lap Band are to me a type of foucauldian self-policing and punishment. It’s self-deprivation and constant monitoring of the body by adhering to strict regimens of calorie counting and weigh-ins. Even powerful white men like New Jersey governor, Chris Christy, aren’t immune from the fat shaming. My mother is 48. By her own count, she’s been on one diet or another for half of her life: Weight Watchers, Herbalife teas and smoothies, and an Atkins variant called Slim4Life. She lost 80 lbs. on that one and gained most of it back once my parents’ marriage ended. I remember my mom during those dieting years. She was stressed out, miserable, and none of them seem to stick. This was what formed my thought process on diets, in fact, I haven’t weighed myself since high school. When I have a doctor’s appointment, I step on the scale  backwards. I don’t want to be defined by that number, so I avoid it. That’s probably not the safes choice for my mental health, but if you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll notice it’s part of my modus operandi.

Let me be clear, I’m not saying that we should boycott all forms of physical activity and consume only deep-fried cheeseballs (which I have had and they are fabulous). We need to stop applying morals to food, exercise, and weight loss. I don’t how many times I’ve heard someone say, “I was good today.” to express that they didn’t stray from their diet. Or, “I’m being so bad.” when they eat an extra piece of cake. What does that make the rest of us who regularly snag a second slice?

I did try to get thinner that summer when I was eleven. I don’t recall that I succeeded. I did go to the gym with my dad once after that Christmas, but he never made me go again and I’m not sure why. I’ve been thinking a lot about getting thinner recently. I don’t have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. I’m not on the bubble of diabetes and I’m not in any pain, I just had to go up a pant size. 16 and 18 and 20 and 44 are numbers and they don’t define me. However, they remind me that I’m taking up more space. The same way auditorium desks remind me when I squeeze into them; it’s hard to tell if they’re too small or if I’m too big. Getting thinner feels like giving up on trying to love myself. I’m not going to be doing it for my health, I’m only pondering putting myself through this so that I can look “better” in a swimsuit and buy clothes in any store I want. Is my attitude the problem or is it the standard of beauty? Or maybe both/and?

Living the Dream

It never occurred to me that I might be fat until someone told me I was. It was a conclusion drawn, oddly enough, by a boy on a bus. I was in kindergarten and he was a “big kid” which, in this case, meant that he was in fourth or fifth grade. His stop was before mine and on his way up the aisle he would smack the back of my seat and yell “Hey, chubby!” in a way that I think was meant to frighten. Frighten it did, because I took to sitting on the floor of the bus under my backpack to avoid having to see his face as he yelled at me. I was six and boys had already started telling me about my body. “Fat” became the primary insult my best school friend could muster during our squabbles. My little brother followed in their footsteps and still occasionally takes pleasure in the discomfort I show when he pokes my cushiony arms and stomach.

Struggling with our weight was always something my mother and I had in common. I went to her when I was teased because she knew what it felt like, and we bonded in our relationship with food as security and comfort. Unlike me, she said that she was the first to notice that she was “different”. She started comparing herself to other children around the same age that I started being bullied on the bus. The insults and quippy jabs from others—“Fattie, fattie, two by four, can’t fit through the bathroom door”—came later for Mom. I don’t think she was ever given tools to combat this harassment, so it makes sense that when I came to her with my own troubles, all she knew to do was to wrap me up in her arms and say, “I wish I had a magic wand that I could wave and make all of the hurt go away.”

That was when losing weight became a fantasy for me. Something I dreamt about, something that felt unattainable. Since I hadn’t the slightest clue how to change a bully, I would have to change myself. I would have to police my own body, which would eventually mean dieting, a topic so immense it needs its own post. I can’t remember how many nights I would calm myself to sleep by thinking about what it would be like if I woke up in the morning and I was skinny. Sometimes I still do. Because the bullying and fat shaming never really stopped; they just changed. My thin fantasies morphed as well.

About a month ago, I found what is possibly the best media representation of this concept.
This is a clip from the brilliant UK series, My Mad Fat Diary. I could write loads of reviews about it, but you should just go watch all of the episodes on Youtube. I mean it, right now. I can wait.

Blatant school bus and recess teasing evolved into hearing a chorus of “moo” (like a cow, get it?) around me as I walked the halls in middle school. Painful cartoons circulated in high school. None of these things were done to my face, unlike when I was younger. The shaming became gradually less overt and more internalized. I’m 23 and a college student. No one’s yelling “fattie” on the playground or bribing me with Twinkies to do their homework anymore. We’re all adults here, right? So why do I avoid the REC like I avoid Fox news? Why do I avoid men like I avoid the REC, for that matter? Because for all the Love Your Body events I’ve attended and “riot don’t diet” buttons I put on my backpack, it still feels like something is wrong with me.

Women are supposed to police multiple aspects of our body, with thin, blonde, pristine whiteness as the ultimate ideal. Everything about us needs modifying: the hair from our heads to our ankles, every inch of our skin, all the way to our little toenails. But I would argue the most pervasive and oppressive norm that we are expected to maintain is a “healthy weight”. There are entire magazines dedicated to it. There are television shows like The Biggest Loser showing fat people competing against each other to be skinnier for the entertainment of others. Our own first lady is even leading the campaign against childhood obesity, which apparently is the biggest threat to school-aged children—not bullying. At least, that is the message it sends: that being fat is the worst fate and being fat is the fault of the individual. The very amount of space you take up is threatening and needs to be controlled. The way I look is a nightmare for thousands of people. Or, at least, that is what I’m led to believe.

Today my thin fantasies look different and don’t appear quite as often. They tend to pop up whenever I don’t recognize myself in a picture I see on Facebook or when my aunt very generously offers for me to wear my grandmother’s size 6 wedding dress someday. When I envision myself getting married and becoming a mother, I don’t see it in a fat body, which is infuriating when you’re trying to embrace mantras like “health at any size” and “all bodies are beautiful.” At this point, I can’t tell whether I’ve been media brainwashed or if I’m genuinely unhappy, and to me that is what’s most disturbing.

What Happened to Me

Author’s note: Some of the contents of this piece may be emotionally triggering and I have changed all names in the interest of privacy.

“But I kind of was asking for it, though.”

That’s the thought I come back to on the very rare occasion that I am forced to think about that one time I was molested. I’ve even had trouble deciding what to call the thing that happened to me on the purple and gold “Rooster Booster” bus, which was aptly named after my high school’s mascot. I was 15 and he was my peer. I had a crush on him. As far as I knew, “molestation” was a term reserved for small children that were groped by much older adults. No, that’s not what happened to me. Was I simply felt up? Maybe, but that didn’t seem fitting either. So, for about five years afterward, I never had one word to describe what happened to me. Which meant all I could do was describe what happened to me, the long way.

It was nearly the end of my freshman year of high school and I was a size ten. I remember because I had never been that size before and most likely never will be again. I was a size ten, I was a shoo-in for the school’s award-winning show choir, and I was leaving a successful forensics (theatre nerd) competition wearing the only shirt from Abercrombie and Fitch I could afford and that fit over my boobs. I remember changing into that tight blouse and even tighter denim skirt in a bathroom with my friends, talking about how I was totally going to get Jason, whom I had crushed on all year, to sit next to me on the bus ride home. I even remember the underwear I had selected: white Victoria’s Secret briefs with bright pink roses printed on them. “See, Lauren? You wanted it,” is what I’d tell myself for years. He totally did sit next to me on the bus.

At first, it really felt like he was just being cute. I’d never received much attention from boys outside of being mooed at in the hallways, so I had no clue what to expect. We were in the backseat, of course, a safe distance from my theatre director. Jason cuddled up next to me and set his head on my shoulder. This was the opposite of rejection and I was blissfully content with even a modicum of attention. It was what I wanted. But then he started talking about how soft I was and touching the inside of my thighs with his fingertips.

“You are the softest thing I’ve ever touched.”

That is what he whispered, like it was supposed to be romantic. I still feel his breath sticking to my ear and it’s still almost paralyzing. I was stuck in that seat while his hand was up the size-ten skirt I had been so proud of. By the time we turned the corner onto the street leading to the high school, I was both terrified that someone would see him and hoping they would so that he would be forced to stop clawing at my underwear.

Apparently my perpetrator felt this was a story worth sharing with others, and the next day I was told by a friend of mine that he couldn’t believe I would “let” someone do that to me. So, from then until I walked the stage three years later, before I had even held hands or been kissed, I got to wear the slut badge at school. But, I never let myself really get upset about it. It could have been worse, right? Jason moved to a different school the next year. Some women have to see the person that hurt them every day for decades. And I hadn’t been raped. There was that. I could never really grieve over something that seemed so trivial compared to rape.

In Ruth Behar’s “The Girl in the Cast” the author recounts her time spent in a full-body cast—almost two years—from injuries she received in a car accident that had paralyzed and killed others. She was explicitly told that she should be happy about her forced, if temporary, invalidity because it could have been much worse. In my case, I managed to do the same to myself from the inside out. At the same time, though, I managed to victim-blame in the same manner. Never in my adult life do I think I could have the capacity to blame the victim of violence, except, it seems, when the victim is myself. Through a combination of minimizing and self-shaming, my molestation only occupied a small, silent corner of my memory. Rarely called upon for reflection or questioning until the least convenient moments.

Outside of a speakout that I attended my sophomore year of college, I’ve only told anyone about what happened on the bus for two reasons: during foreplay and when an older male friend compared dating me to pedophilia and molestation after I admitted I was attracted to him. Sometimes any man’s hands are my perpetrator’s hands and sometimes it takes telling my story to a partner for him to understand why I’m not okay with being “fingered”. Even the term makes my skin crawl. As for my not-really-a-friend, I guess he thought it would be a humorous way to add some levity to his rejection. I did the mature thing and asked that he never speak to me again.

I know what happened was wrong, I do. He never received permission to touch me and I am not at fault for it. But I had wanted his attention, when it comes down to it. Just not that way.

Loss, Failure, and Zoloft

I’ve facepalmed so many times drafting this post. Honestly, I’m trying to get away from complaining and I’m afraid that most of what I stick on this page smacks of that very thing. At the same time, I use this space to process and communicate what’s going on with my life and frankly, what’s going on right now fucking blows.

For the past few months, leaving my apartment has become more and more difficult for me. I am ruled by this constant sense of impending doom. The only real doom was one of my own creation by not venturing past my bedroom. I don’t want to be around people who know me, even the ones who care about me. I don’t want to answer their questions, because my replies will be honest and honestly upsetting. Graduation didn’t happen for me this year, and I honestly don’t know when/if it will at all. I self-destructed academically and avoided contact even with people whom I know care about me. So now I’m talking to professionals and on a couple kinds of medication and that’s pretty much that. It’s too soon to tell if it’s working.

The breakup I mentioned in my previous post wasn’t as clean as I thought/hoped/intended. I’m bad at staying away. And the thing I was avoiding by cutting ties happened more abruptly than I was prepared for. My ex still has a question mark over our relationship. There are circumstances (not ideal for him) that could mean we might have a chance again. I can’t function while wondering when or if. I need a full stop. Especially if I’m going to keep breathing in and out without being plagued by the anxiety that often comes with the unknown. I have to write my own reality, even if it means operating under a falsehood in order to keep  hold of stability. Burying thoughts is an exhausting task, but I would rather be tired than in pain. This was the longest relationship I’ve ever been in and I hate how much its ending is affecting me. It’s been a hot minute since I was so invested in another person. I don’t want to be the girl who’s world is over because of a breakup. That’s not Lauren, never has been. But I still feel like I’m grieving for some sort of massive loss. A future that I wanted is no longer possible and that is out of my control. So I have to find a way to mourn it without devolving into a tear-dampened, blubbering mess of a woman. Or do I give myself over to my sadness? Let myself feel every ounce of pain that has manifested from my loss? Who the fuck has time for that?

It is difficult not to feel like collateral damage in a war for someone else’s wants.
We could have kicked the world’s ass together.
We could have been brilliant. To me, there is no question mark over that.

Clean Getaway

Have you ever taken a pregnancy test?

I hadn’t until a few nights ago. I’ve made it through six years of sexual activity without ever having to pee on a stick, which is quite an accomplishment  for someone who is as slutty and paranoid as I am. Being both easy and hypochondriacal makes for a rough coming of age. Every STI screening is panic attack-inducing and the wait for every period can make you anxious enough to literally scare it away.

This time I was really late. Not by a few days, but by a couple weeks. I was recently put on a new, highly effective form of bc (Implanon), but I also had unprotected sex with the man whom I’d been dating for six months just a week after it’s insertion. I remember him checking the internet to see if we were in the clear and I’m not even entirely sure on what site he found the information. Long story not so short, I was freaking out Wednesday night.

I was freaking out because a few hours before I took that test, I realized I had no long term future with that man and only a painful outlook for the short term. I realized this as I was struggling to pull out of his driveway and throwing up in his yard. It didn’t matter that I was in love with him. If love was enough, I’d still be dating him. For reasons I’d rather not get into, (actually, I really want to get into them because I’m sad and bitter, but my dad reads this blog so I’ll keep myself in check) I had no power over the situation. I’d tried to break it off with him a few times, always recanting my decision on the grounds that I knew he loved me and that there could be a real chance for us. I’m positive there isn’t anymore.

When I break up with someone, they stop existing in my life. I don’t care if it’s unhealthy or unfair, it’s what works for me and it doesn’t matter who broke up with whom. When I try to be friends with exes, it goes poorly. I like to make a clean getaway and such a getaway is a little dicey if you’re pregnant. Yeah, I know I’m well within my rights not to tell him no matter the outcome, but I don’t feel I’ve ever been in danger in that regard. And remember the part about me loving him? Yeah, that’s still the case and I couldn’t withhold that kind of information from someone I love.

I sobbed on my way to Wal-Mart, which I thought had self-checkout lanes. I was wrong. Bleary eyed and stuffy nosed, I tried to keep my shit together while clutching my little, pink First Response box. Only one register was open that late on a week night, but I think one of the employees noticed me waiting behind some folks who were taking their sweet time. She flagged me over to her lane and didn’t remark on my purchase. If I could, I would hug the crap out of her.

I sobbed on my way home, downed a soda when I got there, and waited for my roommate to go to bed before I opened the box to read the instructions. In retrospect I wish I hadn’t. I could have used a friend that night.

First of all, I was not prepared for the mess.  It’s not like peeing in a cup. So that happened. I set the test on the bathroom sink and I left it there. I washed my hands and opened the fridge for no reason in particular. I was less nervous than I thought I’d be, probably because I knew what I was going to do either way.

And the test said in clear, digital, capital letters, “NO.” No, no I wasn’t.

There was a little cardboard pregnancy tracker in the box with spaces for you to write down what names you would choose for your unborn son or daughter. I tore it to pieces, looked in the mirror, and watched myself cry over something I didn’t even want; that I wasn’t supposed to want. An unexpected pregnancy that I would never have elected to carry to term. Under the given circumstances, I had dodged a bullet.

My ex knew I was late even before I ralphed in his yard. I told him I wasn’t pregnant before I went to bed Wednesday night and I cut my ties with him Thursday morning. The day before his birthday. I know birthdays aren’t really important to him and he’s seen this coming, so I’m sure he’s just fine. There aren’t even any pictures of us together, which makes it easier to pretend like the whole thing never happened.

My relief should have outweighed the stinging sadness that was setting in as I ended the longest relationship I’ve ever had. But staring at the negative test by myself in my bathroom in the middle of the night might be the loneliest moment I’ve ever known.

Laurels: Not Resting on Them

Hi, my name is Lauren Olson. I’m terrible at updating my blog and here is why:

1. I’m bad at setting my own deadlines. If someone assigns them to me, no problem. However, when I have no authority to answer to, procrastination runs rampant.
2. Deciding what to write about is fucking hard. I’ve been trying to put together something about my former workplace without sounding like a disgruntled employee. I would also like to do more media reviews that would be kind of in the vein of my Buffy vs. Bella post. I’ve also had “A Song of Ice and Fire” on the brain since June and I’m nearly caught up with the entire series, so things could be getting really nerdy in short order.

Fear not, there will be posts.

Four Loko-A-Go-Go

Sorry that I haven’t been around lately. I did that thing where I go to school full-time and work two jobs and forget to make blogs. Oops. Shit has gone down in my life and in the world of feminism since I went on hiatus and I promise you, pressing issues will be addressed. But seeing as this is my first blog written after my 21st birthday, I believe it’s best to keep things light.
Four Loko. The caffeinated, alcoholic hybrid beverage that has college-aged people spending some serious one-on-one time with toilet bowls. Or hospital beds. This “blackout in a can” contains three times as much alcohol as a regular beer and has been linked to the deaths of multiple young people. So, naturally, I felt it was my duty to give it a try.

Word on the street is that the FDA is seeking to ban it and all drinks of it’s type. Of course the only effect the ban has had so far is to prompt people to stock up like it’s bottled water during hurricane season. I selected the fruitpunch flavor from the gas station, grabbed a bag of teriyaki beef jerky nuggets for sustenance, and made my merry way home to watch movies and investigate what all the fuss surrounding this drink is about.

When I pulled the tab to open it, I could already smell a strong odor of hooch. Promising. The first sip proved underwhelming in a couple of ways. I expected it to taste like cough syrup, it didn’t. I also expected it to scorch my throat due to the combo of caffeine, carbonation, and booze content. Much to my astonishment, it went down rather smoothly. Now, I’m not saying this is the nectar of the gods, but I’ve swallowed worse. Heh.

I started to notice that warm, fuzzy feeling about a third of the way through the can. It was only when I attempted to get off my sofa did I take note that I was actually intoxicated. Half-way through, my fingers and toes started to get a little numb, but I was hella alert, which gives you an idea of what kind of bad decisions could be influenced by the Loko. I ate my jerky, paced myself, and finished the can in about two hours. The last few sips had to be put on the rocks, but otherwise I finished it without any major incident. Could I have started another? Easily, at that point in time my belly was not complaining and I was steady on my feet…for the most part. But I could gauge by how efficiently this got me fucked up, that another can would probably stop being fun really fast.

I slept well and woke only to a slightly lurchy tummy, however as the day wore on, my hangover decided to set in. I’ve been nauseous for the past few hours and had some light sensitivity which is seriously out of the normal for me. Would I drink Four Loko again? Only if I was hard-pressed for cash (it costs a meager $2.50) and needing something to bring to a BYOB. This is another indicator of how Loko can be problematic for the college community: cheap, potent, and easy to get a hold of. Why buy a six-pack of something decent when you can save money and get twice as shitty?

This is the part of the blog where I start getting feministy. Alcohol is the number one predatory drug. Not pot, not pills, but booze. I’m not the party police, but I also want to look out for my friends. Why is it that Four Loko has been making news and getting banned for allegedly putting people in the hospital when perpetrators have been using other types of alcohol for years to commit acts of violence? I’ll be the last to suggest we ban the sale of alcohol, we tried that once and it didn’t turn out so great. What I’m saying is we need to realize that just because it doesn’t make the news, it doesn’t mean sexual assault is less of a problem. I know that my friends and I have each other’s backs when we go out or even when we stay in, but not everyone has that support system. So no matter what you’re drinking, remember to be on the look out for potentially dangerous situations, you could end up saving someone from something worse than a hangover.

Buffy vs. Bella

I’m well aware that talking shit on the Twilight SAGa is no longer what the cool kids are doing. Apparently we’ve moved on to trashing stuff like Glee and other less-than-perfect media juggernauts. However, I have not used any of my precious blog space for this particular topic, so I’m going to do it in compare/contrast fashion. Since we all thrive on conflict, I’m pitting Stephenie Meyer’s piss poor excuse for a heroine, Bella Swann-Cullen, against Joss Whedon’s incomparable Slayer: Buffy Summers. A fair fight? Not really, but who gives a fuck?

Round 1: Personality
Buffy: Bubbly, loyal, stubborn, feisty, courageous, flawed, and seriously punny.
Bella: She doesn’t have any. Round one goes to the Buffster.

Round 2: Posse
Buffy: The Slayer’s cohorts are varied and vibrant. They consist of demons, ex-demons, werewolves, and humans alike. Her besties, Xander and Willow, are just as big a part of the story as the main character Also, big brownie points for a positive portrayal of a queer couple via Willow and Tara. The relationship that Buffy has with her Watcher, Giles is unique and genuinely touching. Friendship seems to be one of the strongest themes of the series and not even in a sappy way.
Bella: Yeah, she’s friends with all sorts of beings, but they sure aren’t friends with each other. Bella just happens to get helplessly stuck in the middle of several ancient feuds. While characters like Alice and Jacob are among the more interesting of the series, that isn’t saying much. They can’t make up for the banality of the main couple. Give another point to the Slayer.

Round 3: Villains
Buffy: While often campy, the big and little bads living near the hellmouth have always been pretty diverse and quite a few have been legitimately scary. For example, The Gentelman from the episode “Hush”. They take your fucking voice away so you can’t scream when they CUT OUT YOUR STILL-BEATING HEART!

The Gentlemen sans their flailing, straightjacketed henchmen.

Not to mention that a lot of times, the biggest Bads are people Buffy used to work with, trust, and fuck. Faith, Dark Willow, and Angelus respectively. Dark Willow always brings up some complexities because part of you feels so satisfied watching her flay Warren for killing Tara. Then there are villains that reform and become a regular edition to the Scoobies like Anya and Spike. More on that peroxide punk later.
Bella: This girl is pretty much always at odds with the same, boring, dusty, old vamps. Not a lot of variety here, folks and they are rarely very intimidating. I mean, Sunnydale is plagued by things like The Gentlemen and the scariest of the Volturi is Dakota Fanning. Honestly. Buffy takes it again.

Round 4: Love Life
Buffy: The bedroom is where things tend to get a bit dicey for our Slayer. This is where my feminist lens gets a bit hyperactive, because as empowering as the series usually is, there are almost always negative consequences when Buffy chooses to have sex. First and foremost, when she loses her virginity to Angel, it literally steals his soul and changes into a completely different and devastatingly evil person. Not a great message. Then there was that random guy Buffy hooked up with when she started at UCSD who was obviously just using her for sex. Oh, and for as lovely as Riley was most of the time, there was an entire episode where evil spirits were feeding off the energy from the couple’s marathon of love-making. See what I mean? I might even venture to say that Spike was the healthiest sexual relationship Buffy ever had (which is a kind of relationship Bella has never and will never have.) Where our girl really gets the edge is how she deals with break-ups. When Angelus emerges, she galvanizes herself and kills him in order to save the world, even after his soul returns. What would you expect from She Who Can’t Stay Dead?
Bella: This girl just gives up her life (literally) to the first guy who gives her an ounce of attention. Turns out Edward is all about that attention seeing as he has a tendency to sneak in her room at night uninvited so he can watch her sleep. *shudder/vomit* He’s not exactly a complex guy, either. You learn pretty much everything you need to know about Edward in the first book. And when he dumps Bella in the second Twilight Tome, she doesn’t take it well. I wouldn’t call the “not speaking to anyone for months and developing an eating disorder because your first boyfriend is a douchebag” approach healthy or heroine material.
Winner: Three guesses and it rhymes with Shmuffy.

Keep in mind that I only started watching the Vampire Slayer series a few months ago. I read my first Twilight book three years ago. Hopefully I’ve illustrated the need for better young female characters in the pop culture world, but for some reason “Damsel in Distress” always sells. Girls can be the ones doing the rescuing and they don’t have to wait to get married to do so.

I leave you with this:

What It Means

There are people in this world that whole-heartedly believe anti-choice legislation empowers women. That those laws show confidence that all women, no matter their willingness or lack there of, have the strength to be mothers. But really, the only thing those kinds of laws do is restrict. The language used in them might as well say, “Never fear, ye feeble-minded womenfolk! We know what’s best for you and the only way we can show that is by limiting your decision making!” In essence, these laws do not trust women.
You see, women are still working against the stereotype that we are flighty, overly emotional flakes and that change our minds more than we change our socks. Apparently, this also means that our decisions hold less weight, that our choices needed to be monitored because our feelings are so easily altered. We just don’t know what we want, you know? And we need to be gently prodded in the “right” direction.
Fortunately for my sisters and me, there are people who choose to think outside that tired trope. People like Dr. George Tiller who embodied what it meant to trust women until the day he was murdered in his own place of worship. It takes courage to show that trust, to advocate for female voices that others would intend to stifle. For some, trusting women is such a frightening concept that they would seek to harm the professionals who provide basic, legal healthcare service to those of us that need it most.
This battle of trust is not only being fought in terms of reproductive justice, but also in terms of how we react to sexual violence in our culture. When a victim or survivor of sexual assault is brave enough to come to you with her story, one of (and possibly) the most important things you can do is to trust and believe her. Too often women come forward to share these most painful of memories and they are met with “Are you sure?” Instead of people respecting what they have to say, personal sexual history and manner of dress become the indicators of truthfulness. If we want to end violence against women, we must trust victims and survivors and incorporate them into the process of prevention.
I’m writing this today because it’s the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. It’s kind of like another Thanksgiving, in my eyes. I’m thankful for the privileges I have in my life and the right to have ownership of my body. Thankful that people still see how reproductive healthcare needs improvement and that it is not just a “women’s issue”. Endlessly thankful that I have friends and loved ones in my life that I know whatever big decisions I am forced to make, they will trust me.