Consent is Sexy, and So is Your Mom

There are a lot of pervasive myths in our society about women and sexuality. If you were to take the bulk of film, TV, and advertising at face value, you would likely assume the following:

  1. Men are more interested in sex than women
  2. Women over the age of… let’s say 35… are not sexy
  3. Women who are mothers are not sexy (and should not be sexual)
  4. Women are either deviant sexpots or chaste asexual beings
    • Yes, the Madonna and the Whore dichotomy is alive and well
  5. When women are sexual it’s solely in the interest of pleasing men
  6. Female sexuality is only acceptable when presented by and for men

Unsurprisingly, I’m here to tell you that this is all a load of bullsh*t. Here’s the truth as I see it, based on my lifelong experience as a woman (who is also intimately close to a substantial number of other women).

1 – Oh My God do we love sex. Not all of us, of course, but an awful lot of us really really really love sex.* And – brace yourself – not every man does.

2 – Most women…

Can we sidebar with the disclaimer that yes, I am making generalizations and there are exceptions to every rule and so on and so forth? Agreed? Good. Back to it.

2 – Most women are at their sexiest once they reach their 30s and 40s, for no other reason than we are at our most confident. We are more comfortable in our skin than ever before, having shed the angst and neediness of our twenties. We also know what we want, what we like, and (hopefully) how to express those desires. (Seriously, I think we can all agree that right now, JLo is the sexiest she has ever been.) Speaking of sexy mamas…

3 – I know, I know… you don’t want to think of your mother as a person who has ever been sexual. But guess what? You exist, so. Your mother has had sex.** This inability to separate a woman’s individuality from her identity as A Mother is dangerous for many reasons, but right now we’re focusing on her sexual agency. To wit:

I am a mother. I can see 40 in my not-too-distant future. I am also sensual and alluring, and I love sex.

Not only do I love sex, but I am and always have been a fiercely sexual being. When I consider creating art / working on projects / writing posts like this that embrace and celebrate women’s sexuality, there is a part of me that questions that choice, because I am a mother and according to society… 

4 – I am not allowed to be Charlotte and Samantha at the same time. I am supposed to be one or the other. But the truth is, I am both of those women. I love being a mother and I love sex. And when I consider what I want my daughter to see and experience and know in her core to be true, it is this:

Sexual Expression vs. Objectification – There is An Enormous Difference

– Rape, harassment, sexism, etc… these are not byproducts of women expressing their sexuality. It’s when women are Sexually Objectified that things fall apart. Sexual Objectification diminishes women’s agency over our own bodies and our worth as human beings.

But guess what?

If I want to start an Instagram account celebrating my sexy ass body and my love of lingerie (which is real and profound), it is not an invitation to violate me.

This is what we need to teach our children. That women are allowed to be sexual creatures, and to express our sexuality however we choose, and in a better world we would be able to do so without fear of scorn or (at times horrifying) retribution. Which leads me to my final point:

– Yes, when I express myself in a sexual way, I enjoy and appreciate a positive response. (I’m a Leo, so. Duh.) However, my sexuality is mine and mine alone. If I want to express it privately or publicly, shyly or brazenly, coyly or salaciously, these are my choices. When it comes to my own personal sexual expression, you don’t get to tell me how to behave.***

The patriarchal approach to women’s sexuality is to appropriate it and manipulate it, because – frankly – a woman solid in her own sexual power is terrifying. Patriarchal society only thrives when women are repressed and oppressed, and if you think that isn’t the case today, that we’ve reached any kind of gender parity where sex is concerned, just ask the victims of the college athletes who’ve been in the news lately for sexually assaulting unconscious women. Ask those women if they feel valued. If they feel justice was served after they were robbed of their sexual agency.

For those of you who prefer visual aids, here are some examples of Sexual Expression vs. Sexual Objectification:

Boobs = burgers = boobs are food = Objectification

Proposal = she’ll let you bone her = Objectification

Everything about this = Objectification 

As for Sexual Expression, let’s include those images right here in the post, yes? Because who doesn’t love a little sassy, saucy, sexual agency?

Dita von Teese = Burlesque = Sexual Expression

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 12.00.35 PM

http://www.dita.net/femme-fatale/gallery

Beyoncé = Boss = Sexual Expression

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 12.12.03 PM

http://www.beyonce.com/vault/?type=editorial

Gina Rodriguez = Self-Love, Acceptance, and Celebration = Sexual Expression

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 12.28.19 PM

https://www.instagram.com/hereisgina/

The moral of these musings, my darling rabble rousers, is simple:

Celebrating women’s sexuality and sexual expression = GOOD!
Turning women into sexual objects = BAD

Also, I may just have to start that Instagram account, because there shouldn’t be anything shocking or scandalous about a mother who can see 40 in her not-too-distant future, who is also sensual and alluring, and loves sex.

 

*We possess the only organ in the human anatomy that exists solely for pleasure, for cryin’ out loud!
**She maybe even enjoyed herself. Deal with it.
***Unless of course we have an explicit agreement to that effect, because consent is sexy.

On Hamilton and Casting

Ever since I saw this floating around the interwebs, I’ve been stewing on what exactly I want to say about it.
I’m a white actress and writer, and I’ve been auditioning for theatre, film, and TV for over 20 years. The majority of the casting calls I see and receive include specifications about race. We’re talking at least 90%, probably more. They also always specify gender, frequently include age ranges, physical descriptors, and often absurd “qualifications” (especially for women). Casting is a world that operates very differently from your typical employer/employee relationship. I’m not here to argue the legality or moral implications of these facts. I’m telling you that when it comes to casting, this is the current reality.
Hamilton is a revelation. It’s a brilliant and captivating piece of theatre like nothing we’ve ever seen before. It’s “not a moment it’s a movement.” Whether you know it or see it or like it, Hamilton reflects the world that we live in. As creator Lin Manuel Miranda said, Hamilton is
If you’re a white actor feeling left out of this opportunity because of your race, well… take a minute to imagine feeling that way every single day, in damn near everything that you do. Then take another minute to acknowledge the privilege of a life where you almost never, ever, ever have to think about that. 
Work
#work

Why You Are A Feminist

Happy Friday Feminist Funtimes, Beauty Coup ruffians!

For starters, I want to acknowledge some late submissions to our Beauty Coup 100 – Celebrating You! post. If y’all keep sending us these great selfies and reasons why you’re awesome, we will keep posting them. It’s always a good time to revel in your fabulousness, you beautiful starfishes.

Angela
“I am beautiful because… I live life with only positive intentions and because I love.” – Angela M.

Lauren
“I am beautiful because there is light. Light is love, light is trust, light is beautiful.” – Lauren M.


***There’s a late submission that I’m saving for our next FFF post, because Liz D. had a lot to say, and I want to address some of her thoughts more fully.

Now on to our FFF topic!

How many of you have ever heard these words uttered (from your own mouth or someone else’s): “I’m not a feminist, but…” ?? Chances are most of us know someone who uses this phrase or its equivalent. For today’s edition of FFF, we’re going to talk about why it’s a bunch of hogwash.

It’s quite simple, really, because the words that often come after the disclaimer are almost always one hundred percent in line with feminist ideology. In nearly every instance where someone proclaims “I’m not a feminist, but…”, what he/she might as well be saying is “I’m a feminist because…”

Let’s look at some prime examples:

“I’m not a feminist, but I do believe in the power of women.” – Katy Perry

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.29.53 AM

“I’m not a feminist or anything but I definitely think that it is unfair to allow a woman’s sexual history to be used against her in a trial.” – random student quoted on the interwebs

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.34.32 AM

“I don’t consider myself a feminist, but I’m down for my first opportunity to say something to the world to be so meaningful. If you asked me, ‘What do you want to say?’ it would be, ‘Love yourself more.” – Meghan Trainor

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.34.32 AM

Q: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

A: “No because I love men, and… I’m very in touch with my masculine side… I’m 50 percent feminine and 50 percent masculine, same as I think a lot of us are… We have to have a fine balance.” – Shailene Woodley

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.47.10 AM

Q: Are you a feminist?

“Absolutely not… I’m a 24-year-old woman that lives in the United States and feels like I should be treated the same as anyone else.” – Katherine Fenton

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.55.28 AM

“…women are just as capable… I believe in equal rights…” – Marissa Mayer (‘not’ a feminist)

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.59.09 AM

As a brief reminder, here is the actual definition of feminism, courtesy of Merriam-Webster:

fem·i·nism

noun \ˈfe-mə-ˌni-zəm\

: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities

PLEASE NOTE: Nowhere in this definition does it say that feminists believe that women are superior to men. Women who believe that they (we) are superior to men are not feminists, they’re sexists. (Are we fighting now? I’d love to hear from those who disagree; tell me why I’m wrong!)

So really, what all of these women are expressing are Feminist Values. What they’re also saying is that while they believe in such values, they’re also afraid of/don’t like/have stigmatized ideas about the word Feminist. It’s the very root of our patriarchal society that presents Feminist as a dirty, extremist, man-hating, pinko commie, witchy, lesbionic word. Which, as we’ve just covered, it isn’t.

***To be clear, a feminist can Also be dirty, extreme, a communist, a witch, and/or a lesbian. But a feminist cannot hate men based on their gender alone, because that is the definition of sexism. (Seriously, we can totally fight about this. I’d love to hear your arguments.)

If you’re still confused, or know someone who is, here’s a handy chart that should clear things up once and for all:

feminist-diagram

Anyone feeling uppity about “And you probably suck as a person”? If so, riddle me this: If a person doesn’t believe in equal rights and opportunities for men and women, then that person believes in the inherent superiority of one gender over another, right? (i.e., that person is sexist) …Is that someone you want to hang out with, or do they probably suck?

So, once more, with gifs!

Believing in the inherent superiority of one gender over another:
sexism

Believing in the inherent equality of all people, regardless of their gender:

rulesoffeminism

xoxo,
E

JGL FTW!

Just when I thought this Friday Feminist Funtimes was a wash… JGL to the rescue!

JGL, for the uninitiated, is the one and only Joseph Gordon Levitt. I watched Don Jon recently, and my only critique is that I wish he’d spent a bit more time developing the relationship with Julianne Moore’s character. Felt a bit cheated out of that one.

Having always been a JGL fan, he’s only endeared himself to me more with his very astute observations on feminism. Sourced from an interview with The Daily Beast (how annoying is that headline?), here’s what our Friday Feminist Funtimes hero had to say:

“What that means to me is that you don’t let your gender define who you are–you can be who you want to be, whether you’re a man, a woman, a boy, a girl, whatever. However you want to define yourself, you can do that and should be able to do that, and no category ever really describes a person because every person is unique. That, to me, is what ‘feminism’ means. So yes, I’d absolutely call myself a feminist. And if you look at history, women are an oppressed category of people. There’s a long, long history of women suffering abuse, injustice, and not having the same opportunities as men, and I think that’s been very detrimental to the human race as a whole. I’m a believer that if everyone has a fair chance to be what they want to be and do what they want to do, it’s better for everyone. It benefits society as a whole.”

And of course there’s always this:

 

Cheers to you, sir.

500-days-solo-o

Friday Feminist Funtimes – #MightyKacy

The bulk of Friday Feminist Funtimes came a little early this week, with a look at some of the highlights in our pop culture revolution.

So today we’ll keep it short and sweet. As one of the announcers said, “There is no limit to what this woman can do.” #MightyKacy

Pop Goes the Revolution

Thirty-five isn’t what I would call old, but it’s old enough. It’s old enough to remember a time when daily doses of feminism were only found when sought out. To get a regular fix of Girl Power, you needed Bust or Bitch or Ms. Magazine on your nightstand, Ani or TLC in your discman (what’s up, 90s!), and Thelma & Louise on a constant loop in your DVD player.

What a revelation to look around nowadays and find that feminism is Everywhere. On TV, in the movies, in comic books (!!), music videos, and spilling from the pens of former CW stars. The Lady Movement has gone Pop.

But don’t let that fool you. It doesn’t mean we’ve won. On the contrary, the message of each and every one of these women is (in essence) that feminism is still needed. Sexism still thrives, male privilege still exists, and there is still a lot of work to be done.

All the same, I have to say… Seeing so many of us fighting the good fight? Feels pretty f*cking good. Here’s a sampling of delights to fuel your feminist fancies:

MUSIC VIDEOS
Colbie Caillat – 
Try
I’d heard her name but never her music. Time to give her a listen.

Jenny Lewis – Just One of the Guys
So much to love in this gender bending song and dance. Special props to Annie’s faux-break dancing, for making me bust a gut.

TELEVISION
Viola Davis speaks
to seizing a role in television, where female characters are almost always more dynamic than their silver screen counterparts.

“I have gotten so many wonderful film roles,” she acknowledged. “I’ve gotten so many where I haven’t been the show — I’ve been invited to fabulous parties to hold up the wall. I wanted to be the show –  to have a character that took me out of my comfort zone, and that happened to be on a Shonda Rhimes show. So I did the only sensible thing and took it.”

Orange is the New Black got **12 Emmy Nominations** because it’s one of the greatest shows ever!! Laverne Cox is the first trans actress to be nominated for an Emmy!! So Stoked to see these ladies on the red carpet, struttin’ their stuff.

OITNB

(Let’s hope the TV Academy gets their sh*t together next year for Tatiana Maslany and Orphan Black.)

COMICS
Um, the new THOR is a WOMAN.
As if that isn’t enough, the series writer Jason Aaron drives home the fact that this new character is no spin-off, sidekick, watered-down version of Man Thor: 

“This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.”

Get it, Marvel!

STARLET SMARTS
Leighton Meester
isn’t the first person who springs to mind when thinking of feminist actresses. A lot of you may not even know who she is. Before today, I mostly knew her as Blair Waldorf (aka, she of the enviable wardrobe) on Gossip Girl. After today, I will know her as the actress who wrote that kick-ass piece for the Huffington Post about playing the character of Curly’s Wife in Of Mice and Men.

starlet feminists

 

Emma Watson has stated her feminist views before. Now she’s following in the Jolie’s footsteps by working for the UN. Emma “Hermione Granger” Watson will be joining the gender-equality branch, focusing on work with the HeForShe Campaign. Of this new adventure, Ms. Watson states:

“Women’s rights are something so inextricably linked with who I am, so deeply personal and rooted in my life that I can’t imagine an opportunity more exciting.”

Our little witch is all grown!

COMMERCIALS
Some of you will nay-say this to rooms of your own and back, but I Like What Pantene Is Doing. #NotSorry.

 

There you have it, renaissance women! Not only is our revolution being televised, it is Everywhere. And because no pop culture feminist blog post is complete without her:

sparkle bey

#SashaFierce

How Beautiful Beauty Can Be

Tomorrow, our lives are going to change. Tomorrow brings new Oscar winners, immortalized in the annals of history. It also brings my annual fancy-dress Oscar party, which is always a monumental event. It brings more much-needed rain to the New Mexico earth.

But TODAY brings with it the launch of one of your new favorite websites, Afrobeatnik.

Here are some words we will use when discussing Afrobeatnik: fashion, filmmaking, sustainability, vintage, modern, diverse, inclusive, fabulous. And it is all very, very real.

Snuggle in for this special Saturday edition of Beauty Coup: an interview with site founder Angela Moorer – a wondrous, inspiring woman – and prepare to fall in love with Afrobeatnik. #beautyrevolution

BC: How did Afrobeatnik come about?
AM: Pretty much by me just, combining everything I cared about… I’ve been working for the past year with a non-profit with a great mission that I really support, but I’ve been doing more administrative work, and in the past there have always been more creative things that I’ve been tied to, I’ve put more creative things into what I’m doing… so I think I’ve felt a little restricted. And one thing I’ve learned, when you restrict someone enough, pretty soon they’re just gonna burst… Afrobeatnik was this bursting of me kind of being ready to do something creative, something that I care about, and to collaborate with others as well.

BC: That “combining everything you cared about” aspect, I noticed that right away. It isn’t just about representations of beauty in fashion… or on-screen, it combines both of those things and approaches fashion in an ethical manner…
AM: I mean, I’ve been interested in sustainable fashion for a couple of years now. I always wanted to work in fashion, but I never thought it was going to happen because when I got to know the industry itself I wasn’t inspired (by the fashion industry). I find myself more drawn to non-profit work, so if I was going to work in fashion it would be in some independent capacity.

We’re just kind of doing our own thing. We’re not really a part of any industry quite yet. I’m working with four different artisans …to upcycle vintage and to upcycle used materials and to share fashions that we think are beautiful. We’re not confined by anything, we’re not defined by anything, and it’s a really fun place to be. I’m excited to launch to see what the response is to it.

BC: I’m excited, too! S and I want to buy a lot of your clothes.
AM: Haha, awesome!

Like this:
skirt
And this:
dress

BC: In your own words, tell me about the mission and goals of Afrobeatnik.
We’ve got a pretty varied mission, but it’s all positive, and it’s all related in some way. The mission really started with the idea of Diversity. When I moved to Seattle from the tri-cities (Eastern Washington) there were a lot more different people. Growing up, Black History Month was an extremely scary time for me, because of the feeling of isolation – being the only black kid in your class, pretty much feeling alone in every aspect according to the way that you look. When you’re growing up, trying to figure out identity and who you are, your outside appearance impacts that… When I moved to Seattle and I found a community… I really thrived as a human being. I found that working in more diverse places, with people from different backgrounds, different countries, even… the more people I interacted with who were different from me, the more of a whole person I felt like I became. I understood the world a little better.

Another part of our goals in the Individuality aspect, which is tied to identity. Who you are within a community, while still remaining connected to that community. We tend to feel isolated by our differences, and what I would like to do is find ways to feel united by our differences – to love and appreciate all aspects of ourselves as individuals, and to love all aspects of others as well. I think they’re closely related – Diversity and Individuality – which is why I tied them both in. I wanted to make them both prominent values, but also separate.

Lastly we have (the value of) Sustainability, which is kind of just built into the way the company works. My personal preference is always thrift shopping. I barely buy anything new. For money’s sake, for uniqueness, I feel a lot of pleasure buying used. With vintage clothing especially, there’s this charm about it, this distinguished factor. You know it’s got some interesting history. So that’s why we decided to go vintage. As for the artisans – the handmade, upcycling work that we do – sometimes vintage clothing has gone through a lot, and it needs some work, you know it needs a little facelift; to be modernized in some way. Originally I brought on one person for basic repairs, but found all these items that could be turned into something really cool… So from there I brought on more artisans who were interested in upcycling things and wanting to make something new out of something old. And I think that’s what sustainability is about. It’s about reusing things …getting full use out of something, reinventing, giving new life. It’s crazy to me that some of this stuff might’ve ended up in a trash can somewhere. Our handmade collection launch is tied to earth day in April, but we’ll have a few things on March 1st as a preview.

BC: We’ve talked a lot about the fashion aspect of Afrobeatnik. One of the things that struck me the most was your ambition to use portions of your profits to make short films and documentaries that feature underrepresented cultures, women and minorities. What inspired you to tackle films as well as fashion?
I got into film a couple years ago… I did a certificate program at UW, and I learned a lot, it was fun… But, unfortunately, film communities are very tight-knit, and I’m not the kind of person who can’t wait around for someone to give me an opportunity. So I decided to try and raise the money to make the films I want to make. We’re at the basic stages of it. Once we start making some profits to get equipment we need and hire a mentor to help guide us, once we get those things in place we’ll begin the final idea. We’ve been throwing ideas around of what we want to do, and we’ve settled on a narrative web series featuring traditionally underrepresented women We’d like it to be funny, diverse, and full of culture, but also relatable. We talk a lot about the TV show Girls, we have discussions about all the things we think they’re doing wrong, and all the things we think they’re doing right, and I think one of the things that’s great about it is that it’s relevant, it’s current. A lot of people relate to that show. But the show obviously lacks diversity, it lacks culture. We wanted to tackle… something like that, in a narrative fashion, but we wanted to… bring in something a little bit deeper.

BC: I think that’s a really cool ambition. What are your thoughts on the importance of representative images across multiple mediums (print and screen)?
That has a lot to do with why I actually started this (Afrobeatnik), kind of my whole journey of self-acceptance and coming to terms with my own beauty and individuality. Growing up, I didn’t see people on TV that looked like me, and when I did it was always with straight hair, or really really light skin. I didn’t see myself represented in media, and I think that sends a message to young girls that they’re not important or they’re not beautiful. The message is that you need to assimilate to a certain culture or a certain ideal of beauty… when that’s the only ideal of beauty that you ever know. That’s why it’s important to get these images out there. I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about Lupita (Nyong’o), she’s all over the place , and she’d not someone you’d traditionally see in Hollywood. It’s inspirational, not only for me or for an adult who’s more sure of herself, but especially for young teenagers and little girls growing up. By sending these messages through these images, we’re confirming that beauty exists in places beyond the norm, and I think that’s incredibly important.

(Insert some serious Lupita fangirling for the next several minutes)

BC: I love your (Afrobeatnik’s) tagline, “We want to show the world how beautiful beauty can be.”
AM: Yeah, exactly.

BC: Let’s go back to the fashion. Where do you find/curate the clothes for Afrobeatnik?
There are a lot of different processes going on since we’re so new… We’re attending estate sales, those are awesome resources where you can find the best vintage. And also working with consigners in the area, which is a whole other part of outreach. We do have consigners who seem pretty interested in providing consistent inventory. Besides that, we also – mainly for our upcycling projects – what we’ll do is order wholesale vintage… We get a shipment and sometimes a piece looks great and we can sell it as is …sometimes the clothes need some upcycling done – repairs, like a hem, hole or buttons – other times the print/fabric is good but the design is not modern enough for everyday wear, so we turn it over to the upcyclers. We’ve only really started the upcycling program as of February, so… there’s a lot that needs to be tackled, so we’re trying to grow the artisan team.

BC: Who are your models?
Honestly, we’re not picky at all about our models. The whole purpose was to show real women in the clothing and to make sure the representations of women that we’re throwing out there are unique people, people who are often not seen. Most of the models are either friends of ours or people we’ve found through Craigslist. It’s interesting because people seem to be ready to hop on to a project …when they find out what we’re about. It’s great. Our models are very diverse. We’ve got all kinds of races and sizes, they’re inexperienced, and they’re real.

BC: I love it. I can’t speak for others who are ready to hop on this kind of project, but seeing that kind of wide representation (in fashion images) makes you want to get involved. I want to continue this effort to show a multitude of different types of women. I think that it speaks to people. It’s something we’re all experiencing on some level right now, as a movement.
AM: Totally.

BC: Do you have a Photoshop policy?
There’s no specific policy… but we don’t do retouching as far as body shape… skin… the other day I was retouching a photo where the model was sweating a bit, so I retouched that. But like, pimples, you can see on our launch flyer on our website (and below), the model had a little bit of a breakout, and that’s real and that’s natural and that’s the way our photos are gonna remain.

See?? Didn’t I tell you that you’d fall in love? If you’re in Seattle, you lucky duck, you should totally go to the Afrobeatnik launch party tonight. I would if I were you. And all of us should definitely support the Afrobeatnik website and shop their fabulous frocks and keep our eyes peeled for their savvy, spectacular web series! Cheers to these lovely ladies and their amazing work.

Afrobeatnik-launch-party-flyer-2-FINAL