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.

And a Happy Swiftyear! The Swift-Off (Round Two)

As mentioned in Shannon’s postAs S and I embark on the Swiftiest of Swift-Offs, please keep in mind the following… Over the years we have debated Tay Tay to such degrees that we are able to see many sides of this shiny, blonde, leggy enigma. We could deliberate Her Swiftyness for hours, and find certain opinions overlapping. But for the purposes of these posts, we’ve agreed to go full-on Debate Class, with me taking the For argument and S taking the Against. Merry Swiftmas to all, and to all a fair fight!

Tay-new-years-eve_0
The Swift-Off / Round Two: Elizabeth

For the Tay-Nay-Sayers, S got your back during the festive holiday season. Who cares if Swiftmas is a real thing wherein Taylor Swift surprises unsuspecting fans with oodles of holiday treats? S set out all the reasons Tay Tay grates on your Grinchy heartstrings, and I am here to do the opposite. I’m here to kick off 2016 with lots of reasons for loving Taylor Swift, starting with a not-at-all-secret confession:

I’m a fan. Yes, a fan of Taylor Swift’s music, that’s me! To be fair, it only started recently. I couldn’t name a song of hers that happened before Red, and my favorite album is her latest, 1989. The former is just enough pop-country crossover to make an easy fan of me, and the latter is just enough throwback to the music of my youth that I became completely sold. Her sh*t is catchy, y’all. Frankly, if you’ve ever been a teenage/early twenty-something girl, I don’t know how you can listen to this song or this one (or this one) without some real, deep down, Girl, I Feel You feelings.

Which brings me to Point #2: in a world of cookie cutter autotune pop stars who act like little sexy baby divas I can’t help but give props to the woman who has worked her ass off for her fame, and continues to show nothing but gratitude and affection towards her 60 million fans. Sure, maybe it’s an act. But even if it is, it’s a) smart, and b) Really Nice! Think of a musician whose work you admire, whose songs get your toes tapping and your lips synching… If you met that person, would you rather they acted like this:

taylor-swift-fans-main-pic
Photo via Just Jared

Or like this:

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 3.55.03 PM
Photo via @HerNamesJen

Sort of sidebar: yes, I just berated human marshmallow fluff Ariana Grande for her “sexy baby” look, but this does NOT mean that I think Taylor Swift is somehow superior for dressing more conservatively.* The sexy baby thing bugs me (an entirely different blog post), but all-in-all I am a very sex positive person and I support women having agency over our bodies and how we dress and presents ourselves and so on and so forth. Suffice it to say, I’d bet a lot of money (and I have no money) that AG doesn’t curate her own image. 

Back to Tay!

Not only is Taylor Swift a gracious celeb, she is also genuinely talented. Even if you aren’t a fan of her music, it’s still refreshing to see a young woman carve out a career as a singer/songwriter in this day and age. Country was a logical launchpad for her career, as that’s where you’ll find most singer/songwriters these days, but as Red and 1989 prove, she has other music to share, and she crossed over very successfully.

Which means, the girl also has business sense. So she’s talented, nice to her fans, gracious in the face of crazy huge fame, and a savvy entrepreneur. I have to say it folks… It’s no wonder she’s friends with Beyoncé.

Beyonce-Taylor-Swift-Birthday-Party-2014-Pictures
Proof via Pop Sugar

Which brings me to the only point in S’s argument that I cannot debate. While Taylor Swift brings a lot of good into the world, this is in literally no way superior to this. It just… isn’t. Beyoncé wins.

Still, that video (and video awards) blunder aside, there’s a lot to love about Taylor Swift. She’s not only everything I’ve already mentioned, she’s also open to growing and learning from her mistakes, and as a Mega Super Star, that sometimes happens very publicly. Like when Lena Dunham made a feminist out of her, or when Nicki Minaj took her to school on Twitter.

Like all humans, Taylor has her shortcomings, and so in the interest of furthering the debate, I leave you with more Taylor Tidbits to help you decide: Nay Tay or Yay Tay!

Hope everyone had a Merry Swiftmas, and that you’re all looking forward to a bright and shiny Swiftyear!

giphy (9)

*disclaimer: I don’t have one type of look, and I love all sorts of fashion, but if I have a fashion spirit animal, it’s a hybrid of Penélope Cruz and Taylor Swift.

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

Friday Feminist Funtimes – All About That Bass

Today my friend Megan posted this video on the book of faces, and it’s about as Fun as FFF gets. The song is catchy, the video is totes adorbs, and it’s had me tappin’ my feet and chair dancin’ all day.

Now I’m getting used to all the naysayers and the nays that they say, so before you shake fists and wave placards, allow me to address the lyrics that are sure to irk some folks out there…

“I got that boom boom that all the boys chase, and all the right junk in all the right places…”

“I’m bringin’ booty back, go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that…”

She also references “stick figure silicone barbie doll”s, and how “boys like a little more booty to hold at night…” I know, I know. This reopens wounds incurred by slogans like Real Women Have Curves and Healthy is the New Skinny. But before you decry the indignities of how ‘skinny girls are people, too!!’, there are a few things we need to acknowledge.

1. Yes, all women are real women, regardless of shape or size. We here at Beauty Coup do not support body shaming of any kind.

2. Yes, skinny women can also be healthy women. So can large women, muscular women, not muscular women, young women, old women, and so on and so forth. Let’s also remember that there are sick people in the world who are no less beautiful for their illness.

3. When it comes to media and entertainment, there is a crucial truth that is often ignored or overlooked. This truth can be summarized by a concept known as othering. 

If you’ve ever taken a media studies class, odds are good that you know what this means. If not, here’s the short, short version in non-academic language:

Othering is when we as a collective culture have distaste for that which is not like us. That distaste can run the gamut from disdain to fear to outright hostility. Othering happens when we judge another person or group of people who are not like us simply because they are not like us, without any understanding of their individual and/or collective humanity.

It is these marginalized groups, these victims of othering, who need to be put in the spotlight when it comes to supporting broader definitions of beauty, and creating a greater understanding of what it means to have value and worth as a human being.

In light of that, I have some tough news for some of you:

If you are thin, you are privileged.
If you are white, you are privileged.
If you are young, you are privileged.
If you are straight, you are privileged.
If you are wealthy, you are privileged.
If you are a man, you are privileged.

I started that list, by the by, with the two (and a half) ways in which I am privileged. As I see it, it isn’t enough to rouse the rabble only concerning the privileges denied to us, we also have a responsibility to celebrate all kinds of beauty – regardless of the shape, size, color, age, gender, economic standing, or sexuality that it comes packaged in.

So if you find yourself feeling slighted because you’re thin and this cute video is celebrating girls with ‘bass’, remember this: just because she says ‘skinny bitches,’ it doesn’t mean she thinks skinny people suck. Odds are really, really good that the skinny bitch in the video is one of her BFFs.

Take the time to acknowledge your privileges. When someone steps up to holler about and celebrate something that is usually diminished, ignored, slighted, or feared, and you find you have the urge to yell back, “but what about me???” I encourage you to pause and think about all that your privileges have already afforded you.

Now shake that money maker, whatever its size!