Saturday, 8 July 2017

"Bitch" - An Attack on Womens' Solar Plexus

This is the third installment in a series of posts about insults directed at women are often attempts to control us on different levels. My last two posts were on the words "fat" and "slut" which still hold a lot of power, especially over younger women because they attack us on very basic levels, the right to take up space and the right to feel pleasure. Today I'm going to talk about another word that is thrown at women, that is luckily losing its power - "bitch".

I couldn't think of a photo, so here's one of me with an actual dog.

"Bitch" - Attacking the Solar Plexus
I think every woman has been called this at one time or another. When we've expressed an opinion someone doesn't want to hear, or had the nerve to stand up for our self, or been assertive enough to ask for what we want, there are often those who don't like it and will call us this. Powerful women are threatening to patriarchy, and the same attributes that are praised in men like speaking out, showing courage, or standing up for yourself is denigrated in women. It is an attempt to keep us small and powerless, to keep us passive and take away our agency. The solar plexus rules our will and the right to exert your free will.  When someone calls you a bitch, they are saying "How dare you be assertive!" "How dare you have an opinion that doesn't match mine!"How dare you get angry!" One of the double standards of our society is that women are considered emotional, but are frowned upon for expressing anger. While men are not allowed any emotions other than anger (or horny or hungry). Anger shows us where something needs to be changed, and is an emotion connected with the solar plexus. When we criticize women for getting angry we are saying they have no right to feel anger or to desire change. That being angry somehow makes you unacceptable. But isn't that what the patriarchy wants? For women to just accept a second class status and be passive participants. Angry women are a threat to that.

So how do you combat this?

1. Stand up for yourself and others
The more we do this, the more it becomes normalized. I notice that in the last 10 years more and more women are calling out sexism. We are less likely to accept harassment, or double standards. Of course this meets with resistance from those who want to rewind to the past, but this does not mean we should stop doing this. We need to do this for ourselves and for the next generation of those coming up, so they dont have to deal with some of the things we've had to.

2. Its okay to get angry
Anger is a normal emotion, and lets us know when a boundary has been crossed. It lets us know that something needs to change. We have a choice, we can change a situation or our behavior, or change our attitude and thoughts. How we choose to express anger is important too. If you need to scream into a pillow then do so. As long as we arent hurting others, breaking thingsor screaming at people, do what you need to do. You are not less of a woman because you got angry. Lets face it, women have a lot to be angry about, and holding it in is not going to help you.

3. Set boundaries.
Be clear about what your boundaries are and stick to them. When we are wishy washy, or go back on our word it teaches others that we can be walked on, and confuses them because they dont know where we stand. We are teaching them to treat us like a doormat. And if you've been clear about your boundaries, and the person still doesn't respect them, than thats someone you need to walk away from.

4.   Be assertive
Ask for what you want. You cant get what you want if you don't ask for it. And dont apologize for your wants and needs. You have a right to these things too, you dont have to passively wait and hope for things to come to you.

5. Watch your words
We have been taught to water down our requests by apologizing. How many times have you caught yourself asking for what you want or stating how you feel and then apologizing for it? I know I have.  The other word women use a lot is "just." "I just wanted to ask you...." or "I just need...."This waters down our request. We don"t need to explain or justify. We can be direct and to the point.

What are some of your suggestions?


Saturday, 1 July 2017

How Slut Shaming Attacks Women's Sacral Chakra

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how fat shaming affects women's root chakra. The response on social media was heartening because it's good to know that other people have felt this way. It's also helpful to know that more people are starting to recognize it for what it is, an attempt to police women's bodies and control us on a basic level. 

 As I said in the prevolious post, the other insult that gets thrown around at women a lot is "slut". I remember as a teen being called this and I was still a virgin. It really didn't matter whether you were active or not, it was an insult used to control and judge you and sadly it was more often said to me by other women than men. I remember as an adult seeing the movie "Mean Girls" and the scene where the teacher confronts the girls and says "when you call each other sluts you make it okay for the boys to call you that", resonated for me. It's not okay for anyone to be calling anyone that. 

"Slut" - the Sacral Chakra Insult
The reason this insult is so hurtful is because it also attacks women on a very basic level, your right to feel pleasure. It says "how dare you be sexual!" "How dare you feel pleasure or admit you want pleasure - you should be ashamed of yourself." Our society trains young women to be passively sexually available to men. We should look "sexy" (according to some impossible outside standard), but not know that we are. A women who has confidence and knows she looks good is considered vain and shallow. Look at how young women are criticized for taking self confident selfies. The message is - look pretty but don't admit that you think that you are. It's as if women should exist for the sole viewing pleasure of men, and when they take control and look good for themselves, for their own pleasure, that's too threatening. 
We are also sent the message that we should be available to men's advances but not assert ourselves. Asking out men is considered aggressive, and especially being the initiator for sex. While young men are encouraged to sow their wild oats and "get some",  young women are still fed some pretty old fashioned messages about sexuality. Look at how some men still joke that if a boy tries to date their daughter they will take out a shot gun. Never mind the whole creepy virginity promise ring thing. How gross is it to make girls promise they'll stay virgins to their fathers? Do boys promise that to their mothers? WTF

On the flip side, some young women (and men too) are made fun of for being virgins. If someone doesn't want to or isn't ready yet, that's nobody's business but there's. And the same goes for those that are active, that's there own business. It doesn't matter wether you have had one, none or a hundred partners. As far as I'm concerned, if you are consenting adults and being responsible (ie. using birth control, not cheating on anyone, preventing stds) it's nobody else business. 

Luckily for me I always saw this insult as a farce and utter double standard. That doesn't mean that it didn't hurt me at times or frustrate the hell out of me, especially when I was younger. Below is a few ways to combat this particular insult. 

1.Stop Judging Yourself 
It's easy to internalize these messages and shame ourselves. It's a pretty pervasive cultural message, though it is changing slowly but surely. What ever your past or lack their of, remember we are always learning and growing and every encounter in life has a lesson.  I think many of us have had past partners where we ask ourselves "what was I thinking?".  You were who you were at the time and maybe you wouldn't choose them now, but you wouldn't be who you are now if you took a different road. You can't judge your past self by your present self's standards. I think shaming yourself is pretty useless anyway and helps no one. Conversely I've met women who said they wished they had more partners. You can't judge yourself for this either for the same reasons, regret is also unhealthy and will only eat away at you. 

2. Stop Judging Others
This follows the one above. Don't judge yourself and don't judge others. Others sexual choices are none of your business. Again as long as it's consenting adults who are being responsible, you don't get to judge. Plus how do you expect others to respect you if you don't respect them. Don't call people sluts, and if you hear people using misogynist double standards, call it out. The more people speak up the better. 

3. Own it.
Your sexuality is yours, so own it. Don't apologize for your desires. Again, as long as it isn't criminal or irresponsible, you have a right to your sexuality. If popping balloons while wearing clown makeup and listening to calliope music turns you on, then hey - who of us can judge? It's your thing, and you don't need to justify it to anyone. 

4. Ask for what you want.
Contrary to societies message that women should be passive sexually, I've found men tend to be pretty happy when you tell them what you like. (Yes I'm writing as a straight cis gendered woman, so I can't speak about trans or lesbian etc. experiences). They also don't seem to mind if you make the first move. Plus it's your body, you have a right to ask for what you want, and to say no to what you don't want. If someone tries to pressure you into doing something you don't want to, you have a right to say no. 

5. Educate Yourself
Make sure you are educated about birth control, and preventing STDs. I'm so glad that I made sure to educate myself as a teen.  Growing  up in a religious environment where the sex ed was woefull lacking, and down right mysoginistic, I knew it was something I'd have to take into my own hands to protect myself. Beyond those basics there are many great websites and resources for learning about the art of pleasure. It's astounding the amount of women who report never having an orgasim! I think this is so sad and a reflection of how women are discouraged from exploring their own sexuality. It's your body, and if you don't know what makes you feel good, how the hell are you supposed to tell anyone else? 

I know that as women we probably have all been called a "slut" by someone at one time or another. Please remember to be kind to yourself. Remember that this says a lot more about the person saying it than it does about you. It shows they've internalized the message that women should be ashamed of themselves, and see it for the attempt to control you that it is.  

Saturday, 17 June 2017

How Fat-shaming Attacks Women's Root Chakra

When I was a teenager, the two worst things someone could call you as a girl were "fat" and "slut". While its been over 20 years since I've been a teen, sadly this hasn't changed. I think that for many teens and young women these insults are still used against them in an attempt to shame and control. One of the good things about getting into my 40s is that I don't care so much what others think and have a lot more confidence. These words just make me laugh, because I see them for what they are.

It struck me the other day that the reason these two insults hurt so much is that they attack us on at a root and sacral chakra level. They are attempts to make us feel ashamed of our very existence at a basic level. It then struck me that many of the insults directed at women, are attacks on us at different chakra levels. Thinking about this made me angry of course, though it did make me think about what we can do to counteract this.

I thought I would write a series about how insults towards women (though men have been called some of these things too) affect us on each chakra level and ways to counteract it and strengthen ourselves.

Root Chakra insult - "Fat" 
Every woman I know has been called this at one time or another no matter their size or shape. The word is  thrown at women directly, but also implied to us through the numerous diet and fashion ads that tell us we need to lose weight and be as skinny as possible. Its reinforced in pop culture, as we are encouraged to criticize our bodies, apologize for eating a cupcake, and encouraged to order salad when we really want the burger. It attacks us at a root chakra level because it shames us for taking up space, and for doing something as basic as feeding ourselves. While teen boys are praised for the amount of food they can consume, as girls this was not encouraged. This attacks our very right to exist in our bodies, to be able to eat and nourish ourselves, and creates a dysfunctional relationship with food. When I was a teen I had a terrible relationship with food , and often starved myself in an attempt to attain a level of acceptable skinniness in my mind. Never mind the fact that I weighed 110 lbs, it still wasn't good enough. it took me a long time to have a better relationship with food. I'm happy to say that these days I have a much better relationship with food and eat whatever I like and listen to my body. I no longer let this word affect me to the extent it once did. 

Yum - Burger and Fries

Below are some of the things that have worked for me, and to help strengthen my connection to my root chakra.

1. Eat what you want. If you want to eat a burger order a burger, don't order the salad just because you think you should. Numerous studies show that depriving ourselves doesn't work anyway. It only creates a yo yo cycle and messes up your metabolism.
2. Eat unaploagetically. How many times have you heard another woman or yourself say "I'm so bad for eating this." You are not bad for feeding yourself! You are not bad for enjoying a treat! Telling yourself that you are bad reinforces a sense of guilt for eating, and sets us up to desire the foods we label "bad" even more. Food is not good and bad, its just food. You should not feel ashamed for eating, by feeding yourself you are caring for yourself.
3.Listen to your body. This can take some practice, as for years we have been conditioned to see our body as an enemy. Your body is your friend. It's the vessel that's going to carry around your spirit for the rest of your life. Check in with your body at regular intervals and ask it what it wants. Is it thirsty? Needing vegtables? Tired? Wanting to dance? Ask yourself regularly what will make you feel better.
4.Exercise joyfully. Dont punish yourself doing push ups if you hate them, or going to the bootcamp you dread. Find an exercise you love and feels more like fun. Personally I like running on my treadmill, as I like running and I can catch up on watching Youtube while I exercise. I also like dancing, going for walks, and yoga. Find what you like to do. Make exercise into a celebration of being in a physical body, not a way to lose weight. 
5.Know you have a right to take up space. Whatever your size or shape, you have a right to exist and to enjoy the body you inhabit. Forget about the articles that tell you "how to dress for your body type", or how to cover up the "troublesome" parts of your body. Your body is to be celebrated, not shamed. Dress how you want and love your body. Don't wait until you are some unattainable "perfect" size (whatever that means) to enjoy yourself.

What methods do you use to counteract fatshaming? I'd love to hear your stories and suggestions.