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boys don't fall in love with feminists. reason why i'm single #465

i had quite an interesting, disturbing and ultimately upsetting discussion with a workmate today. it all started with me questioning the validity of a shaver shop ad posted on the sales noticeboard. the ad has a rather plain looking girl, dressed in christmassy red'n'white striped underwear and over-the-knee socks. kinda like our vanilla elf here. but on her back with her legs in the air. an obvious pose for an ad about razors, i thought. apparently it was hott. with two ts.

in asking why the ad was posted there and its relevance to work, a delicate, but important discussion ensued, covering all the fun stuff:

why it bothered me,
why i was kind of militant about such matters (my silly use of the term militant, really)
whether (and why) i considered myself a feminist,
the fact that men think about sex all the time and the obvious need to accommodate that
the validity of being able to look at 'things of beauty'
the validity of 'play' in discussing or accepting sexuality
whether the image was, in fact, demeaning or disrespectful
why the idea of 'boys will be boys' is either valid and/or a crock of shit
and - the real corker - whether i had a boyfriend.

one of the reasons i call myself a feminist is to make sure that these kinds of discussion are had. although, if i'm honest, i'd rather not. i'm sick and tired of these kinds of conversations, really. i wish boys would just get it.

but it seems that my nasty feminist views - my desire to not be simply viewed as either mother or whore (or for my sexual identity to even be part of my identity at work, thanks); to be treated with respect and to have equal rights and responsibility - it seems it turns the boys off. and is (probably) the reason i don't have a boyfriend. well, according to the lovely insinuations that ended the conversation.

i would like to say that i came back with a witty retort, calling into question his not-so-savoury sexual exploits, or his own lack of a girlfriend. but the reality is that the pipsqueak hit a very sore point - one that i had no idea was there until today.

i recoiled.

it has had me questioning myself all day, which i think is somewhat important for open-mindedness but something that i really wish i didn't have to do. it's obvious to me now, hours later, that my sexual life and/or identity is not actually a prerequesite to my basic human right to be treated with dignity. and vice versa.

but it seems that an age of history - of solely identifying women with their sexual nature, doesn't shift easily. on either side of the gender divide.

UPDATE: after reading mayhem's fantastic post about her complex relationship with her own marriage and the need for another feminist revolution, i've been reminded that the above idea of being 'coupled' as the ultimate validation for my opinions and/or sexuality is fucked.

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At 22 December, 2009 20:15, Anonymous Ramona said...

It's a tough ongoing conversation - not a great one to have at work and not if its used to point out your lack of partner may be because you call yourself a feminist (when did that become a dirty word again?)
I know the ad you mean..ick. The ones pissing me off at the moment are the nutri grain ads (apparently only boys need iron man food) the special k ads (because women hate other women) the mum/santa one where the family do all the chores to get what they want for Christmas. The fun don't stop whether you are a mother or are whore it seems...

At 23 December, 2009 08:19, Anonymous lauren said...

thanks ramona. ick indeed - all of it. although it's slightly depressing to hear that the fun doesn't stop when you're a mother or a whore. ah well.

luckily i decided that i would rather be single and a feminist than an oppressed 'significant other'.

At 27 December, 2009 03:36, Blogger mayhem said...

Aww shucks Lauren! thanks for that. My period of rabid feminizism coincided with a fairly rampant heterosexuality so the 'you're only single coz you're not on your back' line is a total crock. Here's a suggestion: pick up one of the gay rags, and cut out one of those safe sex ads that feature scantily censored sodomy and stick it up at work and if the boyo bogans take umbrage, say 'it's really important, coz a lot of gays are in the closet' or try ten different lame arsed excuses till they get the hint.

At 10 January, 2010 16:58, Blogger Johnbook said...

From one manifist to another feminist, nice one what you did here!
My granddad used to say, boy, dont dig too deep, you end up in Australia. And he was right. Later I found out, it would have taken me at least 800 days to do so. Stupid.
with love from the other side of the globe.
ps. found your blog as we share one interest, forgot now which one it was...

At 11 January, 2010 05:22, Anonymous lauren said...

john - welcome. spreche deutshce jetzt sehr schlecht, aber vieleicht unserer interesse ist "geiler schuhe" :D

thanks for stopping by and it's funny how in australia, if we dig too deep, we go all the way to china! i wonder if the chinese dig too deep, do they end up in germany?


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