Tag Archives: feminism

ecdysiast


ecdysiast n. a striptease performer

demi_moore___striptease_by_lord_iluvatar-d50cjyg

Such a classy name for such an unclassy practice. I’d love to make a business card for myself with this listed as my profession just so people would go home and look up the word – then gasp in shock. When I first saw this word, I thought of Demi Moore and that movie she was famously topless in. I also thought of that chick from Saved By the Bell who starred in that movie Showgirls. Every now and then VH1 airs it with the addition of very obviously digital bandeau tops to cover the dancers breasts – which are prominently displayed, bare, in every scene. The digital tops are very entertaining as they don’t always move with the dancers correctly…thus taking on a comical life of their own.  I also think of Scores – that famous smutty strip club in Manhattan that you can see while walking down the High Line in the city. It’s such a clash of environs that it always makes me stop and giggle.

I actually think that the art of strip tease has taken a bad rap in our modern society. It has quite a rich history, as mentioned on Wikipedia:

The origins of striptease as a performance art are disputed and various dates and occasions have been given from ancient Babylonia to 20th century America. The term “striptease” was first recorded in 1932, though “stripping”, in the sense of women removing clothing to sexually excite men, seems to go back at least 400 years.

I suppose at some point, someone added the pole and G String, stripping away all of the enticement and attraction of the traditional art of stripping. As much as pole dancing takes quite a lot strength and agility, I don’t consider it an art at all – maybe a good workout, but that’s about it. In my new found learning of the word “ecdysiast”, I think that in order to call it performance art it should maintain some type of dignity and grace – and doesn’t have to show all of the skin to be entertaining. Take this performance by Gypsy Rose, which is perfect for this blog post I might add…

I believe pornography also has much to do with the modern day connection between smut and stripping. When women became more liberated sexually and seeing naked or near naked women became something that was common in the day to day, most of the mystique was lost. These days, you seemingly cannot avoid catching a glimpse of risqué appendage just waking down the street – even in my little suburban village. When you turn on the television, you are instantly accosted by sexual images. About the only channels where you don’t run into it are the Disney and Sprout channels – which is only because they are for children. Even PBS splashes some boob here and there usually on Art 21 or National Geographic.

We’ve also combined stripping – or staring at scantily clad females oddly…with eating…Hooters being the best example.

The genesis of food, drink and naked ladies can most likely be tracked back to the Playboy Club. A few years back I read Gloria Steinem’s “A Bunny’s Tale.” The infamous feminist went undercover and became a bunny at the famous club and wrote about all that the women had to go through to don the satin bodice and cotton tail of the Playboy Bunny. It was really fascinating. I didn’t walk away from it thinking about men being like pigs. The women wanted to do it. They voluntarily wanted to dress up like busty bunnies and serve drinks to men. It carried an elite status for them. What stands out to me is how Hooters is the antithesis of that older attitude. The bunnies had to stand a certain way, the costumes were painful. It was a strange art form, but admirable in a strange way. At Hooters, you only need the right…ahem…proportions to don the orange shorts and ogled owl tank top. Let’s hear it for women’s liberation?

We are simply no longer shocked by the visage of the nude female body and this is why, in my opinion, the erotic art of strip has become synonymous with lewd and classless in the opinion of many. Why buy the proverbial cow when the milk is free?

But perhaps the world has had it’s fill of Victoria’s Secret Angels, Hooters girls and celebrity sex tapes as burlesque and “pin up” are making a comeback. Instead of swinging around a pole to Motley Crue in see through 6 inch heels and g strings, these women are bringing back performance and confidence to the art of the strip tease – like our lovely friend Gypsy Rose’s apropos performance earlier in this post. Perhaps ecdysiast won’t be regarded as such a dirty word after all and feminists will have more time to deal with that pesky 50 Shades of Grey business…

 

 

 

 

 

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Rubenesque


Rubenesque adj. (of a woman’s figure) full and rounded

 

Rubens,_Peter_Paul_-_The_Three_Graces

I have been listening to a lot of Prince and Queen lately – mostly because my 16 month old son really gets into those particular artists. He loves Killer Queen and Raspberry Beret especially and bops around to Fat Bottomed Girls as well . I feel like I am schooling him in a new form of radical feminism when we listen to these songs. They embody a sense of admiration for the full figured female we seem to have lost in this day and age. Here’s what I mean…

In Raspberry Beret, Prince notes:

Built like she was
She had the nerve to ask me
If I planned to do her any harm.

Since Prince is a pretty small dude one would have to assume that the beret wearing girl could hold her own because she was larger – but it’s not a bad thing in the song. It makes her memorable and attractive. In fact, she seems quite proud as he describes her as not wearing much else than the beret.  In Get Off, he also mentions explicitly:

Honey, them hips is gone
That’s alright, I clock ’em that way
Remind me of something James used to say
“I like ’em fat”, “I like ’em proud”
“Ya gotta have a mother for me”
Now move your big ass ’round this way
So I can work on that zipper, baby

I would bet there are other references to his preference for larger women in his music, but what I find really interesting is that even a few decades ago, there was a certain appreciation for the voluptuous, womanly body. Whether it be Sir Mix A Lot or Prince, models still had asses and boobs and I am pretty sure no one was trying to lose all of their muscle mass to be attractive. What happened between then and now to so drastically change our preferences when it comes to the female form?

I think about body image a lot. The smallest I have ever been was a size 4 and that was when I was in college. It was a lot of fun. I could walk into any clothing store and fit into anything I wanted. I had no breasts so the shirts buttoned perfectly. Low rise denim sat on bone, not muffin top. Being able to wear whatever I chose made me forget that I was absolutely starving all of the time. Now as I write this in the bootylicious leggings of a size 10/12 (gasp!) shopping is more akin to getting a pap smear than having fun. The fashion world has banned me from being able to look attractive easily. At 5’2 , I am petite, but with an ass and boobs, I am full figured. Anyway you slice it up, I am fat by the standards of the fashion and clothing industry and deemed unattractive by the anorexic minions of Madison Avenue.

Every time I see the standards for womanly attractiveness shrink, I pray that this time they have gone too far and that next year the new “it” size will go up instead of down. I fear that when I am hitting 40 the new goal will be to fit into 2T pants. How I long for the days of Rubens and Botticelli whose lovely ladies flaunted flesh. I think there is a definite connection between Modern Art and the cultism of waifishness that is prevalent amongst women. In the same ways that traditional, beautiful, skillful art is rejected these days, so is the traditional female body. Much of a woman’s free time is spent plucking, waxing and toning so as not to be regarded as some barbaric, poorly groomed gorilla in public. It’s as if we’re supposed to stay 14 forever.

…and the music about Fat Bottomed Girls and Raspberry Berets has faded away as well. Prince has been replaced with Justin Beiber and One Direction singing about hair flipping insecure 12 year olds in between rapid successions of “ohs” and “ahs” instead of actual lyrics. Even Jennifer Hudson lost her booty and Anne Hathaway looks like she’s dying. Good god, even the Twinkie is a thing of the past.  Alas, I lament the loss of substance in all of it’s historical forms – art, music and womanly flesh…bye, bye Miss American Thigh…

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muliebrity


muliebrity n. womanly qualities; womanhood

 

 

Muliebrity

by Sujata Bhatt

I have thought so much about the girl

who gathered cow-dung in a wide, round basket

along the main road passing by our house

and the Radhavallabh temple in Maninagar.

I have thought so much about the way she                                             5

moved her hands and her waist

and the smell of cow-dung and road-dust and wet canna lilies,

the smell of monkey breath and freshly washed clothes

and the dust from crows’ wings which smells different –

and again the smell of cow-dung as the girl scoops                             10

it up, all these smells surrounding me separately

and simultaneously – I have thought so much

but have been unwilling to use her for a metaphor,

for a nice image – but most of all unwilling

to forget her or to explain to anyone the greatness                                15

and the power glistening through her cheekbones

each time she found a particularly promising

mound of dung –

Many times when I begin these posts I will use a Google search to get myself motivated or to generate some ideas. I had never read this poet before today, but I can say that this poem captures the full meaning of the word. When I chose the word, I started thinking about what makes a woman “womanly” – outside of physical appearances and the ability to bear children. Is there a grace that women possess simply because they are just women? What exactly makes a woman “womanly”?

 There is a huge difference between being pretty, pink and girly and being womanly – and it has nothing to do with body weight. I find it interesting that our society labels clothing for females above a size 12 a woman – and everything under her as juniors or misses. As if having a larger ass means you are more mature and matronly. However, it raises an interesting point about the relationship between female anatomy and this idea of womanhood. Larger breasts and hips used to be what defined beauty. A young lady was deemed a woman once she passed out of puberty and developed the trademarks of her sex. Even until the 1950’s, “t & a” were essential to being considered the height of womanly beauty. Today there is no doubting that the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren were women – not girls. I’m not going to make the analogy to our current societal predilections of beauty – you already know what there is to say about that. I just think it’s a little sad that the feminist movement is most likely to blame for this drastic change.

I drive around with my son a lot and I see these bumper stickers everywhere that say “Save the Tatas.” I know breast cancer is a devastating disease and one that I might have to face in my lifetime if statistics say anything, but these bumper stickers offend me. It’s like having a bumper sticker on my car for testicular cancer that says “Save the Sacks” or “Don’t Bust My Balls.” I doubt the man with testicular cancer would find it funny. It’s not that I think that breasts have super powers, but God did give them to only women so we should probably honor them. We have Playboy, the plastic surgery industry and Victoria’s Secret to exploit them already. Can we please not degrade them further by calling them “tatas” on the same vehicles we shuttle around the future of women of America in?

There is something more to womanhood than boobs, though. A certain grace  (regardless of how clumsy they are) that women possess in their movements, actions and auras. Maybe it’s in our eyes or the sway of our walk or the fact that we can give birth to a child. I’m not quite sure there’s any way to pin exactly what it is down, and I think that it’s better that way. We need to keep it secret so no one exploits it and gives it a goofy name.

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mealy mouthed


mealy mouthed adj. reluctant to speak frankly

Scarlett O’Hara versus Melanie Hamilton – Gone with the Wind….best illustration of this adjective.

Back in the Civil War South, the reluctance to speak frankly came with a certain type of grace – case in point Melanie Hamilton. Scarlett was the proverbial “bull in the china closet” while Melanie had a quiet and graceful piety. They were opposite sides of the coin. In the end both lose as Melanie dies and Scarlett drives away the last person left who could love her, Rhett Butler.

Today being called mealy mouthed would be quite a derogatory term. Unfortunately I don’t think many people are mealy mouthed these days. In our modern times, passive aggressiveness has become far more prevalent and has replaced the quiet piety of mealy mouthism. The quiet, seemingly meek kittens that are sweet and friendly to your face turn into rabid lions on the phone and over email. I have met too many people like this than I care to count. It has become a right of passage in the workplace and I believe it is reversing the inroads that feminism has made over the years.

I would like to call myself a moderate feminist. I believe in some of the feminist tenets, but not all. The one tenet I do hold important when it comes to the rights and liberties of my gender is the ability and tendency to speak out on opinions – to stick up for what one believes in. Passive aggressiveness is weak and does nothing to further the cause of womanhood.  Men can be passive aggressive as well, but I really do believe it is far more common amongst females. Why are women so afraid of other women or men that they cannot even debate or have a difficult conversation face to face, resorting to emails or voicemails to show their true colors?

It is a baffling conundrum. Females have the courage to achieve many difficult tasks – child bearing and rearing, education, political office – women can do anything. Yet why is this passive aggressive trait so common amongst my gender?

Perhaps it is a sort of crisis of confusion caused by all of the goals and ideas of womanly success. Woman are told to want it all – the man, the baby, the house, the car, the career. Maybe for some women this actually happens. For most, it’s a trade off. You may have it all during the course of your life, but I doubt all at one time. I believe women in the workplace have been conditioned to think that they should use a combination of sex and aggression to get ahead – a corporate version of “a lady in the parlor, slut in the bedroom.” In an effort to achieve “it all” some women tend to put on the facade of grace and manners while tearing people to shreds undercover – a lethal combination of Melanie and Scarlett wrapped up in a power suit.

Frankly, my dear, it’s sad.

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pudeur


pudeur n. a sense of shame or embarrassment, especially with regard to matters of a sexual or personal nature

The Oxford also mentions the synonym of modesty for this word, but I am have never thought as modesty as being shameful or embarrassed. However, now that I think about it, I suppose it does.

Modesty or pudeur is a rare commodity these days. Growing up in Catholic school, modesty was something that was imposed. Having to wear a uniform everyday and not being allowed to differentiate yourself imposed a certain need to find other ways of standing out, such as being smart or artistic. Girls were still nasty and formed cliques, but at least in the classroom, a smart or creative girl could feel good about herself. When my beloved little private school closed, I was forced to go to public school…and such modesty as I had learned did not go over well.

I was a victim of some very harsh bullying. I was a chubby 12 year old girl who didn’t wear makeup and wore unfashionable clothes that my parents bought me from Bradlees. One particular girl – who wasn’t even popular or pretty (I was so low on the totem that the popular girls didn’t even acknowledge me) dubbed me “meatballs” and I had the extreme pleasure of being called that everyday of my life at school…until I smashed her in the face with my school books. My parents told me that if I was going to survive, I needed to toughen up and give up my shy, modest and good girl ways. At that point I pushed aside my love of drawing, reading and writing so I could fully focus on improving myself in ways that the world wouldn’t cast off.

The summer after my first year in public school, I exercised everyday and nearly starved myself. I walked up and down the stairs in my house listening to Paula Abdul sing “Forever Your Girl” over and over again. By the time it was Fall and the beginning of the school year, I was thin. I forced my parents to take me to get clothes that weren’t embarrassing and when I started school on the first day the sounds of praise and compliments gave me a sense of satisfaction that I still rarely achieve to this day. I wasn’t popular, but I fit in. And it felt damn good. So good that I had a pretty great 4 years of high school.

After my high school graduation, my father was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor that would eventually take his life in 2 short years. I had hinged everything in my little world on college so when he was diagnosed on the day I was supposed to leave for my freshman year, it all fell apart for me. I worked in a factory for 6 months and ate my way through the pain until I was once again a chubby, badly dressed introvert. When I finally got to college I found myself in the same place I had been on my first year in public school…so the process began again (without the Paula Abdul music).

Over the course of my life this scenario has played itself out time and time again. I am 33 now and I find myself back in the throws of trying to lose the weight so I can fit into the right clothes so I can find the right job…all to get back to that blissful feeling of acceptance. I continually push down my modesty, my creativity and my overall awkwardness in order to attain what I have come to recognize as happiness, when that is not what it is at all.

Happiness is something that comes from within. When I listen to my son laugh, I feel it for a moment and it’s blissful. Perhaps happiness is something that I have no right to feel everyday, every minute, every hour. For me, I think it is something rare and treasured, similar to love but more fragile…in my opinion.

I want contentment. A steady lack of worrisome thoughts and faith in who I am as a person. I want the courage to face the world as I am without sacrificing anything. I want to know the strength to be called “meatballs”, to smash that girl in the face once again – but this time, to go right on living without changing a damn thing.

 

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opine


opine v. hold and state as ones opinion

I have been bad and haven’t written in a few days as I have been interviewing for a job. My head has not been in the game of learning words recently, but I am back with the word of today.

Opinions are a wonderful thing and, just like assholes, everyone has one. To be quite honest, I am really weary of opinions and politics. I feel like my whole life I have either been talking about what I believe and what everyone else believes, etc. Opinions are complex things. They make or break friendships, they get you fired, they cause dissent. I have always been an opinionated person but lately I have been refraining from opining.

My reasoning is that life is a little more pleasant NOT standing on my soap box. My head is so full of information that I pick up that it’s hard for me to decide what to think sometimes. I also find that my opinion changes over time as I experience and live through more difficulties and good times. As I grow older, I am less likely to opine and more likely to examine my thoughts and keep my opinions personal until I am sure of how I really feel.

At this rate, I hope to have some decisions made about what I really believe by the time I am old and gray. At that time, I will dust off the soap box, get back on it and tell you what I think.

Call me wishy washy, a coward or a loner, but I am tired of being self righteous and determined to have my voice heard. I have to do some research and learning. I want to be fair. Instead of being seen as opinionated and strong I am more interested in being a decent and good person. I want to enjoy life as much as I can and absorb the world around me – for better or for worse.

I have spent my life trying to be something, trying to collect all of the things to use to build a picture of who I am or want to be. I have always had a strong opinion. I have never just let me be me. So instead of looking at things and forming opinions I am going to focus on acceptance and learning to take in all of the world around me without the pressure of having to say what I think. Maybe some meditation…perhaps a few sun salutations…hopefully a prayer or two.

Let’s see how long this lasts…

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