In the 1970s, many women participated in “consciousness-raising” circles in which they discussed the impact of sexism, racism, classism, and homophobia on their lives (though not necessarily using those terms). In discussing their experiences as women living in American culture, they found that issues they thought were individual were in fact collective. Many women hated something about their bodies, and found that they were not alone—most women felt they fell short of the cultural standard. And, most vitally, through shared experience women learned that sexual assault, rape, and domestic violence were widespread, and that talking about it could help them create systems and laws to protect victims and stop perpetrators. Those consciousness-raising discussions were a catalyst for change, and we need them—or something like them—for the next push toward equality. Fortunately, we’ve already got it goin on—online.
Birth, for both the woman giving it and the child experiencing it, is a messy process. It is bloody, rhythmically painful, exhilarating, and frightening. A mother cannot be who she was before she gave birth—she can retain who she was and augment her understanding of self, but she cannot be exactly as she was. She has entered into a lifelong dance with the child she has birthed, and the child must learn to grow within this dance. Rebirth—which is by definition metaphysical and metaphorical rather than physical and literal—shares these characteristics. And like birth, rebirth is facilitated by a feminine presence, a divine energy that enters into a lifelong dance with the new self.
This week, authorities reported that they are investigating more than 100 central Virginia teens for sexting—they have shared nude or semi-nude pictures on Instagram. Sexting among teens is not new, of course—a 2009 Pew Research study established that teens are sexting as a regular part of their online behavior. Image-based social networking platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, which teens are using in greater numbers to escape parental supervision on Facebook, are the logical places to share these pictures. Teens don’t see sexting as a big deal, and often engage in the behavior without an understanding of the possible consequences, which can range from prosecution as a sex offender to providing cyberbullies with endless fodder for sexual shame.
Recently, SELF magazine shamed Monika Allen, a cancer survivor, for running an LA marathon while wearing a tutu. Oh, the editors weren’t aware that Monika is a cancer survivor, or that she made the tutu herself, one of many she makes for her company Glam Runners, which donates proceeds to Girls on the Run. The editors didn’t know any of that because they didn’t ask her about herself or the tutu—they just asked for permission to use her picture, which they ran in a segment called “The BS Meter” with a caption about a “tutu epidemic.” Hmmm… a segment called The BS Meter? Sounds more like fare for a tabloid than a magazine about healthy women. But that shouldn’t be too shocking–women’s fitness magazines aren’t really about supporting healthy women. They’re about supporting our cultural “beauty” standards, under the guise of “fitness.” Which means shaming women for our bodies and choices is fair game—in fact, it is the game.
Michele Bachmann recently made the claim that President Obama was elected because of white guilt. Among the many reasons this is a ludicrous statement—not the least of which is that Obama was elected on his own merit, twice—is that white guilt never accomplished a thing. That’s because guilt of any variety is paralyzing. White guilt is a deer in the headlights. I know, because I’ve been that deer. I think a lot of white people have.