Pubes; Should They Stay or Should They Go?

Ah, pubic hair what a wonderfully uncomfortable topic! So uncomfortable in fact that I can guarantee that at least one person scrolled past this post and let out a big “EW!” in annoyance. But regardless we’re talking about this, it’s happening.

Tragically, I realized that everyone in my circle of friends had decided to liberate themselves from the shackles of pubic hair before a pool party. It was the summer going into my freshmen year. We were all changing when a snarky blonde and my worst frenemie cried out, “Oh my God, you don’t shave?!” Wait, what? I just got these though. I looked down at what puberty had thrown my way and felt completely humiliated. However ashamed I may have felt I also remember being unutterably pissed. I had waited for womanhood and now that it had arrived I had to go back to being twelve? That’s like going out and buying spike heels and the second you put them on everyone around you is shaking their heads and saying, “No. Take them off; flats are totally in this year.” So I picked up a razor and bid womanhood adieu because I’m a spineless lemming.

Okay, so yes it may seem awkward or ridiculous to discuss these things but they actually carry quite a significant role in women’s lives. Doctors in the 1960’s used to shave women’s vaginas before they gave birth because women’s (not men’s) pubic hair was seen as unclean. Excuse me, but what the fuck does that even mean? This naturally occurring hair on my body is somehow dirtier than a man’s? So dirty in fact that my child can’t pass through it? This is just one example of how the medical field has medicalized women’s bodies leaving them “othered”. A term used most often when a dominant culture or group looks at another and says, “you’re different than me therefore you must be wrong and we must fix you.” So there it is, white-male OB/GYNs were tired of looking at bushes all day so they made up a reason why they didn’t have to. Perfect, as if it’s not already agonizing enough to heal from giving birth, let’s throw razor burn into the mix!

The 1970’s brought with it disco, cocaine, and of course an explosion of pornographic films. It’s as if everyone was just tired of fighting after the civil rights movement and made a unanimous decision to just say “Screw it” and start a party. More pornography meant a greater visual of the vagina which it was decided had to be altered to be more ascetically pleasing. Throughout the decades as the popularity of pornography grew so did the notion that hairless vaginas were beautiful and more desirable than ones covered short and curlies. This phenomenon expanded so much so that now it even affects men. Ever slept with someone and feel like there was something missing that you couldn’t quite put your finger on? Yeah, it’s because like anorexia more men are adapting this catching trend as well!

So what does it all mean? Well, whether we like it or not rejecting pubic hair posts two problems. One being, that we are altering our genitalia to resemble that of a pre-pubescent child and two, that we accepting that our bodies must be changed in order for us to be beautiful or presentable. When we make the claim that being bald is brilliantly sexy, what we’re actually doing is sexualizing children. Seriously, I’m sure Nabokov’s character Humber Humbert would have been absolutely enthused by the idea of grown women running around with baby vaginas. Sexualizing children doesn’t stop at Holister or Abercrombie, where young girls are being prompted to buy miniskirts or bikinis in order to impress their male counterparts; it stays with us into adulthood. Women are constantly being forced to adopt trends that may seem harmless now but actually began under some very degrading circumstances. Patriarchy has medicalized our bodies countless times throughout history but the fact that this practice has roots in pornographic film making makes it even worse. That’s right ladies, when has porn helped us out? I mean really. Is anybody else tired of hearing “Can I cum on your face??” Um, no and you just completely ruined the moment.

Now, I get it. Letting it grow poses some problems too. The number one problem being that it is seriously uncomfortable. Or perhaps you’re afraid to be categorized by your partner as “that weird art girl” or the ever popular “feminazi” I get it. At least get educated about your body before you decide to alter it. Know exactly what it means before you pick up your razor, and above all else if you choose to shave, shave it for yourself not for your partner, because I’m sorry ladies but if you’re man has a serious problem with hair then it’s time to accept that he’s probably a pedophile.


Gentlemen Wear Burberry

“God, I don’t even know what I’m doing right now.” I looked over at my friend who was driving me home, he said nothing. Waiting hopelessly for a little support I continued, “Like, I don’t even know this guy. It’s almost 3:00am and all I want to do is sleep. Why did I invite him over?” “Yeah…” He replied half heartedly as he focused on the road. Realizing that he didn’t care I fell silent and stared out the window, watching the falling rain. When we finally arrived at my apartment we said goodbye and parted ways. I climbed up the stairs to my bedroom and threw on an oversized sweatshirt that smelled like stale smoke and secretly hoped that my suitor would get lost and go back the way he came. But he didn’t and when I heard him knocking I put on a smile and walked cooly to the door.

I knew him in middle school. By “knew him” I mean we had exchanged glances in the partially finished basement of my best friend’s apartment when we were thirteen. My only real memory of this person had been overshadowed by the scraggily haired boy he was with who was busying himself by undressing old barbies and making sexually disturbing comments. I sat on the arm of an old couch and watched it in disgust. He hadn’t crossed my mind in almost ten years when I noticed a message from him lingering in my inbox. I skimmed it on my lunch break and saw “blog” a couple of times and honestly assumed he was writing to accuse me of being a man hater (I get that a lot). But as I read on I realized that he was actually complimenting me for it. Being that I’m a sucker for my fans I responded politely. Of course for me, being polite often ends in a one night stand. Oh you love my writing? That’s so sweet! Please, come in and help yourself to my vagina. I know what you’re thinking and yes, I’m working on it.

So there I was wanting to kick myself for being such a lush when I opened the door. There before me stood a gorgeous, impeccably dressed man that I hardly recognized. Fuck. Why didn’t I shave my legs for this? He glided into my kitchen with ease already talking about the night he had, had bar hopping with his friends. We sat down and I poured him a glass from the bottle of Cabernet I purchased earlier in the evening. He swirled it around smoothly before he sniffed it. “Uh, no it was $3.99 it’s nothing fancy.” I said shyly and probably stupidly. “Oh, yeah I was just being polite.” He removed his Burberry scarf and placed it on the table. He’s polite, easy to talk to, and he’s wearing Burberry. He must be gay. After all, how else was I supposed to make sense of his flawless manners? Men in their early twenties behaving like gentlemen was a phenomenon that I knew nothing about. “These girls at the bar were trying to take my scarf from me. I was getting real salty about it.” And there it was, the evidence I was searching for. “It was a gift from my mother, I’ve had it forever.” I was ready to call myself a fool when he directed his gaze at me, “I love your blog, by the way.” Naturally, I perked up for a moment and in a seductive tone he said, “When I was reading your last post I just kept thinking, damn you’re really blowing your chance with an awesome girl.” He’s not gay and I’m wearing sweats, damn it. Before too long the talking turned into playful flirting and when he leaned in to kiss me I felt my knees weaken. He eventually pulled off his shirt to reveal a perfectly chiseled six-pack. I imagined what was under my sweatshirt and thought, Oh yeah, we’re definitely having sex with the lights OFF. But we didn’t have sex. We kissed sweetly and spoke in low whispers until well into the morning.

At the moment he kissed me I made the practical decision not to get my hopes up. Mostly because I figured he was a figment of my imagination brought on by a hallucination induced by desperation and loneliness. But also because he was a professional soccer player who lived out of state. When my girlfriend called around eleven that morning I came back to reality and decided that it was time to kick Romeo out of my bed. I left him to finish gathering his things as I headed into the shower hoping to wash off whatever was left of him from my body and mind. I expected that he would show himself out and that he would be gone by the time I returned. I opened my bedroom door and to my surprise he was still there, standing poshly with his hands in his pockets. I glanced over at my bed and found that it was perfectly made and stopped breathing for a moment. It was a small gesture, but it was big in it’s own rite. I was sincerely touched because I wasn’t used to that kind of consideration. He kissed my lips, still wet from the shower, and made his way down the stairs and through the door.

“Girl you better get it.” My friend stared at me with a sort of stern seriousness. She held a cup of coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other as she spoke, “Are you hanging out with him tonight?” Her question hung heavy in the air along with the smoke from her cigarette. “I think so, I mean he wants to.” I raised a soggy french fry to my mouth and she batted my hand away. “Bitch, you’re getting naked tonight. You better get your mind right!” I threw it down and picked up a cigarette from my pack in accordance with my modern woman’s diet. “No but really though, what are you going to wear?” I brushed her questions off nonchalantly but inside I was stirring. I was madly in “like” and feeling crushed by my own “crush”.

As day faded into evening I began rushing around my house, frantically vacuuming and cleaning in preparation for his arrival. I lit candles, fluffed pillows, and thought seriously about baking something. I wore lipstick and slipped on high heeled boots knowing full well that we were staying in. I was a woman possessed.

When he came, he brought with him cheesecake and raspberries. Oh dear God if you let this go well I promise to never again wake up with my bra in my purse or make fun of the senile receptionist behind her back at work. I was absolutely smitten and it was probably entirely too obvious. We laughed and talked as if we were old friends and I was surprised by how comfortable I felt in his company. He explained that his only prerogative was to treat me like a lady and make me feel like a woman. He expressed his embarrassment for other “boys” his age and the way that they objectify women. “I feel like I should apologize for my gender. It’s unbelievable how much these dudes are messing up.” It was by some divine intervention that my clothing didn’t melt off of my body and evaporate into nothingness. He continued on to talk about his soccer career and the goals he aspired to meet. He spoke with such drive and determination that I considered chugging my wine out of sheer intimidation. It was official, I was hooked.

Again I invited him into my bed and for the first time in a long time I allowed myself to experience true intimacy. I didn’t want to crawl out of my skin and run away while he was on top of me. In fact, the thought had never even crossed my mind. I felt good and I felt safe. When morning came I didn’t feel the urge to bang my head against the wall or sneak out of my own bed as if I didn’t live there. I just stayed and enjoyed the feeling of having his arm around me and drifted back to sleep with my head perfectly nuzzled into his chest. He left later that morning, but he’s not gone. He’s not forever fossilized in my memory, he’s present. As I begin to acclimate to a good man I can feel my sense of trust finally rebuilding itself. It’s terrifying, but I’ve decided to stay put. If he can remain present in my life then I can resist my urge to run for the door.

The truth is, I was a romantic before I was a cynic. I only became bitter after believing that prince charming didn’t really exist. I was so accustomed to being treated poorly that a true gentlemen was almost unrecognizable to me. Is that right? I think not. If we, as women, stop settling for less and start expecting more then we will undoubtedly find what we’re looking for. A man can’t properly take care of your body unless he can take care of your heart first and we should accept nothing less. If chivalry isn’t dead and gentlemen actually exist outside of Nicholas Sparks’ books then perhaps it’s time I admit defeat and finally put an end to my cynicism…for now anyway.

Get Me the Hell Out of Athens: A Dating Nightmare

My hands were shaking as I tightly gripped the steering wheel of my 2001 Saturn. I couldn’t tell if it was because I was nervous or because I had downed two cups of black coffee before I hit the road. Either way, I was excitedly anticipating the night that was to come. I was on my way to visit a friend at another university about an hour or so outside of my hometown. It was mom’s weekend, which for those of you who aren’t familiar, is an annual tradition that celebrates moms and binge drinking. Could there be anything more charming? I wanted to visit my friend but there was another reason why I was feverishly speeding down Route 33, and like always this reason had a penis. I had been talking to her and her boyfriend’s mutual friend for about a month but we had never actually met in person. I decided that small talk texting and blog comments weren’t enough and I wanted to meet the man I had been talking to. So there I was, driving on a two lane highway on my way to meet some random that I had never seen outside of facebook. I know what you’re thinking and yes, I should’ve turned and gone back the way I came rather than acting on my girlish fantasies.

I was hot and the air was thick with moisture when I finally reached Athens. All I could think when I stepped out of my car was that the humidity would ruin my hair and that my makeup would soon melt off of my face. I was annoyed and I needed a drink. I met him, we exchanged hellos and I was mildly impressed. He had a beard that seemed to have a life of it’s own. (Now, I know certain men will sit there and congratulate each other on their beards and being manly men but no matter how hard I try to convince myself that it’s cool, I just can’t do it. You all look like you have a vagina stuck to your face. Shave it.) Besides his wickedly thick facial hair, he was tall and thin. To tell you the truth he closely resembled Abraham Lincoln. That is to say if old Abe wore cargo shorts and flip flops. I’ve done better, but I’m sure I’ve also done worse so I shook it off and for the most part dismissed his appearance completely. Anyway, it was that golden personality of his which everyone assured me of that I was most concerned about.

I’ve been dating a lot lately. I’ve gone on dinner dates, I’ve met various men for drinks, I’ve even accompanied them to parties and social affairs. I’ve acquired a taste for dating and I have certain standards that these potentials need to meet. The most important one being, do not try to stick your penis in any of my holes. Don’t put it in my hand, don’t rub it on me, for God’s sakes don’t even take it out. I have a personal space bubble and I don’t want anyones dick trying to penetrate it. Another is of course an issue of cost. Be a damn gentlemen and at least offer to pay. You don’t even have to pay for all of it, just a drink or so. Show me that you’re willing and able to treat me, if I’m interested I’ll even do the same. This leads me into another important guideline, which is politeness. Be polite, this can be accomplished by keeping the subject of conversation light and tame. Don’t attempt to hold a heated debate with someone you’re meeting for the first time because, frankly, it’s strange and off-putting. Ask me about myself in an attempt to see me as more than a walking vagina with nice hair. The last is, acknowledge my existence. Yes, at the very least, don’t leave me in a strange bar or choose to stare at me awkwardly from across the dance floor rather than actually engaging me in conversation.

He shat on my guidelines and broke every fucking rule. by morning my self esteem was as beaten and bloodied as Rodney King was in ’91. He was a renegade dater and a total psychopath. When I first noticed that for every beer he grabbed he ordered a shot of Jameson I should have ran.  The fact that he was mindlessly slurping down shot after shot should have been a clear warning of what was to come. He’s a drinker, but he’s also a writer. People love saying that, men especially love it. I remember when my brother threw back bottles of cheap whiskey, hiding the fact that he was a complete lush behind a mask of creative expression. “I drink because I’m a writer, I’m a writer because I drink.” No, you drink because you’re a child. You’re just a giant drunken baby with a beard, and you’re not Hemingway so stop it.

He was drunk, that was clear. For the most part he ignored me, aside from the occasional attempt at saying something witty and charming he stayed away. Later when I mentioned this he lurched forward and said, “I told you I would be talking to a lot of other girls and I would be surrounded by beautiful women.” The beautiful women he was referring to were all drunken mothers and it wasn’t the fact that he talking to them that bothered me, it was the fact that we wasn’t talking to me at all. For as excited as he was to meet me, he had very little to say. Instead he watched me from afar, something that should have also been a clear warning sign.

Outside of the bar he began to yell at me and argue about feminism. “Every girl in Athens is a whore, all of them walking the streets, they’re all sluts.” He stuck is arms in the air as if he was speaking of something truly profound or worth my time. My favorite was when he told me to go shave my vagina. I’m still confused about the point he was trying to make with that charming little line. Of course, he was a charmer. I mean after all that’s what everyone had told me. I’m not sure how long we argued for but I know that at one point it had to be broken up by the friend who had introduced us. I really thought he was joking, now that I’m looking back I’m not sure that he was.

Afterward, and for whatever reason, I went home with him. And there it was, my self loathing had reared it’s ugly head and my debilitatingly low self esteem had taken over along with the mass amount of alcohol I had consumed. What’s the fastest way to get into my pants? Call me ugly or stupid and add beer, it works every time! Kissing him was like making out with a brillo pad. It was all hair and no tongue. When I told him that I didn’t want to have sex with him he wined, and hurumphed, and groaned and finally told me to, “Grow up!” I got up and started to gather my things but then the tears came. Embarrassed I tried to hide them from him, I just wanted to leave but I was in a strange town and I had no where to go. Upon seeing me wipe my eyes he apologized, talked me down, and invited me back into bed. “I won’t even touch you, I’ll lay over here, and you can lay over there.” Oh right, because that’s exactly how it works. Before too long he asked if he could kiss me and I told him that was fine, but it quickly progressed. He simply kept asking for more and more and of course I accepted every time. I had previously been protested against and I felt defeated. I was not in the mood to hear him throw another temper tantrum, so rather than watching him get all huffy I just let it happen. The funny thing is, this story is astoundingly similar to how I lost my virginity. Both instances made me seriously question my heterosexuality.

This just another glaring example of how women’s choice can be easily violated. How was he supposed to understand that I haven’t embodied choice, if he doesn’t know what the inability to say NO feels like? I say YES, I say it too frequently. I say it when I really mean NO, I say it when I mean MAYBE but I know that I won’t be granted enough time to make my decision. I say YES but I don’t even know what it means. I don’t know what it feels like to say NO during sex and have it mean something. My voice is too small and my plea is overruled. This is just one of many reasons why I fear intimacy and have failed at having a healthy relationship with a man. It’s because I don’t know what healthy looks like. I do understand, however, that sleeping with someone before even knowing them isn’t healthy. I know that I’m a twenty two year old hopeless romantic and that’s okay. I can be that way, just as long as it’s not in the bed of a plastered and aggressively sexual male. I know what I want and I know that, that wasn’t it.

When I stood up to leave he poked his up and said, “Argue with you again sometime soon then?” The look on my face had to have said it all. Really?? Making me cry wasn’t a clear indication that this didn’t go well? Upon telling him that this was the last time we’d meet he raised his arms in protest and said, “You used me! I was just a one night stand to you, then!” Never have I ever had the urge to spit on someone the way I did in that moment.  I walked out of his room with out saying much of anything. I got lost, and couldn’t find the front door to his architecturally demented apartment. Once I found it I began my long walk back to my friends house. I passed mothers passed out in their own vomit and sleeping on front porches. On arrival, I opened her door in one solid motion, looked her dead in the eye and with all the seriousness I could muster I mouthed, “Get me the hell out of Athens.”

Can’t Buy Me Love

Many single women, including myself, use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to binge drink, cry, and eat an entire pint of Cookie Dough ice cream. The important thing to realize here is that being alone on this “magically romantic” day does not mean that you’re unlovable or somehow less than perfect. All that it actually means is that you’re single. What boggles my mind is how advertisement and perpetuated pressure can make a woman feel sorry for herself for not being in love, when she ordinarily wouldn’t. The Kay Diamond commercials on the radio, the pink heart decorations that surround the office, and the heart shaped boxes of chocolates seem to scream in the faces of single women everywhere that there is something wrong with them. February 14th is just a day, but what it symbolizes has become a cultural expectation.

It should come as no surprise that Valentine’s Day is a holiday created by corporations to buy and sell products. Yes, it’s true that Cupid is a capitalist. I’m not sure what St. Valentine did but I’m fairly certain he didn’t run around giving roses to lovers and handing out heart shaped boxes of chocolates. Love is real and love should be celebrated but it should be celebrated everyday. Why should we as Americans pick one day out of the year to show our partners what they mean to us? Furthermore, why should we choose material gifts to express our feelings, isn’t love more sacred than that?

My mother has always told me that, “You don’t need to give each other junk. If you love each other then that’s enough of a gift. Well, and if you have a joint checking account then buying some stupid gift with half of the other persons money is just retarded.” After excusing her bluntness one must agree that she has a point. The only thing that Valentine’s Day actually accomplishes is cheapening the sanctity of marriage, love, and relationships. No material object should ever be used to prove your love for someone else, only loyalty, trust, and communication can do that.  One day doesn’t become more important than another simply because it’s stamped on a calendar or advertised on T.V..

I could go on hating Valentine’s Day because the one year I actually was in love on this day, I walked in on him having sex with another girl, jerk. However, in doing that I must also take responsibility for the fact that he didn’t love me back. The truth is, he was a terrible person and I walked in on him having sex with other girls more than once.  If I had understood that Valentine’s Day wasn’t a real holiday, then I probably wouldn’t have been as bitter.

Couples should stop buying into the idea of Valentine’s Day, just as single men and women should stop using it as an excuse to throw themselves a  pity party. So to the lovers who read my blog, instead of buying your loved one overpriced jewelry or a cheap teddy bear just keep appreciating them. However, I don’t see anything wrong in drinking a bottle of wine and treating yourself to a high calorie chocolate dessert, because let’s be honest ladies we all need an excuse to indulge ourselves sometimes.

Hi, I’m Liz Holsinger and I’m a Man Hater.

It’s been said that when I was 10 months old my father was putting me to bed in my crib and in one swift motion I lurched my chubby little arm into the air and grabbed on to his adam’s apple with a death grip. To this day an uneasy look still creeps across his face when ever my mother retells that story. “She looked right into my eyes and there was nothing there. I swear I couldn’t even breathe.” I mean, I let go so I don’t know what he’s still so shaken up about. Then again I guess I also demonstrated some rather unsettling behavior toward my Ken Dolls as well. Instead of my brother ripping the heads off my Barbies, I was ripping the legs and arms off of Ken. After realizing that Barbie no longer had a boyfriend I would shave the head of another and make them date. So really, the fact that I’ve been single my entire life really isn’t such a mystery. But where exactly did this anger come from?

I suppose we could blame it on my mother for letting me watch the movie Bastard Out of Carolina at such an early age but I’m not here to play the blame game. After my last hopeful relationship didn’t work out I’ve been thinking a lot differently than I had been previously. Usually I get my heart broken because he’s selfish, or afraid to commit, or probably gay but as of late I’ve been wondering about what I’m doing wrong. I suppose that first off I’m not really sure how to be in a relationship with men. I’m not even just talking about a romantic relationship either. Not even my male friendships have proven beneficial. If they’re not gay, then they’ve probably tried to sleep with me which really cannot result in a secure platonic relationship. There are of course the few who simply act like women, but in the worst way.

Perhaps learning how to be and feel comfortable around men was something that all the other little girls learned to do along with french braiding each other’s hair. Was this what I missed at all of those sleepovers I wasn’t invited to in middle school? By the end of high school I had finally shed my training bra and began to move up in the world. I learned how to be sexual with men, that was easy. All you had to do was add alcohol. It wasn’t enjoyable in the least, but it was easy. I assumed that like in the movies, sex led to love and relationships. I learned that it doesn’t work that way, which was a rather awkward lesson. Somewhere along the line I developed a severe distrust and disdain for the opposite sex. I wore my hatred as proudly as I wore my chunky gold earrings, which were also not a good look. If pain and anger are left alone to stew inside of you, they will undoubtedly grow into a bigger problem than you may be ready to deal with. Let me be your example. Living with hatred is like not being able to figure out why your fire alarm is going off, it’ll drive you crazy.

Earlier this week I found myself in this weary position yet again and in the midst of my chain smoking and man bashing my cousin stopped me, “There really isn’t anything wrong with you, you’re great. You just keep attracting guys who don’t want to be serious with you. You have these wonderful relationships with women but you can’t apply them to men, do you know why? Because your man-hating mantra is playing loud and clear even when you don’t know it!” Wow, this may have been the wisest thing she had ever said to me, besides perhaps the time she said, “Sometimes I get so angry I could just bite a brick wall!” But she had a point, a good one. There’s a certain deepness in me that will not remove itself. It’s holding me back and keeping me at a distance from what I truly desire.

It’s not easy letting go of the past in order to create a better future. Sometimes I’ll wake up on a really great day and I’ll feel full of love. However, just as I allow myself enough kindness to smile at the stranger sitting across from me on the bus, he has already taken my gesture too far and begun to fondle his balls in my direction. Hatred for man kind, one. Faith in strange men, zero. Now, I know neither this man nor the other creepy men I’ve encountered at my various retail jobs are the same men with whom I’d form relationships with, but nonetheless it’s unsettling. Either way, I’ve realized that it’s not my love for Ani Difranco and Jewel, my passion for feminism, or even my shamelessness that prevents me from being in a healthy relationship. It’s the negative energy that I’m constantly releasing which keeps the boys at bay. As hard as it may be, I’m committed to changing my ways. I’ll even refrain from bashing the men I’ve slept with. Well, maybe I shouldn’t make too many promises.

Is Love the American Dream?

The American dream is a phenomenon that we’re all familiar with. Although it has lost much of it’s appeal since the 1950’s, the idea that all you need in life is a car, a family, and a white picket fence wrapped around your front lawn, is one that is still ingrained in all of us. For women, we have been pressured into a specific part of this dream, and rather than fading away it has simply changed it’s shape. I’m talking of course, about the expectation of being in a relationship.

As little girls we are bombarded with images and ideas of love from the mass media. Disney planted the idea in our heads that happiness can only be achieved with the love of a handsome prince. Perhaps if Jasmine had defied her father’s wishes and instead of marrying a “street-rat” became the first Queen of her kingdom, then maybe we’d have a little more faith in ourselves. However, like the rest of the movies she chose to marry a man and lived happily ever-after. So that’s what we’re faced with as children, Barbie goes with Ken, and Ariel with Prince Eric, but this expectation of hetero-love follows us through adolescence as well. When was the last time you watched a teen comedy that didn’t end with a perfect kiss and a happily ever after? Furthermore, romantic teen comedies also place the idea in our heads that sex means love. These films always move in the same way. Boy meets girl, girl fights off boy’s affection, girl gives in and has sex with boy, boy and girl fall in love and the movie ends. In reality, women are receiving messages that boys aren’t. Boys are feeling pressure to have sex with as many girls as possible in order to establish their masculinity. They’re hearing “fuck” when we’re hearing “love.” So really, what I thought was a flaw in my own logic was actually the result of me listening to the voices in American media. It’s good to know that my teenage years weren’t intentionally slutty, but it still doesn’t provide much comfort.

It’s not just the media that pushes women towards co-dependency with men. In many cases it’s actually due to a historical expectation. For example, my grandmother is one of the most educated women I know. She is hard working, well-read, and extremely powerful in her own right. However, whenever I see her one of her first questions regarding how I am is, “Are you seeing anyone?” I could win the noble prize for my writing for be one of the most powerful women in America but if I don’t have a man, then she’ll be forced to roll her eyes and sigh. Really? Is our worth as women solely based on our relationships with men? If I’m not sexually or romantically desired than am I flawed? Society would say yes. However, any reasonable thought right human being would of course answer no. We really have to think about this, do we want love for ourselves, or have we just been told to want it for so long that we just think that we do?

It’s the very reason why good girls throw their lives away chasing losers, liars, and cheaters. It’s because society is telling them too whether they are aware of it our not. If a woman is high powered and successful, if she has everything she has ever wanted in her life, but she doesn’t have a husband or a family then she’s not really a success story is she? A woman has to have a man in order to be complete. Not only does this idea hurt heterosexual women but it is also detrimental to negative lesbian stereotypes. If women aren’t women without men, then what does that make a lesbian?

It’s important to understand that we are receiving these messages so that we can combat them. No woman needs a man to make her happy, unless that’s what you actually desire. If so, go forth and play with romance, sometimes men can even be fun, sometimes. The idea that the concepts of wife and mother are what define us as women and ensure our place in this world is the oldest in history. In these modern times it has become less relevant. I believe that if the push for female on male dependence no longer existed women would not only fully embody their power but marriage would also change. Perhaps gay marriage would be widely acceptable because the hetero-norm would no longer be dominant. Marriage between men and women would be less an expectation of sublime happiness in which men become the ultimate bread-winners, and would instead would become a pairing of equals.

So what do you want out of life? Focus your concentration on what your soul longs for and settle for nothing less. Don’t join the rest of lemmings as they scramble for love and relationships, just focus on yourself and main independence with or with out another in your life. If you truly desire a husband, three kids, and a white picket fence wrapped around your perfect lawn then go for it, let nothing stop you. If this is not your dream then don’t let it make you feel like less of a woman. We are all entitled to our own version of happiness.

Real Men Have a Sweet Tooth.

When a woman is mistreated in a relationship it is not only her heart that ends up breaking. The pain remains in her body and also creates cracks in her logic. Emotional walls build allowing her self-esteem to suffocate, which may result in the emergence of self-destructive relationships and negative patterns. How do I know this, you may wonder? Because I’ve lived it and for many years I was this girl. For a long time I took comfort in unhealthy relationships with men because it was all that I had ever known. I was afraid of the men who wanted to offer me love and support because I didn’t think that I actually deserved it. After four years of internalizing my trauma and turning anger for others on myself, I began to break the cycle.

Within a year I have not only spoken out about being raped but I have encouraged others to speak out as well. I landed an internship with Suzanne Roberts, a somatic coach whose life’s purpose is to empower women and girls starting by alleviating the pain and trauma we hold in our bodies. I have to come to terms with my experiences and am currently on the verge of learning to forgive. I have let go of friends I once loved as well as let old ones return. These outstanding women have helped find the love that I desired within myself. All of these stepping stones have inspired me to reform my life and become the powerful woman that I deserve to be. In other words, I am on my way.

I met him in early September when summer was politely making it’s way out, allowing autumn to enter through the back door. It was short and sweet. A light-hearted romance that filled me with new feelings and even newer ideas. On our first date we laughed and talked for hours. We parted ways giggling in the same way we had when we met. When he spoke, he spoke to me. When we touched, he was touching the real me, the one I usually try to hide away. After we slept together I had realized that for the first time, I had actually stayed present. I didn’t leave, I didn’t retreat to the dark places in my mind. I stayed put, beneath him the entire time. Being treated as an equal startled me. He gave me back a sense of humanity that I was all too used to throwing away in sexual situations.

“It’s because he’s a man, he’s older and he’s not a little horny boy like you’re used to!” My cousin spoke with reassurance from the other girl’s in the room as she cooly smoked her cigarette. It made me think, is that it? Do men simply grow out of being cold and sexually distant? Do they hit a certain age and eagerly drop their immaturities at the door before calling, “Honey I’m home!” Perhaps, but perhaps not. In my case, I know that it was something more than that. Because I had developed a budding sense of self-care and a new found love for myself, I had allowed men with the same self-worth into my space. I was beginning to attract those on a higher level because I too was occupying that same place.

“He may be a man, but he has the sweet tooth of kid. You should’ve seen his eyes light up when he was talking about cookies the other day.” I laughed, rolling my eyes and feeling giddy about the day that had passed. “Well, I’m sure tons of dudes like cookies but you wouldn’t know because this is the first one who’s gotten to know you as aperson!” This was also true, it was the first time since I was seventeen that I wasn’t being treated as a sexual object. As wonderful as it was, he had explained upon meeting me that he was moving overseas for a year. Like all good things, it had to end. A bitter sweet goodbye to a bitter sweet affair.

Even if I never see him again, even if we never speak to each other from this point on, I have been changed. Feeling fully appreciated by a man that I was intimate with was a stepping stone towards empowerment that I needed. As women we need to break the vicious cycle of the careless men that bind us. We need to free ourselves from mistreatment so that we don’t perpetuate unhealthy patterns. If we never leave our comfort zone and face our demons before we are too set in our ways then we face the risk of being stuck in them for the rest of our lives. I deserve to feel good about myself, just as I deserve to find fulfilling love with men. I’m letting myself enjoy my sexuality and be present throughout sexual situations because I finally feel like I deserve to be.

Sometimes good people come in and out of our lives. They change us, they inspire us, they cause movement within us that results in permanent growth. It’s important that you take away from this piece that we must be secure with ourselves before secure people feel moved to enter. Happiness starts from within and once it is released it is an unstoppable, impermeable force. Some may say that meeting him just weeks before he left was bad timing. This isn’t true, but timing is everything. If we had met any earlier I wouldn’t have been ready. Now that I am, I will take this experience and carry it with me.