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December 27, 2012

Cosmo Quickies: December 2012

We already wrote about two horrible articles in the December 2012 issue of Cosmo... but we thought we'd give you all one more quick run-down of everything else that was wrong in this issue (before we start dissecting the January 2013).

That's Taylor Swift on the cover. (Not sure why there's a huge "Sexy" over her torso. It's hard to keep track of which issues of Cosmo are supposed to be the "sexy" issues... because they're all basically the same issue.)

A couple of things irked us straight away from the cover alone. The Taylor Swift story is headlined as "Crazy for a Kennedy!" which showcases Cosmo's longstanding tradition of only writing about women and women's issues as far as they're framed by men. I mean, it's not like there's anything else interesting about Taylor Swift they could have focused on... it's not as though she has a new album (oh wait, she does... Red was released in October 2012) or an upcoming tour (Red tour is scheduled to begin in March 2013). It's not as though she has won any awards recently (she won two Grammys in 2012, bringing her lifetime total to six so far, and was nominated for three more for the 2013 Grammy Awards). It's not as though she had any other kind of accomplishments or acclaim this year (except for, you know, being 2012's highest paid musical performer). Nah, the most interesting thing about Taylor Swift, according to Cosmo, is that she's dating a Kennedy. Wow.

Further down the cover page is the offensive "So You Ate a Cupcake? Fast Moves to Burn it Off!" because women should feel ashamed for indulging in one single cupcake and have to work their asses off to get rid of it immediately.

Also on the cover: "GREAT GUY... What's With the Lame Gift?" What's with the ableist language? Cosmo hasn't gotten the memo yet that you're not supposed to use the word "lame" anymore.

And finally: "Innocent Mistakes that Blow a Job Interview". There's actually nothing wrong with this headline, except that when I read it quickly I saw it as "Blow Job Interview" and that made me laugh.

Finally, onto the inside of the magazine...

The Cosmo Question: "Every month we take on a hot topic" claims this section. So what is this month's question?
What's With the Bodyguards?
Yes, this month's "hot topic" was why celebrity women sometimes date their bodyguards. Way to ask the hard questions Cosmo!
The "Sexy vs. Skanky" section is always full of offensive slut-shaming bullshit. This month was no exception...   


"Taking your twins out" (Sarah Jessica Parker with her daughters) vs. "Taking your twins out" (Mary Carey with her large breasts) ... apparently if you have large breasts you're supposed to leave them at home when you go out? Her dress is a bit revealing but really, when you have breasts that size, everything looks a little revealing. But what's the big deal with showing off what you got? This is just part of Cosmo's long-running history of slut-shaming women for being sexy, especially when those are women who make their career being sexy, such as adult actresses like Mary Carey.

A little bit further down the list they have "Momshells" vs "Cougars". What the fuck is a "momshell"? We get that it's a mom/bombshell, but what qualifes one to be a momshell? (We're thinking this is their PG-rated way of saying "MILF"?) And what is the difference between a momshell and a cougar? Is it just the age? If so, then fuck you Cosmo.

Next is "Sharing a pic with your guy at the checkout line (Behati Prinsloo and Adam Levine)" vs "Sharing spit with your guy at the checkout line (Rose McGowan and boyfriend)". Hm. Here's a close-up of both photos:


It's obviously just a quick smooch between McGowan and her boyfriend Davey Detail, while they waited online for their groceries. Who cares? Why is this skanky? Why is it sexy for a couple to be photographed on line at the grocery, but skanky if they happen to steal a brief moment for a kiss? Are we 100% percent convinced that Levine hadn't kissed his girlfriend at the grocery earlier that day and it just wasn't caught on film? Have you never kissed your significant other in public!? They make it seem as if he had her pressed up against the doors of the frozen food section, geez.

Here are another two pics... one of McGowan and Detail the same day as their shopping trip and one of Levine and Prinsloo another day, kissing at a friend's party. Now who is the skanky couple? (Trick question: Neither. There's nothing skanky about kissing your significant other.)


And finally...

"Three WTF-worthy mouths" is the phrase they used to describe the supposedly skanky Georgina Leahy at the UK Lingerie Awards. (Note: The pic on the right isn't the exact one used by Cosmo, but it's a similar shot from the same event.) This one was also pretty confusing... what exactly is skanky about this photo? Yes, it's true that her lip necklace and belt are kind of ridiculous, but we're pretty sure that's the point. But even so, why is it skanky? And it's pretty fucking rude to call this three WTF-worthy mouths, because basically... the third one is her actual mouth. So Cosmo is just calling her actual mouth "WTF-worthy"? Why? What's the difference between Leahy's bright red lipstick and Gwen Stefani's "sexy" bright red lipstick, except for the fact that she's got the silly necklace and belt to go with it?

We're pretty sure that the only reason why this is under "Skanky" is because she's at the Lingerie Awards and because Leahy is a lingerie model (in addition to singer, actress, etc.). Also, shame on Cosmo for being so lazy that they missed the actual semi-WTF photos of Leahy from the awards... they managed to find one of the few pics where she wasn't posing with her 6 foot albino python. Still wouldn't have been skanky, but at least it would've been a little more unusual than just a silly necklace.

In the man-thro-pol-ogy section, they let us know about a brand new way to make women crazy. "Flirt on Instagram"...
A new way men are showing that they may be interested in you: Liking your Instagram pics. They love that it's a low-risk way to find out how you feel -- if you Like his photos, it gives him confidence to take the next step. Yes, we're horrified that flirting has been reduced to a click, but two can play that game....
Okay, sorry but one - flirting being reduced to a click is nothing new. What do they think Facebook is for anyway? But the truth of the matter is, liking your Instagram pics is probably not a new way for men to show you that they're interested in you. What it actually probably means is that they like your pic. Really. I mean, it's possible that a guy who likes you will also like your pics, but trying to find hidden meaning on Instagram is just setting women up for disappointment and confusion. 

Also in the man-section is "What Axe Marketers Know About Men". Um, okay. Apparently men like to hang out in coed groups (shocking!). They "all want to be the next Tosh.0" and by that, we assume they mean that they all want to be misogynistic assholes who make rape jokes? And finally, men are into "smelling good".
"Now men are open to 'feminine' products," says McCarthy. For example, from June 2010 to July 2012, shower-gel use among men increased by nearly 15 percent.
So shower-gel is a feminine product? Smelling good is a feminine thing?

In "Hubby's Little Helper", they write about viagra (using Paul Rudd's character in This is Forty as an example). The article actual gives good advice - that viagra shouldn't be for recreational use, rather you should only use it if you actually have erectile dysfunction - however, it comes off a little viagra-negative as a whole. That is, this line in particular:
"...if your guy brings it up, reassure him that an Rx-drug-aided erection isn't necessary - that you're more than happy with his natural talents..."
There's just something a little off with that line, because for some men an "Rx-drug-aided erection" is necessary (specifically, those with E.D.) so it comes off as kind of shaming those men who do need to use viagra. Also, if a man is considering taking viagra without a medical need, then it's probably for his own benefit - so he's probably less concerned with whether his natural talents make her happy and is  looking for a better time during sex for him. Otherwise he'd have suggested that she take a viagra too. The article should just focus on the medical risks for taking the pills without a prescription or diagnosis and not make it about performance, because there's nothing shameful about needing a little help from a little blue pill.

In the Love section, Cosmo reinforces their "men love sports, women hate sports" stereotype yet again...
He Abstains From ESPN. Huge one. Huge. "He gives up his weekend for you -- men take their playtime so seriously that giving it up feels, to them, like a major gesture," says Goldsmith. So if he hangs out with you despite the fact that his football team is playing, he may as well have just lit some candles, give you a massage, and read to you from Fifty Shades of Grey in his sexy voice.
Ugh. There's just so many stereotypes they crammed into one small paragraph! First of all, the assumption that most men are obsessed with ESPN and the related assumption that all women aren't. What if he just invited you to watch his favorite football team with him, because it might just be your favorite football team too? Also, there's the idea that skipping a football game is the equivalent of giving you a sexy, candlelit massage - it isn't. Skipping something he likes, is not the same as doing something you like. It's a sacrifice maybe, and it's a thoughtful gesture, sure. But it's not the same thing. There are plenty of men who would actually give you a romantic night such as that and if that's something that's important to you (it might not be, but if it is), then you shouldn't have to settle for "well, he skipped the Giants game for me" as true romance. And then finally... Fifty Shades of Grey. Ew. I'm sorry, but possibly the least sexy and/or romantic thing I could ever think of would be being subjected to the horrible writing in that book.

In the You, You, You section, Cosmo gives readers an opportunity to bitch about their friends. (Maybe they should've called it "Her Her Her"?) "The High-Maintenance BFF" shares stories of the long way some women go to make their best friends happy. The stories are a mix of women with horrible friends (like the woman who has so many affairs that she has to constantly use her best friend as an excuse to her husband) and women who are horrible friends (like the woman who logs onto her friend's dating profile and contacts potential dates for her without her permission). Overall, it just comes off as petty bitching and that's not exactly what we think of when we think of the "fun fearless females" that Cosmo loves to pretend they care about.

In "8 Surprising Mistakes That Could Cost You Your Dream Job", Cosmo yet again drops the offensive, ableist L-word: 
#1. Your Twitter Feed is Lame
"I always look at potential employees' Twitter feeds, says Alison Brod, president of Alison Brod PR. "I know it's informal but a stream littered with u's and luv's makes you look 12 years old - definitely not hiring material." 
(Guess Brod doesn't realize that Twitter's 140 character limit sometimes makes it necessary to shorten words.)

Under the Health & Fitness GYNO section, there's a quickie tip about you period:
Keep your flow on the down low. Period problem number 92: What to do with your used tampon applicator at this place? Flushing could clog the toilet, so you bury it in the garbage can...and  hope it doesn't come rolling out when he empties the trash. The solution: Tampax Radiant tampons come with resealable wrappers, so you can toss without fear or even take it with you.
Are they serious? It's almost 2013. Do most adult men not realize that women menstruate by now? Are tampon applicators really so embarrassing and offensive that we have to add it to the long of things we're supposed to be ashamed of? We're really supposed to take our tampon applicators home with us in order to avoid letting the man we're presumably dating know that we sometimes use tampons? I mean, god, what if you use pads instead of tampons, are you supposed to be afraid to throw the used ones in his garbage pail too? Or are you just a dirty impure disgusting woman and should just spend the week of your period in a hut away from all the villagers?

In the Lust section (wait, there's a Lust section? ahahahahahha okay, sorry, moving on)... there's an article abut "Late-Night Sex".
Some things are better after midnight -- like karaoke, disco fries, and rip-your-clothes-off sex.
Oh Cosmo. Some of the advice actually isn't terrible (although  not sure what any of them have to do with after midnight... they're almost all things you could do at any time). But a few of their tips on how to "bring the after-party back to your place" are just so silly.
Squeeze your Kegel muscles while you're talking to a lame party guest or standing forever at the bar waiting for a drink. 
They used the word "lame" again
Pull the car into the garage. Then get on the hood and pull him on top of you.
And then tomorrow take the car to the garage to fix the dents and scratches in the hood!
Keep the party mood going by quickly turning on a sexed-up song, like Rihanna's "S&M", and putting it on repeat to ensure it doesn't finish before you do.
Ugh, so not only do I have to listen to Rihanna, but I have to listen to Rihanna on repeat? How many times can you really listen to S&M in a row? If the sex takes longer than 10 minutes (which let's hope it does, at least), that's already too many times. At least make a sex playlist or something, don't listen to the same song again and again.
Don't turn the lights on. Stumble through the dark to the living-room floor, and use the inability to see each other as an excuse to say the kind of things you normally wouldn't. 
Okay, couple of problems with this one... first of all, have sex with the lights on or off, I don't care, but trying to stumble your way into the house in the dark has the potential to go from sexy to ouchie, very quickly. I also object to the idea that not being able to see each other gives you an excuse to say things you normally wouldn't. If you're having sex with this person, shouldn't you be comfortable, you know, talking to them first? What things would you be too ashamed to say that are suddenly okay to say in the dark? I just don't get it.

After the late-night sex article, is an article called "Party of One". 
So you're on your own this week -- that doesn't mean you can't have a good time. 
If this wasn't in the Lust section, knowing Cosmo, I'd think it was a guide for spending the weekend without your significant other and I'd expect tips like "get a manicure!" or "watch soap operas". But nope, you guessed it, it's about masturbation. Of course, they never use that word. Instead it's filled with different euphemisms (like "a little solo time does the body good") and tips from readers. We're actually impressed that Cosmo is acknowledging that masturbation not only exists for women, but is a normal, natural and even positive thing to do. However, we wish they'd have actually said that - instead of just jumping into the readers' stories right away.

Later on, there's a quiz to take to see if you're you should have a threesome or not.
Menage a Trois? We're not here to judge. If your guy wants to try a threesome and you're curious yourself, have at it. But are you sure you're as cool with it as you think you are?

Check all that apply:

[ ] I've never creeped into my boyfriend's e-mail or text messages.
[ ] I thought the Marnie-Jessa smooch in Girls was kind of hot.
[ ] I'm pretty adventurous in bed.
[ ] I'm totally confident about how I look naked.
[ ] My boyfriend doesn't check out other girls...at least not when he's with me.
[ ] My motto is "I'll try anything once."
[ ] I am open with my boyfriend about my sexual fantasies and talk about them in detail.
[ ] I've never stalked my guy's ex on Facebook.
[ ] I'm down to watch girl-on-girl porn sometimes. 
If you don't agree with at least seven of these statements, we have a feeling you'll regret adding another girl to the mix. No matter how comfortable you are with sex or hooking up with a girl, having a threesome with your boyfriend and someone else can bring up all kinds of issues afterward -- especially jealousy. Unless you're totally confident in yourself, one hundred percent secure in your relationship, sexually curious and a little bit kinky, and somewhat attracted to chicks (or at least not repulsed by the thought of being naked with one), you might think twice before giving the green light to a three-way.
Hm. They're not here to judge? Isn't that pretty much Cosmo's job? To judge women? Why do they even have the sexy vs. skanky section if they're not here to judge? Even the fact that they feel the need to say "We're not here to judge" has a tinge of implied judgment in there. And the fact that they've basically given a list of criteria that they have deemed necessary for you to meet before you have a threesome, they're explicitly there to judge.

Then there's the fact that the entire thing is framed as being about the guy. Of course they ignore the fact that some women are not interested in having sex with any guys (and therefore a threesome could be three women) but that's sort of Cosmo-territory to ignore lesbians, so okay. But it's still annoying that the author assumes that it would be the guy's idea and the woman would agree to go along with it... if only she was actually as cool with it as she thought she was. (Because us silly women just have no idea how we actually feel about stuff! We need magazines to tell us how we feel!) It's quite possible that the threesome idea is the woman's idea, not the guy's and she's looking for her significant other to give her the greenlight, not the other way around. Her fantasy might include her with two men (not her and her boyfriend with another woman) which is completely ignored as a possibility and makes some of the questions (like the Marnie-Jessa smooch) kind of moot. Of course, considering that this is the same issue that ran the totally offensive "Worst Date Ever: He Was Bisexual... With a Girlfriend!", Cosmo probably can't fathom the idea that a guy might be willing to participate in a devil's threesome, let alone suggest one.

Also, why do you necessarily need to be having your threesome with a boyfriend? That is, a threesome can exist outside of a committed relationship. Or you might be the third person joining another couple. There are a lot of ways that threesomes can go... so Cosmo's take on it is very limiting. As is their criteria for deciding whether or not you will regret having done it. The truth is, there's always the possibility you will regret your decision, because that's the way human beings are... we make decisions and then we either are happy with our decision or regret them in some way. You could meet all of their arbitrary criteria and still feel uncomfortable and unsatisfied after a threesome... or you could meet none of them and still walk away with no regrets and no qualms.

The fact that they say you have to be "totally confident in yourself" and "one hundred percent secure in your relationship" is also kind of funny. Not that it's impossible to be both of those things (although of course, how many of us can truly say that we are totally one hundred percent?) but getting women to feel insecure abut their bodies and their boyfriends is pretty much Cosmo's bread-and-butter.

Another piece in the Lust section  asks the question "Got sex on the brain?" According to experts, the way you react to and interpret these three images below tells us whether you've got sex on the subconscious...



The first image is of a piece of chocolate cake.
If you said: moist, naughty, wicked, sinful, intense, gooey, melt-in-your-mouth: Sex brain!
If you said: fattening, dark, dessert, rich, heavy, delicious, good: Normal.
Just the fact that it describes someone without "sex brain" as "normal" is annoying. Isn't it normal to have sex on the brain? Don't most people have sex on their minds at some point? Also, we fail to see how "gooey" is related to sex. I don't think of sex as "gooey" or "gooeyness" as sexy. And the word "moist" just makes me feel icky no matter what we're talking about. The first word that I thought of was "cake" and the second was "chocolate" so clearly I don't have sex brain, I have chocolate cake brain.

For the second image, apparently if you see a butt, you have a "dirty mind". If you see "feet" you aren't "sex-obsessed". I saw it as knees, so I have no idea what that says about me. The final image is a Rorschach ink blot and if you think it's a vagina, then you think about sex a lot (emphasis theirs). I'm sorry, but I think I'm pretty sex obsessed and I don't see a vagina in that image at all. I also don't see a Christmas tree or a four-legged animal (some of their suggestions for the non-sex-obsessed).

In "Your Pop Culture Portfolio" Cosmo treats pop-culture trends (like TV shows and actors) like stocks and tells us what to buy, hold or sell. It's all pretty stupid, but we're supposed to use these tips to make our party chatter and Twitter feed more interesting in 2013.

Apparently "Gwen and Mindy" (of The Mindy Project) are trendy, "Jess and Cece" (of New Girl) are just okay, and "Snooki and JWoww" (of Jersey Shore) are on the way out. The reason they give for the decline of the guidettes is not that Jersey Shore's final episode aired this season but rather: "An engagement, a little meatball... the duo has official jumped the shark." Um, what? So they're moving on with their lives and that makes them less likeable? Even though JS is done, a new season of their spin-off is set to premiere in January 2013.

Other "tips" include:
  • Buy Kristen Stewart ("Thanks to the whole cheating thing, K-Stew is undervalued, but she's going to have to have a big month with Breaking Dawn Part 2 and On the Road"), hold Mila Kunis, and sell Avril Lavigne because her engagement ring is "ridiculously tacky".
  • Buy Andrew Lincoln, hold Chris Hemsworth (at least until Thor 2 comes out) and sell Robert Pattinson. So we should buy Kristen Stewart but sell Robert Pattinson? Hm. And their reason? "Rob, we feel for you, but it's time to man up." Um.... what the fuck?
  • Buy Dior 24-Karat Gold Jewelry Tattoos (huh?), hold gold headbands, and sell gold nail polish.
  • Buy "Guy Crush" Joseph Gordon-Levitt, hold Shia LaBeouf (um, we'll sell him, thanks, ew) and sell Taylor Kitsch. 
  • Buy Socialcam ("like Instagram for videos"!), hold Instagram, and sell Foursquare. Considering Instagram's recent screw up (trying to change their TOS to give them the right to sell users' photos) it's kind of funny that Cosmo doesn't think we should "sell" them just yet. 
Finally, in the horoscope section they tell Sagittarius that her best love matches are Pisces and Aries. They give celebrity examples (complete with birthdates) and this just proves once and for all that Cosmo is not a magazine for women over 30 because their examples are Alex Pettyfer (4/10/1990) and Justin Bieber (3/1/1994).

Now I feel old.

We'll be back in January to dissect and mock the January 2013 issue of Cosmo! Happy New Year everyone!

December 8, 2012

Is Cosmo's 'Worst Date Ever' the worst article ever?


Okay, we know that Cosmopolitan magazine is usually pretty fucked up in a lot of ways -- but sometimes we come across something that's just so bad that we almost can't even believe they thought it was a good idea. In the December 2012 issue, it was "Worst Date Ever: He Was Bisexual... With a Girlfriend!"

There are so many things wrong with this allegedly "true" story, that we can barely wrap our heads around it.

It starts off innocently enough:
The backstory: I hit it off with a sexy, scruffy guy at a friend's party, and we ended up making out before saying good-bye at the end of the night. The next day, he added me on Facebook and asked me if I wanted to see a movie with him. I was super excited--he seemed to be just my type, so I said yes and breezily added, "I'll see whatever!"
But then got a little weird:
Unfortunately, he got us tickets to Blue Valentine. If you haven't seen it, it documents the dissolution of a raging alcoholic's marriage. (In the beginning, the couple finds their pet dog dead on the side of the road; this is probably the least depressing part of the movie.) Every time I went to rest my head on my date's shoulder, a harrowing scene--an abortion appointment, a drag-out lovers' fight--would make me cringe or shudder.
Okay, maybe it's not the most "romantic" movie, but Blue Valentine (starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling) was critically acclaimed. She said she'd see "whatever" so bashing his choice of film just comes off as bitchy. She could have easily said, "I'd rather not see that" and suggested an unwatchable, cheesy romantic comedy instead. (Also, not exactly sure what's so "harrowing" about an abortion appointment, it's not like they actually show an abortion taking place.)

And then here's where the shit hit the fan. I hope you're ready for a long rant, because I have a lot of feelings! There's just so much wrong with this one little paragraph...
When it was finally over, we headed to a wine bar, where, over a glass of merlot, my date matter-of-factly informed me that he also hooks up with men. I consider myself pretty open-minded, so that bit of info itself didn't bother me--it was his timing. At this point in the night, we were supposed to be all flirty and into each other.
Let's start with "matter-of-factly". What exactly is the proper way to tell someone that you hook up with both men and women? Does the fact that he did it "matter-of-factly" somehow make it inappropriate? Being bisexual (or "also hooking up with men" - since he never actually used the "b"-word so we can't know for sure if he actually identifies as such) isn't anything shameful or wrong or offensive. So why exactly must a person break the news in a way that isn't "matter-of-factly"? Was he supposed to sit down this woman he just met and delicately, slowly beat around the bush to tell her about his sexual orientations and preferences? Should he have taken her on Oprah to do a confessional about it? Why does she feel that he owes her (or anyone else) any kind of explanation that isn't "matter-of-fact"?

She claims to be open-minded and claims that the only reason it bothered her was "his timing", but what is the appropriate timing? Isn't the first date the most appropriate time to disclose this kind of information? That way you can weed out any closed minded bigots - if they have a problem with it, you don't waste your time going on a second or third date with them. She felt they were supposed to be "all flirty and into each other" at that point in the night, but how can you time a date? Maybe he wasn't acting like he was all into her, because he wasn't all into her. Or maybe he didn't realize that mentioning that he hooks up with men and "being all flirty and into each other" are apparently mutually exclusive things.
I figured he'd mistakenly thought it'd impress me, so I politely laid it out for him: "I understand that a guy can picture a girl he's dating making out with one of her girlfriends and get turned on by that. But for me personally, picturing a guy I'm doing going at it with his male-bud is not a turn-on." My date looked confused. I ordered us a second round of drinks.
Ugh. She figured he thought it would impress her? What the fuck? So basically, he's being honest about his sexuality in order to a) be a decent human being and b) weed out bigoted homophobes like her... and she thinks he's trying to impress her? Look, we know that in Cosmo-world, any same-sex sexual behavior is done for the benefit of an onlooking member of the opposite sex. Her response to him was just awful. No wonder he looked confused! He doesn't hook up with guys to turn her on; he does it because it turns him on!
Meanwhile, as if on cue, a man who'd been sitting near us at the bar turned toward my date to ask him a question. My date, without hesitation, flirted back. I tried to chime into their conversation, but I had ceased to exist to either of them. I sat there for 10 minutes while they got to know each other.
I'm starting to wonder if this guy even knew he was on a "date" with her or if he thought he was just seeing a movie with a new friend. I know they made out at the party, but it doesn't seem like he was trying to make her his new girlfriend for some reason. Maybe telling her he "also hooks up with guys" might've been his way of telling her that he wasn't looking for a commitment with her. He didn't say he also dates guys, he said "also hooks up with"... so maybe she wasn't his "date" after all? I might be reaching on this one, sure, but something about the whole story just doesn't ring true to me, so I have to wonder if she fictionalized any part of it to make a better story for Cosmo. (That is, if the entire story itself isn't fiction, which knowing Cosmo, it probably is.)

It's also possible that he wrote her off because her attitude and comments made it clear that they obviously weren't compatible, and decided to try to make the most of the evening by chatting with other people at the bar.
Finally, I stood up, grabbed my coat, and told them both I was heading out. My date ran after me and gave me a good-night kiss, but I'm pretty sure he went back to finish his flirtation.
Why wouldn't he go back to finish his flirtation? She left! If he still had any doubts about whether or not she was interested in him (seeing as she basically told him that she wasn't interested in him if he hooks up with guys, which he does) why wouldn't he continue to flirt with someone else? If in fact that is what he was even doing with that guy - based on her other statements, it's likely that this woman isn't very clear on exactly what "flirting" is and may have mistaken friendliness for romantic interest.
Here's the kicker: I got home and texted the friend who'd hosted the party where we'd met. I summarized the night's events and she wrote back, "That's weird--he totally has a girlfriend. They just moved in together."
Okay, so maybe I've been spending too much time at events like CatalystCon, but this is what I think... he's in an open relationship where they're both free to date and hook up with other people. His girlfriend may very well be doing the same thing he was doing. I can't know this for sure, but it doesn't seem like this woman stuck around long enough to find out. I'm very much against infidelity, but I don't have a problem with polyamory. I also don't have a problem with bisexuality (or fluid sexuality either)... what I do have a problem with is the way that this article seems to lump the two separate issues that this woman had with her date into one. The way that it's framed in this article just perpetuates the same stupid stereotype that we always hear about bisexual people being promiscuous and just basically having sex with everyone indiscriminately. This woman had two separate issues with her date, but the article frames it as if they were the same issue, as if him being bisexual and him (possibly) cheating on his girlfriend, were part of the same problem. It's really offensive.

It's as if we, the readers, are supposed to assume that his girlfriend has no idea that he hooks up with guys sometimes, but this is something she likely does know about, because if he tells women about it on the first date, his girlfriend probably found out in a similar way. Which is why I think it's probable that she also knows that he "dates" other women, like the author. It is the author who seemed to be confused about where she stood with this guy. It makes me wonder what their first interaction at the party was like... did he actually mention something offhand about having a girlfriend or being in an open relationship before they "made-out" and she just missed it (perhaps because it was noisy or she was drinking)? Or did he assume she knew based on the fact that they had a mutual friend? Or would he have explained it to her further, if she hadn't shot him down so directly after his initial comment about hooking up with guys? It just feels like the author did a lot of "filling-in-the-blanks" for this guy without actually getting the real story.

In fact, how do we even know that he actually does have a girlfriend? She's going based on what their  mutual friend told her, but how do we know it's true? There's no indication of how close she is with this mutual friend or how close the friend is with him. The girlfriend apparently wasn't at the party and he's apparently not listed as "In a Relationship" on Facebook. Maybe they just broke up. Maybe they were never actually in a relationship to begin with and the friend was mistaken. Maybe she makes the same kind of stupid assumptions the author makes.

And it's also quite telling that the fact that he has a girlfriend was more of an after-thought. The real complaint is that he was bisexual. The ellipsis "...with a girlfriend!" is just a little extra annoying. But she didn't even find that out until after the date, so it doesn't contribute to it being the worst date ever. Him allegedly being bisexual was all it took. 
A few days later, I posted this emo Facebook status update: I would like to date someone who's not dating someone. Guess who Liked it.
That right there proves it to me once and for all... this guy was either never interested in "dating" her in the first place or realized way before she did that they were totally incompatible and "likes" that she's going to hopefully try to date someone with whom she is compatible. Maybe someone as judgmental and bi-phobic as she is! I'm still laughing that this was under the heading "Worst Date Ever!"

I'd love to hear his point of view of the whole chain of events - I bet it was the worst date ever for him as well.

December 6, 2012

The Only Kind of Man Worth Marrying?

In the December 2012 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, there is a really problematic article in the "Love" section called "The Only Kind of Man Worth Marrying". We're pretty sure that its author Jessica Knoll and the Cosmo editorial team are all patting themselves on the back right now about what an empowering, feminist piece of writing they've got here... but we're sorry, it's just not true. There are so many things wrong with this (probably well-meaning) article.

First of all, let's just start with the title. The only kind of man worth marrying - the implication is that all women (or at least all heterosexual women, seeing as Cosmo rarely admits the existence of lesbians) are looking for a man to marry. Because aren't all women just looking for "the one" so they can settle down?

Anyway, the article begins like this:
There's a new breed of guy out there -- a lean, mean, dish-doing, and diaper-changing machine. And continuing to excel in your career even after you have a few mini-yous may be contingent on making him your husband.
Just the fact that they're referring to this type of guy as a "new breed" is kind of annoying. Men have always been capable of doing dishes and changing diapers. If they weren't actually doing so, that's a whole other issue, but they were capable of doing so. Even if men were expected to work outside the home and women to raise the children, still, are we supposed to believe that fathers never changed a diaper or washed a dish ever? The truly good men were always doing the little stuff, even if they weren't in a truly "equal" relationship.
An exciting career, a beautiful home, a second half as sexy as Ryan Reynolds, and eventually some rug rats. This is the modern definition of having it all, and unlike our grandmothers, or even our moms, we've been promised it's doable.
Eventually some rug rats? What about the women who choose to have children before marriage (or outside of marriage altogether)... are they not capable of "having it all"?

And I'm sorry but no one promised me that I could have it all. If anything, society still tells us that we can't. Women who work because they want to (not have to) are judged as putting their careers before their children. Families that hire nannies to help care for their kids are shamed for not being present. Working mothers are still pitted against stay-at-home moms in the battle of "who's a better parent?" And at the end of it all, we're told that we can't succeed. There are too many problems with our society that don't truly let women "have it all". Having a supportive partner helps, of course, but it's not a magical secret solution that Cosmo has finally discovered for all of us.

Then the article goes and takes on a whole other level of crazy when they start quoting Hugo Schwyzer as an expert.

Not familiar with Schwyzer? He teaches at Pasadena City College and speaks nationally on gender and masculinity. In some circles, he's considered to be a passionate male advocate of women's rights. But in other circles, he's considered to be sexual predator and attempted murderer. And just to be clear, I say "considered" but not "alleged" -- he has admitted to sleeping with his students and trying to kill his ex-girlfriend, both during a period of his life where he struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. (Not to mention the time he described helping to organize SlutWalk L.A. as "herding sluts", or his desire to jizz on the face of feminism.) So obviously, Schwyzer is an interesting choice to quote in an article that's about female empowerment and respectful male partners. I'm not saying that he's not capable of being a feminist, despite his checkered past, but I think it's problematic for him to be the public face of male feminism when there are plenty of other more worthy people out there to take that role. It seems very odd for them to seek out a quote from someone like him for an article about men "worth marrying".

The article goes on to talk about this amazingly insane concept of men who you know, don't expect their women to wait on them hand and foot and actually want to be involved with the home and their own children. I know - crazy right? On the surface, this isn't a terrible piece. Yeah, we should all hold out for a guy (or girl) like that - one who respects our choices and our right to have our own lives, one who chooses to be involved with their own children, one who cares about our needs as well as their own. But this isn't some brand new concept.

Frankly, Knoll and Schwyzer's description of how to identify this kind of man is almost as offensive as it is obvious:
First, they can handle disappointments and inconveniences well. If something comes up at work and you have to cancel on him, his response is, "It's not important, I understand." Not "Aw, come on. Can't you just do it later?" The former is a sign he respects that you have a meaningful life outside of him. Second, these guys express interest in your career. "He should be curious even when it doesn't connect to him in any way," says Schwyzer. When a man truly values all your extra stuff, he won't assume you'll be the one to attend every parent-teacher meeting. Yeah, you'll put out family-related fires half the time, but so will he.
How about instead of using this criteria to determine whether or not he'll be a 50-50 parent, use this criteria to determine whether or not he's a douchebag. If a guy you're dating doesn't behave in this way, you shouldn't be dating him and you definitely shouldn't be marrying him or having kids with him. It's common sense, no? It's also annoying that in the past Cosmo has run several snide little comments about men who aren't "manly" enough... like getting facials, carrying a "man purse", or gasp!shopping! So they want men to be sensitive and nurturing and enlightened enough to do dishes or change diapers or play with their own kids, but they don't want them to cross that line and be too "girly"! I mean, carry around your baby, that's fine, but god forbid they carry around a small dog or something.

What really really irked me the most about the article was the accompanying photos of celebrity dads who - gasp - actually spend time with their own children! "Orlando [Bloom] takes over while mom models" ... "With Mariah's Idol gig, Nick [Cannon]'s on double duty" ... "When Posh is away, David [Beckham] and Cruz play" ... "Mark [Wahlberg] picks up where wife-y leaves off." Noticing a theme? These dads are spending time with their kids when their wives are busy, because you know, that's the only reason why a man might spend time with their kids. And it's just because their wives can't be with the kids, so the implication is that otherwise they would be the mom's responsibility.

By the way - we happened to come across photos from the same batch of pics as their shot of Nick Cannon. He wasn't even on "double duty" while Mariah was working at her "Idol gig" - they just cropped her out of the photo during their trip to Aspen, CO.



(And then just for symmetry, they included a pic of  John Hamm with the caption "Don Draper... so not a 50-50 guy". Also not a real guy, seeing as he's a fictional character and not even of this century.)

Look Cosmo, we appreciate that you're trying to be less old fashioned and more feminist, but... it's kind of hard to take you seriously when your version of feminism is simply "don't marry a guy who is an asshole, only have kids with guys who are willing to raise their own kids" common sense. And any female empowerment you managed to squeeze out of this article is then completely contradicted by the rest of the magazine, which is specifically formulated to make the "fun fearless females" reading it feel insecure and neurotic.

November 29, 2012

The ESC Reads 50 Shades of Grey: Chapter 10

WARNING: This blog post contains spoilers. But, of course, that's kind of the point.

We decided to tackle the Fifty Shades of Grey series one book at a time and give everyone chapter-by-chapter summaries and critique. We're going to read Fifty Shades of Grey... so you don't have to.



Chapter 10

Summary: Ana meets Christian's mom, who is thrilled to meet her because Christian has never introduced her to a girl before and so she always thought he was gay. Christian takes Ana home and tells her to research the contract that he gave her and BDSM in general so she'll know what she's getting into. He gets annoyed when she says that she wants to be able to discuss sex with Kate since she has no frame of reference and needs a friend to talk to, as if this is a totally unreasonable request. Ana and Kate compare notes about having sex with the Grey men. José calls Ana a million times to apologize for making a pass at her, and says "Dios mio" a lot in case we forgot that he's the Latino character in our story. We learn that Christian was "seduced" by a friend of his mother's when he was 15 and that she's the one who showed him the ropes (and whips, floggers, nipple clamps, etc.) of BDSM. That "showed him the ropes" joke was terrible and we apologize. This book sucks and we're really hurting so sometimes we just lash out like that. Oh, and we also learned that Ana's subconscious is a shapeshifter.

Sexiness factor (scale of 1-10): 0

Plot Holes, Fact Checking Fails, and Other Observations:
He gazes at me. He’s amused, his eyes dancing with mirth. He kisses my forehead quickly and beams at me. “Another first,” he acknowledges, but I have no idea what he’s talking about.
That's okay because we never have any idea what either of you are ever talking about.
Christian glares at me. “So the photographer called?”
Crap. “Yes.”
“What did he want?”
“Just to apologize, you know – for Friday.”
Christian narrows his eyes. “I see,” he says simply.
Dude, it's none of your business who was on the phone or why.
“This is the contract. Read it, and we’ll discuss it next weekend. May I suggest you do some research, so you know what’s involved.” He pauses. “That’s if you agree, and I really hope you do.” He adds, his tone softer, anxious.
“Research?”
“You’ll be amazed what you can find on the Internet,” he murmurs.
Internet! I don’t have access to a computer, only Kate’s laptop, and I couldn’t use Claytons’, not for this sort of ‘research’ surely?
She's a college student but she has no access to a computer? And just the way she is so incredulous is kind of ridiculous - Research? Internet!? What's that?
“I’ll just make a call,” I murmur. I just want to hear Kate’s voice.
He frowns. “The photographer?” His jaw clenches, and his eyes burn. I blink at him. “I don’t like to share, Miss Steele. Remember that.” His quiet, chilling tone is a warning, and with one long, cold look at me, he heads back to the bedroom.
She's not even calling José! Sure, maybe she could have tried communicating that fact to Christian rather than just standing there blinking at him, but again, it's none of his business and there wouldn't be anything wrong with it even if she was calling him, because he's just a friend and she hasn't even agreed to anything with Christian yet. Dial it down a fucking notch.

Ana's subconscious, inner goddess and other invisible friends:
I despair at my clothes. Maybe I should take Christian up on his offer of clothes. My subconscious purses her lips and mouths the word ‘ho’. I ignore her.
Did Ana just slut-shame herself? That's almost impressive.
I stare at him, unable to articulate anything – even my subconscious is silent.
So for once her subconscious is actually acting like... a subconscious?
“Oh… by the way, I’m wearing your underwear.” I give him a small smile and pull up the waistband of the boxer briefs I’m wearing so he can see. Christian’s mouth drops open, shocked. What a great reaction. My mood shifts immediately, and I sashay into the house, part of me wanting to jump and punch the air. YES! My inner goddess is thrilled.
Ana's inner goddess really needs to get out more if this is all it takes to thrill her. Maybe she and the subconscious can have a girl's night or something.
“Yeah, took almost a year to have my first orgasm through penetrative sex and here you are… first time?” I nod shyly. My inner goddess sits in the lotus position looking serene except for the sly, self-congratulatory smile on her face.
Setting aside the whole inner goddess thing (most because we're running out of ways to point out how stupid it is), we have to give E L James one point here for at least somewhat acknowledging how ridiculous Ana's magical multi-orgasmic first time was.
Too obvious, Steele! My subconscious glares at me, wagging her long skinny finger, then morphs into the scales of justice to remind me he could sue if I disclose too much.
This sounds like a dream you would have after taking too much cold medicine before bed.


BDSM Analysis:

We get some important info about Christian's past in this chapter, so we're going to include the whole section:
“Why have you never had vanilla sex before? Have you always done… err, what you’ve done?” I ask, intrigued.

He nods slowly. “Sort of.” His voice is wary. He frowns for a moment and seems to be engaged in some kind of internal struggle. Then he glances up, a decision made. “One of my mother’s friends seduced me when I was fifteen.”

“Oh.” Holy shit that’s young! 
“She had very particular tastes. I was her submissive for six years.” He shrugs. 
“Oh.” My brain has frozen, stunned into inactivity by this admission. 
“So I do know what it involves, Anastasia.” His eyes glow with insight. I stare at him, unable to articulate anything – even my subconscious is silent. 
“I didn’t really have a run-of-the-mill introduction to sex.” 
Curiosity kicks in big time. “So you never dated anyone at college?” 
“No.” He shakes his head to emphasize the point. The waitress takes our plates, interrupting us for a moment. 
“Why?” I ask when she’s gone. 
He smiles sardonically. “Do you really want to know?” 
“Yes.” 
“I didn’t want to. She was all I wanted, needed. And besides, she’d have beaten the shit out of me.” He smiles fondly at the memory. 
Oh, this is way too much information – but I want more. “So if she was a friend of your mother’s, how old was she?”

He smirks. “Old enough to know better.” 
“Do you still see her?” 
“Yes.” 
“Do you still… err…?” I flush. 
“No.” He shakes his head and smiles indulgently at me. “She’s a very good friend.” 
“Oh. Does your mother know?” 
He gives me a don’t-be-stupid stare. “Of course not.” The waitress returns with venison, but my appetite has vanished. What a revelation. Christian the submissive… Holy shit.
And here's some of Ana's reaction to this news when she's thinking it over later:

He’s such a complicated person. And now I have an insight as to why. A young man deprived of his adolescence, sexually abused by some evil Mrs. Robinson figure… no wonder he’s old before his time. My heart fills with sadness at the thought of what he must have been through. I’m too naïve to know exactly what, but the research should shed some light.
One of the most common criticisms of 50 Shades is that it doesn't portray a typical or "normal" or healthy BDSM experience, and so it's potentially sending a lot of people the wrong message about what these kinds of relationships are usually like. That's fair, but at the same time we have to defend E L James somewhat by acknowledging that she never claimed she was writing a how to book or the definitive portrayal of a D/s relationship. There are red flags flying all over the place in this chapter.

Obviously that doesn't mean that anyone should stop criticizing the book or pointing out all of the ways that ELJ gets it wrong. (We're certainly not going to.) We're just saying that we think she was at least aware of the fact that Christian and Ana's relationship was pretty dysfunctional right from the start. After this chapter it should be pretty clear to most readers that this setup is less than ideal - a man who was "initiated" into D/s relationships at age 15 by a woman old enough to be his mother, and a naive and inexperienced young woman getting in way over her head with a man that she believes was sexually abused by an "evil Mrs. Robinson".

That being said, there are still plenty of inaccurate and problematic messages that James does send (intentionally or not) in the coming chapters, so stay tuned.

Some of the worst writing in the chapter:
He grins, leaps up off the bed, and pulls on his jeans, no underwear!
OMG no underwear! Qué escándalo!
“I have no clean clothes in here.” I am filled with sudden panic, and considering what I’ve just experienced, I’m finding the panic overwhelming. His mother! Holy crap. I have no clean clothes, and she’s practically walked in on us in flagrante delicto. “Perhaps I should stay here.”
Do people in the real world actually use the phrase "in flagrante delicto"? Seriously, leave a comment if you've said or heard or even thought of this phrase recently. I think the last time I heard it, I was watching Clue. Speaking of which, here is a representation of how we feel about 50 Shades of Grey:




He’s wearing a black leather jacket. He certainly doesn’t look like the multi-multi-millionaire, billionaire, whatever-aire, in these clothes. He looks like a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, maybe a badly behaved rock star or a catwalk model. I sigh inwardly, wishing I had a tenth of his poise.
Shut up, Ana.
Beside the elevator, I can see the black 4x4 Audi, but it’s the sleek, black sporty number that blips open and lights up when he points the key fob at it. It’s one of those cars that should have a very leggy blonde, wearing nothing but a sash, sprawled across the hood.
Oh, one of those cars. Got it.
He smiles his dazzling head-cocked-to-one-side smile, and my stomach pole vaults over my spleen.
So her inner goddess does yoga and now her stomach is pole vaulting? Can't wait to hear about how her pancreas is really into rhythmic gymnastics.
“What’s vanilla sex?” I ask, if anything to distract myself from the intense, burning, sexy look he’s giving me. He laughs.

“Just straightforward sex, Anastasia. No toys, no added extras.” He shrugs. “You know… well actually you don’t, but that’s what it means.” 
“Oh.” I thought it was chocolate fudge brownie sex that we had, with a cherry on the top. But hey, what do I know?
Nothing, Ana. You know nothing. You especially don't know how to describe things in a way that doesn't make you sound like a complete moron.
“My first time was horrid,” she continues, making a sad comedy face.
A sad comedy face? What, like one of those clowns with the one tear coming down?
My mind drifts to last night, and this morning… and the incredible, sensual sexuality I’ve experienced.
Sensual sexuality? This is like when Cosmo writes articles about how to have the sexiest sex ever.
Kate blushes. Oh my… Katherine Agnes Kavanagh goes all Anastasia Rose Steele on me.
And on that note, the Evil Slut Clique is about to go all "we need a fucking drink" on this stupid book.


Conclusion: There was a lot going on in this chapter, but the whole setup with Christian's mother at the beginning may be the thing that bugged us the most. She's thrilled and relieved to meet Ana even though Ana isn't particularly charming and doesn't say anything remotely interesting during their meeting, purely because she realizes that Christian and Ana are fucking and that probably means that her son isn't gay like she always thought. This whole not-at-all-homophobic-and-ridiculous situation is played for laughs because E L James is a terrible writer and this book blows. Get ready for the next chapter, when we'll finally get a look at this contract that we've been hearing so much about.


Previously:

November 7, 2012

Our Post Election Results Recap

Four More Years!



We're very happy that President Obama was reelected! We admit that we do have a few criticisms for Obama (we have some issues with everyone don't we?) but we couldn't be happier that Mitt Romney lost. We are really really really happy.

But this wasn't just a big night for the presidency... there are a lot of other important milestones that came out of this election. For instance, there were 10 female senators elected (or re-elected) into office, bringing the U.S. Senate to a record high of 20 women. And fifteen of the Republicans we quoted in our The Republican Party Hates Women post the other day were defeated!


Some important milestones and/or accomplishments:
  • Arizona - Kyrsten Sinema (D) may be the winner of Congressional District 9 (technically the provisional ballots haven't been counted yet, but as of today she has the lead). Sinema would be the first openly bisexual member of Congress. 
  • Florida - Florida voted against the anti-choice Amendment 6, which would have limited abortion funding and access.
  • Hawaii - This year Hawaii sees its first female Senator, Mazie Hirono (D), who is also the first Asian-born immigrant to be elected to the U.S. Senate and the first Buddhist Senator.  Hirono's House seat was won by Tulsi Gabbard (D), who will become the first Hindu-American in the House of Representatives. Gabbard is also one of the first female combat vets to serve in Congress, along with Tammy Duckworth (D) of Illinois. 
  • Illinois - In addition to being one of the two of the first female combat vets to serve in Congress (along with Gabbard above), Tammy Duckworth (D) is also the first Asian American woman elected to Congress in Illinois. 
  • Indiana - Richard Mourdock (R), the Senate candidate who suggested that pregnancies from rape were "something that God intended to happen", lost big time to Joe Donnelly (D) in the race for the Senate. Although Donnelly isn't exactly the best when it comes to reproductive rights (he only supports abortion in cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is at risk), he's still a step up from Mourdock any day.
  • Maine - Maine voted to legalize same-sex marriage! Maine's "Question 1" repealed a 2009 referendum that struck down a law to legalize gay marriage.
  • Maryland - Maryland also voted to legalize same-sex marriage, by passing "Question 6".
  • Massachusetts - Elizabeth Warren (D) is the first woman to ever represent Massachusetts in the Senate, beating out Cosmo centerfold incumbent Scott Brown (R). 
  • Minnesota - A measure to ban same-sex marriage ("Amendment 1") in the state's constitution was voted down. That doesn't mean that gay marriage was legalized, but it's still hopeful because it hasn't been officially made illegal. Minnesota also defeated an amendment ("Amendment 2") that would require all voters in the state to show photo ID before voting.

  • Missouri - Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) beat Todd Akin (R) with 54.7% of the vote.  Yes, that's Todd Akin who thinks that pregnancy resulting from rape is "really rare" because women's bodies can magically "shut that whole thing down" if the rape is "legitimate". His chances at becoming Senator of Missouri sure got shut down by women voters.
  • New Hampshire - For the first time in history, New Hampshire is being totally run by women at the federal level. In addition to its second female Governor, Maggie Hassan, New Hampshire elected Carol Shea-Porter (D) and Ann Kuster (D) to the House of Representatives. They join Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Kelly Ayotte (R) in an all-female Congressional delegation.
  • North Dakota - Heidi Heitkamp (D) won the race for North Dakota Senate, making her the first woman to serve in Congress from North Dakota, in either the Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives.

  • Washington - Washington's "Referendum 74" to legalize same-sex marriage is expected to pass. Washington is a vote-by-mail state so official results may take up to a week to tabulate, but so far it looks good. Support appears to be leading 51.8 percent to 48.2 percent.
  • Wisconsin - Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) is the first openly gay candidate elected to the U.S. Senate.

A lot of great stuff, right? Of course, it's not all wins...

  • Alabama - Alabama proved to still have some leftover racism when voters shot down a measure ("Amendment 4") that would remove language from their constitute that references segregation by race in schools. Yes, that's right. Although the Supreme Court decision on segregation was made in 1954, the people of Alabama still won't officially remove it from their constitution.
  • California - California passed two propositions that we're not psyched about. Proposition 35 to ban human trafficking and sex slavery and Measure B (Los Angeles County) requiring condom use in adult films. We totally understand why the average voter would think that both of these measures were a great idea, but the language used is problematic, there are a lot of negative implications and overall it's just unrealistic and not helpful. California also failed to pass a proposition requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food.
  • Minnesota - Michele Bachmann (R) actually got reelected! How!?
  • Montana - Montana passed a measure "LR-120" that will require parental notification before a minor can get an abortion. It passed with more than 70% of the vote. Sigh.
  • Oklahoma -A majority of voters chose to pass the Oklahoma Affirmative Action Ban Amendment ("State Question 759") which will ban affirmative action programs in the state and prohibit "special treatment" based on race or sex.  
So clearly, it's not a perfect world yet... but overall, we're optimistic about the next four years with Obama and Biden.

And it's clear that someone out there has a sense of humor: President Obama won in every state that Romney could consider "home" - Massachusetts, Michigan, California, and New Hampshire. Ouch! He also won Paul Ryan's home state of Wisconsin as well as District 1 (Rock County, Ryan's district) where surprisingly Ryan won reelection... with the lowest margin of his career (just under 55% of the vote). Guess they thought he'd need that job after all.

November 5, 2012

The Republican Party Hates Women: A Treasury of Quotations

Lately it seems like Republican politicians can't even open their mouths without saying something offensive about rape. The views expressed by people like Todd Akin are awful, but not at all surprising to those of us who have been paying attention to the increasingly vocal and virulent misogyny of the GOP.

But despite the fact that Akin and company are putting their sexism out there more and more each day, I'm sure we've all heard at least one of the following excuses made for him or any of the other offenders who have made news lately:
  • But he apologized! (Bonus points if it was actually one of those non-apologies like 'sorry if you were offended, or if you're John McCain accepting Richard Mourdock's "apology" on behalf of women even though he didn't actually apologize.)
  • His comments were taken out of context! (Bonus points if the person references the liberal media while making this excuse.)
  • He's entitled to his beliefs! (Someone tried this one on us recently, and shockingly they had no comeback when we pointed out that there's a difference between having beliefs and trying to make your beliefs the law and deny people with different beliefs the right to make different choices.)
  • He's just a fringe lunatic/extremist/outlier who doesn't reflect the real GOP. Most Republicans don't feel that way!
It's that last one that we want to focus on now because the truth is that people like Todd Akin absolutely do reflect the sexism of the Republican Party accurately. It's no secret either - it's in the bills that they promote, in the words that they say, and in the official party platform - and yet many people both inside and outside the party continue to deny that there's such a thing as the "war on women" or that the party has a major sexism problem. So to help them out, we've decided to round up a bunch of quotes on the subject so that we can hear it right from the mouths of prominent members of the GOP and judge for ourselves.

We're going to include a section with some of the "classics", like Pat Robertson's famous quote about feminism, but we're keeping the rest of the quotes as recent as possible, because the point is that this is today's GOP. This is what the Republican Party believes, promotes, and supports today, in 2012, and this is what they want for the future. Let's get started:

The Classics

  • "The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." - Pat Robertson, 1992

  •  He compared the cold, foggy weather spoiling the event to a rape, telling ranch hands, campaign workers and reporters around a campfire, ''If it's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.'' -Clayton Williams, candidate for governor of Texas, March 1990

  • "Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society." -Rush Limbaugh, 1987 and repeated in 2005

  • "Real liberators of American women were not feminist noisemakers; they were the automobile, the supermarket, the shopping center, the dishwasher, the washer-dryer, the freezer, the garbage disposal and frozen food." -Pat Buchanan, 1998

  • "The life expectancy of men is drawing closer to that of women. Women still live longer than men because their lives are easier." -Rush Limbaugh, March 2005

  • "Liberal women have feminized politics to such a degree that male politicians can't even be men, which may explain why politicians as a group are often caught in these sex scandals. Everybody says, 'What is it about politicians?' Anybody ever think it might be liberal women? ...Women have neutered the business of politics so effectively that the men who are involved in politics constantly have to prove their masculinity to themselves and to others." -Rush Limbaugh, June 2011

  • What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic], who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We're the pimps. (interruption) The johns? We would be the johns? No! We're not the johns. (interruption) Yeah, that's right. Pimp's not the right word. Okay, so she's not a slut. She's "round heeled". I take it back. ...Can you imagine if you're her parents how proud of Sandra Fluke you would be? Your daughter goes up to a congressional hearing conducted by the Botox-filled Nancy Pelosi and testifies she's having so much sex she can't afford her own birth control pills and she agrees that Obama should provide them, or the Pope. ...So, Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here's the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it, and I'll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch. -Rush Limbaugh, February 2012

  •  We could quote Rush Limbaugh all day, but we have to cut if off somewhere or this post will never end. But before we stop, we want to point out the language that Rush uses to describe women every day. Not only is he very proud to have invented the term "feminazi", but he has also called various women anchorette, infobabe, Senatorette, Chairbabe Debbie Blabbermouth Schultz, referred to Nancy Pelosi as a witch, calls the National Organization for Women the National Assocation of Gals (or NAGs for short), and so on. And 99% of the GOP worships at Rush's altar and never calls him out on anything that he says.

  • "Just again, the example of the eloquence of Sen. Obama. He's [for] health for the mother. You know, that's been stretched by the pro-abortion movement in America to mean almost anything. That's the extreme pro-abortion position, quote, 'health.'" -Senator John McCain, October 2008

We need a visual aid to convey the mocking scare quote that McCain used in that last statement, which was made during a presidential debate:



The Rapeublicans

  • “It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Mr. Akin said of pregnancies from rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”  Todd Akin, Missouri congressman and candidate for Senate, August 2012

  • “Oh, life of the mother – exception of life of the mother, rape and incest. Yeah, I’ve always — that’s a mantra, you know, I’ve said it so often it just spills out. If you really – there are very few pregnancies as a result of rape, fortunately, and incest — compared to the usual abortion, what is the percentage of abortions for rape? It is tiny. It is a tiny, tiny percentage. …. [I]n terms of the percentage of pregnancies, percentage of abortions for rape as compared to overall abortions, it’s a tiny, tiny percentage. [...] Most abortions, most abortions are for what purpose? They just don’t want to have a baby! The second reason for abortion is you’d like a boy and it’s a girl, or vice versa. And I know a lot of people are opposed to abortion who are pro-choice.” -Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, September 2012 

  • Q: What do you say then to a young girl, I am going to place it as he said it, when a young girl is raped by her father, let's say, and she is pregnant. How do you explain this to her in terms of wanting her to go through the process of having the baby?

    A: I think that two wrongs don't make a right. And I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13 but 15, who have had very at risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade. -Sharron Angle, candidate for Senate from Nevada, June 2010

  • Q: You have two daughters. You have many granddaughters. If one of them was raped -- and I accept it's a very unlikely thing to happen -- but if they were, would you honestly look at them in the eye and say they had to have that child if they were impregnated?

    A: No. If it's an honest rape, that individual should go immediately to the emergency room. I would give them a shot of estrogen. -Presidential candidate Ron Paul, February 2012

  • Q: So a rape victim, in a hospital. And it’s a hospital that is run by a Catholic institution. Emergency contraception, should that be—should she be sent to another hospital in the middle of the night when she’s in dire distress?

    A: I don’t think that the government should overreach. I mean it’s a separation of church and state in my view, and I think that a religious institution has the right to decide what its policies would be in that, in that case.

    Q: Yeah and I respect that, I just wonder if that institution, gets a certain, a majority of it’s money from the government, if it’s mostly federally funded, does that play a role in your thinking?

    A: Well I just think again, that it is an issue of separation of church and state, and that institution should decide what its role would be, and what it’s comfortable with doing in that instance. -Linda McMahon, Senate candidate from Connecticut, October 2012
You'll be relieved to learn that McMahon later clarified and said "It was really an issue about a Catholic church being forced to offer those pills if the person came in in an emergency rape. That was my response to it. I absolutely think that we should avail women who come in with rape victims the opportunity to have those morning after pills or the treatment that they should get." Because apparently "emergency rape" is a thing now. You know, as opposed to 'no big deal, I'll get those morning after pills when I get around to it' rape.
  • “This bill does not require a trans-vaginal exam. … It leaves that up to the patient and the physician to make that determination. Rape and incest was used as a reason to oppose this. I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that's part of the counseling that goes on.” -Idaho Senator Chuck Winder, March 2012
  • Q: Do you really believe, in every case, it should be totally wrong, in the sense that -- I know that you believe, even in cases of rape and incest -- and you've got two daughters. You know, if you have a daughter that came to you who had been raped. And was pregnant and was begging you to let her have an abortion, would you really be able to look her in the eye and say, no, as her father? ...And they are looking at their daughter ,saying, how can I deal with this, because if I make her have this baby, isn't it going to just ruin her life?

    A: Well, you can make the argument that if she doesn't have this baby, if she kills her child, that that, too, could ruin her life. And this is not an easy choice. I understand that. As horrible as the way that that son or daughter and son was created, it still is her child. And whether she has that child or doesn't, it will always be her child. And she will always know that. And so to embrace her and to love her and to support her and get her through this very difficult time, I've always, you know, I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created -- in the sense of rape -- but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you. As you know, we have to, in lots of different aspects of our life. We have horrible things happen. I can't think of anything more horrible. But, nevertheless, we have to make the best out of a bad situation. -Former senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum, January 2012

  • Q: Specifically where you stand when it comes to rape, and when it comes to the issue of should it be legal for a woman to be able to get an abortion if she’s raped?

    A: I’m very proud of my pro-life record, and I’ve always adopted the idea that, the position that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life. -Congressman and VP candidate Paul Ryan, August 2012

  • "He also told me one thing, 'If you do (have premarital sex), just remember, consensual sex can turn into rape in an awful hurry.' Because all of a sudden a young lady gets pregnant and the parents are madder than a wet hen and she's not going to say, 'Oh, yeah, I was part of the program.' All that she has to say or the parents have to say is it was rape because she's underage. And he just said, 'Remember, Roger, if you go down that road, some girls,' he said, 'they rape so easy.'" -Wisconsin State Rep. Roger Rivard, December 2011

  • King supports the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." It would ban Federal funding of abortions except in cases of forcible rape. Right now, Medicaid also covers abortions for victims of statutory rape or incest - for example, a 12 year old who gets pregnant. Congressman King says he's not aware of any young victims like that.

    "Well I just haven't heard of that being a circumstance that's been brought to me in any personal way, and I'd be open to discussion about that subject matter," he said. -Rep. Steve King, August 2012

  • "Incest is so rare, I mean, it’s so rare. But the rape thing…you know, I know a woman who was raped and kept her child, gave it up for adoption, she doesn’t regret it. In fact, she’s a big pro-life proponent. But on the rape thing, it’s like, how does putting more violence onto a woman’s body and taking the life of an innocent child that’s the consequence of this crime, how does that make it better? You know what I mean?" -Congressional candidate John Koster, October 2012

  • Q: How would you tell a daughter or a granddaughter who, God forbid, would be the victim of a rape, to keep the child against her own will? Do you have a way to explain that?

    A: I lived something similar to that with my own family. She chose life, and I commend her for that. She knew my views. But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to.. she chose they way I thought. No don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t rape.

    Q: Similar how?

    A: Uh, having a baby out of wedlock.

    A: That’s similar to rape?

    A: No, no, no, but… put yourself in a father’s situation, yes. It is similar. But, back to the original, I’m pro-life, period.  -Tom Smith, Senate candidate from Pennsylvania, August 2012

  • I believe life begins at conception. The only exception I have for to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother. I struggled with myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen. -Richard Mourdock, Senate candidate from Indiana, October 2012

A few Republicans did criticize Mourdock in particular and distance themselves from his comments (it is an election year after all), but many other ran to his defense. Here's a quick sampling:
  • Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel: "I’ve gotten to know Richard because we’re both state treasurers. We’re treasurers in states next to each other. He’s a gentleman. He’s a class act. He’s a thoughtful guy." 

  • Senator and NRSC chair John Cornyn: "Richard and I, along with millions of Americans — including even Joe Donnelly — believe that life is a gift from God. To try and construe his words as anything other than a restatement of that belief is irresponsible and ridiculous."

  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: "It’s incredibly irresponsible for anyone to take what Richard said about his views on life to demean his opposition to the detestable act of rape. We’re at the end of an election season here and I understand each side is looking to make hay out of every comment, but sharing the view of millions of Americans that life begins at conception is Richard’s deeply held personal belief that shouldn’t be misconstrued by partisans to imply something it does not."

  • Newt Gingrich: "If you listen to what Mourdock actually said, he said what virtually every Catholic and every fundamentalist in the country believes, life begins at conception...[Mourdock] also immediately issued a clarification saying he was referring to the act of conception, and he condemned rape. Romney has condemned — I mean, one part of this is nonsense. Every candidate I know, every decent American I know condemns rape. OK, so why can’t people like [Obama deputy campaign manager] Stephanie Cutter get over it? We all condemn rape. Now let’s talk about whether we also condemn killing babies in the eighth and ninth month."



Women's Health & Reproductive Rights

  • With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance…There’s no such exception as life of the mother. And as far as health of the mother, same thing, with advances in science and technology, health of the mother has become a tool for abortions anytime under any reason. -Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois, October 2012

  • "This contraceptive thing, my gosh it’s such inexpensive, back in my days we used Bayer aspirin for contraception, the gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly." -Rick Santorum campaign donor Foster Friess, February 2012

  • “In the vast majority of these cases, [abortions] are matters of lifestyle convenience." -Virginia Deputy House Majority Leader C. Todd Gilbert, February 2012

  • "Mr. Speaker. I just have to take issue with the comments that have been preceding this debate. This is not a political issue. This is a human issue. Let me just say this to all of my colleagues who are about to vote on this issue. On the motion to recommit. The health exception is a loophole wide enough to drive a Mack truck through it. The health exception would render this ban virtually meaningless." -Paul Ryan, April 2000

  • Q: I know Rick Santorum in his speech was talking a lot about this. He even went so far as to say, “I don’t think insurance plans should be covering birth control in the first place.” Do you think he’s right about that?

    A: I do, I do. I don’t think that’s the role of government. We have to start rolling back government. There are many issues out there beyond Obamacare, but really the issue overlying everything is, is this nation going to survive? And that ultimately becomes an issue of economics. -Richard Mourdock, October 2012

  • While campaigning for governor in April, he told the Wisconsin Right to Life convention that during his time as a state legislator, he was proud of "trying to defund Planned Parenthood and make sure they didn't have any money, not just for abortion, but any money for anything." -Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, April 2011

  • Q: What do you think makes a woman want to have an abortion?

    A: Well, there’s probably a lot of — I’m not a woman so I’m thinking, if I’m a woman, why would I want to get — some of it has to do with economics. A lot has to do with economics. I don’t know, I have never — It’s a question I have never thought about. -Ohio state Rep. Jim Buchy, September 2012

  • Frank Szabo said that as sheriff, he would arrest any doctor performing elective or late-term abortions in his jurisdiction. "There is a difference between legal and lawful," Szabo said.

    Szabo explained the difference by referring to the issue of slavery, which he said used to be legal but was never lawful under the Constitution. He said that even though elective abortions are legal in New Hampshire, with some restrictions, he doesn't consider them lawful. But Szabo may have inflamed the issue further when asked if he would use deadly force to prevent an abortion.

    "I would respond specifically by saying that if someone is under threat, a full-grown human being, if they're under threat, what should the sheriff do? Everything in their power to prevent them from being harmed," he said.

    When pressed about what he would do if he learned that a doctor was about to perform an elective abortion, Szabo replied he would do what it took to prevent that from happening.

    "Absolutely," he said. "Well, I would hope that it wouldn't come to that, as with any situation where someone is in danger, but again, specifically talking about elective abortions and late-term abortions, that is an act that needs to be stopped." -Frank Szabo, candidate for sheriff in Hillsborough County, NH, August 2012

  • "Of course I support the Blunt Amendment." -Mitt Romney, March 2012

  • “Today marks the 39th anniversary of one of the darkest moments in Supreme Court history, when the court in Roe v. Wade claimed authority over the fundamental question regarding the rights of the unborn. The result is millions of lives since that day have been tragically silenced. Since that day, the pro-life movement has been working tirelessly in an effort to change hearts and minds and protect the weakest and most vulnerable among us. Today, we recommit ourselves to reversing that decision, for in the quiet of conscience, people of both political parties know that more than a million abortions a year cannot be squared with the good heart of America.” -Mitt Romney, January 2012

  • "I am pro-life and believe that abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. I support the reversal of Roe v. Wade, because it is bad law and bad medicine. Roe was a misguided ruling that was a result of a small group of activist federal judges legislating from the bench." -Mitt Romney, June 2011

  • "Absolutely." -Mitt Romney, when asked by Mike Huckabee whether he would support a "life begins at conception" or "personhood" constitutional amendment, October 2011

  • "Many issues are at stake, but some issues are not negotiable: The right to life from conception to natural death. Marriage should be reinforced, not redefined. It is an egregious violation of our cherished principle of religious liberty for the government to force the Church to buy the kind of insurance that leads to the taking of innocent human life.

    Your vote will affect the future and be recorded in eternity. Will you vote the values that will stand the test of fire? This is Mike Huckabee asking you to join me November 6th and vote based on values that will stand the test of fire." -Mike Huckabee, November 2012
That last one is one of those statements that I can appreciate because, while it's totally stupid and offensive, I feel like at least it has some poetry to it. Kinda like at the last debate when Mitt Romney said that Syria was Iran's "path to the sea". Totally 100% inaccurate - Iran is already on "the sea" and doesn't even share a border with Syria - but it sounded nice. Like I could see putting "you are my path to the sea" in a love letter or something. This is a similar thing. I want to approach someone randomly, like maybe a Starbucks barista, and bust out the test of fire. "Sure this pumpkin spice latte is good, but is it the best one you ever made? Are you proud of it? Would Jesus like it? Will this latte stand the test of fire?"



Equal Pay

  • Q: You voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Why do you think it is okay for a woman to be paid less for doing the same work as a man?

    A: Well, first of all, the premise of your question is that I’m making that particular distinction. I believe in free enterprise. I don’t think the government should be telling people what you pay and what you don’t pay. I think it’s about freedom. If someone what’s to hire somebody and they agree on a salary, that’s fine, however it wants to work. So, the government sticking its nose into all kinds of things has gotten us into huge trouble. -Todd Akin, September 2012

  • What about something like a pay equity law, that men and women should be paid equal pay for equal work. Is that something that you think would be appropriate for the role of state government here in New Hampshire?

    I certainly think women should be paid the same as men. Young workers should be paid the same as older workers if they achieve the criteria for salary. But I don’t know that it’s appropriate for the government to continue to micromanage the workplace. -Ovide Lamontagne, candidate for governor of New Hampshire, October 2012

  • But just because they call a piece of legislation an equal pay bill doesn’t make it so. In fact, much of this legislation is in many respects nothing but an effort to help trial lawyers collect their fees and file lawsuits, which may have nothing to do whatsoever to increasing pay equity in the workplace. -Senator Marco Rubio, October 2012

  • "Lilly Ledbetter was not an equal pay law. It was about opening up the lawsuits and statute of limitations. It wasn't an equal pay law, and of course, we support equal pay." -Paul Ryan, October 2012

  • "We don’t think America suffers from a lack of litigation." -Sen. Mitch McConnell, explaining why Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, June 2012

  • "Will, you know, will repealing [the Lilly Ledbetter Act] be a priority? If you came back and said, you know, that's really the thing that's hurting my business the most. My guess is there are other things that we can do that have a higher priority in terms of what I, what I believe might need to be done. I think you know we need to create -- that thing is a nuisance. It shouldn't be the law." -Pete Hoekstra, former Congressman and current Senate candidate from Michigan, April 2012

War on Women? What War on Women?

  •  “Now it’s a war on women; tomorrow it’s going to be a war on left-handed Irishmen or something like that.” -Paul Ryan, October 2012
  • "You know, liberals, ladies and gentlemen, are still in a state of shock and disbelief over the notion that "social issues" don't hurt Republicans. You see the reason for the manufactured, false, it-doesn't-really-exist attempt to convince people Republicans have a war on women... Which, again, as mayor of Realville: Republicans date women, they marry women, they have children with women. They take women to dinner. They buy women diamonds and open car doors for women." -Rush Limbaugh, March 2012

  • "If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we’d have problems with caterpillars. It’s a fiction." -Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, April 2012

  • "...the Democrats have been trying to create, manufacture this war on women...And the fact of the matter is that they've taken it too far. And that it's being exposed that there is no war on women. What's happening is that there's a distraction that the Democrats are trying to distract the American people from the real issues. -Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, April 2012

  • "I’m fed up with it. I’m really, really sort of at the end of my rope in terms of the Democratic Party claiming we have a ‘war on women.’ The Democratic Party seems to believe the only things women care about is government-funded contraceptives and government handouts from cradle to grave." -Liz Cheney, August 2012

Miscellaneous Misogyny

  • “I think we have a very clear path to victory, and apparently Claire McCaskill thinks we do, too, because she was very aggressive at the debate, which was quite different than it was when she ran against Jim Talent. She had a confidence and was much more ladylike (in 2006), but in the debate on Friday she came out swinging, and I think that’s because she feels threatened.” -OMG it's Todd Akin again! (September 2012)

  • "The only hitch in an otherwise perfect week was the awful noise coming from the hotel room next door to mine. Turns out it was just Debbie Wasserman Schultz, practicing her speech for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte next week. Bless her heart." -Mike Huckabee, August 2012

  • "We need you to come in and lock shields and strengthen up the men that will go into the fight for you. To let these other women know, on the other side, these Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women who have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness, to let them know that we are not going to have our men become subservient." -Rep. Allen West, April 2011

  • "I was marching in a parade in Schaumburg, Sunday, two days before the Democratic convention, when Tammy Duckworth was on a stage down in Charlotte -- if you can look at the picture -- picking out a dress for her speech Tuesday night."

    "...at this point the only debate Ms. Duckworth is actually interested in having is which outfit she’ll be wearing for her big speech." -Rep. Joe Walsh, October 2012

  • "My wife likes to shop." -Former Wisonsin governor and current Senate candidate Tommy Thompson, explaining why he chose to become a lobbyist after leaving the Bush administration

  • "We’ve got real issues to talk about not the latest bimbo eruption." -Former governor and presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, addressing sexual harassment allegations against fellow candidate Herman Cain, November 2011

  • "She goes to Washington, D.C., it’s a little bit like one of those dogs, ‘fetch’. She goes to Washington, D.C., and gets all of these taxes and red tape and bureaucracy and executive orders and agencies, and brings all of this stuff and dumps it on us in Missouri." -Todd Fucking Akin, October 2012
Just to make sure the intended disrespect was perfect clear, senior Akin campaign aide Rick Tyler tweeted this:


This is far from a comprehensive list, and that's kinda the point. Republicans are literally saying stuff like this every single day. It's impossible to keep up. And they're not just talking, but also constantly pushing a legislative agenda designed to force these sexist views on all of us. The Republican Party has proven more than ever in the past year that they don't understand how our bodies work, they don't care about the discrimination and challenges that we face in the workplace, and they don't respect us enough to let us make our own choices about our health and our lives. So they don't deserve our support, or our silence in the face of their sexism. That's why we're never going to shut up about it, no matter what they call us.