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I Knew Taylor Swift Was Trouble When She Walked In

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By Christiana Paradis

It’s never been a secret: I dislike Taylor Swift. Unfortunately, in a world where it appears everyone loves her, I for the most part, keep quiet because it really isn’t worth the fight. However, her latest video, which was brought to my attention by a wonderful friend, has infuriated me to the point where I need to say something. And “haters gonna hate, hate, hate” about that — and quite frankly I don’t care.

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Regularly in the media domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault is presented and normalized (Has anyone seen the new Maroon 5 video?). It is seen more as a given and normalcy in our society than an atrocity.

Often when this happens we see a male perpetrator of domestic violence and a female victim. Working in the domestic violence field, very rarely do we talk about female perpetrators and male victims because our statistics don’t support that it happens very often. 85% of domestic violence victims are women (Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003). But it is important to remember that statistics are only as good as what is reported and quite often, cases of domestic violence against men, when the perpetrator is female, are not reported. The reason for this is simple: gender stereotypes are still very prevalent in our society. Not many men feel comfortable reporting to the police, hospital or domestic violence shelter saying “my significant other hit me,” because to say that is presumed emasculating.

This has to stop. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence and anyone can be a perpetrator. We need a society where everyone feels safe to report regardless of gender.

The same as domestic violence against women has become normalized in the media, domestic violence against men has become comical. (Remember the social experiment of domestic violence of men versus women in public?) Taylor Swift’s new video for “Blank Space” is no different.

The video begins depicting a very common theme in domestic violence relationships – the honeymoon phase – where everything is wonderful and the person expresses a lot of love early on in the relationship. In this video the victim has found Princess Charming, aka Taylor Swift. However, this relationship quickly turns unhealthy as some domestic violence relationships do when a perpetrator may accuse a victim of cheating with little to no evidence. This is apparent in the video when Taylor sees Sean texting someone else and automatically assumes it is another female. She even expresses this excessive jealousy as she screams (emotional abuse), hits, and pushes (physical abuse) Sean in fury. We then see Taylor throw his cell phone in a fountain, cut up his clothing, and destroy his car — all things that are done to intimidate, threaten, and embarrass the victim. Frequently working in the field of domestic violence, I see cell phones are destroyed because it makes it impossible for the victim to call for help and destroying property in an effort to threaten and terrorize the victim are signs of further emotional abuse.

Taylor’s messed up world and perceptions are evident not only in this video, but in the song lyrics themselves —“boys only love it if it’s torture.” First, this statement is extremely emasculating towards men; similarly to when men call all women girls, in an attempt to infantilize us. This statement emasculates all men into boys and makes a sweeping judgment about what men like and don’t like. Let me clear this up for you, Taylor. NO ONE likes torture. NO ONE likes to be made to feel less of a person by another person, no matter what your gender identify. Maybe I am over rationalizing? You were just trying to make a statement about men liking relationships that are difficult. Guess what? I still don’t buy it. What frustrates me further is that this video came from someone who recently proclaimed to the world that she was a feminist. Perhaps I should explain that feminism is about gender equality. We do not achieve gender equality by emasculating men, but thank you for furthering that stereotype.

We see the cycle begin all over again at the end of the video as a new victim comes to Taylor. I don’t care if you’re Taylor Swift or a person just sitting at home on their computer watching Taylor Swift, we need to stop presenting domestic violence against men as funny or less serious than violence against women. Violence against anyone is not okay.

Drops of Hope

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By Christiana Paradis

Being a third wave feminist can be draining. For days on end you work tirelessly to effect change or alter gender stereotypes only to be cheered on by the same 15-20 feminists that continue to read your blogs or share your posts on various social media sites, but you rarely reach a wider audience. It becomes downright excruciatingly exhausting some days, and the more exhausted you get, the angrier you get. You stay up late at night and question: Why don’t other people care about these things? Why don’t my OWN female friends care about these things? Is everyone crazy or just me? HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO EXPLAIN THAT SEX AND GENDER ARE NOT. THE. SAME. THING!?!?!

Over the last couple of months I’ve felt this anger more than I should, but every now and then something happens, something remarkable. Maybe it’s something big or small depending on who you are or where you are in the world. This something for me this past week was the release of Ray Rice from the Baltimore Ravens due to an additional video surfacing regarding a previous domestic violence issue. Why was this so remarkable, you may ask?

Back when I was a wee blogger at PBG, around 3 years ago to be exact, I wrote a blog about the ways in which the National Football League (NFL) continuously downplayed domestic violence and sexual assault allegations. At the time I cited a recent murder-suicide of a Kansas City Chief’s player, the sexual harassment of a female NFL reporter, and the recent domestic violence allegations of a Miami Dolphins player. I was disgusted that despite different teams calling out the behavior, there was no general outcry or any official statements made by the NFL, and as a result this invalidated and dismissed female football fans. Once a boys club always a boys club, right?

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Fast forward to 2014: In February Ray Rice was seen dragging his unconscious fiancée out of an elevator, the NFL decided to suspend Rice for two games and the Baltimore Ravens took no additional actions regarding Rice’s behavior. All of a sudden public outcry begins and memes pop up all over social media sites questioning a yearlong suspension for marijuana use vs. a two game suspension for domestic violence.

Feeling pressured the NFL decided to determine new sanctions for players accused of domestic violence. These new sanctions include a 6 month suspension for a first offense and banned for life for a second offense. Additionally, after a second video emerged from the February incident involving Rice, the NFL decided to ban Ray Rice indefinitely and the Baltimore Ravens made a decision to release him. Though some of these changes came much later than I would have preferred, the fact that teenagers, men, women, and current and/or former NFL players stood up together and challenged the NFL regarding this issue, exhibits remarkable change in opinion and culture. Three years ago a murder-suicide ignited little outrage, but today a two game suspension for domestic violence created a fire storm. That is change. It is a change so big that it forced an organization as large and powerful as the NFL to act, and that gives me hope.

It means that as a society we have become much more educated and more aware of the many implications of domestic violence, it means as bystanders we will not allow this behavior to continue to exist and be rewarded. It means that though we can’t always see it on a daily basis, things are changing and standing together we continue to be drops of hope in a very large bucket that is defining the third wave feminist movement.

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OITNB Shows How Sex Education (or lack thereof) Has Failed Us

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By Christiana Paradis

If you haven’t finished binge-watching OITNB then I don’t know what you’ve been up to the past month that was more important, but you should really get on that!

In the fourth episode of the second season, “A Whole Other Hole,” we see Taystee, as well as several other inmates, learn that the “pee hole” is not the same as the “vagina hole.” The episode goes on to show Taystee trying to find this mysterious third hole, that in her entire life, she never knew she had! It isn’t until Sophia, another inmate, finally explains to her where it is that she discovers it for the first time. Due to the lack of understanding of female anatomy Sophia (a transgender woman, portrayed by Laverne Cox) decides she is going to sit all of the women down with a diagram and explain to them the anatomy of the female vagina. OINTB pokes fun at the fact that women know very little about their vaginas and they push this further by using Sophia to explain it to the inmates. This is noticed by Taystee who makes a comment/implies “I never thought I’d learn more about my vagina from someone who used to be a man.” This show does not suggest this to make fun of transgender women; rather, it pokes fun at the overall fact that women know very little about their vaginas and the fact that most women have never really taken the time to sit and look at them.

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This episode might have been the funniest episode of the whole season. I could not stop laughing the hole way through. However, it wasn’t just the characters’ fantastic bantering that made it hilarious; it was the fact that the episode was so realistic. I could relate to the conversation that was taking place because I’ve had similar conversations with other women. Furthermore, I’ve watched men have similar conversations with other women, too.

You might be asking yourself how can a woman not know what her vagina looks like? Well the answer is simple, women are never, ever encouraged to actually look at it. It’s this void that we make cute name for so we can pretend it doesn’t actually exist. Our down there/private parts/peach/pooch/pee pee/va-jay-jay, etc. is something that we aren’t to talk about or look at. Furthermore, there is very little if ANY actual education provided to women AND men about the physiological structure of our vaginas.

Our sex education (or lack thereof) as well as health education has miserably failed us, and the fact that this failure is so ingrained in our culture that we can make it a part of television series is something we should not be proud of. Furthermore, while I was watching this show it made me wonder how many other women were watching the show learning about their third hole for the first time, ever! It is arguable we all learn something every now and then from a television series, but information about our basic anatomy and the parts of our bodies that belong to us, should not be one of them. So ladies, I’m calling you out, one by one, take the time—even if only for a minute—and learn to love and know ALL the parts of your body. You’ll find you’re quite remarkable and as always—simply beautiful.

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Seriously?! A bra to advise your eating habits…

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bra

By Christiana Paradis

How did you do it Microsoft? No seriously? How did you create EXACTLY what I’ve always wanted? My whole life I’ve been wondering how to stop myself from emotional overeating. I mean every time a boyfriend or girlfriend (gasp) would break up with me it was straight for the pint of ice cream, sometimes even with Cheetos for topping! Too much? I never thought so. Bring on the gluttony. This WHOLE time I just thought there was no hope, but now Microsoft has developed this beautiful piece of technology–and it’s even in a sultry red color for the feisty femmes like myself. It is so adorable that they make this product and offer it to females only. After all, we’re the only gender that emotionally eats.

This bra uses sensors to detect my heart rate and sweat signals. Then it magically takes that information and decides (in its brain), “Hmm…you’re appearing stressed or maybe bored…DON’T DO IT! DON’T EAT!” So then the bra tells my smart phone…DON’T LET HER EAT. Then…are you ready for this? My smartphone agrees, “She should not eat.” So it makes me play games or do some form of breathing exercise…it works to distract me from eating, because the bra and my smartphone know more than my body, and they know I shouldn’t eat.

Microsoft says it has to be form fitting to get vitals and there’s a study that says women emotionally overeat more than men, so… it only makes sense it’s a bra. I couldn’t agree more. Why should it be something like a wifebeater, tank top, or a wristband? I mean why would we want everyone to get help for this problem? I overeat more than annnny of my guy friends. PLUS, this bra is so awesome/heavy/uncomfortable that it only needs to be taken off every four hours so that it can recharge its monitors. So basically it’s really convenient for your work day. Just grab lunch at a place that you can charge your bra so that you don’t have to awkwardly walk around the office bra-less. It’s made to be convenient for the working woman, like that. They’ve literally thought of EVERYTHING!

I’ve always wanted technology to tell me that my body doesn’t need nourishment! Thank you Microsoft, what would a silly ol’ gal like me do without you?

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