As I sit down to write this, I can hear church bells ringing outside my front door (which I have open for the gloriously cool fall air). It’s soothing, even to an unapologetic atheist. But, in all reality, you don’t need to be religious to enjoy church bells. Like Plato said, “music is a moral law.”
I sprawled out my shit–computer, nail polish, water, and coffee with a dollop of coconut oil–in the living around 11 AM to start this blog, but I noticed myself doing whatever I possibly could to procrastinate my writing. First, I took the above picture and cycled it through every filter on Prisma–the new app for transforming “photos into artworks using the styles of famous artists”–and posted it to my Instagram and Facebook (without any of the aforementioned filters, as you can see). I don’t have my IG linked to my FB because I consciously choose to create different versions of myself on each platform. I live on all sorts of parallel universes and IDGAF. For the most part, I use IG to tag my girlfriends in hilarious memes, and I use Facebook to sling opinionated propaganda (rarely do I ever talk about my personal life). After posting on social media, I clicked on my Etsy app and bought sloth garland (see pic) to hang from the archway between my foyer and living room BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT ADULTS DO. And then I went into the kitchen to finish off my leftover Tom Kha soup from last night’s dinner at Tamarind–we all need sustenance to write, right?–and on my way to the fridge, I noticed the stagnant, cold water in the kitchen sink I had plugged earlier to wash some dishes, so I had to finish that chore. While I was washing the dishes, I noticed a few chips in the blade of my new ceramic knife so I pulled up my Amazon app and bitched to them about that. I purposely spent the extra money on ceramic cutlery because they’re supposed to be super sharp and indestructible. Obviously that’s not true; I was miffed. And finally, I ate my soup. One of the things I absolutely hate about Tom Kha is the rigorous process of eating around the lemongrass chunks; if you’ve ever had the unpleasant experience of accidentally slurping one up, you know just how tough and gross they are. After that process was complete, I then text all my girlfriends about the asshole who ghosted on me over the summer, and then text me out of the blue two nights ago. Apparently unghosting is a thing now. He’s fetching, and refined, and wickedly smart. But, as it turns out, a schmuck. But, that’s a story for a different day. I was actually contemplating writing about the psychology of ghosting this weekend, but after watching the new Netflix documentary, Audrie & Daisy, this morning, I could not not write about slut-shaming. The social and cultural issues at the focus of the documentary surround teenage sexual assault, online harassment, slut-shaming, and suicide. One of the not-so-explicit, but also not unambiguous, issues revolves around the flagrant injustice of our “justice” system. Basically, it shows rape culture in its raw totality. It’s harrowing. It’s thought-provoking. It’s so completely fucked up. (I implore you to watch it and not just take my word for it.) Not only does this deeply affect me as a female, and an Empath, but I’ve recently experienced slut-shaming. And unlike what the title of my blog suggests, WORDS DO HURT. And oftentimes, they leave an indelible emotional scar.
Last summer, I was a Tinder all-star. For a couple months, I was chatting with lots of men, and going on dates with quite a few of them. I wasn’t seeing them concurrently, but it happened, at times. Not only was I having a lot of fun, but I was learning a lot about myself in the process. As corny and cliché as this may sound, sleeping with several different men with no expectations or emotional attachment was empowering and liberating. I always told myself that I could never, in good faith, have a one-night-stand because I needed to be “emotionally connected” to whoever was inside me. Well, fuck that fairy tale. While it may be ideal to fall madly in love with the person you’re intimate with, it’s no more than a false narrative sold to you by the Disney corporation.
I am not a female in need of rescuing.
For the longest time, Beauty and the Beast was a cherished classic of mine–until I watched it this past Tuesday while I tossed around in bed surrounded by snotty tissues and bottles of NyQuil. What kind of backward doctrine are we teaching our children by fetishizing Stockholm Syndrome? And this is not a joke. At an early age, we put our boys on the trajectory of hypermasculinity and then wonder why our women are getting raped. Our culture created ‘Brock Turner.’ There’s a ‘Brock Turner’ in every neighborhood. This is what rape culture is. But I must regress because I’m losing focus. This, too, will be a topic for another day.
So anyway, I was seeing a few different men, but one in particular was my “favorite.” He was 43 (or something around there), foxy, and charming, and really fucking funny. I was immediately drawn to him, and we clicked. I felt like I had known him for years, but I had just met him. And we all know that feeling: taking off your mask and being able to breathe. I was not at all interested in anything serious, but I figured he’d be a good Cutty Buddy. What was just supposed to be a “quick drink” for our first date ended up turning into several rounds of drinks at Agava, dinner, and then bar-hopping downtown Ithaca until 2 o’clock in the morning. He invited me back to his place, and I jumped at the chance. I am not at all shy to admit that I sleep with men on the first date. I mean, why the hell not? Who cares? It’s just sex between two consenting adults. The date was a whirlwind romance of drunken delight, laced with intense sexual tension and a little PDA; I couldn’t wait to get him behind closed doors. We went back to his place and drank a bottle of this weird blue Hpnotiq shit and fooled around until six o’clock in the morning. We were so wrapped up in each other –physically and mentally, ha–that we had completely neglected the rising sun…and that it was now Monday. We both called into work (he had some high-level job at Cornell, and told me he never called in; I rarely do it, but sometimes life happens). We had pillow talk until we both couldn’t stave off sleep any longer. I woke up a couple hours later and planned to get dressed and slip out, but he caught me in the act, and pleaded with me to join him for breakfast at CTB in East Hill Plaza. I reluctantly obliged, and we headed out for coffee and bagels. As our 24-hour date came to a close, we parted ways with a hug. And not one of those awkward hugs where you barely lean in and gingerly pat each other’s back, but an intimate embrace. It was like we were squeezing out every last drop of our bodies touching.
He tried reconnecting with me a week later, but I was busy, so it was about a month before we had our second date. We went to Cinemapolis to watch The Stanford Prison Experiment. He wanted to take me back to his place immediately following the movie, but I like to build the sexual tension–because it makes the moment of gratification so much sweeter–so I suggested we go to Madeline’s for cocktails and dessert. He reluctantly obliged, and we sat outside Madeline’s in a cozy love seat and fed each other crème brûlée while pretending our spoon was an airplane, topped off with authentic sound effects. Yes, I just said that. We laughed our asses off and kissed with mouths full of crème brûlée. It was strangely sexy and amazing. We went back to his place and succumbed to our carnal desires. We went to CTB in the morning again and parted ways with the same sensual embrace.
He emailed me a couple days later at work about a recipe we had discussed on the previous date. We’re both into eating obscure organic shit so we were bouncing our favorite go-to ingredients and dishes off one another. Somehow the conversation turned into a debate on the merits of Celtic sea salt (which I prefer) vs. Himalayan sea salt (which he preferred). After much discourse, he acquiesced and proclaimed Celtic sea salt the winner. He wrote and said, “Wow, you really know your shit.” And I replied, “And you thought I was just some bimbo.” My comment was jocular; I knew he didn’t think I was a bimbo. He wrote back and said:
No, I thought you were a slut.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. It didn’t hurt me that he called me a slut, but simply because I was called a slut. HIS PENIS WAS JUST AS INVOLVED AS MY VAGINA. My anger goes way beyond the generic argument of double standards, but yeah, why aren’t women allowed to have a sexual appetite? By allowing his words to bother me, I was complicit in slut-shaming myself. And that made me even angrier. But that’s how our culture works: women are inferior to men. Our sexual rights–among many other things–are oppressed. Not only are men taught that their discrimination against women is acceptable, but women are taught it is, too. Being subservient in a patriarchal culture is a learned behavior, but it’s insidiously implicit. It’s deeply internalized.
Sex is a natural and precious aspect of life; it is a fundamental part of our humanity, and yet I’m being shamed for it?
I was in a tailspin of confusion and rage. All the empowerment and liberation I had been feeling a month before had vanished with seven words: No, I thought you were a slut. I sent him the following email:
Haha. Slut is such a disfiguring word. If I were a typical female I’d be offended, however, I’m not. I appreciate my romantic autonomy.
I have no idea whether you were trying to shame me or not with your lexical choice. I’m not trying to incite argument, either. Just sharing my thoughts.
Obviously I was offended, but I wasn’t going to lament that to him. My relationship with him meant nothing to me, especially after that fateful email. This was his response:
I guess I was trying to be edgy and not offensive or shameful. I have always been very attracted to women who are sexually aggressive, adventurous, etc. So I guess I see it as a positive if anything.
No apology, just more misogynistic bullshit. I didn’t respond. But I did text my girlfriends and tell them all about the cocksucker that just called me a slut. They were just as aghast as I was. Later that day, as I was getting ready for bed, I was scrolling through Facebook and came across a sponsored article from the Huffington Post, “To All The Women ‘Who Don’t Give A F**k'”. The article was based around Janne Robinson and a candid poem she penned…well, for the women who don’t give a fuck. It was poignant in its frankness. I sent it to him with a wink face. It was more than just a fuck you to him, it was also a soliloquy to myself.
This is for the women who don’t give a fuck
by Janne Robinson
The women who are first to get naked, howl at the moon and jump into the sea.
The women who drink too much whisky, stay up too late and have sex like they mean it.
The women who know they aren’t sluts because they enjoy sex, but human beings with a healthy sexual appetite.
The women who will ask you for what they need in bed.
This is for the women who seek relentless joy; the ones who know how to laugh with their whole souls.The women who speak to strangers because they have no fear in their hearts.
The ones who wear “night make up” in the morning or don’t own mascara.
The women who know their worth, who plant their feet and roar in their brilliance.
The women who aren’t afraid to tell a man to get the fuck out of her heart if he doesn’t honour her heart.
This is for the women who rock combat boots with frilly skirts.
The women who swear like truck drivers.
The women who hold the people who harass or wrong them with fierce accountability.
The women who flip gender norms and false limitations the bird and live to run successful companies giving “the man” a run for his name.
The ones who don’t find their success a compliment just because they have a vagina.
Women like Gloria Steinem who, when she was told, “We want a writer, not a woman. Go home,” kept writing anyway.
This is for the women who drink coffee at midnight and wine in the morning, and dare you to question it.
For the women who open doors for men and are confident enough to have doors opened for them.
Who use “no” to be in service for themselves.
Who don’t give a damn about pleasing the world, and do sweetly as they wish.
For the superheroes—the single moms who work three jobs to make it. I salute your resilient, cape-flapping, ambitious selves.
This is for the women who throw down what they love, and don’t waste time following society’s pressures to exist behind a white picket fence.
The women who create wildly, unbalanced, ferociously and in a blur at times.
The women who know how to be busy and know how to plant their feet in the earth and get grounded.
These are the women I want around me.
The douchebag and I haven’t spoken since.
*And as a side note: this poem showing up in my Facebook news feed was not at all serendipitous. It was a prime example of how the Facebook app invades your privacy. They can, and do, access your text messages. You’ve been warned.