Professional pounder of the patriarchy.

Posts tagged ‘body image’

“My body is not my own” – a poem

This is a translation of a poem I originally wrote in Spanish (which you can find here). If the phrasing here seems a little bit clumsy, it’s because Spanish sentence structure is different. For example, “it isn’t important to me” becomes “no me importa” (= it doesn’t to me have any importance) – tricky!


My body is not my own.

I am not the owner of my own house,

Nor of the kitchen of my stomach

Nor of the bedroom of my heart

Nor of the rafters of my bones.

My body is not my own.

The visitors say that I should shave.

And why?

Why don’t I have the right to grow

flowers in my own garden?

Roses grow down my legs,

Violets across my stomach

And there is secret ivy inbetween.

Years ago I decided that I would not be bothered by

The comments of the guests,

Nor those of passers-by,

Nor those of the estate agents

That want to improve me and sell me.

My abode is beautiful just as it is.

My body will always be mine

And I am my own home.

Dolly Dastardly (c) 2017

“Mi cuerpo no es mío” – un poema

Traducción inglesa aquí

Mi cuerpo no es mío.

No soy dueña de mi propia casa,

Ni de la cocina de mi estómago

Ni del dormitorio de mi corazón

Ni de las vigas de mis oseos.

Mi cuerpo no es mío.

Los visitantes dicen que debe rasurar.

¿Y por qué?

¿Por qué no tengo la derecha cultivar

Los flores en mi propio jardín?

Las rosas crecen por mis piernas,

Las violetas a través de mi panza

Y hay hiedra secreta entremedio.

Hace años decidí que no me importarían

Los comentarios de los invitados

Ni de los transeúntes

Ni de los agentes inmobiliarios

Que quieren mejorarme y venderme.

Mi morada es hermosa como así es.

Mi cuerpo siempre será mío

Y soy mi propio hogar.

Dolly Dastardly (c) 2017

Dear Creep, A Year On

Dear Creep,

I never asked for an apology. After a year of silence, of growth, I would have been content to never, ever hear from you again. But you rolled in, like boys do, with an assumption and a guilt-trip.

I’m sorry. I miss you. We used to be so close.

We were not close; I was simply a self-shaped magnet. I was sixteen, I had never had a boyfriend and my self-esteem was 20,000 leagues under the sea. I was fragile. I just wanted someone to notice me.

In the space of that year, I learned to notice myself. Oh, I am glad to see her at last with my own two eyes. She is beautiful and worthy and self-sufficient and daring and spiritual and funny – all the things you wanted to give me because you did not think I had them within myself all along.

There were never any other girls, what are you talking about???

They were not other girls; they were my friends, my sisters, my comrades-in-arms. I let you pursue and intimidate them, because I would have had to let you go to push you away.

I am not angry because I am a woman scorned, for I was never your girl in the first place. I am angry because I let your toxic waste into the lakes of Artemis, where girls are my retinue and not my firing squad.

I tell you all this, in blue and white oblongs on a four-inch screen.

I was being nice, try it some time.

Why is it always a battle of the sexes with you?

An attitude like this is why guys don’t want to talk to you.

Grow up, yeah? People might take you seriously then.

I grew up. I am not a frightened girl anymore. There is no insecurity in my heart for your sake and the battle is the one you brought to my doorstep yourself. You forget that women are warriors and witches and wanderers, and I am all of these three and more besides.

Hate me from afar. But know this: no hatred is a match for the love I have for my own body and soul and identity, and for the bodies, souls and identities of the women I am proud to call my sisters.

Expect no apology for that.


Dolly

“To be bitter is to attribute intent and personality to the formless, infinite, unchanging and unchangeable void. We drift on a chartless, resistless sea. Let us sing when we can, and forget the rest…” – H.P. Lovecraft

5 Spectacular Sportswomen

The Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, kicked off today. In honour of this massive international sporting event, I decided that this article should feature 5 incredible feats of athleticism and endurance… by women. Women were first able to compete in the Summer Olympics in 1900, but, even as recently as 1992, 35 countries were still entering exclusively male competitors. The first time that at least one woman competed for every country was in 2010, a whopping 114 years after the first Olympic Games in 1896.

Lena Jordan

Lena Jordan was a Latvian trapeze artist and aerial performer. In 1897, she became the first person to successfully perform a triple somersault on the flying trapeze. No man beat the record she set until 1909. An article from the Chicago Tribune in 1982 states that “… fewer than 20 trapeze flyers have ever succeeded…” and also that two of the men to ever complete the move died trying to replicate their success, which gives you an idea of how scarily dangerous this move is! Hats off to you, Ms Jordan – you were a braver woman than I!

Gertrude “Trudy” Ederle

In 1926, Gertrude Ederle – born in Manhattan to German immigrant parents – became the first woman to swim the English channel. She was a champion swimmer, Olympic gold medallist and a world record holder in five events. Only five men had successfully swum the English Channel before her attempt. The former record had been 16 hours, 33 minutes (set by Enrique Tiraboschi). She crossed the Channel in 14 hours and 39 minutes. From Trudy herself: “People said women couldn’t swim the Channel, but I proved they could.”

Bonita Norris

Bonita Norris was the youngest British woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, at the age of just 22 (until 2012, when 19-year-old Leanna Shuttleworth broke her record). Bonita also successfully climbed to the summit of Mt. Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain in the world. She’s a television presenter and a charity fundraiser too (seriously, what can’t this woman do?!). I was lucky enough to listen to her speak about her experiences at my school, as part of our International Women’s Day celebration (she’s lovely and you should Google her!).

Florence “Flo-Jo” Griffith Joyner

“Flo-Jo” was an American track-and-field athlete. In 1988, she set the world record for the 100m sprint at the U.S. Olympic Trials, astounding everyone watching. She completed the race in just 10.49 seconds, and it’s this achievement that has led to her being considered “the fastest woman of all time”. At the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, she set another world record in the 200m sprint. Well, actually, she set two – she completed it in 21.56 seconds in the semi-final and then beat her own record in the final, finishing in 21.34 seconds. In 1998, she sadly passed away at the age of 38, after an epileptic seizure.

Cheryl Haworth

Ever wanted to meet a woman who can lift the equivalent of two fridges over her head? Well, let me introduce you to Cheryl Haworth, the American weightlifter. During the Summer Olympics in Sydney, in 2000, women’s weightlifting was introduced. It was Cheryl’s time to shine, and she brought home a bronze medal at the age of just 17. She competed in the heaviest class. Her weight made her the subject of media scrutiny, and in an interview with Stumptuous, she stated: “It’s frustrating, because it’s like instead of “Oh, you’re the strongest woman in the history of the US”, it’s like “You’re big but you don’t sit on the couch and do nothing. How does that work?” They just don’t understand that bigger people can be elite athletes.”

 

So there you have it: five fantastic women, of all different shapes and sizes, who set incredible records and achieved amazing things!

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Quote #15

There is nothing inevitable about men oppressing women, being full of aggression, or clamping down on other men who don’t conform to a rigid concept of masculinity. Being a man can mean being inclusive, open and accepting. Masculinity is fluid and its future is up for grabs.

– Owen Jones, left-wing journalist and Guardian columnist, writing for The New Statesman, 2nd June 2016 (x).

Quote #13

You’re damn right, my body is a temple; I am the god it was built for. I am the landlord and I can let whoever I want live inside it.

Savannah Brown, Hi, I’m A Slut: A Slam Poem (x)

The Myth of Female Shame

Being a woman often goes hand in hand with being ashamed.

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You know what kind of blog this is.

In an article called “The Feminine Mistake“, which I wrote about last year, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talked about her own experiences with (what she calls) the rituals of female shame. All the women in her life idolised her Auntie Chinwe. She was an excellent doctor, but her most admired attributes were not to do with her success or her intelligence. Her enviable qualities were that she was the perfect wife, she was dutiful and she was loyal. Her badge of honour was her refusal to cause a stir. She would endure jokes made at her expense, and she had transformed herself in order to fit her husband’s expectations. She was “an ocean of endless nice”.

There is an implicit message in society’s expectations of women. It is: “What you are is something to be ashamed of.” What you have started with – i.e. your own body, your own self, your own feelings – is imperfect and it needs to be rectified. It needs to be suppressed. You don’t get to be angry; you’re a “bitch”. You don’t get to be in control; you’re “bossy”. Present any semblance of rage or uncooperative behaviour, and you’re an embarrassment.

This is not a new idea. For the people of ancient Rome, it manifested as pudicitia, “modesty”. The opposite was impudicitia, “shamelessness”. It was almost entirely an expectation of a woman’s moral code. The only men who were tarred with the impudicitia brush were those who deviated from the masculine sexual norm, usually homosexual men who took the “submissive” role. This was because their sexual preferences feminised them, in the eyes of Roman society. (There are plenty of parallels to be drawn between the treatment of women and gay men in the ancient world, but that’s a story for another day.) Lucretia was considered the epitome of pudicitia; she was beautiful but modest, assuming the traditional role of the loyal wife. According to Livy, it was her chastity that attracted Sextus Tarquinius to her, to the point that he raped her and she committed suicide to preserve her reputation. This was seen as ideal – a woman who cared so much about her honour that she would die to defend it. A common translation or interpretation of the word is “shamefaced(ness)”. It was morally right for a woman to avoid engaging in certain acts in order to prevent bringing shame upon herself.

A later Roman example is that of Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi. The Gracchi were two brothers, Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, who both became tribunes (political officials). She is particularly admired for how she speaks of her relatives. Her husband had passed away when she was still young, and she never remarried. Nine of her eleven children died in infancy, and Tiberius and Gaius were both murdered. Cornelia does not grieve in front of guests, instead telling them of her family’s great achievements. This emotional restraint is specifically referred to: “… she was most admirable because she did not grieve for her sons and talked to her audience without weeping…” Again, mourning among her guests would have been shameful.

But that was over 2000 years ago (Lucretia’s story is dated to circa 510BC and Cornelia’s to the second century BC). Why should you care if a Roman woman was shamed for improper behaviour?

Well… because we see it everyday. In newspapers, on social media, among our friends. We have fostered a culture in which a woman can be criticised for anything and everything, for the most ridiculous things. Women are shamed disproportionately to men. Consider Kim Kardashian, who gained notoriety for an… errrrmmm… interesting video she taped with her then-boyfriend Ray J. For the entirety of her career – despite proving herself to be a savvy businesswoman and engaging in charitable work – she’s been constantly reminded of this incident. She’s the butt (no pun intended) of every related joke imaginable. Is anybody having a go at Ray J for this? No. He’s still joking about it years later. He has literally stated publicly that he once “had to tell her” that her downstairs department smelled terrible. I shit you not.

A celebrity woman who leaves the house in anything less than the latest Vivienne Westwood evening gown is evidently stressed and struggling. She’s not, you know, an actual human being who has to do actual human things. In adverts for shaving products, the actress shaves an ALREADY BALD leg. That’s how taboo female body hair is. Hair, for fuck’s sake. You know, that thing we all have, all over our bodies???

We have created a world in which women – even ordinary women like me – are required to have a public face and a private one. Why do I have to pretend that I don’t urinate or defecate or menstruate? Why am I required to be this ethereal, angelic, pure creature with no bodily functions beyond those I can offer to men?

I’m calling stinking horseshit. I’m not ashamed of anything. If I want to walk to the toilet in college with my sanitary towel in my hand, unconcealed, then I bloody well will. If I want to complain to my friends that my boobs are aching, then I will. I am at liberty to do so.

Fucking destroy this idea that women ought to be ashamed. Destroy the concept that femininity comes with weakness and deceit and original sin attached.

Patsy - annoyed

She’s eating an apple BECAUSE SYMBOLISM

Infinite love, with zero fucks given,

Dolly xxx