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January 19, 2011

“Your daily ’single women die alone’ alert”

Filed under: Psychology, issues — posted by Breakup Girl @ 10:55 am

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With a side of “men=pigs” (sic). From Samhita at Feministing:

The endless obsession with how women are going to die alone because they have brains and casual sex [and "post-feminist" "freedom" --BG] has truly become the gift that keeps on giving. Mix one part college student sample, a few scattered inconsistent findings based on loosely correlated “evidence,” sweeping generalizations reinforcing female anxiety around mating and some slut-shaming for good measure and voila, you have yourself “relationship advice” from a “doctor.” The CNN health blog writes about a new book, Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying, by none other than “get married early” Mark Regenerus and sociologist Jeremy Ueker.

CNN concludes from a precursory look at the book men have the upper hand in the sexual economy. This is not  because women are judged based on their promiscuity or lack thereof in a way that men rarely are or because men face pressure to have casual sex like a stud and deny their romantic feelings for relationships. Or because when you are a woman between 18-23 male attention and the desire to “be in a relaysh” has more impact on your self esteem then say when you are a 30-somethinger like me. Or maybe because by 23, you still don’t know what you want out of a relationship. No, no, men have the upper hand in sex and dating because women have too much freedom, sex and education. [See CNN file photo w/article, left, of young woman relishing her freedom.]

[CNN:] Researchers found that since women in the 18- to 23-year-old group feel they don’t need men for financial dependence, many of them feel they can play around with multiple partners without consequence, and that the early 20s isn’t the time to have a serious relationship. But eventually, they do come to want a real, lasting relationship. The problem is that there will still be women who will have sex readily without commitment, and since men know this, fewer of them are willing to go steady. [Go steady? - BG]

“Women have plenty of freedom, but freedom does not translate easily into getting what you want,” Regnerus said. ["So maybe you don't need it so much. At least not if you want a man." -- BG]

Though it’s not based entirely on fiction, it’s rife with unexamined assumptions. Bottom line, if women no longer need men then why would they be competing for men? Feh.

Bonus: Good stuff on men being humans! With feelings! here.

January 18, 2011

What’s dating like when you have an STD?

Filed under: Psychology, issues — posted by Breakup Girl @ 10:58 am

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Writing at Salon.com, BG’s alterego talks to many brave women to find out. Of course, they shouldn’t have to be so “brave” in order to speak up, but what they speak about — the persistent stigma of STIs, especially for women, despite their breathtaking near-ubiquity — is exactly what otherwise keeps them quiet. (When one woman named Michele worked up the gumption to disclose to a potential partner, he said: “You seem like a very classy girl — I would never have imagined you having that.” Translation: “You slut.” And he was one of the polite ones.)

But! As it turns out, the vast majority of people interviewed in the story — even the expert doctor — wound up finding (a) community among others online, and/or (b) a happy relationship (with someone “sero-negative,” even). In other words, there is life — sex life, love life, LIFE life — after/with an STI. The morals:

1. Get yourself tested. And educated.

2. Use condoms.

3. Manners, people! You don’t know anything about how or why anyone got anything. Don’t judge. Don’t even snicker. You might even have something yourself and not know it. (See #1.)

December 8, 2010

Assange, those wacky Swedes, & “sex by surprise”?

Filed under: News, blogs, issues — posted by Breakup Girl @ 2:53 pm

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What she said (emphasis added):

Whether withdrawal of consent is what actually happened here is impossible to tell, so I’m not suggesting that Assange is a rapist or that these charges are 100% definitely on-point; I have no idea. But neither do the commentators who are saying that Assange did nothing more than have sex without a condom. And it’s important to counter the “haha sex by surprise those crazy Swedes” media narrative with the fact that actually, non-consensual sex is assault and should be recognized as such by law. Consenting to one kind of sexual act doesn’t mean that you consent to anything else your partner wants to do; if it’s agreed that the only kind of sex we’re having is with a condom, then it does remove an element of consent to have sex without a condom with only one partner’s knowledge. To use another example, if you and your partner agree that you can penetrate her, it doesn’t necessarily follow that she has the green light to penetrate you whenever and however.

I’m not particularly interested in debating What Assange Did or Whether Assange Is A Rapist, and I’d appreciate it if we could steer clear of that in the comments section. Rather, I’m interested in pushing back on the primary media narrative about this case, which is that women lie and exaggerate about rape, and will call even the littlest thing — a broken condom! — rape if they’re permitted to under a too-liberal feminist legal system. In fact, there are lots of good reasons to support consent-based sexual assault laws, and to recognize that consent goes far beyond “yes you can put that in here now.” It’s a shame that the shoddy, sensationalist reporting on this case have muddied those waters.

There.

December 1, 2010

Men like you better when you’re mediocre!

Filed under: issues, media — posted by Breakup Girl @ 11:16 am

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Really, New York Times? The Gray Lady is at it again, telling women — in a dippy, unmoored “trend” piece — that you can be successful in work. Or love. Not both. See, because successful women scare the men away. That’s the price we pay, ladies, for liberation. “Is female empowerment killing romance?” asks the article, in a sentence so backlashtastic it’s not easy to cut and paste on a full stomach. I don’t know, I thought when female empowerment brought us the freedom to date and marry for love, not to mention use the Pill (speaking of which, must read this), that was kind of romantic. There’s so much else to eviscerate in this piece that I’m not even sure where to start, other than to say that when I opened the page and started reading, I literally had to scroll back up to the top to see if someone had accidentally sent me a link from 1997. Or 1957. Or — whatever.

Look, I’m sure there are men who are put off by “successful” — “ambitious,” “strong” etc. — women. I’m sure there have always been men like that. Even since before women were “liberated.” So, um, maybe that’s their problem? And even, even to the degree that men, en masse, are scared by female success, again: THEIR PROBLEM. Why is always women who have to dial it down? What’s more, the suggestion that so many menz are SO SCARED of SCARY SCARY WOMEN is ridonkulously insulting to men, too.

And then there’s this advice, annotated by BG in brackets:

Leave the snazzy company car at home on the first date [because MEN HATE SNAZZY CARS]; find your life partner in your 20s, rather than your 30s, before you’ve become too successful [show of hands: who in her 30s wishes they'd married that guy from their 20s?] [also, by the logic herein, that guy from your 20s will dump you when you become "too successful"]. And go after men who draw their confidence from sources other than money, like academics and artists [avoiding people who draw their confidence from money is sound advice for anyone; however -- oh, for God's sake, this is just silly].

The article does showcase some excellent boyfriends (who appear to be European. COINCIDENCE?!). See:

Ms. Kiechel in Paris says her boyfriend actively encourages her career and brags to friends how intelligent and hard-working she is. Ms. Haag and Ms. Domscheit-Berg both earn more than their husbands and report that their men actually enjoy watching the waiter’s reaction when they say their wife will pick up the tab.

That’s great and all, but it’s kind of like saying “How nice that your husband HELPS OUT with the baby!” The above attitudes should be a given, not a plus. And I know they are held by far more men than this article gives credit to. The day we’ve really achieved — or at least driven our snazzy cars closer to — liberation is the day we start to see articles telling the fellas that if they’re scared of successful women, they’re just gonna have to man up.

November 24, 2010

Relationship violence: the Amber factor

Filed under: News, Psychology, issues, media, pop culture — posted by Breakup Girl @ 11:59 am

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Teen Mom’s Amber Portwood has dealt quite a few blows, physical and emotional, to her oafish fiance-ish, Gary Shipley. This we know — cameras were rolling! — and this we cannot excuse. But this example has, like many before it, provoked the question: is female-on-male violence on the rise?

Today at Salon.com, BG’s alter ego tackles the answer. And suggests, in the process, that it’s not the most helpful question to be asking in the first place. In short: females have always been violent, towards men and otherwise. Specific DOJ data points show that when it comes to certain types of intimate partner violence, rates of certain types of aggression can be equal or mutual between men and women. (And neither is to be justified.) But: men are far more likely to put their female partners in the hospital, and men are far more likely to commit the ongoing, deeply damaging form of abuse known as battery, or even domestic terrorism.

That is not to say MEN SUCK; WOMEN WIN THE VICTIM PRIZE. Not at all. It’s to say that false equivalence between male and female violence is unhelpful and un-illuminating, possibly even damaging to all victims. As Lynn writes: “But when it comes to pop culture and public discourse, [female violence] needs to be discussed on its own face and in its own context, with its own set of causes and implications, not as a game of one-upmanship.”

Read the rest here. And if you — female or male — feel at all unsafe in your relationship, please click here.

November 18, 2010

Brady Bunch 2.0: today’s “blended” families

Filed under: News, issues — posted by Breakup Girl @ 11:01 am

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Today’s New York Times featured a lengthy article about how today’s mix-and-rematch post-divorce parents with kids make it work: not by marrying and moving everyone, and Ann B. Davis as Alice, into the same ranch house at 1164 Morning Glory Circle, but…close. As a means of preserving their own semi-independence, and sparing the kids an extra intrusion, they’re moving — well, into different ranches on the same circle, say. Or even: same house; different floors, different doors.

In the articles first example, the triple-hyphenate Curtis-Hetfield-Petrini household (two divorced parents, now each others’ partners; three kids among them), for instance, lucked into a two-family town house in Brooklyn. My initial crabby thought: “Well, of course it works great for them. They have a ’sleek bamboo kitchen.’”

But (a) no fair, as we all know that when it comes to discord, creature comforts are more often cause than antidote, and (b)  the article goes on to describe many types of blendy families in many shapes, forms, places, and real estates. And the broadest points are well-taken. First, the economic reality of a post-Carol world:

…What’s really driving the practice of committed couples with children living in separate abodes, [said Susan Stewart, a sociologist at Iowa State University who studies how families form and change over time], “is that middle- and upper-income women have their own money and independence. They are working, and can live on their own.”

And — most important — this, also from Stewart:

“The complexity of families is the real story. Family life is not what it was. The divorce rate” — roughly half of all first marriages still end in divorce — “has been high and stable since the 1980s. The majority of these people go on to marry or cohabit. Then there’s the change in custody patterns, with more and more fathers desiring more time with their children, if not full or shared custody. The traditional family — the married-couple-biological-children family — is in the minority.”

November 17, 2010

Unstoppable: Q&A with author Lauren Ruotolo

Filed under: books, issues — posted by Paula @ 11:06 am

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laurenruotolo2Lauren Ruotolo is a gorgeous redhead with a great job–Director of Entertainment Promotions for the Hearst Corporation–a glam wardrobe, a cool boyfriend, and a hot new book about getting a leg up in life, no matter what size your legs happen to be.

The 4’ 2” Long Island native was born with a rare disorder called McCune Albright Syndrome that has caused not just her short stature and the use of crutches but a host of other physical challenges, all of which she details in her new memoir, Unstoppable in Stilettos: A Girl’s Guide to Living Tall in a Small World.

In addition to being a funny (anecdotes about LL Cool J!) and moving autobiography about coping with and triumphing over her condition, Ruotolo’s book is an old-fashioned, Dale Carnegie-esque motivational work organized around themes like “Rejection can be your greatest ally,” “Being different is a gift,” and “Avoid the word ‘no’.” She encourages readers of all abilities to get over self-doubt, self-consciousness–just get over themselves, period–and create happiness on their own terms.

laurenruotoloWe spoke to the vivacious author at her office in the Hearst Tower.

So, the advice—both life- and dating-related—in your book is geared towards a mainstream audience.

Right.

I’m wondering if you have any specific dating advice for people who have physical challenges or physical differences.

I think that the first piece of advice–and it’s not just for people with physical disabilities or mental disabilities–is that you have to love yourself in order for someone to love you. That was something that I had to learn–that I had to love myself the way that I wanted to be loved by somebody, and I had to learn to be comfortable with knowing that I am different from other people, that my body looks different, that when it comes to sex or being intimate with somebody that it’s going to be a little bit different, so I think that I had to understand all those aspects and love every aspect of who I was before I could allow somebody in. I was always so insecure about it.

And I think that you become insecure when you’re dating, anyway–everybody is insecure! But it really becomes difficult when there’s something different about you. I hope that I teach in the book–for people to really love themselves–and, like I said, love themselves like you want to be loved.

Your experiences with online dating were not very positive.

No! (Laughs.) Not at all! Oh my god, it was such a nightmare! I hope to never have to do that again in my life. When it comes to online dating, yes, you want to put yourself out there, and put as much information about yourself up front. But as I wrote in the book, how I have always seen myself is not really as a “handicapped” person. I knew that if I presented myself as a girl walking with crutches, that’s all anyone would see, and I would be labeled as a “Girl With Crutches”…

You mention in the book that you entered therapy, and the key lesson there for you was acceptance. How would you define “acceptance”?

Acceptance, for me, was when I stopped hiding. I said, “I love myself, I have a family who loves me, I have friends that love me, and the next man I meet is gonna love me for me and I’m not gonna hide behind a barstool, and I’m not going to hide behind a photo online. I’m just gonna put myself out there and see what happens.”

And I did–I met [current live-in boyfriend] Nelson on a staircase. So it was that acceptance and getting rid of that insecurity in my head that got me there. I was always so strong in so many other ways—but when it came to relationships–well, like I said, I think everyone has these fears. Because society is like, all right, you get to a certain age, girls, and you gotta find that husband, and you gotta have babies, and that’s your life! When you’re a child, you dream about your wedding–you know, there’s this idea promoted by magazines, especially here at Hearst, and at Seventeen magazine, that they’re like two of the greatest moments in a girls’ life: her prom, that she’ll always remember, and her wedding.

“Who are you gonna take to your prom? Who are you gonna marry?” (Laughs) So it’s just always a constant conversation that makes us all nervous, but we all have to accept who we are, and that was really what I learned in therapy.

The wedding thing–is that something that has been in your mind pressuring you, or have you let that go?

I think as Nelson and I get closer, and as I get older, it’s something that I’ve thought about a lot more often than I ever did in my life–

–but, because you have the relationship–

Right, because I have the relationship–

–not because you’re thinking about the dress.

Exactly! (Laughs) Well, now that I’m in the relationship, I do think about the dress!

Ha! Tell me about Glamour Gals Foundation.

Oh, Glamour Gals is such a great organization. It’s an intergenerational organization that brings teen girls and elderly women together. The teen girls provide complimentary makeovers and facials and, more than anything, companionship to the elderly women.

My great-grandmother was in a home, so I know–when I would come visit, she would want to get dressed and she would want to put lipstick on and make herself presentable. With women, from the time we’re three years old, we want to wear lipstick ‘til the time we’re 93. We want to wear makeup! It just makes you feel good. And I think that it’s such a great opportunity for community service for girls. You know, when else are you really going to teach them that there are these wonderful older women out there, unless they have somebody in their family. And I think it really makes teens feel good about what they’re doing, and obviously the ladies feel great about themselves. So I’m really happy to be part of the organization.

The way that I found out about it was when my article in Marie Claire came out in March of 2009. The president and founder Rachel Doyle read it and contacted somebody here at Hearst called Susan Schultz who was on the advisory board and was like “Do you know this girl? I would like to nominate her for our Glammy, for most glamorous gal of the year.” And they did, and I accepted, and it was such a wonderful honor!

And now I’m on the advisory board, and I’m heading up their first gala in February.

Do you have any plans for a follow-up book?

I really want to do a children’s book. Children—at least from my understanding and the research that I’ve done on the street where children stare at me—don’t see racial differences these days because it’s everywhere. So, they have black friends, they have white friends, they have Puerto Rican friends, they have Chinese friends, and they don’t see the difference anymore, which is wonderful. But they still see the obvious physical differences of people with different abilities. And I think parents get nervous because kids are just outspoken. Not because they’re mean, because they just want to know!

They see somebody who’s different, and say, “Mommy, why is that lady so short?” or “What are those shiny things that she walks with?” And parents get embarrassed. And I see a lot of times where the parents are like “Shh!” or they just pull them away, and they don’t wanna notice it.

And that’s not the way. I really want to help children understand those differences.

(To read more about people living with short stature, click here.)


November 4, 2010

Still ranking on Internet dating? Really?

Filed under: issues — posted by Breakup Girl @ 12:28 pm

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Folks, this is getting as old as the people who allegedly lie about their age on the Internet. Are we really still slamming internet dating? It’s kind of like saying cell phones are bad, or “technology.” In the latest crabby smackdown, Rhodri Marsden, writing in The Independent, “reveals” the “truth” about Internet dating: things don’t work out more often than they do. Stop the presses? Because um, that is also true of bricks-and-mortar dating as well — it’s probability, not cynicism — not to mention, well, life. Saying that he has — aha! — found people who’ve been bruised by Internet dating! is like saying he’s found people who have been bruised by…dating. Duh. Everyone said it was handy. No one said it was magic.

To be sure, there are differences, concrete and ineffable, between dating online and IRL. Each has advantages and disadvantages. The fact that you can likely “meet” more people online than off does translate into more rejection: again, that’s math. And the Internet probably makes for more colorful before/after bait/switch experiences, but that’s because of the built-in online -> real-life progression; that’s story structure, folks. (Said it before: you mean all the people you meet on singles hikes tell the truth from day 1?) So to throw the Internet babes out with the bathwater is, to put a fine point on it, just dumb. So, too, is — if you’re single and would like to change that — not making Internet dating part of a diversified meeting-people portfolio.

So, enough. I’m outta here. Because BG spends some of her time online, and some of her time “getting out there.” See?

(h/t The Awl)

November 2, 2010

Vote!

Filed under: News, Superheroes, issues — posted by Breakup Girl @ 10:14 am

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According to this analysis, Superman is a moderate Republican, Wonder Woman a socialist, and Hulk “just want to be left alone” (libertarian). Whatever your leaning, please get out and vote. In a way, it’s your civilian superpower: please wield it (ideally, for good). If you haven’t already, learn about candidates, find your polling place, and remember, voting is a Breakup Girl issue. These folks may have a direct say in:

• how you learn about sex

• how you protect yourself if you have it

• education and law enforcement behind healthy relationships

• what you do with and how you’re able to take care of your body

• how much money you have to spend on dates (or “spa days” with numero uno)

• and, of course, whom you can marry

Please vote for candidates who make choices as sound as you do!

Bonus: Breakup Girl in … Red vs. The Blues!

October 28, 2010

How sex ed saved my life

Filed under: Treats, blogs, issues — posted by Breakup Girl @ 10:07 am

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In case you didn’t already know this, Scarleteen is the source for real sex education in the real world. It’s deserving of a shout-out of far more than 140 characters; it’s run and supported by people “who want better for young people than what they get in schools, on the street or from initiatives whose aim is to intentionally use fearmongering, bias and misinformation about sexuality to try to scare or intimidate young people into serving their own personal, political or religious agendas.” And right now, there’s a extra push for cash going on to help Scarleteen keep doing the honest, empowering, and irreplaceable work they do. Read recent testimonials such as “How Scarleteen and Sex Ed Saved My Life,” and “Accentuating the (Sex) Positive: Discovering Scarleteen” — and maybe you’ll be inspired to show Scarleteen a little love yourself.

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