Miss Misconception Says Sexism is Gross

Jumping right in…I have had a hell of a day. I made over $1,000 for the coffee shop today in drinks and pastries, and took home 10% of that via my pay. I had the conversation the other day with Ken that it is not myself I (and pretty much everyone else) am working to support. I am working to support the upper crust. Perhaps they have earned their place up above us peons, but that is neither here nor there. The fact of the matter is that I’m working to support faceless entities in their wealth with my blood, sweat and tears. In return, I am paid just enough money that I can keep afloat to continue working for them. This is not just my company. This is not just me. This is nationwide. And (sorry) raising the minimum wage isn’t going to help…

This message has been brought to you by AnnaRK.

Moving on…There are some other unsettling issues that came across my consciousness today that I feel smack of a certain intolerability that I would like to share them with the readers. Not that anything can really be done about any of this, but I feel that knowledge is powerful, and perhaps if your eyes are opened like mine were today, then perhaps we can work towards solution on these. i.e. maybe this infuriating shit won’t happen years from now. Ever hopeful. 

First on the docket was the reminder I got at 8 a.m. this morning that sexism is alive and well. And I got this wake up call from another female who not only realized what she was doing, but thought it a kind of funny irony. It made me feel like spiders were crawling all along my open flesh.

This woman was telling me about a new hire she had brought on to her company, and how she had terrible news about this new hire. Her face, her body language, and her manner conveyed the worst. The woman said to me that she had found out that this new female hire had a health condition, and I was sure that this lady she had hired had terminal cancer or something even worse. 

Imagine my surprise when the company manager revealed to me that her new worker did not have a life threatening illness…no. Her “health condition” was that the new hire was pregnant. The company manager (Reminder: she’s a woman too) let me know that if she had known that this potential hire was pregnant, she would have not hired her. 

Wow. I was honestly speechless. I had heard things like this went on, but I somehow didn’t think I’d ever witness it. In my bubble of naivety, I thought, surely…women aren’t discriminated against getting a job because of what is or isn’t in their womb? I WAS WRONG. And I do understand running a business and picking the best qualified candidate for the job and for the company assets. But, this new hire was chosen because her merits DID co-align with the job description, and yet if she had revealed her personal life, she would have been tossed on the “no” pile as quick as anything. It’s disgusting. It’s even more disturbing because you would think a female company manager would understand the opposition that women face within the workplace and would take this into account.

But, there is sort of a happy ending. Because the young woman whom the company manager was discussing, is hired and she can’t be let go unless she does something that merits her unemployment. Did I mention that this young woman who is pregnant is only 19? Call me idiotic, and perhaps I am to be blogging about this at the risk of someone reading this and connecting the dots, but I’ve got a little more compassion for my fellow humans. It’s not charity, but it is a certain decency that I think got swept away in this instance. I wish this young woman the best of luck and hope that she can prove herself to move up the ranks to where she can assume the job of this company manager and prove to the motherfuckers that a woman is NOT her womb.

Issue no. 2: I should no longer be surprised, but I think my sense of wonder just has a really bad memory. I went into the used book store yesterday to sell a plethora of cds. It was a semi-difficult trip because I was selling cds that had been with me since I began my cd collection in middle school (the horrorshow that all was). Indeed, I sold to the used book store the very first cd I ever received: Faith Hill’s “This Kiss.” Not really a particular gem, but it had sentimentality. Along with it went cds that altogether totalled to hundreds of dollars spent, and the memories attached to their purchase and journey alongside me from every move I’ve made around this small small town. 

It was a difficult thing to put these cds in the box and essentially give them away. They felt like a part of me. They weren’t just property, they were my thoughts, my feelings, my nostalgia that had shaped and molded my blank clay adolescence into the sassy, coffee-slinging feminist doodle-bug crazy that I’ve become. (Yay?) Yet, as soon as the cds had been dragged and lugged and worried over to where they were such a burden to get to that used book store, I felt that letting them go was perfect liberation. The music is still with me. Every time I hear a Third Eye Blind song, I can recall the feelings it has for me. I don’t need the physical object to feel these emotions. And with the physical object gone and out of my life I am able to move about my apartment more freely, with more space, and when I move to my next abode (Anarchist commune, here I come!) I will not have something so silly as heavy plastic to hold me back. I plan on cutting back more and more on my material possessions. Giving things away, little by little, to unburden myself continuously. I’d like to use my scant monies to buy experiences and outings that create these memories that I can always carry with me without an added weight on my Earthly presence.  

The other thing that happened at the book store that made me just shake my head as I stood in the aisle was the Women’s Studies section. If I expected it to be better in the used book store than it was in a corporate book store, I was delusional. I found the section easily again. It was located right beside “Gay Studies,” which was actually four to five shelves overflowing with nothing but Gay Fiction. Because apparently homosexual non-fiction is just too hard for our town to stomach. And the woman’s studies section was ONE shelf of books that looked like a dour mockery of reading as a general concept. I’ll read some pretty insipid stuff just to say I have tried it, but this stuff was bottom barrel. Sigh. Enlightenment is just going to have to wait if you seek it out in a used book store.

Issue 3: (The last one, I promise) Regular readers of the blog will note that I made an announcement last entry. I declared my status as “taken,” and I did so because I believe it is a matter of respect for the other person to make your intentions known in these things. The other end of the coin is that those outside your relationship SHOULD respect your wishes when you make such a status change. Well, I guess this entry is just going to be littered with misconception after missed conception (see what I did there?). Because, the male friends I have in my life just don’t seem to get it. I don’t feel comfortable going over to your house for you to cook me grilled cheese and watch a movie together now that I’m seeing someone. When you push the invite, over my suggestions that we meet up at a public place for hangs, it shows that you don’t respect me, you don’t respect my intentions, and you don’t respect my man. If you did, you would understand that I’m giving you a “soft no” that is really important to pick up on.

I’m not a girl who has a problem with hanging out with male friends once I have entered a relationship. As Erasure says: People are people. And I trust myself to behave appropriately according to my beliefs even when I’m not held to any accountable standard. But, there’s tact. And you just don’t put yourself in situations where you are with a single dude friend at his apartment and he’s cooking you dinner. They make documentaries about this kind of thing!

The problem isn’t my guy friend necessarily. He, and many other guys, don’t understand that pushing someone against their will and their stated intentions into situations is not only “not cool, bro” but it’s borderline predatory. Repeatedly messaging a woman after she has pointedly ignored you and/or made no attempts to further any kind of friendship/relationship between you too, showing up at her apartment after she has repeatedly made excuses not to hang out with you, and constantly making her make these awkward refusals to hang out with you in solitary situations is not good. And yes, this has ALL happened to me, and it has ALL happened again since I made my declaration of being in a relationship. Speaking up and out about my wishes and my intentions fell on deaf ears that seemed to take my message as license to try harder to stake some kind of claim on me.

I read an article this week where this behaviour was denoted as acceptable because it fell under the category of socially awkward. Believe me, socially awkward happens. But the difference between socially awkward people and predatory creepers is that the former party will backtrack as soon as they realize they have made an incorrect move, statement or action as to put another person at unease. The predators and creepers will not backtrack. They will march on, and use the “socially awkward” or scapegoat of the offended party in question and their “unclear message” as reason to continue these violations.

I enjoy being friends with this guy, and I like talking to him about pop culture. He doesn’t realize that he’s creating this wall between us where I want to avoid him and his friendship because of the awkward corner he wants to trap me in. Here’s an article that highlights it a bit better than I am: http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2014/03/socially-awkward-isnt-an-excuse/

So, my question is, do guys have to deal with women endlessly hounding them for access to their private time and space when they have made known that they expend their romantic affections solely on one person? Maybe I’m complaining about first world problems, but it’s just exhausting.

Alright, that’s it. My rant on today’s vicious realities has reached its end. Thanks for reading, and please send me some comments. I’d love to hear other perspectives on these issues.

-Anna R. Kotopple

Women’s Studies Victims

I take the title of this blog from an Of Montreal song of the same name, and while the song lyrics from it have nothing much to do with this blog, the sentiment is within the same vein. It’s the idea that got me started thinking about things, and has inspired enough material to form a lengthy blog post. Here’s the question I got stuck on last night: can someone be a victim of a women’s studies student? I think so. As much as the feminist needs to be heard and the issues addressed that they speak to, I think we can alienate and drive away would-be supporters with an offering of a  fist where an open hand would suffice. 

Consider this scenario…I was killing a few hours in the bookstore last night, and found myself in the women’s studies section. Haunting the bookstore on an almost daily basis for the past three years, I honestly had never run across this section. And why is this? Am I just the pretentious sort that thinks I’ve got a firm enough grasp on the issues within to not need any more source material? Perhaps, but I’m going to cite some other reasons why I think I haven’t found this section, and why others are probably not bothering to waste the effort on this category. I’ll also get to the bit on the “victim” part of my title, so hang with me. 

So…here’s the Women’s Studies section…


It’s five shelves and, due to the limited number of titles (I guess), one of these shelves is used to display a couple of titles that may be of interest to readers of this section. It’s located in between the “Sports” section and the “African American” literature section. This is probably why I didn’t find the section for so long. And it’s my first gripe about the section. There’s four five shelf fixtures devoted to sports and only one to women’s studies and African American titles. It’s not even really subtle that the minority reads have been pushed back into this corner to die.

Further embarassment for this section comes from only a cursory inspection of the titles. Two of the four shelves that are “full” are actually the subsection of Gay Studies titles that have been lumped into the overall heading of Women’s Studies. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a full supporter of gay rights, and well…rights in general for everyone. But the connection between the LGBT community and femminism is something that sometimes backfires in the campaign for both issues. I can’t tell you how many times that mentioning feminism has led to the discussion of preference of sexuality or outright questioning if I am a lesbian. Putting the titles on women’s rights and gay rights under this heading is convenient perhaps, but irksome all the same. Even more frustrating for all involved in this scenario is that 75% of the titles under gay studies are erotica. It’s hard to be taken seriously in a cause when under the section’s literature it’s all titles of this sort. Those looking for factual information on the issues facing these minorities are not neccessarily going to be willing to wade through these titles to find something that gets to the struggle beyond the bedroom. (Sorry, puns…eh) But these are the titles that sell, because that is how the stock of bookstores works.   

Looking closer at the two shelves that are truly the women’s studies section, there’s some pretty raw farce at play here too. Three titles jumped out at me right off the bat. These are pictured below…




The first  picture shows, side by side, two of the titles that first envoked my ire and set me in motion to blog. The one of the left is titled “Mistress,” and is a history of “the other woman” throughout the ages. Awesome. When I send someone to the Women’s Studies section, the first thing I want them seeing is NOT a book on how a  few bold broads commandeered other women’s husbands. Not even touching on the fact that these women probably were not fully at fault in their extramarital endeavors, it’s just not really something that screams empowerment and women’s rights. Quite frankly, it’s the opposite, and it’s almost catty to have it in this section. When I think about being a strong and independent woman, I don’t feel the need to look at another woman’s man. Being a mistress or a cuckold is not something to really get enthralled with. 

And then there’s the book beside “Mistresses,” and here’s where I’m on a bit of ground less firm. This title is called “Sexy Feminism.” I’m all for the adjective “sexy.” When someone tells me I look sexy, I take it as a great compliment, and it makes me feel pretty badass. Because “sexy” is a charged word, and it’s something that women are seeking (sometimes shamelessly I’ll admit) to add to their definition. I also identify with the title of feminist. I take exception though when I see a book called “sexy feminism” because it implies that there is such a thing as “Unsexy feminism.” I’m not trying to be overly sensitive here, but my thought is that feminism CAN be sexy and it CAN be about feeling appealing in your own skin, but it doesn’t HAVE to be that way. If you want to be a feminist and do something decidedly “unsexy” like…I dunno, eat four or five cookies in one sitting, then you should be able to do that. I’m just thinking this title was a “how-to” guide on how to get to being a sexy feminist. It’s like you don’t have to work to get to this. If you say you are a feminist, I’m not going to question your sexiness. The two are separate entities, and coupling them works to damage both terms.

This being said, I think I may have been guilty of creating a “women’s studies victim.” I was having a discussion via text, which was my first mistake on expressing anything like this without running the risk of misrepressenting and not expressing ideas in a tidy fashion. And to the friend I was having the banter with on my thoughts about this women’s studies section, I felt later that I was being a bit of a “bra burner.” That is to say, I think my effort to represent feminism and be proud of the ideas I think compose it, turned into a tirade with what I think is wrong with it’s perception and limits. I’m frustrated when feminism falls short, and things like rape happen or a woman’s choice to make decisions about her body and her mind are blocked. I think this is why I get a little preachy when I see the roadblocks, and thereby I ignore that support or good elements that may underlie these. This friend of mine is a supporter of women’s rights (and that’s pretty sexy too, by the way), and I was not helping the cause by nitpicking on a statement he made that asserted that he thought feminists were sexy. So, I acknowlede his support and say that I don’t take back what I said, but I do agree feminism is sexy.

Even this feels badly articulated, and thus I admit my limits on explanation are sometimes reached. So I leave the question and topic open…how do we make the message of feminism heard, and not ostracize the supporters? How do we have rational discussion on the topic and not lapse into the complaining of what is wrong with the movement? I really would like to find out, because I enjoy talking about feminism, but I don’t want to be the person who can’t have a talk with someone about something unrelated to feminism and end up coming back to feminism faults. I’m trying to say, feminism is not my life, but it is my life. I’m hoping my co-blogger on this topic can flush this out a bit more, along with her throughts on the women’s studies section. I’m sure she can also speak more to the “Suicide Girls” featured title in this section, and why this gets us all riled up as well. Look for her upcoming rebuttal and such at brandidrown.wordpress.com    

And then there’s the last title from this section that really made me do an eye roll.


The book is called “The End of Men,” subtitled “The Rise of Women.” UGH. NO. The “rise of women”will not happen when the supposed reign of men ends. It happens when you stand up for yourself and you make your own choices and are not only allowed but respected as well. And my brand of feminism at least is not about dethroning anyone, certainly not about “ending” men. I love men. (Shocker? Were we not paying attention back in the gay studies parsing part of this article? ha) I think having a book like this in the section is the most disturbing thing I encountered. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: men are our greatest ally in attaining equal rights. The rights of one group should not come at the expense of singling out, destroying, or working against another group. Besides that, it’s just idiotic to think that women would be better off in a world of no men. A loving, supportive male partner to assist in your goal attainment and as someone you can support in their endeavors is a wonderful thing indeed. I look forward to the day that I can not insult a male ego by taking a guy out for valentine’s day or in some way put some role reversal on the “female privlidge” of the code of paying for a lady’s date and it not be something unheard of. 


I conclude this with the disclaimer of sorts that this is not in any way, shape or form meant to rail against the bookstore in question. The bookstore did not choose the selection of books within. The title list is dictated by sales. Sex sells. Ergo why there are several of these titles in-section. If customers would order-in other books and the demand for titles of more weight was called for, then I think the section would improve. This is where the consumer voice should come into play. If you go into a bookstore and do not see what you want, request they order it in. The people who read Duck Dynasty, Heaven is Real, and Glenn Beck sure do make their literary muscle known through buying power, and so should the other half.  

Well, this was enjoyable. Look for my co-blogger’s response at brandidrown.wordpress.com and please share your thoughts. I say with absolutely certainty that the only thing I know is that I don’t know. Meaning, I’m not the authority on this or any other subject and would love for someone to challenge me and change my mind. With only the slightest trace of sarcasm, I say: enlighten me. 

-Anna R. Kotopple