Oh, wow. I didn’t expect the response I got to my health/ body image/ food answer. I have a lot of messages about it — here’s just a small sample of what I found in my inbox. I’m not qualified to answer a lot of this, but I’ll try to point folks in the right direction.
This is not going to be an exciting text post.
1 - Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for choosing carefully what to put in your body, so long as you’re feeding yourself for health and not appearance. I don’t believe in dieting for weight loss. I believe in a food choices for a body that works great. And I will rabidly defend my decision to monitor what I put in my system. Once upon a time, it meant I felt bad for telling people no, I won’t try this casserole you worked on for hours because you can’t remember if you put ketchup in it and ketchup will make me feel terrible tomorrow at the very best and sick on your floor right here at the very worst so no. I would just eat it to be polite and then hate life later. Now I don’t feel like I have to justify my food choices, no matter how minor the consequences would be. The effects of food intolerances are cumulative, so that means every straw added will eventually break my back.
1a – That means that I often bring food from home when I go places, or I pre-eat before business dinners. I think part of being polite with my food strangeness is trying not to ask people to prepare something special for me. It’s nice if they want to. But I never expect it. And no. I never feel guilty. Don’t — don’t — don’t let anyone bully you on this. It’s your body you have to live with the next day. After a decade of living with food sensitivities, I’m really disinterested in hearing someone explain to me why I shouldn’t feel sick from eating x food or y food. I’m still not sure how it is people can’t believe a small amount of preservative can ruin me, but they will happily believe a tiny ibuprofen can cure a headache or a little SSRI can treat depression — magic with chemicals, people! It only takes a few parts per million.
This. So much. I cut out sodium benzoate years ago because it’s got benzene rings in it, and benzene is a carcinogen. But I pretty much eat whole foods when I can, and it works. I make my own yogurt, from fresh local milk in a glass container. I eat locally-grown fruit (very fortunate to live in a place where we have local organic heirloom apples nearly year-round). We grow our own vegetables. We make most of our meals from scratch. But I’m not as extreme about it as Ms. Stiefvater, and I’m thinking maybe I should try it her way.
When men talk of women and girls in terms of legal/not legal, what they’re really saying is “I already sexually objectify this child and would attempt to fuck her if there were no laws in the way.”
You can’t deny that is fucking scary.
Sometimes there are things that just sort of vaguely seem wrong, but you can’t put your finger on why…until it’s worded like this, and suddenly everything slides into place and you feel like someone punched you in the gut.
I suppose I will get slammed for saying this, but nobody reads my blog, so maybe it’ll just get ignored, which is almost as bad. But anyway. So when I was living in a really small town in rural Arizona one year, there weren’t any single women except this one lady who worked down at the coffee shop, who I thought was pretty and nice, and so I tried to date her.
We went on a date, and it was a little weird. She seemed kind of random, like she didn’t really know what she wanted out of the date. We had a nice conversation, and I liked her, and she seemed to like me okay, but there was a certain vagueness to the whole thing, like she was just trying it out. Which was perfectly okay, but kind of weird.
So I’m walking her home afterwards, and we are talking about various things, and it comes out that she’s eighteen. I had no idea she was eighteen. Her age wasn’t obvious to me. I was in my mid thirties at the time, and I don’t think I would have asked her out if I’d known she was eighteen, not because there’s anything inherently wrong with that, but it just would have been weird.
The point is, I literally had no clue how old she was. She didn’t look eighteen. She didn’t look not-eighteen. She was a bit unusual—usually I can make a guess as to how old a woman is. But the point is it’s not always obvious, and she doesn’t always say.
When I was in my early twenties, this was more of an issue, because I wouldn’t have thought dating an eighteen-year-old was particularly weird. And an eighteen-year-old doesn’t look much different than a seventeen-year-old, or even a sixteen-year-old trying to look mature. I tended to be attracted to women who were a little older than me, because they tended to seem more mature, but I did worry about the “jailbait” issue, because it seemed entirely possible that I’d find myself dating someone who didn’t tell me how old she was, and I wouldn’t know, so I would have to ask.
So when you hear men talking about this, it’s not necessarily because they are fetishizing sixteen-year-olds. It may be because they are legitimately worried that they might guess wrong, and that the girl they are dating might lie to them because she’s into them and actually wants to be sexually active with them. They might be completely fooling themselves that this is a possible scenario, but it’s certainly one I was worried about at that age. And no, it never happened to me (I had zero success dating until I was about 25, at which point it was no longer a serious risk).
"You’re born with a ton of fucks to give, so you spend them like a kid with a credit card. You give fucks about your friends, about your grades, about your fashion sense, about strangers’ opinions. You give way too many fucks about way too many things. You have so many. Then, as you get older, you have maybe 10 fucks per month, so you learn to budget them. You allocate fucks to family and career, but there aren’t enough fucks to give to the newest fads. Oh, someone at work has something they need my help with that’s outside my job title? I’ll do my best to allocate some fucks, but this month is pretty tight. Then, as you get even older, you’re down to 1-2 fucks per month, and those fucks are pretty damn precious. You give them to your family and your hobbies and your job, and that’s kinda it. It’s not your fault – fucks expire too quickly. I would’ve liked to save my fucks from when I was younger but I can’t. Then, you hit fuck insolvency. You’re getting like 1 fuck a year, and you have to make it last. So you go without, and even previously fuck-worthy things, you just can’t give a fuck. Some people run out really quickly, Some people have a fuck trust fund that pays out a decent amount even into old age. But at some point, the fuck faucet runs completely dry and you’re out of fucks to give. It’s just basic Fuckonomics."
Speaking as someone who’s maybe a bit further down the road, I can report that this is fucking nonsense. What changes is not that we don’t have enough fucks to give, but that we stop giving a fuck about things that are bogus. So yeah, we’ve seen a million fads come and go. Like smartphones. Smartphones were cool. Now they’re tools. I could give a fuck. I want one that works, that’s as far as it goes.
Music? I don’t hear a lot of new music that I give a fuck about. It’s not that the new stuff is bad. Some of it is very good, and I give a fuck about that. But I don’t feel any need to tie my identity to music anymore. So for the most part, I don’t give a fuck about it. What’s changed is not the amount of fucks I have to give about things, but the things I give a fuck about.
One of the things I’m happy about is that I give way more of a fuck about people than I used to. I think I have tons of room for improvement on that front, and I intend to make good use of the remaining time to address that problem. But people are what really matters, not fads.
illusionists busking illegally, shimmering lights disintegrating as they run
plant mages tending tiny rooftop and windowbox gardens
elementary school kids learning basic sigils on the playground
If this gets you going, you might want to check out the Alex Verus series by Benedict Jacka. Kind of dark, but not in the “main character is an asshole” way. Good female characters too (at least I think so; let me know if you disagree).
Oh fuck, so this is really upsetting, because I just erased a female author and touted a male author. In my defense, I’d just ordered the latest Benedict Jacka, hadn’t read it, and mixed the two up in my mind. It was really good, but not really urban magic per se, although the setting is urban.
The author I actually meant to tout was Kate Griffin, whose stories about the Midnight Mayor of London are fucking fabulous, in a very gritty dark urban magic sort of way. My apologies to anybody who followed this advice and was disappointed. If you like urban magic, seriously, check out Kate Griffin.
If men don’t have to be aggressive, women won’t be compelled to be submissive. If men don’t need to control, women won’t have to be controlled. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals. We should stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by who we are.
"Some men feel that too much responsibility for preventing sexual assault has been put on their shoulders"
We’re telling you not to rape people and you think the bar’s never been higher
Strictly speaking, the current narrative seems to be that men who aren’t rapists, never thought to be and hate rape culture are responsible for making men who are rapists or are active participants in rape culture stop. This is not a bad thing as far as it goes, but a little perspective might be in order: most of us men who aren’t rapists and don’t like rape culture have been on the receiving end of violence from men who are and have.
The most extreme for me wasn’t too bad—I was shoved in a closet and the door held closed because a woman I was attracted to, who was attracted to me, was of interest to a rape culture guy. I was held captive there for about an hour, while a party continued outside.
But aside from stuff like this, there’s all kinds of micro-aggression that’s directed at us too. As soon as you don’t actively exhibit hypermasculinity, hypermasculine guys want to use you as a way to demonstrate their own masculinity. I don’t know how it compares to catcalling, but it’s pretty awful. I’ve experienced it less now that I’m older, but when I was in my twenties and thirties it was really a problem.
So yeah, we get that rape culture sucks. But it is a lot more nuanced than just “men should stop rape culture.” And “men shouldn’t rape” is an absurd statement, since most men don’t. There really is no cohesive group, “men,” who can stop rape culture, and you can’t put out an all points bulletin to all men to stop raping. Putting it this way is sexist stereotyping.
Part of what I liked about Emma Watson’s speech to the U.N. is that she gets this, and she didn’t just say “men ought to shape up.” She acknowledged that there are real problems with our hypermasculine culture as it relates to men, not just as it relates to women.
She’s now getting threats and all manner of bullshit nastiness. Therefore, I propose that everyone should reblog this video until the Internet creaks with the strain, and then a couple more times to make the point, and tell everyone we know to watch it immediately.
Because that is how we do.
It really frustrates me to hear this. What Emma Watson said about feminism was beautiful. My experience as a young man growing up was exactly as she described it. I think there are real problems with the way some younger feminists talk to men, because they lack compassion (perhaps understandably), but Emma really nailed it. The idea that the patriarchy is only bad for women is nonsense.
When I worked at a non-profit that handled suicide prevention, I had access to the donation records. Each month, a specific man donated 15$ to our organization. It was like clockwork.. same day, same man, he had been doing this for over 4 years. It always seemed odd to me but I never questioned it… until I saw a note attached one month. "For Noah- Dad"
his donation was once his child’s allowance.
I can promise you, they would miss you for the rest of their lives.