“Keep Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries”

Charlotte Saul

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One classy lady and my tight blazer. Ruth and I go way back.

Reading about this Hobby Lobby nonsense yesterday resulted in a mind explosion so dramatic that a full day of recovery was needed before I could even think about opening a blank word document. I also needed to read up, because this is confusing and upsetting and political. I had to read through Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissenting argument; what a depressing read, because, while her points are really great, all I could think was, “how is this the dissenting argument, HOW in 2014?”

And when I wasn’t sad from Ginsburg’s 35-pages, I was fuming over the Facebook statuses. I had no idea so many of my “friends” were such birth control experts. Seriously, if you need some advice, don’t go to your gynecologist because I guarantee that at least 10% of your Facebook friends have all the answers you need.

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That is one high-res photo of some birth control. Thank you, Internet!

A self-proclaimed “feminist” (because that qualifier helps how?), writes, “it is a product that comes in many forms and varies widely in terms of quality and affordability…mak[ing] it relatively easy for a woman of even the lowest socioeconomic status to obtain this product.” Hmmmm. Thank you man who shops for contraception on the regular. Maybe he can direct us to the lower quality (it “varies widely,” right?) options or maybe he has some coupons. Don’t worry about what works for your body or lifestyle because there is a cheaper option. I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely interested in this lower quality birth control he mentions. 90% effective makes life a little more fun? One commenter on the status amusingly informs him that choosing birth control is not, believe it or not, like shopping for socks. I feel a little better after reading her comment and move along to another status.

“Either you’re for the government being involved in your sexual activities; which is what you’re advocating when you ask others to pay for them under penalty of law, or you’re for keeping the government out of your bedroom.”

I can’t be sure but I think the “you” in his logic lesson means “all women,” so here we have another man trying to break it down for us simple-minded ladies. Apparently having the right to choose the birth control that works for my body is asking the government to be “involved in [my] sexual activities” (anybody else cringe when they read that?). Everyone seems to be conveniently forgetting that more than half of women use these hormones for other medical conditions. Yet, Viagra, with its one sole purpose, is still covered. Phew. Hobby Lobby has no moral objections there. Hell, it even covers vasectomies. Anybody else wondering how those 5 old men would rule in a Viagra Court case…

This blog post is not nearly as constructive as I intended it to be, having quickly morphed into a collection of obnoxious statuses. But here is one last gem, to bring your blood to boiling point:

 “I wish feminists would actually admit that they aren’t fighting for ‘control over their bodies’ but the right to have sex with no consequences, because that’s what we are really arguing about.”

Blech. I should not even copy and paste that, right? Not worth my time or, more importantly, yours. The problem here is an entirely different problem. This guy reads the Hobby Lobby headline and sees it as another reason to hate women (it’s very clear that he has been hating on women long before the 20-seconds it took to retch that hateful bullshit). For him, all “feminists” (read “women”) are interchangeable, malicious, irresponsible, and maybe even horny. What is obnoxious and also incredibly frightening about this Court case is that is has created the Internet space for more people to freely spew off more misogynistic rhetoric. For all the blog posts, statuses, comments, tweets that have responded negatively to the Court’s decision, there exists another reactionary blog post and status that rages against women in incredibly hurtful and destructive ways. That sort of negativity is so toxic, breeding more hate and inspiring violence.

I know that all politically charged statuses include the Woman-Hater® and, quite frankly, Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 9.06.54 PMI’m surprised it took him until the evening to surface. He clearly has other things to whine about during the day. I feel so sorry for his mother/sister/girlfriend, throw something across my room, and move on.

Everyone has been so quick to rattle off his or her suggestions in an attempt to diminish the real impact of this decision; pick a different method, pay for your own birth control, or work for a different company. I know there are alternative options for women. But can you be so sheltered and entitled as to believe that these are real and viable options for all women? Even if a woman can afford the one-time $900 IUD payment that Hobby Lobby refuses to pay or if she has the luxury of finding another job (with benefits, I might add), the point still stands that this case is a massive step back in time. It has made access to quality healthcare more difficult and more confusing, as if employer-based healthcare wasn’t already so damn difficult and confusing in this country. At the end of the day, this is a restriction, a limitation, a denial. Five men have decided to restrict, limit, deny. And no matter what angle you look at it from, no matter how many times you read both sides of the argument, it is women who are negatively impacted by the Court’s decision.

How can a business have a religious belief? That is terrifying. How can the Court protect the religious rights of businesses, while failing to protect a woman’s access to birth control? Hobby Lobby can now control what contraception/medication its female employees use. The Court has taken the small power of individual women and handed it on over to Business, because in 21st century America: Business > Women.

All this anger has morphed into hanger (urban dictionary if you think it’s a typo), so excuse me. I wish I had the energy to craft a joke or pun about Hobby Lobby. Did that count? I’m going to eat a Go-Gurt and unfriend some *plural noun of choice.*

 

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Haagen-Dazs and Casual Sex

Charlotte Saul Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 10.16.57 PM

Criticized from the very beginning, Lena Dunham has braved it all, from the somewhat reasonable complaints of entitlement down to the appalling attacks on her figure and value as a woman. But despite it all (knock on wood), she keeps on writing. A couple days before this storm of ridiculous commentary about last night’s “One Man’s Trash,” Time magazine published an article called “The Problem with Lena Dunham’s Girls.

Writer and director Bill Persky is very concerned. Dunham’s constant displays of stress-eating and casual sex will surely pollute the minds of our generation. He asks readers to reflect fondly on his own show from the 60s, That Girl, apparently a terrific example of what us ladies should do.

I’ll save you the Wikipedia time. That Girl is a sporadically employed actress, who comes to New York City to make it big. I am sure it’s just full of meet cutes, comical misunderstandings, and overwhelmingly typical (and demeaning) male representations of young women. For example, the opening title. Enter perfectly coifed and luxuriously

Grab your pink kites and finest linens, ladies. Persky's contemporary female experience...

Grab your pink kites and finest linens, ladies. Persky’s contemporary female experience…

dressed woman. That Girl then skips around NYC with dumbfounded wonder, while an all too happy man sings “she’s everything that every girl should be” (and something about rainbows and popcorn, how 60s).

And here comes good old Bill with some incredibly helpful advice. “Instead of diving into a quart of Haagen-Dazs,” we just gotta figure out the cause of the failure and start over.  When That Girl “doubted herself, she got to the root of the problem with her smarts – not by sleeping with the pizza delivery guy.”

Is it a little difficult to hate on a man who sounds like a concerned grandfather, witling over the loose and amoral sexuality of today? No. Because not only is it rude and inaccurate to sum up Lena Dunham’s work as gorging on pizza and ice cream and then sleeping with delivery men (which I might add, never happens on the show), it is incredibly offensive to assume we will watch the girls and seek to emulate their actions.

Perhaps Persky views his own show as an exception (let’s be real, it isn’t), but when do we ever turn to TV as an instruction manual for moral living. Dunham’s script does not become a script for my life. Instead, like all television and like all forms of art, it produces dialogue. Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 10.34.56 PMHow can you not admire Dunham for that? Her sexuality and nakedness may frighten the old folks, but it is her nakedness that has inspired the healthiest conversations about body image and vividly questioned the subject of female representation.

You can choose not to like Dunham’s presentation of the contemporary female experience. But you can by no means invalidate it, because, at the end of the day, you are not a contemporary female. You can be concerned for young women, by all means. But you should give the women in your life a little more credit. You can rest assured that, like your granddaughters, I will not be showing up at a strange middle-aged man’s brownstone just because Dunham promised steak, naked ping-pong, and a good time.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I’m going to dive into a quart of Haagen-Dazs.

Art Smart: Henri Matisse

Screen Shot 2013-02-10 at 1.35.59 AMDespite everything I did in Paris last spring, I have never forgiven myself for walking away from the Centre Pompidou “Matisse, Paires et Séries” exhibit because the line was too long. The exhibit, which presented 49 vibrant canvases, evaluated Henri Matisse’s creative process of painting in pairs and series.

According to the MET, these paired paintings, “seen together…underscore issues that intrigued him at the time: means of representation, the role of color, and the question of what constitutes a finished canvas.” Reviews and word on the Paris street said the exhibit successfully attempted something new and was overall quite fascinating. Screen Shot 2013-02-10 at 1.34.58 AM

The advertisement for the exhibit “Matisse: In Search of True Painting” caught my eye today, when reading the New York Observer. A quick google search revealed that, after a stop in Copenhagen, the “Paires et Séries” exhibit has landed at the MET. Unfortunately, I unknowingly missed the exhibit in December, so perhaps it’s just not meant to be for me. But if you are a New Yorker or making a weekend trip in the next month or so, I have a pretty good feeling that this will be a stop you won’t regret. You’ve got until March 17th!

http://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-museum/press-room/exhibitions/2012/matisse

 

Wanton Sex Goddess Returns

Charlotte Saul

Bridget Jones is back. BBC Newsbeat reported this morning that Helen Fielding’s third installment of the series is due October of this year, November for us Americans. And I can see the looming criticism already.

Let me tell you how I feel about Bridget. I love her. It is not because Renee Zellweger’s rendition of Celine Dion’s “All By Myself” got me through high school. It is not because I can relate to a frumpy girl who undercounts her caloric intake. And it most certainly is not

"Am enjoying a relationship with two men simultaneously. The first is called Ben. The other Jerry."

“Am enjoying a relationship with two men simultaneously. The first is called Ben. The other Jerry.”

because I can relate to her lovelorn thirties, as my twenties have, so far, proved quite Firthless. I love her because she’s not got it all together.

I’m not supposed to like Bridget. I mean, she apologizes for her weight (gasp), she is white and entitled (how dare she), and the book ends when she gets the man, and a proud and somewhat arrogant one at that.  How do we reconcile these things when we live in a society  that is quick to pass judgment on the entitled before anybody else? A society forever encouraging us women to celebrate our bodies? A society that thoroughly rejects “the damsel in distress and knight in shining armor” trope?

I read the Bridget Jones’ books over the space of two months; they were my metro reads while working in Paris last year. At first, I was so ashamed to be seen with Bridget (that same kind of shame I force onto people reading Twilight in public spaces). But, that shame did not last long because Bridget and her quintessentially British self-deprecation made sense to me.

There is something about her self-deprecating personality that does not quite groove with the American-love-yourself culture. That’s where Bridget runs into trouble with critics. They argue that Fielding is working against the cause of the modern woman.

We are told, time and time again, that we are strong, independent women who should love our bodies, despite what the scales say. But we do not live in a society or culture that reflects that jaded lesson.

"So what do you think of the situation in Chechnya?"

“So what do you think of the situation in Chechnya?”

So, if Fielding is going to give me Bridget Jones that, like me, is mid-process, trying to figure out how to be a woman in a society that says one thing yet praises another, then yes I will embrace Bridget Jones with an open heart.

Deconstructing her ultimate happiness proves that it’s not Mark Darcy she has to thank. She may not have her shit together, but she is a resilient character, a resilience that is fortified, not by the money in her wallet or the men in her life, but by great friends and, at the end of the day, a good laugh at herself.

Click here as a further reminder of why you love the silly old girl!  

Michelle Obama and Some Topless Chicks

The talented and beautiful Beyoncé awarded "Sexiest Woman of the 21st Century"

The talented and beautiful Beyoncé awarded “Sexiest Woman of the 21st Century”

With a half-naked Beyoncé dry shampooing on the front cover, it’s hard to ignore the February 2013 issue of GQ: “The 100 Sexiest Women of the 21st Century.” Nobody’s really kicking up a fuss that Beyoncé has ripped that crown from the hands of 87-years worth of potential beauties – she is that damn gorgeous. With some surprisingly tasteful prose, the article touches upon some personal history, her upcoming album, and her other new business ventures. She is sexy because she’s “fashionable, elegant, [and] in charge.”

Unfortunately for the rest of womankind, this level of respect and class only applies to Beyoncé. The First Lady, who earns the title “Spousal Hot,” earns a somewhat sweet “put those arms on me and I could rule the world.” But why is she so fit and strong, you ask? Well, according to GQ, it’s all the “Bloomingdale’s bags.” Everybody was wondering what she did with all that spare time.

Michelle Obama (and Zooey Deschanel) aside, all are bikini-clad or topless. The photo of Megan Fox melting ice across her lips and the “Breasts of True Blood” section are no more

Megan Fox's full page spread in the February 2013 issue of GQ

Megan Fox’s full page spread in the February 2013 issue of GQ

shocking than the shot of Katy Perry and her whipped cream exploding breasts and the thank you to women for taking naked selfies of themselves. Quotes in favor of Kristen Wiig and Adele’s sexiness are left photo-less, because pictures of real women don’t sell magazines.

But just when you think you are immune to it all, GQ throws in a few contrived, racial categories.  This year’s “Hot Chinese Chick” is accompanied by the “Hot Indian Chick,” and before you start to think that there is potential for depth in those categories, some genius at GQ adds the “Hottest Blue Chicks,” just to remind you that this conversation is limited to surfaces only.  Said genius then thanks the brilliant men of Hollywood for managing to convince Hollywood’s mindless women that if they are blue, they are somehow not nude.

You would think that the combined creative genius at GQ could think of some better categories. Aren’t we past this in 2013? Surely degradation was not the intention here; after all, the piece allegedly celebrates female beauty. All women were considered for the other “main” categories. So, why the need for such trite, potentially offensive titles?

I want to go back to men leaping through the pages in tight suits and fine leather shoes. I prefer the GQ men that are far too attracted to themselves to change their metrosexual bible into a boob party. I suppose I expected the boob party.

But I didn’t expect it to be nothing but a boob party.

[Slams GQ. Bangs on table. Curses the media.]

-Charlotte Saul