As Featured on News Cult: Should Women Change Their Name When They Get Married? Let’s Discuss

I’ve always been fascinated by the topic of marriage-induced name changes. Especially as a feminist (not the self-professed kind who will vote for a war criminal just because she has a vagina, but an actual feminist). To me, taking your husband’s name seems a mere tenet of The Patriarchy. So it’s hard for me to justify. But maybe it’s not that simple. Let’s discuss.

To start, what are names for? Identification purposes, mainly. If we didn’t have names, people wouldn’t know how to address us, and communication might break down. Names categorize us—they indicate what family we belong to, oftentimes where we come from, our gender, etc. But more than just logistical purposes, I think names serve to construct the subjective parts of our identity. Like, when a mom and dad decide to name their girl “Cash,” it’s because they want her to be different from the average “Rachel.” They want her to live up to the name she’s given, and I guarantee you that as she grows up, her name will help shape her. There’s no female “Cash” walking around who isn’t tragically hip, effortlessly attractive, and mysteriously unattainable. Rachel, on the other hand, wears lots of predictably solid-colored cotton shirts, has no layers in her hair, and her favorite flower is a red rose (with some white baby’s breath thrown in if she’s feeling frisky).

Names mold our identity so much so that some of us even change the ones we were given. If people feel like their names don’t represent who they are—whether because they’re gendered (or, in my case, androgynous), have some negative societal connotation (“Dick”), or everyone who shares them seems to be a massive tool (like, why is literally every individual named “Emma” a complete narcissist?)—they’ll re-brand themselves. And while I’ve always found this to be a foreign concept, (although to be fair, if my parents had named me Mark Sinclair, I would’ve changed it to Vin Diesel, too—mainly because Mark Sinclair sounds like a stuffy accountant and I don’t think Vin Diesel can do math), I at least respect the autonomy of it.

But when someone changes their last name to their spouse’s, that seems like anything but autonomy. Why basically label yourself as belonging to someone else? And of course the burden to change the name befalls women—but even in the rare cases where the man takes it on (please see: Marco Saldana), I would still argue that it’s wack. Because it signifies possession. And last I checked, humano a humano ownership isn’t considered cool (anyone remember a little thing called slavery?). But seriously. Taking someone’s name is in essence taking on their identity as your own. Why is that necessary?

And back to the gendered nature of it, because it’s impossible to ignore—it’s not that name-changing is problematic just because it’s a way to mark territory, but it is even more so because it is expected of women and not men—and thus just one more way the patriarchy reigns. It signifies that a husband possesses his wife; that she concedes to his ownership by way of his identity. I realize this sounds like some crazy conspiracy theory shit, and that’s because it is! On its face, women changing their last names to match their husbands’ is precisely a methodology of imprisoning them in their gender roles—the docile, subservient, agreeable wives.

I call bullshit.  Why is this antiquated tradition continually practiced in our society? I, for one, won’t be changing my last name when I never get married. And I salute all who’ve kept theirs—way to be strong, independent women who don’t need no man’s name. It is principled stands like this, aimed at establishing equality, that define feminism. (That said, if you were born with the last name “Hitler,” “Bieber,” or “Seaman,”  then by all means, change that shit.)

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/should-women-change-their-name-when-they-get-married-lets-discuss/

As Featured on News Cult: How to Deal with PDA

FUCK PDA. But seriously—fuck PDA. We don’t want to see your disgusting bodies rubbing up against each other in ways that even zoo animals would consider unnatural. If you’re a PDA person, stop. If you’re with a PDA person, cut that dead weight. But if you can’t avoid it, because we live in a terrible world, here’s how to deal with it.

1. Splash water at it

Just hose the PDAers down.

2. Yell “FIRE”

Wherever you are/it is. You need to vacate the premises.

3. Join in

Try to get in on that action. Just start licking one of the people—their cheek is a 7-Eleven Slurpee® and your tongue is the straw (..?). They’re a child and you’re Puck from Glee (too much? too soon? too much too soon? ).They’re a chipotle burrito; (that we can fuck with). Just like get your juices on/in/around/about their juices. #givingjuicingawholenewmeaning #andprepositions #fulldisclosurehadtoGoogle”preposition” #couldonlyrememberthesquirrel/treeexample #alotoffuckinggoodthatdidme

4. Stare

Most people will get uncomfortable and try to get away from you if you stare at them. So ideally they’ll either stop the PDA or just leave when they notice your eyes locked on theirs. Unless they’re a voyeuristic freak, which now that I think of it most PDA people are, so this is a fucking pointless tactic. #ughhh #IDEFYYOU,PDA!

5. Wage a PDA war

Grab who(m?)ever’s nearest you, whether you know them or not, and start macking all over them. #twocanplaythisgame #wewillPDAyouintotheGROUND

6. Narrate

If these people are going to put on a show, it’s only right that you get to be the announcer. E.g.:

“And here we have Caitlin pouting and purring like an underfed cat while Nathan exudes his patriarchal, overcompensational gropes and groans in the most unflattering of light.”

Or: “Johnny’s going in for the win, folks—straight down the pants. Annnd we have CROTCH CONTACT. I repeat: crotch contact has been made. Are his hands clean? I’d wager not, but it’s impossible to tell until he resurfaces. Do you think they’ll stop when it’s their turn to order? Or will I have to explain the painfully obvious irony of us being in line at a taco stand?”

Or: “It appears we are bearing witness to a heavy petting session. There’s a lot of tongue happening—if you’re watching at home, you may not be able to appreciate the sheer level of moisture that’s occurring, but rest assured, it’s wetter than Bill Clinton’s dick on a good night.”

7. Protest

Exercise your civic duties and mount a protest so that they can’t escape you until they meet your demands or forcibly extract you. If this means you have to lie down in  a puddle of melted Dippin’ Dots and stage a sit-in in the middle of the roller coaster line, so be it. If it means you have to filibuster the movie theater all the way through the end credits, do what you have to do. If it means you’re forced to occupy the bar until the couple adjacent to you learns the meaning of GTFO, be a FUCKING PATRIOT AND DO YOUR JOB, AMERICAN.

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/7-ways-deal-annoying-pda/

As Featured on News Cult: How to Talk About What You Want Sexually

Honestly, I have no idea how to talk about what you want sexually. As a girl, I’ve always felt like sex isn’t for me—it’s for the guy. Because it’s easier for him, by anatomical definition, and because of the male-dominated society we live in. Our culture and media is overwhelmingly geared towards male satisfaction—sexual and otherwise.

I’m sure some of you are thinking “that’s not true!” and I bet those of you are men. And therein lies the problem—sure, guys sometimes have to go out of their comfort zones to get what they want sexually, but usually, it’s within their comfort zones, or within reach. Whereas girls have to take a 13 hour red-eye out of their comfort zone to get to the point of even possibly maybe hopefully beginning to get what they want sexually. Yes, these are generalizations, but they are also based in truth. And so the deck, once again, is stacked in the male’s favor, and the burden to accommodate is left on women.

So how is this remedied? I honestly don’t know, because my sexual history can best be summed up as, “unfortunate.” But I have some theories. The most important of which I think is to build trust with your sexual partner (I really hate when people refer to a person you have sex with as a “partner” but what else am I gonna call it? “Lover”? Sure as fuck no). This entails probably waiting to have sex with someone until you know them well enough to feel comfortable with them, and, furthermore, maybe trying to not have a billion partners at once. Now I’m not saying it’s slutty to have multiple and/or noncommittal partners—I have no value judgement to impart on anyone’s choice of their sexual partners’ quality or quantity. Butwhat I have learned is that sex is better when it’s with someone you can trust and care about, and vice versa.

This is probably because asking for what you want sexually is making yourself vulnerable, so while it’s never going to be completely comfortable, it’s going to be a lot easier when it involves someone you don’t feel like you have to play a part for, and who wants your sexual relationship to be mutually beneficial. Unfortunately, I think this quality of relationship is hard to find, whether because our society has made casual sex and instant gratification the goals, or because people really are just so shitty that a good one is about as hard to find as a hair of Donald Trump’s natural color on his head. But I’d say still hold out for that person who you’re going to feel good about communicating your sexual preferences to, because I think it really will be worth it. Alternatively, it may never happen and you’ll live a life of solo masturbation until you die, but you were doing that anyways so you really have nothing to lose.

Besides developing a nurturing, honest, open relationship with your partner, I think another thing that can help with asking for what you want sexually is some focus on exploring and accepting your own sexuality. Sex is often associated with shame, and I’m not really sure why (besides some hypocritical, oppressive religious decrees). I think a lot of us grow up feeling weird about sex, for lack of a better word, and like it’s “bad” or “taboo” or off limits. So you have to put in some effort (ugh I know) to undo that bias and work towards a more accepting, embracing approach to your sexuality. People like what they like. We all have different sexual preferences, and if you keep being ashamed of yours, you’re never going to have a satisfying sex life.

Try to think about what gives you pleasure, what you like/don’t like, etc., accept it, and go for it. Of course your sexuality is fluid and can always change, so be flexible, but also don’t be afraid to dive in and pursue what you’re into. The more you love and accept what you want sexually, the easier it’ll be to ask for that from someone else. This doesn’t mean I will stop mercilessly mocking people like the guy in the “Marriage” episode of Chelsea Handler’s new Netflix documentary who goes by “Sir” and lives with his female sex “slaves,” whom he names after “animals or food,” and who have to ask him for permission to sit down when they’re out in public, of course. But they’re entitled to do their thing and get off how they get off (and I’m entitled to write a thesis on all of the things wrong with it and think he has weird lizard eyes and maybe he should whittle his canines down and get the fuck over himself).

Another way to talk about what you want sexually is to just do it. Regardless of whether you’re in a super comfortable relationship or are even totally comfortable with yourself and your own sexuality. Once you start doing it, it’ll only get easier. I know we hate practicing things but it’s really the only way to get good at them—and just remember, this type of practice will lead to better orgasms! (Hopefully). Yes, it’s awkward to talk about what you want regarding anything, let alone sex. But make yourself do it, or be condemned to a sex life of nothing but being thrust upon for a few lousy minutes and then left in a puddle of primarily his sweat while he lets out smugly contented sigh after smugly contented sigh—and repeat.

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/talk-want-sexually/

As Featured on News Cult: How to Manage PMS

I’m hesitant to write this because I hate the sexist stereotypes that accompany PMS—that women are at the mercy of their hormones and go crazy when their cycles take over, or, worse, sync up, and can’t act rationally or be in charge of their moods, emotions, or actions. That we should basically be chained to a pole and locked in a shed until the Devil has left our body. I mean, it’s absurd. Like get the fuck out of here. That said, PMS is real, and it does have an effect on the mind and body (by definition—it’s called science look it up). So, while still refusing to comply with the bullshit patriarchal narrative that women are weak, powerless, and all experience PMS in the same debilitating way, I’d like to provide some tips that I’ve found helpful in managing the effects PMS can have on hormone levels and consequently mood and energy (physical and mental).

Don’t fight the tears

Embrace them. You may have the urge to spontaneously burst into tears, and you won’t necessarily understand why, so just let it flow. When it comes to all things menstruation, you just gotta let it flow. Plus, crying is fantastic—a good cry is the ultimate way to feel better. I don’t know how, it must be physiological, but man, crying it out is such an effective way to purge the bullshit. So we’re gaming the system here—using the shitty PMS side effects to our advantage. Because we’re CLEVER, AUTONOMOUS BEINGS WHO AREN’T RULED BY THEIR ENDOCRINE SYSTEMS.

Accept the bloating

It’s unavoidable. Resign yourself to stretch pants for the week so you won’t have the constant reminder of a constricting denim waistband. Like, we get it, jeans, WE DON’T FIT IN YOU AT THIS TIME. GET OFF OUR BACKS. OR, OUR STOMACHS. WHATEVER, IT’S A FIGURE OF SPEECH, YOU KNOW WHAT WE MEANT. #don’tactlikeyoudon’ttalktoyourpantstoo

Cut yourself some slack

If you’re like me, you’ll feel sick and your mood will be negatively affected, so when you feel extra unwell or flustered or impatient, and then get even more upset or annoyed with yourself for feeling that way, take a breath and remember that you feel that way for a reason—it’s much easier to give yourself a break when you’re coming from a compassionate and understanding perspective. Or, you can always scream at the first person you see and/or throw a couple punches. I find that helps too.

Use it as an excuse

Hey, if there’s something positive to be gained from this not-so-positive-overall thing we have to put up with each month, we will take it and walk as slow as possible run with it. We hate doing anything anyways, so if we have what we feel like is a more legitimate excuse to not do something than just our general lethargy and apathy, we’ll use it like ketchup—all day every day (especially if eggs are involved. Which they are, kind of, here. HEY-O self-props for the ovary-related pun!). Sorry, looks like we won’t be able to make it out to that birthday party on Friday night anymore, or brunch, or your niece’s bat mitzvah, or that family friend’s funeral—we’re just not feeling very well. #ifnotfeelingwellmeansnothavingtosocialize,we’llhappilytakeaterminalillness #wevolunteerastribute #wedon’tknowwhatallthepeoplewithZikaarecomplainingabout #they’vegotitmade #pleasenoticetheotherpregnancy/femalereproductivesystem-relatedtie-inviatheZikareference #I’mabortingit

Welcome it

With every round of PMS comes the sigh of relief you get to breathe knowing you’re not pregnant. Unless you’re trying to get pregnant, in which case, sucks for you! But for the rest of us who realize we’d make terrible parents, plus the planet really doesn’t need more people rn (thank you, Duggars), it’s time to celebrate. I suggest throwing yourself a party every month. You can get customized red M&Ms that say “PMS” on them, and balloons that say “It’s Not a Boy!” and “It’s Not a Girl!” and, most importantly, a cake. I’d recommend red velvet.

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/yes-real-manage-pms/

As Featured on News Cult: How to Accept that You’re Dying Alone

It’s happening, guys. Make no mistake about it—you’re not going to die alone, you already are. So, to quote the infallible Paris Geller, “Find a ledge, or a way to deal.” 

Here’s how to come to terms with the fact that you’re dying alone. #settlein #denyyourfatenolonger

Body Pillows

Make great companions. Stockpile them. Also

Dogs

They’re the only beings who won’t just not actively despise you, but they might even like, or dare I say, love, you a little bit (it’s beyond any logic or reason. It literally makes no sense. It’s a miracle frankly. So just STFU and be thankful).

Books

Fill your home with them, because it’s not like that space is going to be used for possessions belonging to a significant other, or children, or any other consenting companion. Plus, they’ll tell tales of a better life—one you won’t ever have, but can fantasize about while you spend the endless alone time you have reading. And crying. And cry-reading.

Therapy

The only constant relationship in your life. Sure, you have to pay out the ass for it, but at least it will also foster the relentless reminder that you have nothing and no one, and need to accept that. Don’t worry, though—you can deny that fact, because it’ll still be there waiting to confront you in therapy next week. And the following week. Not the one after that, because your therapist has a family vacation to Hawaii, but definitely the one after that.

Give up hope

Of ever finding “the one.” SPOILER ALERT: HE/SHE DOESN’T EXIST. No amount of Tinder swipes is going to change that.

Pick up a hobby

Knitting, scrapbooking, alcoholism—whatever it is that takes your mind off of your eternal solitude. [Of course if you pick scrapbooking, you’ll just be filling binders with selfies].

Volunteer

It’ll distract you from the sad truth of your isolation, plus it’s helping people less fortunate (believe it or not, there are more unfortunate people than you), annnnnd it’s a way of forcing your company on others socializing!

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/accept-youre-dying-alone/

As Featured on News Cult: Why I Take Issue with Trainwreck and No Longer Love Amy Schumer

I know I’m late to jump on the Trainwreck, but unfortunately, the night I was supposed to see it in theaters, I was in a bad car wreck (killing it with these puns right now). I finally watched it recently, with high hopes, and was so completely disappointed. I thought Amy Schumer was a new kind of celebrity: one who defies the beauty standards our culture foists on us, one who says a woman’s value is not determined by her body, one who shines a light on the importance of the integrity of one’s mind as opposed to the size of one’s waistline. But, slowly, she’s proven herself to be just another vapid star.

In her Netflix special, Amy Schumer talks about how when she wrote Trainwreck, she imagined a ‘conventionally beautiful’ woman starring in it, but the producers, much to her surprise, wanted her to play the lead role. Which is great. Except that, as she then goes on to say, she was told that in order to get the role, she needed to stop eating. Of course this is a bit of an exaggeration for comedic effect, but she proceeds to talk about how she did, in fact, agree to the demands that she change her appearance to fit the role. She describes how the production got her a trainer and she stopped drinking and dieted. All so that she could pass Hollywood’s checklist for acceptable attractiveness.

Sure, she still wasn’t and isn’t a stick thin model, which she jokes about in virtually every bit of comedy she does, but she caved in to the pressure to fit a certain mold virtually thoughtlessly. She made herself “good enough” to be in her own movie. Like, at no point did it occur to her to say, “Um, no—it’s my fucking movie and I don’t have to look a certain way to be in it. Fuck you and your standards of beauty—I’m not going to do something that is entirely unlike me in order to be accepted by you”? What happened to her irreverent, defiant side? The moment Hollywood called, she decided to ditch it so that she could be a bona fide star? That’s fucking weakness if I’ve ever seen it.

And let’s talk about the character she plays in Trainwreck—the character she wrote. She’s a mess, so she’s relatable. She’s sexually liberated and just trying to stumble through life, following the bad example left by her father and under the influence of probably too much alcohol and too many drugs. That’s all great—no objections there. The problem I have with her mainly crops up towards the end of the movie (although her baby voice is pretty obnoxious throughout—yet another feminine trait adored by the patriarchy—a weak, delicate, whimpering, helpless little mouse squeak). At the end, she completely betrays herself in order to win over a man. She puts on her skimpy cheerleader outfit and does a routine for him, because he likes it. Never mind that prior to that, she mercilessly mocked the same squad of cheerleaders, in the presence of the same man, for being part of the gender inequality problem that plagues our culture.

That ending is honestly sickening. Watching her become the woman her boyfriend approves of so that they can live happily ever after is like a bad joke—that’s the trainwreck in the movie. I found myself recoiling as I watched it, looking around going “is anyone else seeing this??” (even though I was alone). Like, the comedian who talks nonstop, in a self-deprecating but also proud way, about essentially being conventionally unattractive in a world that shames women for being exactly that, turned herself into an endearing, innocent, puppy-like cheerleader who daintily fumbles her way through a bit to show the man she loves that she cares and she’s trying and she ‘wants to make it right.’ VOM. Seriously gag me. I know Schumer was portraying a character in that pathetic scene, but to pretend like this movie isn’t largely autobiographical would be like to deny the Holocaust. Plus, just because it’s a work of fiction doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a social responsibility to play characters that are inspirational and meaningful and deep, not shallow reflections of the messed up roles society and media encourage us to play.

And I wouldn’t have such a problem with her role in Trainwreck if it weren’t a direct contradiction of what she purports to be—I’m not the one imposing the duty to be a strong, down-to-earth  female role model on her—she’s the self-proclaimed, loud and proud feminist who colors outside the lines. If we were talking about Kylie Jenner, I would be like, “Oh, well of course she plays a weak female role. I mean, is the sky blue? Does a cat have a pissy attitude? Is Donald Trump’s hair the best gift we’ve ever been given?” But Schumer is so transparently two-faced in her involvement in Trainwreck that it’s a betrayal of not just feminism, but her act as well. Is it just me or does she reak of hypocrisy?

I mean, it’s bad enough that she publicly endorses Hillary Clinton, one of the more corrupt, greedy, war-mongering politicians in the United States’ recent history (in addition to the Repubs—that’s a given), but now, with Trainwreck, she might as well be the spokeswoman for Barbie, or tapeworm diet pills, or Fox News. As she says to the cheerleaders before she loses her dignity and picks up her own pair of pom poms in the film, she’s “gonna lose us the right to vote.”

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/take-issue-trainwreck-no-longer-love-amy-schumer/