Medium: What’s the worst sex you ever had?

Medium: What’s the worst sex you ever had?

My first ever piece at Medium is about painful sex, consent, and desire. Unsurprisingly, it’s intimate and fairly graphic. You’ve been warned.

It will hurt so much that you’ll wonder if he’s putting it in the wrong hole. It will hurt so much that it will feel like he’s stabbing you in the vagina. It will hurt so much that you’ll stop long before he gets close to coming. And that’s how you’re going to lose your virginity.

When you tell your friends about it, you’ll lie about how it went. You’ll tell them that you were both nervous, but that you both enjoyed it. Inwardly, you are baffled that this activity could ever feel good for a woman. The space between what you just experienced and good — let alone orgasmic — is a wide, yawning gap. “This sex thing is pretty great,” you’ll tell your two best friends, feigning both a satisfaction and a nonchalance that you do not feel.

You will try again in the coming weeks — in fact, you’ll try many times, hoping that the pain was a first time thing. You’ll tell yourself that it probably hurt the first time because your hymen was breaking, which is highly unlikely. You are an ex-gymnast, and you fell with one leg on either side of the balance beam a few too many times for that to be a plausible explanation. Still, you’ll keep trying, and at your insistence he will keep ramming his penis on in there, even as your vagina burns and screams in protest, feeling like it’s tearing with every thrust. It will hurt enough that you wouldn’t be surprised if he pulled his dick out to find it covered in blood.

You can read the whole thing here. And if you or someone you know suffers from pelvic pain during sex or otherwise, I cannot recommend the good people at Renew PT highly enough.

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Thought Catalog: February and March highlights

Thought Catalog: February and March highlights

What It Means to Believe Dylan Farrow:

Here’s what it feels like every time we have the Woody Allen “But… His Genius!” conversation, or the “But… Innocent Until Proven Guilty!” conversation or the “But… She Could Be Lying!” conversation. Here’s what it feels like every time we have those conversations that implicitly (or explicitly!) excuse the people who have in all likelihood abused girls and women. It’s like being stabbed in the heart.

Every time we have these conversations, I think about my friend. I think about the girl she was and the woman she is, and my heart aches. I think about the hundreds of thousands of other kids, innumerable children, who have been abused in similar ways, who are enduring this conversation right now, without the comfort of one degree of separation that keeps me insulated from the worst of it. My blood boils.

Dear Cate Blanchett, Please Say No to the Oscar:

Come March 2nd, you will almost certainly be a two-time Oscar winner. You’re up against the likes of Meryl Streep, Judi Dench, and Sandra Bullock in the Best Actress stakes, but your performance in Woody Allen’s latest is, I hear, unsurpassed by almost anything that’s happened on a movie screen in years. I haven’t seen it because I don’t pay to see movies made by Woody Allen. Wherever possible, I try to avoid lining the pockets of people who, in all likelihood, have committed rape. I really wish you’d do the same.

What It’s Like to be The Ugly Friend:

I wanted to hug this girl and tell her that though you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise, there really are more important things in life than being skinny. I wanted to tell her that looking like a model will, in the long run, be largely worthless if you aren’t also kind, and thoughtful, and hardworking. I wanted to tell her that looking good — as others define it — in a bikini isn’t a talent, or a trade, and it isn’t a marker of your intelligence, or of anything other than what you look like in a bikini. I wanted to tell her that the skinny girls at the top of the food chain can be miserable too, because again, though you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise, looking “good” in a bikini isn’t the path to happiness.

No Makeup Selfies Are Brave… Kinda:

To get a sense of how integral we consider makeup to be to making a woman presentable, you only have to look at the masculine rejoinder to the no makeup selfie trend: cock in a sock, which is exactly what it sounds like. Unable to make a statement by taking off their makeup, since they aren’t expected to wear any (or indeed, socially permitted to wear any), men took off all their clothes, put tube socks over their penises, took photos of themselves, and posted them on the internet.

Thought Catalog: Who cares about whom Hermione Granger married?

Thought Catalog: Who cares about whom Hermione Granger married?

Last week’s column at Thought Catalog was about J. K. Rowling’s regrets about pairing Hermione Granger with Ron Weasley, rather than with Harry Potter:

Rowling said in the interview that she hoped she wasn’t breaking too many hearts when she expressed her regret and bringing these two beloved characters together. My heart’s not broken, even though I do think that of all the romance threads in the novels, Ron’s and Hermione’s is the most realistic — the epilogue, as always, notwithstanding. I’m just not that interested in who Hermione marries. I don’t care if it’s Ron, or Harry, or Hagrid’s runty giant half-brother Grawp. Hermione, when asked what she was planning to do after she graduated from Hogwarts, said, “I’m hoping to do some good in the world.” In my head, she becomes Minister of Magic.

Here’s my case for Hermione for Minister (which is my way of inviting you to close this tab if extreme nerdiness is not your thing. It is about to get nerdy as hell in here, and I make zero apologies for that).

Assuming that there are very few lines of work for a witch or wizard to go into after they leave Hogwarts, and assuming that the best and the brightest go on to work at the Ministry, that’s where Hermione should be. She’s top of her class in everything, with the exception of Defense Against the Dark Arts, but given that she has destroyed a piece of Voldemort’s soul with her own two hands (that’s what the abovementioned basilisk fangs were for), I suspect the Ministry would give her a pass on her only-almost-perfect Defense grades.

You can read the whole thing here.

Thought Catalog: On the “Halloween costumes have gotten so slutty!” conversation

Thought Catalog: On the “Halloween costumes have gotten so slutty!” conversation

This week at Thought Catalog, I have had it with the judgement-disguised-as-feminism that characterizes so much of the debate about sexualized Halloween costumes:

Oh, good, it’s nearly Halloween. Time for our annual collective conniption fit over the continuing dominance of “sexy _____” costumes donned by young women, and increasingly by young girls. It’s a time when even people who don’t identify as feminists for the other eleven months of the year can shake their heads at how skimpy Halloween costumes have become, how every costume marketed to girls and women is sexualized, often to a point beyond parody. If you made a word cloud for every month of a given year, the words “whores” and “slutty” would be much larger in October than in any other month of the year, and that is saying something.

So let me get in early this year and say that if you’re planning to lament the sexualization of Halloween costumes by calling them “slutty” or, as these two women recently put it, “whorified,” don’t. Stop it. You’re not helping.

I want to be clear: for women and girls, Halloween has become sexualized to a point that would be laughable if it weren’t so worrying (Sexy Scrabble Board? Yep, that costume exists to be bought. It’s a minidress with a Scrabble board screen-printed on it). The fact that girls and women dress up, en masse, in skimpy costumes, while boys and men rarely do the same, suggests that there is a good deal of sexism afoot in how we now do Halloween. As in many cases, when it comes to “sexy” Halloween costumes, it’s hard to tell where social pressure and marketing stop and agency and personal decision-making start; it is foolish and insulting to imagine that girls and women are easily duped into the costumes they wear, just as it is simplistic and unfair to blame a large cultural problem solely on individual girls and women. And there are some excellent, laudable efforts to push back against the sexualization of girls, and to present an alternative view of girlhood, like SPARK, which objects to the use of “girls’ and women’s bodies as a marketing tool and a ratings grabber” (get ready for the usual October onslaught of cable news segments that titillate while pretending to inform, using the question, “have Halloween costumes gone too far?” as an excuse to use their seemingly endless B-roll of scantily-clad women).

You can read the whole thing here.

New York: Change my name, change my name

New York: Change my name, change my name

Yeah, that’s a Destiny’s Child joke. I have a piece at New York today, about why and how women change their names when they get married. Starting, of course, with Queen Bey.

In the days before the Grammys, Beyoncé Knowles ended the biggest week of her professional life with a bang, ricocheting from an a cappella “take that, haters” press conference to a jaw-dropping Super Bowl halftime show that drew near-universal praise. Poised for world domination, she announced her 2013 world tour the very next day.

It’s called “The Mrs. Carter Show.”

It’s the first time Beyoncé has publicly referred to herself in this way; her full married name is Knowles-Carter, but she doesn’t use the double barrel professionally, nor does husband Jay-Z, whose legal name is Shawn Knowles-Carter. Of course, Jay and Bey are exceptional, in that they’re known the world over by the one-word titles, but the thorny question of which names to use in which contexts is a problem non-famous women grapple with, too —particularly in an age when names are routinely plugged into search engines and “personal branding” is a career staple

You can read the whole thing here.

The Guardian: It’s good to see Julia Gillard tackle sexism

The Guardian: It’s good to see Julia Gillard tackle sexism

Good? It’s great. I have a piece at The Guardian today, about Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s rip-roaring remarks about sexism on the floor of the House of Representatives today:

This morning I woke up to an email that said: “Wow, looks like your prime minister fired her anger translator,” with a link to this video of Australian PM Julia Gillard’s masterful, righteous take-down of opposition leader Tony Abbott.

Abbott had called for the resignation of the embattled speaker of the house, Peter Slipper, who several months ago was accused of sexually harassing a staffer. Abbott called Slipper unfit for office, saying that the language in the sexually explicit text messages Slipper sent to the staffer were offensive. At that point, Gillard decided that she neither wanted nor needed an “anger translator”: she was going to handle this one herself. And handle it she did.

“I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man, I will not. And the government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever. The leader of the opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists are not appropriate for high office. Well, I hope the leader of the opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation. Because if he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn’t need a motion in the house of representatives, he needs a mirror.”

Gillard went on to list a series of sexist and misogynistic remarks made by Abbott himself – from questioning whether it’s a bad thing that men have more power than women to explaining a new carbon pricing scheme with the words “what the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing …”. Gillard remarked sarcastically: “Thank you for that painting of women’s roles in modern Australia.”

You can read the whole thing here.

The Sydney Morning Herald: The culture wars are back

The Sydney Morning Herald: The culture wars are back

I have a piece in The Sydney Morning Herald today, about the return of culture war politics in the American Presidential campaign:

‘The feminist agenda … encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practise witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” So says televangelist Pat Robertson, the man the Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, chose to stand alongside at a campaign event last weekend in Virginia. Robertson is notorious for blaming the September 11 attacks on gays, abortions and civil liberties advocates. And during the next day’s broadcast of his show The 700 Club, Robertson told a man to move to Saudi Arabia if he wanted his wife to respect him as the rightful head of the household. ”I don’t think we condone wife-beating these days,” Robertson said, but ”you could become a Muslim and you could beat her.”

At that same Virginia Beach event, Romney seemed to suggest that, if re-elected, President Barack Obama would remove the phrase ”in God we trust” from American coins. Obama has proposed no such thing, but Romney came out strongly against the imaginary policy. ”I will not take God off our coins and I will not take God out of my heart,” he said.

Between Romney’s appearance with Robertson, his implication that Obama does not have God in his heart, and concerted Republican efforts this year to roll back reproductive rights, one thing is clear: the culture wars are back. In truth, they never really went away. But Republicans were certainly pretending they had.

You can read the whole thing here.