Ask yourself these questions, and consider all the physical and mental possibilities before having sex.
Is your decision to have sex completely your own (you feel no pressure from others, including your partner)?
Is your decision to have sex based on the right reasons? (It shouldn’t be based on peer pressure, a need to fit in or make your partner happy, or a belief that sex is the only way to make your relationship with your partner better, or closer. If you decide to have sex, it should be because you feel emotionally and physically ready. Your partner should be someone you trust.)
Do you feel your partner would respect any decision you made about whether to have sex or not?
Are you able to comfortably talk to your partner about sex and your partner’s sexual history?
Have you and your partner talked about what both of you would do if you became pregnant or contracted an STI?
Do you know how to prevent pregnancy and STI’s?
Are you and your partner willing to use contraception to prevent pregnancy and STI’s?
Do you really feel ready and completely comfortable with yourself and your partner to have sex?
These questions were compiled by Young Women’s Health. Find this, and more information here.
I’ve thought about doing this for months and there’s still a part of me that’s uncomfortable with it, but I’m gonna be really candid with you guys.
I love my mother. I love my father. They divorced when I was four; my dad was injured on the job when I was less than a year old and cannot work. He gets by (barely) on social security. He made a work attempt when I was 12 and failed. He is basically on the poverty line. I cannot move in with him, and he cannot really help support me at all.
My mother is relatively financially secure, but we have … a very bad relationship in a lot of ways. Living with her is very, very bad for me. I was diagnosed with chronic depression when I was in middle school, and my mother is not at all compassionate about that when it comes to me. Living with her is toxic. When I went home for winter break, I was there for four weeks (two of which I spent interning in New York City, so it’s not even like I was around her very much) and hit one of the most damaging depressive lows I have in a long time. There were outside influences for this, but many of them are simply the facts surrounding my home life: I have no emotional support system there, nor any particular network to reach out for jobs, and my mother’s and my less-than-stellar relationship. I have tried telling her outright (as I have told my therapist and most of my friends) that I feel if I lived with her I would be suicidal within the space of six months, but she considers that melodramatic.
Right now, I am working two jobs (one writing freelance for a feminist nonprofit called SPARK, who do amazing work, and I am employed by my university and given a very small stipend) and the second one in particular is eating up a lot of my time. I am taking a full course load and writing a thesis and trying to find a third job that won’t make the rest of it next to impossible. I’m pretty sure - sort of - that I will be able to get a job in a few months to enter into come graduation, but right now I need help building enough of a cushion to get the fuck out of my mother’s house, because I do not want to be suicidal, okay. I’ve been there. I know enough about myself to know what will cause it. I don’t want to go back.
So there’s a Donate button on my blog.
Look, I’ll be real with you - there are probably better places your money could go, and that’s a HUGE part of the reason I’ve been debating this for so long and I’m still not completely comfortable with it. Comparatively to other situations I’ve seen signal boosted around Tumblr, I feel like asking is presumptuous and wrong. I know rationally this isn’t necessarily true because gauging one situation of need against another is … really hard, and subjective, but dude! I don’t know! Asking for money sucks! And yet I am asking, because I DID MATH and if each of my followers gave me fifty cents, I would have $750, which would be enough to start.
So. That’s why there’s a Donate button on my blog. It CERTAINLY will not be there forever, but I need help.
Thank you so, so much, in advance, if you can help.
Okay look, there has been a TON said about the difference between how male bodies and female bodies are policed in the media, but it is absolutely astounding how many people I come across who just don’t understand even the basics of these differences.
To make it easier for these people, I have constructed a SUPER FUN (read as: mildly depressing) game. Remember how they used to teach you the alphabet in kindergarten, by like, making you find the apple and asking you what letter it started with or some crap? Exactly. Let’s do this.
First: think of some men who do not fit “traditional” or socially-acceptable male beauty standards but still feature in TV shows and movies where their roles revolve around something other than their weight. Men like, say, Seth Rogan. Or Chris Farley. Or Jack Black. Or Danny DeVito. Or John Beluschi. I could go on.
Next, ask yourself: Do these guys get a “hot” girl despite their appearance or flaws in their personality? Because man, I can’t tell you how many times something like Knocked Up has happened to me in real life. You know, where my gorgeous, successful friends have sex with some asshole with no job and no motivation and decide to stay with him despite the fact that he’s a child in a man’s body. What does that hot girl look like? Seriously. Think about it. She’s probably thin, right? Probably white? Gorgeous head of hair that looks perfect regardless of when she went to bed or how drunk she was beforehand? Perfectly “natural” makeup? Boobs for days? Even if she’s not Katherine Heigl, she’s basically Katherine Heigl. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Katherine Heigl – she’s gorgeous – but I’m like 99% sure women who don’t look like Katherine Heigl are also in relationships.
Round Two! Think of some women who aren’t thin or white or have perfect hair or the skin of a newborn fairy-child, but still feature in TV shows, movies, and the like where their roles revolve around something other than their weight. Notice how thin women are always bosses of people, or wedding planners, or farmers or professional cat-wranglers, but fat women are always fat women. No matter what they’re doing otherwise, their weight is always the defining part of their identity. Can you think of any? I’ve got Queen Latifah. And she’s had roles that revolve around her weight, but at least she’s also had roles that don’t. Recently, there was a fat character in Bridesmaids whose weight was part of her identity but not the only part. In fact, other aspects of her personality (her forcefulness, her sexuality, her humor) were more important. Whether or not she was an altogether positive example of a fat role notwithstanding, that was incredibly refreshing. Can we get more of that?
I bet you can see where this game is going! Do these women get a “hot” guy despite their appearance or the flaws in their personality? And more importantly, is he genuinely into her? And I’m not talking about the farce that was Shallow Hal, where they strapped Gwyneth Paltrow into a fat suit and had Jack Black’s character fall in love with her inner beauty … while he was hypnotized and couldn’t see her outer self. The message there is that men need to be convinced of a fat woman’s worth, like it’s this huge shocker that she could be beautiful, successful, powerful, funny, well-liked, AND fat. I know. I’ll give you a second to fetch your smelling salts and recover from your swoon.
So who wins this game? I bet you could see this one coming, too. It’s the dudes. Dudes win everything, seems like. For one thing, there is a much wider variety of socially accepted male beauty than there is for women.Women, to be considered worthwhile and “hot,” have to be a certain body type. It’s not even about breast size or hair color anymore — it’s almost entirely about weight. Thin women like Emma Stone and curvy women like Christina Hendricks are generally considered equally beautiful by mainstream culture (as they should be!) while women like Nikki Blonsky and Gabourey Sidibe are commended on their bravery or their boldness if they wear a sleeveless dress. And God forbid Gabourey Sidibe go out without putting on her makeup one day – when Cameron Diaz does it, it’s because she’s carefree and natural, whatever that means. When a fat woman does it, she’s a slob.
Men do not experience the same kind of body policing that women do. They just don’t. If a guy is overweight, he’s dorky and cute. I’ve never seen any pictures of Seth Rogan in a bathing suit on the front page of a tabloid with giant letters deploring his “beach body” or lack thereof.
And yet a woman’s weight is seen by American culture as an outward manifestation of her personal worth. If she is overweight, she has failed as a woman. If she is overweight and not actively seen to be doing something about it (exercising for sixty-eight percent of her waking hours, eating three pieces of lettuce and a tomato for every meal, going to a nutritionist, going to a gym, going to a personal trainer, hiring a personal chef, getting costly and dangerous surgeries to butcher the shape of her stomach, publicly demeaning herself and her body so that the world knows she understands it’s not good enough), she has failed as a woman. If she is overweight and feels like eating a hamburger instead of a salad one day, she has failed as a woman. Her body isn’t her property, whether she’s fat or thin, but it seems that the more body she has the less the world is willing to let her have control over it.
I’m thinking about doing away with the “Read More” cuts, even though usually what I write is pretty long. I do them mainly because I don’t want a wall of texts on dashboards, but sometimes I think the effectiveness is then diluted. What do you think?
Great post - the way big women are portrayed in media is disgusting and degrading, and as a larger teenager myself I've felt the consequences of that image in relationships with others and with myself. Yet, while men are given more leniency when it comes to their bodies, it's a bit unfair to say they're all 'dorky or cute' if they're fat. I've known plenty of boys outcast for the same reason we girls are. Therefore I think it's better to strive to end all body negativity, for men and women both.
Thank you so much! I definitely agree with you. Body policing in the media affects all of us negatively, but I don’t think it affects all of us equally. It is my experience that as bigger boys reach adulthood, whether or not they lose weight is primarily their own concern; they aren’t constantly reminded that they’re “not good enough,” body-wise by every single media outlet that exists.
I just think that until there are either no magazines comparing women’s beach bodies or until there comparable articles run about male celebrities (I know there have been a few, but it’s like comparing a glass of water to an entire ocean), it’s completely fair to say that fat men aren’t stigmatized the way fat women are. This doesn’t automatically mean that I don’t believe in ending all body negativity, because I absolutely do. Believing that fat women are more heavily stigmatized than fat men and believing that all body negativity should end are not mutually exclusive, you know?
Turn off the TV for a second, if you have it on. I want to have a little bit of a conversation with you, and the last thing I want is for it to be interrupted by yet another weight loss commercial gimmick.
They crop up more and more often this time of year, don’t they? I don’t watch a lot of TV, mostly because I simply don’t have the time and I don’t have a set in my room at university and so I’m not exposed to a lot of commercials, as a general rule. Maybe that makes it easier for me to notice the sheer numbers of weight loss commercials when I’m home and I have the TV on as background noise. It’s especially pervasive during programming aimed at women, or on networks like Lifetime, and it makes me equal parts sad and angry. I mean, I understand why they’re there. Many women make resolutions to lose some weight in the coming year, and what kind of marketing department worth its salt wouldn’t try to capitalize on that? And making us feel ashamed of our bodies is far more effective now, when we’ve been eating holiday dinners and holiday desserts for a week or so.
But look, can I just tell you something? Lean in close, it’s a secret.
It is totally possible to be happy without changing a damn thing about your body. And moreover, there’s nothing wrong with it as it is right now: fat or thin, tall or short, differently-abled or not.
I know, I know. You’re probably thinking Who are you to say, blog lady?! You don’t know my life! And you’d be right about that, kind of. I don’t know the details of your life. But here, you can have some details of mine. I am 21 years old, 5’8” tall, something like 210lbs the last time I weighed myself (I don’t bother very often), and I wear an American size 16. My measurements are 44” 38” 42”.
Not a single one of those numbers matters one good goddamn to my identity, my personal worth, or whether or not I’m making out with someone on the regular. They’re just numbers. Do they really tell you anything about me that’s worth knowing? What if I told you instead that I love dinosaurs? Or that I can contort my face into expressions that would make Andy Samberg, rubber-face extraordinaire, incredibly jealous of my face-contorting abilities? Or that my extended family has six Boston Terriers, total? Or what if I told you that I lived in England for a semester, or that I’m in an open relationship with my cat on Facebook (because let’s face it, anyone who sees that and doesn’t think it’s funny isn’t anybody I want to be friends with)? Isn’t that a little more important (and a heck of a lot more interesting) than a string of numbers? Doesn’t it matter more?
I used to make the resolution every year to lose weight. I was convinced that nothing else I did that year would matter if I didn’t also drop 10 or 25 or 50 pounds. Who the hell did I want to lose this weight for? I actually did it once – I dropped 70 pounds and as a result I went down one pants size and started fainting. And I was not one jot happier or one whit more comfortable with my body than I had been when I was 70 pounds heavier. If anything, I felt worse: I had dropped all this weight, and I still didn’t like myself. What was wrong with me? Because surely there was something wrong with me, right, if I’d managed to dump all this weight and I wasn’t suddenly happier or more beautiful or more successful?
I really wasn’t losing weight for myself. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who has, which doesn’t mean they don’t exist but it does mean some things about women and weight loss, because nobody can give me an answer to the question “Why are you losing weight?” that doesn’t ultimately wind up being “Because I’ll be more attractive.” It’s an answer that tends to come in code as things like “Because my jeans will fit better” or “Because I’ll be able to wear a bikini,” but it all amounts to the same thing.
How about instead of a bunch of us making resolutions to lose weight – which is a nebulous and difficult resolution, tied into a lot of shame and self-loathing – we make a different resolution. We make a resolution that is better for us and better for our daughters and our sisters and anyone else who is watching our relationship with our bodies, and puts the focus on our health (mental, physical, and spiritual) instead of our weight. We make a resolution to love ourselves, instead. Because we are done with a culture that tells us we are never good enough, we are done with a culture that tells us our bodies are to be regulated and policed and shamed, and we are done trying to fit a standard of beauty that was not made by us or for us.
It’s not an easy resolution, that’s for sure. But we’re in it together.
Here are four awesome resources to start your year off bright: