Thoughts About Boobs

December 12, 2013 § 7 Comments

katehed

I’ve been thinking about breasts lately. Why? Well, I’ve just been confronted with small incidents that made me pause and think. But all this ruminating mostly comprises a mass of thoughts that have yet to lead to a conclusion, so I’ll dump them below in an effort to sort them out. Here goes:

1. Some men are obsessed with breasts

In forums and comment sections where people discuss things like “My husband has a small penis” or “NYC women don’t date short men,” you will inevitably find embittered straight men who compare these perceived physical shortcomings with breast size.

“Women can discriminate based on height and penis size but we’re seen as shallow if we won’t date a woman with small breasts?!??!” they rant.

« Read the rest of this entry »

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You Gotta Be A Diva

January 25, 2011 § 2 Comments

I’m currently taking an Editorial Writing class, which is basically teaching us to write our opinions persuasively and effectively. “Don’t be afraid to have an opinion,” my professor says. In fact, we’ll probably fail if we don’t present our opinions with enough punch and bias. Upon reflection, I find that I try to stay somewhat neutral in my blogging — wouldn’t want to offend anyone! But I won’t survive in this class with that kind of bland outlook. So as a preliminary exercise, I’m going to express my opinion on an issue that has bothered me for a few years. Of course, it’d be great if I could get people to agree with me, but because this is merely a rough editorial piece, eliciting any kind of reaction would be a boon. It’s a bit longer than the recommended length of typical editorials, but I suppose that’s because I have a lot invested in the backstory…

//

Sexism is pretty deeply entrenched in the Christian church structure. We have multitudes of complementarians to thank for the lack of women in the higher strata of ministry – pastors, deacons, etc. Worship leaders also come in mostly the male variety, and as far as I know, worship leaders are the ones that write most of the worships songs used in contemporary churches.

Although they compose compelling songs, they naturally do so within a musical range that is comfortable for them to sing, and my seven years of youth group took place under male worship leaders that fit worship songs to their vocal ranges as well.

My voice is naturally lower than those of most women, putting my range somewhere between the typical ranges of males and females. As a teenager in my church congregation, I was at a loss during many songs simply because they were too high for me to sing. As the boys sang comfortably and the girls stretched their falsettos, I forced myself to learn to harmonize in order to participate. I gained an invaluable skill, but it planted a small seed that blossomed into resentment as I grew older and became more aware of the male-female imbalances in the world.

Last fall, I served as worship team leader for the Asian Christian Fellowship at Mizzou. It was my first time being a worship leader, and because I had difficulty playing either piano or guitar while leading, I could only lead vocally while the rest of the team took care of instrumentals. Thankfully, one of my friends served as the team’s mentor as well as member, and his expertise in both playing guitar and leading worship helped things run smoothly on the musical side of things.

Excited to have such a privileged position, I went through my entire 250-page songbook and transposed all the songs I knew into keys that I could sing comfortably — I knew from the beginning that most songs did not fit into my range in their original keys. I didn’t expect this to be a problem until our mentor brought it up during a practice early in the semester.

“These chords make it too low for me,” he said during a pause in the playing. “I don’t think most guys would be able to sing it.”

This happened more frequently than I would like to recall. Each time, we had to stop and come to some sort of a compromise. Either we would tweak it a little, or he would end up leading it in its original key, or we would nix the song from the set list completely.

I realize that being a leader means being a servant, and to serve my fellowship is to consider their needs. If the guys can’t sing part of the song, then it’s not very considerate of them, is it? And I might be espousing my opinion due to years of built-up bitterness, but I believe that I have a point worth arguing.

Even when I was a vocalist on my youth group’s worship team during high school, I don’t recall anybody wondering, “Is this too high for the girls to sing?” In most worship services that I’ve attended, it’s either sink or swim. The women don’t complain because they’re simply used to this treatment.

Men, on the other hand, are raised with inherent privileges that they don’t even realize. They expect small things like a worship song to be done in a way that is most beneficial to them because that’s the way it’s done. It’s no wonder that women are more successful in the corporate world when they behave like men, or that women who participate in “manly” activities [such as watching football] are glorified vastly over men who enjoy “effeminate” activities [such as knitting]. In this society, to be a woman is still to be a second-class citizen, no matter how rosy and progressive things might seem.

During today’s worship team practice, we played “In Christ Alone,” a hymn containing soaring verses that are typically way out of my range. Though I’ve retired as worship team leader, I’m still a member, as is our ever-faithful mentor. Our current leader, PN, was a soprano in choir, but even she had to transpose the song down a few keys to get it within range.

Our mentor usually played it in the key of E major. Transposing it to D was still somewhat uncomfortable for PN, so we tried it in C.

“C is too low for me,” our mentor said after going through the first verse. “I would prefer D.” He also mentioned something about “most guys.”

Blessed with an eternally good nature, PN agreed. I bit the insides of my cheeks and swallowed the protests that rose in the back of my throat.

Did you not hear that we were struggling to reach the high notes in D? Did you not hear her say that it was uncomfortable for her? Do you think that just because we could narrowly squeeze the notes out that all of the rest of the women in our fellowship will enjoy hearing and following our high-pitched melodies? And do you really think that the men will lose that much from not being able to sing a few lines when our needs as women have been overlooked for as long as I can remember?

He tries. I know he tries. But I’m outlining a larger issue here. It’s tiring to carry around this resentment, which is why I’m finally laying it out now. I don’t think anyone cares about this as much as I do, and if I have to come under fire for my opinion, then so be it. I would love to have kind thoughts and think lovingly of my brothers in Christ all the time, but in this area, it’s about time they tried putting us first.

Equal Opportunity

October 25, 2009 § 3 Comments

Excuse me, Yahoo?

It’s every woman’s worst relationship fear — that her man is cheating.

What, then, is a man’s worst relationship fear? That his penis will get “snipped off” in his sleep by his vengeful partner once she finds out?

We’ve all heard the statistic: half of all men cheat. And some experts say that number is even closer to three quarters. Could it be happening to you?

Well oh my goodness, men are that bad at controlling themselves? COULD it be happening to me?! Thanks for the helpful advice, Shine: Yahoo! Your female-targeting “service journalism” doesn’t make me paranoid at all! At least you’ve given me hope that it’s possible for cheating to help my relationship.

You know what these women’s websites [and, by extension, magazines] lack? A section dedicated to pictures of gorgeous, partially-undressed men. Dieting? Check. Parenting? Of course. Pecs and biceps? Only on gay websites.

I think one reason I like Kpop culture so much is that they have equal objectification. That doesn’t make it right, of course, but it’s certainly difficult to fight. On the other hand, I suppose it’s good that American women are not spending all of their time looking up pictures of naked men.

This isn’t necessarily a coherent blog entry, but I wonder if all men are attracted to the women that the mainstream puts up on pedestals. For example, there are many women who think John Mayer is basically the sexiest man alive, but he is completely ugly to me.
I had to buy the November issue of GQ for magazine editing class, and the cover stared me down uncomfortably. Would all straight men have a positive reaction to this picture? I wondered.

Not sure where all this is going. I simply don’t want to start on my massive pile of homework — I’d rather ogle my newest mini-obsession [he’s of age! I checked!] and think of Halloween costume ideas…

Futile

October 19, 2009 § Leave a comment

What is the purpose of this?

Benefit’s lemon aid:

Our soft, lemon yellow cream helps to hide redness and discoloration on your eyelids. In a snap, eyes look refreshed, frisky, and ready for fun.

Eyelids can become red or discolored?! WHAT??
Really, who would pay $20 for this seemingly useless product? I’ve seen a lot of stupid things out there, but this one is just ridiculous.

Among other products I consider heinous is My Cleaning Trolley, via Sociological Images:

Note how it says “Girls only.” Sociological Images says:

There is nothing inherently wrong with toys that allow kids to mimic doing household tasks. Kids like to play at doing what they see adults doing–in fact, it’s an essential part of development.

Actually, my initial negative reaction stemmed from the fact that I wouldn’t want my kids trying to emulate some minimum wage hotel room cleaner — that’s not why my parents immigrated to America! White collar jobs only!

Fetishize

October 18, 2009 § 1 Comment

Today I was perusing a friend’s copy of this book when I read a sentence [in a piece by a woman & more or less directed at other women] that made me throw up a little. It went something like this:

And when you’re in the bedroom after the wedding, you surrender to your husband your body and your virginity, your most priceless asset […]

Two semesters ago, I wrote my final sociology paper on the negative effects of putting virginity on a pedestal and received a 98% on it. Really? Until my wedding day, no part of me is worth more than my virginity? She did not comment on whether the same went for the husband. Too exhausted and sick to write more coherent thoughts.

Inhibition

October 13, 2009 § 1 Comment

I sat down at the circular table for dinner on the second night of Fall Conference ’09, delighted to see that every placemat had a generous piece of chocolate cake — my favorite food [Beijing roast duck comes in at a close second]. While giving my baked potato to PN, I noticed a vacant seat at the table, which meant an extra piece of cake. After looking around to check that nobody else was eying it, I asked PN to hand it to me.

Later, it became apparent that one of the people at our table did not have a piece of cake, so I conceded my extra one to her, though not without playful jeers from our fellow male diners. [I don’t care if they judge; I will stay faithful to my gustatory love!]

SL, who sat to my left, kindly offered me his own piece of cake, claiming that he did not really enjoy sweet foods. I gladly accepted it, finishing both pieces and sitting in bloated satisfaction. I’m not exactly sure in how the subsequent events happened, but suddenly, a piece of cake arrived from across the table, followed by three more.

“Eat all of them!” JG urged.
“Yeah, JG and I have money on it!” JP yelled.
“You want me to eat a total of six pieces of cake?!” I responded incredulously.

The guys at the table goaded me while the women looked on in mild amusement. Full as I was, I could’ve done it — my stomach stretches to enormous proportions when I consume sugary foods — but I adamantly refused. The reason I gave was that I didn’t want to throw up my entire dinner, but in actuality I didn’t want to appear cheap. Sacrificing my dignity for a mere $15? Just the notion of it is embarrassing.

However, I couldn’t shake the thought that if I were a guy, I totally would have accepted the challenge.

Competitive eating is mostly a men’s world. At other camps and buffets that I’ve been to, only guys would attempt to out-eat each other in some ridiculous manner. The activity is rather barbaric to me; even though I am against gender stereotypes and all that, I am still at time subject to wanting to fit into the dainty mold into which women are supposed to conform. A guy would get lauded for finishing a huge amount of food, but I can’t imagine myself receiving the same level of accolades from my peers — especially the female ones. I’ve simply never seen it happen.

Don’t Look Twice

October 4, 2009 § 5 Comments

On Wednesday I had a frank discussion with a good friend of mine about how women’s wardrobe choices can affect men. We hit on some interesting points, but I wouldn’t even bring it up now if it weren’t for what my sociology class talked about today.

In our class discussion on women and sports, a girl in my class who is a gymnast told us that in the weight room at the MU athletic training complex, sections of time are usually blocked off so that each sport can have personal time using the equipment. Female athletes, however, are not allowed to wear tank tops and must wear shorts of a certain length or longer — “because it’s too distracting for the male athletes and they can’t focus.” She went on to say that football players sometimes come back from practice with cut-off shirts and their bellies hanging out, which is apparently just fine.

At youth group, we received annual Valentine’s Day talks. One year in either late middle school or early high school, the boys and girls were separated so as to foster a more open and honest environment. It was then that we learned that boys and girls are simply “wired” differently — girls are enticed by emotional porn [ie. The Notebook] and boys cannot resist staring at girls’ bodies. My friend also used the word “wired” to describe how men just naturally want to stare at attractive women.

How much do women think about what men think about their clothing? It does seem utterly stupid to choose outfits based on men’s opinions, yet that’s what he was basically proposing. I think that to some extent, many women probably think about what a guy will think of their garments when they are dressing to impress, but I certainly do not comprehend what he described as a crippling inability to look beyond a hot woman’s cleavage.

Of course, my friend noted that such a thing should be done out of love for one’s brothers in Christ so that they are not stumbled and so they are able to adequately respect their sisters. I can understand that we as women should mercifully wield this “power” [his word, not mine] that we have over men, but that’s not enough.

This argument brings to mind the victim-blaming that is so rampant in many cases of sexual assault. Is a scantily-dressed woman ever asking to get groped or raped? No. It is under nobody’s power to take away the freedom that women have to choose what they wear in public. Am I asking for a man to stare at my chest when I wear a low-cut shirt [as I am wont to do since my bosom is not particularly ample]? No. What takes place in his mind is his problem.

I think the whole “men and women are wired differently” is a weak excuse to simply accept sexual objectification as “just the way things are.” We have all been socialized to view women as decorations — just because it’s true of the society we live in doesn’t make it any less of a lie. Once you are able to critically question why you think the way you do, you have the power to change your mindset and think at least a little more independently.

Men are also demeaned when people argue that they are helpless before the charms of a beautiful woman. Do they really have such feeble control over their brains/eyes/wieners? I believe in the possibility of freeing oneself from those bonds. So let’s make it happen.

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