Consent, Sisterhood

Be Proud To Stand Up

A few months ago I allowed myself to be convinced by a guy to do something I didn’t want to do. I had to forget that I was allowed to say No in order to remember that I wanted to say No. I felt like a fool.

And then I said No. I said it loudly, I got up and put my clothes on.

But so much more upsetting than the experience itself was the experience of telling my friends about saying No and them being shocked at my gall. Shocked at how I could stand up for myself. And I was shocked at how foreign it sounded to them. It made me really sad.

I don’t want anyone to be shocked at my boldness. I want everyone to hear that story and say Duh and tell me about their version of the story.

When I was 12 boys slid their hand up my thigh and slapped my butt. I smiled and took it because I didn’t know it was okay to say stop. I didn’t know that I could say no. So, when the principal calls telling me my daughter is suspended for punching a boy who wouldn’t stop touching her, I will cook her favorite meals. When she tells me how she cursed at the boy who wouldn’t move his hands off her knee even though she asked him to, I will smile and pull out her favorite movie to watch together. I will celebrate the fact that she accepts her body as her own and knows she has the right to say no. I never want my daughter to think her body belongs to men, because it is her own and my god should she be proud. I will teach her it’s more than okay to say stop, something I wish I had known when I was that age.

-don’t be soft, let the world know you exist restrictedthoughts



Advice: The Impostor Effect

I’m a 29-year-old Ph.D. student finishing up my degree in a social science field. A few years ago, I audited a social psychology class on a lark, and the professor explained something she called the Impostor Effect: the feeling that you’ve tricked everyone else into thinking you’re smarter than you are, and you don’t really belong there. She said that a lot of Ph.D. students feel this at first, but then gradually realize they do in fact belong.

I’ve never gotten over this. I have made it through a program that’s notorious for failing people out, and people seem to like my research, and from the outside it looks like everything is going pretty well. But I still feel like I’ve only tricked people into thinking that I’m a lot smarter than I am, and at a certain point everyone is going to get wise to me. As a result, I’m reluctant to ask for help on my work or ask people to explain themselves, because I don’t want to “tip my hand” as a secretly not-so-smart person. But then, not being able to ask clarifying questions only worsens the feeling that I’m not smart enough to be here. And whenever I experience setbacks with my research (which I acknowledge are inevitable for everyone), my first thought is always “This is it. The gig is up, and people are finally going to realize that you’re not nearly as smart as they thought.” I am in all other respects a laid-back and positive person, except when it comes to my work.

Other than the crippling self-doubt, I really, really love what I do. So what do you think? Should I risk letting people know I’m not as smart as they thought (and potentially lose the ability to get a job doing what I really want to do)? Or do I keep it on lock, and try to convince myself that everyone else is putting up a front of knowing everything and that I’m not any more of an impostor than anybody else? [x]

I’ve felt like this pretty much my entire life.  I’m a terrible essay writer (no matter how many times teachers explained to me the concept of an outline [and how much logical sense it makes to me] I could never quite make it work) and I was so embarrassed about being caught at being stupid that it took me until senior year of college to ask anyone to edit my writing and even then it had to be my best friend and came with a huge amount of anxiety.

I will say that the only thing that made it better was asking for help.  When my friends edited my essays they helped me see that my ideas were good it was just my formatting that was bad.

Even better than that was asking for the definitions of words, or at work I even ask people to model an action once so I can be sure to do it right.  It’s gotten to the point where if I don’t ask the questions then I feel like I’m not doing my job or living up to my potential.

And the most amazing thing happened.  When I ask people ‘I don’t know that word.  What do you mean by that?’ I can feel myself growing in their esteem.  They think I’m smarter and more mature.  It’s an outcome that would have seemed so counter intuitive once upon a time but it’s true.

Hope, Media

Going Green

I just found another fantastic web presence for you guys.


*Drum roll please*


I’m in love.  She’s so fantastic.

In her Boob Power video Laci points out that “boobs aren’t awesome because they all look exactly the same way.  Boobs are awesome because they’re boobs!  They have an inherent awesomeness!”  And then she suggests (in her own words) that you Lysistrata that shit.

She also has a fantastic video about hymens.

And a great one about pubic hair.

And semen.

And thinspo.

And clitori.

I love finding more sisterfriends.  So if you’re reading this and you’re ever on the east coast Laci, hit me up on the twitters!  I’d love to get a cup of tea and talk about how food tastes better than being a size 0 feels and how hard it is to shop for big bras.

Advice, Hope

Advice – 19 And Counting

Dear Cary,

I’m a freshman in college, I just turned 19, and I’ve never been kissed or even had a serious boyfriend. I was totally fine with this in high school — I went to a very small school  and so the guys in my grade felt too much like brothers to go out with. In ninth grade, I went out on a few dates with a junior, but I was shy and he was much more experienced and we stopped dating a little awkwardly. The next year, we randomly ended up interning at the same company and I started to like him a lot, but he was leaving for college and he didn’t seem interested. Junior year, I found out that he was, and we reconnected briefly over winter break but decided not to date long-distance. There were other guy friends of mine who expressed interest, but I didn’t connect in that way with any of them. There weren’t significant relationships by any means but there was enough of that teenage intrigue to occupy my time and make me feel wanted. I had my own crushes. I was on student council and the honor roll and I had an inseparable best friend and a great group of larger friends. I’m very close with my family. Sometimes I felt impatient and wondered when I would meet a guy that things might stick with, but overall I was happy. I’ve always been confident in my looks – I love clothes and makeup. I’m an athlete. I even did a little modeling in high school. I always was fine with waiting and trusted that good things would happen in college.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t been true. I’m from the West Coast going to school on the East Coast, and I’ve experienced significant culture shock. It’s been hard to make friends, especially guy friends since I live on an all-girls hall. I have a great gay friend and three really close girlfriends, but it’s been a struggle to find a larger group. I don’t drink or do drugs, not for any religious/moral reason, just because I don’t like their effect on me. Since I’m an introvert, I don’t do as well in big group settings. But I really am good at close relationships – they’re incredibly important to me. I’m fiercely supportive of and loyal to my friends and family. I’m a good listener and I love taking care of people. I think I would make a great girlfriend, but I haven’t had a single guy express interest in me this year. There’s been the typical “so-and-so thinks you’re cute,” but I don’t trust people who like girls based purely on looks and rely on middle-school tactics like that. I’m usually pretty laid-back, but I’m starting to freak out about this a little bit. I can’t talk about it with my friends here because most people just assume I’m more experienced than I am and I’m too embarrassed to tell the truth. This embarrassment is new to me but the label “19-and-never-been-kissed” seems so awful.

I worry that it will never happen. I worry that my shyness is more off-putting than I realize, and that I don’t know how to get over my introversion. I worry that I come across as too old-fashioned and formal: I wear mainly vintage dresses and I love domestic things. I worry that I come across as prudish because I don’t swear or take part in the college party scene. I worry because having a family one day is incredibly important to me, and falling in love is part of that. I worry because this is not under my control. I can’t make it happen, and yet lately I can’t seem to let it go. It’s more than embarrassment, it’s sadness. Love and lust and all related things seem like such an integral part of the human experience, but I have no personal understanding of them yet. How can I grow up if I’ve never kissed a boy or been in love? How do these things start happening? Should I be worried? Should I keep waiting for somebody important or should I just go for guys to get past this awkwardness?

I feel like I have to put in the obligatory disclaimer here that I’m a feminist and I have big goals for myself, academically and career-wise, but this is an area I need help in.



This question was emailed to me by my lovely friend LillianLemoning who seems to always know what I need even when I don’t have a clue.

Oh, 19.

I myself was (am) a bit of a late bloomer.  I thought it meant something terrible about me.  In high school I feared that I would graduate college with little more than a kiss under my belt (not like that, get your mind out of the gutter).

Here’s the magical part.  From the day that I feared no guy would want to kiss me ever until the day after I had the best kiss I could ever have dreamed of, I didn’t have to change a thing.  It wasn’t like it took a hollywood makeover or a class in how to flirt so that someone could find me attractive.  All I did was ask someone to hang out and kiss me.  Then I started paying attention to the way guys treated girls they liked and started noticing that behavior being aimed at me.

You’re a freshman in college.  I know that seems so old to you because it’s the oldest you’ve ever been but when I was a never-been-kissed 14-year-old I thought that was old maid material too.  It took until a year after I graduated from a tiny private school surrounded by ‘brothers’ for me to figure out how to interact with guys too.  Don’t feel left behind, you’re right on track.

Other than that, if you aren’t into drinking (which is fine, but it might eliminate potential mate-meeting events) you’ll just have to meet people in other places.  I know it sounds so cliche but join clubs and teams.  Make friends with the girls on your floor and grab lunch with her and her co-ed buddies from bio.  Also, you don’t have to drink at parties.  Bring a soda bottle and don’t tell anyone what’s in it (you won’t be the only one pulling that trick).  Who knows, maybe there’s some awesome designated driver there praying someone awesome and sober is around to talk to.

Go places, meet people, look them in the eyes and notice when they like you.  That’s basically the important stuff.

Other than that I’ll tell you this story that makes me feel better when I think I’m going to die alone surrounded by cats (which would suck because I hate cats.  When I become an aging spinster I’m going to have an awesome aquarium!):

My friend *Sari got married a few years ago.  Sari is the kind of girl who has been dating for almost her entire life.  She kissed some boy in middle school and hasn’t been ‘single’ for more than a few months at a time since then.  When she was a kid she was best friends with the only other girl she’s ever met named Sari.  Other Sari never dated ever (yes seriously this is a true story).  Other Sari lost her virginity to some guy in college who she didn’t care about too much and broke up with a few months later.  Original Sari did it with one of her many boyfriends somewhere between high school and college.   Original Recipe Sari technically hit all the benchmarks earlier.  First kiss, first boyfriend, love, virginity, you name it.  Other Sari was understandably bummed most of their schooling years.  A few years ago Other Sari got married (a little after Original Recipe Sari) to someone great.  Apparently Other Sari met him and just knew.  She didn’t need first hand experiences with other guys to know what was going on with this one.

You’ll be fine.  Just keep on trucking and saying hello to strangers.  Doesn’t matter which kind of Sari you are, they all end up happy in the end.

Abuse, Advice

Advice – Just Say No To Your Mamma’s Boy Drama

Dear Carolyn: I don’t know how to deal with my mom and her recent irresponsible decisions. She is in love again with her on-again-off-again boyfriend. To mark this new development, he recently gave her a very expensive “commitment ring,” or, as I like to call it, an “I cheated on you, so here’s a blinding diamond to forget about that” ring. She says in another life it would be an engagement ring (not sure what that means) and she is “sooo happy.”

I’ve witnessed two-plus years of the emotional roller coaster this man has put her on, but apparently my mom has forgotten all about that. I am 27, she is 57. I would define our relationship as more of a best-friend relationship rather than a traditional mother-daughter relationship.

This has proven to be difficult at times, in that she tells me everything, the good, the bad and the ugly. Yet, knowing all this guy has put her through, she walks back into his arms and expects me to be their No. 1 cheerleader.

I have explained to her that I want her to be happy but that she is setting a bad example for me and my siblings, as well as making a decision that will likely lead to heartache for her (again) and she needs to wake up! I’ve been supportive, diplomatic, and tried tough love. Mom seems unwilling to hear or accept the truth. What do I do?

— Mother Is a Teenager

My first question is: is this relationship (and before I even ask I’m going to say that in my humble opinion most on-again off-again relationships are) abusive?  I don’t mean physically (although if it is then all the more reason to get your mom out), I mean emotionally.

There are a lot of kinds of abuse but the kind that the on/off-ers are familiar with is the kind where the abuser makes things just good enough, just loved enough, to make the abused want more.  Then the abuser can start messing around with their partners head, treating them less well than they deserve.  The kicker and the reason this is so common in on/off relationships is that the abuser makes it clear that while their partner is ‘oh so very important’ to them, this relationship is not their highest priority, they have the power to leave, the power of disinterest.  By maintaining the power to leave they remind their victim that their weakness lies in their loving and perceived inability to leave.

If you can convince your mother to leave her emotionally manipulative boyfriend then kudos to you, please write a movie, essay, short story, whatever, just teach the same lesson to the rest of us.  It’s really hard to convince victims of emotional abuse to see their relationships the way we see them.  What I’ve found is more common is that the people in these relationships wake up one day and aren’t willing to take it anymore.

“I remember I was in New York at the Trump Hotel and I woke up and I just knew I was over it. It was a different day. I felt different. I didn’t feel lonely,” [Rihanna]  recalls. “I felt like I wanted to get up and be in the world. That was a great, great feeling.”

Try to be the wake up call in your mothers life.  Ask her how she would feel if your boyfriend treated you the way her boyfriend treats her, but remember that bullying someone into leaving their abusive lover doesn’t empower them, it just continues the cycle of bullying.  She needs to see it for herself and take action, you need to be around for her if/when she decides to leave but make it clear that you aren’t going to get involved in his muck anymore.  You’re still family and when she calls you can talk about the weather and your brothers and sisters and the big sports news of the week but you aren’t going to talk about that mess of a boyfriend.  End of story.

Advice, Sex

The Oral Report

A very good friend of mine wrote this up and called it in to a favorite podcast of ours.  If you’re very close to me you might know who she is.  Enjoy.

Hi Dan

I’m a straight girl and I just listened to episode 266 where a woman called in because she doesn’t like going down on her boyfriend.  She was a little unclear about the reasons she doesn’t like giving head and you and Lucy came up with ideas for her if the issue was just the amount of time until reciprocation.

I’ve recently been having a lot of conversations with women who don’t like giving head and I’ve come up with a few rules that help.  Most of my rules are inspired by you anyway so here goes.

1)   Say to your partner out loud “If I do something you like, tell me so I can keep doing it and if I do something you don’t like then tell me so I can stop doing it.”  This reduces anxiety and opens a dialogue while still sounding incredibly hot.

2)   A blowjob is a mouth assisted hand job.  You don’t have to shove the thing down your throat in order for it to be awesome.  You’re not Sasha Grey, don’t pretend that you are.  Also, not just your hands, but his too.

3)    90% trial and error, 10% porn.  You asked him to tell you when you do something right and when you do something wrong, so try things.  Touch things, pull things, bite things, stroke things.  Use your fingertips, tongue, teeth, cheek, palm, get creative.  If he doesn’t like it he’ll tell you and you’ll move on.  If you need more inspiration than just the plethora of types of skin on his junk watch some porn.

I hope that helps!



Advice – Your Vagina Is Perfect Just The Way It Is

I am a multi-orgasmic twenty-nine-year-old bisexual woman who generally dates males. I can have strong and multiple orgasms simply from penetration. They usually start off small (but still rad) and in waves, but there really isn’t any orgasm-level predictor. My problem is: after reading so many articles and things about women who regularly fake orgasms, I worry my partner or partners will think I’m being a big ol’ faker, even though I’m basically shaking and can’t make words. I’m also an occasional squirter, but I’m totally fine with it and most of my partners have been too. But I’m growing self-conscious about my frequent orgasms, because a past partner accused me of faking, and I don’t want people I’m fucking to think I’m manufacturing or exaggerating my pleasure.

I actually have met someone who I think I could start an amazing relationship with, but I fear he’ll be skeptical as well. I can’t find a damn thing on the internet other than cheesy-looking self-help sex books about how to have multiples. What’s a girl to do? Help!

— Tell Me About My Vagina or Something

What can I tell you about your vagina?  I can tell you that every vagina is different.  For example apparently your vagina is very different from mine.  The important question in your question isn’t ‘why is my vagina broken?’ because your vagina is very very far from broken.  The right question isn’t a question at all.  It’s just an insecurity.  You’re insecure that he’ll think something is wrong with you because the viagra advertisers/internet/porn/previous insecure partners have rubbed their insecurity off on you.

I (and other advice-giving people) put a lot of emphasis on communication before, during and after sex (and ahem, a zillion other activities in your life, ice skating for example) but an accusation of faking isn’t the form that communication should be in.  Accusations lead to insecurities that ruin your sex life.

I’m pretty sure that if your body does a %1000 awesome freak out every time you come that this new boyfriend isn’t going to think you’re faking (unless he’s an insecure bag of slop of course).  And if you’re really worried that he will/has, mention it “Holy Moses that rocked my world.  Are you sure you don’t mind that I accidentally bit a piece of your shoulder off?  My friends are so jealous of me, they need toys but my vagina is a magical orgasmic machine.  I guess we’re both just lucky ducks.” That should suffice.

Advice, Friendship

Advice – Fly Misses Her Fruit

A friend (Hi J!) recently pointed out to me that I’ve been neglecting my advice giving lately so I went to the proverbial drawing board and plucked a few questions out of the internet’s top hat.  Enjoy.

Dear Margo: My best gay male friend recently admitted he’s in love with a woman, despite dating men his whole adult life without any bisexual inclinations. I can handle this sudden revelation, but I am deeply hurt and feel betrayed that it took him months to reveal this information. We’re extremely close and share the tiniest details of our lives. I noticed a behavior change several months ago and repeatedly asked him what it was. He always brushed me off.

He’s since begged my forgiveness, but I can’t move past the idea of his keeping this secret from me. I find myself so hurt that I can barely speak to him. And I’m not secretly in love with him. I’m gay, as well, and have no romantic interest in men. Where do I go from here? — Allie

The word betray can be a verb but in this case and many others betrayal isn’t about someone choosing to mutiny.  The more important definition of betray (unless you’re in a James Bond movie) is the feeling you get when a loved one does something you don’t understand.

My question would be why did you choose to keep this from me?’  Did you think I’d react poorly?  Did you think I wouldn’t accept you?  Did you want to chew on it a while and see if it felt right before announcing it to me and the world?

It sounds like maybe he started thinking these thoughts a while ago but didn’t want to blow a hole in his friendships and his personal identity by admitting them even to his closest friends.

It hurts to find out that our loved ones have lives outside of us but it would hurt even more to wake up in a few months to find that this friend isn’t a part of your life anymore and that it’s your own pride’s fault.

A friend of mine went through a really shoddy breakup recently and I encouraged her to see a professional to talk about it.  She couldn’t get over the feeling that going to therapy over a boy somehow made her weak.  When I saw a counselor I spent the whole time talking about a few key people, my family and 4 or 5 friends.  The people who are important to you can have different roles but they’re the most important people in your life for a reason and whether they are your spouse, child or the fag to your hag, they’re worth fighting to keep.

Take a few days to be mad and then go out for coffee, cry it out and ask the hard questions.  You’ll both be glad you did.


Be Good To Each Other

If you know me then you know I work in theater.  This provides me with lots of fodder for this blog but if you work in theater too then you know that for most people it’s not a lifelong career.  I went into this thinking that there was nothing else in the world I would ever be interested in.  But the longer I spend on this planet the more I find that isn’t true.  As I learn more things I see that I care about more things than I could have expected I would.

Cliche as it sounds (and it does sound cliche) I want my time on this planet to be spent doing good.  I think one of the first things that attracted me to theater is the power it had to make people smile.  I don’t think I could ever do something that made people think or smile less.  I hope not at least.  Today I thought a lot about my next career.  And I think it might be The Talking Cure.  I want to make people feel better.  Whether it’s through nostalgia or a comforting touch

or therapy it’s important.

“I’m an atheist and that’s it. I believe there’s nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people.”

Katharine Hepburn


Advice – To Cute Or Not To Cute? That Is The Question.

Quick backstory: I met this girl in last year in New York. I asked her out and it went amazingly well; we had a great date, I kissed her after walking her back to her apartment, and for the next four months we had a fantastic relationship. It was all good times, no drama or stress. We’d amuse each other for hours just being goofy and laughing at dumb inside jokes, etc. And the sex was good and plentiful.

But… before I met her I’d already planned to move to a different city. So there was a time limit. Because of that, we never really “took it to the next level.” And now I’m here in Austin and she’s there in NY, and we’re rooted in these places for the next couple years. Not really easy driving distance. Womp womp, life is complicated, I know. But I really like her! I’m 99.9% sure that if it weren’t for the distance, we’d still be in a great relationship.

It’s been a few months since we’ve seen each other, but we still talk on the phone occasionally and Gchat several times a week. I’m going to NY to visit her this summer, and I want to tell her what’s on my mind, something along the lines of this (clearly this needs some refining): “I like you a whole lot, and I’ve been totally smitten with you since pretty much the first time we hung out, and even though it can’t work out now, I hope it can work out later.” Is this a good or bad idea?

The more I think about it the more it seems like a bad idea. I don’t want to play games with her or make her feel some sort of obligation to me, just to make sure she knows how I feel about her. Is there a way to do that without it being weird and seeming like I’m trying to call dibs on her or anything? I don’t really have any particular expectations of how this is going to turn out. I mean, I don’t expect her to drop everything and run away with me or put her own dating life on hold until I can move back to NY, and the last thing I want is for her to feel any pressure from me to do those things.

I dunno. Should I just let it go? Ugh… but I really really like her! What does A Lady think about this delicate situation?

A Dude

Okay, I need to write this fast because I’m dying to see what A Lady had to say in response to this question.

My advice:  Refine nothing!  Say exactly that!  If a dude I liked said that (or maybe even just printed this letter out and handed it to me to read while he looked on earnestly) I’d just about fall over dead from all the cute.  And if a guy I didn’t like did the same I’d give him a big hug and a kiss on the cheek, tell him that he did everything within his power to woo me and then take him out to a bar, be the best wingwoman in the world and get him L-A-I-D because he would deserve it.

Dudes, making a fool of yourself for us is the most attractive thing you can do.  Don’t refine, just adore.