Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Examining the Validity of Marriage

Growing up, I never really questioned that I would inevitably get married, have children and fulfill my traditional, heterosexual life. Why? That’s what I was taught. Despite the fact that my parents got divorced when I was only 4, I maintained my firmly laid out plan: I would meet Mr. Perfect in college and get married shortly after graduation. Done and done. Much to my dismay and joy, these dreams were slowly but surely replaced by something of a different nature.

Though not an entirely new revelation, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I read an article on AlterNet (discussing the need to rethink the institution of marriage altogether) that I seriously started to consider NOT getting married at all. Sure, it might be easy to blame feminism. Blame feminism for, no doubt, destroying the American family and putting these toxic thoughts in my brain. I admit that feminist teachings are part of it, but mostly, I attribute the transition to my constant habit of challenging mainstream ideals that present themselves as a binary (i.e. this or that). Romance or Horror?I chose Indie flicks. Democrat or Republican? I tend to fancy the Green party. Religion? None of the above, thank you. All these were personal choices I made prior to adapting feminist ideals. Feminism, if anything, helped me to recognize marriage for the patriarchal institution that it remains even today. In The Bitch in the House, Catherine Newman summarizes this idea by writing, “Marriage is about handing the woman off, like a baton, from her father to her husband” (65). In fact, Newman presents a number of compelling arguments that help explain her reasons for not getting married:

1.) The Religious Right and their Defense of Marriage Act use marriage as a vehicle for homophobic legislation.
2.) She could have ended up with a woman.
3.) Refusal to be possessed.
4.) Not being married means we (her and her partner) get to keep choosing each other.
5.) We already have [promise] rings (66-72).

In American society it can be difficult to comprehend long-term relationships that don’t culminate in marraige, despite the commonplace of divorce, adultery, and spousal-related abuse/rape. As if that’s not enough, a study conducted this year by the University of Chicago found that “people who suffer marital disruption through either divorce or widowhood are 20 percent more likely to have chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or cancer than married people” (Newsweek). This study indicated that the only difference between married and unmarried persons is their access to economic and emotional (WHAT?) resources. I think it is important to consider the gendered effects of marriage, since it has been asserted by some that for men marriage is the best investment in their psychological health, while for women, it can be psychologically draining. “The more evidence shoved in our faces that marriage just doesn't work as well as we want, the more we bury our heads in the fantasy of marriage,” writes Amanda Marcotte in an article published on

Perhaps what we need to do, no matter how painful, is to demystify the status quo and figure out what this marriage hoopla is really about. How? Marcotte further asserts that “We could start by untying all the benefits that lure people into marriage and expanding them to all people -- health insurance, hospital visitation rights, tax breaks -- so that married people don't get special status over the unmarried.” What about (OH NO!) separation of church and state? What if everyone was legally conjoined under a Civil Union, and what if marriage remained a strictly religious practice (without additional legal benefits)? I feel as a society we must refuse to accept the current state of marriage (heterosexist, entrapping, and overly sensationalized) and embrace a more holistic view of what it means to be a united, fulfilled, and happy couple.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Never Trust Something That Bleeds 3-5 Days and Lives

Aunt Flo. On the rag. That time of the month. Checking into the Red Roof Inn. Mother Nature’s Curse. Mother Nature’s Gift. The Red Scare. Riding the Cotton Cowboy.

All of these are euphemisms for the menstrual period, which women have been experiencing for at least a half a million years. And now, we have the technology to suppress it.

There are several drugs that would allow a woman to either completely suppress her periods, or cut down on the number of periods she has per year, i.e. 4 instead of 13. Suppressing periods using birth control pills usually involves skipping the placebo pills (the 7 pills in a 28-pill pack of birth control which are inactive) and starting a new pack of pills right away.

There are several risks involved with menstrual suppression. First, not having a period could cause one’s iron levels to build up, which can increases one’s risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Also, non-stop use of estrogen can lead to a woman having less available natural testosterone. A woman needs a certain level of natural testosterone to “build healthy bones, keep muscles strong, protect against depression, heart attack, and stroke, keep hair shiny, and combat dry eye”, according to this article. A lower level of testosterone can also kill a woman’s libido. [Perhaps eliminating her need for the birth control in the first place… what a vicious cycle].

I understand that some people could benefit from the elimination of their menstrual cycles, particularly those who experience severe symptoms and miss school or work as a result. Also, it would be beneficial for the environment to cut down on the numbers of pads and tampons in landfills. [Alex’s blog from a while back gives an example of another way to accomplish this.]

I am wary of menstrual suppression, mostly because we aren’t sure of the long-term health risks involved. A part of me feels like it is just another way to denigrate femininity: we use models with body types resembling those of young boys to showcase women’s fashion. Women are “encouraged” to eliminate most or all of their pubic hair, which is reminiscent of pre-pubescence. And I don’t like the fact that advocates of menstrual suppression call the menstrual cycle “gross” and “inconvenient” and make it seem like a hassle. I mean, I have been known to complain my period, but, at the same time, I believe it is part of a natural rhythm of human life, a rhythm which has occurred for over half a million years.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Abstaining from Abstinence

While scouring the internet for fun articles for you all to read, I stumbled upon some interesting information that was news to me. Apparently President Obama is promising to ban abstinence-only sex education. The article, found on, details new plans to eliminate abstinence-only sex education. I think that this is a phenomenal initiative, and it closely relates to a program that Alex is putting on in the fall. If this topic is something you want to learn more about or discuss in greater depth, check out Alex’s program on Wednesday, September 9.

Repro Rights Movie Night

The WRC is partnering with Advocates for Choice, a campus-based organization that fights for women’s right to reproductive health access and accurate sex education. Together we’ll be screening The Education of Shelby Knox, a documentary about a young girl who rallies for comprehensive sex education. Stay for a dialogue about the film and ways that we can organize around reproductive rights issues at NIU.

TIME: 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Women’s Resource Center
CO-SPONSORED BY: Planned Parenthood of Illinois
Check it out!- it is sure to be informative and a really good time!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Get Involved with ADVOCATES FOR CHOICE!!

Are you passionate, concerned, or just plain curious about reproductive health, comprehensive sex education, and the like? If so, consider checking out the NIU student organization ADVOCATES FOR CHOICE (AFC). The Women's Resource Center is excited to affiliate with this up-and-coming NIU student organization.

So, what is ADVOCATES FOR CHOICE all about? AFC is affiliated with Planned Parenthood of Illinois and aims to "educate the university community about reproductive health and rights; to translate increased awareness into pro-choice activism on campus; and to serve as a coalition to partner to state, national, and international reproductive efforts."

If you're interested in learning more or checking out the group, feel free to comment on this blog. We'll be sure to keep you updated on important AFC information such as meeting times and fall semester events.

AFC will be showing The Education of Shelby Knox at the Women’s Resource Center on September 9 from 7-9 p.m. After the film, there will be a chance to discuss possible ways to organize around reproductive rights. Join AFC and the Women's Center in making NIU a more woman-friendly campus.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Catholic Church Excommunicates Family of 9 Year Old Rape Victim

When I was nine years old, I was a happy fourth-grader. I loved my teacher, Mrs. Mather, even though it was she who made me sit near the front of the class because I wore glasses. My favorite things to do were to ride our ancient pony named Smokey and play with my best friend, who just so happened to live next door (of course).

Unfortunately, not all nine-year-olds have the privilege of such a carefree existence. A nine-year-old from the state of Pernambuco in Brazil became pregnant with twins earlier this year after her stepfather raped her. The man, who was supposed to be a father figure in her life, had been sexually abusing her since she was six years old, according to this BBC article. And the police now suspect he was abusing the girl’s older, mentally handicapped sister.

The child’s family was a member of the Catholic Church. Instead of the church reaching out to help this family during a time of great stress, it instead tried to intervene with the family’s plan to abort the twins. As a result, the girl’s family and the doctors who assisted in the procedure have been excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church. The Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho made the announcement, saying it was “God’s Laws” that abortion was a sin.

After completing further research, I found an article which states, “Psychosocial stress may be a stimulant of, as well as a response, to puberty. A study of preteen girls who were sexually abused suggested that the abuse may have served as a stressor that stimulated the hypothalamus to activate the process of puberty.” So, this girl was repeatedly sexually abused by her stepfather since she was six years old, which may have contributed to her early puberty and resulting pregnancy.

The girl only weighed about 66 pounds, and her pelvis was not fully developed, so it is obvious that she could not have carried TWINS to full term, let alone delivered them. But the Catholic Church insists she could have undergone a cesarean section.

This entire story is horrifying, and I cannot believe the lack of compassion or understanding shown by the Catholic Church. Then again, they haven’t got the best record with children victims of sexual abuse, have they? I hate to sound insensitive, but I’m sure this girl’s family and the doctors who saved her life are better off without the Catholic Church. As a former member, I know this from experience.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Help or Hinder: the outlawing of burqas in France

Recently, French president Nicolas Sarkozy made an announcement that he wants the government to prohibit women from wearing burqas in state institutions. In this article from, it is hard to determine whether or not the ban is feminist in nature.

Sarkozy clearly has good intentions, stating: "We cannot accept to have in our country women who are prisoners behind netting, cut off from all social life, deprived of identity." He goes on to say, "The burqa is not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience. It will not be welcome on the territory of the French republic."

Sarkozy seems to be making an effort to increase equality for women; yet, at the same time, he is marginalizing other groups. Although he is trying to lift oppression from women, he is also restricting religious freedoms.

He argues that, “It is not a problem that young girls may choose to wear a veil or a headscarf as long as they have actually chosen to do so, as opposed to this being imposed upon them, be it by their families or by their environment."

But, how does one decipher if the woman wearing the scarf is doing so by choice or coercion?

So many factors play into religious oppression. In my opinion, outlawing burqas will attempt to solve “cosmetic” of surface level issues for women within this particular religion, but the oppression beneath the surface will still remain. Even if these women have been “unveiled,” they can continue to be marginalized in every other aspect of life (For example, see Jill’s Post from July 9). In addition, the repercussions for banning burqas could produce even more oppressive rules for women. Some women are not permitted to leave the house without proper coverings, and the burqa actually allows them to go out in public. Could this law backfire and make women prisoners of their home because they are no longer permitted to be in public?

A lot of people have come out on both sides of the issue. Some praise Sarkozy for pushing for equality; yet, others have complained that he is restricting religious freedoms. As a feminist, it is hard to say whether or not this initiative helps or harms. Personally, I feel that Sarkozy’s good intentions may cause more problems than he expects.

Are You Serious?!?!

I came across this link on a friend's facebook page, and he was, thankfully, equally horrified. I was even more horrified after seeing this web site's tag line at the top: "7 Million Readers A Month." Are there really 7 million people out there that are THIS stupid? Did I miss something? Is this some really dry humor that I am just not in on? If so, accept my early apologies and we'll move on.

If this is real, I suggest a "10 Ways to Combat Idiots" counter-list.

#10 - If your "man" buys you clothes too small, I suggest buying extra large condoms and when he doesn't fit, say, "Oh, well my last boyfriend/husband wore this size. Bummer."

#9 - Buy him Rogaine. No pretense needed. Even if he doesn't need it, if he's suggesting you take yoga under the pretense of stress relief, tell him that you're worried his stress is causing him to go bald. Make mention of the extra hair in the shower.

#8 - When he sets out on his "own weight loss plan" so that you'll get the hint, just ignore the hint. Tell him you're so glad that he's finally realized that he's been letting himself go and tell him to have a great work-out.

#7 - Eat your fill. If he feeds you less than satisfactory portions to shame you into feeling guilty for how much you eat, tell him that he should have another helping as well. No one likes emaciated boyfriends hanging on their arms.

#6 - What? Are they suggesting that the man might share ownership in the fact that intimacy has been replaced by food? Ever think that your girlfriend might find a pint of ice cream more attractive? Surely not.

#5 - Pinch his fat. I'll be this one works both way, huh ladies? If the bicep isn't a problem area, find one and exploit that. If he EVER tugs on your love handles in a shameful rather than adoring way, I'd say the best bet would be to show him to the door. If equal torture is the desired effect, I'd also think that tracing his bald spot (or where one might eventually show up) adoringly and telling him how "cute" it is might also work.

#4 - Buy him something two sizes too small. When he doesn't fit, tell him you saw a hot guy at work wearing it and asked him what size it was and then when promptly went out and bought it for him so he could look that good.

#3 - I don't even know what to say to this. You have got to be kidding.

#2 - Start a pros and cons list between your last boyfriend and your current one. Be sure to list more pros than cons on the former's list and highlight areas where your current boyfriend is lacking.

#1 - Take him home or out with your friends and have them repeatedly mention how handsome your last partner was or how much money he made or the fantastic gifts he gave you.

Now, is any of what I said more healthy than what was suggested in the original mindless post? No, but the point is that no woman who had any shred of respect, much less love, for another human being would do any of the above. If you love someone, weight doesn't matter. What does matter is that even if this article was intended as satire, there are potentially 7 million idiots out there who may not know the difference.

I say if they're going to fight dirty, let's learn to fight dirty back.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Why I Think Twilight is Lame, and You Should Too

I do not approve of the messages that Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series oh-so-subtly sends to its readers. I understand that these books are very popular and have a loyal fan base, so I am treading on dangerous territory by offering my criticisms. But, at this point, I’m used to having controversial opinions.

Let me begin by confessing that I have never seen the film. I have, however, read the first couple of books, though it has been a few years, and my memories might be a little fuzzy.

The thing about these books that bothers me the most is Edward’s behavior. For those of you (luckily) in the dark about the details of Twilight, Edward is a vampire and the “love interest” of the main character, Bella. Throughout the book, Edward behaves much like a stalker and/or abusive boyfriend toward Bella. He watches her sleep, exhibits extremely jealous behavior, and is controlling. And his actions get misinterpreted as “romantic” by preteen girls everywhere, who have little to no real-life experiences with romantic relationships. So, what happens in real life if a boy exhibits stalker-like, controlling behavior toward these young women? Will they think it romantic, and, as a result, be in danger?

Another qualm I have with the series is that Bella abandons her identity when she falls in love with Edward. Her whole world revolves around him; she drops all her friends and spends her time obsessing over Edward. I think that this situation happens often enough in real life (I confess to making this mistake with my first relationship. I was young. And dumb.), and Bella’s actions in this book set a very bad example.

Last year, around the time the movie based on the book came out, I was discussing these topics with a friend of mine. He asked me, “So, you don’t like the book because the main character isn’t a strong woman?” And I couldn’t help but answer, “Yes!” This book sets a bad example for the impressionable young women who largely make up the fan base. And I cringe just thinking of that, particularly since we live in a society where the good examples get far too few exposure or credit.

Here’s a collection of creepy/disturbing quotes from Twilight, found on this website:

I couldn’t allow him to have this level of influence over me. It was pathetic. More than pathetic, it was unhealthy.Bella Swan, Twilight, Chapter 4, p.74

He was dangerous. He’d been trying to tell me that all along.Bella Swan, Twilight, Chapter 5, p.93

Sometimes I have a problem with my temper, Bella.Edward Cullen, Twilight, Chapter 8, p.164

Your number was up the first time I met you.Edward Cullen, Twilight, Chapter 8, p.175

It’s wrong. It’s not safe. I’m dangerous, Bella — please, grasp that.Edward Cullen, Twilight, Chapter 9, p.190

I do want to know what you’re thinking — everything. I just wish… that you wouldn’t be thinking some things.Edward Cullen, Twilight, Chapter 10, p.208

Of course, keeping you safe is beginning to feel like a full-time occupation that requires my constant presence.Edward Cullen, Twilight, Chapter 10, p.211

That is something to be afraid of, indeed. Wanting to be with me. That’s really not in your best interest.Edward Cullen, Twilight, Chapter 13, p.266

And so the lion fell in love with the lamb…Edward Cullen, Twilight, Chapter 13, p.274

What a sick, masochistic lion.Edward Cullen, Twilight, Chapter 13, p.274

I’m sorry if there’s been some kind of miscommunication, but Bella is unavailable tonight. To be perfectly honest, she’ll be unavailable every night, as far as anyone besides myself is concerned. Edward Cullen, Twilight, Epilogue, p.483

You are my life. You’re the only thing it would hurt me to lose.Bella Swan, Twilight, Chapter 24, p.474

Oh, a sadistic vampire, intent on torturing her to death, sure, no problem, she runs off to meet him. An IV, on the other hand…Edward Cullen, Twilight, Chapter 24, p.462

And here’s a great video, showing how Buffy the Vampire Slayer would react to Edward’s strange and controlling behavior:

Sexual Politics of...Meat?

As a feminist who is particularly interested in vegetarian issues, I was instantly drawn to the following recommendation:

The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory
By: Carol J. Adams

I look forward to checking this out soon, but, in the meantime, here is a summary of the basic ideas discussed in the book:

From Publishers Weekly:
“Many cultures equate meat-eating with virility, and in some societies women offer men the 'best' (i.e., bloodiest) food at the expense of their own nutritional needs. Building upon these observations, feminist activist Adams detects intimate links between the slaughter of animals and violence directed against women. She ties the prevalence of a carnivorous diet to patriarchal attitudes, such as the idea that the end justifies the means, and the objectification of others. In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley made her Creature a vegetarian, a point Adams relates to the Romantics' radical politics and to visionary novels by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Dorothy Bryant and others. Adams, who teaches at Perkins School of Theology, Dallas, sketches the alliance of vegetarianism and feminism in antivivisection activism, the suffrage movement and 20th-century pacifism. Her original, provocative book makes a major contribution to the debate on animal rights.”

What is the significance of this book for non-vegetarians, current vegetarians, as well as animal and women’s rights?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Oldest Profession Goes Green

Everyone seems to be "going green," even in the most obscure places. Check out this article from BBC news about a new “green” initiative.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What's Your Point, Honey?

This is an interesting documentary on a project by Cosmo Girl to get women into the White House. The film's website provides some details about the project and its mission; however, it lacks information about the women who are attempting to win public office in the future. Is this just a big ad campaign for Cosmo, or is this conglomerate really interested in these girls and women in politics? What are your thoughts on it? How feminist is it?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Women Have Two Rights: To Obey Their Husbands and To Pray

Most of us know how the plight of women in Afghanistan under the Taliban was used as an excuse for sending troops into Afghanistan after September 11. But what many of us don't know is how things have continued to get progressively worse for women there since U.S. troops showed up. For a video (*warning -some images are graphic*) with the voices and concerns of real women fighting for freedom in Afghanistan, watch this.

Of particular alarm is U.S. support for Hamid Karzai, who in March 2009 signed the Shia Family Law, which has devastating implications for women.

"Under the law, women must not refuse the husband's sexual demands, women must comply to intercourse every four days unless sick, women may not gain employment or receive education without their husband's permission, wives leaving home must do so with male escort or with permission and they must dress up and wear cosmetics according to the husband's desires. Refusal to do any of these would be illegal for the woman and can be enforced — the husband may stop feeding her." For those of you who are Wiki fans, read more on the Shia Family Law here.

Additionally, according to the Chief Justice of the Afghan Supreme Court, women in Afghanistan have two rights: 1. to obey their husbands, and 2. to pray (though not in a mosque).

Worse yet, apparently the Feminist Majority Foundation has decided to support further troop escalation there, according this this article.

Perhaps its time for President Obama, and especially feminist organizations globally, to start listening to the women of Afghanistan themselves. As one woman in the video put it so elegantly, "I don't believe and I don't expect any outside power to come and liberate me. If I cannot liberate myself, no one from the outside can liberate me."

For ways you can register your voice for real freedom for the women of Afghanistan, and against further troop escalation in Afghanistan, visit my favorite ladies at Code Pink.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Whose life are we talking about?

After conducting an image search for “reproductive rights,” I was heartbreakingly jolted by the accompanying photograph (ATTENTION: VERY GRAPHIC IMAGE). The caption reports that she died of complications from an illegal abortion.

The content of this image is only part of what caught my attention. Due to the graphic nature of the photo, it seems only logical to draw similarities between this picture and the all-too-common “dead baby” images utilized by the anti-choice movement. I have to wonder: Are anti-choice supporters hiding these disturbing images from the public? I am also curious as to why these images haven’t been popularized within the pro-choice movement. Perhaps it isn’t their style.

Isn’t the pragmatism within the abortion wars predicated upon a concern for life? The woman depicted in the picture once had a life. Why is it that this picture is so removed from the depictions of aborted fetuses and the value of life? I can only speculate on the potential response to a pro-choice marketing campaign that utilized images of dead women to promote their mission. Yet, maybe the argument here has nothing to do with life; maybe it has to do with the powerful imagery of a photograph.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Long Live the Gulabi Gang!

“Village society in India is loaded against women. It refuses to educate them, marries them off too early, barters them for money. Village women need to study and become independent to sort it out themselves,” says Sampat Devi in this BBC article.

Sampat Devi is the leader of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang), a group of women in rural India who strive for social justice. They don pink saris and fight for women’s rights, against corruption, and for the poor. Sampat Devi began the vigilante group in 2006, and chose the color pink for her gang’s uniform because most other colors are used to represent political parties. Several political parties have offered to fund the Gulabi Gang, but Sampat refuses their help because she believes they are always looking for kickbacks.

Sampat Devi mostly works with the “Untouchables”, also known as Dalits. In the caste system of India, these people are the poorest of the poor. They are usually unemployed, or have to work at the types of jobs that no one else will. They have long existed on the margins of society, and get little support from their communities. When Sampat began working with Dalit women, her friends and family shunned her. But Sampat says, “I never believed in a caste system… Those poor people who serve others? For me, they are gods.”

The UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination condemned caste-based discrimination in 2002, but not much has been done to enforce the resolution.* According to a National Geographic article, female “Untouchables” are frequent victims of violence and sexual assault. The article explains:
“A report released by Amnesty International in 2001 found an "extremely high" number of sexual assaults on Dalit women, frequently perpetrated by landlords, upper-caste villagers, and police officers. The study estimates that only about 5 percent of attacks are registered, and that police officers dismissed at least 30 percent of rape complaints as false.”

Sampat has helped to empower the Dalit women. She teaches them to use the lathi, a traditional Indian self-defense weapon. They have beaten up men who abuse their wives and corrupt officials. Sampat says, “We beat people to protect ourselves. Now they’re scared of us, so we don’t have to use lathis. We just keep them in our hands, and when we need to, we use them”.

It’s easy to frown upon the use of violence and concede that it is wrong. But we come from a very different world. The Dalit women are entrenched in a feudalistic, male-centered society where they are treated as slaves, and suffer in extreme poverty. If they want to take justice into their own hands in the form of lathi, frankly, I celebrate them. And I am a pacifist at heart.

Sampat Devi has made amazing progress on behalf of the Dalits. She exposed a scandal involving grain rations- in her part of the country, villages were supposed to receive a specified amount of grain, but corrupt officials were selling some of it on the black market. Sampat and the Gulabi Gang hi-jacked a truck carrying the grain and made sure the grain was distributed properly.

According to a documentary about the Gulabi Gang, men in the villages where member s live are supportive of the group. They see the changes that the group’s efforts have brought about, and respect them for it.

I first read about the Gulabi Gang in my roommate’s copy of the latest issue of Bust Magazine. I was truly touched by this story, and amazed by the strong woman that is Sampat Devi. I believe she is helping to change the lives of so many Indian women for the better, and helping them to empower themselves.

“As long as I draw breath, I will not stop this fight. If I live to be 100, I will not stop fighting.”
– Sampat Devi



Top photo: Sampat Devi stands in front of her Gulabi Gang

Bottom photo: Some Gulabi members practice using the lathi


Sampat Devi’s direct quotes taken from this documentary:

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Feminist Goes Golfing...

Golf is a sport that is infamous for its discriminatory ways. It is elitist, racist and sexist in nature. Nevertheless, when my Dad invited me out to the course this weekend, I thought I would take a swing at it and do some inside investigation.

The outing kicked off by fulfilling all expectations of the game. I was golfing with my Dad and other male relatives, all of whom are white and wealthy. We approached the first tee (the place where you hit the ball from, for all you non-golfers), and there were three markers. The markers: black, white, and red indicate different distances that you could hit from. The red, which was closest to the hole, was the “women’s tee.” This perturbed me greatly. My father and uncle encouraged me to start the game at the red tee; I refused. I proceeded to tee off from the same marker as the males in the party. Now, let me say, this was my first time golfing, and I was utterly wretched. The game for me was a series of mini-golf putts on a HUGE course. So, as you may guess, I was first to hit and last to putt every hole. Needless to say, my uncle (an avid golf aficionado), began to get restless. He kept encouraging me to hit from the red marker, and I continued to refuse in style - with each hole I seemingly got worse. Finally, responding to the tug-of-war between my uncle and me, my Dad intervened saying, “give up, she is a feminist.”

This got me thinking... is it wrong to want to be terrible at the same rate as others? My Dad is not a phenomenal golfer and my cousin is ¼ my size. Golf seemed to be more of a game of technique than anything (a technique I did not have). I wanted to play -and lose- at the same level as everyone else. I am not one for getting treated like a girl. As a child, I always participated in sports on the same level as the boys around me. I am not a small person by any means, and I think that it is a ridiculous notion that just because I have different anatomy down under, I should get special privileges in sports. Admittedly, I am a feminist, but is it wrong for the women that don’t use that label to ask for equality in their daily lives? Why wasn't my simple desire to not use the women’s tee enough, and why was that fact that I am a feminist tacked on in such a negative manner?

Children are always taught to strive to be the best and work their hardest, and, feminist or not, I would not be satisfied in just striving to be the best among women. I know that women and men are not built the same, but it does not mean that women should be excluded or treated differently.

Ultimately, my day of golf was not a total failure. I went out there knowing that I would be terrible, and that I would not come close to winning. However, I lost as an equal to the men in the group; to me, that is what was most important.