Category Archives: Feminism

creepy teachers & why they’re an issue*

*Trigger Warnings: rape, abuse, molestation.

School has started and I’ve been too tired to blog even on break. I have decided that I don’t think I’ll be blogging as much about fashion anymore. I don’t like it enough. From now on, my posts will be writing-oriented rather than fashion (but I’ll still have cultural things here and there, like music or films if I think they’re relevant.)

A topic that I have been thinking about and contemplating for some time is that of creepy teachers, the ones at school who may never actually harm anyone but who stare at their students in such a manner that is more out place at a learning institution than Don Draper is being monogamous. In other words, for those who haven’t had the privilege of watching Mad Men, it’s ridiculous and everyone knows it.

First, let’s establish what a creepy teacher IS. We all may have varying definitions of creepy, but according to Merriam-Webster, it means something that is “producing a nervous shivery apprehension.” Oxford Dictionary’s is similar: “causing an unpleasant feeling of fear or unease.” If we took this literally, we could use it a lot more generally–a physics final with a terrible professor, being late to a birthday party where you don’t know anyone, starting college, getting fired from your job–all of these could be creepy. But creepy is a word that is almost never used in these contexts and instead seems to apply to people, usually men, who have “wandering eyes.” And let’s be honest–teachers being creepy are some of the worst types of creepy people ever.

The thing about teachers in general (just like the word creepy, in general) is that  they are supposed to be teaching you how to do mathematics or science or Spanish or history. Something that I doubt has ever been in a teacher’s job application under “criteria” is “must stare at female and or male students in suspicious manners. Must meet with specific “favorites” after class for hours on end and must try to do everything in their power to deny any accusations of peculiar behavior.” And yet, here I am, in high school, worrying and wondering about the fate of these teachers’ current students.

The issue really first came to my attention when my younger brother was in middle school. In a history class in which he was not a student, he informed me, the teacher would purposely line up all of the girls in the front row just so he could see them better. He would meet with them outside the classroom to talk to them about how they were doing but really just stare them down. The girls were forced to wear scarves and jackets to cover themselves up when they were around him. At one point, students claimed, he got a visible boner in front of the whole class because the girls in the front row were all wearing skirts. Now, obviously, seventh graders are going to be over-dramatic and we can’t always be sure if what they’re saying is what they actually mean, but when I started observing said teacher (who was also the dean of students,) it became clear that he was not just a weird person or “misunderstood.”

And yet, the teacher is still there. After all of the things I have seen him do to students (touching a girl’s bare back when it wasn’t necessary, starting at younger girls who don’t even attend the school until their parents have to whisk them away, making the dance group do an unplanned encore performance at a regular Monday assembly) and just being an all around peculiar person, nobody has filed any complains and nobody has been fired. For one thing, the teacher is white. This basically gives him almost all of the protection he needs against being a molester, let alone a suspected “creep.” I’ve attempted to bring it up with other adults, just to see what they think, and all of them try to justify his being in a position. “He’s a good teacher and he really cares about the students,” was one and “maybe you see it that way, but a lot of people like him,” was another. Overall, the vibe I received from adults concerning the issue was “why should we care?”

Well, that’s a damned good question. Why should we care? These girls and boys are only in this class for nine months out of their middle school careers, less than 4 hours a week. They don’t have to see him for the rest of their lives. Once they reach high school, they aren’t required to talk to him for any reason. He’s just a person, just another guy hanging around and doing his job. Ah, yes. Doing his job.

Is being overly touchy-feely with girls doing his job?

No, as mentioned prior, it is obviously and most certainly not.  Sure, maybe the guy hasn’t raped any of the students, maybe he hasn’t molested them, maybe he’s just doing what he appears to be doing. But apparently, that’s not enough to bother people. Until the guy does something like rape someone or molest them, then action MIGHT be taken (and even then people will doubt that it happened.) And more to the point, what does it tell the people going into his class everyday? That being unsafe in a work space is normal? Girls are already taught from an age that seems to be steadily decreasing that our bodies really aren’t our own–they are other people’s to talk about, abuse, and control. The problem with creepy teachers is that they reenforce this idea that a school, a space that is supposed to be safe and encourage people to reach their highest potential, is just another place. Another place where people in positions of authority (white men) can do what they want.

And maybe, just maybe, this idea could come into the workplace? Other people in positions of authority (partners at a firm, say, colleagues of the head of a department at a television network) are probably aware that the CFO (position of power, but not as high,) John, keeps making crude comments to the women and/or men and may even go so far as to touch them more often than is necessary. And will they do anything about it? Probably not. Because it’s annoying to hire someone new, and more the point, why should they care?

It seems that while there are many creepy teachers who don’t actually show signs of being weird and then abuse children, there are just as many who do show signs, and before the attendees of the school and their parents know it, someone’s life has been changed. I am not saying that every creepy teacher needs to be fired immediately, but the least we could do is create an environment in which its acceptable to talk to people in positions of authority if they make us feel uncomfortable and have the power to stand against them.

Creepy teachers bother me because they’re just another part of the puzzle of victim blaming since nobody wants to acknowledge their behaviors, which are already traumatic enough, until it’s “too late.”. Creepy teachers are often ones who never shut up about the dress code because they want to be able to act like they are letting “girls respect themselves” when in reality, they want to justify their feelings towards their students by acting like it’s how they dress since they are obviously dressing for other people, another large component of victim blaming. They just aren’t as innocent as they seem and their destructive actions need to be taken seriously. They can’t be waved off.

Comment↓ if you’d like, discussions are always fun to have!

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Autumn’s Point (shitty titles 2k12) (a series by Abby)

I haven’t written much abut Autumn, who has a wonderful blog and is much more cultured than I think I will ever be. She recently wrote this post that I just want to agree with because it’s worth talking about.

I think that what Autumn said is all completely correct. I think our culture likes to see girls hate each other, especially and most importantly over idiotic things, like boys or things that they like to deem trivial like hair or makeup or clothes, because it just backs up this whole “girls are catty and bitchy” stereotype that both men and women embrace. In fact, I think I’ve even met more women who embrace this idea too (a lot of men just don’t seem to think about it.) The amount of times I have heard girls and even women saying that “girls suck because they’re catty” and “boys are just so much more loyal to each other” is ridiculous. I used to say things like that (but of course, I was about 10 and thought that if someone with HIV touched a door knob and I touched the same one, I would get it too.)
The problem with these attitudes is that they split us apart. They aren’t helpful for us because it’s unhealthy to hate someone and it usually has something to do with bad self-esteem. The more we hate, the more flaws we can find in other people. But that translates to how we view ourselves, and in this world, being under-confident as a woman is pretty much an epidemic. Rarely do I meet people who seem comfortable with themselves before they’re 30.
In addition, we are depriving ourselves of meeting and liking the presence of others if we just call everyone a terrible bitch when we don’t even know them. It’s always good to meet and speak to new people and with this idea in our head, we really can’t. At least, I found it hard to when I actively hated on girls (but denied it to myself all the time.) I try harder to see the girls I disliked for whatever reason as potential friends or cool people to admire, not enemies or bitches just because they’re skinnier or more intelligent than me. And that’s another thing–when I didn’t see people as skinnier or more intelligent than me, I wouldn’t see them as a threat or someone to aspire to be, and therefore I wouldn’t hate them. In retrospect, it’s all very disgusting and counter-productive because either way, I was being judgmental to myself and to other people for being too perfect or not perfect enough.

Rookie had this amazing article on girl hate. I realized that pretty much all I do is reference Rookie and it’s terrible but they pretty much have an article on everything, and considering it’s almost their year-long anniversary, that makes sense.

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Things we should all invest in

Recently I had the privilege of watching “Miss Representation” on iTunes. You can get it for a one day rental if you don’t want to pay the full price (or you can buy it, which is just as good.) I get worried about downloading from illegal sites the way everyone else does because a) what if someone catches me and b) what if it’s glitchy and doesn’t work. First world problems at their finest.

Miss Representation in itself is a wonderful movie, not just for people who already believe in equal rights but for people like straight white guys who don’t know anything about the media’s impact on women. I really like how they went behind WHY the media has gotten worse in terms of messages it brings out about women. Yes, the media has always been degrading but as Jean Kilbourne, creator of “Killing Us Softly,” said: it’s getting worse. The film goes into why–which, in a short summary, is because of the government’s regulation on the media and what can be released. Right now there are almost no laws restricting what people can and can’t put out as part of their advertising the way there used to be. And because the internet is unrestricted, it only creates a worse problem. I’d highly recommend watching the trailer, which in itself is an eye opener.

I found this video after seeing a gif of it on Tumblr and it’s basically saying what needs to be said about EVERYTHING. Not just abortion and women’s health (though that is the main message) but also sex and lgbtq issues. The women in this video are absolutely badass. They aren’t nice. This isn’t some kind petition to say “hey, please stop trying to police what I do with myself, thanks.” This is “if you can’t keep your morals out of other people’s lives then they aren’t morals and don’t act like they are by trying to justify what you’re doing with what is obviously sexist bullshit.” This is the truth. Yes, it may seem over dramatic and out of place, but when you consider how the US is pretty much raging a war on women in terms of reproductive rights and general health (anorexia, breast cancer screenings, etc.) you start to realize that it’s got a point.

Arabelle‘s blog is amazing and so is her Tumblr. She is currently a university student in New Jersey and made this video (Eff this noise, which is number seven in the playlist–couldn’t get it on here without the other ones first, apologies!) in her dorm room when Rick Santorum hadn’t dropped out of the race (i.e., a time just as dark as now.) While it’s a bit questionable where they’re getting some of their sources (I just figure you should cite them,) this is the same as the video above–no bullshit, straight-up, justified anger. We should get angry. We need to get angry. If we don’t, these things will continue to happen and Arabelle and her room mate are totally in realization of it. Keep up the good work.

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No good title ideas other than Willow Smith is a badass

If you’ve been paying attention to pop culture lately, you’ll know that Willow Smith (daughter of Will Smith if you want some familiarity) was/is being attacked for her personal style, especially now that she’s shaved her head and dresses in non-traditional clothing that isn’t seen on Elle Fanning or Hailee Steinfeld, two of Hollywood’s better received stars (even though they’re actors and Willow is a singer.) Her new video, “I Am Me,” has definitely caused a stir among everyone, from parenting blogs (ew) to regular people (ew). Some have said homophobic, misogynistic, racist, and just downright ridiculous bullshit not only about Willow, but about how her family “brought her up,” which I almost find even more ridiculous. She isn’t a serial killer. She is a person expressing herself the way she wants to.

“We let Willow cut her hair. When you have a little girl, it’s like how can you teach her that you’re in control of her body? If I teach her that I’m in charge of whether or not she can touch her hair, she’s going to replace me with some other man when she goes out in the world. She can’t cut my hair but that’s her hair. She has got to have command of her body. So when she goes out into the world, she’s going out with a command that it is hers. She is used to making those decisions herself. We try to keep giving them those decisions until they can hold the full weight of their lives”–Will Smith on why he let Willow cut her hair, in response to all the things people were saying to criticize him.

I think the significance of what he said is a really great thing. In case you didn’t notice, women are often sexualized and objectified in the media on a daily basis. One of the signs of such behavior is people telling them to do this or do that (Jessica Simpson needs to lose weight, x celebrity shouldn’t wear purple, Willow Smith shouldn’t cut her hair) and he’s responding to it. Not directly of course, but that’s the gist of it because that’s what she got after she got a freaking haircut and wore clothes she liked. I find it ridiculous that people care so much about other people’s choices. She isn’t being self destructive or stealing or anything immoral or unethical. She’s simply doing what she wants, but I guess because she doesn’t really fit the mainstream media’s idea of beauty, people will continue to say awful things. And that’s disgusting.

Her latest video, “I Am Me,” is amazing. The quotation that everyone jumped on (whether to criticize it or to adore it) is “your validation is just not that important to me.” Yes, that’s right. Willow Smith does not give a shit if you think her hair is weird or that she isn’t doing things “properly.” So wasting your time being gross and judgmental is probably not going to get you anywhere.

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Alternatives to David Tosh’s Bullshit

Unless you live under a rock, you are probably aware of the fact that Daniel Tosh is a comedian who made a rape joke and told a heckler who objected to said joke that it would be funny if she got raped. Obviously this bullshit is not funny because he is a white heterosexual cisgender man with money and his own television show and he does not know what it is like to be a woman, let alone a woman who has been raped. Rather than dwelling on what is obviously the dark side of things and trying to analyze Tosh’s joke (which many have done, Jessica Valenti included,) I have found what appears to be one of the best Wanda Sykes videos ever (which is pretty impressive, considering that she is absolutely hilarious):

Photo via Lipstick Feminists, a blog that Tosh will have to start to check out if he doesn’t want an angry mob of decent human beings burning his house down.

In case Tosh had any sort of ideas about rape and rape culture, he should probably read this and get it into his head that he is an asshole and a disgusting turd.

Sometimes the world makes me want to throw shit.

Luckily Wanda Sykes exists so it should all be okay. My favorite online magazine, XoJane, had an article about Tosh too, which basically sums everything up for you, from start to finish. This passive aggressive stuff is now over. I just felt that it had to be acknowledged.

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Youtube Love

I’m sure the majority of people in the internet generation have been there–you’re basically obsessed with a youtube channel. Whether you subscribe or not is irrelevant, you’ve just GOT TO MAKE sure you have watched every single episode they have ever made. Such is the case with Laci Green, a youtube sensation who makes videos on her channel, Sex+, about anything having to do with sex and sexuality (plus other videos along the way.) Hopefully you’re not throwing your computer across the room and screaming about how I’ve scammed you because I’m supposedly a fashion blog, but then again if you are, you won’t be reading this right now so it’s irrelevant anyway. The point is, there ARE PEOPLE WHO NEED TO SPEAK about issues like this and I truly believe in the idea that abstinence-only education fucks us over in more ways than one (YA SEE WHAT I DID THERE HAR HAR)  and Laci Green is right there with me. Her latest video made me love her even more than I already do (which is quite difficult, to be honest):

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Quirky

The title of this post is basically what seems to sum up the current equivalent of the mainstream desirable woman, which has now turned from a tanned Californian Barbie esque chick to a pale one with square glasses and bangs who listens to the Smiths (she’s quirky! But never TOO weird!)

I don’t know where this evolution of quirky started–maybe it’s just that people got sick of Barbie look-alikes, hence the end of spray tans and fake blonde hair among female celebrities. She wasn’t hipster or intellectual enough, and plus, wasn’t she, like, bound to get skin cancer anyway? The point was, Jessica Simpson was boring us. She wasn’t enough for the people of today…but have no fear, folks! She’s been replaced with—

Zooey Deschanel! See that great little deck next to her beautifully pale and obviously not Photoshopped face? I read a critique of this issue on Tumblr which said, (and I’m paraphrasing, generally quoting here):

“America, are you ready for a slender, white heterosexual woman on a television show?”

Which is exactly right…who the fuck came up with the idea that these people are actually original or even worse, feminist/innovative? Well, they’re not.  I don’t hate Zooey Deschanel. I quite like her, actually. She’s not easy to hate. The thing I hate is how people describe her/perceive her because the word I hear constantly is “quirky.” I don’t know where people get this idea from. It’s like, “OH GUYS LOOK AT ME I’M ZOOEY DESCHANEL LOOK HOW QUIRKY AND AWKWARD I AM AS I WALK DOWN THIS URBAN STREET WITH MY DARK HAIR FLOWING IN THE WIND AND MY COLLARBONES PROTRUDING WEARING A PAIR OF HIGH WAISTED BLUE PANTS AND A BOW IN MY HAIR AS I LISTEN TO THE SMITHS OH MY GOD I AM SO WEIRD NOBODY GETS ME BUT I DON’T CARE BECAUSE I’M QUIRKY OH MY GOD.”

And what are we supposed to say? “OH MY GOSH I CAN TOTALLY RELATE TO THIS SKINNY PRETTY PERSON WHO I’M SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE FINALLY THERE’S SOMEBODY AWKWARD AND WEIRD AND QUIRKY JUST LIKE ME!!!” Except that saying that would be completely illogical. Because Zooey Deschanel is pretty and whatever, it’s cool that she’s awkward. But her being awkward isn’t really what I think when that word pops into my head. I think of stupid freshmen saying crappy things to each other and acne and period blood. I do not think of Zooey Deschanel, which brings us back to our original equation.

From a personal standpoint, I think I’m socially awkward (just like these quirky girls!), but I’m also overweight, have acne, and cuss like a sailor. I am not Zooey Deschanel awkward…I am just, like, fat gross teenage awkward which is completely undesirable and does not make me quirky and cute. I feel like I can relate even less to these “quirky” people because they don’t strike me as such in the first place. I don’t think ANYBODY relates to these people.

I’m sorry, but that’s literally how I feel every single time I see her on TV or something. It’s so irritating. People like Zooey Deschanel are just like other mainstream female celebrities–thin, white, and possibly or possibly not talented (if the first two are super obvious, the last one doesn’t seem to be as important.) As I said, I don’t dislike her or anything she does. I think her band is good and her show is funny, I really couldn’t care less. When she made fun of herself on SNL on the “Quirky Show” I just about died because it was so accurate. The point is how she’s made out by the public to be this “adorable, quirky” girl and it’s just as crappy as the whole Barbie thing in the early 2000’s.

Since when did wearing knee socks and vintage clothes and listening to the Smiths and having bangs make people innovative or cool? That’s like all of high school. People need to catch on and stop making this a huge deal.

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Please understand that this is not a bashing of Zooey Deschanel herself. As mentioned numerous times in the post, it is the way she is portrayed by television and the way she is seen by everyone or the way that everyone likes to see her. There are plenty of other examples of these things in the mainstream media with other celebrities, but she’s the best example out there. Hopefully this will not be taken offensively (if it is taken at all it’d be nice though, thanks for reading!!)

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