Today I received a package from Sephora I had been expecting, containing some foundation I wanted to try. Sephora also does this cool thing where they give you three free samples with every purchase, so I selected some sample perfumes and added them to my cart. One of these three perfumes was “Versace pour homme,”which basically means that it’s Versace for men. So I sprayed some on my wrist and it smelled so good that I considered investing in a bottle of it in some point in the future. But then I starting thinking about how annoying it is that we gender perfumes. It’s not only for men. Anybody who likes the scent can purchase it. But this is just part of a bigger issue. Our society so strongly feels the urge to gender everything and make a clear distinction between what is “for girls” and what is “for boys.” Because god forbid a guy bought a razor “for women” he would instantly become emasculated. And oh how sad that would be, to be compared to or even be considered a girl.
The social conditioning of gender roles and gendered products is literally introduced into our lives since birth. Boys get wrapped up in blue blankets, and pink is exclusively for girls. Little girls are urged to play with dolls and wear tutus and become obsessed with Disney princesses. Boys should play with hot wheels and Leggos and try out for the little league team. And it’s not as if this behavior and way of thinking is innate. It is learned behavior and ideology. Five-year-old girls don’t have this innate sense to play house or want to be a ballerina when they grow up. We are taught this through observation and guidance. No one ever questions if their little boy prefers pink or blue. It’s just not an option. Fathers automatically assume that their daughter doesn’t want to play catch because she is female. Never giving her the opportunity to decide whether or not she likes sports is what continues this cycle.
And of course people will tell me to not care so much, that it doesn’t really matter. But it does. It shapes the way we view men and women, the way we stereotype, and assume these roles solely based on gender identity. I’m a woman and I like “men’s cologne”. I like dressing comfy and not giving a shit about appearing as a “proper lady”. I’m also gay. But I wear makeup and jewelry. I’ll even occasionally wear stilettos (although that is usually reserved for weddings). What it means to be a man or a woman is not determined through how the media dictates what we should wear, buy, do, or even look like. That is something entirely up to the individual. And I am certainly including transgender folks in this argument. They should not be required to “pass” as a certain gender in order to be respected. Surgery and hormones cost a lot of money, which many trans people don’t have. And someone’s biological make up should certainly not determine their worth, i.e. the overpowering and smothering patriarchy. And of course if you are someone who fits into these specific gender roles that is perfectly okay. There is only a problem if it is not your choice and is forced upon you throughout your entire childhood and adult life. So if you are looking for any rolls to choose in the future, I’d go with sushi.
Religious liberty is attempting to make a most unflattering comeback in the United States. Mike Pence, Republican Governor of Indiana, recently signed a Religious Liberty Bill modeled on the former Religious Restoration Act. The bill will legally allow business owners and the like to refuse goods and services to LGBT individuals on the basis of religious freedom. While Pence later went on to “fix” the bill, the fix does not directly apply to religious groups and LGBT individuals are still unprotected by Indiana law. The fix was simply a way to make the bill more palatable to those opposed to it. Arkansas, Louisiana, and Georgia are also in the process of enacting their own Religious Liberty bills, further enhancing the threat to LGBT Americans. The bill in question goes way beyond upholding religious liberty. It allows for discrimination on the grounds of faith. Many religious people argue that they should not be forced to participate in a same-sex wedding or serve same-sex couples and individuals because they believe it is sinful and unnatural. And of course these same people go on to implement the ever popular “it’s say so in the Bible” excuse. Anti-LGBT christians do not want to knowingly aid those of that “lifestyle”. But in what way is discrimination supposedly Christian? Of course no one who supports this bill is willing to admit to what it actually does, that it legally allows someone to discriminate against another person. Of course they deny it. Read the news articles and watch the videos. They cannot outwardly admit to it.
Interestingly enough, no one is preventing Christians from practicing their faith, going to church, praying, wearing whatever religious garments and accessories they choose to. Yet many still claim that is in fact the Christians who are being discriminated against. However, the Christians are not the ones being denied service, and that is the very important difference of the matter. One cannot infringe upon someone else’s rights, call it religious liberty, and then act as if they are the real victim in question. It is completely unethical. It is also uneconomical. Businesses will only end up losing profit by turning away paying customers on the sole basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Big businesses like Apple will take a stance against states in which the bill is enacted, which will certainly not be a loss for the billion dollar corporation, but rather for the various local Christian-run eateries and flower shops. Hopefully, it is this argument that will turn some heads because apparently money is much more greatly valued than the rights of other people. Needless to say, there are many Christians who strongly disagree with using religion as an excuse for homophobia. However, it is the Anti-LGBT Christians whose voices overpower the non-discriminatory ones.
It starts with a tear
a gut-wrenching heartbroken sob
that forces my whole body to tremor
sweating with anxiety and pitiless emotions
which sends me head first into what
my therapist calls a “spiral of doom”
Degradation and self-deprecation
consume my being
and I can only think of how
lonely I feel or how
I’m not being loved or
fucked (in the more pleasurable sense)
or how the only person who ever
cared for me threw my love
But perhaps that’s why it hurts
to know my efforts will
always be greater
my love will always be fuller
than anything anyone can
I am but a window
and my eyes only see
what they want me to see
and while your words effect this body,
this heart has very carefully shut itself away.
I watch myself live my life as a passive viewer,
an uninterested audience member
and only occasionally do I stop to question if this is reality
when I feel as if I am only a pawn in a video game,
alive but not quite living
There is a disease that has consumed me
A disease some might call love
Yet this foolishness
This gambling of emotions
Is only ever temporary
Soul mate is a rather nonsensical term
And all you ever did for me
Was make my stomach ache
And of course it was you I dreamt of
when my hands were tired
and my face went numb
and nothing at all seemed to matter
to the hopeless eyes
that watched the light slowly fade
and trickle into darkness.
It could only ever be you
that my thoughts drifted to
and grasped too tightly,
that even the darkness began
to resemble light
and the blade felt too much like your hand
to notice the difference between
blood and sweat
and what it feels like to be dying
or simply falling asleep
My heart is aching
And you have no idea
You have no idea
How many times I wished I was drunk
How many times I cried myself into an icy stupor
In order to avoid feeling the great amount of pain that I do
And I know you are finding yourself
As you should
But you have taken a piece of myself with you
And I would like to have it back
I would like to have you back in my arms
Caressing my face and telling me that everything will be okay
As I have always told you
And sometimes it still hurts.
Sometimes I still feel the lingering sting of it all,
a memory long gone, slowly fading, but still within sight.
And sometimes I have nightmares about you
that give me shivers and cold sweats,
the image of your screaming face still imprinted in my mind.
But you were poison oak and my skin was much too fragile
to make it out unscathed.
And sometimes I can still feel the bruises you left behind,
jamming my fingers into them,
as they weep like tiny stab wounds.
And I am left here,
still trying to wipe your name from my tongue,
and oh how bitter it tastes.
This is not about you.
This is not about about all those times you made me feel worthless and pathetic or how you spat my own name in my face like a curse.
This is not about how your betrayal ripped a giant gaping hole in my heart that I have not yet even begun to patch up. I can only keep ripping off the bandaid to remind myself of what it feels like to hurt.
And this is not about how your name will forever feel like acid on my tongue, burning the back of my throat as I try to smother the urge to scream it out into the night.
This is not about you.
This is about me.
This is about all the hurt and torment I have endured as I passively watched you set me on fire. This is about my struggle to love myself to fill the hole that you made, as you left me to fend for myself like a lonely and wounded animal.
This about how I will rise high above the flames and spread my hatred like wildfire, so that maybe one day, it might reach you.
This is about how I hope neither heaven nor hell will take you, for you would surely be a disappointment to both.
So, no. This is not about you.
This is about me,
like it always has been.
Sometimes caring can be dangerous
A treacherous minefield full of broken hearts
That never seems to have an escape route
A gut-wrenching calamity of an inner struggle
That consumes your entire being
Until you are engulfed in agony
But perhaps it is better to hurt than to feel nothing at all
Perhaps it is only beneficial to take great risks and gamble with your heart
In order to find the one thing that everyone spends their whole lives searching for: