Feminism and the RedEye

I’ve filled quite a bit of blogosphere space (7 entries to be exact) criticizing the RedEye for its seemingly total cluelessness when it comes to women’s issues. From “reclaiming” virginity to lingerie football to referring to women as girls, the RedEye had the ability to make me see red and spew anger is black and white pixels.

And, although I still think the RedEye is still relatively clueless with mountains of room for growth, I also understand that so am I. As human beings we have the amazing ability to be desperately imperfect as well as the magnificent capacity to grow. Publications, as a product of human beings, are the same.

But we can only grow if we admit our imperfection and try to grow, if we face our fears and change despite the discomfort change imposes.

I realized in February that I was so critical of the RedEye because I desperately wanted to be a part of it. I wanted 100,000 people to read my words and see my truth. I wanted my voice heard. I wanted to add my story to the mix.

So I wrote to the editor of the RedEye’s opinion column -not for the first time I may note, perhaps for the fifth time- and I made my case. And he was intrigued. We chatted, I pitched and a month after I first faced my fear of rejection by the RedEye, I had a column on Page Four.

It is not a column to change the world, or Chicago, or even a few of the haters. It is a column to write this is Niki Fritz and this is what I believe. My only wish for change is that this column encourages others to be themselves more wholly, to contribute to the RedEye, to write their representatives, to voice their opinions, to not step away when they fear they authentic self may not be socially tolerable.

If we can all be our true selves a little louder, a little bolder, and with a little less concern for the status quo, then perhaps we can change for the better. I mean if the RedEye can print a column about feminism anything is possible.

Feminism is Your Friend

By: Niki Fritz

“Earmuffs! There is a new F-word in town, and it is dirtier than Rick Santorum’s name, more loaded than Mitt Romney’s wallet and more vile than the inside of Rush Limbaugh’s mouth.

Yes, “feminist” has taken over as the year’s most foul word.”

Read more 

Leave a comment

Filed under Low Brow, Newspapers, Uncategorized, WTF RedEye?

Not Another Virginity Article

It is that time of year again; time for the RedEye to print its annual obligatory “virginity” story. 364 days out of the year the RedEye is happy to fill its pages with lingerie football, Playboy bunny updates and fucksaws; but once a year the RedEye swings its horny pendulum in the other directions to talk about the “trend” of abstinence.  This year’s holier-than-thou treat goes by the name of “Power Virgins” and features Tebow on the cover.

The story is the basically the same as last year’s “No Sex in the City” article, some people choose to wait until marriage to have sex mainly for religious reasons. Cool. That is a choice they are free to make and a choice many have been making for centuries. This is not news folks. This is not a trend. Just because Tebow wants to wave his V card around and pastors are writing “freaky” sex books , doesn’t make abstinence news worthy.

The more interesting topic is why the fuck do we care who has fucked or who has not? It is a question the article posed in the beginning of the story but then never really got into, choosing instead to skirt along the surface of a topic that is oh-so-sensitive still in the “hard news” community. To dive into this question would be to ask why do we care so very much if someone has put their penis in someone else or had a penis in them and then to dive further would to question whether or not the location of said penis is important (oral, anal, squished between two breasts) and then to dive further would be to question the pleasure derived from said penis not to mention wondering where all the scissoring lesbians fit into this whole mess.

Look I’m all for keeping whatever virginity you want as long as you want. I know I kept my V card longer than the good lord probably intended. But posing virginity as the only alternative to the Playboy lifestyle is just messed up. It makes the conversation of sex too simple to be useful. In the end it just continues the cycle of fuck, shame, confusion, fuck, shame, confusion that permeates through the majority of young adults. Instead of swinging their shame-laden pendulum back and forth, wouldn’t it be nice if the RedEye actually facilitated an actual conversation about sex beyond the bustier and chasity belt?

Leave a comment

Filed under Low Brow, Newspapers, Sex, WTF RedEye?

New Year, New Column

2011 is over and luckily so is my Match.com account. Although I “enjoyed” online dating or at least enjoyed that I survived, and I certainly learned quite a bit, I’m happy to announce I’m broadening my Gapers Block column to include general life funness in addition to my dating fun time. Check out my 2012 Chicago Bucket list!

Leave a comment

Filed under Femtastic Women

What I want in a boyfriend: not so different from when I was 13

I recently discovered this list hidden in one of my drawers. It is what 13-year-old Niki wanted in a boyfriend.

 

With the exception of my complete flip-flop on facial hair (and of course now preferencing men over 15 year old boys), this list has stayed pretty consistent.

I want (in very particular order) a man who is

1. Open hearted/courageous/confident,

2. Funny (sarcasm never hurts),

3. Independent,

4. a good story teller,

5. with a keen interest in the female orgasm (preferably my own),

6. who is nice to his mommy,

7. and preferably has a full head of hear and cute hipster glasses

Good to know some things stay consistent in life even if perfect boyfriend has yet to appear.

*Note that the “kids” requirment is that he likes kids, not that he has them. This was more obvious at 13.

Leave a comment

Filed under Feminist Rant

What The Wire Taught Me About SexEd

If you knew me in High School, you know I had no need for SexEd while I was a teenager. I was hyperbolically academic, awkwardly clothed in thrift store cardigans and my role model was Rory Gilmore. And despite the fact that I’m pretty sure I masturbated embryonically and definitely had a strong curiosity in the subject of sex, even if just pixilated hypothetical sex, there was no way I was getting laid while I still roamed the hallowed halls of Preble High.

Yet somehow when my best friend decided to start having sex our senior year, I knew to google Planned Parenthood and look up the local number. I also knew the advantages of condoms versus the pill. And I knew you could get gonorrhea in the throat from a blowjob.

To this day I’m slightly baffled how I knew all this since I had a) never had sex and b) had never had SedEd. Although I’m foggy on many of the details of where my virgin self picked up all these details I’m pretty sure the knowledge came from three distinct sources: 1) Whatever information I could glean from the internet after my parents went to bed that would satisfy some of my growing curiosity for the birds and the bees and s and m 2) peers who usually were informed by older siblings or open hippy parents, god bless them or 3) in a few particular cases, specifically the gonorrhea in the throat example, Lifetime movies.

As I watched the fourth season of The Wire this weekend from my sick bed, I realized not all kids are as lucky as I was. For starters not all are blessed with braces and post-pubescent baby fat; some teenagers are attractive and can indeed attract sexual partners. And with this attraction comes all the complications of sex but with none of the formal or informal education.

I realize The Wire is not real life but after watching a recent local TV report about the lack of SexEd in Chicago, I’m beginning to believe it is not so far off. In addition to the “horrifying” fact that Chicago’s young people have the highest rate of gonorrhea in the U.S. (which also means Chicago has the highest rate of reporting and treating of that STI), the report also examines the schools’ role in this “epidemic.” A CPS grad, who is interviewed in cognito because of the extreme stigmas associated with underage sex, says she didn’t learn anything about sex, pregnancy or STIs in school. She learned about these things instead via first hand experience, aka two pregnancies and a Chlamydia infection.

It seems that whether we are in a fictitious Baltimore, or home sweet home in Chicago, we ignore teen sex. We pretend our 14 year olds aren’t having sex because it is easier to think of them as children than as complex human beings with a range of desires and emotions. Other than being naïve, this is dangerous.

Luckily there is a statewide movement to educate Chicago youth with age-appropriate SexEd. A bill called the Comprehensive Health Education Act or HB 3027 is currently looking to gain support in the IL legislature for a vote. A fact sheet is available on the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health website.

To be totally honest, I wish 14 year olds weren’t having sex. Looking back at my 8th grade picture, I’m sporting a Tommy Hilfiger shirt I wore about every 3 days, braces with bright yellow rubber bands and an uncomfortable smile of someone not quite used to their own skin. Looking back, I’m delighted I had time to grown into my skin before rubbing it against someone else’s.

But not everyone is fortunate enough to have my bad fashion sense and awkwardness; not everyone’s journey is my own; some teenagers are going to have probably awkward terrible 5-minute sex. We can’t stop this and realistically we don’t always need to stop this as it is part of growing up. But we can educate these little humping bunnies along the way so they stop passing around gonorrhea like some smuckers lip balm. We can give them more than some passed down information from siblings or inferred knowledge from American Pie. And for the ones not curious enough to WebMD “safe sex” we can give them the information in a handy worksheet, hopefully with smiling sex organs cartoons.

Something struck me at the end of the Chicago TV report. When asked what she wished she had learned, the CPS grad listed the basics, information on STIs and pregnancy but then she also added one more thing. She said she wish she had learned “self esteem, everything a woman needs to grown.”

It is this last bit that you can’t absorb from the glow of the internet nor from snippets of lifetime movies. It is this last bit that took me years to personally learn after years of confusing messages from the media about sex.

In the past decade we have put major educational resources towards abstinence only education and classes that are proven not only ineffective but also teach girls that if they have sex they are like sucked candy and that they need to be like quiet maidens.

The Comprehensive Sex Ed Bill isn’t just to teach kids to put a condom on a banana or how you can get knocked up even if he pulls out, it is to teach kids that sex has dangers and consequences but also ways to manage risk; that sex is a physical act between consenting people who respect each other; that sex is sex is a part of life, not your whole life; that sex does not make you used candy.

Really this bill is undoing the damage of a decade of bad lifetime movies and worse abstinence – only education programs. It is the kind of education I wish I had had so I was so shocked and disgusted the first time I saw a penis (at age 35 for my future children) and it wasn’t yellow and curved to the right.

For a glimpse into SexEd done right, check out this NYTimes article.

Leave a comment

Filed under Feminist Rant, Sex, T.V., The Politics

Funny woman making fun of funny “women” things

The feminist gods smiled upon me when they threw Sarah Haskin’s “Target Women” series in my path one boring Monday afternoon at work. Two hours and 8 youtube videos later, I’m officially a fan of this funny lady and her series “Target Women.” The short videos mostly make fun of advertising aimed at women, everything from birth control to botox. If you are not feeling particularly productive today, check out the series.

Leave a comment

Filed under Femtastic Women, Low Brow, Web

My New Dating Column!

It’s official I’ve been online dating for over a month now and writing about it online. From forgetting your date’s name to how to say no thanks to the dude that tattooed his own legs, I’m putting it all out there in a series calling Chicago Dating 2.011. Check it out at www.gapersblock.com/ac/dating.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Loving My Body One Orgasm At A Time

* October 19th the National Organization of Women celebrates Love Your Body Day. This post is part of the 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival.

When I was a freshman in college we had a “love your body day” presentation by a campus group. They posed the question “What do you love about your body?” Answers ranged from “my eyes” to “my biceps” to “the whole package” but almost all were in reference to what the individual found physically appealing about his or her body.

The coordinators then rephrased the questions and asked, “What do you love about what your body can do?” This took markedly more time. Answers ranged from “running 5 miles” to “laying down those sweet dance moves.” I think I said something about being able to walk up the 850 ft monstrous hill on campus everyday and thus avoiding the #80 bus.

But this was a cop out answer. Yes I am thankful I have legs that can carry me up a hill. Yes I love that my body is physically able. But what I love, what I really really just LOVE, is my body’s ability to orgasm.

Shockingly (or I guess not so shockingly given college freshman’s inability to talk about sex despite having vast indiscriminate amounts of it) no one in my group mentioned the big O or even thanked their hands for the effort on everyone’s 5-digit favorite pass time.

Our media is saturated with images of airbrushed cleavage, thigh and ass of just barley legal girls (not to mention the occasional side boob or crotch shot of a celebrity from overpaid, under scrupled paparazzi). They all reek of objectivity and over sexualization of women. Justifiably the counter culture screams of the injustice and points to all the other wonderful abilities of a woman’s body, to run, to be mobile, to be powerful, to be untraditionally beautiful.

Although a woman’s body is all of these things, it is also a cleavage, thigh and ass. And when it is appreciated fully for its ability to run, jump, skip and be beautiful, and perhaps touched in right combination either manually or with a partner’s generous help, a woman’s body is also sexy.

It is a fact we should not try to overlook on Love Your Body Day because it is an essential part of our bodies. Young girls are being taught via modern media how to look sexy, how to act sexy, how to squirm and moan sexy and how to sex sexy. They are not being taught how to actually experiment, explore or enjoy their sexy.

By only talking about the unsexy parts of the body, we are doing a disservice to young women. We are creating varsity soccer captains, student council presidents and Model UN representatives, who love their bodies and brains but wear ass-cheek revealing booty shorts with the words “sweetie” across the butt because a movie told them this is “sexy;” because no one told them part of loving your body is loving your own way of being sexy which usually does not include shorts with descriptive words scrawled across one’s backside.

I’m on a bit of a pedestal here but I’m going to preach it out while I have your attention. If we are ever going to truly teach girls how to love their bodies we are going to have to stop avoiding the sexy and start redefining it.

Sexy is not airbrushed nipples; it is not a series of carefully orchestrated positions in the best possible lighting followed by simultaneous orgasms; it not one image and it is not easy to define. Sexy is something we need to start talking about especially with our young women and men whose bodies, in addition to being beautiful and lovely, are also at their root horny sexy masses of energy. Let’s not ignore that fact; let’s metaphorically embrace it, and start talking about what sexy really means.

To me on this cold Chicago night, it is probably coming in the form of one of seven delightful speeds…

1 Comment

Filed under Feminist Rant, Sex

Miss Representation more than just a feminist documentary

Thanks to my new status as an official Gapers Block staffer, I had the chance to attend the YWCA’s sold out screening of Miss Representation. The night was amazing and potentialy life changing. Check out the first snip from my review and the documentary’s preview below:

It would be easy to blow off Miss Representation as just another panties-in-a-bunch feminist documentary; and I imagine a good majority of the penis-clad population  might do just that and not read past the word feminist. But at the risk of sounding like a naggy bitch, please don’t. Miss Representation is not just another “Annie get you guns” feminist mantra meant only to enrage the vags and turn us all into lesbians. Miss Representation is the story about our society; it is a story about the increasingly bruised and bloody relationships between the media and the women; and the lesson of this story is how shitty media hurts vags and penises alike. So if you have a vagina or just love vaginas in all their equal glory, this documentary is your story as well.

Click here to read more
 

Newest Miss Representation Trailer (2011 Sundance Film Festival Official Selection) from Miss Representation on Vimeo.

Leave a comment

Filed under Academia, Events in Chicago, High Brow, Low Brow, Movies

Do I really need to clarify? Apparently yes. OK here it is: rape is not funny. ever.

I was at this lovely little free comedy show at a dive bar in Lakeview one night, enjoying my night and pissing away my nonprofit salary on craft beer, when a comedian opened her act with this doosy: “There should really be rape days at work; like vacation days but after a rape.”

I wanted to find the humor or perhaps wry commentary on society in this joke, but instead I just ended up concluding that it was a stupid attention getting stunt meant to illicit uncomfortable laughter (which it did). In all honesty I give the comedian some leeway because she is a woman and therefore not as funny as a man so she had to resort to the easy punch line.

But where I simply can’t find the wiggle room is how a man thought telling a story about RAPING a drunk woman was funny. But apparently ex-Second City cook Eric didn’t get the don’t be a fucking rapist memo.

I’ll admit it; I’ve been a bit of a P.C. freak in the past but in my elder years I’ve come to appreciate the slightly off colored jokes especially when they involve dead babies. However I will never understand why Eric thought that forcing his way into a unwilling woman’s room, getting on top of said intoxicated women and “doing his work” would ever be considered humorous.

I could get into the particulars of Eric’s pathetic story such as his perceived “peer pressure” and his idea of the “fish hook” as foreplay, but honestly I think I’ve said it all when I say Eric D Angell you will never have sex again.

Also I hope Tina Fey kicks your ass.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Feminist Rant, Low Brow, Web