Whose Femininity Is It Anyway?

By: Adriana Miranda

Have you ever thought about how, like, femininity is SO strongly tied to men? Hear me out!

Yeah, femininity is traditionally associated with women. BUT! Think about what kind of women are afforded femininity. It tends to be straight women, or white women, orrrr thin women, or just women that fit into the cishet male gaze of desirability in one way or another. So if femininity (at least to a cishet world) means “desirable to men” has it ever really been ours to begin with? And what if our performance of femininity ISN’T for men, what happens then?

Now we all perform gender, right? I personally present very feminine, i’m talking almost-strictly-wears-dresses feminine. I also happen to be a lesbian. And plus-size. And a person of color. This for some reason sometimes confuses (and angers) cisgender heterosexual people.

Either my femininity is called into question or my sexuality is called into question: “Are you sure you’re not at all attracted to men? You dress so cute! I bet you secretly do like us.” Or…“Do you just dress this way because you’re not comfortable being your true self?”

Why does it need to be one way or another? Why does my femininity have to be me trying to attract men or make up for my fatness for men or appear more “soft” for men? What if I just want to present feminine? And even if I was if I was doing it for anyone other than myself, it’s definitely for other lesbians. Femininity can and DOES exist entirely on its own, completely separate from men.

Someone’s Gotta Say it: Female Comedians Don’t Get a Fair Shake

By: Emma Sauer

In 2019, A Little Late with Lily Singh aired for the first time on NBC. Singh, a comedy youtuber and influencer, launched her career from her YouTube channel. Initially, fans and critics were cautiously optimistic, and at first the show seemed like it would be promising–then the first episode came out. 

Christ on a cracker, was it bad. Every joke fell flat, every skit was played out, and Singh’s presentation felt forced and awkward.  I’m not going to argue Lily Singh is some comedy genius, but I do think the widespread scorn she received was disproportionate. Sure, she made a bad show, and some jokes that were in poor taste, but it was her first time appearing in front of a TV audience. The show had budget and time difficulties, and it was filmed in the heat of COVID-19, further throwing a wrench into the show’s production. The problems audiences and media critics had with the show extended way beyond its quality, but that’s another blog for the time. For the time being, let’s just say some people thought Singh got a little too comfortable appropriating Caribbean/Black culture. 

Everyone on the internet seemed to agree for one brief, delicious moment–A Little Late with Lily Singh was a swing and a miss. But then, it became clear to me that there were some people taking the opportunity not just to bash Singh’s comedy, but just female comedians in general. I remember seeing a lot of discourse online throughout YouTube, Reddit, and 4-chan. (Shout-out to 4-chan for always being there to remind me humanity is doomed.)

This incident reminded me of an ongoing argument that has never really ended- are women even funny? If you’re a rationally thinking person, this sounds like an incredibly stupid argument, and I agree with you–it is stupid. It’s ass-backwards, even. The idea that women can’t be comedians based on their gender is something I wish we left back in the early 2000s, but unfortunately it is still a thing. On the bright side, you won’t find a lot of reputable sources declaring women incapable of fun. On the not so bright side, you’ll find it’s the opposite on internet forums and social media. 

So what exactly are people saying about female comedians? Well, I’ll save you the pain of googling it yourself. (You’ll have to take my word for it. I don’t want to link where I found these remarks–they’re hateful and not worth your time to read.) Here’s what I found: 

  1. “Women are more concerned with their appearance than telling jokes.” In a YouTube video called “Women are NOT FUNNY” (very creative title, 10/10), the guy in front of the camera reacts to some unfunny TikTok videos from a woman. His takeaway from a couple seconds-long videos? “Women just don’t seem to appreciate comedy at the same level a man does.” He also states that men are better at comedy, because they are willing to self-deprecate from an early age, while women prefer to avoid drawing attention to their imperfections. He categorizes women as being too vain and self-absorbed to take a joke. This dude talks like women are an entirely different species. His ideas were kind of interesting, but he had nothing to back it up- no research, no articles mentioned or cited. The comments had nothing but  high praise for him though, and he’s got ~200,000 subscribers. Go figure, I guess. 
  2. “Female comedians joke too much about their vaginas.” This is another blanket statement I’ve come across on social media threads, and I’m sure it’s something female comics have been hearing for decades now. In my humble opinion, this is a double standard at play. I haven’t even watched that much stand-up comedy and even I’ve heard a ton of dick jokes from male comics. Why is it that guys can make dick/sex jokes all they want, but when a women does the same thing, people find it so gross? I think it has to do with the fact that people don’t expect sex jokes from a woman. From a man, they’re funny. From a woman, it’s annoying and icky. Comedian Emily Weir had some insightful things to say about this in an article from Farrago Magazine. The article is from 2016, but it still makes great points. 
  3. “I don’t like(insert female comedian here) therefore all female comedians are bad.” This isn’t a statement I hear from people online–rather, it’s the thought process I’ve observed from people who hold that belief. Ok, remember what I said about Singh earlier? People took that one instance and spun their own narrative of all women being poor comedians, not just Singh. I see the same thing happen all the time with mainstream female comedians, such as Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, and Ellen DeGeneres. It’s important to recognize that the comedian world is male dominated. Men make up roughly 75% of comedians. The few female comedians you see in the spotlight are not necessarily an accurate picture of all the others. There’s a cornucopia of gut-busting female comedians out there- you just aren’t looking.  Additionally, I’d argue that there are a lot of mainstream male comics who are equally obnoxious and groan-inducing. I don’t like Joe Rogan, but that doesn’t mean every bald, red-faced, middle-aged man is a hack, just most of them! (Kidding, kidding… I didn’t mean it, Dad.) 

It goes without saying that women are just as funny as anyone else. These three points don’t prove anything, and as soon as you start to think about them, their reasoning falls apart. As time goes on, more people are catching onto the weak arguments against female comedians. The way they’re viewed is changing, and I feel like the climate is improving for women in comedy. Even still, these backwards ideas against them still persist. They’ve always bugged me, and someone had to say it. 

P.S) Here are a few of my favorite female comedians. Feel free leave your own favorites in the comments! 

Nicole Byer

Jamie Loftus

Catilin Reily 

What if Women’s Roles were Played by Men?


By: Maritza Gordillo

I came across this article on Buzzfeed.com and it caught my attention as it described something we’re not used to seeing: reversed gender roles. As you see the video it seems pretty funny and absurd to switch the women’s roles to men’s, but why? Could it be that we are so used to seeing women objectified on the big screen and internalize it? The answer is yes. Society has created tools tailored to view women as sex symbols or objects. Just think that if men look ridiculous playing these roles, why shouldn’t women look ridiculous too?

What’s in a Name

"...there are no powerful women, but all women are powerful!" Image from Creative Commons

“…there are no powerful women, but all women are powerful!”
Image from Creative Commons

By Morgn Paul

Paul, Morgan?

I’m used to hearing teachers mess up names, giggling and drawing out letters to avoid embarrassing themselves (or the student), but I never really had to deal with this. “Morgan Paul” is too simple to screw up saying, aside from the occasional “Megan”. What I’m more used to is “Paul Morgan”. It never really fazed me until my professor was handing back papers one day and I noticed the way she paused. My name was clearly typed at the top of the page, “Morgan Paul” In that order, no comma.  But when she got to my paper she stopped, whispered my name to herself, and then asked “Paul Morgan?” I politely corrected her, took my paper, and checked to see if I had written my name backwards. I had not. I soon realized that even though it was more likely that my name was written correctly she was worried that if I were a man it would have been insulting to have been confused with a woman. She may not have blatantly recognized this fear, but I do believe that is why she said my name that way. I believe that’s the reason why most teachers throughout my education career have not questioned my gender, but immediately assumed that I was a boy. This experience reminded me of a quote by Ian McEwan that has lodged itself into the most concrete part of my brain and peaks its head out daily to remind me why I am fighting against the patriarchy. “Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short and wear shirts and boots because it’s okay to be a boy; for girls it’s like promotion. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, according to you, because secretly you believe that being a girl is degrading.” These words are constantly haunting every piece of me. When I want to celebrate the growth of women’s rights I realize it’s not a growth of women’s rights but a transition into a new category of masculinity. This is the same reason that women in pant suits working in corporate offices are seen as manly instead of powerful women. This is the same reason that girls playing in the dirt are tomboys instead of girls who don’t mind getting dirty. And furthermore, this idea of quiet weak women makes me feel the need to make the distinction between women and powerful women or girls and girls who don’t mind getting dirty as if they’re not still women or girls! I hope that I’m not the only one who is upset by these realizations, and I hope that I’m not the only one who will support the idea that there are not powerful women but that all women are powerful!

Let’s Break the Gender Stereotypes about Women in Sports

By Torshawna Griffin

Image from Creative Commons.

Image from Creative Commons.

Two athletes, both African American, both going through the same situation. The difference is that the media took one athlete’s “moment” and shrugged it off, but made a story of the other. Britney Griner was a first draft pick for the WNBA and currently plays for the Phoenix Mercury. In April of 2013, she openly came out about her sexuality. Why you didn’t hear about this? Well, because the Sports Association and media both shrugged it off due to the stereotype, “Female athletes are lesbians” (Complex Sports 2013). Why is this the gender stereotype of females in sports in America? Because female athletes are portrayed to be masculine, pushing everyone to believe that they must be lesbians if they are “manly”.

While on the other hand, Michael Sam, a college male athlete that is going into the NFL draft, has received more publicity for this same personal landmark.  Michael Sam attends Mizzou and is currently pursuing a career in the NFL.  He openly came out and told the world that he was gay. Media has spun a controversy of whether his sexual orientation will out shine his talents. Michael’s agent has said that he does not think his decision to acknowledge his sexual orientation will hurt his draft prospects (Palm Beach Post 2014), while the media and a few NFL executives think otherwise. “I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet,” a personnel assistant told New Republic Magazine. “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this time it’s still a man’s-man game.” What does that mean, a man’s-man game? Is he any less of a man because he likes other men?

Which brings the subject, why women are automatically lesbians for being an athlete and why are men criticized for being anything out of the status quo of masculinity. It should not matter whether Britney or Michael are gay. The thing that should draw the media to them is the fact that they both shine tremendously in their sport. We fight for gender equality every day. Gender roles should not exist because a woman can do anything that she puts her mind to, just a like a man can do anything he puts his mind to. Had the media not made a “story” of this young man’s courage, maybe he would not have plummeted 70 points in the CBS NFL draft board (since has regained 50 of those points). The media should be focusing on positive aspects of both these athletes’ lives. Instead of blasting Michael’s sexuality, Britney should have been congratulated for being the first openly gay athlete to sign an endorsement with Nike.

Dad Played Dolls with Me while Mom Fought for the Rights of Others in Court

The following is a guest blog from Valerie Hassinger. Valerie is a Copywriter at best essays.com and is currently working on a YA novel. She spends her weekends baking or watching her favorite shows on Netflix. Follow her on Twitter to see her thoughts on pop culture, politics and life in general.


Image from Search on Creative Commons

Image from Search on Creative Commons

In a few weeks’ time I will be celebrating my fourth year anniversary with Brian, my best friend and the love of my life. While many of our friends seem to be competing against us each other who will get to the aisle first, we are just taking our own sweet time and just enjoying each other’s company in the house we both share.

Not that marriage is out of the question for us but we do talk about it every now and then.

In one of our downtimes I opened up the possibility of him becoming a househusband. I am a writer by profession while he works in engineering and construction. I’m also currently working on a book and my plan is to eventually publish and have it promoted. If and when response is good then I would build a whole new series around it. I joked that he might have to stay at home and care for our future kids when I’m off doing tours for my book.

He looked at me like I was asking him to travel to the moon and back.

His response is not out of the ordinary, unfortunately. Most people still aren’t comfortable with the idea of having the father stay at home while the mother is away from home. I blame traditional gender roles that have been ingrained to our brains since time immemorial.

Having grown up with a stay-at-home dad and a career woman for a mother, I was raised to see past stereotypes and assigned gender roles. In the first few years of my life I thought having my dad make my lunch and play dolls with me at home while my mom is off at work was the norm. Not until I reached pre-school did I realize that we were the oddballs (alien-like even as this all happened in the ’80s) of the community. I remembered the other children’s moms were all whispering to each other whenever dad drops me off or picks me up from school. The rare sightings of my mother during school presentations elicited smirks and judging looks from the close-minded crowd.

I applaud my parents for going against the flow. It was a necessary decision that didn’t come easy to both of them. My dad got discharged from the army for an injury he sustained while he was on duty. Mom, on the other hand, was slowly rising up the ranks in her law firm and had to make a decision on our family’s set-up fast. I was only two years old then and my older sister was six. Our parents agreed that it will be best for dad to stay at home with us while she works.

I was too young to remember anything when this set-up first started. I do remember Nana (my dad’s mother) checking up on us once in awhile to help around the house. Dad became our sole caregiver once he was well enough. All the while mom was managing the finances and dealt with the family’s expenses. It was a set-up that lasted until I was 10 when dad secured a job as an artist for an ad agency.

That upbringing exposed me to a lifestyle that is unconventional but that is no less loving than any other normal family. It didn’t create any sense of confusion nor resentment in me for my parents made me understood the need for that kind of set-up. It made me more accepting of other “oddball families” (gay parents, single father/mother households) who are also misunderstood by the general public. It taught me that gender is a concept that you can mold into whatever you want it to be: that a man is not a “sissy” or a “doormat” if he stays at home with the kids; nor is a woman “selfish” for choosing a career over homemaking. My experience showed me that traditions are good but that you are not a bad person either if you decide to go against the grain. Ultimately it has made me into the woman that I am right now: strong, hard working, loving and empathetic.

Right now I’m seeing more and more families with stay-at-home dads and breadwinner moms so times are changing. There’s still a lot of work to be done though, but I’m hopeful for the future of these types of families.

On my own, I’ll start the work with my boyfriend.



Fight the Stereotypes: Never Apologize for Who You Are

By Morgan Paul

A cartoon example of how degrading steretypes are. Image found on Google Images through Creative Commons.

A cartoon example of how degrading steretypes are. Image found on Google Images through Creative Commons.

“You throw like a girl.” “Boys don’t cry.” “Be a man.” These are just a few of the phrases that are pounded into young boys’ heads, and they are great examples of how the patriarchy hurts everyone! Why do we feel the need to tell young boys that if they do not conform, they are a girl? And furthermore, what’s so offensive about being a girl? Then girls are told to “be a lady,” and stay pretty and polite. My niece is almost 2 years old and I don’t tell her she’s beautiful. I tell her that she’s smart and she’s funny and that I love her, and I hope that she never bases her self-worth on her looks because she is so much more.

While reading through something on my friend’s Facebook I found a quote that really stuck with me:

“Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short and wear shirts and boots because it’s okay to be a boy; for girls it’s like promotion. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, according to you, because secretly you believe that being a girl is degrading.”—Ian McEwan.

Another cartoon example of how degrading steretypes are. Image found on Google Images through Creative Commons.

Another cartoon example of how degrading steretypes are. Image found on Google Images through Creative Commons.

While on one hand this was seen as progress for women, it was really telling them that if they wanted to be better then they must be like men. Yet if a man wants to wear a skirt he’s ridiculed, because who would want to be like a woman? (and don’t tell me that men wouldn’t want to wear skirts because they are comfortable!) So the best insults people can come up with are not about their intelligence but they’re poor attacks on their expression or unrelated insults calling them a “pussy” or “faggot” because being a girl or being gay is the worst possible thing they can think of. Then there are quite possibly the easiest insults: attacks on one’s appearance. In a society that already tells us that no matter what we do we’ll never be pretty enough, the last thing we need are our peers using our insecurities against us. Do you honestly think that I don’t know I’m “fat?” I am well aware. And you want to call me a “cunt” or “gay?” I won’t get offended. If you want to offend me then insult my intellect! But I will never apologize for who I am.