Why do straight men have such a problem with trans women?

In my most recent post, I discussed comments made by Victoria Secret’s chief marketing officer Ed Razek who suggested trans and plus size women can’t sell fantasy. Folks from all communities rallied to the frontlines of social media to prove Razek wrong and demonstrate the many ways in which trans and plus size women  have revolutionized the beauty and fashion game.

Among those people, is openly trans makeup artist and beauty guru Nikita Dragun. In a recent tweet, she posted an open letter to Victoria Secret that trans women can sell “fantasy”.

There is no doubt that Nikita embodied the image of a Victoria Secret Angel. She’s beautiful, radiant, and glowing. The tweet garnered lots of support and love from her fans.

As a YouTube Star, Nikita often shares makeup tutorials and storytime videos. On November 21st, 2018, Nikita posted a video sharing some of her troubles and how she was kicked out of a famous rapper’s party for being a trans woman.

Nikita never names the rapper, but she does express the frustration she felt for being asked to leave the party.

Since Nikita has experienced a surge of popularity for her response to Victoria Secret, the story time video took to Twitter, and users’ comments were less than kind. One user named @cashmerejOnez shared the following:

https://twitter.com/cashmerejOnez/status/1071342062270861312

The tweet received over 90,000 likes, over 35,000 retweets, and countless comments in agreement. Unfortunately, like often on the internet, these several thousand people missed the point.

So where do I begin?

First, let’s start with the obvious. There are tons of straight men that want to have sex with trans women. Pornhub has an entire section dedicated to transwomen. It wouldn’t exist if somebody wasn’t interest in having sex with trans folk. Also, if @cashmerejOnez had actually watched Nikita’s video, he would have learned that the rapper rolled down his window to holler at Nikita and get her number.

The fact that Nikita was kicked out of the party is simply indicative of the shame straight men have for being attracted to trans women. As such, they take out their own self hatred onto the trans person and shame and belittle and isolate them to reaffirm all things toxically masculine about themselves.

Two, how does accepting an invitation to a party mean that you are interested in having sex? If I were invited by my gorgeous model friend to a party hosted by a famous rapper, I’m not saying no. Nikita didn’t seek the rapper out, throw herself onto him and demand him to have sex with her. She was literally existing and minding her own damn business.

Lastly, trans women don’t always want you, fellas. Cis women don’t always want you. Gay men don’t always want you. Why do you always think that you are sexually desired by others and you have to reject them to reassert yourself as a man?

Yes, you are completely entitled to sleep with whoever you want to, but the issue here isn’t that Nikita wanted to have sex with a rapper and was rejected. The issue is that she was at a party attended by hundreds and asked to leave because she was trans.

Men, here’s a bit of information in case you’re unaware. It’s not always about you. Stop shaming others because you are uncomfortable with who you are. The existence of a person within your vicinity does not threaten your masculinity.

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What’s Wrong With Victoria Secret’s Comments on Trans and Plus Size Women?

Hours before the Victoria Secret Fashion Show held on November 8th, 2018, Vogue published an interview with VS Chief Marketing Officer, Ed Razek. When asked if VS plans to use plus size and transgender models, Razek responded to Vogue, “Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is.”

He went on further to say that VS has tried to include trans and plus-size models, but people simply are uninterested. Razek told the Vogue interviewer:

If you’re asking if we’ve considered putting a transgender model in the show or looked at putting a plus-size model in the show, we have. We invented the plus-size model show in what was our sister division, Lane Bryant. Lane Bryant still sells plus-size lingerie, but it sells a specific range, just like every specialty retailer in the world sells a range of clothing. As do we. We market to who we sell to, and we don’t market to the whole world. We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]. No one had any interest in it, still don’t.

Razek’s comments sparked outrage in online communities for his outdated and insensitive use of the word “transexual” and suggestion that plus size women and trans women are not suitable VS models.

However, there are others that suggest VS has done nothing wrong, and they have every right to shape their brand how they want to. Screen Shot 2018-11-14 at 9.27.29 PMScreen Shot 2018-11-14 at 9.26.19 PMScreen Shot 2018-11-14 at 9.37.12 PM

It’s true that Victoria Secret has authority on the type of consumer they wish to sell to. However, they can’t control who buys their product. Let’s face it. Your mom, grandma, cousin, and baby sister shop at Victoria Secret. You’ll be hard pressed to find a young woman (with the means of course) who hasn’t perused the 7 for $28 panty special. And of  all the people aforementioned that shop at VS stores, none of them fit the criteria of a VS angel.

So what exactly is the VS market and what is this “fantasy”?

To simply put it… Men. The Victoria Secret runway and print ads are all designed for the male gaze. That’t the fantasy they are creating, and it’s the one we are all buying into.

Companies never sell the product. They sell what the product can provide. Toyota doesn’t sell cars. They sell safety and reliability. Allstate doesn’t sell insurance. They sell peace of mind. And McDonald’s doesn’t sell burgers. They sell happiness in a red and yellow happy meal.

Victoria Secret doesn’t sell underwear. They sell desirability. You want to be these women because they are the true definition of beauty as dictated by men. Trans women and plus size women don’t fit into this fantasy land because they’re not socially desired by men.

There are plenty of trans women that model and fit the body type of a VS model, and plus size models like Ashley Graham are demonstrating the growing interest in women that don’t fit the size zero mold.

What really is the deal with Victoria Secret? They simply don’t think we’re desirable, but don’t let the tweets fool you. You as a consumer have every right to demand what is marketed to you. Victoria Secret would not show on your Instagram feed or Facebook timeline if you weren’t the consumer.

This idea that cis white men and women with teeny waists and perfect peach beach bods is archaic, and they’re far behind their competitors. When Cheerios realized hey black people eat our cereal too, they made a commercial featuring interracial families. When Apple realized wow people all over the word really like this iPhone, they marketed to global audiences.

Victoria Secret’s excuses for not having plus size women or trans women are whack. They’re the same excuses they used for not having VS angels of color. In 2015, Maria Borges, made history when she walked down as the first VS model rocking her natural hair. And Kelsey Merritt, a filipina VS angel, didn’t join the team until early this year making her the first filipina VS angel in the company’s 41 year history.

The world is changing and Victoria Secret simply can’t keep up. Don’t waste your time and take your buying power elsewhere.

Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” Is A Love Song Not A Diss Track

Ariana Grande graced us with another bop this past weekend, and I couldn’t be more in love with the song. She names all her former loves and her feelings about them with a big giant “Thank you, but I’m finally moving on”.

It’s a beautiful message to be able to let go of past hurt and finally be at peace. However, I’ve been seeing a lot of folks (who love the song, undoubtedly) describe it as a diss track and something extremely petty.

“Thank U, Next” is a love song to herself. She is able to forgive herself, acknowledge her worth and move on from pain and anger she harbored toward any of her exes.

One taught me love
One taught me patience
And one taught me pain
Now, I’m so amazing
I’ve loved and I’ve lost
But that’s not what I see
So look what I got
Look what you taught me

After Ariana and former fiancée, Pete Davidson, ended their brief engagement, a vicious rumor spread that Pete sent naked photos of Ariana to the late Mac Miller. Fortunately, the rumor was immediately squashed, and both Pete and Ariana have wished the other well.

However, people’s response to the rumor and how quickly the rumor was able to spread raise interesting questions about what we think  a break up really means.

Breaking up doesn’t have to be a big explosion where you yell and scream and fight. Although, it’s depicted often in film, TV, and social media as a giant theatrical production, break ups can be healthy and civil. There doesn’t even have to be a single defining moment to give you a reason to end your relationship with someone. Breaking up can be something as simple as this relationship is no longer serving either one of us so I think it’s best to part ways.

Thank you, Ariana, for imparting your wisdom and growth on your fans. And teaching us that you can always just walk away and move on.

 

A Man Said Something Nice To Me Without Harassing Me: A concept for even the simplest of minds

The other day, I went to the grocery store looking for something satisfying to make up for the very bad day I had. I was agitated and distressed and ready to go home.

I was walking down the aisle when I made eye contact with a man walking past me. Even though I was upset, I’m not an asshole so I smiled. He smiled back and mumbled something under his breath.

I have this very bad habit of expecting the worst from strangers and living in the DMV has hardened my kind hearted west coast exterior.

With full bass in my voice and attitude in my soul, I said, “Excuse me.”

Very sincerely and earnestly, he cleared his throat and said, “I hope you have a good week.”

I was pleasantly surprised. He smiled, I smiled back, and we went our separate ways. It was actually a bright spot in an otherwise cruddy day, and I went on to tell someone else to have a good week, too.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, there have been cries from thousands of men who report that they no longer feel “safe” to talk to women anymore.

Some have reported not feeling safe to give women compliments.

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Some have suggested they’re fearful of having any physical contact with a woman because it can be construed as assault.

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And some aren’t even men. They’re women who feel worried for their male counterparts.

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The man in the grocery store did not catcall me, grab my ass, or refer to me with any derogatory language. There was no way to misconstrue what he said was as assault or harassment because it simply wasn’t

Women who report having experienced sexual assault or harassment, have actually experienced something that was clearly traumatic and clearly inappropriate. And some men, and even some women who support these men, have trouble understanding the difference between what is and isn’t appropriate.

  1. Forcing someone to have sex without their consent is not okay.
  2. Manipulating and begging someone to have sex with you even though they said no is not okay.
  3. Grabbing a woman, or any person, on their body without their consent is not okay.
  4. Getting angry because someone rejected you is not okay.
  5. Using your status or superior position in a work environment to get someone to have sex with you is not okay.

If you understand these statements to be agreeable, you ave nothing to be worried about. We all should be more conscientious about what we say to others or how they treat we treat others, particularly women, because “think before you speak/do” is a fundamental skill taught in kindergarten.

 

I’m Applying For Jobs That I’m Not 100% Qualified For

After nearly 18 years of schooling, I am finally ready to enter the job market as a full time employee. This readiness does not come without a little apprehension. I keep asking myself what do I want to be? However, I think the more appropriate question is what do I want to do?

I want to create and inspire, lead and organize, and ultimately help people. I’ve always seen myself as someone who is well-rounded and has done the work to get myself to where  I need to in life. Despite that I could do almost anything and be almost anything, this little tiny voice creeps into my brain whenever I apply for any position.

When it has come down to applying for internships and fellowships, absolute dream jobs, I’ve always passed them up thinking that I was under qualified. I’ll read a list of the expectations and requirements and think this is far more than I’m capable. Then months later, I’ll regret my decision.

The popularized Hewlett Packard report argues, “Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them”. It suggest that women aren’t confident enough to apply for the big jobs and men are. However, a post from Harvard Business Review published in 2014 challenges this.

A McKinsey report found that men are often hired or promoted based on their potential, women for their experience and track record.

We as women are confident in our abilities, but we’re also hyperaware of how we’re perceived by potential employers. We are working in a system that doesn’t work of us. But taking ourselves out the game, we keep the wonderful things that women have to offer out of the game.

You don’t have to sacrifice your own well being for him

I was inspired to write this because of Ariana Grande’s incredibly uncomfortable and inappropriate encounter with a man of the religious cloth.

Bishop Charles H. Ellis had no business putting his hands on Ariana. He was fully aware of what he was doing and fully aware of how it made her feel. The whole nation can see it. It’s clear as day.

Yet, he purposefully chose to ignore this feeling for his own benefit. And although I can’t speak for Ariana, I can only assume that she felt like she had to stand there and take it. Maybe because she didn’t want to disrupt the funeral of one of her role models, maybe because he was a bishop, or maybe because she was afraid of how others would perceive the situation.

As women, we have been conditioned to sacrifice our own comfortability for others because we’re told not to rock the boat. We’re told “that’s not something he would ever do.”

“He didn’t meant to do that.”

During my junior year of college, I dated a guy who invited me to spend the weekend at his place. I went in with the understanding that we were going to have sex, which at the time excited me. The first night I said yes. It was an enthusiastic yes, but the second night I felt off. I was uncomfortable, and I said no. I said no about a dozen times.

I expressed it in my body language, and I expressed it physically, but he did what he wanted anyways. And when he was finished, he said, “See what happens when you make me wait.”

I felt terrible after it happened, and I really couldn’t figure out why. I tried so hard to make it right because I had convinced myself that I had done something wrong. I said yes the night before. He was a nice guy. People respected him. There was no possible way that he could have done something so volatile to me.

It must’ve been me. It had to be me.

And like Ariana, I just took it.

It took me a great deal of time to realize that what happened that weekend was more than a bad moment in a bad relationship. Anytime I would share the story, I would tell it as an I-dated-a-fuckboy story and not as an I-was-sexually-assaulted story because I was protecting his reputation. I didn’t want to accuse him of something because of the kind of person he projected himself to be.

It wasn’t until I told the story to one of my male friends during my senior year, that I felt differently about what happened.

My friend told me, “I hope you know that wasn’t consensual.”

Hearing the word “consent” shifted something in my head and all the pain that I had felt was suddenly explainable. I sacrificed my own comfort and well being to protect someone who did not deserve my protection because of who I thought he was.

And despite the difficulty in sharing this as a sexual assault story rather than my usual fuckboy story, I want to share a message that helps other women and girls.

Just because someone is a family friend, just because someone is a nice guy, just because someone is well respected, just because someone is a pastor, does not mean they have the right to violate your body.

No matter the time or place, you do not have to sacrifice you’re well being and safety.

You do not have to be silent. You do not have to grin and bare it. You simply don’t have to.

What happened to Ariana is the core of rape culture. There’s a lot of folks who’ve said “it’s not that deep” or “you’re making a big deal out of nothing.” However, when men are continuously taught that women are theirs for the taking, and women are told they should just suck it up or ignore it because that’s how men are, it is a big deal.

Do not let anyone ever make you feel like you’re causing a fuss.

Having A Passion Is Overrated?

I don’t have a passion. I am a passionate person, but I don’t have a passion. There is no single thing that drives me out of bed in the morning, nothing that I would consider my life’s mission. I simply do not have a passion.

As a kid, I ventured into many different activities and projects. I did ballet and theater. I worked on a school newspaper. I wrote short stories. I loved to cook. I loved babysitting. I loved making videos. I loved drawing. I loved literature.

At one point I was passionate about all of these things. And in many ways, I’m passionate about them still, but I couldn’t devote myself to just one. I haven’t been able to do it now as an adult! Committing myself to a single passion seems like a big underestimation of everything I have to offer.

I used to be envious of people who had a single passion. It would make things a lot easier. You know what steps you have to take to pursue your goals. You know what to study, you know where to go next, who to connect with, but there is no step by step guide for people who are intrigued by and skilled at multiple things. You’re just expected to pick one.

When I hear that someone just made there 30 year mark at the same organization or company, no matter how far they’ve worked their way up the ladder, it sends a chill down my spine. I like being able to do something new everyday. I like being able to learn something new everyday.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. The culture of the world is to train a person to do one thing and be one thing only. And although, that may work for some folks, but it’s not realistic for many growing up in this century where there is no survival based need to have only one trade.

In high school, you don’t just learn science. You learn math and english and art and physical education. All of those things contribute to your well roundedness, but at some point, and I feel this happens very quickly and suddenly, you’re expected to pick one or two things.

In movies and TV, this is always depicted as a bad thing. The lost kid who’s unfocused in life so they jump into the first thing that will give them structure and focus… the military.  But having multiples skills or gifts or interests is not lacking focus. It’s strength. You see gaps in the world that need to be filled that others don’t. You’re able to multitask and adapt. And no matter what it is you’re currently doing, you bring every skill you have to it, and you excel.

Sometimes I joke with people when they ask me what I want to do and say, “I want to be Oprah.” But in all honesty I’m serious. Oprah is not one thing. She’s an interviewer, a producer, an actress, media executive, gardening enthusiast, philanthropist, book critic, broadcast journalist, talk show host, director, author, CEO. I mean the list could go on.

And no one can deny that her contributions to young women around the world and black folks in media is not influential. But imagine if she was stifled and pushed into doing one single thing. We’d be missing out on a lot of wonderful things.

 

If you want to know more about the wonders of having multiple interest and skills, check out the Ted Talk by Emilie Wapnick down below.