Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

An Antidote for Feminist Fatigue?

January 21st, 2013 by Chris Bobel

I am demoralized.

The gang rapes in Delhi India and Steubenville Ohio and EVERYHERE, ALL THE TIME, have me feeling hopeless and fatigued.

Soon, I will face 30 undergraduates in my introductory Women’s Studies class, and I will, again, attempt to contextualize rape and link it to the pernicious and enduring realities of hegemonic masculinities, misogyny, and social constructions bodies as commodities.

And I will hear victim blaming, neocolonialist attacks on the global south, the forced binary of good vs. evil, and other apologia for why, how, when and where rape “happens” as if it is an unstoppable force that some of us (the chaste, the modestly dressed, the sober, etc) can avoid.

And I will go home and cry in my pillow.

So I am looking for inspiration to go on, to keep talking and, the harder part, listening, and not give in, not resign myself to ‘this is the way of the world. Don’t fight it, just accept it and move on.’

This 5 minute PSA created by Jason Stefaniak and Siobhan O’Loughlin helps. A lot. It is a clarion call to embodied autonomy, and I am so grateful to the creators and the funders who made it possible.

You can read the full text here, but here’s the first few powerful lines:

This is my body.
I do what I want with it.
This is my body.
I make my own choices.
This is my body.
I use it as a canvas, tattoo it, decorate it, and pierce it.
I take medicine if I want to and only undergo medical procedures I choose.
I eat what I want, exercise for my health, and wear what I like.
I fall in love with whomever, fuck/sleep with whomever and marry whomever I choose.
I decide when and how to become a mother.
This is my body, not yours

These decisions have nothing to do with you. If I’m not hurting you or stopping you from pursuing your inherent right to happiness, it’s none of your business. This is my body, not yours.

Stefaniak released “This is My Body” on July 23rd, so it is hardly ‘news’, but that fact hardly diminishes the URGENCY of the message. Can you imagine a world in which we lived by such a simple credo that reminds us of these truths:  My body is NOT your blank screen on which to project your anxieties or your fantasies (or both). My body is NOT your property, NOT your business opportunity, NOT your playground, NOT your battlefield.

Watch and affirm our work–which simply must be our COLLECTIVE work— to RESPECT the INTERGRITY of everyBODY, everyONE.

3 responses to “An Antidote for Feminist Fatigue?”

  1. Catherine says:

    wow. well done.

  2. JT says:

    Thank you for insightful post Ms. Bobel. I have a lot swirling around in my head after reading it, and doing a bit of my own research. In order to get it all out (of my head) I want to address it by separating it into two parts.
    First, I want to say I agree that the This Is My Body PSA can help. It is inspiring. It certainly can help recharge a weary feminist educator. It can help to remind a cynic like me that some men actually are feminists too (thanks to Jason Stefaniak). It can help to remind us all that other people (more than 100k in 133 countries that watched) are interested and even actively fighting for the same thing. It can, and I think does show that all the hard work of that feminists do is paying off. It shows things are changing and that as long as the fight presses on things will become better.
    Now I want to address you and all the feminist educators out there. Please know that for all those days you face your students and hear the culturally indoctrinated beliefs on why, how, and who is to blame when rape happens, there is still hope for those misguided students. You are their hope. While I would certainly agree that some students don’t have an open mind, most do. Help them to see the other side of the story. Educators can change just as many minds as any PSA.

  3. Chris Bobel says:

    And thanks for writing, JT. I needed this shot in the arm! Onward!

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