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November 30, 2011 / tallulahspankhead

Hello, darlings.

Well, clearly, I have been too bourbon-addled to post here are Strongly Wrong very often. That, and  the fact that everything I have written is up at TLG, and I doubt there is anyone reading here who isn’t reading there.

Originally, this site would be where I would write all the things that didn’t seem right for TLG. Turns out, that’s not so many things. But because I am nothing if not over-shary, I’ve created a Tumblr. So, of you want to see what’s happening over there, come on over. It’s NSFW, probably. But then, you knew that.

June 10, 2011 / tallulahspankhead

More slutting it up.

 

I am, by any reasonable definition, a slut. I’ve had multiple partners, I’ve had one night stands, I’ve sexted, I’ve flashed my tits, I’ve been drunk in public, I’ve worn short skirts and see-through tops, and red lipstick.

Slut is a horrible, amorphous word that is used to silence us, to be spat at us, to shut us up when we dare to own our bodies. I say ‘reasonable definition’, but there’s no such thing. It means a different thing to every person who uses it. To the dude who used it on me multiple hurtful times for a couple of months, it was a way to shame me, to make me feel worthless, because a slut is the worst thing you could possibly be. No one could possibly want a slut. The guy who shouted it at me on the street thought he was commenting on my heels and shirt, and giving the world an indication that it would be OK to abuse me, like he had, because I was clearly not worth worrying about. The man who whispered in my ear “whose slut are you?” was using it was a term of endearment.

I’m not saying anything I haven’t said before, am I? No. But I’ve had a number of conversations recently, and read some blog posts, where woman who have reclaimed Slut seem to think everyone should do it. The we should forcibly reclaim it, and that if you’re not, you’re letting the side down.

The refusal to acknowledge that the very name of SlutWalk is problematic for some people is something that would actually make me not go. If I hadn’t already planned my outfit. I understand the attention and headline-grabbing name, of course. And as I’ve (hopefully) established, I support the cause. But my sign won’t have the word slut on it, and I won’t be using the word in a chant.

Which is what I would like those other people to understand. Reclaim it for yourself, by all means. But don’t force it on the rest of us, thanks very much. That rather undermines the point.

May 28, 2011 / tallulahspankhead

Why

There was something of a shitstorm over at tlg this past couple of days on my post on Paul Quinn. It was exhausting and stressful. Having to respond to the comments, to make this argument, which is, to us, self-evident, and which we’ve been making for years. Feeling attacked, being told I am wrong and misguided. Worrying about our other posters and our readers, and how triggering the comments were becoming. And just the immense frustration that they Just Don’t Get It.

And then Kiwiblog linked to the post. I’m not going to pretend that I’m not a little proud that the first time David Farrar quoted me, it includes the word blowjob. But it’s taken every last bit of willpower I have not to go and read the comments over there. I read the first 10, and came away feeling sick. I worry about my continued ability for self-preservation.

And then there’s people in my life, who also don’t get it. Who tell me to ignore the comments, that I don’t have to respond. That they’re assholes who are wrong.

And yes, they are. But no, I do have to respond. Because they might be wrong, and assholes to boot, but they reflect the society we live in. I don’t do this because it’s fun. Parts of it are, of course. But I do this blogging thing because I believe it is important. Perhaps it is ultimately futile, and I am wasting my time. But this is what I can do. I can’t counsel rape victims, I don’t have the mental health, or the skills, to do that. I’m not an organizer, except for parties. My skill is writing, arguing, and Not Shutting Up.

And so, no, I won’t let those comments slide. I can’t. I will keep yapping about this. Because until people understand that it’s not about what we drink, what we wear, and how many people we have sex with, we have to keep doing it.

May 26, 2011 / tallulahspankhead

Phobias

“I have three phobias which, could I mute them, would make my life as slick as a sonnet, but as dull as ditch water: I hate to go to bed, I hate to get up, and I hate to be alone.”

May 25, 2011 / tallulahspankhead

Um, how about you shut the fuck up?

From today’s sideswipe:

Have these people escaped from a hospital? Has the recession meant that they can’t afford clothes? Or are they all simply lacking in dignity and etiquette? Cut it out: you look lazy and shameless!”

Yes, well, you sound like an ableist, classist, judgemental douchcanoe, so I guess everything is even.

May 20, 2011 / tallulahspankhead

Not that Into You (Or maybe I am, you could just ask)

A friend linked to this on Facebook, and it got me thinking. I am going to ignore the misogynist, ableist, and homophobic language in the post, because that’s not what I started thinking about.(Well, not initially.)

There’s a massive industry built around teaching women (and men) how to be good partners, the perfect date, the most amazing wife, a better lover. It’s one of those situations where we can’t win (and there’s many) because the books teach us to be happily alone, perfectly available, and alluringly aloof. So much of the advice that’s around (He’s Just Not That Into You, I am looking at you) denies women any agency over their relationships, preferring to assume that all women want is marriage and babies, and that we are so desperate for them we’ll sacrifice ourselves for that goal.

I recently had a conversation with another friend, who described herself as a “bit of a prude”. (Another way we can’t win – you’re either a prude or a slut, there’s no inbetween.) The money quote: “I think anywhere other than the bed is dirty”.  I think maybe it’s just because I have mostly extremely liberal friends, but I had forgotten what it is like to talk to someone who really does like it Vanilla. (I am not hugely fond of that term, but it is 6am, and I can’t think of anything better.) But when she talked about her partner, and how they liked it, I was a little jealous. Because they know what each other likes, and they are comfortable together.

Because really, that’s all the sex advice I am going to give you. Hah! I bet you were expecting a bullet point list of titillating tricks and advice, right? No. Tallulah’s definitive guide to sex and relationships boils down to two words: Be Yourself.

Listen. Be kind. (Unless you’re specifically asked not to be. In which case, be as cruel as you can.) Ask the other person what they like and DO THAT. And darlings, for God’s sake, tell your partner (whether they are there for that night or for the rest of your life), what you like, and ask them to do it. There’s no shame in knowing. There’s no shame in having done it before. Or having not done it before, for that matter. Basically, I’m echoing Dan Savage’s Good Giving and Game here. (And yes, many feminists don’t like him. I’m aware.)

Ask for consent. It doesn’t have to be verbal, and it doesn’t have to be every step of the way, but making sure the other person is ok is a fundamental part of lovin’. If you’re going to do something a little out of the box…it pays to prepare them.

There doesn’t really need to be millions of words written about that. Sure, there’s techniques, positions, tricks and toys, but what it all boils down to, is finding someone who is willing to give you what you want. But first, you have to know what that is. We’re all different, and we all find different things attractive.

Three last points. First, be safe. Second, The advice from Mr Godek to “try to make love as quickly as you possibly can. Time yourselves! Try to improve on your time every few months” is unlikely to ever win you a repeat performance. I have never heard anyone say “we had the most amazing sex last night. It was so quick!”.

And lastly, from Tallulah herself, a quote that works on a number of levels, if you put your mind to it:

“I’ll come and make love to you at five o’clock. If I’m late start without me.”

[Want more advice? I actually do know some tricks. Send me your questions here.]

May 19, 2011 / tallulahspankhead

An Apple A Day

Tallulah Bankhead told a friend that her doctor had advised her to eat an apple every time she had the urge to drink. She arched an eyebrow and added, “But really, dahlings, sixty apples a day!

from The Hollywood Reporter by Tichi Wilkerson

May 16, 2011 / tallulahspankhead

Real life

A while ago, I talked to a friend soon after she had been sexually assaulted. I sat with her, on her couch, while she cried and talked about feeling violated and scared and hurt. And amongst all that, amongst the pain of what she was going through, she kept saying that she was a bad feminist.

Because a good feminist wouldn’t feel like it was her fault. Like she’d invited it, like she should have been able to stop it.

And all I could do was tell her she had done nothing wrong, and it wasn’t her fault. And that she wasn’t a bad feminist.

Because, self-identifying as a feminist doesn’t automatically turn you into a perfect person. You don’t suddenly grow a halo, and become able to fight every battle with ease and grace. Particularly when a lot of the work you do is online. I can interview my typewriter about this stuff ’til the end of the world. It doesn’t make the real world any easier.

I’ve been writing about SlutWalk, and the word Slut, over at TLG, and I am still conflicted about it. I absolutely support the walk, and I will be there with bells on. (You won’t be able to see them.) I support the right of women to reclaim “slut” for themselves. I even support “the movement” adopting it. I understand the arguments. I get that reclaiming it is to dilute the negative power of the word, and not being ashamed.

I am a sex-positive feminist. I think I have demonstrated that pretty clearly. I am not ashamed by my sexuality, although it is something I like to talk about on my own terms, and not have broadcast for me. But hey, ask me, and I will likely tell you. Drink with me and Emma, and it will be pretty fucking obvious. I believe in a woman’s right to autonomy over her body and her image, without the intervention of anyone else. I will, within reason and my own moral code, fuck who I like, thanks very much.

And yet. I just can’t get entirely on board with Slut. Because I’m not a perfect feminist. I still, on occasion, judge a woman on her clothing. I still laugh at a perfectly timed sexist joke. I still like rugby. (I’m given to believe I can’t enjoy rugby and be a member of the sisterhood.) I am aware of my privilege, and I try to take it into account where I can. But I am not an angel.

And even given what I proclaim, what I believe, there is a teeny-tiny traitorous voice in my head that says “Tallulah, you are a slut. And that’s a bad thing”. It’s only in my…darker…moments that that voice holds any sway, that I listen to it at all. I fundamentally don’t believe it. Why do you think I drink so much? It’s to shut that voice up.

But it’s still there, and it still hurts. It means when someone calls me a slut, in anger, it takes me a second to recover and fight back. It means it’s not a word I can take lightly. It hurts. I wish, when people suggest that I’m a prude (hah!) for not wanting to reclaim it, they’d remember that.

May 12, 2011 / tallulahspankhead

[Cross-posted at TLG, but here if you want an even safer place to call me a slut.]

The first time I was ever called a slut, it was by my brother. I was 14, and a virgin. He objected to the shirt I was wearing, which I was accessorising with jeans and sneakers. It was my boyfriend’s shirt, and I guess it was too see-through, or I had too many buttons unbuttoned, or something, hence the epithet posh slut.

The next time was my boyfriend. He like to throw it around quite liberally. “You can’t go out dressed like that, you look like a slut.” “Why are you five minutes late? I bet you’ve been out slutting it up” “Why do you bother flirting like that, no one would want a stupid slut like you.” The last time he called me a slut was while he hurled a vase at my head.

After that, it was another boyfriend. He used it….differently. I didn’t hate it quite so much. But still, the first time he said it, I stiffened, upset. Wondering if it meant that on some level, he hated me. It didn’t of course, and he meant it in an entirely different way.

I’ve been called it a thousand times. I’ve asked over, and over again, how many people I have to have slept with to deserve the title. 100? 1000? 10? In the past year? 1, 3, 5? Does it make a difference if I’ve been in a relationship? No one has ever been able to answer. Shouldn’t something as important as this have a definitive number? If all women are either Madonnas or Whores, shouldn’t you be able to tell us which we are?

I’ve been called slut by a group of old men, by other women, once, fantastically, by a toddler. I have been repeatedly harrassed with phone calls and emails reminding me I am nothing but a worthless slut.

And you know what? None of that had anything to do with my clothes. None of it really had to do with me, except maybe that third example. It has everything to do with the fact that I (mostly) project myself as a woman comfortable with myself and my sexuality. That I am not scared to flirt, or ask for what I want.

And I am not putting up with it anymore. What I wear does not belong to you, anymore than who I sleep with. It wouldn’t matter if I was wearing these. Because it doesn’t matter. Assault isn’t about how we look, and calling me a slut is all about you, not me. It’s about you being intimidated by women who like sex. I can like sex how I like it, and I will put what I want on my body, from assless chaps to a nun’s habit, and you know what? None of that is any of your business. Stop policing women’s bodies, and stop making excuses for rapists.

I’ll be marching. Join me:

June 25 – Slutwalk Aotearoa protest, Auckland Chapter. More info.

June 25 – Slutwalk Aotearoa protest, Wellington Chapter. More info.

May 11, 2011 / tallulahspankhead

The Lady Garden

So, yeah, you can find me at a new place. I will still be here on occasion, just checking in, saying hi, whining about how the fucking patriarchy has done me wrong, but really, it’ll be more fun over at The Lady Garden.

The ladies over there are splendid, and will be writing awesome things. I will be chirping in with posts liberally sprinkled with the word “slut”, for a start. (Seriously, I have two already drafted.) I will cross posts things here, and may update them as I go.

In other news, I was thinking an advice column might be a plan – based on some commentary I have seen around. Would you like to see it over there, with all of us, or here? Do you even want my advice? Have you questions? Hit me, in the comments.