A Reread

I wrote this post last summer when I was still living in Philly. I didn’t post it then because it felt too angry and, as a result, not well written. I’ve read it a dozen times since then, taking out most of the reactionary comments and swearing (sorry in advance, mom). I’m posting it now because last week in class we discussed sexist discourse.

Talking about sexist discourse in a classroom setting – a mostly female classroom setting – gets personal very quickly. Everyone in my class, men included, had examples of sexism they’d experienced. We had to refocus ourselves every few minutes.

Sexism exists. When we employ sexist vocabulary and phrases it’s hurtful and demeaning. I know personally, and I know because I’ve spent the last week reading case studies on gender.

We fix this by choosing our words more carefully. Word choice matters, intonation matters, language matters.

Anyway.

To the guy who yelled that I need thigh guards while I was wearing short running shorts:

You don’t know me. If I have ever run past you before, I have never noticed. (Street harasser isn’t my type.) From your comments you seem to think that you do know me. So let me tell you some facts about myself.

I’m a recovering anorexic. I used to eat one bowl of Cheerios a day. I was addicted to laxatives, which I took after eating so my body wouldn’t digest the food. I weighed 92 pounds at age 20 and I no longer knew what it felt like for my stomach to be full.

Six years later, I’m a healthy weight. I eat food, good food, and lots of cupcakes. There are no laxatives in my home. I am a marathoner and a triathlete.

And my calves and thighs are fucking amazing. Next week I plan to run a ten miler on them.

When I first heard your words, my heart broke. You took me back to my worst mindset immediately. But then I remembered – why should I care what you think? (I almost flipped you off but I don’t want to be that kind of girl.)

This kind of bullshit is what women put up with every day. I bet you’ve never had a stranger criticize you while you were minding your own business. (If you think I was “asking for it” in my short shorts, that’s outrageous. No one should ever be assumed guilty because of their clothes.)

I will not let your comments ruin my run on a beautiful day in my comfortable workout gear. If you don’t like looking at my thighs, close your eyes. I am not here for you. I am here for me.

In conclusion, here’s the Fuck You I should have sent you when I ran past. Because I am that kind of girl, if that’s the kind of girl who stands up for herself and her worth.

Resolute

My attempt to journal more, which includes blogging every week, has already failed – and on the first Wednesday in January, as if to prove my New Year’s resolutions would fall right out of the gate.

There’s a reason for that, and it’s the three hour written exam I took on Monday. I studied for the entire month leading up to it – every day but Christmas! – and I wrote about lost puppies and tacos. Seriously. Linguists love a good joke mixed into Grice’s Maxims.

[Word nerd note: Grice’s Maxims are my favorite linguistic rules. There are four maxims and they basically state that in conversation, a speaker should 1. say as much as necessary but not more than necessary, 2. say only what they know to be true, 3. be relevant, and 4. be brief. Except that when Grice wrote the fourth maxim, he actually wrote: “Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity)” which may or may not have been a joke on himself about being brief. Linguists are a witty group, right? Okay, moving on.]

And now that the exam’s over, we’re on to a new semester and new essays and the leering deadline for dissertation topics. Which leads me to the title of this post: What I’m Interested In. Because I need to choose a topic. But I don’t know.

I mean, I’m interested in a lot of things. Feminism and gender roles. Immigration and stereotyping. The role of language in a court room. Cooperation principles in political debates. Uses of “they” as a singular pronoun. How Twitter is like the telegram.

But what do I want to spend the next eight months researching and writing a 15,000 word paper on? (Side bar: how do PhD candidates ever choose a dissertation topic? Will I ever be a PhD student? Can someone mail me three El Poquito mushroom tacos?) It feels like a decision that could make or break any future academic choices. So I’d really like to make the right choice.

Maybe I’ll just say I’m going to study the linguistics of Aaron Sorkin and spend the next half a year watching The West Wing and Newsroom. Actually…