Why Trump’s Words Matter to Women, and Why They Should Matter to Men

 

First of all, I am going to quote the leaked tape from 2005 directly, and I am not going to censor it. If you’re offended by reading exactly what the potential President of the United States said, don’t read on. This article is not for you. But I believe it’s important to see it in black and white, so that the full horror is visible and unadulterated. I do not believe in saying “he who shall not be named”. I believe in naming evil and claiming back the good.

The words spoken by Donald Trump on that tape from Access Hollywood in 2005 are more than vile. They are more than disgusting. They are advocating for rape culture and sexual assault, and they should be not only offensive to men and women alike, they should solidify in any voter’s mind how unqualified for the role of President Donald Trump really is.

When Donald Trump said “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful – I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. Don’t even wait”, this was not just “locker room banter”, as so many of his defenders claim. Yes, I accept that guys talk about women behind closed doors. At least, a certain class of man does. But even if that’s true, that doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t excuse it. The fact that many men (I will not say all, so put away your “not all men” hashtags) in this county are desensitized to the point they think this kind of speech is “normal” is part of the problem. A big part of the problem. Women are not sex objects. Women do not exist to be oogled. Women do not exist to fulfill your fantasies and to be leered at by you. Normalizing does not make it right, it makes it worse.

In the same video, he openly speaks about trying to sleep with a married woman. “She wanted to get some furniture. I said, I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture… I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there.” This single line shows that Donald Trump sees women as prostitutes, money-eating machines who owe a man sex for goods and services rendered. Married, not married, it doesn’t matter. Women are expected to offer up sex at the drop of a hat, just as long as they are properly compensated for it. Does that not make you mad, men of America? It should. What if that was your wife? What if that was your mother, or sister, or aunt, or cousin?

What if he was talking about you?

What if he was hitting on a man relentlessly, expecting a man to give up sex for furniture?

I’ve heard this be defended by men saying, “A woman could talk like that about me, and I wouldn’t mind.”

That’s because you’re coming from a place of power still. You’re coming from a place of power. What if you were powerless? What if you were told “I’ll buy you furniture, you’ll give me sex, or I’ll ruin your career.” What if you were told, “I’ll compel you to have sex with me, and when you report it as a rape, the police will ask you what you were wearing and why you were alone with him in the first place.” I’m not saying that’s what Trump said directly or indirectly, what I am saying is that is the attitude of the majority of men in power in this country.

Step away from your privilege for a moment, I know it’s hard, and imagine being a woman in this situation.

Step away and imagine a woman you love being this powerless.

Then, look me in the eyes and tell me it’s locker room talk.

Look me in the eyes and tell me a man has the right to talk about me like this

Look me in the eyes and tell me that it’s okay for a Presidential candidate to believe he can grab me by my “pussy” without consent.

Look me in my eyes and tell me I’m being too sensitive.

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“What About the Boys?” by Sarah

The last twelve months have produced at least two amazing female-driven blockbusters (Star Wars: The Force Awakens and now Ghostbusters), and there are more to come. Putting it as politely as I can, this has led to many… colorful debates online about the value of female-driven scripts.

Isn’t it enough already?

Don’t girls have enough heroes now?

What about the boys?

Don’t BOYS need people to look up to?

The short answer is, yes. Of course boys need someone to look up to.

The longer answer is, no. It’s not enough. Women, people of color, and every other overlooked minority population needs more exposure. Diversity in entertainment is GOOD.

Let me explain my story a little.

Growing up, I wanted to be a boy.

Now, I did not want to be a boy because I had gender identity issues. I wanted to be a boy because from all the books I read and all the movies I saw, it looked to me like boys just got to have more FUN!

I loved everything swashbuckling and knightly. King Arthur was a personal favorite. I wanted to badly to be a knight of the round table. Why? BECAUSE THEY GOT SWORDS, DAMNIT! They got to save people and defeat dragons! They got to DO SOMETHING! What did Guinevere get to do? Cheat on her husband and basically destroy Paradise? How is THAT fun? (I’m speaking as a child saw the situation, of course there are more nuances to her character… but when you’re seeing it on screen as a child, this is what you see.)

I also loved Robin Hood. He was an archer! He could hit any bullseye from a million miles away. He stole from the rich and gave to the poor. He was a HERO!

What did Maid Marion get to do?

Fall in love.

Get kidnapped.

Yell and scream a lot.

Get saved.

That’s not me.

I never wanted that to be me.

The more I saw women being nothing but Damsels in Distress, the more I saw the MEN coming in to save them, the more I wanted to be a dude. Why wouldn’t I? If I was a boy, I would get to be the hero. I would get CHOICES. I would MATTER.

The only modern women I really saw in cinema were the stars of romantic comedies. I enjoyed these movies, but there weren’t women I wanted to be like. They weren’t HEROES. They essentially fell in love, and having a man in their life just fixed all their problems. I can barely even remember any of their names, they are completely interchangeable and generic. And that’s fine for what those films are, but when then those are the ONLY women I had to see on screen, there’s a problem.

The other women I saw on screen were the Bond Girl types, the femme fatals who existed to be leered at by men. The women who dripped with sexuality and betrayed everyone at the drop of a hat. What I learned as a child was that as a woman, I mattered only if a man wanted to make out with me. I mattered only if a man decided I mattered. If he didn’t pay attention to me, if I was (God Forbid!) ugly or undesirable, I wasn’t worth his time, and hence I wasn’t worth anyone’s time.

My value came from what men thought of me.

I didn’t like that.

I didn’t want to be a woman like that.

I wanted to be a boy.

James Bond was a boy, and he got fun toys and got to save the world.

How is that not better?

Whether intentional or not, as a child, these were the messages I took away from the stories that surrounded me.

Being a girl was inherently worse than being a boy.

Being a girl meant being passive and not getting to fight for anything.

Being a girl meant waiting to be rescued.

Being a girl meant falling in love with whatever guy paid the most attention to me.

Now, what about the boys? Are there negative messages bombarding boys? ABSOLUTELY. Is there toxic masculinity out there? You bet. Should this be fixed? YES!

But, boys have choices.

Boys have heroes.

Boys can be the hero.

When will it be enough?

When I don’t have to write this article explaining why it’s not enough.

What Makes a Compelling Character? Part I

Perhaps one of the most difficult things to do when writing is to create a compelling character. Think about it. What are the most common criticisms you hear about characters from various books or movies? I know the ones I hear a lot are:

* “That character wasn’t likable.”

* “I didn’t understand their motivation.”

* “I didn’t care what happened to them.”

* “They didn’t feel real to me.”

* “They were such a cliché.”

It can be difficult to avoid these pitfalls in your writing. The truth is, there is no real shortcut to writing a compelling character. It will take a lot of trial and error on your part as an author, but it will also be so rewarding in the end when you finally nail it.

The best advice I can give you is from my own experience. It may not work for everyone, but I’ve found the following techniques are a good place to start. Today’s advice for building a character will focus on writing that character’s dialogue.

First of all, you have to get a “feel” for how your character speaks. This goes beyond simple things like dialect or accent. It’s about gaining a deeper understanding of how your character would form a thought, and then how they would express that thought with words. Are they terse and monosyllabic? Are they verbose? Is proper grammar important to them, or are they more loosey-goosey and free-flowing? Are they logical and practical, or more emotional? Do they get directly to the point, or are they more poetic and abstract? Do they find a punchline in everything, or are they more serious and deadpan?

The reason this is so important is that your audience gets to know your character through their dialogue. Dialogue is central to understanding a character, and understanding a character is central in forming a bond with that character.

The best way, in my experience, to get to know you character is to write two-person conversations. This is a simple exercise that won’t take you very long, but it can yield some great results. Take the character you want to create and put them in a situation with someone else, then just write what they talk about. For example, interacting with an airline employee or at a job interview. By limiting the scene to two, or at the most three, people you cut out distractions and are able to hone in on what makes this particular character unique.

These conversations don’t have to end up in your final story. In fact, they probably won’t. No one but you will ever see them or care about them. That’s not the point. The purpose is just to let you learn who these characters are and how they interact with each other. You can’t share your character with your audience until you know them yourself, and you can’t get to know them until you have actually written them. You won’t realize a line of dialogue rings false until you know what false for that character is.

That’s it for this post, but believe me we are far from done talking about characters! Please like us, share us on social media, and check back in for more! Subscribe to our RSS feed to get automatically updated when we post!

  • Sarah

Everything I Know About Being A Woman, I Learned From Roz Doyle By Sarah

Few female characters in the history of television have kicked as much butt or taken as many names as Roz Doyle, the amazing radio producer on the sitcom Frasier, played for eleven seasons by Peri Gilpin. I grew up watching episodes of Frasier in syndication, but it wasn’t until the entire run was put up on Netflix that I realized how truly awesome Roz Doyle really is, and how much she taught me about what it means to be a woman in the modern world.

Don’t Apologize for Being Good at Your Job

The first thing Roz taught me is that being good at your job isn’t something to be ashamed of. From the first episode, Roz is an amazing producer, and she makes no bones about it. She never cows to male counterparts or refuses to speak up for fear of offending someone.

Importantly, she doesn’t belittle anyone else or pick fights just for the sake of arguing, either. She is just an extremely competent radio producer with ideas and opinions, and she makes sure her male colleagues take her seriously. She will challenge them when they are wrong, listens to them when they are right, and through sheer tenacity and talent manages to be considered a true equal in every respect. From this example, I learned to be confident in my workplace. I learned not to undersell my talents and abilities, but to be proud of my accomplishments.

Men Don’t Define Me

Unlike many sitcom characters, Roz Doyle doesn’t end up married or in a serious relationship at the end of Frasier. She dated a lot and came close a few times, but in the end she ended up single.

And you know what?

That’s just fine.

Roz was happy being single. She had an amazing daughter she was raising on her own, she had a close network of family and friends who loved and respected her, and she had the career and life she had built for herself over years of struggle and hardships. She was not defined by the man in her life. She defined success on her terms. Of course, she battled the same insecurities as all women do, but the important lesson I learned from her example is that I don’t need a traditional life to be happy. I don’t need to wait for a Prince Charming to rescue me.

I can rescue myself.

Just like Roz.

Men and Women Can Be “Just Friends”

Frasier and Roz are friends.

Just friends.

Sure, they’re both tempted to see if their relationship could be more romantic, and even sleep together at one point, but they immediately recognize it was a horrible mistake. They both know they wouldn’t work as a romantic couple, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be close. They refuse to let that fact ruin the beautiful relationship they do have, however. They don’t have to be lovers to love each other. They will always love each other, no matter what.

And that friendship is more important to either of them than any marriage or dating relationship would ever be.

From this relationship, I learned that it’s okay to have platonic friends. I don’t have to feel awkward about being “just friends”. I don’t have to worry about “the friend zone”. The friend zone can be a pretty awesome place to be.

Unfortunately, there have not been many female sitcom characters who are as strong, dedicated, loyal, and independent as Roz Doyle. Here’s hoping the next generation gets someone as amazing to look up to.

How Harper Lee Helped Me Rediscover My Love of Reading

As a child, I was an avid reader. I gobbled up books like they were the last box of Girl Scout Cookies on the shelf. From an early age, I knew I wanted to do what these writers I admired did: I wanted to create characters that people fell in love with.

Before I was even in middle school, I was telling the world I was going to be a writer when I grew up.

So, I wrote.

And I read some more.

And I wrote some more after that.

Then, high school hit, and I was suddenly being compelled to read all these books for school, some of which I loved and some of which I hated. It didn’t really matter if I liked them or not, because the bottom line was I didn’t get to choose my reading material anymore. With so much homework, plus an after-school job and several school clubs, my personal reading time was drastically cut down for the first time in my life.

Once I got to college, life got even crazier and I quickly discovered that the hours I spent as a child absorbed in the pages of a novel were behind me. Perhaps forever. I didn’t have time to read the detective stories I loved so much, or the legal thrillers, or the romances. Any spare time I had was spent obsessively writing my first novel, which I completed over winter break my Freshman year of college.

I graduated from college and entered “The Real World” of job hunting and apartment finding, and for a few years it truly seemed to me that I would never be able to find enough time in a day to sit down with a cup of hot chocolate in front of a fire and just lose myself in a character I loved.

Until I picked up To Kill A Mocking Bird, mostly because it was on sale at a local bookstore.

Somehow, I had managed to get through both high school and college without being forced to read it for a class, and I cannot begin to tell you how glad I am that is the case. I didn’t have to worry about writing essays, answering test questions, and participating in forced discussions. I could just let the words wash over me like a comforting balm and absorb them at my own pace, in my own way.

And, I did just that.

I devoured it in a mere two days, a feat for me since I am normally a rather slow, methodical reader. I literally could not put it down. It wasn’t a page-turner in the way a mystery or a noir is, it was something more than that. I cared about Scout and her father and brother. I wanted to know what happened to them, but more than that, I wanted to help them. I wanted to reach into the pages of the book and just give then biggest hug in the world. I wanted to tell them everything was going to be okay. When it began to get hairy and danger was starting to close in around them, I wanted to protect them.

I had forgotten what that felt like.

I had forgotten how good it felt to be invested in fictional characters, to connect with an author in an authentic and passionate way, not because I was being forced to but because I wanted to. Down to my soul, I did not want that book to ever end.

Of course, it did end. All books must end sometime, but my love affair with reading had been rekindled, all thanks to a little girl named Jean Louise. I began to find ways to make time for reading for pleasure, as well as writing. I also discovered that the more I read, the better a writer I became. The two went together hand-in-hand.

So, thank you Scout.

Thank you, Atticus.

And, thank you, Harper Lee.

We will never forget you.

  • Sarah

What Frozen and Star Wars: TFA Taught Us About Love and Feminism

For years, it’s been a widely-held belief in Hollywood that a movie centered around women simply would not sell tickets. Well, Frozen and Star Wars: The Force Awakens both shattered that archaic notion. Both were not only incredible box office successes that shattered just about every record known to humankind, they also struck a chord with women and girl viewers in a way few films ever have. Elsa costumes still dominate at Halloween, and you can be sure next year Rey will be right there with her.

This is a great thing for feminism, not just because there are more prevalent female characters in popular cinema, but because these two movies offer three distinct, fully fleshed-out, and completely different role models for young girls to look up to in different ways.

Rey, the spunky and fiercely independent heroine of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is a strong and confident woman who has spent her life fending for herself. She is not sitting around waiting for anyone to make her life work, much less a man. When Finn shows up and turns her world upside-down, she is initially more attracted to the adventure he offers than she is smitten by the adorable hunk. As the movie progresses, her feelings for him deepen, but she never chooses to give up her sense of independence to pursue a relationship with him.

At the close of the movie, Finn is in bad shape. Perhaps even on the verge of death. In a lesser film, Rey would have decided to stay home and devote her life to caring for him and nursing him back to health. Not Rey. She says goodbye in a heartbreaking scene, that they will meet again if they are meant to be, and sets out to fulfill her destiny of becoming a Jedi. She refuses to be defined by him, even if she is growing to love him.

Anna, the adorable red-headed heroine of Frozen, is the polar opposite of Rey in almost every way, but she is no less a strong female role-model. She is a hopeless romantic who is immediately swept off her feet by the hot-but-ultimately-totally-evil prince, but even thinking she is in love doesn’t stop her from giving everything up to help her sister at the drop of a hat. When adventure and duty calls, Anna answers by setting out on her own and leaving her prince at home to tend the castle, in an awesome gender-role reversal from the normal fairy tale structure.

Of course, it turns out that trusting this particular prince was a big mistake, but who hasn’t had a bad relationship? Who hasn’t gotten caught up in the emotional rush of a new flame and perhaps overlooked the warning signs it wasn’t going to work out in the long run? Being a strong female role model doesn’t mean being flawless. It means learning from your mistakes and growing into a better person because of them. Anna does just that. She dumps the jerk and ends up in a solid, though imperfect, relationship with a guy who truly cherishes her and values her as a person. He doesn’t idealize her, but sees her as the broken, quirky, wonderful person she is and loves her completely. Anna doesn’t have to give up romance and swear-off all boyfriends to be a strong woman. She just has to be wise enough to hold out for the one truly worthy of her awesomeness.

Elsa, her sister, on the other hand, doesn’t end up in a relationship. That’s okay, too. She has spent years literally and figuratively shutting out the world. She is a queen and has unlimited power, both politically and magically, but she still has to learn how to open herself up to love and to life. In a typical romantic comedy, she would learn how to do this by falling in love with the hot-but-slightly-goofy receptionist. In Frozen, however, Elsa learns this lesson by experiencing the sacrificial love of her sister. She’s not saved by the love of a good guy. She’s saved by the love of Anna. At the end, she seems completely happy to be on her own, and still the powerful woman she always was. Plus, of course, she gets to sing perhaps the most kick-ass Disney song of all time.

Of course, Hollywood is a long way from being perfect in their portrayal of women on screen. By no means have we reached the end of our struggle, but these two films are a great example that shows we as a society are headed in the right direction.

  • Sarah

What is an UpWrite Lady, Anyway?

You’ve heard the term now, you’ve seen the title of our website, maybe you’ve seen the hashtag on Twitter.

UpWriteLadies.

So, at this point, you might be asking yourself what, exactly, is an UpWrite Lady?

It’s a perfectly logical question, one I’ve spent the better part of the last few months thinking about.

Finally, I’ve come to some conclusions.

In short, the answer is… you.

You, just the way you are right in this moment, embody everything that is the philosophy of UpWriteLadies.

You’re here, at this silly little website that’s the result of years of work and toil of two women who are writers, and you’re not here because we’re so amazing.

You’re here because you’re amazing.

Even if I’ve never met you, I know you’re amazing because you’re a writer.

And being a writer is hard. On every level, it’s hard. It’s hard to start something new, it’s hard to finish something old, it’s hard to edit, hard to revise, hard to know when it’s the best it can possibly be.

You’re a writer, not because it’s always fun or enjoyable or easy, but because you’re compelled on some level to write.

Even if no one ever sees it.

Even if you’ll never be satisfied with it.

Even if it’s inconvenient and painful sometimes.

Still, you write.

Perhaps you write scribbling on a notebook during your lunch break from a retail job you hate.

Perhaps you write on a laptop in a coffee shop, the smells and sounds of the busy world around fading into nothing as you lose yourself in your keyboard.

Perhaps you write only in your mind, outlining your great novel that will never be completed.

The point is, you write.

Wherever, however, whenever, you write.

You don’t give up.

You don’t turn it off.

You don’t think it’s silly or pointless, because even if no one reads it just the act of writing itself is cathartic and healing.

You write for the joy of finding just the right word, just the right sentence, just the right description. You write because you can express yourself so much more eloquently on the page than you can in person, when you don’t have the opportunity for endless edits to get it just so.

And that’s why UpWriteLadies exists.

Writing is one of the most solitary things in the world you can do. Unless you’re in writer’s room on a sitcom or working with other reclusive, introverted people on a project, writing is all internal. It’s quiet. It’s lonely.

It doesn’t have to be lonely!

We at UpWriteLadies exist because Amber and I understand everything you’re going through. We understand what it’s like to procrastinate and put off writing because it’s just so much easier sometimes. We understand that all the good things in this world, family and friends and beauty and pain and everything in between, needs to be talked about. It needs to be expressed, and you are the one who needs to express it.

And we want to give you a place to express it.

We want to give you a place to be honored and encouraged, to be praised and lauded, and to praise and laud others who so richly deserve it.

There isn’t enough positivity and enough joy in this world. Maybe we can’t change the world, but we can change this corner of the Internet.

Our corner of the Internet.

Your corner of the Internet.

We can’t do it without you.

Because you’re amazing.

  • Sarah

Short Story Submissions Now Open!

Great news! UpWriteLadies is now accepting short story and non-fiction submissions for our first submission period.

We will accept all submissions for March publication up until 11:59 pm PST on February 25. We will contact the winners for a profile, and Sarah will publish her pick for winning story (along with review and profile of the author) on the FIRST FRIDAY in March. Amber will post her winning pick (along with review and profile) on the THIRD FRIDAY in March. We will open the contest again for April, so if your story is not selected this time around, do not fret! Resubmit! We encourage it!

Please review our updated submission guidelines for more information. All submissions should be emailed to Upwriteladies@gmail.com.

Please share and forward this page to all women writers you know! We’re hoping for an amazing turn out!

Also, don’t worry! This Friday, Sarah will publish a short story she wrote on this site to give you an idea of the quality of writing we are looking for. Amber will publish one at a later date, as well.

Thanks!

– Sarah

Welcome to UpWriteLadies!

Welcome to the first post on UpWriteLadies.com, a website designed to help female authors connect with each other and share their work.

Our goal is to support emerging and established writers in their search to find an audience, and to help connect an audience looking for good writing with some of the best writers in the world.

Every month, we will be sharing two stories submitted by our readers on our site. Our goal is to share one fiction and one non-fiction piece, but of course this will depend on what submissions we get. Sarah will pick one piece each month, and Amber will pick one. On the second and fourth Friday of each month, we will post the winning selections right here, along with a personal written review and a profile of the author.

We will also be posting our work, as well as blogposts about writing, art, current events, and anything else that we think might interest you.

If you want to participate and submit a piece, visit our Submission Guidelines page for more information.

Thanks, and keep writing!

  • Amber and Sarah