January 14, 2015

Herself - Caitlin Explains It All

Women – Love each other, support each other, defend each other. It comes at a greater cost to you to attack the women around you than it does to empower them. 

The young Australian actress Caitlin Stasey has garnered much publicity after posting a series of nude shots accompanied by a compelling honest interview on the website Herself. The thoughtful questions asked are responded candidly and some topics discussed really sparked my interest. Discussing the role of women in our society, Caitlin shared her thoughts of feminism, body image and freedom. Recently I've chatted with my friends about the lack of information we received on the female body and our hormones which is ironic to us because we all went to a girls' only school. It seems we were not the only ones who felt uneducated on our own bodies and desires, with Caitlin discussing her own obstacles.

I have taken some excerpts of the interview below.

Were you ever embarrassed about your development or puberty? If so why?

Puberty was devastating for me. I suddenly had stretch marks all over my body, cellulite, hair, lumps, acne. Looking back now I know I wasn’t alone but at the time I couldn’t have felt more isolated. I was developing at a rate that wasn’t mirrored in my social group. I was always surrounded by long, lean, hairless, blondes who excelled at sports & were entirely asexual & then there was me, swarthy, curvy & short – I’ve always been slight but I was womanly WAY before my peers. I was embarrassed by the changes I was going through and that I had no real outlet for my confusion but more than anything I was embarrassed by my interest in sex, one that was present in me LONG before puberty.

When did you become aware of your gender?

It was always thrust upon me. I never had an awakening it was just understood that I was born cisgendered so there was never any turmoil over my sexuality or upset. I was given gender neutral toys but for the most part I opted for barbies, toy kitchens, lovely little dresses, the only truly non-gendered items I loved were art supplies (although the reason I became interested in art was because it was the only way I could access images of naked women without question!) I was a HUGE girly girl save for my blundstone boots. I was always wearing a tutu & these heavy duty workman’s boots. The simple reason being that I did NOT care for shoelace tying and my blundstones were incredibly comfy. I’ve worn them consistently all my life.

What, if any, are the obstacles you’ve overcome on your path to womanhood?

My vagina has been an unending and constant source of turmoil for me – not that vaginas are intrinsically female, it’s just happened to be a big part of womanhood for me personally – UTI’s, PH imbalances, sexual dysfunction, pain, discomfort. Sexual education is no way near comprehensive enough as all of these things I’ve had to learn myself, treat myself & diagnose myself. I’m still struggling to gain control over my body, over my vagina.

What are your negative relationships with women?

The women I’ve encountered who attempt to discredit feminism, to tear one another down – basically any woman working for the dailymail, newscorp or TMZ.

How do you feel about products marketed to women?

It’s grotesque the way we target women. Ad campaigns are so sneaky, so covert, they masquerade as your ‘friends’ having a lilting lady voice soothe you into buying THESE cosmetics because we ALL know ‘your crows feet are there’ & they are FUUUUCKED. It’s so underhanded.

How do you feel about feminine hygiene products’ portrayal in the media?

This blue liquid in place of red really has to stop. It lends itself to making menstrual blood a spectacle and a horrifying & gruesome secret. Let’s just be cool about it. Let’s all get the fuck over the fact that some people have periods.

Do you feel your sexual education was sufficient?

Not at all. I learned the basics, the very basics & it seemed so foreign and sterile that I didn’t relate it back to myself. I couldn’t imagine that all these incredible things were going to happen to my body.

In what ways does being a woman make you vulnerable or exposed?

We have come to understand the world as a ‘Man’s space’ and that we women are merely traveling through that space, although not all people feel this way, it is evidenced in cat calls, street harassment and the constant pursuit of women by strange men.

How do you define feminism?

As a group of people pushing forward to total & inarguable equality.

What do you think are positive ways the world views women?

It’s funny, this question once struck me as innocent enough until I started asking women it. I found that EVERY answer they came up with had a seed of male gaze within it, and of course that’s the case. If you think of the patriarchy as a tree, it’s roots tainted by male privilege & oppression then all the fruits of that tree are tainted as well, no matter how prettily it’s dressed up. In order to state that “being a woman is good because of…” is to separate us into categories that are arbitrary and socially inflicted anyway. If being a woman, by today’s standards, benefits you then you aren’t benefiting. You’re merely feeding back into a system that let’s you down.

Do you think the worlds perception of women limits them or benefits?

Limits them hugely.

Have you ever been in a position where your sexuality was used against you?

I’ve been accused of ‘friend zoning’ again & again, that my kindness & flirtation were grounds to expect sex from me. I was warned by several dudes to modify my behavior and be careful of leading men on. If I could go back in time I’d have laughed in their pathetic horny faces and waltzed off.

Have you ever been physically or verbally threatened because of your appearance?

I’m cat called at least a dozen times a week in summer. Mercifully during winter it’s too cold for people to roll down their windows and stick their heads out.

When you imagine sex, what is the visual/feeling you associate with it?

Sometimes pain, I suffer from constant & chronic UTI’s, the fear of pain causes your muscles to spasm and contract which can make sex impossible. Other times it’s just the loveliest thing to think of.

How do you feel about the media’s portrayal of women?

It depicts us as sexless unless corrupt, hairless unless masculine & helpless unless evil. We’re not allowed to be gross or crass & intelligent, or beautiful & funny. We have to fit into neat little boxes.

Are you satisfied with the women you see depicted in film, television & advertising?

Not at all. I’m not even entirely satisfied by some of the women I’ve played. The erasure of colour from entertainment is truly staggering & appalling. The erasure of women from within the LGTBQIA community is equally as awful.

How do you think the world at large views women?

As mothers, sluts, virgins, or wives.

How do you maintain a sense of self?

By creating my own world daily & loving the women around me fully.

What is something you deeply love about yourself?

My sense of humour, I truly think I’m blessed to be able to laugh as often as I do.

Do you have people you look up to?

Anais Nin, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Clementine Ford, Marieke Hardy, Haylee Collins, Malala Yousafzai.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Women – Love each other, support each other, defend each other. It comes at a greater cost to you to attack the women around you than it does to empower them.

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