Interview by Ralph Edelstein
Marie Lotte Hagen and Nydia van Voorthuizen read the book SEXY, BUT TIRED. BUT SEXY by Jamie Li and were shocked. In response, they published their own booklet (« not a booklet, a pamphlet! ») titled DAMN, HONEY in which they encourage women to break through traditional gender roles. The sequel to the book is a podcast in which they discuss all the shit you have to deal with as a woman. Serious but witty.
Why were you so shocked about Jamie Li’s book?
Well, how much time do you have ..?! It started out when we saw a quote from the book on Twitter, that basically said that men are in ‘team bunny’ always looking to ejaculate. And that we as women should satisfy their needs so that we get the good guy back that we signed up for. We were fuming and decided to dive into the book. It turned out to be a long sexist story that explained that we as women should make sure we have perfectly done nails and shave our pussies – even when giving birth, because you might just shock the gynecologist on duty! And of course we should keep our man happy in the sack. So much heteronormativity in all of this. It was as if we were back in the 50’s. The assumption that women should do everything to keep men happy and that a guy’s compliment is basically the highest achievement in life. Really absurd…
So an ‘anti-book’ was needed?
For the sake of clarity, the fact that she likes to make herself beautiful and dress sexy is not what bothers us. We actually like that very much ourselves. Jamie Li is cool, funny and sarcastic. But we do feel there is a need for a different narrative in the bookshop alongside her book. A story that offers girls and women an opposite perspective.
So you sat down and took the time to write it?
Took the time?! We sat down and wrote the book in one go, and put in all the experiences and frustrations that we have had since puberty. It was really a rant, written completely on adrenaline, straight from our hearts. And it turned out to be a success! Within a week of the launch, the second print was released followed by a third. By now we have started our own podcast that goes by the same name DAMN, HONEY. Focusing on similar themes. We aim to start the conversation about everything you run into as a woman in current society. We want to make women as well as men aware of the subconscious beliefs and prejudices they have regarding male-female relationships and make them think about it.
Can you name a few of those prejudices?
For example, that as a woman you’re not supposed be explicit about your libido. From a young age, women are told it’s a little weird to want to have a lot of sex. You’re supposed to keep that hidden because people might think you’re a slut. In our book, we write about the first time our girlfriends had an orgasm. For some it was at a young age, around seven or eight years old. We also address that they quickly found that using a teddy bear actually gave them pleasure. But that’s something we hide and really wouldn’t ever talk about. This is very different for boys. In movies and books, boys using a Playboy and a sock to masturbate is portrayed as ‘funny’. That is a very clear example of the double standard by which boys and girls are judged.
And how does that work for adults?
We already named heteronormativity, which is a very important topic to talk about. In society, films and shows you almost exclusively see hetero relationships, especially in the past. As a result, many boys and girls do not realize that they might be attracted to the same sex and they struggle with their sexuality for far too long. In women’s magazines, for example, they always talk about sex with men. If they are talking about a partner then it is almost always a man and any relationships with woman are described merely as one-time adventures. It’s never about a full-fledged relationship between two girls. Although the Donald Duck comic is going to include a lesbian couple…But this of course will probably lead to strong reactions like « Do those gays and lesbians need to be included so badly? » Yes they do. If the Donald Duck comic is a reflection of society, then gays should be in it. Representation is really important.
Which taboos are you trying to break?
Actually all taboos about being a woman. We fight against slut shaming and victim blaming. The latter means that women are blamed when they get catcalled or harassed, like « you shouldn’t have worn that short skirt, your asking for it ». Isn’t that absurd? Why don’t we reprimand the perpetrators? We also try to break the taboo on menstruation. That is still a loaded, shameful subject. Like when you ask someone for a tampon and they give you a small one when you need a big one. People don’t have the courage to say that in public. It’s completely normal! Or when you’re at work and you’re not feeling well because you have your period. Would you say that? Most women don’t. They pretend nothing is wrong. The image that prevails is that you do not discuss matters that are explicitly related to being a woman. As if being a woman is a weakness you should hide.
Want to know more about Yoni? Read our story.