Study Guide

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things Femininity

By Carolyn Mackler

Femininity

I said that the soda was making my braces cold. As I've read in myriad magazines, women should always call attention to their mouths, as in licking a lollipop or sliding on lip-gloss. (1.24)

Can you even imagine a girl who was constantly putting on lip gloss and licking lollipops? It would be kind of funny if it weren't so wrong.

I'm doing my best imitation of a lover seized by passion. Eyelids heavy, faint upward curve to lips—just like women in movies who always look so orgasmic. But, truth be told, I'm having a complete panic attack. (1.32)

Sometimes awkward girls are sexy, especially if you're an awkward boy. Your real face is way more interesting than a mask, Shmoopers.

Then she launched into one of her rants, something she'd been doing ever since she discovered the feminist rocker Ani DiFranco and stopped shaving her legs. (2.8)

When you align yourself with a word that ends with -ist or -ism, it's often because you're (righteously) angry.

She eats lettuce at every meal and spends half her life at the gym. I don't know what she's worried about because she's totally thin. Maybe it's Dad. He's the first to admit that he likes women skinny. (3.22)

Virginia's mom has been fighting her own body war since before Virginia was born, but she doesn't realize that pushing Virginia to lose weight is starting her down that same miserable path. Oh, hi, denial—here's a tasty plate of lettuce for you.

I'd visualize myself partying up at Columbia. See how sexy I look in a bra and thong and hip-hugger jeans! How much will you charge ME to get into Virgins and Sluts? (9.7)

We're guessing the entry fee would be even lower if she skipped the jeans, which, ew. Virgins and Sluts is pretty much the worst party ever.

The girls all had to strip down and stand in a line. Then the sorority president went down the row with a big black marker. As she stopped at each girl, she circled onto her skin wherever she needed to lose weight or tone up. (9.99)

When women start treating each other like this, it's because they're internalizing male objectification. Handy tip: girls who refuse to internalize other people's opinions have more fun.

Paul the School Nurse is my secret weapon at Brewster. He's monumentally trying to overcompensate for his male-nurse status. Utter a syllable about cramps or PMS and he's bemoaning the woes of womanhood, feeling your menstrual pain. (10.3)

and the sensitive men often feel compelled to overcompensate for the objectifying ones.

"I've paid my motherly dues," she'd said as soon as they returned from dropping my sister off at Dartmouth. Then Mom slapped a pile of takeout menus onto the kitchen counter. "We'll let the delivery guy pick up the slack." (17.35)

Mothers aren't the only ones who can cook. Dads can refuse to let the delivery guy pick up the slack, and they don't even have to put on an apron.

"When women first started getting their ears pierced, everyone thought that was barbaric," I say. "But now it's as normal as necklaces. I think it's the same with facial piercings. It'll just take time to get used to them." (23.51)

Societal acceptance of body modification happens in increments, just like societal acceptance of women showing their bodies in the first place. The rebel girls are the ones who move the acceptance along.

"Then I have to tell you that I'd rather you don't talk about my body. It's just not yours to discuss." (31.18)

Three words: You. Go. Girl.