A Certain Kind of Woman

A Certain Kind of Woman
Photo by engin akyurt / Unsplash

Earlier this week, Keke Palmer’s boyfriend (I will not be using his name, because he is only known because of her splendid-ness) decided to get onto Twitter to shame her for wearing a fitted dress to an Usher concert. It was gorgeous, with vintage pinup vibes. He said a mother shouldn’t be wearing that kind of outfit. 

Of course, Keke Palmer handled this all like a queen, releasing I’m a Motha merch and holding her gorgeous son while singing Isn’t She Wonderful.


A few days later, Jonah Hill’s ex-girlfriend Sarah Brady opened up about their relationship, accusing the actor of being “emotionally abusive.” Brady is a surfer, with an IG account peppered with action shots of her surfing and pictures of her on the beach. She shared screenshots of Hill texting and messaging to insist she take down any photos of her in swimsuits, insisting she avoid even casual conversation with male surfers, requiring that she forgoes modeling for surf brands and “forgo friendships with women in unstable places.’ 

A self-proclaimed progressive feminist, Hill cloaked his control in a therapized vocabulary, using words like “triggering” and “boundaries.” Their couples therapist seemed fine with that, instructing Brady to “paddle away” from male surfers. The therapist also told Brady to handle Hill’s outbursts by saying a safe word when Hill was yelling at her too much. (She says the safe word was ‘pineapple.’)

Listen to Anna!

It’s interesting to note that both Keke Palmer’s Boyfriend and Hill were both attracted to women with vibrant careers. Once they started dating them, they tried to impose restrictions that would effectively constrain those careers. 

If Palmer cannot wear gowns to public events where she interacts with public men, what does that mean for her work as an artist? If Brady cannot wear swimwear while surfing or interact with male colleagues in an overwhelmingly male dominated industry, what does that mean for her future as a surfer?

Follow me on IG’s Threads for my Jonah Hill hot takes.

I was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a traditional religion with an emphasis on female modesty and purity. When I publicly left the religion, many non-Mormon men took the time to celebrate themselves in my DMs and comments. They told me they weren’t like the other men, they were progressive men. And they wanted to welcome me to the real world, a place full of men like them. 

It made me laugh. Because, yeah, the world is full of men like them - inside and outside the Mormon church. I took a screenshot of every single comment, because the man quickest to congratulate himself on his righteous attitudes towards women, is the man most likely to be harming women. 

A Certain Kind of Woman

There’s a certain kind of man that feels great conflict about the embodiment of women. You see. He wants a woman to have a body, because he likes women’s bodies. He wants to touch a woman’s body, smell a woman’s body, move a woman’s body, sink inside a woman’s body. He’d like to use a woman’s body to grow his children. And he certainly wouldn’t mind if that woman’s body did the dishes and got up with his crying babies.

But there are also times when he’d prefer a woman didn’t have a body. Those times are mostly when he is not around. Like when she is working, or walking, or breathing or thinking. And especially if the working, walking, breathing, thinking is happening in the vicinity of other men.

Sometimes this kind of man says he worries about her body being around other men because he isn’t there to protect her. Sometimes this kind of man says he worries about her body being around other men because she is a slut who can’t be trusted. Usually, this kind of many thinks both things are true.

So yes, this certain kind of man would concede that a woman’s body is a problem when it’s away from him. But he’s figured out how to deal with the issue. Embodiment means that our thoughts, ideas and emotions are tied up with our physical experiences and environment. 

If you can control a person’s body and environment, you can also begin to control their thoughts. He tells her that her body betrays him, especially in everyday interactions. After he says it enough times, she begins to doubt the nature of her own experience.

He insists she dresses like a whore, no matter how many times she’s lengthened her hemline. She covers herself, ashamed she didn’t see her nakedness before. He yells about her opening her mouth to talk to other men, screaming that he knows that’s not the only reason she’s opening her mouth around them. She starts biting her cheeks to keep from talking, terrified of what other people must think about her because of her behavior.

He tells her he’s more rational. And by this time, she’s so bewildered, she hopes he’s right. To show her he is, he gives her rules for how she can touch, what she can smell, the way she can move. And then he repeats those rules, over and over and over again until they’ve sunk so far inside her, she can’t reach them to rip them out.

And because her flesh mortifies him, she is punished even she complies.

It’s funny. As much trouble as this certain kind of man has with the embodied woman, he also can’t quite find peace with the idea of a disembodied woman.

Let’s say this kind of man got what he wanted. A woman who only manifested a body while he was around. And the rest of the time she was split from matter, so there was no way any man could ever perceive her. That wouldn’t work either. 

Because that would mean she could exist outside of her body, which means she could exist outside of his control. It would mean that whatever bit of her was the most her had nothing to do with his grasping, his sniffing, his fumbling, his thrusting. It would mean she had a soul, capable of transcendence. (Not that this certain type of man ever been very worried about getting her to any kind of transcendence anyways. ahem.)

Of course, women are embodied creatures. And many are done feeling conflicted about men who try to split women from themselves. It’s not easy to extract yourself from manipulation and abuse. But those that can, are. And they’re speaking up so that those that cannot leave on their own know where they can turn for help. 

While this certain kind of man texts and tweets, yells and yelps, froths and fusses, he’s missing the thing that’s right in front of him. A certain kind of woman isn’t going to take his shit anymore.

She’s done trying to survive being sliced away from work, friendships, beliefs, politics, from the the things that actually move her. She can see that her body and whatever else makes her her comes together to make a soul worth withholding from the bruising grasps of gaping men. 

So she’s given herself wholly to a generous world, the sun touching her legs, the smell of night in her hair, the movement of the water across her stomach and the joy of existence sunk so deep inside of her, a tweeting, texting, pounding man couldn’t ever reach deep enough to rip it out.