A Letter to Myself (To My College Self)

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Impromptu college photo shoots were the best.

Dear college me,

Remember high school freshman orientation when your principal said, “These are the best four years of your life”? He was clearly wrong. The best four years of your life are your college years.

I speak from a place far, far away—I come from the future. Great Scott!

part high quality future great back

Go figure, I just had to throw in a Back to the Future reference.). But since future me has been in the “real world” for a few years now, I can say from experience that so far, the college years were some of the best years of my life.

Sure, I know right now you’re probably reading this while procrastinating on a paper you should be writing for Honors, or Spanish, or Creative Nonfiction…or maybe all three. Right now you’re probably panicking about how busy you are, how there never seems like there’s enough time in the day to get all these papers done. You wish that the coffee shop on campus was open 24 hours (and just an FYI: you will miss those delicious coffees more than you can even imagine).

I’m probably being a bad influence right now, but keep procrastinating for a little longer and let me school you with some knowledge. Just kidding. But I do want to fill you in on what I wish I would have known during college:

1. It’s okay to stress out. What you’re doing right now? It’s normal. You’re a college student. You are an Honors student. You’re double-majoring. You’re writing for the college newspaper. You have a lot on your mind, and that’s perfectly okay. Taking steps to reduce stress, as long as it’s healthy, is always a good idea. It’ll be a few years before you heed my advice, but let me just tell you now: Yoga does wonders. Honestly. You’ll thank me later.

2. Enjoy the adventures. Throughout your college years, you will have opportunities to travel to new places around the country, and for the first time, you’ll finally set foot outside the United States, traveling to Greece.

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Ending college with a bang at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

Trust me: Right now, that will be the opportunity of a lifetime, and it will forever be one of the most beautiful places you’ve ever seen. Take it all in, take tons of photos, breathe, close your eyes, and appreciate the beauty of the world around you. You’ll remember these moments for years to come.

3. Life post-college is just as confusing/stressful/complicated/weird as college life is. No, even in your mid-20s, you still won’t have life “figured out.” Will we ever have it figured out? Who knows. But what I do know is that life will take you to places you never thought you’d end up (like New Jersey and New York City).

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Sunset at the most beautiful beach in Ocean City, New Jersey.

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Walking along the Brooklyn Bridge to catch the New York City Marathon.

Your life will probably always be unpredictable, but isn’t that what makes life thrilling?

4. As a millennial, you and millions of other college grads around the country will deal with paying back student loans. 20-somethings everywhere are in the same boat as you are, so you don’t need to feel alone. Even though the idea of student debt is daunting, places like Earnest exist to help students refinance your loans. They also help students understand finances better, which is obviously important for all of us. Adulting outside of college is tricky, but finding the right resources to help you will only help you out in the long run, so no worries.

5. There is no timeline for chasing after your dreams. You may compare yourself to others around you, and in case you were wondering, you’ll compare yourself even more once you’re out of college, unfortunately. Social media plays into it because we only post what we want others to see. You’ll see people living lives that you’re slightly jealous of. You’ll wonder what you’re doing wrong. The answer: Nothing. You’re walking along the path that’s right for you. You’re taking steps towards where you want to be physically, mentally, and emotionally. Just know that comparing yourself to others is natural, but the path you are on is uniquely yours.

6. You are capable. I know you, and I know that voice of insecurity. Even if you don’t believe me right now, just know that you are capable of success, in whichever way that may be. You are capable of finding peace. You are capable of finding day-to-day happiness. You are capable of finding security—security in your identity, in your present life, in your future. Just know that right now where I am in life, I am on that journey towards achieving all of those things. Yes, there will be dark times that you may feel you won’t emotionally survive. But somehow, you will. The journey only continues, and you will walk on.

7. It’s okay to love yourself. Your college years will be the most inspiring years of your life (at least they have been so far), so please take advantage of these years. Relish in those moments of confidence, inspiration, and self love. Loving yourself isn’t vain—loving yourself is crucial to living with yourself. After some rocky years post-college, I know that. I live that. So I just want you to love yourself and be proud of it.

I’m sure right now it’s nearly midnight, so you should probably get back to the papers you’re procrastinating on. I know you might be a little bundle of nerves, but honestly, I think that’s just a part of the college experience. To be honest, I’m slightly jealous of you. Life outside of college is another world entirely, and even though I don’t miss the stress of college, I miss the atmosphere. So breathe it in, write in one of those fancy journals until your hand cramps up, drink too much coffee, and always say yes to movie nights with your friends down the hall. You’ll never, ever regret it. Just know that I love you. I always have, and I always will.

Love,

Future Me

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All we can do sometimes is laugh our way through life.

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Dear Democrats

Dear Democratic partisans everywhere,

I’m gonna need you to take a seat. And to be quiet. For at least five minutes. Because America’s future depends on it. Yes, all you “rah-rah, stronger together, go go Hillary” Democrats who are enraged at the wrong people, sit down. Chill. I need to tell you something that may change your life, and I hope you’ll hear me out.

You are destroying the Democrats chances of winning ANY future elections.

Shhh, remember I asked for five minutes of silence? Please, hold your questions until the end.

shut up louis ck shh be quiet shhh

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Blaming third party voters is destroying the Democratic Party.

Telling third party voters that they’re “exercising straight white privilege” (real quote…I’m not kidding) is destroying the Democratic Party.

Blaming Bernie supporters is destroying the Democratic Party.

Screaming about how anyone who voted for Trump is a racist, sexist, xenophobic, misogynistic asshole is destroying the Democratic Party.

Seriously. I’m not kidding, and I’m not exaggerating.

Think about it. Let’s go back in time, shall we? Remember the primaries? You may have even supported Bernie back then (bless your heart). Maybe you supported Hillary from the start (that I have some issues with, but we’ll let that go for now).

Do you remember the CNN and MSNBC propaganda against Bernie? The hundreds of articles attacking Bernie from the New York Times, Washington Post, Think Progress, and Slate (and dozens more)? Even if you weren’t a Bernie supporter, come on, you knew the whole “pie in the sky, he’s crazy, he’s an evil old socialist” arguments were just a load of crap. Deep down, even if you let their lies wash over you back then, you know they were just that: lies.

Let’s go to the town hall with Rachel Maddow in April. Hillary is leading in the primaries, and it’s becoming evident that she may win the nomination. But the primaries aren’t over yet. Maddow asks Hillary what she’ll do to win over Bernie supporters during a general election. What was Hillary’s answer? “But I have more votes than him.” And a bunch of gloating.

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She was visibly disgusted at the idea of earning the votes of Americans. (Side note: Watching this clip post-election is just amazing given the results).

How many Bernie supporters did she win over with that answer? My guess would be -3,000, roughly. As a Bernie supporter myself, that was the first time I knew, “I cannot vote for her. She literally just told me she will do NOTHING to win my vote.”

Now let’s recall the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia at the end of July. If you were watching CNN or any other mainstream outlet or reading a mainstream publication, you may not have heard much about the convention shenanigans.

“No TPP” chants were drowned out with “Hillary, Hillary” chants. Why didn’t the DNC want people chanting against the TPP? Could it be that their nominee had lobbied in favor of the TPP 45 times?

Videos surfaced of Bernie delegates’ seats at the convention being stolen from them. White noise machines were placed directly in the areas where Bernie delegates were seated. The media was pretending there was “unity” at the convention while Bernie supporters were protesting against Hillary Clinton. Bernie delegates were kicked out for having pro-Hillary signs, and other Bernie delegates’ signs were covered up with pro-Hillary signs. Bernie supporters constantly booed the mere mention of Hillary’s name (to be drowned out by “Hillary, Hillary” chants, as directed to do so by the DNC). So much for unity, right?

You may brush that off. “No big deal. Those supporters were just upset their candidate lost. Understandable.” Sure, that argument makes sense, and is pretty accurate. But if you don’t think the tension at the convention was a sign of things to come, then you just weren’t paying attention.

Throughout the general election, Hillary snubbed the progressive base. Her message was, “Look at the other guy! Don’t vote for him! Trump bad!” rather than explaining what she would do to help progressives (because she wasn’t going to do anything for progressives). She spent most of her time pointing at Trump and his faults rather than discussing what she would do in office. Why? Because she wouldn’t bring anything progressive to the White House.

Another sign she snubbed her base? Who was Hillary’s pick for Vice President? I’m sure you forgot already, because he’s that forgettable, but it was Tim Kaine. Since you forgot, obviously her pick was a mistake. Kaine was in favor of the TPP. Like Hillary, he was in the pocket of Wall Street donors. Also like Hillary, he was a dangerously conservative “Democrat.” When Hillary had the option of choosing someone progressive such as Elizabeth Warren, Hillary’s response was, “Nahhhhh, I’m cool. I don’t need a progressive VP. Come on over here, Tim!”

Part of a politician’s job is to win votes. Why do they campaign all over the state or the country, depending on what office they’re running for? They campaign to put their message out into the world in the hopes that people will hear it and support the message. Politicians campaign to win votes, and that’s the key idea here.

It’s not every day Americans’ job to vote. Voting is a right, not a job. It’s not American citizens’ job to support a candidate at all. Americans decide whether or not to support a particular politician based on what they hear and see. It’s not the citizen’s fault if they decide not to support the candidate. It’s the fault of the politician for not convincing the voter to support him/her.

I’m baffled when I hear people saying, “Anyone who didn’t vote has no right to complain,” and then five minutes later blame voter suppression laws pushed by Republicans as one of the main reasons Hillary lost. Don’t blame people who didn’t vote when many DID try to vote and were turned away by the very same voter suppression laws that you’re complaining about.

So after all of my ranting, do I think there is someone to blame for Hillary’s loss? Yes. And who do I blame? I blame…drum roll, please…Hillary Clinton! Shocker.

Think about it. We’ve had problems with people blaming the wrong factors for the Al Gore loss, but let’s look at the John Kerry loss to George W. Bush in 2004.

Did you blame third party voters or people who didn’t vote at all for Kerry’s loss? No. You most likely blamed John Kerry for not being a strong enough candidate.

The Al Gore loss was Gore’s fault. Yes, there were many factors that played into it, but the one to blame in an election loss, when it really comes down to it, is the candidate.

A myth has floated around for years that Ralph Nadar’s third party run cost Gore the election, and that myth has resurfaced this time around because history has repeated itself. Like in 2000, the Electoral College loser has won the popular vote. Yes, that sucks. But that’s not the point. Both in 2000 and in this election, more Democrats voted for the Republican candidate than voted third party. That’s a fact. 9% of Democrats voted for Donald Trump, and a whopping 11% of Democrats voted for George W. Bush in 2000. Even though more voters cast their ballots for third party candidates this election, Stein and Johnson, combined, received a little over roughly 4% of the vote.

So why aren’t Democratic loyalists yelling about Democrats who voted for the other guy? Because that doesn’t boost their egos. They need to find someone to blame, and it’s easier for them to blame those who voted for a more progressive candidate. It fits their narrative that third parties are evil and that Democrats are saints, no matter who the candidate is.

Even though I fully blame Hillary Clinton for losing, I do have someone else to blame for enabling her.

I blame the DNC.

I could go on and on about the faults of the DNC (but that’s for another blog post, because I could rant forever about that, obviously). But to be clear: It is a fact that the DNC and Hillary camp colluded with the media to attack Bernie and report propaganda, cheated by receiving debate questions early, and suppressed the vote during the primaries by fighting for closed primaries, fighting to keep independents out of the voting process, limiting the debate schedule, limiting polling places, and involving themselves in the primary voting schedule. If you think that the DNC is against voter suppression, you’re mistaken: They are only against it when it doesn’t benefit them. But when it does, they fight to suppress the vote just as much as Republicans do.

I blame the DNC for ignoring the thousands and thousands of people (many of them millennials) who showed up to Bernie rallies all over the country. The DNC attacked Bernie with inaccurate arguments like saying his ideas were “unrealistic.” The DNC concocted the idea of “Bernie Bros,” similar to Hillary’s failed attempt at fabricating “Obama Boys.” Who are “Bernie Bros” or “Obama Boys”? They are, according to pro-Hillary writers and team members, sexists who support Bernie or Obama over Hillary simply because they’re sexist.

To be clear: The reason people supported Bernie or Obama over Hillary was because they didn’t believe Hillary was a good candidate. Plain and simple. Were there the occasional Democratic voters who were sexist against her? Probably. But were there thousands, maybe millions of them? Hell no. Hell. To. The No. The millions of people who voted for Bernie over Hillary didn’t support Hillary because of her RECORD, not because of her gender.

Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq War, an illegal war against a country that didn’t attack us, which has killed thousands of people and will cost trillions of dollars.

Hillary Clinton voted for the Patriot Act. She voted to virtually erase the Fourth Amendment.

Hillary Clinton has been flip flopping on the issue of gay marriage for decades.

Hillary Clinton has promoted fracking all over the world. During a debate in March, when asked if she supports fracking, Hillary gave a convoluted, obnoxiously rehearsed, nonsensical (and, frankly, bullshit) answer which basically concluded to say that, yes, she would continue to support fracking so that she wouldn’t upset her donors. Bernie, on the other hand, famously said, “My answer is a lot shorter. No, I do not support fracking.” Short, simple, and without bullshit.

Hillary Clinton claimed she wanted a $12 national minimum wage before flipping to support Bernie’s $15 proposal.

Hillary Clinton has spoken quite negatively about universal health care and universal college (and progressive ideas in general).

And, probably most famously, Hillary has lobbied 45 times in favor of the TPP. Even though Donald Trump said it, it’s actually true that Hillary used to call it “the gold standard.” Because of Bernie, Hillary became more careful about her TPP-talk, but don’t kid yourself: She’s still in favor of the TPP.

Given all of these facts, calling anyone who supports Bernie over Hillary a sexist is, at this point, a complete joke. Note: sadly, while trying to find an article to cite about this fact, most of what I found were sloppy, pathetic articles about “Bernie Bros” and how sexist it was for Bernie to even run against a woman, courtesy of everyone from the Washington Post to Vox).

After this election, as progressives and Democrats, we are all hurting. We are all angry. We are all scared. We are vulnerable. And while dealing with these emotions, we all want to blame someone.

But if we blame the wrong factors, we will hurt the Democratic Party.

Blaming those who Hillary snubbed for not voting for her is missing the point. Hillary and the DNC spit in the faces of millions of progressives. What did they expect to happen? Why would millions of disenfranchised voters show up in droves to vote for someone who essentially said, “I will not fight for you, I will not support you, and I will simply expect you to bow down and vote for me”? The most Hillary did was concede to Bernie (not without kicking and screaming the entire way) on a couple of issues, like the $15 minimum wage and language to fight more strongly against climate change, for the Democratic platform.

Blaming American citizens who voted for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or sitting out the election is not only an inaccurate argument: It’s also a waste of time, and it’s only hurting the party.

Why, you ask? Because you’re helping Trump in winning a second term.

Think about it: Do you think shaming millions of people who didn’t vote for Hillary will win them over into voting for a Democrat in 2020? Do you think writing whiny Facebook statuses saying “Third party voters have no right to complain!!!! #StrongerTogether #ImStillWithHer #ImWithHer #Hillary2020” is going to win over ANYONE who didn’t vote for Hillary?

No. You know what you’re doing? You’re doing the same shit Hillary did. You’re alienating progressives. You’re spitting in their faces. You’re ignoring the fact that Hillary lost the Electoral College to the most disliked candidate in election history. You’re ignoring the fact that before the election, Hillary Clinton was the No. 2 most disliked candidate in election history.

With the two most disliked presidential candidates being pinned up against each other, what did you expect to happen? You expected Hillary to win in a blowout? When she was down in the polls a week before the election? If you truly believed she would win in a landslide, then not only were you not paying attention to the election, but I’d venture to say you were asleep for about a year and a half. Yes, most of us assumed she would win, but no one who was paying attention thought it would, by any means, be a landslide.

If you continue to shame third party voters or people who didn’t vote, then you are just asking for Trump’s second term. Now is the time for the Democratic Party to become more progressive. Now is the time for voices like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Nina Turner, Tulsi Gabbard, and Keith Ellison (who was laughed at for saying that Trump should be taken seriously) to be the majority of the party, the voices that are the loudest. If the party continues to prop up corrupt, establishment candidates, then they are handing Trump a second term on a silver platter.

Now is the time to be joining together and learning from mistakes. We must work together to pick up the pieces. The Democratic Party is in shambles, but there is hope. And the hope is with the progressive voices.

All I ask is for everyone who wants someone to blame for this election disaster to stop blaming those who aren’t at fault. Stop blaming people who you need to be reaching out to in order to win future elections. Yes, we know who to blame. It’s those at the DNC for their cheating, corruption, and embarrassing miscalculations. But don’t forget: In the end, Hillary Clinton lost because of Hillary Clinton.

The Democratic Party needs to be the party of unity again. The party of progression. The party of the people. The every day American citizens. I’ve believed in this party my entire life. And I still believe in it. The party seems to have lost its way, but I believe it can be the party of the progressives once again.

Sincerely yours,

A progressive

I am a woman, and today I am scared

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As I reflect on this historic and shocking election result, I look at this photo and remember more peaceful times in my life. Even though I’m still afraid, this photo is comforting. 

This blog post is a complete stream of consciousness. Today, like millions of people all over the world, I woke up from what I hoped was a nightmare. But it’s our reality now: Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States, and in nearly a landslide at that.

I woke to dark clouds and rain in New Jersey. It fits with my emotions today. Today, I have reflected. I have cried. I have searched within myself for my thoughts on this election and the results. I have numerous emotions today. Among them are devastation, fury, and disbelief. But the one I am having the most difficulty with is fear. And that is the purpose of this blog post.

I am afraid for, to put it broadly, the world. Yes, I’m terrified for the environment. For Muslim-American families having conversations about not wearing a hijab in public because they are afraid for their safety. I’m terrified for African-Americans who not only are disproportionately targeted by the police, but may deal with nationwide disastrous and racist “stop-and-frisk” policies under a Trump presidency. I’m terrified for the LGBTQ community because our Vice President, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, signed the “religious freedom” bill in his state, which allowed for businesses to discriminate against groups they don’t like, specifically anyone identifying as LGBTQ. And even though I am heartbroken beyond explanation for all of these groups, most of all, for personal reasons, I am terrified most of all for women. And I am now terrified as a woman for the first time in my life.

I am terrified for many reasons. Yes, it’s partly because Donald Trump said he would punish women for having abortions. Yes, it’s because he has threatened to appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices who would not only be pro-life, but who would overturn Roe v. Wade, which gave women the right to choose to have an abortion. And yes, I’m also horrified that Vice President Mike Pence has pushed for legislation that would force women to pay for funerals of not only aborted fetuses, but for miscarriages. But even though these are reasons to be scared as a woman, it’s beyond this. I’m terrified because of the words Donald Trump has said, and memories throughout my life he has brought to the surface. For the first time, I am reflecting on several memories I have never dwelled on before.

Donald Trump, our elected President, has been accused of sexual assault by more than a dozen individuals. The numerous allegations range from unwanted kisses and touching to rape of not only women, but of girls, minors. The now infamous Access Hollywood tape is a moment in time. Donald Trump said that not only does he grab women “by the pussy,” but he also said, “I don’t even wait.” What doesn’t he wait for? Consent. Donald Trump said, on tape, that he sexually assaults women. The women who came forward after the tape’s release verified his own admission.

As if there couldn’t be more damning evidence of Trump’s treatment of women, he has been documented verbally demeaning women. In my opinion, the most egregious example is his treatment of Miss Universe pageant winner Alicia Machado. Trump publically shamed her for her appearance, calling her “Miss Piggy,” “an eating machine,” and brought press to film her exercising after he put her on a weight loss plan. Machado suffered from anorexia and bulimia for five years due to this harassment.

With each story released of Trump’s treatment of women, I started to look within. Of course I was disgusted and angry. But for some reason, Trump’s blatant sexism made me think back to memories I’d almost forgotten. I want to express that I am not, in any way, equating my experiences to any of these women, or to anyone else’s personal story. But I have read other women’s stories, and I remembered events I’d almost forgotten occurred throughout my life.

I remember in fourth grade, when a boy in my class was standing behind me and stroked my hair. I turned around, obviously a bit creeped out. He just smiled at me.

I remember in eighth grade being called “ugly” by a boy I had a crush on.

I remember freshman year of college receiving Facebook messages from multiple strangers telling me they had seen me around campus and wanted to hang out with me because I was cute.

In the spring of my freshman year, I had a date to watch a movie with a guy in his fraternity’s apartment. I asked a mutual friend, who was in that fraternity, where the apartment building was. My date found out I had done this and shamed me for asking someone else where the building was. He hinted that he didn’t want me to tell people where I would be that night. He told me that if people knew where I was going, they would start rumors about me and would spread lies about what I was doing. Nothing happened when I watched the movie with him. But after that, he messaged me on Facebook with unwanted and pushy sexual advances. I never hung out with him again.

On Halloween weekend my first year out of college, I went to a bar with a friend. Two guys approached us, and we all started talking for a while. One of the guys seemed interested in me and was friendly. I went to use the bathroom, and immediately after I returned, when I wasn’t looking at him, he grabbed my butt completely out of nowhere. I had met him less than an hour ago. I looked over at him and he smiled at me.

Later that same year, I went out dancing with a group of friends. A male acquaintance was dancing with me, and he started trying to feel me up and move his hands between my legs. I stopped him and he became more pushy. He told me that he knew I “wanted it,” and said that I needed to have sex with him. I kept telling him he was mistaken and that I wouldn’t. The last thing he said before I grabbed my close friend and ran off was, “At least let’s go out to my car and I can lick your pussy.”

About a year later, I was in a relationship. My boyfriend wasn’t in town, and I went out with a female friend. A man came up and sat down next to me at the bar. At first he was harmless. But not much later, he told me I should come home with him. I said, “I have a boyfriend.” He asked, “Well where is your boyfriend?” I told him he was out of town and he immediately responded, “He doesn’t have to know.” I refused his request, but that didn’t stop him. He then asked for a kiss. I refused, but that apparently wasn’t good enough. He turned it into a game. He said he would pay me to kiss him. I kept refusing, but he didn’t stop. He jumped off his bar stool and ran to find his friends to ask for money. He came back, and offered me five dollars, ten dollars, fifty dollars, and continued to raise the amount of money he’d give me to kiss him. No matter how many times I said no, he didn’t stop. His friends were nearby and amused by the situation, but didn’t do much to intervene. His friends apologized after he finally gave up, saying that he was just very drunk.

About two years ago, on yet another Halloween night, I was out watching a band with a friend. Out of nowhere, an elderly man (I would venture to say he was at least 70 years old) came up behind me, wrapped his arms around me, put his face and body against mine and said, “You are so gorgeous.” I wriggled out of his grasp and ran off with my friend.

My most recent memory is from only about two weeks ago, and it still rattles me. My mom, two sisters, and I traveled into the New York Penn Station on the train. When we arrived, it was insanely crowded, and I felt someone bash into me from behind, and it felt deliberate. While discussing where we needed to go, the man who bashed into me came up from behind me and said, “Where are you trying to go?” Taken aback (he was visibly drunk and/or high), I gave him a look (I have an expressive face, and this time it got me in trouble), turned away, and kept walking. Apparently this set him off. He went on to follow my family and me, circling around yelling at me. “Ugly bitch. Fucking ugly bitch. You fucking ugly bitch. You ugly bitch. Ugly bitch.” He spit every word at me slowly and with hateful venom I’ve never experienced before from a stranger.  I tried to ignore him as my family and I kept walking. He followed us up a flight of stairs, inches away from my face saying, “Ugly bitch, you ugly bitch.” I felt and saw him out of the corner of my eye as he made a swipe at my ponytail. When we reached the top of the stairs and kept walking he circled over to my mom, saying, “You raised this coward?” The last thing he said to me before my family and I found our exit out of the train station and raced away was “Faggot.” After we were away from him one of my sisters said he had been trying to trip me while I was walking up the flight of stairs.

Why am I telling any of these stories? Why am I remembering them now? It’s because our newly elected President of the United States reminds me of these men. None of these men waited for consent, and Donald Trump has admitted that he doesn’t, either. Throughout his entire life as a celebrity, he has spewed hatred towards women. He and his supporters have called his admissions of sexually assaulting women “locker room talk,” which means that, according to them, not only are his words acceptable in private conversations, but they believe these are words you’ll hear ordinary men all over the country saying. After the election results and reflecting on my own experiences, I have to just hope this isn’t true.

I could discuss why I think Hillary Clinton lost and who I blame, but that’s for another post. Today I am reflecting on my fear. My fear of being a woman in this country. Donald Trump has set an example that not only can you get away with sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape, without consequences, but you can become President of the United States despite the country being fully aware of it. And win in a landslide. Last night, we elected a President who has most likely sexually assaulted multiple women, and may have raped both women and girls. We have elected someone who does not respect half of this country based solely on their gender. Not only does he not respect them, but he has violated them, and these human beings have been psychologically damaged because of his actions. Donald Trump’s supporters have vocalized their dismissal of these allegations, and some have said that even if the allegations are true, that doesn’t change their minds about Trump. Not only is our newly elected leader a possible rapist, but millions of his supporters don’t seem to care. And that terrifies me. What also terrifies me? At least one of the men in this story is a Trump supporter, and one has since had a child.

I don’t have any solutions right now. I don’t know what to do to stop this country from moving forward.  I’m just as lost as the rest of you. All I know is that I am a woman, and for the first time in my recollection, I am afraid to be a woman. I am afraid for our country. I am afraid for our world. But right now, today, I am afraid for our women.

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Our country is in a dark place. All I can do today is look at photos of more hopeful times, when I was at peace.

 

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker: First Reported Time Traveler From 1955 to 2015

Source: olddogthoughts.com Scott Walker is frustrated that 2015 is progressive and has lost the narrow-minded perspectives of 1950's America. Temper tantrum ensues.

Source: olddogthoughts.com
Scott Walker is frustrated that 2015 is progressive and has lost the narrow-minded perspectives of 1950’s America. Temper tantrum ensues.

*Great Scott!

Many United States citizens have been wondering why Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker seems a bit backwards and out-of-touch.

It’s because he is.

Scott Walker (and rumors of other fundamentalist Republicans) is one of the first time travelers to join us in 2015.

During Marty McFly’s time travel adventures, Scotty sneaked into the backseat of the DeLorean and traveled with Marty from his home in good ol’ 1955 to our modern world of 2015.

Marty jumped out of the DeLorean immediately after arriving at his destination, unaware that he’d brought a passenger with him. He’d parked in an empty school parking lot, so he assumed the time machine would be safe until he returned.

As soon as Marty was gone, Scotty stumbled out of the time machine and was confused and befuddled.

Source: occupydemocrats.com Scott Walker's face of utter confusion.

Source: occupydemocrats.com
Scott Walker’s face of utter confusion.

Scotty ambles through the streets of 2015 America and as he saunters by a newspaper stand, he sees the headline on the front page: “Gay marriage legalized in all 50 states.

“WHAAAT?!? This can’t be!” Scotty exclaimed.

He couldn’t believe how progressive the future was. In his mind, it was the most absurd atrocity he could think of. However, he realized that more equality in America was just the beginning.

Scotty bought a newspaper and as he scanned the headlines, he realized that America was changing in ways that were against his Republican, strongly-conservative ways.

Stories in the paper discussed the confederate flag and its racist history. Suddenly, Scotty’s face was red. His conservative blood began to boil. His hands shook, and he ripped the newspaper in half, throwing it on the ground.

“The future is full of anti-American heathens!” Scotty screamed. Luckily, the street was empty, and so there weren’t any witnesses to his meltdown.

Then and there, Scotty’s heart yearned to travel back to his home of wholesome (but racist) 1955. He began making his way back to the DeLorean, and hoped that Marty McFly would be back soon so that he could go home. He’d hide in the backseat again, and Marty would never know the difference.

Immersed in his 1950’s, bigoted thoughts, Scotty was so distracted that he tripped on some uneven pavement and face planted into the ground.

He came to after about a minute, and recalled a message from God. Not the loving, accepting God, but the perception of God Scotty had invented in his head. Scotty was now the man with a plan. A plan to take over the state and try his damnedest to spout his message and reverse these progressive liberals and their hopes of equality in 2015 America.

Scotty thought to himself, “We need to move this country back to the morals of 1955!”

He had a spring in his step as the wheels turned in his head. Scotty decided that he would take the DeLorean a few years back and earn a position of power. But how?

Suddenly, a voice from Scotty’s perception of God spoke to him:

“Scott, son. You must run for Governor of Wisconsin. Your goal is to move Wisconsin back to the morals of the 1950s. Make it your mission in life, Scott.”

With that, Scotty ran back to the DeLorean, got inside, and drove off.

Source: i09.com Great Scott! It's Scott Walker flying in the DeLorean, off to become Governor of Wisconsin!

Source: i09.com
Great Scott! It’s Scott Walker flying in the DeLorean, off to become Governor of Wisconsin!

Scotty traveled back to the year 1985, went to high school, and graduated a year later. He started off his career off with corruption, of course, because how else is he supposed to be elected into office? By being honest? How silly! Scotty used his sneaky, manipulative qualities to weasel his way through the years, eventually becoming Governor of Wisconsin.

Scotty made sure to speak out against equality, workers’ unions, and women’s reproductive rights. In the future, Scotty hopes to take over the country as President of the United States. He is so far disappointed because Jeb Bush and Donald Trump are beating him in the polls.

Meanwhile, Marty McFly is out for revenge against the mystery person who stole the DeLorean.

*This story is satire. It is only a theory. Just so y’all know.

Who cares about beauty? (Advertisers make girls feel ugly)

Source: lisapetrilli.com Are girls vain just because they feel pretty?

Source: lisapetrilli.com
Are girls vain just because they feel pretty?

I wrote a post a while ago about beauty and why I think society’s obsession with women achieving unrealistic standards of beauty is dangerous. This topic is fascinating to me, and I’ve realized that I could write more posts about the topic of beauty. It’s complex, subjective, and broad. Since I can’t write just one blog post on the topic of beauty, I’ve decided to break the topic into a series of blog posts.

I’ve created a new category on my blog, called Who Cares About Beauty. I’ll be covering topics that I’m interested in at the moment. The topic for this post was inspired by blogger Grace Curly and her post Pretty.

For this post, I wanted to focus on the problem with beauty in advertising.

Grace Curly’s post got me thinking: “Why are women told to be pretty by advertisers who make us feel ugly?”

First of all, let’s find a working definition for the rest of this post. According to dictionary.com‘s first definition, pretty means:

“Pleasing or attractive to the eye, as by delicacy or gracefulness.”

Throughout this post, I’m referring to this definition of pretty. I’m also mainly referring to America’s definitions of beauty, because beauty is subjective according to country we are studying.

After reading Grace Curly’s post, I realized that in our society, pretty girls hear mixed messages. Women in general are told by the media that we should be striving to be pretty, but advertisements widely highlight women’s “flaws” in hopes that women will buy their products to fix these “flaws.”

Source: galleryhip.com Problem with this ad: Perfection is unachievable. It sets us up for failure.

Source: galleryhip.com
Problem with this ad: Perfection is unachievable. It sets us up for failure.

However, what happens when a woman truly feels that she’s pretty?

Source: pinterest.com Women are called "vain" if they seem confident in their looks.

Source: pinterest.com
Women are called “vain” if they seem confident in their looks.

Mean Girls is the perfect example that highlights women verbalizing their insecurities and shaming girls who display confidence and contentment in their looks. I’ve noticed that even in real life, it’s become the norm for girls to tear themselves down, and girls do this in daily conversations with one another:

Source: buzzfeed.com Oh you know, just girl bonding time.

Source: buzzfeed.com
Oh you know, just girl bonding time.

In my opinion, discussing my insecurities in depth with friends is a waste of time. Sure, it’s healthy to admit to others that we’re not perfect (no one is), but what’s the point of complaining about what we dislike in ourselves? It solves nothing. We can’t change most of our features unless we go to drastic measures like plastic surgery, so why bother complaining?

Where did this vocal self-hatred in women even come from?

My belief? Advertising.

Think about it: Advertisers want to sell products. Companies want consumers to feel like they “lack” something because this will tell the consumers to go out and buy the product to “give” them something they don’t have. All companies use this technique.

With clothing, makeup, and other advertisements with women as the target audience, this technique is taken to a dangerous level. Women are told that they “lack” pretty hair, and so they need this shampoo:

Source: pixshark.com

Source: pixshark.com

Or that they need to buy all sorts of makeup to hide their “flaws”:

Source: nola.com

Source: nola.com

With advertisers everywhere telling women that they are not good enough and that they need their products in order to improve their looks, they are setting them up to feel insecure.

Keeping that in mind, it makes sense that women are labeled “vain” if they feel pretty. But is that fair?

Source: mrmen.wikia.com

Source: mrmen.wikia.com

First of all, what is the definition of “vain”? According to dictionary.com‘s definition, the term means:

“Excessively proud of or concerned about one’s own appearance, qualities, achievements, etc.; conceited.”

While having an obsession with one’s appearance is unhealthy, and it’s frustrating to deal with a person who’s conceited, I believe that pretty girls are labeled “vain” not because they are actually showing signs of vanity, but simply because they are pretty.

Advertisers try to keep women feeling insecure because that is the way they are able to gain consumers. If all women were completely secure with themselves, they may not need the advertisers’ products to the excess that they buy them now.

Today, advertisers seem to have picked up on the fact that their tactics are often unhealthy and cause negative thoughts for some consumers. Some companies, like Dove, for example, have begun to use more positive messages in their ads.

Source: chippersengl.wordpress.com

Source: chippersengl.wordpress.com

Advertisers are finally starting to come around to the idea that women cannot all look the same. But more companies need to begin promoting more positive messages like this. Women are still widely being told by society that they are not “enough,” and so women are still made to believe that if they feel pretty, they are “vain.”

Source: southlemon.com

Source: southlemon.com

I believe that not only do advertisers have to continue to promote healthy self-esteem in women, but women also have to start becoming allies. Not just with each other, but with ourselves. Tearing ourselves down with negativity does nothing but make us feel worse. Why not celebrate what we love about ourselves? I believe that does a lot more good for ourselves, and for other women in the world.

We are enough. You are enough. Who cares what advertisers say? You should feel pretty without being ashamed of it. We are all pretty, and we shouldn’t listen to those who tell us otherwise.

Why I’m no longer reading Thought Catalog

Evidently, I’m not the only one who no longer wants to read Thought Catalog. Even though it’s one of the 50 most-visited sites in America, it has still encountered backlash. So much backlash, in fact, that the Washington Post did an in-depth story investigating the website.

Thought Catalog, which I used to read from time to time, seems to have become a popular outlet for publishing hateful, poorly-written opinions to the masses. The website publishes a variety of articles from numerous authors, and admittedly, not all of them are negative. However, the racist, homophobic, and ignorant opinions have tainted Thought Catalog, and after I read the Washington Post’s article, it’s clear that I’m not the only one who thinks so.

The website has been in hot water over articles it posted in the past, and that I thankfully didn’t read. But there was an article Thought Catalog posted yesterday that provoked this post I’m currently writing, and it’s the one I want to focus on.

The article-in-question is entitled, “Can We Please Stop Pretending Like We Don’t All Have Racist Songs We Sing In Private?” by Nicole Mullen. Her article is a response to the SAE fraternity members at Oklahoma State University who recited a racist chant and were caught on tape.

The title should be reason enough to stop reading Thought Catalog. The title alone is problematic, not just for its ignorance, but also for the simple fact that it’s a crappy title. Thought Catalog is so successful not because it publishes quality content, but because it publishes “click bait.” This term to me gives a negative connotation, meaning that the title is crafted specifically for the number of clicks. Instead of writing quality content, the site is churning out articles with catchy or controversial titles, but the content within the article is questionable at times.

The first problem with the content of the article itself is that she claims that because the fraternity brothers sang the song instead of speaking it, that this alleviates the controversy.

It doesn’t.

She then goes on to say, “Can we all just stop pretending like we don’t have racist songs that we sing when no one is looking?”

Source: imgarcade.com

Source: imgarcade.com

Okay, so there are two problems with the question she’s asking:

1. The fraternity members weren’t singing this “when no one was looking.” There was a whole crew of them singing the racist song. So it wasn’t one person alone in his shower singing the “Racist Slur Anthem for Ignorant Fraternity Members.”

2. Who sings racist songs like that in the first place? Like ever? I don’t know about you, but when I sing in the shower, it’s not usually a racist-filled chant that sounds as if it was written in the 1860’s. Usually I stick to singing Adele.

If you think the author’s problems stopped there, think again my friend. After I read this next paragraph, I was THISCLOSE to losing my faith in humanity:

“It’s human nature to express things through art, and sorry guys, but music is art. Racism is natural, and while it’s something that we should correct, if we suppress it in our regular behavior it has to come out through artistic endeavors. Think about all the idle swastikas you’ve doodled in your downtime. Think about how many times you’ve made up silly little parody songs in your head that use racial slurs.”

I will agree with the author that music is art. Yes, she’s got one thing right in her article so far.

Source: quickmeme.com

Source: quickmeme.com

However, her accuracies within the article stop there.

She claims that when someone draws swastikas and writes songs with racial slurs, it’s “art”?

Source: makeameme.org

Source: makeameme.org

The only people I know who actually did that were, in fact, racists.

For the record: no, just because you doodle anti-Semitic symbols on your notebook or sing songs containing the n-word doesn’t mean you’re a tortured artist. It means you’re a racist.

Guess what? Directly after the author states that swastikas and racial slurs in songs are examples of “art,” she then regales us with stories proving that she’s a racist. Do I dare put her horrific examples in block quotes? Just for illustrative purposes, I’ll let her direct quotes speak for themselves:

“There’s four Chinese people that work at the grocery store near my house, and whenever I see them, in my head I play a different little theme song for each one. And yeah, all of their songs are incredibly racist. One of them is just that song from the old Chips Ahoy commercials – the ones where the melody is Sing, Sing, Sing and the lyrics are all about Chips Ahoy cookies, but I’ve replaced “Chips” with a racial slur. Sometimes I’ll just hum the melody in their face. They don’t know the lyrics so they don’t know its offensive. They just think I like jazz. It feels good and it makes me laugh.

And when I see Muslims? Hell, if I’m not terrified and scanning the area for the nearest police officer, I’m playing a little tune in my head that I imagine would lure a snake out of a basket. Either that or one of the songs from Aladdin.”

Source: memeaddicts.com

Source: memeaddicts.com

This author is claiming that humming a song in people’s faces (when the tune has racial slurs against the people she’s targeting) is acceptable. Why does she claim that it makes her feel good and make her laugh? My theory is that it’s because she’s insecure and angry, and so she’s taking out her anger on others. Humming a racist tune in front of people makes her feel superior somehow.

Her racism even extends to Muslims, when she claims that whenever she sees a Muslim, she looks for a police officer (which connotes that she’s making an assumption that the Muslim is a criminal, maybe a terrorist).

I have no words. I just. Guys. I can’t even.

Source: quickmeme.com

Source: quickmeme.com

Thank God her article is short. She concludes that she’s disgusted that we condemn these fraternity boys for singing a racist song, and something about how she thinks most of us want to live in an America where we are free to sing our racist songs. Racial slurs is free speech, y’all! It’s my country and I’ll slur if I want to, slur if I want to…

Source: errantdiner.com

Source: errantdiner.com

Thought Catalog has posted several other articles like this, and it’s evident that they’re continuing to publish only for the clicks. The Washington Post article was published in October, and after the backlash the website endured, one would think the employees would be striving to avoid further trouble. Clearly, as long as they’re achieving the numbers, that’s all that matters.

I’m done reading Thought Catalog, and I’m hoping that either they improve their content or others stop reading. Articles like this only allow hate and racism to continue and remain socially acceptable.

In honor of International Women’s Day (Why I’m a feminist)

Source: patheos.com

Source: patheos.com

Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day. I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, and I decided that today would be the perfect time.

In 2015, we live in a generation of opposing viewpoints. Feminists speaking out on one end, and politicians or anti-feminists trying to take our society backwards on the other.

In America, we live in a society with many opportunities that women in other countries do not have. However, even we do not have full equality. This is a disappointment as a female American citizen living in the 21st century.

I believe that I should not have any reasons to be a feminist other than I believe in equality. But in this society, we are expected to have reasons for being a feminist. As if we should justify, qualify our opinions.

I am a feminist because I am. It’s as simple as that. But I am a feminist not for myself. I’m a feminist for women who don’t have a voice.

We need feminism because society has created fear of the word. We need feminism because feminism is viewed as a debatable issue rather than an obvious right. We need feminism because when celebrities announce they are feminists, it’s called “coming out,” as if they’ve been hiding a dark secret.

We need feminism because there are anti-feminists. There are people who minimize women’s issues as “feminist bitching.”

Voicing the belief in equal rights doesn’t make us bitches. It makes us human beings.

While I do not belive I need to divulge any reasons as to why I identify as a feminist, I do feel it necessary to express my need for feminism.

I need feminism because without it, my country may never have given women the right to vote.

I need feminism because I earn less than men.

I need feminism because advertisers tell me every day what I should look like.

I need feminism because advertisers give me different rules every day.

I need feminism because rape against women is debated by mostly male politicians.

I need feminism because women are told how to avoid being a victim of rape, while men are told how to pick up hoes.

I need feminism because women on the red carpet are asked, “What are you wearing?” before asking about the fucking movie.

I need feminism because Meghan Trainor shames women who are skinny, degrading them to “stick figure silicone Barbie dolls” (and gives poor excuses for doing so).

I need feminism because about 24 million women and men suffer from eating disorders in America. I’m willing to bet that society’s fucked up beauty standards and obsession with our bodies has something to do with that.

I need feminism when colleges allow rapists to return to school, which is horrifying and traumatic for the victims.

I need feminism because my ex-boyfriend told me I was weak.

I need feminism because women don’t need rules.

I need feminism because I don’t need marriage. If I want it, I can choose it.

I need feminism because I want control over my own body.

I need feminism because it is my choice whether or not to have kids–not society’s.

I need feminism because women are advised to travel in pairs or groups for our own safety.

I need feminism because women are told we can do anything we want–as long as we get married, have the right amount of kids (no one knows the exact number, but it’s constantly changing), and work the right amount (this is constantly changing too).

I need feminism because women’s choices are not viewed as CHOICES. They are viewed as right or wrong, and open for debate.

I need feminism because I am told I’m pretty more than I am told I’m smart.

I need feminism because some people believe rape victims were “asking for it.”

I need feminism because when I was a teenager, I read a Christian book that blamed rape victims. Their hypothesis: if women wear sexy clothes, men cannot help themselves.

I need feminism because control over women’s bodies and “blurring” the lines between rough sex and sexual assault are not only glorified, but books and music about this topic sells billions of dollars (Robin Thicke or 50 Shades, anyone?)

I need feminism because when a male celebrity’s naked photos are leaked, the situation is “funny.” When the same situation happens to a female celebrity, some call her a “whore,” and blame her for taking the photos in the first place.

I need feminism because some men use their drunkenness as an excuse to verbally or sexually harass me in bars.

I need feminism because a drunk man once offered me money to kiss him. While I had a boyfriend. After I had already rejected his flirtations (true story).

I need feminism because if I reject a guy for a date after he comes off too aggressive, his friend calls me a “bitch” and a “cunt” on Facebook (also true story).

I need feminism because there are many names used to shame women: slut, whore, cunt, bitch, skank, sleaze, easy, loose, open-for-business.

I need feminism because men are applauded for the types of behaviors that give women the names listed above.

I need feminism because I believe in body autonomy. My body is mine, no matter what our government, society, or some religions would like me to believe.

I need feminism because little girls are still learning that their looks matter. But there are young girls standing up to voice how much more important their education is than being pretty.

I need feminism because we should be celebrating women and voicing our hopes for equality every day of the year.

I need feminism because there are movements created with the purpose to tear down the progress feminists have made in this country. Movements that are blatantly sexist against women and have a disturbing number of followers.

I need feminism because Elliot Rodger is, to my horror, viewed by some “Red Pill” anti-women activists as a “hero.” Rodger wrote a disturbing manifesto before going on a shooting rampage, killing six people and wounding 14 others.

I need feminism because with the internet, it’s easier for men to harrass me online.

I need feminism because I’m not a bitch for having a voice.

We live in country  where we value “freedom,” yet it doesn’t exist for everyone. Feminism has evolved and been beneficial for women’s rights, but we’re not done. In my lifetime, I hope to see even more changes towards equality. The fight isn’t over. We can’t be afraid to stand up, speak out, and fight back against the ones dragging us down.

People who don’t get it

As writers, we often come across people who don’t “get it.” I’ve written poems to the people who don’t understand art.

Writing is an art that isn’t black and white (thankfully). We can interpret a piece in a million different ways. We can use our life experiences to relate to someone’s work.

However, if we’re the author and someone is misunderstanding our work and blaming us, how should we feel?

Is the problem us, them, or neither party?

Recently I wrote a post about “fire safety,” but it was a metaphor. Do I need to say what the metaphor is?

My assumption is that readers can figure it out.

Right?

That’s my hope, after all.

My hopes were dashed today when I received some rude tweets from someone who clearly didn’t “get it.”

Here’s how it went down:

Her: Did you really sit in your house while it was on fire?

Me: Hahaha, no, it’s a metaphor.

Her: Oh good cause I thought you were really a dumbass.

Source: imgarcade.com She did.

Source: imgarcade.com
She did.

Me: Yeah no. It’s quite clearly not about a real fire. It’s an obvious metaphor…

Her: Well it’s clearly not if I had to ask.

Me: Nah, it’s pretty clear. Maybe you just didn’t get the metaphor?

Her: I guess it’s just not that good.

Source: hellogiggles.com

Source: hellogiggles.com

Me: Well then you don’t have to read it. #thanks #ByeFelicia 🙂

For real, that actually went down.

If I had to give some advice to people out there wondering how to critique a writer’s work, here are some helpful tips:

Rule #1: Don’t call the author a dumbass. I know it’s shocking, but calling anyone a dumbass may come off as rude.

Rule #2: Don’t continue to insult the author. You may come off as hostile.

Rule #3: If you don’t understand the author’s intentions, remember that you didn’t have to read or even reach out.

Rule #4: Be prepared for the author to be offended. The author may not even feel inclined to be overly kind to you. Who would be cheerful after someone just called her a dumbass?

My conclusions from this little Twitter exchange?

Source: memegenerator.net

Source: memegenerator.net

No matter how long you’ve been writing, no matter how educated in the writing field you are, you will have haters. It’s just life. And like T-Swizzle, it’s better to just shake it off (or write a snarky post about it). Whichever works for you. Using whatever inspiration you can find to motivate your writing is something that will help your writing evolve. So maybe we need haters?

 

 

 

 

Blog Pitch Party 2: Pitch Your Blog And Attract New Followers

Guys! Join The Modern Philosopher’s Blog Pitch Party! Comment with your pitch, and check out lots of other awesome bloggers.

The Return of the Modern Philosopher

invitedSince Spring Training has started, I’ve certainly got pitching on my mind, Modern Philosophers.

However, not all pitching is limited to the type that takes place on a baseball field.

I’ve been thinking about the wildly successful Blog Pitch Party I threw back in July, and I thought it was time to host another.

As you know, I’m also a screenwriter.  When I was lived in California, I’d get invited by producers to a pitch meeting.  Basically, they’d ask about my scripts, and then based on a few sentences from me, they’d decide if they were interested in reading any of them.

keep wrtingI thought that same progress would work perfectly with blogs.  Why not bring a little Hollywood to the blogging world, Modern Philosophers?

In the comment section, pitch your blog.  Give us the name, a link, and up to three sentences describing your blog.

If you choose to participate…

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