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!

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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.

 

Announcement: New Feminism Blog With Modern Day Artemis!

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Hooray for feminists!

Good news, everyone! (Did you all read that in Professor Farnsworth’s voice from Futurama? I hope so!)

For a while, fellow blogger, Modern Day Artemis (check out her blog!) and I have been discussing the creation of a new blog we wanted to start. We both have an interest in feminism, and decided to dedicate a blog on Tumblr to the topic of feminism.

Our blog is entitled “Why I Am A Feminist,” and our mission is to have a platform for feminists everywhere, all over the world, to share their stories and express their reasons for why they are feminists.

As it grows, we hope to hear voices from many different countries, all coming together with a common mission: to spread the word about the importance of feminism in our lives. From America to South Africa, feminism is important for equality not just for women, but for everyone.

If you’re a feminist, check out our blog, and tell your friends. If you’re not a feminist, still check out our blog and tell your friends. You know you want to. I believe that education is crucial in gaining awareness of things we do not understand, so I hope that our blog will help those who don’t understand feminism to gain a bit of insight.

I wrote a blog post dedicated to why I need feminism a few months back, and I believe that I need feminism in my life. I believe that the more voices we have speaking out, the better. Speak out for what you believe in, and as voices join together, the world will hear us.

Female Expectations: What’s up with that?

Men and women have always had different expectations in society. That’s the way history has played out, and continues to play out today. As women gained more equality, doors were opened to more opportunities.

Source: heragenda.com

Source: heragenda.com

Despite the advances women have made, there is obviously more changes that need to happen. One of the many expectations that needs to change is the idea of “having it all.”

What does that mean?

It appears that the phrase could have derived from author and Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown’s 1982 book entitled “Having It All: Love, Success, Sex, Money…Even if You’re Starting With Nothing.”

The title wasn’t Brown’s idea, and she actually hated the title. But it appears that society has ran with this idea that women should chase after “having it all.”

The first thing I want to note is that “having it all” is a phrase not directed at the population at large. It is specified to women, and women only.

Why?

I’m honestly not sure. I’m assuming because society believes that men already have it all. So someone concocted this idea that no women “have it all.” Thus, society needed to dish out advice to women on how they too can “have it all.”

But first, society needs to define what they believe all women in 2015 must have in order to truly “have it all” and have succeeded in life:

1.

Source: hercampus.com

Source: hercampus.com

College degree.

2.

Source: davisvision.com

Source: davisvision.com

Career.

3.

Source: playbuzz.com

Source: playbuzz.com

Marriage.

4.

Source: mothersniche.com

Source: mothersniche.com

Kids.

Are there women who do in fact want everything on this list? Of course.

But does every single woman on the face of the planet want all of these things?

Source: memecrunch.com

Source: memecrunch.com

The problem with the phrase “having it all” assumes that all women, all over the planet, have the exact same list of dreams they hope to accomplish in life in order to feel like they’ve “made it.” This isn’t the case. We are human beings. We are not one size fits all. We aren’t robots.

I believe that just like men, women should feel free to live their lives as they please (as long as they’re not hurting anyone or committing crimes, of course). We don’t see articles about men struggling to “have it all,” yet throughout the years, there have been many magazine covers like this:

Source: washingtonpost.com

Source: washingtonpost.com

Source: content.time.com

Source: content.time.com

Source: content.time.com

Source: content.time.com

All of these magazine covers are debating about what’s “right” for women’s lives. These in-depth articles explore “nontraditional” decisions some women make. These articles dissect the statistics of how many women aren’t having kids, what happens when women have a career and kids, and explores the reasons for women parenting the way that they do.

Do magazines study and write extensive articles like this about men? No. Men have never been involved in these repetitive discussions that seem to be never-ending.

My question about these debates on women’s lives?

Source: troll.me

Source: troll.me

Honestly, why does any of this matter? Should it?

My theory is that the media and society make it appear like it matters because women are still consistently judged by absolutely everyone. It’s a fact of being a woman in the world.

Our appearances, life choices, goals, dreams, and opinions are all dissected, picked apart, debated, questioned, and judged. We are judged by the media, society, our teachers, our families, churches, doctors, and strangers. We cannot escape judgement.

The problem with this is that society has made it impossible for women to “have it all” because society has a specific opinion on what “it all” is. If you haven’t checked every box on their list, then you don’t have it all according to society.

When there is a trend of women making decisions different from society’s expectations of them, like opting out of parenthood, for example, the media and society freak out like the world is coming to an end.

Source: searchbuzz.co

Source: searchbuzz.co

“Oh my gosh, why are less women having kids?!?’

“What’s wrong with these women?”

“How can we change their minds?”

“Are women who don’t have kids selfish?”

Women still have narrow expectations in society today, even in America. When we travel our own paths and make our own choices, there is an absolute frenzy from, well, everyone. Women are still expected to check every item off the list of the “To Do List of Every Woman on the Planet,” and when women don’t, there are debates about why not.

Newsflash: It doesn’t matter.

If women aren’t hurting anyone, who cares if some women don’t have kids?

Or don’t get married?

Or don’t go to college?

Or don’t have a perfect career?

Women are human beings, too, and not all women have the same brain, the same values, or even the same interests. Shocking, I know. Women are (GASP!) free to make choices. Just like not all men have the same ambitions in life, neither do women.

This idea of women “having it all” seems to give women the message that they can never have “it all” because it’s impossible. Evidently they are saying, “It’s possible for men to have a college degree, get married, have kids, and have a career, but women, you just can’t do that. Sorry!” It’s the assumption that all women everywhere want all of these things, and that it’s automatically an impossibility.

My version of “having it all” may differ from another woman’s version of it. Also, I don’t even believe in the phrase “having it all” because I believe that the phrase is just agenda pushing. It’s pushing the message that women are set up to fail and that they should be fighting their entire lives to achieve “it all.” It’s just forcing women to continue being “good girls” and following what society expects from them. Men are judged slightly for not achieving these things as well, but not even close to the degree women are judged. Women are judged so harshly it’s fulled worldwide debates.

As everyone continues to debate if women can “have it all” (or if “having it all” should even be discussed anymore), I hope that more people start coming around to the idea that women can make individual choices and that the only thing that should matter is that women are happy and fulfilling their own personal dreams.

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.

Dear Everyone: Here’s Why I Don’t Want To Read Your Crappy Opinions On What Other Women Should Do

This is from one of my favorite blogs, The Belle Jar. She wrote what I have also been thinking about for a while. It’s insane that in 2015, women are still shamed for basically every decision they make, yet men live without judgement. Women tear each other down and debate what is “right.” I have an idea: How about we let women make their own decisions?

The Belle Jar

Earlier today, Lydia Lovrac, a Montreal-based “columnist, talk-radio host, stay-at-home mom,” wrote a scornful response to piece from 2013 about why Sasha Emmons chooses to work outside of the home. Don’t ask me why Lovrac is responding to a two year old article, because I’m as baffled as you are. I’m sure she has her reasons, such as maybe she some type of wizard who exists outside of the linear bounds of time and space; this would explain why she is writing about the evils of mothers who work outside the home in 2015.

You guys, it’s 2015. It has been two thousand and fifteen years since the alleged birth of Christ and we are still having this goddamn argument about whether or not a mother is morally obligated to stay home with her kids, should finances permit. And as much as it’s tempting to write off Lovrac as a throw-back with outdated…

View original post 970 more words

Victim shaming: What’s up with that?

Source: quickmeme.com

Source: quickmeme.com

Recently, I’ve been interested in writing about the silly things I read on the internet. Lately, I noticed a trend of people writing blog posts or comments within articles that make it clear they blame victims of bullying or rape. Normally, I ignore the stupid that is The Internet. *But today, I decided, “What the hell, let’s expose the stupid!”

[*DISCLAIMER: My blog post is in no way stating that the First Amendment should limit hateful comments. I noticed a blog post in response to my post What’s with all the hate, and there was the misunderstanding that I claimed people shouldn’t be allowed to say what they want. Trust me, that’s not what I’m saying. If you want to stupid, go ahead and stupid. Just know that your stupid may or may not be blogged about.]

There are two specific examples of stupid that I want to focus on. Here is the first:

1. A blogger posted about model Hannah Davis’ scandalous Sports Illustrated magazine cover. She’s in a bikini, and posing provocatively, like all the models of the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated do.

What conclusions does this blogger draw from a woman posing in a bikini for a swimsuit edition of a magazine? Not something I would have thought of:

“I might also point out that this is part of the reason girls get date-raped.  I know some feminists don’t want to hear this, but it’s unavoidable.  Our culture is constantly sending men the message that women/girls want sex all the time, getting men all charged up.  So, then when men try to give women/girls what they seem to want, what happens?  It gets reported as rape because it turns out they didn’t really want it all along.  That’s really confusing (and very unfortunate for everyone involved).  Whores and their greedy, corporate pimps are ruining it for the rest of us.”

All I can say is that this blogger is so very, very confused about rape, consent, and women in general. Let’s enlighten the poor guy. I’ll respond to his quote line-by-line:

“I might also point out that this is part of the reason girls get date-raped.”

No. Just no. A woman posing on the cover of a magazine has nothing to do with women all over the world being raped. Absolutely nada. You don’t hear men claiming that Abercrombie models are responsible for men having tons of sex, do you?

“I know some feminists don’t want to hear this, but it’s unavoidable.”

Actually, no one wants to hear this, because it’s incorrect. Next.

“Our culture is constantly sending men the message that women/girls want sex all the time, getting men all charged up.”

The fact that women have sex or want to gets men horny? Whatever you say. Our culture also sends the message that men want sex all the time (more so than women), but it doesn’t get women “all charged up.” Whatever that means.

“So, then when men try to give women/girls what they seem to want, what happens?”

That depends. If you’re raping some girl on the street because you think she wants it, you better be penalized (I was about to say your ass better be in prison, but when I thought about it, I realized that you don’t often hear about rapists being imprisoned. Why? Because 97% of rapists receive no punishment. Yet another reason why I need feminism.). So when you ask, “What happens?,” unfortunately, if you rape a woman, not much may actually happen to you.

But the blogger seems to believe otherwise:

“It gets reported as rape because it turns out they didn’t really want it all along.”

WHAT?!? Would you honestly be in shock if you raped a woman and she, in fact, reported that rape? This guy seriously needs to read this post about consent and educate himself. It’s really not that complicated to figure out if someone wants sex or not. But he makes it clear that he’s uneducated in Consent 101:

“That’s really confusing (and very unfortunate for everyone involved).”

Confusing to figure out if you’re about to have consensual sex? No, not confusing at all. Confusing that you were accused of rape when you raped someone? Nope, not confusing. Unfortunate? For the woman who was raped, hell yeah that’s unfortunate. But unfortunate to the man who raped her? He’d be getting what he deserved. Then, onto the wonderful conclusion:

“Whores and their greedy, corporate pimps are ruining it for the rest of us.”

Wait a minute. What do “whores” and their “greedy, corporate pimps” have anything to do with you figuring out what is rape and what is consensual sex? Nothing. It makes absolutely no sense to blame a woman posing on the cover of a magazine for men raping women. The two do not correlate at all.

It sounds to me like the author is just horny and that maybe he feels guilty for that? I can’t think of why else he would blame a girl on a magazine for rape. I can’t figure out why he would claim that men should be able to thrust themselves aggressively onto women, even when it’s unwanted. My assumption is that he clearly doesn’t understand what consent is.

Now, onto the second stupid Internet situation:

2. While perusing iFunny (an app with usually humorous pictures), I saw a photo saying that in order for cyber bullying to stop, the victims just have to shut down their computers. While it obviously isn’t just that simple to erase cyber bullying, I wasn’t offended by the picture itself. But I saw a comment (yes, I know, the dreaded comments section) that was quite heavy on the stupid:

“So funny these idiots say shit like ‘punish the bully’s, not the victims’ GUESS WHAT!!! Bullying in ALL forms exists ONLY because victims exist..How the hell you gonna force teach a bully not to be a bully. Easier to teach a victim not to be a victim and bully’s will CEASE to exist. GUARANTEED [sic].”

For real? Okay, Mr. Smartypants, how are we going to teach victims not to be victims? The fault in his thinking is that he’s assuming that victims are choosing to be victims, which is flat-out wrong. No one wants to be bullied, just like no one wants to be raped. Furthermore, just because people are taking precautions doesn’t mean that bullies and rapists are going to “knock it off.” They’ll just keep assaulting them, and then find other victims. Shaming the victims will only magnify the issues.

The problem with both of these writings I saw is that they both shame rape victims and victims of bullying. Both of these people are saying either, “Women are whores who want sex and rape is confusing!” or “Just teach victims to stop it!” In both cases, they are excusing the actual perpetrators, and completely blaming the ones who have been physically, emotionally, and mentally damaged. Like these victims need anymore shit in their lives.

While the phrase “Live and let live” is a blissful idea to live by so that we can ignore the negativity in the world, it can be difficult to do that when these ideas travel from the internet to the government. There are politicians who have voiced their completely idiotic opinions on rape, and it’s horrifying that these people are actually in positions of power. For example:

Source: outofstepper.com

Source: outofstepper.com

Seriously. He seriously said that. Oh God help us.

Sure, we can live and let live, but that’s not going to erase stupidity, or even hate. I’d rather voice my concerns with society than ignore them and pretend that the problems don’t exist. What’s the harm in speaking out?

Lily Allen: Humor Done Right

True Life: I’m obsessed with Lily Allen.

Seriously, she is so cool. Lily Allen’s music is ironic, witty, and hilarious. In conclusion, to me she’s a talented satirical songwriter.

I’m so obsessed with Lily Allen that her song “Hard Out Here” inspired my post 15 Reasons why it’s hard out here for a b*tch.

In my last post, I critiqued Thought Catalog author Nicole Mullen’s article “Can We Please Stop Pretending Like We Don’t All Have Racist Songs We Sing In Private?” for its racist themes. After some discussion of the piece, I realized that the author had tagged her article as “humor.”

Source: memegenerator.net

Source: memegenerator.net

That was news to me. See, the key with humor is that it has to be funny. When I read Mullen’s article, I believe she left out the funny. Maybe she tagged it in the category by mistake?

I would advise Mullen in the future to pay attention to someone like Lily Allen and take note. Satire is not easy, which is why I rarely write it. I’d rather accidentally be funny than try it and fail miserably.

Satire is written with absurdity. That’s why a satirical news website like The Onion is so successful.

Lilly Allen’s “Hard Out Here” works because it’s outrageous and in-your-face with its vulgarity. The song discusses the dangerous ways women are still viewed in society today. While the themes are deep and serious, her humor drives the point home that “it’s hard out here for a bitch.”

Allen’s vulgarity works because it’s ironic. She uses derogatory language to illustrate the negative ways in which women are often discussed in the media.

Her lyrics addressing the unhealthy and narrow expectations women face are humorous in the fact that they’re truthful despite the absurdity:

“If you’re not a size six, then you’re not good looking
Well, you better be rich, or be real good at cooking
You should probably lose some weight ’cause we can’t see your bones
You should probably fix your face or you’ll end up on your own.”

While sexism isn’t funny (it’s actually a bunch of BS, to be honest), Allen approached the topic with satire, and that allows for a different perspective and a new way for society to have dialogue about feminism and its importance today.

Could Mullen have taken a similar approach and possibly written a funny article? Maybe. But her attempt was lackluster in my opinion. I had no idea she was attempting satire. I simply thought it was some nut who truly believed that free speech is for racist rants.

I don’t think that we should limit ourselves with the topics we write about. Anyone can write something controversial if he or she wants to. Writing is a world in which we can explore and dig deep. It’s a way of understanding the world we live in.

However, when tackling hot button issues and current events that touch a nerve with people, a writer should show tact and have the right intentions before publishing a piece. Mullen seemed to fail in this regard. I believe that her attempt at a satirical piece was insensitive because her intentions were not clear. While she may have been attempting to make light of the racist chant scandal with the fraternity members in Oklahoma, it appeared to me as a racist intent. If I didn’t know she was writing satire, then I’m sure there were others who didn’t know, either.

This is the main problem I have with the articles Thought Catalog has been publishing as of late. It seems to have become a free-for-all and that the work is a bit sloppy. The articles published are not only questionable in quality, but also worrisome with their intent. While I used to see Thought Catalog as a website that had more upbeat articles, now it’s become a mash-up of unpredictable content with no consistency.

So, to Nicole Mullen, if you ever discover this post:

Source: memecrunch.com

Source: memecrunch.com