Awakening

If you haven’t read The Awakening by Kate Chopin, you should. But you probably won’t so let me give you a quick synopsis. A Woman, living in turn of the century New Orleans finds herself stuck with two children she cannot stand and a husband who pretty much ignores her. She hates her life because it wasn’t one that she chose. One summer while her husband and children are away she takes up a lover. Her lover leaves her, as most men do, and she is unable to return to society – so she drowns herself.

I read the book for some class in high school. No one understood it. They thought the main character was a soulless she devil who should have shut up and been grateful that she wasn’t a seamstress. Even at 15, I got it. I never wanted to be that woman. I vowed never to lock myself into a life that someone else had chosen because it was the “appropriate” option. Now, at 25 I’m realizing that I have spent all of my adolescence and early adulthood doing exactly what I wanted to stand up against.

I feel an immense amount of pressure to be in a romantic relationship that’s going somewhere and to have a career that’s on the fast track to take me places. But I don’t know where I’m supposed to go or, where that somewhere is. I never took the time to learn myself or what I really wanted from life. So here I am, working in customer service, online dating, and continuously floundering through life.

I’m terrified to pursue writing, or music, or anything that makes me really happy simply because I do not know how. I have spent my entire life following directions and therefore never learned how to take the lead. I’m lost.

I made it to New York – I did that. I live under a train and beside a Popeye’s in a less than desirable part of Brooklyn, but I made it. I view the wealth and glamour of the city from my fire escape but I am not a part of it. I’m still the same shy little girl who never got asked to play kickball. I’m just watching from a far, fantasizing that I’m part of the game. I know, it’s disgusting that I’m sitting here wallowing in my own self pity – woe is me and so it goes. But I’m trying to understand what’s behind it. Why didn’t I just ask to play with the other kids? Why don’t I just try? Why is my fear of failure and rejection so crippling that I have spent years attempting to settle into a life that wasn’t meant for me? We could blame it on me, being a millennial, an upper middle white class girl born and bred in suburbia – I never had to try so I simply don’t know how. That however, is just a piece of it. The simple fact is, I never knew being my own person was an option – so I just chose to ignore the urge. I pushed it down and stomped on it until it was nothing but a squashed little dream.

“You’re not traditional, Liz..” I can still hear him say it. He stood behind me, zipping up my bridesmaid dress, gently wiping the sweat away from my neck. “You can find someone else, you can get married, you can have all of this…but I just don’t think it’s for you.” Hot little tears welled up in my eyes and I stared at the ground and then back at him. “I get to have this…I get to be like everyone else.” It came spilling out of my mouth so fast, that I didn’t comprehend my own words. On the outside, I had been a perfect daughter, friend, and suburbanite. I deserved to have what all of the rest of them had – a shiny rock on my ring finger and a man who would take care of me and impress my family. Someone so smart, tall, and perfect he could distract everyone from all of my flaws. A man to make me a lady – a partner to ease my family’s fears.

I am coming to terms with the fact that I may never have that – because it is never what I really wanted. I will never be successful at working 9-5 pushing papers, processing orders, or planning holiday parties because it is boring and I actually hate it. This is my awakening. I am opening my eyes and greeting a new way of living – one that I alone have chosen. I am accepting that the life I want for myself is untraditional and that my path is unpaved. I am taking in and coming to terms with my own expectations of myself – I am getting comfortable with the uncomfortable and using my fear to move me forward rather than shying away from it. I will be a writer with a voice that offers support and ignites change – I will love late in life and know that when I do it will be on my terms. I want something different and that is okay – I am okay. I am coming late to the party but I have never been one to be on time.

 

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Love & Life: It’s Complicated

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“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I always had a different answer for this question. One week I’d proudly tell adults and relatives that I wanted to be a psychiatrist and just days later decide that I was meant for the stage and I was made to be an award winning actress. I never had a strong hold on what I wanted to do with my life. The thought of doing one thing forever and ever sounds a bit mundane and passionless. In college, I changed my major three times, coming up with one new plan after another. Even at 23 I can’t really tell you what my ideal job would be because my dreams don’t really work like that. There isn’t just one thing I want to get up and do every day but more of a cause I long to stand for.

I was made to heal women and girls. I know this. It lives inside of me and continues to grow stronger and stronger as I become more engaged in feminist activism. There have been a handful of women who have entered my life at the exact time when I needed them the most. When I look back at where I’ve come from I imagine these women as a mile markers in my life’s journey. They guided me, pushed me forward, and gave me the hope and strength I needed to soldier on. I know what I was made for; I just don’t know what that looks like yet. I don’t know what form it has to take in order to be at its most effective.  So that’s what my life looks like. A long, winding, intricate, path that is leading me towards self-discovery.

His life isn’t really like mine. Well, it is and it isn’t. His purpose has a shape, has a name, has rules and guidelines. His career is already a fully formed idea. He’s an athlete so his career and his job are the same thing, whereas mine are not. I have a 9-5 position at a 3 million dollar a year non-profit in central Ohio. I have a salary and benefits, I even have a brand new car that I bought all by myself. He doesn’t have these things yet because sports don’t work the same way that a day job does. There are all these risks involved, make-it-or-break-it deadlines, fast transitions, and it can all be gone or it can all be up for grabs in the blink of an eye.

To me, his life seems terrifyingly unstable. On the upside, he has a dream that he can see. He is an athlete—he wants to be the best one, that’s tangible. He doesn’t have to go searching for a dream the way that I have to, but the downside is that he has to fight for it. He has to go where the money is, always chasing down the chance to advance, the chance to have control over his team and his life. Making plans is meaningless when everything is uncertain. So how could I, realistically, plan to move across the world with him when he asked me to? And honestly, I wanted to—I still want to. But I can’t leave my life, the life that I’ve created here, to live in constant uncertainty.

At first it seemed perfect—another undeniable sign that the two of us were meant to be together. Of course, I need to keep reminding myself that my life is not a Nicholas Sparks novel. When he told me about India I was in the middle of reading the national bestseller Half the Sky. I was drawn to the women in the book and I felt compelled to stand up and be a voice against sexual slavery and trafficking. When the opportunity to go to a country known for its mistreatment of women and girls arose I knew that this would be the next step in my journey and being beside him was where I needed to be.

But something went awry. In the midst of our excitement we stopped listening to one another. Somewhere between stress and hope we let communication spoil. Being a part of his life requires me to be able to pick up and leave whenever we have to, to stay in hot pursuit of his dream. I guess I didn’t realize this—that whatever kind of home I made there I would have to leave behind. I imagined working for centers that take in women who have escaped from brothels, setting up a make-shift school in a small backroom and teaching their children how to read and write, count and dream. I couldn’t just leave that behind and I couldn’t move to a country so hungry for change and keep my mouth shut, my eyes covered, and my hands at my sides. Once there, I would need to be involved and stay involved until I was damn well ready to move on.

This idea for my life doesn’t coincide with his. Because he’s never held a “normal” job he can’t quite grasp the restrictions mine has on my life. Professionally, I need to give my agency 6 weeks’ notice before I resign. If I quit without giving any notice then they have to struggle to find someone new to fill my position as quickly as possible. In the time they spend looking for a new hire my work would be piling up on the desks of my associates. I can only imagine what my next job interview in the states would be like….”What was your reason for leaving your last job?” “A man.” “Oh, I see.” It’s hard enough for a young woman in the workforce to be taken seriously, I don’t feel like adding “I’ll abandon my job for my boyfriend” to the list.

But did I mention that I’ve never wanted anyone more than the way I want him? The thought of being with another man just seems laughable and sort of sad to me. We’ve been at this semi-relationship-thing for a long time now but still the very sound of his voice in my ear gives me butterflies and starts Cee Lo’s Fool for You playing on repeat in my head. It’s the kind of infatuation where I could be a hostage in a convenient store shoot out and if he called I would shyly look up from the floor and kindly ask the masked assailant, “Can I take this?”

A couple weeks ago I met a boy. Well, I guess he’s actually a man. Clean, interesting, with a charming smirk. I thought about how easy my life would be if I was with him instead of the athlete. If I could throw my phone in the Olentangy and rid my mind of India and greatness and just kiss him instead—everything would be so much simpler. Ignorance is bliss but I’m not ignorant. I can’t unlearn what it’s like to be with a good man, one whose dreams and goals are as big as your own—a man who doesn’t just want to take a bite out of life but wants to consume every last crumb of it. So I turned away from the boy knowing that he’ll never be enough for me.

So that’s all of it—my big dilemma, my wanting to have my cake and eat it too scenario. I want our lives to intersect without having to make changes to either of them. I’ve known women who have thrown away their dreams to chase men—men who didn’t love them for long and who eventually threw them away. I’ve also heard the other story, the one with a woman who chooses her career over her lover and still wakes up every morning thinking about “the one who got away” even as she wears another man’s ring on her finger. For the first time in my life I don’t have a plan. I don’t have an answer to that daunting question of what I want to be when I grow up. I have found myself at a crossroads that I wasn’t at all prepared for. As I think of my path and the places it’s taken me and the long road I still have left to travel I take a look at the crossroads and wonder, “which way should I go?”

Rape: A Year in Review

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It’s been said that every two minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. In past years maybe this bit of statistical information would have been unbelievable but lately it’s become more obviously so. Maybe it’s because every five minutes there’s a new post, article, tweet, or controversy regarding rape. Honestly, between “comedian” Daniel Tosh’s less than hilarious rape jokes to the Steubenville teens who raped and urinated on an unconscious sixteen-year old girl, 2012 has definitely been the rapiest year yet. And it’s not because there have been substantially more rapes this year than the last. Quite the contrary, it’s because rape is finally emerging as a real issue. No more hiding it behind closed doors or stuffing it under our beds with the rest of our dirty laundry. We are talking about rape while challenging those who perpetuate it and I believe that’s something to celebrate.

Earlier this spring Daniel Tosh made some rape jokes. Of all of the things to chuckle at he chose something that directly affects 1 in 5 American women not to mention the countless men and children who have been sexually assaulted. Did he really think that would go over well? I never got a chance to properly address the witless comments left on my Facebook status which read, “Hey Tosh, rape jokes aren’t funny!” So, to respond to those who believe standup comedy is an art and rape jokes are just artistic expression, I say this: No, some things aren’t funny. It wasn’t funny when I lost my sense of self. It wasn’t funny when I’d cry myself to sleep thinking that somehow I was responsible for my own rape. By laughing at atrocities like rape we clearly continuing it. When we laugh at something we get comfortable with it. We allow it to come into our homes and sit down with us on the couch. Laughing only separates it from its own ugliness because after all if something makes us laugh than it can’t be that bad. Ending rape culture is more important than five minutes of half-assed standup.

Right wing politicians sure had a lot to say about rape this year. They even went so far as to take personal experiences and divide them into different “types” of rape. There was forcible rape, rape-rape, Legitimate rape, and of course emergency rape! Like, um excuse me but when isn’t rape a fucking emergency? Listen, anyone with half of a brain will tell you that categorizing rape is completely asinine but just in case you’re not sure, rape is when a person has sex with you without your consent. This can happen out of force, unconsciousness, inebriation, intimidation, or manipulation. I hope this simple definition cleared it up for everybody but if you forget just try and remember that rape is rape is rape is rape.

In December a 23 year old Indian woman was out with her boyfriend after 10pm and was raped. Some will try and argue that this is the very reason why she was raped. “What was she doing?” “Why was she out so late?” and the victim blaming will go on and on like this. Victim blaming is prevalent all over the world and India is no exception. However, this case was so undeniably horrific that it got people talking. Jyoti Singh Pandey was attacked by five men who gang raped her with pipes, leaving her completely disemboweled. She survived the encounter but died some days later in the hospital. India, a country where sex is so stigmatized that victims of rape are often shamed into marrying their rapists, is pissed. They are finally getting angry at rape and demanding that the perpetrators of this crime be brought to justice. From this ghastly incident rose a voice that is insisting rape be taken seriously. What happened to Jyoti was nothing short of tragic but if a conservative country like India can stand up against rape than why can’t we?

Oh, Steubenville just a little town with a big problem. Steubenville, like most of the United States, glorifies its high school athletes to the point that they are sure they can’t be rapists. Just like they’re sure these rising football stars didn’t rape an unconscious girl and then urinate on her at a party. You’re right coach. That little tart was just trying to bring down your team for her own selfish reasons! Err wrong. That’s most definitely not how that works. Sadly, this story is constantly repeating itself. For some reason Americans can’t come to terms with the fact that standing up for a rape victim is considerably more important than standing by the athlete who raped her, go figure. This time things turned out differently for the small town story. It made the national news and it’s still being talked about. Of course that little video of Steubenville teens referring to themselves as “the rape crew” Anonymous leaked last month sure didn’t help keep it out of the headlines.

So, there it is. We’re finally talking about it. The conversation has started without any intention of stopping. Rape is a truly insidious action and the fact that we can’t turn on our computers or pick up a newspaper without seeing it on a headline doesn’t mean the world is getting worse. It means that instead of pretending it doesn’t happen we’re finally addressing it and holding perpetrators accountable.  This year we’ve seen politicians, entertainers, athletes, and entire countries face this controversial topic. Finally, it’s the majority who’s standing up against rape. As advocates we are no longer the minority. In 2013 my only hope is that we can continue the conversation so that rape and rape culture can meet an ultimate end.

now let us love: Womanism and Spirituality

I can remember sitting on the stiff pews of Our Lady of Peace church on Tuesday mornings. I couldn’t have been much older than six or perhaps seven. No matter the time of day the church was always dark and the twelve red candles which were placed under Christ’s bloodied image glowed against the dusty wood paneling. I hated being in church. It reminded me of the time my older cousins trapped me in my grandpa’s basement and turned out the light. Dark, old, and alone. This is how I saw religion. When father Grimes would take his place on the stage and pontificate about our vengeful lord I would imagine God sitting beside me and giggling along. I had decided quite early on that whatever strange things my teachers told me about life and God, they were not the truth. From the moment my bottom hit the pew, I would turn off and shut down.

Although I didn’t believe in God the way the old priests described him I still followed some of the bible stories. Until one December evening when I was on my way to my school’s Christmas pageant where I was starring as the Virgin Mary. My mother told me that Jesus wasn’t actually born on December 25th, my brother agreed with her, and I cried the whole way to the pageant. Even our beloved Christmas pageant seemed hypocritical and blasphemous. I was the mother of our lord and I only had one song and one line, while the cow, Betsy, stole the show with her four solos and twelve lines. Looking back it does seem twistedly accurate that a farm animal would be aloud more talk time then the blessed virgin.

I learned to resent religion early on. I hated it, I poked fun at it, I cut it out of my life completely and I never looked back. There was however, always a deep spiritual pull that resided within me. As a child I would climb to the top of my favorite tree and sit on it’s branches. I would spend hours wondering about reincarnation. I would develop stories of my past lives and become fixated on the details of them. I would wonder about heaven and hell and what the face of God looked like. On summer days I would run outside into the green of my backyard hungry and I would return hours later full. I was feeding on my spiritual connection with nature and deep thought.

I found spirituality again in my high school English class. There, we discussed dozens of books of which I had never dreamed of. These precious texts weren’t traditional or scholarly and most importantly they weren’t written by men. They were written by women, all kinds of women, and for the first time I was allowed to hear their voices. I had never before been able to connect with someones story the way I could then. It wasn’t just the stories that spoke to me. Everything down to the words these women chose were different. Even the sound became something other worldly and uniquely feminine. I explain feminism as something spiritual because for me it was. It opened a door which allowed me to connect with women on a deeper level than similar life events. I could connect through bodily and emotional experiences of the familiar feminine. Feminism was a snack for my soul, but still my hunger grew.

I was introduced to Universal Kabbalah in the spring of 2008 and I have been studying it ever since. I was young and living in New York City on an internship experience when I was taken in by the loving embrace of Naam yoga and all that it could offer me. I can still recall the way it felt sitting in the studio under the skylight, breathing deeply and letting my mind clear. In a moment of meditation I became genderless, and lifeless all at once. I had no sense of future or past that I could recall, I simply was. That single drop of time allowed to begin an important realization. We must stay connected with our bodies while remembering that we are not a product of them. We are simply spiritual beings having a human experience, and we all came from the same place, and we are all connected.

I believed that I was learning the truth. What I did not realize however, was the extent or power of it. What I was learning and had spent my entire life hungry for, was true love. This is not a romantic love, or a love for one other. Instead it describes a love and empathy for all. Recently I’ve been exploring texts by Layli Maparyan, Gloria Anzaldua, and Buddhist nun, Sister Chang Khong who have written extensively on spiritual activism and womanism. I have interpreted the idea of womanism as one that is fully inclusive of all people and lies in the belief that all beings are interconnected. To inflict harm on one, is to inflict harm on oneself because we cannot survive with out one another. This idea reaches far beyond viewing others as only human to include all living beings. In her memoir Learning True Love, Khong explains that we must help uplift one another in the present moment and we must work with love in order to find what we seek. In now let us shift, Anzaldua explains that spiritual activism takes place when the our inward transformation begins transform our outward actions.

By cultivating spirituality and allowing a space for it in our social movements and actions I believe that activists such as myself can find greater mobility for our causes. When we are outraged by a policy or an event that we see compromising our human rights or damaging our community, the most comfortable response would be to work from anger. Our horror is what pushes us into action. We want to fight against the enemy for our cause. When we stop and practice mindfulness, as Khong explains in her book, we can begin to move away from viewing the one who inflicts violence on us as our “enemy”. I personally like to use the example of “I am the rapist, I am the victim” By identifying with a rapist we are in no way condoning rape. We are simply acknowledging that we live in a society that allows for rape to occur, and that if we were to walk a mile in his shoes, perhaps we too would have made the same mistake or become the same kind of person. When we are able to see God in every living thing then we will be able to move from a place of love rather than hate. Hate and anger fizzle out very quickly. They are exhausting emotions and if you base a social movement in them, your cause will never succeed. True love is immensely powerful and it will provide the mobility needed to bring about social change.

If this concept is an uncomfortable one that’s okay, be patient with it. We must remember the real reason why we strive for social change. We recycle and vote for green policies because we love our earth. We push for a better educational system because we love our children and teachers. We speak up about violence against women because we love our sisters. This is where our outward actions should live. By becoming powerful we can create equality and change our society and we can do this by learning true love.

Words With Friends

I walked into the dusty cool house before letting my eyes adjust to the sunlight outside. I looked around, feeling terrible from the night before, I gave a wave and said nothing. “Sup Slut McGee!” My coworker held his hand out for me to shake. Ugh, so it begins. Apparently this has become my new name. I had to admit, it had a certain ring to it although it was a definite downgrade from the more familiar “Tits McGee”. It was Sunday, a day that should be honored by laying around in sweatpants rather than guzzling flat forties.

When the drinking games commenced suddenly anyone who couldn’t finish a cup of beer in twelve seconds became a “pussy”. Yes, because that’s exactly how we should be referring to female sex organs. In the midst of my fuzzy drunk fog I couldn’t help but picture everyone standing around the beer pong table as walking vaginas. I squinted my eyes and shook my head.

I’ve been surrounded by words like slut, pussy and the always heartwarming bitch, since before middle school. Sometimes these words were thrown at me in anger, spat by a serpent’s tongue. Other times they were nudged in my direction, “I don’t sleep around because I’m not a slut.” Then the eyes of the girl across the room moved gently in my direction. For as long as these words have been used to hurt me, or describe me, they’ve also been used in a way that’s playful and inviting. “I love you Bitch!” “I’m proud of you slut!” When we really sit and analyze the meaning behind these words it’s absurd to think that we use them in everyday diction. No respectable individual would throw around racist slurs, so why then are we allowed to get away gendered insults and slut shaming?

I stepped away from noise and grabbed a beer from the fridge. Upon returning to the table I was startled by my friend yelling “You slut! Why didn’t you grab me one?!” How did he know that the real reason why I forgot his beer was because I was blowing the rest of the party in the bathroom? Damn he’s good. I rolled my eyes in silent protest, turned the can towards the Ceiling and drank.

The truth is that I hate even hearing words like slut or whore because they hurt. They’ve been used to stab me in the heart so many times that the sound of them makes me cringe. Pussy doesn’t give me the chills, instead I find it absolutely infuriating. To refer to part of the female anatomy as weak is nonsensical at best. Men enter into this world through vaginas, they grow up fantasizing about them, they make love to them, and then they have the audacity to call them weak or worthless. My vagina and your drinking buddy are not one in the same.

Even worse than slut shaming or degrading the female form, are rape jokes. Last Tuesday I was sitting in my Spanish class and a particularly rowdy male in the back yelled “Dude, the culture section of the exam totally raped me, it was so stupid!” Oh really? Those three little multiple choice questions forced themselves inside of you? He later apologized for saying that they were “stupid” while completely disregarding the more insulting part of his comment. Rape isn’t something that should be played with. I don’t want to get comfortable with rape. It’s not funny to me or the countless other victims who have suffered through it. It’s more than a word, it’s a scar, a tear, a constant pain in my chest. Laughing about rape will only perpetuate it. In the same way that making words like slut, pussy, whore, and bitch appropriate for recreational use perpetuates gender discrimination.

I congratulate movements like Slutwalk for trying to reclaim language that has been used to divide and shame women but it is still very much a work in progress. There’s an idea floating around our society which insists that “words don’t hurt”, but I assure you that they do.  If you know how it feels to be hurt by a word, any word, than why would you use another to hurt someone else? We have to be conscious of our language and what we are actually saying before we say it. If you’re a gay man, stop using the word dyke because you know how it feels to be called a fag. If you’re a black man, stop using words to discriminate against gender, because you know it feels to be ostracized for your race, and for God’s sakes us women must stop using slut shaming to police the sexuality of our sisters. Using positive language and behavior is the first step to eliminating inequality.

The Divided States of America

I sat on a bench that ran along the north side of Ohio State’s legendary oval while I sipped my coffee and stared out across the green. It was a beautiful morning which was sure to turn into an idyllic spring day. But then suddenly something caught my eye. It was a sign, and after further concentration I noticed that there were more. Big, with blaring reds and pinks. I strained my eyes to see what they were displaying and then it hit me. The antiabortion crusaders had found their way back to our cheery campus to spread their hellfire and blame. They come every year to swarm the paths we women use to walk to class. Glaring and staring they shove their brutally vicious signs in our faces. Signs which carry grotesque images of aborted fetuses, as if that’s anyway to respect the dead. I wanted to scream loud enough for them to hear me. I wanted to run over to them and kick down their signs and make them see that I was right there and they wouldn’t scare me away. But I didn’t, instead I just watched. I let the blood boil up inside me and the tears well up in my eyes, and I sat.

I fumed silently the whole way home. I pressed my face to the Cota Bus window and closed my eyes. What are they still protesting against? Aren’t they winning? My inbox is constantly flooded with news about the attack on women’s health. Email after email telling me that my rights are slipping from my grasp. They scream at me and I scream back in protest, furiously signing every petition I can then throwing it out to a community that doesn’t care.

I got home and threw my keys on the counter. Digging frantically through my cupboard I found my tea and put the kettle on the stove. My phone buzzed from within my jacket pocket, “God, now what?” I read the received message and my mouth fell open. The Ethnic Studies building, Hale hall, had been defaced. This morning had brought with it more than a cool spring chill, it brought the realization of racism on our campus. At some point early this morning it was discovered that someone had spray painted “Long Live Zimmerman” on the side of the building.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Trayvon Martin case, get familiar, because it is quickly dividing our nation. Martin was a 17 year old black male who was shot and killed on his return to a gated community in Sanford FL, by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman described Trayvon as being “suspicious” because he was wearing a hoodie. Well, and he was black. After all there are no black families living in gated communities in this country. It’s a tragic case of racial profiling, a case that in this day and age shouldn’t be tolerated.

All politics and arguments aside, there was wrongful death. A young boy died because of his race and unfortunately that’s the reality of the situation. His grieving family, friends, and community must carry on his name as they strive for justice. I do not believe that George Zimmerman is an evil man, nor do I believe that his rash decision was completely his fault. Our society is a racist institution that sets both parties up for failure. Zimmerman was conditioned by the media and perpetual racist notions to believe that all young black men are criminals. This has got to stop. This separation of human beings based on their gender, race, and class. We are all people deserving of a community which loves, connects, and protects us, and quite frankly The United States isn’t it.

These battles being fought against marginalized races and ethnic groups as well as the ones being fought against women are tearing this country apart. Everyone has a side, or an agenda. We’re all seeking the benefit of one, but what ever happened to one for all? In this constant uphill march for equality and social justice are we losing our footing? When I stared at the picture of the defaced Hale hall I found myself lost in fear and confusion. In the same way I would respond to an adult bullying another, I want to step away from America and ask “Aren’t we too old for this?”

I’m sick of my own government attacking my rights as a woman, and even sicker of my brothers not standing up with me. I am sick racism and profiling, and overall ignorant behavior. No one loses in a society that is built upon equality. This is my country and I want it to be a safe place for everyone in it. I refuse to let oppression run my life and rip my community apart, I am standing up and demanding justice. It’s time for the Divided States of America to once again become United.

Oxygen: Television for Morons

I was in the midst of a romantic rendezvous with Across the Universe’s leading man, Jim Sturgess, when uninvited noise and clatter began entering my dream. Suddenly my delusions became dark and ridden with anxiety as I struggled to open my eyes. My make up from the night before had become a sticky glue. As I pealed my eyes open I directed them towards the television screen that lay before me. Sick with hangover and trapped helplessly between the cushions of an old leather sofa I began to comprehend what I was watching. What I saw disturbed and confused me. “What is this?” I muttered into the leg which lay next to my head. “It’s the Bad Girl’s Club. It’s awful but I can’t stop watching.” My friend sat staring off in a morbid trance. Rather than protesting I slid up on the couch and joined her.

If you have never seen Oxygen’s hit show The Bad Girl’s Club I would like you to first take a moment to congratulate yourself on not falling victim to mindless reality television. The series encompasses girl on girl victimization, violence, alcoholism, and overt sexuality. So basically, it’s old fashioned fun for the whole family. For whatever reason nine or so girls are placed in a lavish mansion in Beverly Hills, CA where they are pumped with alcohol and rewarded for their “bad” behavior with cheap fame. There is no lesson to be learned or encouragement to change their ways, only camera crews willing to instigate drunken fist fights and orgies. The Bad Girl’s Club is essentially Girl’s Gone Wild, gone mainstream.

Unfortunately this is most likely why it is Oxygen’s most popular, (possibly only popular) series. In today’s shock hungry society sex and violence sells and women are paying the price. So why then, would a television network who claims to be for women, exploit women? It’s simple really, the Oxygen network is playing into the market allotted for them by popular culture. Creating dramatic reality shows which display “independent” women as shameless, violent, lushes feeds the anti-feministic stereotype which our society has grown to love.

“See dude, bitches are crazy.” I cocked my head to the left to see where the voice was coming from. An unidentified male sat on the couch opposite from me and slurped up the pink milk from his fruity pebbles as he spoke, “Like this is why girls shouldn’t live together, you guys are catty and just plain nuts.” I turned back to the T.V. in time to witness drinks being thrown and hair being pulled. A one hour show had managed to push women’s efforts back to the stone age for my age group. Thank you Oxygen, for making my life as a twenty something feminist that much harder.

One must understand that I’m not basing my entire opinion on the effects of this show on someone who already refers to women as “bitches”, but at the same time isn’t this the reaction it evokes from it’s viewers? This series avidly promotes girl on girl violence as well as competitiveness which is a debilitating issue for women as is. These producers are banking on young women dividing and conquering each other like gamblers who throw down money at a cock fight.

I rolled from the couch and stumbled awkwardly into the nearby kitchen. As I sat down at the table I could still hear muffled screams from the television. I gained the strength to leave when seven girls attacked one girl in an argument on of all things, who was the “baddest bitch” in the house. Our stomachs turn when we see homemade videos of girls mercilessly attacking other girls on CNN, and think what has the world come to? Where did they learn this?  Well, this is where they learned it. Women learn to hate and to hurt at different levels through out their lives and competitiveness is intrinsically integrated into all parts of our culture, but it is here, on a television network targeted toward women where this kind of disgusting behavior is so obviously played out. It’s as if The Bad Girl’s Club is a step by step guide on how to exactly fit the stereotype of the new American woman.