I woke up the morning after feeling irritated, a clutching pain behind my eyes. Alert, but not wanting to do anything. There it was, that vague feeling of dis-ease, a familiar disconnection.
It’s difficult to admit how personally triggered I was by Dylan Farrow’s open letter in The New York Times. I would rather ignore it, throw myself into work or blame the feeling on something else— maybe I’m mad at my boyfriend. Maybe it’s my body; maybe I could make the way I’m feeling about the way I look— but that’s not the truth. I know what’s wrong and— like Farrow’s story itself, it’s worth saying out loud.
It was less Farrow’s letter than it was people’s reactions that had upset me. “Friends” on Facebook jumped to Woody Allen’s defense, many posting that awful piece on Daily Beast as if it were some kind of counterpoint. Yeah, it’s Facebook, I know I shouldn’t care. But my connections to people, however they come, are important. And besides, some of these people were friends in real life, individuals that I used to trust and respect. That trust and respect was gone.
Reading through comments, I found myself sickened. I mean, if it’s your position that you don’t know what happened, why say anything at all? Why re-enforce the message to survivors that we won’t be believed? That we’re making it up and anyways, who cares?
This is exactly what perpetrators do, I thought to myself. This is exactly what makes our traumas traumatic. Keep reading »
Last week, the controversial professor, feminist blogger and personal essayist Hugo Schwyzer announced on his blog, in an interview with NYmag.com and again in LA Weekly that he was retiring his notorious public persona and quitting the internet for good (or— for the time being, he corrected himself some days later in yet another goodbye). Maybe you don’t know or care who this person is and that is just as well. He is a semi-big deal in the feminist blogosphere in the way that Serge Haroche is probably (hopefully) an even bigger deal among mathy-type people (he won the Noble Prize in Physics in 2012, according to this random website I found when I Googled “Nobel Prize winners”). And maybe we should all know more about Serge Haroche. But here we are talking about Hugo. (For a complete list of criticisms of Hugo’s work, you can go here. Or here. Yes, there are entire websites created for the sole purpose of criticizing this man and his work.) [Note: A few of Schwyzer's pieces on The Good Men Project were crossposted on The Frisky a few years ago.]
I can’t help it. Honestly, I’m kind of obsessed with him. As a freelance writer as well as a writing instructor — I teach courses in memoir, personal essay and opinion writing, the genres that both Hugo and I write — this whole brouhaha is pushing all my buttons. Some people are taking a certain joy in this character’s downfall — which I feel is mean but, yes, a little tempting. Like many, for me, the redemptive narrative of Hugo Schwyzer always rang less than true. Keep reading »
“I will sleep rough, scrounge for my food, access all the services that other homeless individuals in the West End use. I will interact with as many homeless people as possible and immerse myself in that lifestyle as deeply as I can.”
These are some of the last recorded words from Lee Halpin, a British filmmaker that was found dead while immersing himself in homeless life as part of an application into a competitive journalism program. In a video recorded days before his body was discovered in a boarded-up hostel, Halperin discussed his plan to document his experiences living for one week as a homeless person, in what he described as a “fearless approach to a story.”
“It certainly feels brave,” he said, “from where I’m sat right now.” Keep reading »
There’s no defense for rape. And there’s no defense for defending rape — be that minimizing the crime, blaming the victim or focusing so exclusively on the perpetrators that the victim is rendered invisible, as in CNN’s coverage of the Steubenville guilty verdict. As I read over the case, the verdict, the media response and the backlash to it, I feel sick and I feel sad. Like the rest of you, I want these boys to be made to understand exactly what they did. I want everything that was taken from the victim to be restored to her, somehow. There is no defense for the crime of rape.
There is, however, a good argument against sex offender registries. Keep reading »
My relationship with Anthropologie is love-hate. I love the company’s handpicked, one-of-a-kind eclectic look. I hate the fact that my loving this stuff only underscores the fact that I am in no way unique and that I have been corporate-brainwashed just like the rest of you ladies who just can’t get enough pencil skirts, ruffled tops and bird motifs. Of course I can’t afford to shop there until something goes on sale — at which point all its “whimsical charm” has worn off and the item somehow returns to looking like the junk it was modeled after.
After my latest visit, however, I think my love-hate has officially turned to hate-hate when I left even more offended than the time I saw an Ikea sticker on an item involved in a window display (proving that even Anthropologie is not stupid enough to shop at Anthropologie). There, next to the register, was a sign announcing that the retailer is currently hiring interns. Keep reading »
By now you’ve probably heard of the prestigious New York City high school that protested what they perceive as a discriminatory dress code by instituting a “Slutty Wednesday”—a day in which students came to school in outfits that deliberately violated the code. According to news reports, the school’s dress code is pretty basic. It requires that shorts, dresses and skirts should extend below students’ fingertips, with their arms straight at their sides and that shoulders, undergarments, midriffs and lower backs should not be exposed. Students argued that such a code affects female students more than males and that it is being arbitrarily enforced, singling out students whose bodies are “more curvy.”
“In addition to the violation of female students’ rights,” Jessica Valenti writes in The Nation, “the thinking behind the code sends a dangerous message to young women – that they are responsible for the way in which society objectifies and sexualizes them.”
The protest is similar to the thinking behind movements like Slutwalk — movements that, in the words of founder Heather Jarvis, emphasize the right for “anyone to wear what you want and be who you are without the threat of violence.”
Whereas I agree that it’s not a women’s responsibility to mitigate the male gaze, and I certainly respect that a woman’s sexuality is her own to be expressed as she chooses, the sticky fact is that many spaces we encounter have a dress code, written or unwritten. To the extent that school prepares students for the “real world,” shouldn’t students be expected to come to school properly dressed? Keep reading »
I had an abortion when I was 21. It was my senior year of college. I was living in NYC, working nights as an exotic dancer while interning during the day at a grassroots nonprofit for disadvantaged girls. I was cheating on my long distance boyfriend, we were having unprotected sex and I got pregnant. I was lying to everyone about everything. I was a total shit show: three perfect words to describe Cat Marnell, the xoJane editor who caught flack last week for a post she wrote about using Plan B as her primary form of birth control.
When I think back to the young woman I was then, I want to shake her. I want to shame her. I am angry at a woman who should’ve known better- who did know better, I find myself thinking even now — but who chose, instead, to know nothing. I was stupid and reckless and selfish, self absorbed and intent on my ways. The abortion wasn’t the worst of it, only a symptom of a greater sorrow. Simply put, I needed help.
Keep reading »