Growing up, I saw singledom as the “default” way to live. My first impression of my (divorced) parents were as singles, and they were carrying on just fine, so I figured that was just the way things were. I managed to remain pretty oblivious to the society-wide pressure to marry longer than most kids, and while a partner sounded nice, I never thought I needed one growing up or planned my future with a someday husband in mind. I reasoned that I could never plan for something so volatile as love, and always thought of myself as something of a free agent in the world, unlike many of my peers, who went through high school and college counting the days until they found a nice young guy with top-dollar earning potential so that their “real life” could start. Other people, potential partners included, seemed like such wildcards — who knew whether they’d show up for me or when? I expected to only be able to count on myself. On paper, this sounds pretty bitter, but it wasn’t that way at all — it was just how I saw life, and rarely gave it a second thought. If I had thought about it more at the time, I’d have seen it as empowering, if anything. As I got older, though, my mind felt lagged and overtaxed as it constantly ran over and prepared for every task and potential problem each day would hold. I had to check and double check my own logic, because I made nobody else privy to my day-to-day stresses, and as a result, nobody else was going to make sure I stayed on top of things. I started to feel the mental and physical toll of counting on nobody but myself.
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All right, that’s it, I’m done, I have to learn Spanish. Je peux lire le français et parler un peu, so while I’d like to brush up on it to be fully fluent, I could get by in French-speaking countries. But my one year of Intensive Spanish in high school is no longer cutting it. I’m still beginner-level. Here’s why I want to learn it: Keep reading »
Sam Harris and Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins all want really badly for me to criticize Islam. They claim I’m scared to do so because Islamic extremists bully people into silence. They consider it a liberal failing that people like me have deferred to that bullying. They say it’s not “phobic” to criticize Islam, nor is it racist.
Then, of course, they say that we should profile Muslims, and their self-defense starts to fall apart. They fail to recognize that I do not live in a majority Muslim country, and that especially since 2001 but even before that, white Americans have exhibited incredible fear of Muslims (demonstrated by a call to profile them, coincidentally) and committed hate crimes against people who even “look” like they might be Muslim. They fail to see their own criticisms as so sweeping that they amount to a judgment on anyone with brown skin.
I won’t do it. I won’t take the bait of a patronizing call for feminists to set aside their goals in America to address problems in Muslim theocracies, and I won’t take the bait of an anti-intellectual call for atheists to denounce an entire religion simply because a handful of atheist leaders prescribe it. I will exhibit more caution and conservatism in my judgment, and here’s why: Keep reading »
I have as many hangups about Cosmopolitan as the next feminist, but I love editor-in-chief Joanna Coles’ mission to make the magazine and its website a more well-rounded read. In an interview with NPR this morning, Coles, who has been in the position just two years, made it clear that she actually gives a damn about heavier topics like across-the-aisle politics and reproductive rights. She also pointedly defended a woman’s right to be a multi-faceted person who cares about both serious issues and lighter things in life (what a novel concept). Emily Ratajkowski of “Gone Girl” (and the “Blurred Lines” video) is on the cover of this month’s issue baring lots of skin, but the magazine also includes a lengthy article advising women on how to ask for a raise. To me, that seemed pretty cool — why shouldn’t a Cosmo reader be able to enjoy her sexuality and still kick ass in her professional life? This exchange followed, which Coles defended like a boss: Keep reading »