the women’s issue discussing women’s issues. I S S U E
S U M M E R
2 0 1 8 .
by micaela clark. see more on pg 12.
DEADNITE M A G A Z I N E
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF AND DESIGNER DAYSIA TOLENTINO CONTENT EDITORS VICTORIA D’ANGELO DANA DELA CRUZ STAFF WRITERS CASSANDRE COYER VICTORIA D’ANGELO DANA DELA CRUZ HANNAH EBANKS PEYTON HASSLER ANNIKA HOM ALISON MICHALAK ABIGAIL NOYES CAROLINE RODRIGUEZ JADA SMITH CHACHA TAHNG ARTISTS MIMI CHEN MICAELA CLARK
was pretty anxious when I started planning this summer’s issue because how do you even begin to address such a broad topic such as women’s issues? I take pride in being a woman of color, but existing in such a body has its oppressive, alongside its empowering, moments. I wanted to use this platform to allow myself and the female contributors to this magazine the opportunity to explore this dichotomy further. I wanted everyone to be able to express whatever was on their minds because I don’t believe we are given the chance enough. Creating this issue has, personally, been a testament to the power of women supporting women. Throughout production, I was moved by exchanges of encouragement in spite of self-doubt. The women who contributed to this magazine are all talented, bright and insightful people with ideas worth sharing. I’d like to thank them for putting in their time, effort and belief into this publication. To end this letter, I’d like to clarify one thing about this issue. It is impossible to capture the full experience of all women in a single publication, and that is definitely not what we are trying to do here. Rather, the goal was to reflect on our experiences as women, as individuals, and share our thoughts and stories. The content in this issue was created using the events that bothered or inspired us in our everyday lives and around the globe. You may agree or disagree with some of the ideas put forth here, but at the very least, I hope that some of these topics resonate with you and encourage you to have a better understanding of the women in your lives. With love, Daysia Tolentino
IN THIS ISSUE
8 the first steps of many towards tolerance for saudi women 10 what’s the deal with sesta/ fosta?
l i f e s t y l e
18 male birth control is the future, let’s talk about it!
20 regaining self ctrl 24 who grieves for xxxtentacion? 28overcoming obstacles: a woc’s experience in film school 32 ocean’s 8 wasn’t that great, but that’s okay V
C E S 36 decolonize me 42 reclaiming my sexuality 44 processing pride 50 the f word 52 our grandmothers’ views on feminism 56 strength in sisterhood
E D I T O R I A L S 6-58 everyday woman 12 disarray 40 mirror mirror/outcast
everyday woman pt 1 of 6 christin laughing in the garden of eden
THE FIRST OF MANY STEPS TOWARDS TOLERANCE FOR SAUDI WOMEN BY ABIGAIL NOYES
n June 4, women officially earned the right to drive in Saudi Arabia, symbolizing the official end to a longstanding policy that has been referred to as a “global symbol of oppression.” For many years, the ban on women driving has been internationally used as a catch-all phrase for the oppression of Arab women. The archaic law has been supported through misinformation— including the notion that driving caused damage to women’s ovaries, or that a change would lead to promiscuity and the collapse of the Saudi family. The ability to drive signifies an unprecedented economic freedom for Saudi women, in that they are free— or at least freer— to join the workforce or grow their own businesses. The redefinition of civil rights comes as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030, a plan to overhaul the economy. Beyond helping Saudi Arabia’s international reputation, though, the change is indicative of the protests, demonstrations, and blind courage from countless Saudi women who have refused to be silenced. On May 15, less than a month before women were issued their first licenses and
eight months following the initial decision to modify the law, a group of women’s rights activists were arrested and detained by Saudi Arabian officials. The reasons provided were ambiguous and included “expressing skepticism about the crown prince’s agenda,” and contact with foreign parties. These women have been branded as traitors in local media, and have been the subjects of a harsh smear campaign from the government. A majority of these women are still jailed despite the change in law. These activists have collectively advocated an end to the ban on women driving and the male guardianship system for decades. Under the guardianship system, a woman is not allowed to marry, travel abroad, or work without the consent of a male in her household. Among the women arrested are Loujain al Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, Aisha al Mana, and Madeha al-Ajroush. These women have been pillars of the movement for women’s rights in the region. To better inform the battle for tolerance Saudi women have fought, here’s a closer look at the stories of these activists.
Loujain al-Hathloul has been arrested and released several times for violating the driving ban and opposing the guardianship system. She was arrested and detained in 2017 at an airport for unstated reasons, during which time she did not have access to a lawyer and could not contact her family. Loujain al-Hathloul is still jailed, and humans rights activists are pushing for her release before she is officially charged, significantly complicating the process.
Aisha al-Mana is an accomplished, esteemed Saudi activist. She is an educator, a director of al-Mana College of Health Sciences and director of several general hospitals in the community. She started the first Saudi Arabian company run completely by women, which provided computer training and technical education for women. Al-Khalijiah Development Company aims to get more women in the workforce. She was the first female hospital director and one of the first Saudi women to earn a PhD. She holds a symposium periodically against the practice of women giving up their inheritance to their brothers. Aisha al-Mana was released a few days after the May 15 arrest.
Eman al-Nafjan Eman is a professor and PhD candidate. She started her blog, saudiwoman.wordpress, in 2008 to speak of the injustices women face daily in Saudi Arabia. She told stories in the Western media of the campaign to end the driving ban, raising global awareness for the issue. Eman al-Nafjan is still jailed.
Aziza al-Yousef This retired computer science professor has impacted women all around Saudi Arabia. After a Saudi cleric raped his 5-yearold daughter, Aziza launched a global campaign to raise awareness of violence against women. In 2016, her petition to end the guardianship system received 14,700 signatures. When she went to hand deliver the document, she was rebuffed and told to mail it. Aziza al-Yousef is still jailed.
Madeha al-Ajroush A psychologist and photographer, Madeha al-Ajroush took part in the first protests against the driving ban in 1990. Because of this, she lost her job and her passport, and was detained. All of her photos, 15 years of work, were burned by authorities. Madeha al-Ajroush was released a few days after the May 15 arrest. â€˘
BY DAYSIA TOLENTINO
n April, Congress passed a bill called the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, better known as SESTA/FOSTA. The bill holds websites more accountable for users selling sex. This weakens Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which has long been used by internet companies to divert responsibility for illicit posts that its users produce. Section 230 has protected websites from the actions of their users for years, but many critics of SESTA/FOSTA believe that the bill will cause sites to increase censorship in order to reduce liability. Proponents of SESTA/FOSTA believe the bill will stop enabling sex traffickers by taking away their platforms for advertisement. Opponents think pushing sex work offline is dangerous for both trafficking victims and consensual sex workers. Hereâ€™s a breakdown of some of the main points from each side.
How is SESTA/FOSTA helping?
It discourages internet companies from turning a blind eye from advertisers of underage sex. Victims and federal/state prosecutors can sue website owners and operators more easily for facilitating sex trafficking. It reduces the amount of online ads for underaged or forced sex work, making victims less accessible to predators. The bill intends to prevent websites from capitalizing off of victims’ suffering.
How is SESTA/FOSTA hurting?
The bill does not clearly differentiate sex trafficking and consensual sex work. + Sex trafficking is the use of force, fraud or coercion to get an individual (often underage) to perform sexual acts in exchange for money or goods. + Consensual sex work includes prostitution, escorting, stripping, pornography, fetish work and more among consenting adults. The movement of sex work underground has hurt both consensual sex workers and efforts to stop sex traffickers. + Consensual sex workers can no longer use certain websites or internet resources previously available to them to find and screen clients as well as connect with peers for life-saving advice and support. The internet has provided an accessible space for these sex workers to discuss tips on staying safe.
+ Some law enforcement agencies, like the Indianapolis Police Department, have used websites like backpage.com to catch sex traffickers in the act. Shutting the site down has impacted the ability of vice officers to track these traffickers. The internet has democratized sex work autonomy. It has become easier for women to take control of their work, vet their own clients and set their own rules and boundaries. + Previously, this type of autonomy was mostly available to those belonging to expensive, high end escort services. + With the passing of SESTA/ FOSTA, some consensual sex workers have reported that former pimps reached out to them with offers of work, knowing that their platforms for online ads are gone.
What have the repercussions been and what consequences may we see in the future?
Backpage.com has been seized and Craigslist has shut down its personals section. The bill has chilled sites like Craigslist into censoring user’s posts to avoid liability, which has brought fears regarding the end of internet freedom. Websites could potentially monitor user content and censor/block certain posts or users to avoid legal consequence. + Critics believe this will chill not only sex work, but other forms of explicit content/speech online. • 11
d i s a r r a y
LETâ€™S TALK ABOUT IT BY ALISON MICHALAK
oday I had a mild heart attack because I forgot to refill my birth control prescription and needed to take the pill within the hour. I have to go to the pharmacy the day after finishing a pack of pills order for insurance to cover the cost; no earlier or later. Popping the birth control pill is all about timing. The pill at the same time every day or it becomes less effective. Some women find this commitment to knowing what time it is too much and opt for different forms of birth control. Thereâ€™s the hormone ring which one must insert vaginaly themselves; then there is an IUD, which an OB/GYN inserts into the uterus. This procedure requires a consultation and, in most cases, an ultrasound in order to place it correctly. There is also a bar that gets surgically placed in the arm, and a shot given every three months. All of these methods of birth control have side effects such as weight gain
and hormonal mood swings. Birth control is a right for women; but in some ways, it is also one of the many burdens of protecting ourselves that sets us apart from men. This inequality of responsibility is why some scientists are working on creating a birth control tailored for men. While condoms have been, and continue to be, popular and necessary forms of contraceptives, science believes we can do more. According to Science News, as of April 2018 a prototype birth control pill for men has passed safety tests, and researchers will conduct a three month trial to further study the effects of this new pill. There are other promising forms of contraception such as a daily gel, or shot given every couple of months. Male birth control works by decreasing the amount of testosterone the body creates, thus decreasing a manâ€™s sperm count. The effects of the pill are minimal, including
mood swings, slight weight gain, and acne; all of which are common for women taking birth control as well. However, the realization of side effects by men when taking birth control has led some to give up on the idea of sharing the contraceptive burden. The fact checking website Snopes confirmed that some men quit the study on male contraceptives, because they deemed the side effects too much. Though, these quitters have not dissuaded science; researchers and their male volunteers continue on to find a way to take part in the responsibility of birth control. As they should! However, promising research does not mean us ladies should start throwing out our birth control. First off, it may be awhile until a man can go to the doctor and be prescribed birth control. In an interview with Bustle in March, Arthi Thirumalai M.D. a co-investigator of the study said the pill would not be ready for the masses for another 5 to 10 years. The second factor to keep in mind is that birth control is never one hundred percent effective. Doctors
always recommend using a secondary form of birth control in addition to any contraception you may already be taking. And, although it may seem outdated, pregnancy has a much bigger effect on a woman than a man. Though they may be equally responsible, it is the woman who must go through all the bodily changes that happen when carrying a living thing for nine months. So always keep yourself protected, sister! Also keep in mind that, like all female forms of birth control, these contraceptives for men do not protect against STIs, so itâ€™s always a good idea to use a condom. I guess what this google search party on male contraception has taught me is that the future is bright. Especially in the last year, the topic of men contributing to birth control has been widely talked about, researched, and in my opinion well received. We might one day live in a world where everyone, man or woman, freaks out because they forgot to take their birth control pill that morning. Thatâ€™s what I call equality. â€˘
BY DAYSIA TOLENTINO
ZA’s Ctrl came out at an interesting point in my life. I had just gotten out of the last in a string of monogamous relationships. I had never really engaged in hookup culture; in fact, I was a serial dater throughout my teenage years. However, at the beginning of summer 2017, I needed time to be alone, focus on myself and have fun. I decided that I was going to have a hoe phase, meaning I was going to have noncommittal partners and engage in casual (sexual and otherwise) activities with them. I thought that it would be easy and straightforward. In some ways, it was. I could go on Tinder, match with a guy, have some no-strings sex, move on to the next eligible bachelor, then repeat the cycle as many times I wanted. It was (and still kind of is) fun, and it feels like a game of some sorts. Other times, it’s not all that great. There’s a kind of paradoxical nature about the hoe phase that I have come to realize over time. On one hand, it can feel really empowering to exercise my sexual autonomy. A lot of times, I feel sexy, powerful and comfortable in my own skin. My body is mine to use however I want
to, with whoever I want to. No one else is entitled to me. If someone has an issue with me or my body, that’s their problem, not mine. These feelings and realizations were very refreshing for me, especially after spending a lot of time trying, and sometimes failing, to make former partners happy. Now, I was making myself happy by doing whatever I wanted. However, while there were plenty of times I felt like hot sh*t, there were equally as many times I just felt like sh*t. The experience was bringing down my self-esteem. Sometimes, I treat Tinder like a game and forget that there are people behind these profiles. Then, I’m reminded that people are viewing me in the same way. I started to miss the security of a committed relationship, and I felt insecure putting myself out there. There were times that I felt like I wasn’t attractive enough, or I was being too clingy with a f*ck buddy or I was just plain lonely. I began to question whether I was having fun anymore. Enter Ctrl. Female musicians have always empowered me, and I have always loved a good hoe anthem. “My Neck, My Back” by Khia? Hell YEAH. “Naughty Girl” by Beyonce? Yes, PLEASE. “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj. You BET.
These songs are all fantastic and really hype me up. However, they really only deal with the physical side of the hoe phase. They depict it as all fun and games, and while the hoe phase can be just that, it isn’t always. SZA’s music was really different for me. It’s an honest and raw depiction of female sexuality and the varying emotions that are present when expressing that sexuality. For a period of time Ctrl was all that I listened to. It resonated with me and helped me break down a lot of what I was feeling. She touches upon the highs of being intimate in “Love Galore:” “Got me looking forward to weekends / With you baby, with you baby;” the lows of unrequited emotion in “Garden (Say It Like Dat):” “You’ll never love me but / I believe you when you say it like that;” and the internal struggle of balancing self-love with the desire for companionship in “Drew Barrymore:” “I get so lonely, I forget what I’m worth.” These were all issues that I was dealing with personally, and it felt great to have an album that could channel that. The songs on the album, as well as the advice from SZA’s mother interspersed through the tracks, pushed me to think about what I was doing with some of these men.
While I wasn’t really attached to most of the men I was seeing, I was still letting their attention and validation (or lack thereof) affect me. I was still asking myself if I was enough for them. I was letting things that I couldn’t control, like other people’s feelings or opinions toward me, control how I was feeling about myself. That was the whole reason why I wanted a break from seriously dating, but I ended up feeling this way again. After I realized all of this, I stopped engaging on Tinder as much and I really began my relationship with myself. I started asking myself what I needed to be physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy. I have become more adept at giving myself what I need, without the need of another person to validate me. Regardless of the turbulent experience I have had in my hoe phase, it has allowed me to be more honest about what I want and figure out how to get it in a healthy way. I’m happily single and I’m still having fun with different partners. I still go through moments of self-doubt, but I feel more self-aware than I did when this whole phase started. I’m more secure with myself than I was a year ago, and with each replay of Ctrl, that feeling only gets stronger. •
BY ANNIKA HOM
[content warning: abuse, mental health]
he death of XXXTentacion, real name Jahseh Onfroy, circulated so fast amongst millennials that it kept pace with updates from the hospital that treated his gun wounds. On June 18, 2018, hundreds of fans expressed their sadness, a natural response when an entertainer dies. Unlike other celebrities who’ve passed on, however, the sorrow generated from Onfroy’s death incited an equal amount of backlash on social media, especially from women. It’s no question why. The legacy followed XXXTentacion even as he was alive; he was charged with assault and battery of his then-pregnant ex-girlfriend Geneva Ayala. According to Pitchfork, the evidence was insurmountable, and yet his fans continued to defend the artist. For many women who have not once heard one of X’s songs, he was infamous as an abuser and a symbol of misogyny in a music genre already famous for promoting those ideals. Thus, published tweets that seemed to glorify XXXTentacion after he died angered and frustrated women. Several victims of sexual, emotional and physical abuse spoke out about how even tweeting #RIPXXXTentacion erased and undermined their traumatic experiences. Most of these women emphasized that they didn’t think he deserved to die, but they also argued that supporting him set back the progress of what seemed like positive
steps in making men accountable for sexist and violent actions in the entertainment industry, such as #MeToo and #TimesUp. User lisaspliffson said on instagram, “Survivors are listening and watching one by one and we are keeping note of what you are saying,” she said in response to the public outcry at the rapper’s death. “we watch with tearful eyes bc we once again have a person we cannot trust.” To these women, the world turned its back on them; it preached that forgiveness would be given to those who could produce “good music” or were rich, or were simply men. And yet, there are women who expressed their condolences to XXXTentacion in spite of the controversial and public debate online. On the internet, many teenage girls and young women retweeted condolences and expressed their own sadness at the death of XXXTentacion as well. It seems unlikely that any of these women support sexism and/or abuse towards women, though there are probably some that do exist. Then why is there such an outpouring of love for an abuser? SZA, one of R&B’s hottest female artists at the moment, tweeted about how beautiful the memorial was and how he deserved love. “Loving energy and healing to everyone at the X memorial today. such a powerful and unique gesture. Blessings to everyone hurting and deeply connected rn,“ she tweeted with a prayer and heart emojis.
This tweet definitely puzzled many. How could SZA send love to an abuser? Did her statement nullify the plight of women with history of abuse, and encourage the inequality of power between genders? Well, not necessarily. Like every controversy, there underlies several complications and nuances. One of these was the topic of mental illness. XXXTentacion wrote songs with violence and misogynistic tones, but he also focused on his tumultuous life and his battle with depression. Some young girls who were confronted with similar demons turned to his music to find solace and feel represented. Sure, some girls just liked his songs and chose to ignore the violence behind XXXTentacion, but to others his message meant a light at the end of a tunnel. “So so sad,” Brittany Dailey tweeted. “I think everyone can relate to him at some point in life. I know I can.” “xxx spoke to most depressed teens through is music, y’all are evil,” @Sasha_Pee tweeted. “Music is a comfortable space for misunderstood souls. #RIPXXXTentacion”. To turn a blind eye from those who resonated with his depiction of mental illness would be a disservice to feminists on several levels. This is not because women who faced abuse do not deserve to be respected, believed, heard or safe. They have every right to, and their frustration of the events is extremely understandable. Yet, it’s also important for women with mental illness who did find peace in the art of XXXTentacion to be validated in their experiences as well. Almost everyone can relate to the idea of turning to art— whether it be music, film, or poetry— to feel better. Dismissing sentiments of sadness at the death of their idol and hero minimizes the real and traumatic experiences of women with depression who chose to support an artist’s music because it helped them through dark times.
So, these women may not have been necessarily supporting the violence XXXTentacion committed, just as some men claimed they weren’t condoning either. In actuality, these women were just paying homage to an artist that helped them through a difficult time. The controversy regarding X’s death does not ask feminists to choose whether mental illness or abuse is worse to go through. Rather, it brings light to the harm misunderstanding can have on feminism. Without listening to the perspective of women with differing lives, it leaves little room to empathize and build women up. If, through their arguments, they belittle each others experiences, women could feel unsafe with one another. Feminism cannot work if women are divided. It’s difficult to construct empathy and a network of female-support when women aren’t truly listening to each other’s personal experiences. And that’s understandable too; it can be difficult to reason when one’s experiences are intimate and highly emotional. Just as racial intersectionality has been highlighted as necessary to feminist movements in the past, such as the Women’s March in 2017, intersectionality of life experience is needed in other facets of feminism, too. It’s important to remember to listen to one another. If women are afraid to speak out about their issues, it becomes oppressive. Women need to support other women. That starts with pushing past the surface and listening. We continue on with the fight to make sure that artists continue to be accountable, and that the music industry catches up with Hollywood’s small steps. Just remember because something is not in your experience, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. •
everyday woman pt 2 of 6 micaela performing with healing cow
rowing up, we are taught that obstacles are things that challenge us, but ultimately make us better. An obstacle may be difficult or frustrating, but if we get through it, we will come out the other side a better person- whether that means spiritually, mentally, artistically, etc. For me, film school has been one large obstacle course to navigate. There are the obstacles everyone in my major faces: tests about the history of media, finals, finding people to cast in your cast project besides the same three friends you always use. There are obstacles I have chosen to face, like making a movie in under forty-eight hours with a group of friends. But there are some obstacles that are based entirely on my identity and position in life. When I chose the college I was going to, I knew that it was going to cost me. It was one of the most expensive schools I applied to, but it also gave me the most money, and I tried to get comfortable with this tradeoff as I signed off on my loans. It was also not a particularly diverse institution. This didnâ€™t worry me- I had spent the last four years at 28
a selective enrollment public school which, although majority Hispanic, had a pretty diverse student body. Even though the demographics of these two schools were very different, I didnâ€™t really think much would change. When I started taking classes at this predominantly white institution, it felt like a slap in the face. I was suddenly faced with overwhelming whiteness for the first time in my life. I felt different for being Latinx, but, since I loved my culture, I ran towards it instead of away from it. Even though my heritage invited obstacles, I still loved it. What was different was the way gender interacted with my experience. In my film classes, particularly production classes, I felt visible in my ethnicity; my last name branded me early on, if nothing else. There were not many other people of color in any of my classes, and when microaggressions (or downright aggressions) happened, they felt starkly visible, at least to those affected by them. With gender, it was different. There were other women in my classes; that wasnâ€™t the problem. And we
OVERCOMING O B S T A C L E S A WOCâ€™S EXPERIENCE IN FILM SCHOOL. BY CAROLINE RODRIGUEZ
Facing all of this, and coming out the other side in one piece, requires a lot of bravery and confidence. 30
all seemed to co-exist with the men in our classes as peacefully as with each other. But there were hints of turbulence beneath the surface; most of the participation in class discussions was from men. They would speak up more often and cut other people off mid-comment and many professors did not seem to notice or mind. The ones who did were women, and even they would sometimes be talked over by these male undergrads who were paying to learn from them. The first day I went to a film class, I already felt enormously behind. So many of the white men in that room already had experience filmmaking; they had classes in their schools, their parents had bought them equipment, they had experience working on sets. Of course, it was not only men with this experience. But they were the ones loudly talking, before the class started, about how they didn’t need this class at all, wondering if there was really anyone who had not held a camera before. I felt ashamed and afraid to learn. Gendered microaggressions were not a slap in the face. They stung, but they happened so quickly and so subtly sometimes I felt like I must be making them up. Men would look to other men for approval of what their female classmates had already said. They would write violence against women as a plot device. They supported other directors accused of assault, whether it was Woody Allen or their classmate. And it was so ingrained in the culture, it was hard to call out as problematic. It hurt, but it also made me question what I was experiencing. Of course this is an oversimplification. My experiences as a woman and as a person of color do not exist separately from one
another; my race impacts the way people perceive and react to my gender, and vice versa. And neither experience was better or worse than the other. It is important to recognize that, as a Latinx woman, the misogyny I face is not the same as the kind white women face, and that the racism I face is not the same as the kind Latinx men deal with. Both play into each other to create unique obstacles. There are many obstacles that women of color face in the film industry. Men will talk over you. They won’t trust what you say until another man confirms it. If you try to write about your own experience, they might ask you to make it more “authentic” by peppering in tired stereotypes of your culture. Yet when you write about your culture, they will tell you it’s not relatable enough. Facing all of this, and coming out the other side in one piece, requires a lot of bravery and confidence. I am not advocating for an empty confidence, bordering on arrogance, that allows women of color to walk into film school, having never used a camera, and pretend they are the best. But they should know that they have the potential to be the best. That if they work hard, and foster genuine, creative relationships, they have just as much potential as the white boy next to them. That even though they will face incredible obstacles, they can overcome them. These obstacles can make them better. Or not. Some obstacles don’t teach, they just hurt, and it’s not fair that some people have to face them when others are able to breeze by, simply because of their gender or the color of their skin. But they are still possible to overcome. •
OCEAN’S 8 WASN’T THAT GREAT,
BUT THAT’S OKAY. 32
BY HANNAH EBANKS
remember when I saw the first promotional poster for Ocean’s Eight I was so excited. I made a mental note of the release date and in the following months as the teaser trailer came out and then the full length trailer, I thought it was going to be hard to beat for my favorite summer blockbuster of 2018. With all the star power in Ocean’s Eight, it seemed like it was set up for success. But it is hard for me to recall any witty banter or a one-liner that occurred in that 1 hour and 50 minutes. Mindy Kaling has the capability to make me laugh without even hearing or seeing her, casein-point her Twitter or either of her essay collections. Rihanna can convey pages of written comebacks with just a glance. Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, and Cate Blanchett share the traits of being Oscar winners (two-time in Blanchett’s case) and having humor as dry as a good glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. Awkwafina seems like she is going to steal all her scenes in the upcoming Crazy Rich Asians. And
the combination of character and funny is hard to beat with both Sarah Paulson and Helena Bonham Carter. But the movie felt flat, I wasn’t on the edge of my seat in anticipation at any moment. The writing felt like a disservice to the abundance of talent. It seemed to be missing a certain sparkle for a movie that was all about a jewelry heist. And, unfortunately, it felt like one of those movies where if you have seen the trailer, you have seen the majority of the good parts. Despite that, Ocean’s Eight manages to avoid most of the stereotypes about women that can easily could have earned a cheap laugh. At its core, it shows a group of women working together and supporting one another. It passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors, a popular measure for the presence and role of women in movies. Each woman has her own speciality and plays an important role in the plan. Some of my favorite scenes were the planning of the heist, a meeting with not a man in sight and no mansplaining or interrupting. Plus the costumes were extraordinary. And the movie does a clever job of tapping on the fourth wall. Hathaway seems to be playing a parody of how she is often described in the tabloids. The Met Gala scenes are filled with cameos and allow the audience to get a glimpse at one of the most exclusive events in the world. In retrospect, my expectations were probably a little too high (the same summer as The Incredibles 2? Childhood nostalgia plus 14 years of waiting is hard combination to overcome). But in the wake of the #MeToo movement and the representation of women in all fields being on society’s conscious, Ocean’s Eight felt like it could be both a balm and a symbol. And that’s unfair. Media is powerful and all the conversations happening around increasing representation in the entertainment industry-- both on and off-screen-- are
important ones. In the past few years, audiences have proven to the industry that films with leads that are women and/or people of color are something they want to see. Bridesmaids. Hidden Figures. Black Panther. Get Out. Wonder Woman. All successful at the box office and launched hundreds of think pieces about the way Hollywood was changing. But it is a shift, not a complete change. Progress in Hollywood seems to happen at a glacial pace. Look back to only two years ago at the release of a movie with similar characteristics to Ocean’s Eight, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, a femalelead reboot of the 1984 original. A movie that was judged before it was even released. And I suppose the shift in Hollywood can be exemplified that Ocean’s Eight did not receive the same instantaneous backlash as the Ghostbusters reboot. I threw my support behind Ocean’s Eight more for the social implications than artistic value. Even if the movie wasn’t great I couldn’t be a bystander and watch as subpar box office numbers prevented production companies and studios from supporting and creating more movies like Ocean’s Eight. But it should have been okay for Ocean’s Eight to not break box office records. It shouldn’t put future movies on the line. The one bit of the movie that stuck with me is the speech Sandra Bullock gives before the heist about how an 8-year-old girl could be watching and decide she wants to be a criminal when she grows up. It is both heartwarming and funny as it speaks to lack of female role models in a variety of areas (though I don’t endorse following in Debbie Ocean’s footsteps). There were some things Ocean’s Eight could have done better, but at the end of the day it showed women working together towards a common goal and succeeding, which is a result I hope we see translate more often in the real world very soon. • 33
everyday woman pt 3 of 6 emma visiting a friendâ€™s dorm
“To be an educated Filipino means to learn about one’s coloniality in order to forget it… The Filipino’s search for self is precisely to abolish it, to become something different from what he knows of himself: the colonized.” —Dina C. Maramba and Rick Bonus, The ‘Other’ Students: Filipino Americans, Education, and Power
BY DANA DELA CRUZ
white man, after learning my ethnicity, tells me that his first wife was a Filipina. He tries to say “I love you” in Tagalog but instead of mahal kita—musical and sweet and crisp—he says muh-hawl keeduh. He grins at me, proud, expecting a pat on the back for butchering my mother tongue. I offer a smile and a forcibly impressed, “Wow, that was good.” “Filipina women are the best,” he continues. “They’re the kindest people I’ve ever met. The best cooks, too.” “Oh, I don’t know,” I say deflectively. “I guess I’m a good cook, if you count instant ramen.” This happens often. When someone finds out that I am Filipina, I am always made to listen to a story about a nurse, a nanny, a cleaning lady. All the stories sound the same: Filipinos are so generous and hardworking, they say.
Every time, I smile shyly and say thank you, playing the role they expect of me. * My ethnicity makes for great pick-up lines, too. A Tinder match messages me, “chillin’ with a filipina at your local jollibee,” quoting Childish Gambino. One asks me to make lumpia for him. Others ask me to confirm whether Filipinas are as freaky as they say. Who told them Filipinas are freaky, I wonder. Was it a friend who visited my homeland looking for sex? The guys who write articles titled “Ten Reasons Why You Should Date A Filipino Girl?” Pornhub? I wonder if they knew how many Filipinas find themselves in sex work because it was their only option, how many young Filipinas are kidnapped or sold into sex trafficking. I delete the app, but even in public—at concerts, at parties, in the streets of my own 37
neighborhood—men’s advances remind me that, in Western eyes, my brown body does not belong to me. * Almost two decades of microaggressions later, I find myself humiliated. How can I be so brazen in private, but become so quiet and deferent in the presence of whiteness? How ridiculous must I look contorting my body into the cookie-cutter mold of the quintessential Filipina? I find myself looking to the past, scouring through centuries of history like they can explain why there are so many pairs of hands claiming ownership of my body. Why people tell me I am so kind, so hospitable, so subservient, so demure. Why I am always someone’s wife, someone’s prostitute, someone’s maid, someone’s nurse. I learn that I am a colonized subject. Colonization is not just a chapter from my high school history textbooks, but a lived reality, etched into my mind and written all over my brown body. The Philippines, though independent now, has been under someone else’s rule for so long 38
that the ghosts of colonization remain, ingrained in the way we see ourselves and the way our colonizers see us. Spain and the United States, our colonizers, turned Filipinos into secondclass citizens in their own land and wiped away centuries of rich indigenous cultures and histories. Under Spanish rule, over 100 distinct ethnolinguistic groups were flattened into a single people and placed at the bottom of a strict racial hierarchy. The United States established a nationwide colonial education program that valorized American politics, culture, and values. Filipina women—many of whom held powerful positions in indigenous Filipino societies—were systematically disenfranchised as the Spanish enforced the Western patriarchy. Centuries later, as immigration and the global economy grew in prominence, the United States and other Western countries began importing Filipina nurses and domestic workers. War and militarism turned many Filipinas into war brides or prostitutes. These histories created the quintessential Filipina, and its consequences continue today. This is why Americans and Westerners
claim ownership to my body and the bodies of other Filipinas—not just for sex, but for labor, for companionship. It’s why I—and other Filipinas—let them: it is our role, our history, what we Filipinas do. Knowing this, how do you decolonize yourself ? How do you recognize the parts of yourself that are constricted by colonization, and how do you free them? It begins with the mind. I read articles and books written from Filipina perspectives. I watch documentaries, I attend events and conferences, I take classes. I discover narratives that present Filipinas not as tragic victims, uncivilized savages, or obedient subjects, but as providers, leaders, and fighters. I learn to love my culture and history for what they truly are, not the false versions rewritten by my colonizers. I learn to see beauty and pride and strength—and then I embody it. I stop censoring myself and stop whitening my skin. I start speaking Tagalog again, my tongue curling around once-familiar syllables. I ask questions and criticize and try my hardest, in all settings, to make the Filipina visible.
It is a difficult task, learning then undoing the ways that my mind and body have been so profoundly colonized. I am lucky for and indebted to the Asian American Studies department and the Filipino American organization at my university; I know I am at a place of privilege because I have access to such knowledge and communities. Thanks to them, I have a wealth of resources and support in my journey to reclaiming ownership of my mind and body. And yet, I know that no matter how conscious I become, forces of colonialism and postcolonialism remain, and I can’t fully change the way others perceive me. Because of my brown skin, my last name, and my gender, I can’t stop Americans from viewing me as a caring nanny, a hardworking employee, a freaky prostitute, a good Christian wife. But, as I learn and grow in confidence, I’m beginning to outwardly resist. Progress is slow, but I am breaking out of the role of the colonized Filipina, stretching my sore limbs, learning how to occupy space on my own terms. It is terrifying and tenuous, but I have never felt so free. • 39
“MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL”
BY MIMI CHEN
r e c l a i m i n g
BY VICTORIA D’ANGELO
t the end of my shifts at the local grocery store, my coworkers and I would shoot the breeze while we completed our closing tasks. Most of us went to school together from kindergarten onward, so often we shared stories of embarrassing middle school days, or gossip around the school. Though I had known these guys (yes, it was mostly males I worked with) for more than a decade, we never really talked. I was a quiet girl, never considered anywhere close to the “popular” crowd. But it was during these closing hours where the lines or social status blurred and we could share our stories without the echo of popularity (or, in my case, unpopularity) ringing through our conversations. We were all just grocers in our town’s supermarket. It was the beginning of my senior year. I was ready to go to whatever college I had yet to apply to, and confident in the identity I discovered in myself over the summer; something I always knew but was never able to give a name to. I am bisexual. At this point I had only come out to a few friends and my most recent exboyfriend (because, well, I felt like I needed an explanation as to why I talked so often about how beautiful women are...and why I frequently mentioned Ruby Rose as the celebrity I would sleep with). I had been accepted by these people to whom I was so close. I thought maybe I was ready to
share this part of me with the people I saw everyday, who sometimes shared personal stories with me while we wiped the counters and swept the floors. So I did. Casually, I mentioned how I identified as bisexual, and the boys around me dropped their jaws to the floor. Not the reaction I was expecting, especially when they said I don’t “look bi”. I shrugged it off and continued to clean. As the clock stuck 8:30pm, and all the store doors were locked, two of the boys who I just revealed my secret to were dismissed and ready to leave. And as they walked out the door one of them ran back and came over to me, and said quietly: “You swinging for both teams is literally the hottest thing I have ever heard.” Wait. No. My coming out was not supposed to be a pickup line or a flirtation tool. I was not trying to turn you on, I was trying to share my identity with you. I was trying to let you into my life. I was trying to get you to accept me. It was at this moment I realized that my sexuality is and will always be completely sexualized. And so, I shut up. I would not announce my sexuality to the world. I wouldn’t tell my family and anyone I met would have to figure it out for themselves. My identity was no longer mine; it was a man’s fantasy, a kink, a fetish. It was an invitation for three ways and dirty thoughts. I was ashamed at what being bisexual meant. Did it mean that I could only have threeways? In just the span of three months, I went from being proud and confident in the identity
m y s ex u a l i ty
I found, to being embarrassed and almost indecent as a bisexual woman. How did these boys take this from me? How did they manage to steal this puzzle piece that has been missing and turn it into a perverted dialogue that still dances around my head? So I pushed this puzzle piece down to where I hoped I would forget it. Now, I am in a heterosexual relationship, and there is nothing that makes you forget your bisexuality more than being in a closed, long term, makingplans-for-the-future kind of relationship with a man. Don’t get me wrong, I love my man. I love men in general (hence that whole “I like both men and women” definition of bisexuality). But I have been with only men, so people will always assume I’m straight. The possibility of bisexuality is nowhere to be found once I’ve entered a heterosexual relationship. No, I don’t have to wear the colors of the bi flag everywhere I go, nor do I feel the need to introduce myself as “Victoria, the bisexual”; however, knowing that part of my identity is ignored and frankly erased the minute I am seen with my man is enough to doubt myself and my sexuality. Am I really bi if I have only been with men? This is something I, and I’m sure thousands of other bisexual or pansexual women, have had to deal with for years, and will deal with for years to come. Between the oversexualization of bisexual women, and the societal impossibility of a bi woman dating a man, it has been difficult to fully
accept my sexuality. I feel erased, unable to come to terms with this huge part of me without sounding like I want attention; after all, what would I gain from telling people I like both men and women while in a heterosexual relationship besides what I “gained” from telling my coworkers three years ago? Being in a closed relationship and fearing what reactions I will get from people I come out to has prevented me from fully exploring what it means to be a bisexual woman. The sheer discomfort has forced me to stay quiet. However, I can’t forget it. This is who I am. In the last three years, I have gone through a lot trying to figure out my feelings. Though I have a long way to go in figuring it all out, I owe it to myself to accept my sexuality and finally find comfort in being bi. All I can offer is this: to bi women everywhere, do not let expectations of your gender or sexuality get in the way of your comfort, trying to accept who you are. I have let these feelings of inadequacy- feeling I am not bisexual enough because of my heterosexual relationship- and feelings of shame prevent me from accepting that yes, this is who I am. It is a part of me that will never go away, no matter who I end up with for life, man or woman. Bisexuality, and all sexualities for that matter, are beautiful. Though it is something we must learn as a society and as individuals to accept, it is unique to each and every person. And I’m proud of that. • 43
P R O C E S S I N G P R I D E
A REFLECTION ON SEXUALITY AND SELF-ACCEPTANCE 44
BY PEYTON HASSLER
exual identity is a funny thing. There is so much pressure to choose a label that matches your experience. Labels end up being more like a guidebook for others that need help understanding exactly who you are. Every person in the LGBTQ+ community knows the complications of coming out. Just as soon as you've accepted yourself, you’re placed in the extremely vulnerable position of being accepted by others. I view my sexuality as something that is so peripheral to my entire identity, yet some people simplify me and other queer folks to only our sexuality. This is where I am stuck in limbo; even though it’s okay to keep your sexuality personal, Pride is important. I don’t just mean Pride month, and Pride is not simply a platform to display your sexuality to the world. Pride is a force of love that accepts all people, all identities, and all experiences. It’s important for oneself, as well as for others going through the impossibly confusing and testing process that is coming out. For some, coming out is aided by an accepting support system or a warm environment. However for many, coming
out puts their safety and security in jeopardy. At the end of Pride month, we saw haunting headlines that are all too familiar. The story of a 10 year old boy who’s own mother tortured and took his life for, presumably, being gay, flooded the media. Beverly Tillery, a journalist and the Executive Director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project wrote in her article, Anti-LGBTQ+ Hate Crimes Are on the Rise, and Our Government Is to Blame, that violence and hate crimes against members of the LGBTQ+ community reached an all time high in 2017. No matter how supportive your immediate environment may be, coming out is intimidating, but is not something that you have to do alone. Pride is important because it represents an entire community that will support you through your journey. However it’s not just a journey, it’s a process. Like any process, it takes time. It’s okay to make Pride about yourself. Carson Cummins, a 19 year old college student reflects, “Behind the bright colors and the parades, I see [Pride] as an important and reflective time for people in and out of the queer community.” It is a 45
key time to think about the progress the LGBTQ+ community has made. Pride can be a time to look at heteronormative societal expectations under a critical lense. Through Pride, our community can challenge the idea that all people have to be either men or women and must be either gay or straight. I am drawn to think about my own experience. A year ago Pride pushed me to explore my questioning thoughts and learn more about the community. This year, Pride urged me to self reflect. I have finally been able to accept myself, as I am empowered by the inviting LGBTQ+ community. I foresee Pride in the future as an opportunity to further this self acceptance into a more outward celebration. I can promote myself to being an active member of the community by helping people through their own processes. I have been identifying as queer for over six months now, and I like to say I am very comfortable, yet I keep this part of my identity at bay. When I first started questioning and experimenting, I thought it was okay to keep this extremely personal part of my life as just thatâ€“ personal. I thought that my questioning didnâ€™t have to be a big deal or something I told people about. I now see those thoughts as hesitations to be my true self. Despite
being only a small part of what makes me myself, being queer is so important to me. Being able to be honest about my sexuality has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders, and openly embracing that aspect of my life in front of all audiences will hopefully encourage people in similar positions to do the same. And, in all honestly, writing this is a step towards that goal. It is hard to change a stubborn mind, but the essence of love projected by Pride (during June, and always) is a force strong enough to challenge the way we as a society think about sexuality, gender and identity in general. That, I think, is my favorite part of Pride. It can be as simple as loving and celebrating yourself, but in this context it holds the power to change the world. Eventually, the influence of Pride will eliminate the need for choosy labels, uncomfortable explanations, and insecurity. People who may be downtrodden for being who they are will eventually love and live freely We are a community with one very important thing in common, but Pride is not one size fits all. Pride can be celebrated however one chooses. The positive energy and openness of Pride will continue to inspire people in the closet, and educate others on why there is nothing wrong with being who you are. â€˘
being able to be honest about my sexuality has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders
everyday woman pt 4 of 6 jezabelle posing in ghiradelli square
esterday, I asked my parents if they considered themselves feminists. They both responded the exact same way. They were both fairly caught off guard by my asking in the first place. And they both took a moment to think about it, then they shrugged and said, “I don’t know. Probably?” This is exactly how I thought they would respond, which is why I conducted this experiment in the first place. My parents are loving, they’ve always taught me and my sister to be loving and open-minded. If I’d asked them whether they thought women and men should be paid the same amount of money for the same amount of work, they would’ve immediately said, “Of course!” They wouldn’t have had to think about it. I wasn’t calling them anything. When I brought out The F Word, it threw my parents off. “’Feminist?’ What does that mean? What am I signing up for? What exactly am I saying I support?” They probably thought, when I asked them, that it was some kind of trap. I brought out that word for a reason: to see if it would make them uncomfortable. And it did. Why? Well for one, it’s a label. To ask anyone what side they’re on of any issue, especially right now, is risky. It’s a loaded question (and you can carry those around everywhere these days!). To ask
my parents if they were feminists wasn’t simply just that; it was asking them to agree to be associated with other feminists. It was asking them if they believed everything that feminists believe and if they would fight for it. And my parents were going, “Jada, please, it’s seven A.M.” The question, and The F Word, carry so much weight now, because everything is polarized. The stakes feel very high; and the issues are urgent and we, the people, are bringing out our ugliest, scariest sides to fight. And that’s exhausting. Agreeing to be on a side these days probably feels like enlisting in this relentless social war. I can understand why that might be too much to ask of someone before they’ve had their morning coffee. Of course, I wasn’t really asking them all that. I wasn’t aiming to put all that weight on them. However, that does bring me to another reason they may have been hesitant, which regards the many misconceptions about feminism. Oh, how they cloud the beautiful inclusive gardens of feminism, those misconceptions. They’re everywhere. Especially in this day and age, with social media running the show, we have access to so much information, and so many different stories. A lot of “fake news,” and even more opinions being passed around as though they’re facts. I have always been a feminist. My very core and that of feminist
BY JADA SMITH
beliefs line up perfectly. But I didn’t always know, and a lot of my confusion came from people on the internet telling lies about what feminism was. I’m what some consider traditionally “girly”, but I was given the impression that that wouldn’t fly in feminism. That is false. I heard you weren’t supposed to shave or wear makeup, because that was primping for men and that was bad. That is also false. I heard there was no slut-shaming, which is true; but then from self-proclaimed “feminists” I heard a lot of slut-shaming, which was very confusing. The world of feminism is clouded by misinformation, which can be a deterrent. My parents, I’m sure, don’t want to be associated with all the trolls spreading rumors on the internet. But more importantly, they’re not going to want to fight for a cause if they think those rumors about it are true. To do a little myth-busting, I want to clarify a couple things. First, feminism is about love and compassion for the people around you. It’s about equality, first and foremost, and open-mindedness. It’s this incredible process of people growing and becoming kinder, even though it doesn’t always look like it. The F Word gets overcomplicated a lot, but I think it’s simple. If you believe that people should be treated equally, regardless of gender, you already believe in the most fundamental
feminist idea. Second, empowerment is what you make of it. Find what makes you feel strong and beautiful, and do that. You are allowed to be a feminist regardless of how you dress or how you carry yourself or who you have sex with. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Most importantly, do not let anyone tell you what you can and can’t love about yourself. It is easy to be misled by faux feminists, pretending they love women when they do not. The most important thing you can do as a person and as a feminist is simply to love. Without judgment, without preconceived notions or expectation – just love. That’s what I’ve always believed. It’s what my parents taught me. As for my parents, and to answer the original question, I believe they’re feminists. They believe in people, they want what’s best for people, and they lead their lives with love. If I asked them to answer a question about the wage gap or rape culture, they would prove it. They may not admit that they’re feminists, but they certainly are by my understanding of feminism, which has obviously taken a lot to foster. It’s worth the work, however. It’s worth researching and becoming well-versed in the language of women’s rights, because women’s rights are everyone’s rights. It is worth learning about what feminism really is, because if you know, you’ll probably want to be one, too. • 51
our grandmothers’ views on modern f e m i n i s m BY CASSANDRE COYER
hile on vacation at my grandparents’ house in southern France, my family and I, as most do in interminable family dinners, discussed the weather, climate change, current events and, lastly, politics. While talking with my grandmother, I noticed her annoyance at modern feminists whom she accused of being too extreme. I have always admired my grandmother for the fierce independent woman that she is and the values she holds dear; I aspire to be as strong as her one day. However, even though she raised me and instilled most of the principles that I live by today, she and I never talked about feminism. I never knew her opinion on the subject. I was always curious about the differences between her generation and mine, but feminism was surprisingly never a topic on the table. When we had our first conversation about women’s place in society and the importance of the feminist movement, I realized she was hesitant to identify herself as a feminist. Knowing her as a woman who isn’t afraid to use strong statements or assert herself for who she is, I was interested in why she did not want to use the word feminist. More importantly, I was interested in why she insisted on dissociating herself from modern-day feminists.
According to a national survey conducted by the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation in 2015, 6 in 10 women in the United States call themselves a feminist or strong feminist. While this isn’t a dramatically low number, this isn’t a perfect score either. While the survey provides interesting numbers to evaluate the status of the feminist movement in the United States at an individual level, the term “feminist” may have become too vague and broad. The term “feminism” likely emerged in the late 1800s. The word has evolved as society and its customs have. The feminist movement has not always been the same and has been shaped by politics and female activists over the course of a century. Throughout these years, women fought for different purposes, some winning big victories, while others made small steps that paved the way for the generations to come. However, today, according to the Washington Post survey, one third of interviewees found feminism outdated. Among them, 16 percent of women younger than 35 years old say feminism is “outdated” compared with more than one-third of older women. With feminism being in the media more than ever, it is quite surprising to see that one third of the people interviewed consider feminism to be
obsolete. It is significant to note the severe difference of opinion regarding the topical importance of feminism between older and younger generations. The moral code hasn’t changed but the fight has. Older women consider the feminism they knew to be gone and, more importantly, no longer needed. The feminist movement of the 1960s tackled issues such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, and sexuality. It has grown to include a broader range of women and issues like race, class, and a more global perspective. The movement has adapted to include gender-fluid identities that were not represented in the 1960s. Moreover, the feminist movement is about gender equality, meaning it includes men’s experiences with gender and societal expectations as well. Therefore, is it so surprising that a 1960s feminist might not completely identify with the movement today? When talking with my grandmother, she said she believed feminism had evolved in a negative way with “too many demands and interdictions.” While her statement surprised me, it is consistent with the answers found in the survey mentioned earlier. When asked whether they thought the feminist movement today was focused on changes they wanted, 35% of women answered “no.” The survey didn’t provide more details about what these women think the movement is focused on, but as I mentioned earlier, the fight has evolved over the years. The feminist movement has not stopped fighting for equal pay, more reproductive rights or laws against domestic violence. The movement has simply changed to include more complex issues such as advocating for better representation of women in the media, promoting body positivity for younger girls, and most importantly, acknowledging that women’s experiences cannot be reduced to a single one.
The numbers found in the survey therefore expose the contrasting opinions between different generations of women regarding the purpose of the feminist movement and its current efficiency. Unsurprisingly the younger generation driving the current feminist movement mostly agrees with the movement’s ideas. But as women get older, they get more and more detached from it, with the majority of women over 65 years old disagreeing with modern changes to the movement. What does this mean? That women over 65 years old aren’t feminist anymore? Probably not. It simply means that their definition of feminism might differ from ours. Older women might not feel like picking up arms and fighting for what the younger generation believes in today. Additionally, it is harder for them to make their voices heard without social media accounts. Furthermore, while one of the biggest groups of women identifying as feminist is within the age group of 18 to 34 with 63% of them identifying as feminists, the largest demographic includes women between 50 and 64 with 68% of them identifying as such. Maybe the fuel of the movement isn’t the young women that we see on social media, but the women who raised them. The overwhelming presence of young women on social media, expressing their opinions more visibly than older women ever had the chance to, has created a misleading image of the modern feminist as a young woman. While women over 65 years old might not agree completely with the direction the feminist movement is taking, more than half of them still identify as feminists. And that is because they are. Let’s remember that feminism is about fighting for gender equality, together. We might not all fight in the same way because of differences of privilege, class, race, risks, religion or access to tools and technology. But we can all be feminists, and our grandmothers can be as well. • 53
everyday woman pt 5 of 6 olivia and chloe attending a house show 54
F I N D I N G STRENGTH IN S I S T E R H O O D
BY CHACHA TAHNG
’ve always heard of the term “funk”, but I never really understood what it meant. I’ve learned that many things can put you in a “funk”. Sometimes it can be as simple as spilling coffee first thing in the morning, or it can be as serious as someone close to you leaving your life. My first heartbreak had put me in a weird mood where I was trying to juggle my sadness and my daily routine. After countless therapy sessions, days and nights spent hiding in my room, nothing felt right. This funk I was in consumed me, and I shut out anyone who tried to help. I had this feeling that I was missing something, but I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was. Perhaps it was something a little less familiar to me at that point, or something that I haven’t encountered for a long time. I didn’t feel like myself and lost who I was. At one of my meetings with my therapist, I realized the missing piece when I told her, “I think I need more girl time”. We choose to surround ourselves with people we can connect to the most. Sometimes it’s similar interests, classes,
or humor that can bring people together. As for me, I’ve chosen to surround myself with those that can offer me emotional support. I didn’t understand the meaning of sisterhood until recently. Growing up without a sister, I leaned on my friends (mostly female) to provide the feminine energy that my older relatives couldn’t provide me with. There are certain things that my mom, aunt and grandma can’t understand about growing up as a young, female, Asian-American teenager. The age gap between myself and the rest of my family left me feeling a bit lonely at times, which is why I spent most of my time with the women outside of my family. I’m very grateful to have a diverse circle of friends, because I get to learn from their different experiences, and vice versa. At times when I was at my lowest, I always found myself in the comfort of a friend. The night after the breakup, I was with my best friend in my room, and there was no need to talk– she understood. We cried together as she hugged me. When my parents finalized their divorce, I found myself in the passenger’s seat of my friend’s
car, as we ate ice cream parked on the street, singing along to musical theatre songs at 11pm. When I got into an argument with my mom, my friends would pick me up and we’d get dinner somewhere nice, clinking water glasses like wine and pretending we lived a different life. Through moments like these, I found strength in myself, as well as the relationships I have with the women around me. Conversations at sleepovers and in group chats range from small talk to deeper conversations that remind me why I have these people in my life. They remind me of the beautiful bond between women that can be seen through the Women’s Marches all over the nation, the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements online, and things as simple as social media compliments from one girl to another. There is comfort in knowing we all face the same general struggles, and that we have a supportive community of women to fall back on. There’s something so powerful and strong about sisterhood– the intimacy and heartfelt connection that plays a crucial role in overcoming my adversities. The positive
relationships that I have with the women in my life are the backbone to who I am as a human being. The most valuable lessons I learned about myself were taught to me by women. My mother taught me how to be resilient and love unconditionally, staying strong as she was betrayed by the person she thought she’d love forever. My childhood best friend taught me how to live without fear, as we looked up at the clouds and told each other our dreams. My high school director taught me to stop listening to the self-doubt in my head, at times when I wanted to give up on those childhood dreams of mine. And my favorite singer of all time, Ariana Grande, reminded me that “God is a woman.” There will always be this part of myself that can only be understood by the women in my life. The “missing piece” I’d lost before was the lack of female energy around me, which could only be fulfilled by the emotional support that comes with a sisterhood. There’s that one cheesy saying about people coming into your life for a reason, and I don’t know who or where I’d be without the women I know. • 57
everyday woman pt 6 of 6 gina living her best life