Jerk November 2021

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November 2021 Vol XIX Issue 1 Syracuse, New York Your student fee

THE NOVEMBER ISSUE


crying, screaming, and throwing up because your Whitman boyfriend won’t let you peg him :(


by the way, we’re 6” by 9” and 68 pages long

@jerkmagazine

jerkmagazine.net


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Pearl Cadigan EDITOR IN CHIEF

Callen Moore & Lucinda Strol

Zoe Glasser

Kyra Surgent & Hayden Ginder

CREATIVE DIRECTORS

EXECUTIVE EDITOR

DIGITAL DIRECTORS

EDITORIAL FOB EDITOR: Sarah Dolgin ASST. FOB EDITOR: Bella Young OPINION EDITOR: Megan Adams ASST. OPINION EDITOR: Noah Estling FEATURES EDITOR: Eden Stratton ASST. FEATURES EDITOR: Car Shapiro GAWK EDITOR: Liz Goldblatt ASST. GAWK EDITORS: Margaret Sheuer,

Makenna John, Ava Lahijani

GAWK HEAD DESIGNER: Jacieon Williams GAWK MARKETING COORDINATORS: Rachel Price,

Noa Putman

GAWK STYLE TEAM: Zoe Boise, Libby Dy, Bailey Davis

GAWK PHOTOGRAPHER: Ben Piers GAWK MUA: Afton Serviss, August Fegley NOISE EDITOR: Margo Moran ASST. NOISE EDITORS: Katie Ferreira, Isabel Beleke

WRITERS

Russell Tom Sun, Julia Reedy, Molly Egan, Lily Menk, Megan Cooper, Aryaan Anand, Luke Maddren, Audrey Weisburd, Kaelie Macaulay, Brooke Blackwell, Bryan Fletcher, Grayce Nichols, Julia Fesser

DIGITAL DESIGN DIRECTORS: Tanner Hogan, Lucinda Strol VIDEO DIRECTORS: Ambre Winfrey, Jonah Sierra SOCIAL DIRECTORS: Katie Murray, Hayley Miller,

Allie D’Angelo

SOCIAL DESIGN DIRECTORS: Sophia Pappas,

Grace Denton

SOCIAL TEAM: Taylor Creel, Carley DellaRatta

CREATIVE DESIGN DIRECTOR: Lilly Chidlaw-Mayen DESIGNERS: Bridget Overby, Hailey Williams, Anika Dua, Olivia LaCour, Kasey O’Rourke ILLUSTRATORS: Sam Currier, Emma Wachsmith, Lang Delapa, Emma Beauchemin, Sophie Sternkopf, Marisa Goldberg, Jenny Katz, Anika Dua PHOTOGRAPHY DIRECTOR: Surya Vaidy PHOTOGRAPHERS: Bridget Overby, Jyonosuke (JJ) Tanaka, Lucy Messineo-Witt, Gabriella Nagy, Megan Townsend, Katelyn Hughes, Sophie Cohen

ADVERTISING PR MANAGER: Samiddha Singh PR STAFF: Nina Salvio, Giana DiTolla, Grace Guido

FRESHMAN INTERNS

Sadiya Kherani, Naimah Rahman, Eva Balisteri, Nikia Williams, Ilhy Gomez del Campo

Melissa Chessher ADVISOR

Through its content, Jerk is dedicated to enhancing insight through communication by providing an informal platform for the freedom of expression. The writing contained within this publication expresses the opinions of the individual writers. The opinions expressed herein are not those of Syracuse University, the Office of Student Activities, the Student Association, or the student body. Additionally, the ideas presented in this publication do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Jerk Editorial Board. Furthermore, Jerk will not be held responsible for the individual opinions expressed within. Submissions, suggestions, and opinions are welcomed and may be printed without contacting the writer. Jerk reserves the right to edit or refuse submissions at the discretion of its editors. Jerk Magazine is published monthly during the Syracuse University academic year. All contents of the publication are copyright 2021 by their respective creators. No content may be reproduced without the expressed written consent of the Jerk Editorial Board.


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JERK THIS JERK 3–21

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR When it really sunk in that I was going to

This October, we understand uncertainty in a

become the editor-in-chief of Jerk, a magazine I’ve

way we’ve never previously had to, and, as a result,

idolized since my first semester of freshman year,

we’ve become more intentional with our time and

firstly; the imposter syndrome kicked into full effect

energy. We’re learning how to say yes, to say no,

and I had a minor anxiety attack, and, secondly; I

to listen to and respect our wants and needs.

decided that my most significant goal this year is

Whether this means you’re completing beer tour

producing issues that strongly reflect you, me, all

even though you have a response paper due the

of us. We can gab about Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman

next morning or you’re choosing to stay in and read

and Megan Thee Stallion’s hot sauce for 68 pages,

Sally Rooney’s newest release while all of your

and maybe you’ll even read it, but none of it means

roommates mob the bars, we see you, and we’re

anything if you (yes, you) don’t care.

proud of you. Your professors may have lost some

While reflecting on what we care about right

of that temporary empathy they discovered last

now, our print team decided to center this issue

year, but things are still allowed to be shitty and

around a theme of navigating identity. Even though

hard, and you’re still allowed to be struggling.

most of us are no longer self-isolating or spending weekends trying to make fun within our ten-person

Looking forward to jerkin’ with you this year,

bubbles, the challenging growth that many, if not all, of us experienced during these times has not ceased. Now that we can more safely surround ourselves with others, partake in a number more pastimes, and leave our homes; who do we choose to spend time with? What do we fill our time doing? Where do we go? In what ways do we return to our roots in times of distress? On pg. 16, we write about the recent resurgence of YikYak and how it brings up questions of when anonymity crosses the line. What masks do we wear on a day-to-day basis? Where and surrounded by who can we remove these masks? Learn more about the past, present, and future of South Campus and how it serves as a safe haven for some students of color on pg. 24. Who are we, really, when we’re alone? Meet Dandy Red, a member of Salt City Burlesque, and read about how burlesque has propelled his self-love journey on pg. 56.

Pearl Cadigan Editor-In-Chief


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JERK THIS FOB

8 Jerk on the Internet But wait there’s more...

10 Hit/Bitch

Pearl Cadigan

11 November Horoscopes Sarah Dolgin & Bella Young

16 The Comeback of Yik Yak Megan Adams

18 They’re Politicians, Not Celebrities Noah Estling

Russell Tom Sun

Bella Young

15 Blood Orange Lemon Drop Sarah Dolgin

FEATURES

OPINON

20 I’m Done Being Your 12 The Power of Pegging POC GBF Margo Moran 14 Maddie Gage

SMUT

BITCH

24 South as a Sancutary Aryaan Anand

28

Car Shapiro

32

We’re All Just Working to Eat Sarah Dolgin

36

Photoessay

40

Entering the Garden

22 A24 Supremacy Luke Madden

More Than Just Shipping Containers

Surya Vaidy Lily Menk

41 Wildflowers Armory Pearl Cadigan


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JERK THIS JERK 3–21

GAWK FASHION

NOISE

ARTS

42

Beauty and Trauma 54 Red Hot

50

A Renaissance Of Groove

Liz Goldblatt

Russel Tom Sum

52

Wannabe Rockstar Girlfriend Ava Lahijani

53

Trucker Hats Makenna John

Eden Stratton

58 Package: Ethical Porn Margo Moran, Bella Young, Julia Reedy, Katie Ferreira

66 Zoe Anderson Isabel Beleke

67 Janet! Dr. Scott! Janet! Brad! Rocky! Car Shapiro


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Listen to Jerk’s weekly podcast, Hit and Bitch — where Zoë, Emma, and Kenny discuss the things you hate to love and love to hate — on Spotify today!


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Jerk Magazine is exploring new ways to compliment our print mag. Find additional content on social media and our website jerkmagazine.net.

JERK 3–21

Bringing you the latest and the littest @jerkmagazine

JERK THIS

JERK ON THE INTERNET


10

HIT

What we love ABBA’S FIRST ALBUM IN ALMOST 40 YEARS BEING RELEASED NOVEMBER 5TH Do we even need to explain this one? ABBA is back and (hopefully) better than ever after nearly 40 years with Voyage, the quartet’s upcoming album that will feature ten new tracks. If their recent single, “Don’t Shut Me Down,” is any prediction of what we can expect from our favorite disco stars, we’ll be putting these songs on repeat for the next five months.

RED (TAYLOR’S VERSION) NOVEMBER 12TH We’ve moved past the internalized misogyny that kept us from loving Taylor during her Reputation and Lover eras, and we are more than ready (physically, maybe not so much emotionally) to hear some of our favorites re-recorded nearly ten years later. If you see us crying to “All Too Well (Extended Version) (Taylor’s Version)” while walking to our 9:30s, no you didn’t.

LEGALLY BLONDE AND BILLY ON THE STREET (SEASONS 1-4) LEAVE NETFLIX NOVEMBER 1ST I’m sorry. Did we just hallucinate? Haven’t we been through enough to at the very least deserve some comedic relief? The third season of You is definitely bingeable, there’s no doubt about that, but we need something lighthearted, Netflix!

NATIONAL STRESS AWARENESS DAY NOVEMBER 3RD Raising awareness for stress on a random Wednesday when we’ll probably spend our days in class and doing homework is not it. On a day when we’re supposed to identify and reduce stress factors in our lives, the only self-care we’ll realistically achieve is the fleeting success of the lucky coin tosses at Flip.

NATIONAL PICKLE DAY NOVEMBER 14TH

SPRING ‘22 REGISTRATION OPENS NOVEMBER 3RD

If you don’t like pickles, it’s simply time to grow up. Keep the bread and butters away from us, though; we’re here for dill only. We recommend Grillo’s classic dill pickle chips and spears (not sponsored — we wish).

Ready to be waitlisted or just flat-out denied from nearly every class in your shopping cart? We sure aren’t! Registration is seriously every human for themself, so when you end up with MAT 121 or COM 101 at eight in the morning, don’t come crying to us.

HOUSE OF GUCCI NOVEMBER 24TH Father, son, and House of Gucci. If you haven’t been on the edge of your seat waiting to see Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani and Adam Driver as Maurizio Gucci, we are not the same.

SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY NOVEMBER 27TH If you know Jerk, you know we love a small business. Avoid those overwhelming Black Friday sales and shop small, instead. And hey, while you’re here, check out our piece about Wildflowers Armory on page 43!

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME ENDS NOVEMBER 7TH Our one-and-a-half weeks of fall are almost over, people. Seasonal depression is right around the corner, and we are not looking forward to walking home from class in the dark. Remember to take your Vitamin D and B-12 this season, and, hey, at least we get an extra hour of sleep, right?

What we hate

BITCH


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TAURUS

Don’t panic, Aries. The chaos of fall may be getting you down, but all you need to do is channel your baddie energy into a thrifting excursion. We know you love to be the center of attention when showing off your fantastic finds, but remember: sweater vests are so last year.

No, Gemini, you can’t keep Taurus, it’s time for a nap. You quoting Megan Thee Stallion are dehydrated and cranky in every Insta caption on your from trying to be ten places feed. Your iconic photos must at once, and it’s not doing be coupled with wittier words anything for those under-eye bags. Sometimes it’s okay to go — not just “real hot girl shit” — , so put your thinking cap on get a fishbowl with your besties and stray away from the usual. instead of staying up until three doing next Tuesday’s homework.

CANCER

LEO

VIRGO

Curious Cancer, you’re the best listener. You’re so good, in fact, that you don’t always allow yourself to be heard. You are entitled to some airtime too, okay? We love your carefully crafted insight and appreciate you — let that private story hear your rant, baby.

Lovely Leo, we’ve seen your Pinterest lately and know your visionary self is about to pop off. Whether it’s a wolf cut or a vague and, therefore, universally-relatable quote set over an orange and pink gradient on your mood boards, we are anticipating grade-A content in the near future.

Dearest Virgo, rumor has it that you’ve been avoiding social engagements to binge-watch the new season of You. While watching Penn Badgely stalk his romantic partners and ruin their lives is such a fun way to relax, you need to get out of your room and hang with your besties.

LIBRA

SCORPIO Oct. 23 - Nov. 21

Nov. 22 - Dec. 21

Lucky Libra, this has been quite an eventful time for you. Being a social butterfly has its perks, but you don’t have to accept every offer you receive. Keep your wits about you and don’t let anyone get in your way, especially someone pushing in front of you at Flip.

We love you, Scorpio, and we already know you’re thriving this season. You’ve checked off to-dos and it’s time to party. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself making sure everyone else is having a good time — sometimes you need to focus on keeping your own tequila shots down.

Sweet Sagittarius, you’ve been spending too much time stressing and not enough time exploring the best pumpkin products of the season (pumpkin spice hummus is a no, but we approve of the seasonal cinnamon buns)! Enjoy the fall clichés with the rest of us!

CAPRICORN

AQUARIUS

PISCES

Capricorn darling, you expend too much energy on others and need to set aside time for self-care. Perhaps a face mask and some retail therapy will do the trick — get those creepers that you’ve been eyeing on Depop for the past month and a half, you deserve it.

Aqua baby, everyone sees you killing it on your daily hot girl walks. However, it’s time to ditch the biker shorts and embrace the sweats. Swap out that iced coffee for a hot one and keep gaslighting, gatekeeping, and girl-bossing your way up those hills.

Pisces, let’s stop with the waterworks. You’ve had a few weeks to sit with Mitski’s new song, it’s time to snap out of it. Stop coming up with conspiracies when your energy is required elsewhere. Your intuition is telling you that good changes are coming, and it’s time to listen.

Mar. 21 - Apr. 19

Jun. 21 - Jul. 22

Sep. 23 - Oct. 22

Dec. 21 - Jan. 20

Apr. 20 - May 20

Jul. 23 - Aug. 22

Jan. 21 - Feb. 18

Words by Sarah Dolgin & Bella Young | Art By Jenny Katz

GEMINI

May 20 - Jun. 20

Aug. 23 - Sep. 22

SAGITTARIUS

Feb. 19 - Mar. 20

JERK 3–21

ARIES

JERK THIS

NOVEMBER HOROSCOPES


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SEX:

IS THAT A STRAP ON OR ARE YOU JUST HAPPY TO SEE ME? Pegging is more than a meme. Words by: Margo Moran Art by: Emma Wachsmith

Pegging is the practice of someone who identifies as a woman anally penetrating someone who identifies as a man, usually with a strap-on dildo. Essentially, it’s fucking someone up the ass with a silicone (or any non-porous material) phallic object. It’s innovative, delicious, and one of the most

stigmatized sexual practices around today. Like so many sexual stigmas, this is just the agenda of cowardly fools who hate orgasms; the male g-spot is in the asshole, silly! Pegging is one of many yummy and essential experiences that men shy away from out of fear of being seen as gay (other examples include watching Lady Gaga’s A Star Is Born and listening to the Taylor Swift/Haim collab on Evermore). A Syracuse student with a penchant for pegging, who chose to remain anonymous, expressed her frustration with the way men are shamed for exploring any sexual practices that don’t fit into heteronormative, vanilla standards. She said that many of her male friends have come to her with questions, intrigued by the idea, but they’ve “never seriously tried to get pegged because they’re too scared they’ll be considered ‘gay’ for it,” — as if stimulating the prostate immediately declares your sexuality for you and, even if in some world it magically did, there’s anything shameful about being gay. So, we’ve heard why some people choose not to engage in pegging, which leads us to


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JERK 3–21

picking out a dildo, it’s important to consider the orifice you’re fucking and the partner it’s attached to (that expression about square pegs and round holes came from somewhere). If you’re buying a dildo for anal penetration, the shape is gonna be different than that of a dildo intended for vaginal penetration. The experience level of your partner is also something to consider; for a novice pegging partner, we would recommend keeping it sleek and under six inches, because as awesome as blurring the lines between pleasure and pain can be, anal bruising isn’t for everyone. You can even have a sexy outing to shop for a dildo with your partner! Show them what you want to fuck them with, and take home something that they’re begging for. Pegging pros suggest thick, adjustable harnesses made of washing machine-safe material to allow for more control during penetration and a hassle-free cleanup. To quote an iconic Met Gala moment: “peg the patriarchy” — Cara DeLevigne (or, if you prefer, Luna Matatas, the Black queer creator that DeLevigne took that slogan from and failed to credit).

JERK THIS

the inverse, considerably juicier question: why do people peg? For our source, the reasons are myriad. “One thing about pegging that appeals to me is that it gives me a chance to express and explore my masculine side. But also, if I’m being honest, I have a significant amount of hatred towards men, and I like that pegging gives me the opportunity to release some of those feelings in a healthy and consensual way that not only brings me pleasure but [also pleasures] my partner.” She knew for a long time that pegging was something that appealed to her, so she sought out a partner who shared this interest. She had previously been sexually submissive, but in pegging situations, she became dominant. This change in dynamics made it that much more appealing in its subversiveness. However, pegging sex doesn’t have to be harsh and dominant. It can be intimate, gentle and romantic. Not all pegging is infused with aggression; it can be fueled by love and a desire to give your partner the most pleasure possible. Okay, so now we’ve covered why we peg, but what do we actually peg with? When


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FRAMED

MADDIE GAGE The beauty of ceramics Words by Bella Young “Voluptuous,” “quirky,” and “functional”

occasional quirky toad or baby, and animals

are the words Maddie Gage uses to describe

are often a key motif in her art. In fact, her all-

her art style. “I guess you could say I am an

time favorite piece she has ever made was a

artist because I dabble in a lot, but primarily, I

toad she called “Squilliam” that she sculpted

am a ceramicist,” she said.

for class last year. Squilliam is a raku-fired toad,

Gage first became involved with ceramics

“which is a form of firing that involves dropping

when she was fourteen because her high school

a glazed red hot piece into sawdust, so it makes

forced her to take an elective and she thought

the surface either very rough or metallic.” The

pottery would be the most bearable. “I sucked

toad was perched on his own lily pad, and Gage

at it for a long time,” she said, “but I stuck with

described him as “stupendously handsome.”

it and ended up liking it.” To her, pottery is not

Unfortunately, Squilliam’s life was tragically

only therapeutic but also personally rewarding.

short as a result of Gage accidentally sitting on

Gage’s creative process is pretty simple. “I

him, but he lives on forever in her memories.

just take as much clay as I can and try to make

In the future, Gage is “just trying to level up.”

the biggest pot I can,” she said. Fair enough!

She hopes to improve her skills and make larger

Vases are Gage’s favorite pieces to make; hers

pieces. “I want to take up space,” she said. This

are inspired by bodies — especially the natural

manifestation of space is important to Gage

curves and contour of a feminine body — and

because she wants her pieces to turn heads

feature a range of sizes and curves.

and have a lasting impression, especially as she

Gage put it simply: “It’s sexy.”

grows as an artist and begins showing her work

Aside from vases, Gage loves to sculpt the

in galleries.


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Words by Sarah Dolgin Photo by Gabriella Nagy

We are sick and tired of mysterious jungle juice and red solo cups. It’s time to bring on the classy vibes, people. For us, the only way to feel truly regal is sipping on a beautifully filled-tothe-brim martini while listening to a smooth jazz tune on vinyl (we recommend anything off of Chet Baker Sings). And this cocktail we’re talking about, it isn’t just any martini; it’s a lemon drop martini, and a blood orange-flavored one at that. Delicious, right? Without further ado, let’s embrace this especially charming fall cocktail and get drinkin’!

WHAT YOU WILL NEED • • • • •

Granulated sugar Blood Orange Sparkling Cocktail Juice 1 lemon Vanilla vodka Triple sec

RECIPE 1. 2. 3. 4.

Coat the rim of the glass with sugar. Add a shot of vanilla vodka. Add a double shot of Triple sec. Squeeze ¼ cup of lemon juice into the glass, and add as much zest as your heart desires. 5. Pour blood orange sparkling cocktail juice to fill. Add a lemon slice and enjoy!

JERK 3–21

BLOOD ORANGE LEMON DROP

JERK THIS

21 +/-


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BITCH OPINION

In Bitch, we write all about our juciest opinions — lord knows we have a ton of them.

THE COMEBACK OF YIK YAK

I’m gonna yak. The Yak is bak. No rules, no regulations, the Yik Yak app is the latest and greatest (?) late 2000s trend to be making its way back on college campuses. For those of you who apparently live under a rock, Yik Yak is a social media app that allows people to anonymously post messages that any user within a 5-mileradius is able to see and reply to. The app first launched in 2013 and was all the rage for infinity-scarf millennials during their college years. Red flag number one, tbh. Of course, this once-again popular app raises the question of anonymity — where do we draw the line? Anonymity can be good, even great, in cases like anonymous reporting of instances of SA and other violent crimes. It allows survivors the freedom to report their experiences without fear of retaliation by their attacker. This comes back to bite, though, when it comes to

Words by: Megan Adams Art by: Marisa Goldberg

the abundance of name dropping, triggering messages, and even threats on anonymous apps. With absolutely no regulation whatsoever, Yik Yak threatens to astronomically expound

TW: Mentions of SA.

cyberbullying incidents, especially within campus communities.


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night. Doesn’t exist. And with anonymity thrown in

or people are mean to you under your hit tweet. As

the ring, real names are always gonna be thrown

Tyler, the Creator once Tweeted: “How The Fuck

around haphazardly. But if regulations were more

Is Cyber Bullying Real... Just Walk Away From The

strictly enforced, potentially by hiring more activity

Screen Like... Close Your Eyes Haha.” Things like

monitors or editing the code to better catch name-

this inevitably happen when something you’ve

drops, it could become a much safer app that can

posted gets big on the internet. Unfortunately,

retain its good uses and reduce its bad ones.

no one ever said the internet was a safe space.

Obviously regulation is easier said than done.

But with Yik Yak, it’s a whole different ball game.

Apps like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

Anyone, unprompted, can drop the full name of

especially, have been dealing with problems

someone to everyone within a five-mile radius and

regarding hate and bullying for years and Yik

say whatever they want about that person. Yik Yak

Yak has only just returned, presumably ‘under

claims to be cracking down on the name drops as

new management’. This doesn’t bode well for the

of late, but in terms of actual execution, this doesn’t

future of handling hate speech in the app. Mark

seem to be the case. Every day, somebody new is

Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey have been and are

talking about who they fucked the week before and

the current state of social media monitoring — and

they ARE naming names. Not only can this damage

that state is BLEAK. Between the two of them,

mental health, but it can also ruin reputations. Let

hate speech and bullying runs amok on Facebook,

us think before we Yak.

Instagram, and Twitter with nothing in place to

However, not everything about Yik Yak’s

stop it. Sure, Twitter adds little “this may be fake

anonymity is bad. Aside from the infamous a-frat-

news, we don’t really know!” banners below

we-won’t-name cum guzzling jokes and the

former President Trump’s (and others’) tweets and

reputations of certain Greek houses being made

ultimately did ban Trump from the app after major

fun of (in good fun), the anonymity has also lent

backlash. However, there’s been no fundamental

itself to organizers and campus activists per se,

change in the app itself. The same goes for

especially in light of recent events involving rape

Facebook and Instagram, with Zuck leaning on

culture in Greek life. The protests outside of frat row

“free speech” as a crutch for him to get out of

were organized and executed mainly over Yik Yaks,

having to control the white supremacists, Nazis,

inviting dozens of students to voice their concerns

and other hateful people expressing violence on his

about rape culture within the Greek life system here

apps. Looking forward, Yik Yak has the opportunity

at SU. Yik Yak is also a great way to share more

to do better.

lighthearted information, like spreading the word to

History doesn’t have to repeat itself, but without

“pack the dome” for certain football (and eventually

further regulations, it will. Originally, Yik Yak shut

basketball) games. Anonymity on the internet can

down not only because it wasn’t a sustainable

definitely be tricky, but we’d argue that the presence

business, but also because users flooded it with

of any social media on college campuses can be

complaints of how it did nothing to dispel racism,

tricky (stalking people on Spotify >>>).

discrimination, and threats of violence. Anonymity

With all of this in mind, there is a solution—

plays a huge role in how these issues manifest in

multiple, really — but the one that’s most obvious?

the app, and while Yik Yak has come back to life,

Regulation. Yik Yak claims to enforce a policy

we cannot continue to use anonymity to hide while

of “all love, no real names, no hate.” While that’s

we tear each other down from behind our phone

sweet in theory, it sounds to us like an unattainable

screens. In the meantime, draw the line somewhere

utopian version of the social media we all know

— being anonymous shouldn’t alter your moral code.

JERK 3–21

irl. Social media without hate is like day without

BITCH

Cyberbullying as a concept is often ignored. Okay, so you get hate comments on your viral TikTok


18

THEY’RE POLITICIANS, NOT CELEBRITIES Why idolizing politicians is problematic and often dangerous. Words by Noah Estling | Art by Emma Beauchemin

THAT. FUCKING. DRESS. By now we have all seen the dress that Rep. Alexandria OcasioCortez wore at the Met Gala. For weeks, our feeds were plastered with the white dress with “TAX THE RICH” spelled out in red on the back. We have seen way too many people on Twitter or Instagram stanning her #girlboss moment and abSOluTelY LovINg her Met Gala red carpet moment. AOC, a politician who the progressive left reveres and everyone else absolutely hates, seems to be losing her standing as an oppositional force to the establishment in Washington. So what does that have to do with a dress? AOC is a voice for many Democrats who have become disillusioned by the lack of progressive action being taken by establishment Dems. She is the outspoken voice for her community in New York’s 14th District, as well as the millions of poor and minority Americans from across the nation who see her ideals as the only suitable future for this country, and that is perfectly alright. It is okay, if not incredibly important, for Ocasio-Cortez to be this voice for the people. The problem is, however, that she becomes idolized by these communities and the general masses. Here’s the thing: we really do need to tax the rich. Wealth inequality in the United States, which is a product of unfair tax laws,

has recently become the highest that it has been in decades. This is a real issue that requires drastic and very unpopular solutions. So why is it problematic for AOC to wear this dress, and what does this mean in terms of idolizing politicians? Ultimately, it will not be her messages that matter; it will be her and her face instead of the values and policies she represents. When politics become about the politicians themselves rather than the policies, nothing gets done. When supporting a politician becomes solely about their persona, and who you think they are, their message gets lost. No one ends up caring about what they have to say, it just becomes a cult of personality where public officials have little to no accountability because they don’t get pushback from their base. A major reason people criticize the two-party system within the United States is because it becomes something that is not about solutions to this country’s many issues, it becomes solely about winning. That’s what happens when you leave these parties and politicians to become idolized; they just want their respective team to stay in power. They lose the morality that comes with politics and those in power are the ones that end up on top again. Let's move back to the dress. We mentioned how important it is to actually tax the rich, and how important it is to


19

JERK 3–21

An important component of fascism (didn't think our fave f word would be brought up did ya?) is the aestheticization of politics. This cult of personality grows to such an extent that the politics don’t matter anymore; it is merely the party or the man on stage. Politicians need accountability, and without it, we’re all going to get fucked over.

BITCH

convey these messages to the people. But the minute AOC goes to the Met Gala and those photos are put online, the message of it all gets lost. It’s not a big shock that all we are seeing right now is a bunch of neoliberal AOC stans on Twitter going batshit crazy over her dress, and, besides that, absolutely fuck all. Her message becoming a celebrity moment at the Met Gala shuts down the momentum of a nation-wide effort to actually better this country. Ok, here’s the part where I become more annoying and talk about something called “capitalist realism.” The term, coined by theorist Mark Fisher, is described by him as “the widespread sense that not only is capitalism the only viable political and economic system, but also that it is now impossible even to imagine a coherent alternative to it.” When ideas like taxing the rich get into the public ethos, it starts off as an antagonistic idea, pushing against the norms of the society. It is seen as a threat and something that needs to be killed by the oppressor. What are they to do: try and oppose it, or make it work for them? So let’s say, for example, an important congresswoman wears a dress that says “Tax the rich” at a red carpet event (just throwing out a hypothetical, ya know). She and her message are taken over by those she opposes and they place that message into their narrative as well. Once the message gets popular enough, people who don’t actually intend to do anything start saying, “Yes, absolutely we need to tax the rich, AOC you're so right corporations are so bad!” There’s a debate on Twitter for a few days, and eventually the message is lost in all of the uproar and nothing gets done. That’s how she becomes idolized, and now her message doesn’t really have any meaning. Those in power steal her message and co-opt it to prevent her from becoming a threat.


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I’M DONE BEING YOUR POC GBF

Unpacking white womens’ obsession with queer people of color. Words by: Russell Tom Sun Art by: Ande Wittenmeier

Being a queer person of color in this world is already difficult enough, and the racism and queerphobia we face on a daily basis is extremely exhausting. Even as the world is starting to shift towards inclusivity, racism and queerphobia are still present. People — namely, white women — have just found smarter and better ways to mask their prejudices. White women often make it their mission to “befriend” queer people of color and “stand up” for their rights, then turn around and aid in their oppression behind closed doors. A prime example of this is the “liberalgirlfriend - conservative -boyfriend” trope that many white women actively participate in. Numerous white women preach racial equality and call out anti-LGBTQ rhetoric on social media, then turn around and date openly racist and homophobic assholes who they never confront. When queer people of color call out white women for enabling this behavior, they resort to the same bullshit excuses: “It’s not your relationship,” “It’s none of your business,” and “I can change him.” Sure you can, Katherine. Those bullshit Instagram infographics you post on your story won’t ever compensate for your actions. Men won’t change because you constantly allow them to be assholes.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s discuss how white women fetishize queer people of color. First, the amount of times white girls have referred to me as their “gay best friend” (yeah, seriously) is astounding. Yes, I am gay, but you have no business sharing my sexuality with the world. These same women try to apply the “gay best friend” stereotype to other queer people who don’t identify as gay. When they are called out for it, they roll their eyes and say “isn’t it all the same?” Secondly, straight white women are obsessed with treating queer people as accessories in their lives. In their eyes, queer people exist to enable their toxic traits, give them fashion and dating advice, and say “YASSS GIRL” when they wear “fashionable” outfits from Shein. Outside of these restrictive stereotypes, queer peoples’ opinions and lives hold no actual substance to them. Countless times, I’ve tried to have discussions with these women that didn’t center men, sex, or other superficial things, and I’ve been given blank stares, interrupted, and straight-up silenced. God forbid I mention real-world issues that affect individuals outside of their white “feminist” bubble. I could only ever talk about subjects that were focused on THEM and THEIR needs and what THEY felt comfortable with. If I was ever uncomfortable or needed


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to discuss something that resonated with me, I was ignored, and these so-called “friends” quickly fled to their phones to distract themselves from me. Thirdly — and this is the part that angers me the most — white women are invited into safe spaces for queer people and people of color, such as a club or a bar, under the guise that they want “a safe space as well,” and then they bitch and moan because there’s “too many queer people.” Do they not realize where they are? Did they genuinely expect straight men to be there, waiting to pay them attention? Bitch this is a queer space, if you wanted to make out with a man who’s balding in his early 20s, frat row is down the street. I think the most astounding thing I’ve experienced is when white women openly acknowledge that they fetishize and ostracize queer people of color. The fact that they know that what they’re doing is wrong — they know they are taking advantage of others, but they refuse to change, even when they are called out for it — genuinely scares me. As I’ve grown and experienced more of the world, I constantly see myself having the same conversations about a decreasing trust for white people — white women specifically — with other queer people of color. White women know that they have power over queer people

of color, and they utilize their white guilt and white tears to oppress minorities because they know they will always be prioritized over people of color. Oftentimes, myself and other people in my community joke about how we prefer to deal with white men, because at least white men will be blatantly ignorant and racist to your face. I do not expect white women to suddenly realize the error of their ways after reading this piece. I’ll be surprised if they even make it this far into the article because I know I touched on some hard truths that they aren’t yet ready to face. I hope my words make them uncomfortable, because that slight discomfort they feel is the closest they will ever come to understanding how uncomfortable they make people like me feel on a daily basis. Queer people of color are not your fucking toys. We are not accessories to your lives, we are not here to make your life convenient, we are not here to be your token friend, and we are not here to magically fix your issues.


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OBITCHUARY:

A24 SUPREMACY

Words by Luke Maddren | Art by Sophie Sternkopf Okay, okay, okay, we get it. They win a lot of awards, they have Timmy Chalamet, and everybody and their mom’s twin’s aunt’s sister’s dog keeps talking about how “artistic” these movies are. But, like, are they good, though? Don’t get us wrong — they’re definitely movies. We mean, they have a lot of really interesting themes and messages, but a lot of that is drowned out by other weird shit they put in there. Like, we saw The Lighthouse, and liked it - but did we really need to see Robert Pattinson jerkin’ his meat that hard in the movie? Honestly, that added nothing to it, and the fact that it’s in there makes us think that Robert Pattinson is either really weird or the greatest artist of our time. Like, we can’t even imagine sitting down and watching one of these movies for fun. The symbolism is so blatant and the stories are so complex that we feel like we have to take notes to even have a basic understanding of what’s going on. We want to relax when we watch a movie and turn our brains off for a little while, and we can’t do that if the film

is making us analyze shit like the effects of hypermasculinity and capitalism. Honestly, the worst part isn’t even the movies themselves. We like some of them, and no one’s forcing us to watch them. It’s the people who watch them. We don’t understand why people choose to make these movies the cornerstone of their personality, but one thing’s for sure: we’re tired of faking interest in them when we talk to these people. We don’t know what factory in Portland, Oregon is pumping out these dudes, but they’re all exactly the same. They’re so similar, in fact, that we’re not even going to describe them, because we know you know what they look like. We like to think of A24 movies as the equivalent of those “day in the life of a fashion student in NYC” TikToks in the sense that there’s nothing technically wrong with them, but we cannot stomach watching another one of them without getting irrationally upset. Do we appreciate the artistry? Of course. Does that mean we’re going to watch the movie where those Icelandic people raise the creepy lamb-person? Absolutely not.


In Smut, we deep-dive into aspects of on- and off-campus life that affect you (yes, YOU!).

SOUTH CAMPUS AT NIGHT BY: LUCINDA STROL

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SOUTH AS A SANCTUARY A Look Into Student Employment On South Campus

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MORE THAN JUST SHIPPING CONTAINERS

It’s Time To Change How You Think About South Campus

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WE’RE ALL JUST WORKING TO EAT The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly Experiences of South Campus Employees

JERK 3–21

FEATURES

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SOUTH AS A SANCTUARY

A Look Into Student Employment On South Campus Words by: Aryaan Anand Art by: Lang Delapa

Syracuse University’s fabled South Campus is riddled with apartments that over 2,000 students call home. The case of “South,” as it’s been popularly termed, is peculiar given the university’s two-year living requirement — which most students detest. The apartments offer students the independence we all associate with adult life: a kitchen, a living room, and the chance to decorate your apartment with knick-knacks, but it comes with a catch, especially if you don’t have a car. The rocky bus schedules paired with 8 a.m. classes have students awake at the crack of dawn to make sure they get to the main campus on time. The issues don’t stop there. One of the most pressing problems concerning South Campus is the cultural and racial divide it perpetuates. A large proportion of students of color choose to live on South, but the underlying factors that drive them there seem to go unnoticed. Why do students of color tend to move away from the typical “college experience” and find their new homes along Skytop Road?


26 The biggest factor that pushes students of color towards South Campus is the sentiment that the general lack of diversity within SU’s student body creates a racist culture within most residence halls. This culture is upheld by white students (sometimes unknowingly) and creates an environment in which students of color may feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Huley Barrie, a senior at SU, recounted an incident that occurred her freshman year while living in the International Relations Living Learning Community in Day Hall. While watching TV in the dorm lounge, Barrie overheard a group of white students yelling a racial slur amongst themselves. This wasn’t an isolated incident, either. The most concerning part of this situation to Barrie was the lack of concern from RAs and the Residence Hall Association, all of whom were aware of these situations but never followed up with any action or communication to the residents. Describing her residence hall’s atmosphere as tense and cliquey, Barrie explained, “It was almost like they [white students] were uncomfortable with us living on the same floor as them.” Like a lot of her friends, Barrie decided very early on in her freshman year that she would move to South Campus. As a sophomore, she and her friends were able to form a tight-knit community, which she referred to as a “mini neighborhood,” reminiscent of her home in Harlem, on Slocum Drive. Barrie’s experience is just one example of racist, discriminatory situations that occur in main campus dorms virtually every year. The

problem arises from a much more systemic issue at SU that pervades every facet of the university’s operations: DPS. In fact, SU’s campus police are infamous for their disparate treatment of students of color. In 2019, #NotAgainSU brought the issue to the forefront of the university’s attention by highlighting the biases present within DPS and the ways different groups of students are policed through protests. The situation at SU gained national recognition and led to an in-depth review of DPS. In her 2021 report, former US Attorney General Loretta Lynch statistically examines the differences in policing and SU students’ perceptions of DPS. Her report showed that there is great concern among students of color regarding how they are treated by officers compared to their white counterparts. Rolando Cabral, a current senior at SU, recounted the multiple occasions when DPS showed up to his South apartment on Friday nights when he was simply playing music with his roommates. He remembered the aggression he was met with and described the tone that officers took with him as “unnecessary” and “messed up” given that he was not even throwing parties during these interactions. Similarly, students are concerned with the issue of whose parties are being shut down and how they’re being shut down by DPS. According to Lynch’s report, “many students of color live in apartment buildings on South Campus in which students and non-students who may be less tolerant of loud music and late night parties reside, which may account for a disproportionately greater number


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“It was almost like they [white students] were uncomfortable with us living on the same floor as them.”

Huley Barrie

Sophomore Aiden Kwen, who currently resides on South Campus, describes how “there’s definitely more of a police presence on South than [he] ever saw when [he] was at Shaw [Hall] on main campus.” While this increased presence may be a result of a recent string of burglaries on South Campus and the neighboring University Village apartments, Kwen noted that it “makes him uncomfortable seeing so many police” on South, especially since there are less buildings there than on main campus for them to be stationed at. The policing issue at Syracuse is a large contributor to the unpleasant culture faced by students of color on campus. These students

more secure, private space, SU should focus its efforts on creating more safe spaces for their students of color. The school has made feeble attempts at this goal by basing various learning communities in dorms, but even these communities are often overlooked by the Resident Hall Association and students themselves, which prevents the formation of a more racially-inclusive culture. More funding towards these learning communities and steps towards educating white students can help the university foster a safer and more productive learning environment where all students, regardless of their racial identity, can thrive both socially and academically.

JERK 3–21

often seek moving to South as a method of escaping the suffocation that comes with being a minority at a predominantly white institution. The sanctuary that South Campus provides allows students of color to form their own communities where they can feel more at ease. Unsurprisingly, this sense of security among students has been ignored by SU’s administration, as they reportedly have plans to tear down South Campus and extend the on-campus living requirement to three years in the near future. Such a step would have grave implications for Syracuse students, especially the students of color who seek independence and safety in living off of main campus. Rather than tear down the homes that provide students with a

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of noise complaints to DPS in this area.” However, data collected by DPS from the Spring 2019 semester showed that from a data set of six parties that were shut down, “three were majority white, two were majority people of color, and one was mixed.” Despite the data’s conclusion that these parties had no correlation with the races of students at the parties, student perceptions continue to suggest the opposite. The increased rate of party shutdowns on South Campus can also be linked to the heavy presence of DPS officers there. While the university has never acknowledged this heightened level of policing, it is clear from the numerous DPS cars stationed on South as you ride the bus down its winding streets.


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MORE THAN JUST

It’s Time To Change How You Think About South Campus Words by: Car Shapiro Art by: Lang Delapa

One could argue — and many have — that South Campus looks like storage units on hills with furniture straight from The Sims. From an entrepreneurial view, there is a huge opportunity to renovate and improve South for financial benefit and enhancement of the student. Many students who live on South are often subjected to less-than-ideal conditions, which has led to them feeling like an afterthought by the university. According to the “Final Report and Recommendations of the Board Special Committee on University Climate, Diversity and Inclusion” published by SU in 2020, there is a “perception by many that South Campus apartments are beyond their expected lifespan, in need of significant renovation and repair, and are visually unattractive,” The report goes on to explain that because many students choose to live on South as sophomores for a more independent living experience, the university plans to offer more independent-living options on main campus in the future.


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SHIPPING CONTAINERS


30 According to Syracuse.com, SU is also looking to increase the on-campus living requirement to 3 years, and their recent purchase of The Marshall indicates this may be happening sooner rather than later. A different article about that purchase on Syracuse.com says that SU “was also exploring options to add additional housing for senior-level and graduate students, veterans and their families, and alumni and retirement-age cohorts on the university’s South Campus.” This report provides an opportunity for Syracuse University to water two plants with one hose: reinvest in South Campus and increase housing options on land SU already owns. SU could avoid expanding their main campus and disrupting the surrounding city by looking at the assets they already have. A lot of students like living on South Campus, but it is more of a suboptimal equilibrium, meaning they put up with all of the issues because there is a benefit: freedom and privacy without full independence. This leads us to question, what would a fully accessible and accommodating South Campus look like?

South already has a student center with a food court and a grocery store, but the gym is closed and the food options haven’t been updated in years. And while South Campus apartments are already furnished with a bathroom and kitchen, many of the buildings have old carpeting, lead paint, and are riddled with asbestos. Residents of Slocum neighborhood buildings are asked to sign consent forms about living in buildings with lead paint, and are provided with pamphlets about the health dangers connected to that. According to SU’s website, leadbased paint (LBP) poses little hazard if maintained, but it can be harmful if deterioration (like cracks, peeling, and chipping) is present. Junior Madison Tyler was one of the students who was “relocated” out of the Skyhall 2 dormitory so the university could quarantine students with COVID-19. She explained that at first, they were going to move her to Watson Hall on main campus, but her family and friends advocated for her to stay on South so she could continue having her own room and “escape from


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campus” at the end of her days. She said that despite issues like leaks in her apartment and bussing issues, she would still much rather live on South. One of South’s advertised amenities is living in a student neighborhood with free transportation to Main Campus. Recently, there have been many issues with the Centro busses on the South Campus to Main Campus route. Due to a worker shortage, route 344 Centro busses have stopped running from 8 pm to 3 am on weekdays, forcing students to squeeze on to SU trolleys that barely seat 20 students. When the 344 buses run before 8 pm on weekdays, they are usually overcrowded and often pass by students at the bus stops because they are at capacity. This transportation issue has left a lot of South Campus residents wondering why they are being treated as afterthoughts by the university. “They absolutely need to get a handle on the bus driver shortage because it can be difficult getting around at night and on the weekends,” said Tyler. There are many unique accommodations on South Campus, one of the main ones being the opportunity to live independently with friends without the added stress of a landlord or monthly utility expenses. If something breaks in a South Campus apartment, SU’s FixIt service can come and resolve the issue. SU is also offering free use of the laundry facilities for students for the first time this year; this includes the laundry

room at Goldstein Student Center and the Slocum neighborhood laundry rooms. Another special amenity of South Campus is the beautiful hills and backyard space where residents can gather and hang out; this has been especially useful during the COVID-19 pandemic since outdoor gatherings have been deemed safer. Other lesser-known amenities on South Campus include Pete’s Giving Garden — which is maintained by Slow Food SU and doubles as a compost side, the challenge course and zipline, Tennity Ice Rink, and the Skybarn venue. There are many facilities on South Campus that could be enhanced to fully reach the potential of a fully functioning student-centered community, but right now, many of those features fall short. Some issues with these accommodations include lack of sidewalks around South and difficulty with transportation. If Syracuse University was able to offer more transportation for South Campus residents, renovate apartment buildings to make them more modern and increase the number of residencies, and enhance accommodations for which foundations are already in place, many students would be more inclined to live there. There’s no need for more of our money to go towards the university’s newest project without our approval — we’re still pissed off about the dome’s LEDs — it’s time to reevaluate the way we all treat the other half of our campus.


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WE’RE ALL JUST WORKING TO EAT The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Experiences of South Campus Employees Words by: Sarah Dolgin Art by: Lang Delapa

Naimah Rahman starts her weekend evenings with a bus ride to South Campus. Once she’s there, she heads to work at the Tennity Ice Pavilion, where she sets up events and relaxes in the friendly atmosphere with her coworkers. Unfortunately for Rahman, her coworkers, and other South Campus student employees, the warm environment that is created between co-workers becomes notably less friendly once the doors open to the public. Rahman, a first-year broadcast journalism student at Syracuse University, does not enjoy it when students speak to her and her coworkers in a demeaning tone — can you blame her? While she tends to feel support and overall friendliness from peers her own age, Rahman has experienced various instances of disrespect from graduate students who come to the pavilion.

“The older men that come in definitely talk down to a lot of the younger women in the rink. When older men see young women working, they take advantage of that,” she said. Rahman has worked a number of jobs at venues ranging from amusement parks to restaurants to clothing stores, and she finds that the management at the rink is particularly kind and welcoming — she even goes as far as describing the environment created by her employers and fellow employees as “the chillest.” So why, then, does Rahman hear negative sentiments regarding South Campus employment opportunities from her peers? Rahman believes that working on South has negative connotations because of logistics, but she also attributes it to stigmas surrounding the people who work and live there. The South Campus ecosystem


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“The people there are all your classmates. It’s no different than living in a dorm It’s all SU housing,” she said. Student employees on South Campus are used to explaining why they work there to their peers. They are also the receptors of

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consists of more affordable apartment living for students, job opportunities within close proximity to the housing units, and recreational spaces for students to enjoy. While many students call the modest neighborhoods “depressing” and “plain,” they do not take the time to see the different elements of South that make the lives of many students easier. When speaking with her peers, Rahman often hears that many have the desire to find employment opportunities through the school, and she eagerly encourages them to apply to jobs on South. Despite the plethora of options, though, some students are hesitant. Rahman hears, “You go all the way to South to work? That’s so weird.” She tells them to go for it, but South is where they “draw the line.” While Rahman has only been working at the rink for just over a month, she’s already picked up on a stagnance in the South Campus employment cycle. Multiple coworkers at the rink are related and have worked there since their first year on campus. Many students love their jobs on South, but finding new hires is no small feat. Rahman noticed an underlying polarization when it comes to how the student body views South Campus as a whole, in terms of those who work and/or live there. She’s overheard people describe the neighborhoods as strange or scary, when, in reality, they are simply an addition to the rest of campus housing less than a mile down the street.


“NEGATIVE SEN

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misdirected anger intended for the university’s administration. Elvis Lee, a senior in the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University, has worked at the South Campus Express convenience store in the Goldstein Student Center for about a year. Over the course of the pandemic, school administration shifted meal swipes and dining plans to accommodate the social distancing

and her coworkers are not allowed to look at their phones or bring any activities to do when business is slow (Woodley wishes she could draw during her shift). She, too, finds herself on the receiving end of the frustration students feel about the school’s dining dollar rule change. “People would get mad and be like ‘oh, why are you not using dining dollars anymore,’” Woodley said. “They’d get

“STRANGE OR SCARY” ordinances under which the campus had to operate. Students can no longer use meal swipes at the store, and Lee often has to relay this message. He explained that he understands the confusion and frustration of fellow students regarding the meal swipe change, but that he and his coworkers are frequently blamed for a decision they had no part in making. Lee and his fellow employees are treated as though they are a “feedback form” for the university, he said. “They think that the employees are being condescending or strict with the students, but it’s not in our power,” Lee explained. “It’s not the employees’ fault.”

“STAGNANCE” Tarena Woodley, a junior biology major at Syracuse University, also works at the South Campus Express. She loves to listen to the radio during her shifts to pass the time, as she

all frustrated and I would have to put all of the merchandise back because the customer would just walk out of the store and not do anything.” Lee wishes the school would better communicate the rule changes and other information with his peers so that they would not take out their anger on student employees. Still, he emphasized that not all customers are unfriendly and that many engage in polite pleasantries. Like Rahman, Lee appreciates the good-natured management at his job. He described his coworkers and manager as accommodating and understanding that they all need to balance social and academic needs with work, and they do not hesitate to step in and cover one another when requested. Students take on part-time jobs for a number of reasons. Some work to help pay their tuition fees, some to support their costs of living, and others simply enjoy supporting themselves. To Lee, the main reason for the divide between student customers and student


NTIMENTS”

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“DEPRESSING”

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“DEMEANING TONE”

“DISRESPECT FROM GRADUATE STUDENTS” employees is the layered stigma surrounding those who work on-campus jobs. “This is a private school and a lot of people pay money to come here and have their own allowances and all that. Looking at student workers, it’s kind of just like ‘Oh, they’re poor’ or ‘They need money,’” Woodley said. Oftentimes, Lee has overheard unkind commentary regarding community members who work for the university alongside student employees, and that the sentiment against “townies” — a term used to describe locals that Lee considers derogatory — rubs off on

those employed by the school. Additionally, Lee feels that the student body does not see student employees out of a work context and therefore does not foster a multidimensional perspective when it comes to treating their working peers with respect. Woodley urges customers to remember that there are always new students training behind the register, and to be patient and kind while they learn the ropes. “Be mindful that there are new trainees,” she said. At the end of the day, Lee said, “We’re all just working to eat.”

“ THAT’S SO WEIRD”

“OH THEY’RE POOR” Lee and his fellow employees are treated as though they are a “feedback form” for the university, he said.


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[INSERT WHATEVER MEANINGFUL TITLE YOU THINK FITS HERE]

Words and Photos by Surya Vaidy This little series was both a technical study with light, motion, and figure, but also something more. It was an attempt to capture a feeling, an energy that I could create with my body, my face, and perhaps most of all, my presence. It’s not a traditional photoessay. It has no proper title, because that’s for you to decide. Think of this as an experiment of whether or not I can make feel the way I felt — sharp and soft, frustrated and calm. Let me know if I succeeded.


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“WHATEVER YOU DO FROM HERE ON OUT, SEARCH FOR A FEELING INSIDE OF IT. I BET YOU YOU’LL SEE A DIFFERENCE.”


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I really hope you felt something — anything really. If you don’t like these photos, that’s fine. If you do, well thank you. I have a challenge for you: whatever you do from here on out, search for a feeling inside of it. I bet you you’ll see a difference. I would like to thank Light Work for giving me the space to create these photos.


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SPEAKEASY:

ENTERING THE GARDEN THE VENUE GARDEN

Dek How SU’s newest student-run venue is changing house show culture for the better. Writer: Lily Menk Photographer: ? Words by Lily400 Menk Word Count: Photos by Surya Vaidy

When you picture a house show, sweat,

“Ken and I were standing outside for most

cobwebs, and suggestive darkness probably come

of the night and turning people away,” Brennan

to mind. When Kenneth Barrist, Jen Jordan and

said. “Which was something we’ve never done

Lauren Brennan decided it was time to reinvent

and didn’t really know how to maneuver. We

the idea of a house show, they wanted people to

hated it, but everyone was respectful.”

know that this wasn’t just going to be a sloppily-

Moving forward, the group wants to expand

put-together show in a dingy basement — it would

their business. “We want to do open-mic nights,

be a business. Thus, The Garden was born.

because we know a lot of artists on this campus

Located off campus in Jordan and Brennan’s

who want to perform but don’t necessarily have

basement, The Garden produces a safe and fun

the ability to do 30-40 minute sets,” said Brennan.

environment where one can truly “vibe out,”

Along with this, selling merch is a key goal for the

as Jordan said. Of course, no college house’s

venue in the future.

basement comes equipped with everything

Ultimately, what the three students set out

needed for the perfect house show ambiance, so

to do is reinvent the house show, and, in the

the three founders got to work this past summer

process, they have garnered a loyal following that

to make sure their venue stood out.

will undoubtedly return to their basement. The

Finding performers was the easy part. “We’re constantly

surrounded

by

people

who

are

passionate about performing,” Brennan said. “There has been such a buildup of people who... want to sing and provide their music to an audience.” Providing artists with a way to express themselves

was

extremely

important

to

The Garden’s founders, and so was fairly compensating them. “The artists get paid more than we do, that’s part of our business model,” Jordan said. After months of hard work, their first show, featuring student artists Tessa Pulgar and BRI, was a smashing success, and The Garden was filled with students eager to hear live music again.

Garden is not just a space to hold bodies, but, as Brennan said, “a place where people who come feel as connected to the venue as to the artist.”


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Since opening, Wildflowers Armory has breathed fresh air into This isits a dek for example. the Syracuse art scene, and its impact has only just begun. Words By: Pearl Cadigan Photographer: ? Word Count: 400 Words by Pearl Cadigan

Apart from Etsy and your distant friend’s

Maria Vallese (@retrosorrento on Instagram),

resin earring business, there likely isn’t an abundance

a freelance illustrator who sells her artwork at

of independent art available to you. Even if you do

Wildflowers, joined the team in 2019 and cites one

make an effort to fill your life with art that isn’t mass-

of the most rewarding parts of her experience as

produced, there are probably five to ten business

being able to make friends with fellow artisans.

days and a shipping fee separating you from it.

“I really am solitarily working most of the time,

As a self-proclaimed “arts and culture

which I like, but you have to get out of the studio

advocate of Central New York,” Michael John

and talk to other artists and see what the heck is

Heagerty recognized the need to mend this

going on, and Wildflowers has been that for me,”

gap and took matters into his own hands. After

said Vallese.

cultivating a team of like-minded creatives to

“Wildflowers are known for popping out of the

collaborate with, Heagerty founded Wildflowers

pavement and growing in the strangest of places;

Armory, a marketplace that specifically highlights

adding color and beauty to areas [where] that’s

local arts and crafts, in 2018.

the least of what you’d expect,” said Heagerty.

Wildflowers — which originally began as

“It’s always been the major pillar of Wildflowers

a pop-up back in 2016 — features a variety of

to be able to, play on words and all, make sure

handcrafted jewelry, art prints, apparel, and more

Syracuse is filled with opportunities for local

from entirely New York-based artisans. While this

makers and artists and creatives to blossom.”

is a major selling point for customers, it has also

In the future, Heagerty and Wildflower’s other co-

given the artists who work with Wildflowers the

owners hope to spread some more color and beauty

chance to develop a sense of community.

across New York state by opening new locations.

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BLOSSOMING OUT WILDFLOWERS ARMORY OF THE PAVEMENT

SMUT

DISCOVERYSYR: DISCOVER SYR:


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Words by: Liz Goldblatt Photographers: Ben Piers & Libby Dy Art Direction: Liz Goldblatt Designs by: Jacieon Williams Makeup by: Afton Serviss, Hannah Gates Behind-the-Scenes: Molly Scheuer, Noa Putman, Bailey Davis Models: Zuzanna Mylnarczyk and Jared Rodriguez


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Phase One: Premature Naive, innocent, hollow existence. They do not question life.


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Phase Two: Discovery Aware of their trauma, one enters a state of deep sadness, isolation, and shock.


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Phase Three: Assisted Action Now taking action, they enter a medical procedure, therapy, or legal intervention. Not only aware of trauma, they are facing it head on.


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Now it is time to heal, thus one emerges from the experience with newfound clarity, relief, and a desire to embrace their scars. They are a strong, complete person.

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Phase Four: Awakening


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STRIPPED:

A RENAISSANCE OF GROOVE 70s fashion is cycling back into the mainstream, and we’re seeing it everywhere on campus. Words by: Russell Tom Sum Art by: Bailey Kretchsmer The 70s are back baby! Fashion experts have predicted for years now that the 70s would make their comeback, and certain trends were slightly noticeable around mid-2020, but the decade’s iconic fashion has come back even stronger in 2021. From the runways to department stores, 70s-inspired prints, designs, and textiles are everywhere, and Syracuse students are taking note of the new trends. From the quad’s walkways to the ever-so-crowded promenade, Syracuse students have been strutting around in a variety of 70s trends. We know you’re all on the edge of your seats to hear our thoughts, so the time has come for us to reveal our favorite disco-era throwbacks of this fall.

FLARED BOTTOMS Flared bottoms have been around for a long time, but they seem to be more and more frequently appearing around campus this year. From bell-bottomed jeans, to yoga pants, to even leather trousers, flared pants are seriously everywhere. Flared anything is a favorite among the Jerk family, as a trusty pair of bell-bottoms always adds a bit of spunk to your outfit. This trend allows us to travel back in time to the years when Friday nights were spent at the disco or a roller rink rather than a sticky-floored bar or house party. While pregaming to ABBA’s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” in our favorite flared pants is as close to the times of glam-rock and Star Wars premieres as we’ll realistically get right now, it’s still better than listening to “Body” by Loud Luxury on repeat while wearing a pair of uncomfortable skinny jeans.


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PLATFORMS

CORDUROY EVERYTHING

EARTH TONES

In our opinion, corduroy never went out of style, so we’re incredibly glad that this trend has circled back around to the mainstream. Corduroy pants and jackets have been making their rounds around campus as the weather cools down, and why not? The textured fabric elevates outfits and catches everyone’s eyes, while also making an outfit feel cozy and comfortable. Corduroy can truly be worn by anyone and is extremely versatile, whether you want an outfit to look edgy or you’re aiming to embrace your inner Christian Girl Autumn persona.

The 70s was a time majorly centered around being “one” with nature, and this value manifested into the bohemian aesthetic that sprung up in major cities across the world during this decade. Although boho-chic is out of style right now, people are still in love with its colors. Dark greens, creams, browns, dark purples, and reds have been seen all across campus this fall, and, if campus fashion trends tell us anything, nobody can resist buying into this classic color palette. You absolutely can’t go wrong with any of these hues, just make sure your browns are more hickory than shitty.

GROOVY PRINTS What are the 70s without funky and groovy patterns all over your clothes? These designs help even the most mundane clothing item appear more eye-catching, and in a time when we’re all starved for attention, this is the perfect fix. These prints can feature random round shapes, sharp lines, and even rainbows, which have recently made their way onto a number of clothing items this season. Although these designs are nothing new in terms of fashion, House of Sunny’s knitted “Hockney Dress” really helped kick off this trend last summer (thanks to Kendall Jenner and her viral Instagram post). Now, these types of prints can be found everywhere, but they’re mostly being seen on pants as the weather cools down.

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Platform shoes are alllllll the rage this season. Once a staple accessory of the 70s, almost everyone is sporting platform boots and sneakers. Research shows a weird trend that when the economy goes down, heels go up — as in (yes, you heard that right) the economy has a significant effect on the height of shoes, hence the current revitalization of the platforms. Besides the fact that these shoes, which come in an array of different styles, make us belowaverage-height people feel tall, platforms also give you that extra pep-in-your-step that makes you feel confident, strong, and luxurious, so it’s a no brainer that these have come back into fashion. Platforms also make you feel like you can effortlessly stomp on those facey-ass people you hate seeing while walking around campus, which is definitely a bonus.


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FORM & FUNCTION: How to dress like a...

WANNABE ROCKSTAR GIRLFRIEND Words by: Ava Lahijani Photo by: Libby Dy Art Direction: Liz Goldblatt Model: Mia Politan

Devon Lee Carlson, Megan Fox, Pamela Anderson, Yoko Ono, Behati Prinsloo. The evolution of the rockstar girlfriend has transformed over the decades, and it’s now an iconic aesthetic that can be seen everywhere. Textures varying from leather to lace as well as silky sheer layers really define this model-offduty style with more edge and grace.

GRUNGE MAKEUP: I like my makeup to look a little bit like I just woke up in it after a long night out. Okay, so what if I skipped my skincare routine last night? I’m channeling my inner Joan Jett — let me live.

CHUNKY JEWELRY: Coco Chanel be damned; when I leave the house, I put one more thing ON. This cheap chain I got off Amazon should do the trick (if it doesn’t turn my skin green). LEATHER VEST: Please don’t throw paint at me when I walk across campus — I opt for vegan or second-hand leather whenever I do wear it, pinkie promise.

I.AM.GIA PANTS: The easiest way to combine comfort with the cool-girl aesthetic is a pair of these edgy pants, but that price point is GNARLY (in a bad way). I got these off Depop, and the seller threw in free shipping because I bought a baby tee with them. Is there a suspiciously-colored stain right on the chest? Yes, but still, what a steal!

DOCS: The only boot durable and spilled-drink-proof enough for touring with your hot rockstar boyfriend is the Doc Marten. So what if everyone you know has this exact pair? Conformity is very rock and roll, right?


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TRUCKER HATS

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Words by: Mak John Photos by: Libby Dy Art Direction: Liz Goldblatt

NOISE GAWK

CLOSET CASE:

The infamous trucker hat of the early 2000s is back and better than ever. These chunky accessories are being used to make a statement; adding intrigue to outfits and tying different color palettes together.

WILLOW KEITH: “This hat is from Middle Kid. It was an out-of-the-blue gift from my two sisters this past summer. They got it to celebrate me, as the middle daughter in our family. I love wearing it both because the clean white makes me feel bougie and because it reminds me of my family.”

JONATHAN FOX: “My hat was given to me by my dad. It’s really old; he had it when he was a kid and it was given to him by his dad. I think of it as more special than other hats I have because it has more sentiment.”

REY KIRBY-ZULLU: “I stopped at some vintage store in Colorado Springs with a broken-down car. The hat was sitting on the window seal and I picked it out with [the help of] my best friend — [it’s] entwined with a lot of memories of me and my best friend.”


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NOISE

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT In Noise, we delve into various facets of local culture, specifically focusing on the arts and music.

RED HOT

Syracuse’s local burlesque performers will leave you wanting more. Words by Eden Stratton Photos by Surya Vaidy Art by Anika Dua

The air is stuffy at Syracuse Fashion Week. We’re crammed into a corner in the Jefferson-Clinton Suites Hotel, the lobby serving as a makeshift runway. Colorful lights dance along the walls, and local patrons scramble for scarce seats. While the clothes are beautiful, and the people even more so, Jerk is there for someone else. Our person-of-interest glides down the staircase, a top hat obscuring his face.

Dressed in a sparkling suit, long fingers wrapped around a cane, he’s an enigmatic picture of refinement. Dandy Red, as he’s referred to in the burlesque community, knows he’s pretty. He strides briskly along the runway, his hips moving to the beat of the music as he begins to strip, throwing articles of clothing to the audience. Dandy’s pants land in an elderly woman’s lap. Burlesque, taken from the Italian word


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“THE DIFFERENCE IS THE IMPORTANCE AND APPRECIATION THAT BURLESQUE PLACES ON THE HUMAN BODY.”

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features a wide array of other performers, including a fire-twirler. The troupe was founded under their tutelage in 2015, and it features a diverse and talented team of dancers who come from various walks of life. Maestro Maestra, one of Salt City’s first performers, highlighted the importance of working the troupe on their career: “It was where I learned to become a more multifaceted performer. To work in a troupe gives you a great support team and allows you to work closely with your colleagues.” Some of the troupe’s dancers are nonbinary, some are queer. It fits, considering that Salt City often performs alongside drag performers at gay bars, like Wunderbar and TREXX. In many ways, it builds a sense of community. It’s a bridge between two notso-different worlds and an understanding that art is universal. Syracuse Fashion Week itself is heavily committed to inclusivity and diversity. Jerk was pleasantly surprised with the promotion of various body types, genders and ages that would take charge of the runway. The fashion show is a semiannual event in Central New York, and often partners with various nonprofits and organizations to draw awareness to issues facing the community. While at Fashion Week, we overheard one of the patrons comment on the queer art scene in Syracuse. The individual said

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burlèsco, originated in Europe during the mid-1700s as a satirical genre of theatre. According to the Burlesque Academy of Malta, it was originally intended to make fun of upper-class living and often involved “genderbending” or crossdressing. Lucia Elizabeth Vestris was the first woman to play the part of a man and would wear tight breaches that exposed the form of her legs. After burlesque came to America, however, things became less comedic and more risqué. When theaters faced closures due to the emergence of film, Burlesque soon began featuring stripteases and nudity to get audience members back into the seats. For Fatima Alibhai, an SU student who is a longtime fan of burlesque, the art shows a unique appreciation for the human figure. “Artists like Michelangelo had to study the body thoroughly in order to create pieces like the Statue of David,” she said. “Burlesque does the same thing. It could cheapen the aspect of nudity for aesthetics, but instead, it elevates it.” “There’s a difference between stripping and burlesque. The difference is the importance and appreciation that burlesque places on the human body,” Alibhai said. Syracuse’s burlesque scene was relatively unknown to us at Jerk. However, we soon realized that the city houses a plethora of studios that specialize in unconventional performances. Salt City Burlesque, headed by Harlow Holiday and Mary Effen Sunshine; two performers who sought to bring the art into the spotlight, is one of the most wellknown troupes in the area. “Early on, I had this standard of what I wanted the show to look like,” Holiday said. “I wanted people to come and be ‘wowed’ and really feel valued.” Influenced by vintage Vaudeville and traditional theater, Salt City specializes in “classically-inspired” burlesque, but also


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that while the drag scene is big in the city, queer people can do “more” than just drag. Frankly, they’re right. While drag is incredibly important to the history and visibility of the queer community, there are a multitude of different artists among them. However, we first met the self-proclaimed ‘red-hot gentleman of Boylesque’ not at a dimly lit gay bar, but at a barbershop. James, as he is known to his clients, has always been good with hair. He once told us that art transfers well between disciplines and that cutting hair was simply one of them. James uses his scissors methodically and takes the utmost care in his craft. A lover of makeup, art, and dance, James had his first encounter with the fine arts at the age of three, when his mother enrolled his sisters and himself in Irish Dancing, which he attributes to the discipline that he has carried with him throughout his life. As a queer person, he says he was met with support from his family. “You just have to navigate it like anything else,” he said. From then on, James indulged in various artistic pursuits including theatre, which he continued throughout college, eventually moving to Los Angeles in 2015. During his time there, James would work as a model and actor, and he was even featured in Meghan Trainor’s music video for “Better When I’m Dancin’,’’ where she lovingly feeds the young artist a slice of cake. However, it wasn’t all perfect. “A lot happened there, a lot of self-sabotage,” James said. He paused for a moment. “[I] definitely got off-track for a long time.” In the aftermath of his time in LA, James pursued modelling in New York City in 2017 at the New York School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture. After spending time being the muse for other artists, he decided to become one for himself. In need of a fresh start, James moved back to his hometown of Syracuse. He recalled that it felt like coming home after spending so much time in LA and NYC. He returned to the woods in his backyard, the city shops and spots that defined his life as he grew up. “It was a relief in a lot of ways,” James said. “I enjoy the quiet and slower pace of living here, but I still get my fix travelling.” Soon enough, James was introduced to Harlow Holiday and received an invitation to join her troupe. Allured by the ability to not only dance but also showcase his artistic vision,


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his eyes, and we could only guess what colors and dances were playing in his head. It lasted merely a moment, as passersby complimented his look, and he quickly returned his attention to them with a genuine smile. He was at ease — he was home.

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he agreed. After three shows, he was hooked. “There’s something in [burlesque] for everyone,” Holiday said. “You might raise your eyebrows and say ‘oh my god, what did I just watch,’ but it’s going to stick with you long after you leave that show.” James approaches each show with the same precise eye that he uses while cutting hair. Ever the perfectionist, James says that it requires mental construction. Burlesque allows the performer to highlight pieces of themselves that they want to show others, rather than having them told by someone else. He steps into a “persona,” and regardless of the form it takes, it represents the best version of ‘James’ that he hopes to one day become. “It’s an outlet. It’s an expression. You get to show the world who you are and how you want them to see you.” More than anything, James values the beauty in the self-love that burlesque has brought him. Though he sometimes struggles with his perception of his body, he affirmed that the craft has been helping him overcome his inner demons. “It’s seduction, but it’s also self-seduction,” James said. “I come home after a show and I’m like, ‘Damn, I feel sexy, I feel good, I feel healthy.’ It’s just a really great feeling.” Maestra echoed a similar sentiment concerning their relationship with their body. “As a classically trained dancer, I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with my body. I find that burlesque is a very body-positive industry regardless of shape and size or gender. Burlesque has made me appreciate the skin that I am in, whether I am clothed or nude, on stage or offstage.” After the fashion show, we talked with James outside the hotel. He lounged against the wall of the hotel as photographers took last-minute photos. He gazed off with a far-away look in


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THE PROBLEM WITH PORN Words by Julia Reedy

When we think porn, we think pleasure. We think of cheesy encounters, foreplay, climaxes and come-downs. Rarely, if ever, do we associate something as seemingly pleasurable as porn with something as sinister as sex trafficking. But the reality of what goes on in the porn industry extends beyond what we see on our phone screens. In porn, there is no way to guarantee that the performance is consensual. More

Art by Olivia LaCour

times than not, there is very little context outside of the sex itself — and no, a pizza guy showing up at the wrong house doesn’t constitute context. A common misconception among the general public is that sex trafficking exists solely within the context of forced prostitution and is an extremely rare instance, only taking place in dark alleys and committed by a looming man in a trench coat. Sex trafficking’s


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Because sex trafficking is a fairly “underground” issue, it’s difficult to determine just how often it occurs. Despite this, it’s safe to guess that the answer is undoubtedly more often than we’d like to think. In fact, according to the Maryland Children’s Alliance, 49% of women who have worked in the sex work industry report being filmed by their traffickers or “johns”— and this is only the percentage of women who were aware they were being filmed. Even if the women in porn videos appear to be totally uncomfortable or are even resisting their counterpart(s), the footage is still distributed and is even marketed as what is considered “rape” or “abuse-themed” porn. Time and time again, distributors find loopholes in disguising rape and abuse as elements of the porn’s “story” that the participants have allegedly consented to. The violence of these videos goes beyond the computer screen. According to research found in The Journal of Treatment & Prevention, the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, and Psychology of Women Quarterly, audiences who consume “rape” or “abuse-themed” porn may be more likely to express an intent to rape, less likely to intervene during a sexual assault, and more likely to victim-blame survivors of sexual assault. This isn’t to say that if you aren’t watching “rape-” or “abuse-themed” porn, you aren’t participating in something that may have been obtained through sex trafficking. In an industry that is entirely consumer-driven, there is often little emphasis on the ethics of what is being consumed; whether it’s heterosexual, lesbian, or orgy porn, elements of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking can often come into play. In short, there is no way of truly knowing that the porn you’re watching is “good” porn — that is, porn that was created without force, fraud, and/or coercion.

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role in porn is not always clear, which makes it all the more dangerous. Without knowing it, you could be complicit in watching sex trafficking unfold. It’s easy to maintain that if you were to ever witness these heinous acts take place, you would surely intervene; you wouldn’t be a bystander. Perhaps you want to believe that you would call the authorities, or that in the most dramatic scenarios, you may step in yourself and play the hero. But what if the role you claim in relation to sex trafficking is as simple as hitting pause or play? Well, it turns out, it can be. Porn has emerged as one of the most subtle yet prominent forms of sex trafficking. In its simplest form, as defined by Oxford Languages, sex trafficking is “the action or practice of illegally transporting people from one country or area to another for the purpose of sexual exploitation.” There are many acts that constitute sex trafficking, but the most prevalent that we see within the porn industry are commercial sex acts, which the Trafficking Victims Protection Act refers to as a situation in which anything of value is exchanged for sexual services— this can include money, rent, groceries and drugs. Along with this, sex trafficking victims seen in porn can be trafficked through: Force: situations in which the victim is being overpowered and, therefore, has not given consent. Fraud: situations in which the victim is lied to or tricked into entering a sexual situation— think the “casting couch” porn genre. Coercion: victims are manipulated into sexual acts through threats and/or intimidation. In many cases, coercion is interconnected with commercial sex acts. These are often the circumstances in which victims are “persuaded” to participate in sexual acts they may not be fully comfortable with.


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PORN THROUGH THE FEMALE GAZE The female orgasm isn’t a myth, you just suck. Words by Katie Ferreira Art by Olivia LaCour

The sexual pleasure of women has long been an inspiration for some of humanity’s greatest creations— we have seen nude female forms carved from marble by the hands of the world’s greatest sculptors and read countless classic stories about seductive femme fatales. Women have been muses, lovers, creators, and everything magical throughout history. So why, even now in 2021, are we so hesitant to candidly discuss female sexuality? How can we experience sex through the female gaze in an era when so much has been shaped around the desires of men? According to Pornhub’s “2019 Year in Review,” lesbian porn is one of the world’s most popular genres of adult media. The idea of two or more women being intimate together has proven to be undeniably attractive to lesbians, those who identify as heterosexual, and everyone in between. For centuries, women have been lauded as sexual beings capable of using their charm to tempt men. This categorization has provided women with both advantages and drawbacks throughout time, as women’s sexuality has been idealized from afar while simultaneously being ruthlessly shamed up-close. In today’s hyper-digital age, online porn has been a mainstream medium through which female sexuality has often been expressed and repressed— this includes the

good, the bad, and the ugly of adult media. It comes as no surprise that even lesbian porn has been constructed for the male gaze. How many movies have we seen that make jokes about men finding “girl-on-girl” sexual interactions attractive? This goes to show just how difficult it is for women to form their own sexual identities that exist independent of men being eager onlookers. These issues have caused many women to wonder if it is possible to create sexual spaces that aim to genuinely please women rather than cater to heterosexual men. Porn, despite how controversial its existence and societal influence has been, has undoubtedly served as countless young people’s introduction to sexuality. That being said, what is expressed through porn matters. Unfortunate themes that have cropped up in pornography have included male domination, female submission, and assumed heterosexuality. Even if women have enthusiastic sexual experiences with other women, it is often presented in the context of being something of a performance in front of a man. Porn has left very little space for women to focus on their own pleasure, regardless of their sexuality. According to a 2019 study from the BBC, 50 percent of women worry that porn


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dehumanizes women. The same research found that 60 percent of women believe that porn contributes to unattainable beauty standards for women. This information shows that the way that the porn industry operates today has the ability to hurt women as long as it continues to cast female pleasure to the side. While many mainstream porn companies further widen these gender disparities, some creators are working to close the gap between men and women’s sexual experiences. Companies such as Bellesa aim to create porn from a woman’s perspective, focusing on aspects of sensuality that are often ignored on popular adult sites. Bellesa describes its mission as such: “Through shifting portrayals of women from objects of conquest to the subjects of their own pleasure, our mission with Bellesa Films is to continue inspiring women around the world to embrace, explore, and celebrate their sexuality— unapologetically and on their own terms.” The company emphasizes that they display “real, unscripted sex. No fake orgasms, ever.” The site encourages communication, consent, intimacy, and authenticity. Its main goal is to display sex through the eyes of women today, rather than succumbing to the all-too-familiar trap of male-only pleasure.

Individual creators, such as Swedish film director Erika Lust, have taken on the issue of gender disparities in porn, as well. Lust champions what she calls “feminist pornography,” aiming to center the erotic experiences of women without fetishization or misogyny. Lust emphasizes ethical porn production and sex workers’ rights, recognizing that popular porn is often a display of heteronormative, misogynistic ideals that our society has become far too accustomed to. Let’s be real— plenty of women love sex and exploring their sexualities. It’s a fun aspect of adulthood that can bolster confidence, selflove, and empowerment. It can, however, be difficult, especially for girls and young women, to grow into themselves when mainstream media is dead set on what gets men off. When you next choose to watch a representation of female sexuality, ask yourself who the content appears to be created for. It’s about damn time that women get to play an active role in their own sexualities instead of being passive recipients of sexual acts — strip the male gaze away from the narrative and experience sex in its most honest, magical form.


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Why is it so difficult to find realistic depictions of sex between queer women? Words by Bella Young Art by Olivia LaCour In 2019, the most searched category on PornHub across the entirety of North America was “Lesbian” — a genre that has held a high ranking on the website’s annual ‘year in review’ list in previous years, as well. The terms “lesbian” and “girl-on-girl” are all over porn sites and describe sexual acts taking place between two women — two women who may very well be straight outside of their work. In many cases, this genre of porn doesn’t even feature queer women, but, instead, highlights straight women who often engage in an unnecessary amount of scissoring. The worst part? Oftentimes, lesbian porn is made by and for straight men. Yuck! Most of the time, the category has absolutely nothing to do

with any actual intimacy between two women — it pretty much entirely revolves around stereotypical, unrealistic sexual acts. Some of this representation plays up aggression, likely capitalizing on men’s downright frightening obsession with rage and violence toward women. A lot of it, though, is just so flat out ridiculous that it’s almost comical (note the ‘almost’). Most of us aren’t going to cum from barely grazing one another’s lips for ten minutes straight, sorry men! Despite the ickiness that goes on behind the scenes of “lesbian” porn, the genre can serve an important purpose for queer women who are exploring their sexuality. One SU student, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that they started watching lesbian porn because they were truly curious to see what WLW encounters looked like. “I never really saw depictions of queer relationships in the media when I was growing up. The only other place I could see WLW relationships was in porn, which, in retrospect, is kind of fucked up,” they said. They shared that they originally started watching lesbian porn simply because “it’s hot.” Fair enough. However, as they became sexually active, it didn’t seem to serve as big of a purpose or even represent the student’s needs anymore. “Lesbian sex is not accurately depicted in porn. It is filmed and shot specifically for the male gaze. Two seemingly straight girls talking provocatively, saying things that would specifically turn a guy on. It’s just not how lesbian sex goes,” they said. Besides lesbian sex being avidly consumed online, woman-on-woman erotica is ingrained into party culture and our society as a whole. We bet you’ve all seen — or maybe been involved in, we don’t judge — two women kissing at a frat party. Maybe you’re actually queer, or maybe you just want to give your bestie a token of your affection. But we bet at least a few of these instances have stemmed


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queer women, their relationships, and actual woman-loving-woman sex! It invalidates the complex emotions, intimacy, and passion of sex between women and, instead, presents lesbian sex as being defined by long nails, big ‘tits,’ spitting, and scissoring. If you’re a queer woman and this is your idea of queer sex, we truly applaud you — seriously, girl: how do you do that position with those acrylics? — but if you’re a straight man forcing or encouraging queer sex to fit your standards and desires: simply, fuck off. By the way, this is by absolutely no means throwing shade to people who watch porn that consists of two women getting it on — we know we partake — but we have to take note of what the queer porn we’re consuming illustrates. We have to understand that the male gaze has an unimaginable grip on society and that this gaze infiltrates even the queerest of spaces. A lot of what we see is being scripted by a heterosexual man, and they fucking suck at writing. Now go watch some actually queer-made lesbian porn, you deserve it.

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from the male gaze — men (boys) love to insist on two women kissing in front of them. So many guys eat this shit up, and, as much as we hate to admit it, sometimes it feels good to have guys yelling ‘that’s hot’ while you lock lips with your girlfriend. But what the actual fuck is up with this obsession over two women being intimate, and why do straight women feel the need to fulfill this desire for men? Y’all got a heteroflexibility kink or what? This question may have a psychological, yet still disturbing, answer; men associate queer women with high erotic value. This might also have to do with the ‘erotic illusion’ that lesbian porn is simply two women — better yet, two vaginas — rather than actual, realistic lesbian sex. Often, men feel no true sexual desire toward lesbians and lesbian relationships, but the visual stimuli of two naked women is compelling to them. How many times do we have to say it, queer women do not exist for your fetishization! Lesbian porn that features two heterosexual women and revolves around visuals and acts that are only appealing to men undermines


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GREAT SEXPECTATIONS Is porn distorting our attitudes toward our own sex lives? Words by Katie Ferreira Art by Olivia LaCour Growing up in the 21st century has provided today’s young adults with nearly limitless access to the Internet— for better or for worse. Coming of age in a world of information at our fingertips led many of us to venture deep into the dark chasms of the web in a search for answers to all our questions. This is how many people had their first runins with online porn, either intentionally or by pure accident. Porn’s effects on our society and culture can be seen in how young people view their bodies, relationships, and sex lives in our overstimulating digital age. Much of mainstream porn is highly planned and stylized— it is, after all, actors performing a scene. It often involves an extensive team of producers, videographers, assistants, and more who work to make sure the content comes out just how they want. According to a Glamour article written by Suzannah Weiss, “everything [in professional porn] is timed, down to the orgasms.” Weiss also explains that body makeup, detailed scripts, and other behind-the-scenes preparatory measures go into producing porn. When we have sex in our own lives, chances are that we don’t have a script on hand to make sure we know exactly what to do. Comparing porn’s often unrealistic situations to one’s own sex life can have detrimental effects on self-confidence and our connections with others. Issues often arise when viewers hold their own personal experiences up against the

curated content they see online. Many people fear that they are falling short of expectations sexually when their interests and behaviors don’t line up with what they’ve been seeing in videos of other people having sex. On top of these concerns, porn can conjure up feelings of inadequacy across all genders regarding body image. Some production companies aim remedy this issue by including diverse performers and avoiding catering exclusively to the male gaze. While these small improvements try to lessen the body shame that porn can cause, the industry still retains unattainable standards for how participants in sex should look and act. Body image challenges and unrealistic expectations are pervasive in our society, particularly among young people. They are issues that affect many of us at SU as we continue to discover ourselves and navigate young adulthood. One student, a 20-year-old man who asked to remain anonymous, said, “What could be argued as the most insidious social consequences of uncensored internet media are the unrealistic expectations and standards set by porn.” He described how, after learning about the human rights violations and abuses that go undetected (or outright ignored) on porn sites, he wondered if there was any way to ethically consume that form of media at all. The student also pointed out the porn industry’s strained relationship with body image: “Given that the industry has a certain


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on watching X-rated content. Some people visit porn sites out of sheer boredom and habit rather than genuine sexual desire. While many wonder exactly why this dependence develops, science actually has a solid answer. The gratification achieved while watching porn releases endorphins in our bodies, and we can get addicted to this release. Naturally, we all want to do things that bring us pleasure and happiness, but when people achieve these emotions from watching porn, it encourages them to consume even more adult media. Whether they intend to or not, some viewers find themselves dependent on this content for emotional pleasure. So, what is the solution to all of this? Should we all swear off viewing porn to protect the health of our sexual lives? Does porn have the ability to actually help our sexual lives? Is it the responsibility of producers to ensure that viewers do not become disillusioned by the depictions of sex in their videos? These are questions with no clear answer, but solving these issues begins with asking these questions in the first place. We all want a future in which we are able to simultaneously be sexual and retain our selfconfidence, and, to do so, we must unpack the nuanced issues of the porn industry.

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palate and adheres to certain beauty standards, it is inevitable that people will feel inadequate from seeing an underrepresentation of their body type or behaviors.” What adds to this problem is an even larger issue: the lack of proper sexual education in the United States. Countless teens experience either an inadequate sexed program or none at all. America’s general unwillingness to talk about sex leads people down different routes on their journey of sexual exploration. Oftentimes, this route involves the consumption of pornographic media. To those without access to sexual health resources and education, porn can serve as an unofficial guide to how sex works. This, of course, becomes an issue when the content depicts unhealthy sexual relationships, leaving viewers disillusioned and misguided. Another student, a 21-year-old woman who also requested to not be named, echoed these sentiments. “Very little porn portrays healthy sexual interactions, and most of the free porn produced is extremely unethical, anyways,” she said. She went on to describe how consuming pornographic content shaped her expectations of what sex should be like before she actually became sexually active. The depictions of sex in porn often show sex as something happening to a woman, not as something she is an active and enthusiastic participant in. A great deal of mainstream porn allows female pleasure to be put on the back burner while men are depicted as the dominating, hypermasculine main characters. “There’s a lot of room for shame and embarrassment if you perceive yourself as going off-script or making the wrong move,” she said. Even though watching porn has resulted in young people experiencing difficulties regarding self-esteem and sexual confidence, many viewers still find themselves becoming dependent


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AMPLIFIED:

ZOE ANDERSON How this badass DJ is spinning her way into the nightlife scene. Words by Isabel Bekele Photo courtesy of Zoe Anderson

JM: How did you get into DJing, and have you always been into music? ZA: I got into DJing when my music interest really peaked during quarantine after I started producing on SoundCloud. I also worked on GarageBand mixes and with FL Studio, which helped with not being technically trained in music. From there, I felt like I could produce easier on a board because you can mix more on it, so it slowly blew up from there. JM: Where do you find inspiration for your sets? ZA: I’d say curiosity is something that's very unbound, so it kind of flows everywhere. Inspiration from curiosity is also a two-way street, so I feel like by feeding my curiosity to get inspiration, that’s where it comes from. Also, spending a lot of time abroad has been an inspiration for me. To me, reggaeton is always a party-must. But that means I also have to understand what everyone’s parallel to reggaeton is. JM: What’s it like trying to get recognition in the relatively male-dominated nightlife/ DJ space? ZA: It’s definitely still a battle. You always see a guy behind the stage, and guys will never let girls have aux. When I play a set, I love to

see the women in the front recognizing like, ‘yeah, this is our girl.’ Because we don’t get to have the parties here, we’re just guests, and to have someone on the other side, I want it to be like, ‘this is for us, you listen to what we want.’ I love music, but what I love more is to see the dancing crowd. JM: Where do you see DJing taking you in the future? ZA: To me, it’s about having fun with my friends, and the minute that that goes, I’ll stop. I’ve seen so many stories of artists getting wrapped up in the wrong motives, so that’s my fear. With great influence comes great power, so I wouldn't want to make an impact that wasn't coming from a pure, intentional place.


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Words by Car Shapiro Art by Anika Dua

It’s giving iconic, camp, queer celebration,

expressed so openly was really helpful as I began

and cult classic; The Rocky Horror Picture Show

to come to terms with my own identity,” explains

(RHPS) is a fan-favorite film from 1975 that is still

Athena Myers, a junior, fan of RHPS, and ensemble

popular 46 years later, especially around this time of

member for this year’s Blackbox Player’s RHPS.

year. Rocky Horror follows a newly engaged couple,

RHPS originates from the 1973 musical stage

Brad and Janet, who get caught in a thunderstorm

production The Rocky Horror Show and remains

and end up at Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s eclectic castle

popular through live, interactive performances

where he is hosting a “party.” Throughout the

across the country. Audience participation ‘call-

movie, songs like “Damnit, Janet” and “Time Warp”

backs’ include, “buy an umbrella, you cheap bitch”

move the plot through catchy, iconic melodies and

when Janet holds a newspaper over her head during

quotable lyrics. The film features kooky characters

the thunderstorm and during the line, “I see you

like Riff Raff (who has the most incredible receding

shiver with antici...”, people yell “SAY IT!!”, “...pation”.

hairline we’ve ever seen), Magenta (who Naya

Other interactions include using props like rice and

Rivera brought to life on Glee’s Rocky Horror

water guns, and rounding up all the “virgins” (first-

episode), Columbia (the most relatable serial-

time attendees) before the show to them. Blackbox

lover), and, of course, Dr. F’s creation: Rocky Horror.

Players, an SU theater organization, has historically

RHPS is considered the ultimate cult classic, which

hosted a live show on Halloweekend. Malena Logan,

can be defined as a film that has acquired a cult

this semester’s Special Events Coordinator for BBP,

following. According to the BBC, the movie holds

attended the 2019 show at SkyBarn her freshman

the record for the longest continually running movie

year and wants to recreate that “energetic” and

release of all time. This is mostly because the film

“welcoming” experience. “My vision for this year’s

allows viewers to identify with the characters like

show is to celebrate coming back together on

never before, especially because, in 1975, queer

campus, semi-post covid times, and for people to

characters were often portrayed in a negative

feel warm, welcomed, and invited. “[Rocky Horror]

light. Many LGBTQ+ people deeply resonate with

is so camp, so unapologetically queer, and I’ve really

the themes of RHPS, such as gender expression

been craving media about queer joy and absurdity.

and gender performance, as well as sexuality and

Rocky Horror does just that,” explained Logan.

alternative punk culture. “Seeing queerness being

JERK 3–21

JANET! DR. SCOTT! JANET! BRAD! ROCKY!

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He’s in your dms, he’s in our pitch meetings. We are not the same. jarkmagazine.net @jerkmagazine