Saturday, February 15, 2014

Trying New Things #3: Valentine's Day Special

I want the preface this post by assuring any and all readers that I am not the least bit bitter about Valentine’s Day. I did not take comfort in wearing black instead of oh-so-festive red, I did not post/reblog/laugh at internet memes boycotting the holidays, and I did not spend my day at home with a bottle of wine and a sappy movie.

My friends and I celebrated Gal-entines day with the best of them, beginning with brunch and ending out on the town in our fanciest party dresses, and I really enjoyed a day of celebrating love between friends. New to this city, Valentine’s Day this year was a wonderful reminder of how lucky I’ve been in the people I’ve met. As we sipped our drinks at Red Lobster, (because what says love better than cheese biscuits), I realized I haven’t felt this content with life in a long time. I’m very glad that we as a culture designate a day to celebrate human relationships.

That said, especially as women, we put much too much pressure on the holiday to confirm things about our lives that we already know. My roommate (who is engaged, by the way) spent the entire day obsessing over a package sent from her fiancé, even though we were snowed in and no mail was being delivered. By the end of the evening, she had been reduced to a puddle of insecurity on the couch, wondering if he’d forgotten her and sent her gift late. Close friends of mine, both here and far away, waited impatiently for their partner to call or text, his/her level of commitment gauged by how early in the morning the message was received. My Facebook news feed became a competition of whose bouquet of flowers was the largest, or sent from the greatest distance. A woman I know actually took a picture of her flowers next to a reference object, so that there could be no possible doubt that hers was actually the biggest possible bouquet of flowers posted on the internet. Her man had done her proud, affirming their love in the most ostentatious way he could.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why has Valentine’s Day become such a competitive, hetero-normative, and materialistic status symbol of a holiday? Is this really about relationships anymore, or is it about proving how much we’re worth, both to each other and ourselves?  

I want to remind everyone that love is not a competition. At its best, this holiday is about celebrating the happiness that is the realization that we are not alone. It is the blessing that comes from reminding those special to us how much we care about them. It is joy that comes from dressing up and going out to a fancy dinner with your partner, or just snuggling on the couch with friends. There is no need to gauge your place in the grand scheme of life based by how far someone else has gotten; that would only work if we were all the same. Everyone’s story is different, and we all find love in different ways.

In the spirit of trying new things in the New Year, (a resolution made between friends), I’m not going to let perceived inadequacy detract from all the beautiful things in life. I’m not going to acknowledge the imagined standards set by a culture that gauges all things by competition, where true happiness is only possible if I’m on the most expensive date with the most expensive dress and the most gorgeous mate. I’m not going to let expectations detract from the happiness I’ve gained in the past year.

I’m instead going to revel in the beauty that is my life, happy that yesterday I had the chance to remind people how truly special they are to me. Or at least, I'm going to try.

Happy Valentine’s Day, world.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"Mirror, Mirror": Primetime Television, Pop Culture, and the Implications of the Anti-Hero

“We’re gladiators in suits" Olivia Pope said of her hard-hitting team of investigative “fixers” on the new television sensation, Scandal, and suddenly, the world wanted to be one as well. An immediate hit, the show tops off what has been an incredible year for television, a section of pop culture that had been all but written off after what seemed the hundredth version of The Real Housewives. Other contenders for most salacious drama include House of Cards, which competes with Scandal for the prize of most political corruption per episode, and Madmen, the gilded representation of Madison Avenue Ad Men of the 50’s and 60’s. Even over-the-top, Goth teen suspense dramas like Pretty Little Liars or Ravenswood captured the American imagination like never before, developing cult followings of young adults lusting after Ezra Fitz.

The face of television has officially changed, providing the world once again with mesmeric theatrics, shocking plot twists, and some of the best actors in the business, all of which leave viewers dying for more.

There is, however, a more sinister side to this movement. Along with back-corner romance, intrigue and suspense, and gorgeous fashion, these shows offer a rather pointed picture of the world today, each one characterized by overtly public representations of corruption. Pretty Little Liars confirms every parent’s worst fear as teenagers are caught in webs of deception, violence, and sex; Scandal and House of Cards act out the political corruption and subversion of the democratic system that is any voter’s worst fear; Madmen paints a rather bleak picture of women in the business world.

While these shows seem to have little in common other than their massive followings, upon closer inspection they are all characterized by bad people doing bad things. No longer is love between prince charming and the geeky girl the plot that sells, but rather deception, suspense, and corruption work to capture the collective imagination of culture today.

Considering the plots of some of these shows that dramatize deception in the White House, or blatant gender violence and homophobia in the workplace, one cannot help but wonder how these writers can get away with the work they produce on primetime television. Why are viewers so willing to accept the fictional quality of these shows without considering their real-world implications? Why is society not more unnerved by their content? Some might argue that television has become a public manifestation of inner fantasies of danger and intrigue, a representation of the materialist mindset that values outer glamour over inner integrity, or simply stands as proof of a desensitized, cold-hearted world.   

Or, is it something else? Is it possible that America enjoys these shows precisely because they spearhead the cultural problems of today by subverting inequality in a way that the average person cannot?

Through their fictional narratives, each show points directly at a corrupted government system, a racist society, and a gender stratified world in a way that is impossible to ignore. Olivia Pope is a badass not because of her relationship with the President of the United States (though that is inevitably part of the reason viewers tune in each week), but because she has the guts to walk into the White House and take control of a broken system. Peggy Olson of Madmen may be the subject of much gendered prejudice, but she makes it in an all-male world in a way that many women are still trying to accomplish in this day and age. Pretty Little Liars undercuts the belief that youth remain sheltered and innocent throughout childhood, and also exposes younger viewers to unproblematized representations of non-normative sexuality.

These characters become inspirational, breaking down cultural barriers that seem insurmountable, and I believe it is for this reason that we idolize them.

The genius of television today is the same one that has been the defense of popular culture through the ages; it is the one that justified the extravagant melodramas of the 90’s, the sustained obsession with reality TV and The Real Housewives in whatever form they come, and  now the scripted perfection of primetime.  Television creates an aesthetic façade that reveals through its fiction the not-so-subtle truths of the world today. As a genre never taken too seriously, television shows open up a space for writers and actors to say whatever they want without repercussions, and therefore to inspire viewers to push similar boundaries in their own lives. One can only hope that incredible popularity of each of these shows is indicative of a greater awareness of the large social inequalities that still characterize the world today.

So bring on the next seasons of Scandal and House of Cards. I’ll be ready with my critical eye and my oh-so-fabulous, Olivia Pope wine glass.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Trying New Things #2: The Revolutionary Act of Love

“Loving a transgendered person is a revolutionary act", said Laverne Cox at the 2014 National Conference for LGBT Equality: Creating Change, held in Houston, TX this past weekend. At this conference and in other places, Cox has used her recent capitulation into fame as a transgender actress on Orange is the New Black to shed light on the culture of violence that surrounds this community in America. She describes the bullying she experienced from a young age for not neatly filling the biological category into which she was born, the violent racial slurs she has experienced on a daily basis throughout her life, and the inequality of justice that is experienced by the transgender community as a whole. Cox says rather poetically that, “justice is what love looks like in public”, and she concludes by asserting not only the need to completely revise this assumed illegitimacy that characterizes outside perceptions of the transgender community, but the need to open up conversations between various groups, beginning the process of de-vilifying the Other “even if you don’t know what to say.” She highlights the importance of self-love within the trans community through ignoring stereotypes, maintaining a support system of family, friends, and allies, and believing in your own beauty and sharing it with others.

Laverne Cox is a rather incredible stage personality, and the entire time I was listening to her speak, I couldn’t stop asking the question, “How is it possible that a person that strong and beautiful is subject to such violence?”

And further, “What are we so afraid of?”

In America, 53% of LGBT homicides involve transgender women, and 73% of those are people of color, says Cox. These numbers are indicative of a larger cultural problem than simply a lack of understanding of the community, or an emphasis on surgery and change rather than the personal growth of the individual (though these are equally valid concerns highlighted by her speech). What I would add to the issues she eloquently raises for us is the presence of a gender-based essentialism still governing our society today, one that shapes not only the way we interact with each other, but the way we understand ourselves. I would also argue that this essentialist based thinking, one that holds individuals up to a proverbial measuring bar to deem them either human or not, leads to a profoundly individualist society and a lack of empathy in relating to one’s neighbor. It is so easy to enact violence on one another when humanity is discounted, as history has proven to us, and it only to the detriment of future generations that we continue to judge each other so harshly.

Gender essentialism is not a new concept, nor is it one without its fair share of contesters. I recently read an article in Bitch Magazine about the ways gender essentialism devalues female voices in the publishing world (Available Here), and several of my classes in Graduate School are exploring the ways that linking motherhood and domesticity with innate femininity limits female career options, and instills the belief that if a woman does not embrace motherhood at home with her children, she become a mutation of what constitutes true womanhood.
When translating the ramifications of gender essentialism into a conversation about transgender issues, it is clear that our inability to understand people outside of the neat boxes of identity into which we categorize them has violent consequences, an inability to understand sparking fear and prejudice rather than empathy and open-mindedness. In hearing Cox’s speech, it is important to note that she begins her story of oppression with a heartbreaking narrative of being chased home from school by little boys who did not understand her. The socialization of children into neat groupings of gender, race, and class identity is in my opinion where this closed thinking begins, and in order to stop this cycle of violence from repeating in the lives of our youth, we need to completely do away with parenting and education that socializes people into particular, irrevocable roles, where boys play with blue Legos and girls with pink ones (or whatever). We need to stop teaching our boys that measures of value are dependent on “how much of a man you are”, and then directly linking this measure of masculinity with violence. We need to convey to our children that it is not anyone’s place to judge another’s self-worth, and instead create developmental spaces that encourage a variety of skills, talents, and other identifiers, celebrating difference rather than creating it as a means of dividing lines. Let’s break out of our comfortable, homogenized bubbles of race or class stratification, and teach our kids how to relate to people different from them. And most importantly, let’s completely break down this individualist, “get ahead at any cost” culture in which we live that starts from the assumption that I am not my brother’s keeper.

I hope one day to live in a world where love is not a revolution, where in fact the only essential thing that can be assumed about a person’s identity is their capacity to love no matter what. Let’s start those difficult conversations with our kids and with the world, and break the cycle of assault on difference that is such an ugly part of our current cultural moment. Step outside yourself for a moment, and reach out a helping hand rather backing away, and let’s make a better world for the future.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Things I Wish Would End #1: Improper Sex Education

I cannot recall how I learned about sex. The easiest rendition of the story I can remember is via a science book in my childhood home, however more accurately, I think my education consisted of a variety of whispered conversations between my sister and my friends that usually ended with confusion, embarrassment, or fear of what would happen if ever put in that situation. It certainly was not in the sex education class provided by the private, religious school I attended in South Carolina, where facts of biology and videos of birth were encouraged, and questions were discouraged. The only question I ever remember being allowed in the classroom was when one brave 8th grade boy asked our instructor, “What is a tampon?”, only to be hushed and told they would talk after class…Because we should not talk about a woman’s period in public.  

Let’s interject some facts into this conversation. According to the Health and Safety Education Curriculum Guidelines of South Carolina, issues like Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Abstinence should be at the forefront of education from as early as grade four. However, our youth do not learn about what constitutes proper birth control until high school (and even then it’s only introduced), and proper education about sexually transmitted diseases is never required. Studies indicate that the curriculum currently taught in schools is fraught with outdated, inaccurate information, and taught by instructors not qualified to do so. Additionally, the current regulations for sex education in South Carolina prohibit mention of an, "alternate sexual lifestyles from heterosexual relationships ... except in the context of instruction concerning sexually transmitted diseases." It is clear that this outdated system is in need of revision, South Carolina rated higher than normal in teens who contracted STDs, and boasting an average of 21 teenagers becoming pregnant per day in 2011 (statistics show in This Report).

All this to say, I think the way we talk about sex in America stinks, particularly in light of the 2014 Cookie Cott that is waging war on The Girl Scouts of America. I may be the biggest supporter of Girl Scout Cookies in America, a box of shortbread sitting next to me on my desk as I write this entry. I love this organization that celebrates women and girls, described on their website as being an organization that, “builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.” On the community level, they partner with local YMCAs, Churches, and Planned Parenthoods in the service of organizing community service and other events for girls, empowering them through “a variety of enriching experiences…to help them grow courageous and strong.” That is all great work. Though they do not take a stand on abortion, sex education, or other such touchy political issues, they support empowered women across the country and around the world, using their educational tools and community outreach programs to craft the female leaders of tomorrow.

With all this in mind, you may be asking, “Why would an organization with all these great initiatives ever be boycotted?”

And further, “How is this linked with the above information about Sex Education?”

You may have noticed the mention of Planned Parenthood as an organization affiliated with Girl Scouts of America. You may have also heard about the Twitter fiasco in which the Girl Scouts of America retweeted a list of 2013 Women of the Year that included the fabulous Wendy Davis of the Texas Filibuster of 2013. The answer to the above questions is sourced in outrage at how we shape sex education in America, what is and is not being told to our youth, and who has the power to dictate the way sexuality is expressed.

In 2004 the first Cookie Cott was held in Waco, Texas when the Girl Scouts of America highlighted the CEO of Planned Parenthood as a role model for women. The Bluebonnet Girl Scout Counsel of Waco held a “Nobody’s Fool” summer sex education program that was termed an “assault on Christian morality” by asserting that it was “perfectly normal” for youth to feel sexual urges. The program included a book that was deemed “pornographic” in its inclusion of proper education on birth control, homosexuality, what is an orgasm, and the top nine reasons to wait to get pregnant (these entries included, if parents are too young to have a child, if they don’t have the time or money, or if a woman simply is not wanting to become pregnant). When watching the 2004 coverage, I was struck by the number of white men arguing this anti-sex education program and condemning a partnership with Planned Parenthood. I was also surprised that, in the Fox News interview outlining this year’s Cookie Cott, the panel of newscasters shaming this organization for supporting Wendy Davis primarily consisted of women, as if the plight of a sister in need is none of their concern.

Obviously this struggle is not new, whether we’re talking about comprehensive sex education or a pro-choice supporter, we’re still fundamentally talking about what are and are not women’s rights and what girls should or should not know about their bodies. In light of statistics like the ones we find in South Carolina, I’d argue a book like the one put out by “nobody’s fool” in 2004 is not only necessary, the ideas put forth in it are crucial to the ways we proceed in modifying our education of young girls and boys in America. Statistics prove that it is the time for change. Wendy Davis is part of this continuous fight for body autonomy in America, one which, no matter your stake in the debate surrounding late-term abortion, is certainly worthy of supporting.

I’ve had about enough of this. I’m tired of patriarchy prohibiting a woman’s right to choose. I’m tired of looking at Abstinence only websites citing the reason for not discussing contraception as the “sin” of premeditated sex. I’m tired of our own discomfort at discussing sex with children fueling a silence that leads to record number of STDs in youth across America today, and shows like “Sixteen and Pregnant” now a normalized part of culture. We need to move away from our puritanical history that figures sexual desire as impurity, and away from a patriarchal need to control not the life of the baby, but the woman who is carrying it. We need to do better by our children, supporting women like Wendy Davis, who took a powerful stand in the continuous fight for female choice in America. I’m baffled by the legislation that decreases the number of Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas, not only because it promotes illegal, back-alley abortions as the only recourse, but also because Women’s Clinics do not JUST offer abortion services, but regular reproductive health options for women who cannot afford anything else. How dare we take that away? How dare we teach our young girls that supporting their sisters and their choices is not acceptable? How dare we sentence them to unwanted, shame-inducing pregnancy, or a life of battling an ugly disease, because we did not want to provide proper education that would limit unplanned pregnancy in the first place?
I think we can do better. Openness, Strength, and the Courage to Speak. That is what we owe the children of this Country.  

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Trying New Things # 1: Eating Outside the Lines

Let’s face it. On Friday night, at the end of a busy and stressful work week, all any of us really want is good food. Shutting off the lights and doing the routine closing checks at my oh-so-lucrative job at the University Library, it certainly was the only thing on my mind. As usual, my best friend and I are arguing about cuisine options.

Me: “PIZZA” (ignoring the fact that my Doctor just put me on a gluten-free regiment I haven’t yet faced.)

Her: “Chinese. Burgers. No wait, we’re trying new things!”

Our New Year’s Resolution is to “try new things”, “get out of our comfort zones”, and “avoid complacency” (though I usually hate these, I made an exception for this one in particular). This cluster of images stems from a shared disillusionment at the direction (or lack thereof) our lives are taking- two graduate students in a “pre-unemployment” degree (as I’ve heard it fondly dubbed) have to make life meaningful somehow. So, we decided that, big decision or small, we are going to attempt something new or different at least once a week. Tonight, it was apparently our restaurant choice.

UrbanSpoon led us to a tiny sushi restaurant that, on the outside, was nothing to see. Letters were flickering on the large sign proclaiming its name, and there were few cars in the parking lot. I was not enthused, but in the spirit of adventure, we decided to give it a try. A quaint patio decorated with twinkly lights encouraged us that maybe this wouldn’t be so bad, and as we were seated at the sushi bar, fresh fish and other such delicacies proudly on display, I knew we’d made the right choice. Over dinner, our conversation spanned a wide range of topics. My friend and I come from vastly different backgrounds, her a Jamaican-Queens girl, and I a prep school princess from Columbia, SC. Of all the things I’ve learned in my time in Graduate School, I’d say my friend is the one who has taught me the most about the world, challenging me to broaden my, at times limited perspective, and to interrogate and challenge complacently accepted “norms”.

As we perused the menu, I first scanned it for anything un-fried or steamed or in some other way deprived of taste. As we weighed our options, my friend and I began talking about various relationships we’ve had with food, and the cost of not loving yourself in the way you should. I talked about the semester of my life I maintained an essentially liquid diet and ran twice a day, convinced I couldn’t love myself if I was over a size six. My friend told me that, like a lot of women, her emotions directly influence her relationship with food, often with detrimental consequences.

I recently read an article about a new internet craze called, “fitspo”. Defined as “images of active, strong, and fit women that promote proper exercise and diet”, I was intrigued. As an active and now healthy woman, I thought this would definitely be something with which I could identify. However, upon closer inspection, I realized that these relatively cliché images of a Zen woman performing yoga on a beach or a muscular, six-pack toting babe pumping iron at the gym were not as body image positive as one might think. Superimposed over women with perfect bodies were phrases such as, “sweat is fat crying”, or “destroy something that is destroying you”, or my personal favorite (superimposed over a woman in a bikini running on the beach), “so you’d rather have that bag of chips?”


I love the idea of encouraging women to eat well and exercise. I think that the primary way to avoid an abusive relationship with food we’ve all experienced at one point or another is through proper education about what constitutes a healthy diet, and how this can be managed in an affordable way. A healthy diet and exercise plan is a lifestyle that can be maintained, whereas crash diets or that expensive eating plan (where the food actually tastes like cardboard), are bound to fail. But, I do not think images like these are the way to encourage women towards these goals.

My first thought when I looked at these pictures was, “well my body doesn’t look like that…” Even though I exercise regularly and eat in a very healthy way, I will never have the body of a six foot tall, size two model. I don’t have the innate genetic makeup for that kind of a body (slim hips, long legs, etc.) However, to impose text over an image like that, implying that no matter what you look like, if you maintain this plan then you will eventually look that way, is a lie that promotes a cycle of failure and body-image negativity that girls in this day and age just don’t need.

Further, I take issue with the violent imagery that so many of these ads incorporate. Why does working out have to be a funeral for your fat? Why is fat something that is destroying you? Words like these figure a woman at the gym to be at war with her body, doing everything she can to destroy a natural and healthy and even beautiful part of herself. Working out should be a process of growing yourself, of loving your body through making it stronger. I really enjoy going to the gym, and I love the way my body feels after a good workout. It should be a time of self-care, of challenging goals and beating them, of building yourself up instead of tearing yourself down.

This brings me to my final point. Working out should be fun. It should be a time away from the stress of the day, a time when you’re not at the office or in the classroom, doing something just for you. I love the idea of dance or zumba classes, where fun and self-expression are first and performance is second. You do not have to be the fastest runner or the most flexible or the strongest in the weight room, and working out should not be a time of inadequacy or shame. Putting pressure on women to look a certain way via their exercise routine takes all the fun out of it, instilling instead a mindset of desperation in trying to complete that extra mile or lift those extra pounds.

So, to sum up. I think we can do better than the “fitspo” movement. Cycles of failure, language of violence between women and their bodies, and taking the fun out of working out by creating it as an obligation…not what we need to create a more body-positive world. There is no magical food or exercise machine that is going to transform you from the already beautiful woman you are into somebody else. We need to dispel the myth around each new healthy eating craze, stop shaming women for indulging in the pleasures of life now and then by implying that they’ll never be beautiful that way, and diversify the way we as a culture understand beauty. We need to completely destroy this notion that a healthy body is an emaciated one, and instead remind each other every day of our own unique beauty. How’s that for work out inspiration?

All this to say, my goal for the New Year is to no longer be afraid of food. To eat that tempura fried roll because it was DELICIOUS, and to ignore images that make me feel like I need to change who I am to be beautiful.

Aha! Moment Feature Story

“We apologize for protestors”, a small sign proclaimed as I entered the tiny waiting room. It was packed with people: men, women, and tiny children filled nearly every available seat. I walked quickly to a locked glass window guarding the reception area and signed my name on the clipboard hanging from the counter. A friendly, if slightly nervous looking nurse slid the glass open an inch. “Do you have an appointment?” She asked, informing me that otherwise it would be several hours until a doctor could administer my pregnancy test. I told her that I did, and carried the appropriate paperwork to the only seat I could find. I had never been to an abortion clinic before, and I do not know what I was expecting. However, after five minutes in a packed room that smelled faintly of mold, I knew that something about me would be forever changed by this experience.

Eviscerating. In a meeting with my college advisor the week before, this word had been used to describe the Graduate School application process. It came to mind as I, along with a younger teenage girl with blackened front teeth were led into the back room. I knew the word was associated with the forceful taking of something essential, and here I felt it was my very dignity as a woman that hung in the balance. The room I was ushered into was too cold, the walls a mustard yellow that chipped away near the ceiling. Something wet touched my foot as I readied myself for an examination, and in my nervous state I did not register this indication that my room probably had not been properly cleaned. After waiting for what seemed like years, the Doctor rushed in and performed a hasty examination, only to inform me that I was not pregnant, tests were known to fail, etc. Then he held my hand for a moment too long, let his eyes run over my body, and left the room.

Toni Morrison writes that we must learn to love with every part of our body, not just with our minds, but with our hearts and hands. As a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major in college, I had always believed that through my work as a theorist of feminism and gender, I was making a difference in the world. Surely if I wrote enough articles about equality from a comfortable office in a well-established, Liberal Arts institution, conditions for women would improve. However, in those few precious hours at the clinic, I realized that I had to do more. That day I saw firsthand that, in our society, love can still have limits, and dignity is a luxury only afforded by the most fortunate. I believe we can do better than that. I believe that every woman, no matter what her background or income, has the right to take care of her body in the way she sees fit, and the right to a quality institution in which to do so. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to work towards these goals through volunteering at that same women’s clinic, working with at-risk youth in local schools, and beginning a volunteer program at the women’s clinic of Winston-Salem. The knowledge that I’ve made even a small difference in the lives of the people I’ve met is enough to keep me going each day, putting my head, heart, and hands to work in the service of a better world.

Hello World!

Writing should be fun. I believe it was Wordsworth who called it, ‘a spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling’, which is an idea I’ve always enjoyed. I like the idea of writing being an almost innate expression of self, words that overflow from somewhere inside to give shape to all that you’re feeling and experiencing in life. Writing is a privilege, one that people have had to fight long and hard to obtain. In Ethnic lit classes, we speak often of the ways that the capacity to create is a mark of humanity, and minority groups have long sought to demonstrate through literary expression that their capacity for the creative and beautiful is just as valued as others.

As a student of this very thing- writing- I often wonder at how easy it is to forget that this is a discipline that is meant to be fun, and to be beautiful. I’ve spent years locked away in the ivory tower of academia, crafting high minded commentary on the state of gender in x,y,and z Victorian novel, making broad claims about the way my personal opinion is going to change the state of humanity for the better. After years haunting the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies departments at multiple institutions, I’ve realized that my writing has become so densely theoretical and full of academic jargon that, when read to a person outside my department, the only response is…”whaaaatt?”

So, it’s back to basics, starting with this year. I began my journey into academia with the goal of changing the world for the better, and pursuing something I love. However, no amount of work published in an academic journal is going to change the life of a woman struggling on the street in this world today, and no amount of picking apart my favorite Alice Walker novel for non-normative gender expression is going to make me love her beautiful prose any more completely. I’ve reorganized my focus of study to include a focus in journalism, and am going to see where it takes me. I want to write about what I love, and I want it to be fun again.

This blog is about that. It’s going to be opinionated, at times political, at times a place of reflection. The rest I don’t know yet.