Bachelor Finale: Complicated is good

If you, like me, watched the Bachelor Finale and read some recaps and reactions from viewers, then you’ll know that the general consensus is that Nick should have chosen Raven and Nick/Vanessa are an awkward couple that constantly butts heads. Thus, Nick chose wrong and is surely in for a relationship full of conflict and unhappiness.

Here’s the issue I have with people’s reactions towards Nick/Vanessa and whether he should have picked Raven. They somehow equate “difficult discussions.” emotional moments, and not being always giggly and happy-go-lucky as “unhappy.” Raven is someone who doesn’t “bring Nick down,” while Nick and Vanessa’s conversations always seem so serious. Plus, Nick/Vanessa looked “super awkward and unhappy” during After the Final Rose (AFR).

First off, I’d just like to put this out there: I happen to think Vanessa is not only a great match for Nick; she’s a great person who knows her worth and lives an incredibly meaningful life. I find a lot to relate to with Vanessa–like me, she has a tendency to over-analyze, think out loud, worry, and get quite emotional. Along with that, though, she is also someone who comes across as compassionate, sensitive, intuitive, selfless, and yet, realistic. I find that the overthinking traits tend to go hand-in-hand with the compassion and the sensitivity–and while it doesn’t seem like something a lot of people want or value in a partner, I think these are traits that eventually, people will come to want and miss. There’s nothing wrong with these kinds of people who overthink and make no secret of their doubts of fears or emotions. They’re not “too serious,” or “always down” or “not fun.” I happen to think people like this are really interesting to be around. They’ll challenge you, have great conversations with you, and make you grow.

What I love most about the fact that Nick chose Vanessa was precisely the difference between Raven and Vanessa. While I also love Raven and think she’s a badass in her own right, it really says something when Nick chose not the woman who was seemingly simpler and easier to be around–he chose a woman who challenged him, who chose to have the difficult conversations because it was worth it–and he loved her all the more for it. One thing Raven said during AFR that stuck with me was that she always tried to make her time with Nick fun and carefree. For me, that made me think of a lot of the advice I received growing up, about dating and finding a partner. I always felt like I needed to be fun and simple and I couldn’t burden a potential partner with my emotions or fears–that would only drive him away. “Guys like girls who are fun,” I was always told. And so, I would hide my emotions, act really fun and bubbly and carefree, and choose to not talk about my problems if I was trying to impress someone.

For Vanessa to be completely open with her emotions and her doubts and her questions, and for Nick to love her because of what he saw and choose her regardless of how difficult things might get, proves that there are people who want more than just fun and simple–and holding out for something more meaningful is completely worth it. It shows that having difficult conversations is just a part of a relationship, of getting to know someone–and it doesn’t necessarily mean that the two people are at odds or incompatible. It shows that having these conversations means you care enough about each other to do so. It shows that the way to a partner’s heart isn’t just by always being easy and fun to be around. It shows that there are people who see the value in those who care, and who openly show it–even if they care a little too much. It shows that the biggest underlying factor in a successful relationship is not whether the girl is easy to be around or super fun all the time, but rather the willingness of both people to make it work in spite of anything.

I love that the “winner” was someone who was not just simple and pretty and fun. She was complicated and multifaceted and introspective and challenging. She wasn’t a Ginny–she was a Hermione. And, that gives me a little hope. It gives me a little hope that I, in all my complicated-ness and sensitivity and my tendency to overthink, do not need to simplify myself in order to make someone see my worth. I don’t need to try to be one of the guys (except feminine and hot). I don’t need to hide my feelings or pretend like I’m always happy. I can have emotions and express them freely. I can talk through my thoughts and my doubts and my questions, and know that I won’t be dismissed. And that, these characteristics aren’t ones that make a relationship too difficult to work through or too serious and not fun enough. These characteristics are precisely the ones that make a relationship worth it. I think it’s time we see the value in these traits. It’s time we realize that things are more than just fun and games.

The Bachelor: When a “character” goes too far…

If you follow me on Twitter, then you’re well aware of my…erm….dedication…to the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise. I am an active member of BachelorNation, and I voraciously live-tweet the show as I watch it (which usually isn’t on the day it airs; I often watch it Tuesdays on Hulu).

I watched the Women Tell All (WTA) episode this week, and it was intriguing, entertaining, and frustrating all at the same time. Sharleen Joynt’s recap in Flare Magazine captured most of my thoughts on the episode and has a great segment on Corinne v. Taylor, so I want to spend a little time further unpacking my thoughts on this whole fascination with Corinne, and the whole Corinne v. Taylor drama.

So, I actually have been warming up to Corinne in recent episodes, and I do find her incredibly entertaining. Her ITM comments, for the most part, are quite funny (when they’re not straight up mean). She has some sweet moments with the other women in the house, and I think that after a while, she did get close and form friendships with some of the other women. She was definitely, at times, all of us–either when eating comfort food in the hotel suite, or complaining about being bloated, needing champagne, and not wanting to participate in cleaning up cow poop (seriously, in what universe is that a fun date??). Honestly, had Corinne actually displayed some empathy towards Taylor during WTA, that would have really brought Corinne’s story full-circle. Audiences love stories of redemption and personal growth (I mean, that’s basically Nick’s story arc on Bachelor in Paradise, and it won him the Bachelor gig), and for Corinne to go from villain to someone who still retains her personality but has matured some since filming…that is even better television. That’s a story that sticks. And most of all, it takes Corinne’s persona from that of some kind of reality TV caricature to actual human being with a personality and full spectrum of emotions.

Unfortunately, that isn’t what played out, and I am honestly disappointed in the show producers for portraying Corinne v. Taylor in the way that they did. I can see how some people may find Taylor and/or her comments as condescending, but I honestly did not see it that way. I found Taylor quite well-spoken and mature during her time on the Bachelor, save for a few instances that I’m sure she regrets (she did, actually, apologize for those moments during WTA). During WTA, Taylor chose her words thoughtfully in order to say exactly why she was bothered and exactly why she was hurt and affected by this entire experience.

In my experience, I find that when people say someone sounds “pretentious” or “condescending,” said person just speaks eloquently or sounds “scholarly.” And I get it–there’s definitely a connotation of people who use big words just for the sake of sounding “smart” or who over-explain things as though the listener is dumb. (I myself have been on the receiving end of this assumption.) But it’s important to know the difference between being pretentious and just being well-spoken. And being well-spoken isn’t a bad thing. It really does bother me that mainstream culture seems to favor personalities like Corinne’s over personalities like Taylor’s. It reminded me a bit of the 2014 awards season, where J.Law and Anne Hathaway were sort of pitted against each other, and people loved J.Law’s “realness” and hated Anne Hathaway’s eloquence and “put-togetherness”, saying that it was fake or pretentious. Why does mainstream culture hate on people who obviously show care in the way they communicate and the way they carry themselves? Why doesn’t mainstream culture equally value those personalities? The producers, and a good portion of the WTA audience, sided with a woman who, on the show, was immature, was a bully, was manipulative, who regularly got wasted, and who acted as though her actions bore no consequences–over a woman who was younger than her, yet was mature beyond her years, well-spoken, calm, and empathetic. This is kind of disturbing. We can all recognize Corinne for her entertainment value, but in the context of her feud with Taylor, it should have been so obvious who was in the wrong, that it’s sad that this is a thing that needs to be discussed.

I don’t think it’s bad for us to recognize and acknowledge that Corinne is a great television character and did add a lot of funny moments to this season of The Bachelor. But I don’t think it’s ok for audiences and producers to encourage the parts of Corinne’s personality that are just mean or manipulative. By laughing off those comments or actions, we’re allowing those comments and actions to continue to happen because there are no real consequences. And I find this to be a problem because it shows a deeper issue within mainstream culture, which pervades so many aspects of people’s lives. We can laugh with Corinne’s character on television, but we can’t glorify the parts of her personality that aren’t good. And, we do need to stop portraying people who are well-spoken or introspective as people who just aren’t cool enough or people who are pretentious. As someone who has more in common, in terms of personality, with Taylor than with Corinne, it was hard to watch Taylor doing a great job of articulating her feelings, but being met with Corinne (and several other women) dismissing all of that, twisting her words, and making Taylor question herself. We should recognize that these more docile personality traits aren’t “pretentious.” There’s nothing wrong with caring about how you come across and caring about how you word your thoughts and caring about what people think of you. Trust me, even those people who are “real” and “refreshing” are simply crafting a character that you are buying into, hook, line, and sinker. We all secretly do care about our image. We all do care about how we come across–because it’s important. So let’s stop hating on the people who are honest about it.

It’s Quiet Uptown

If you see him in the street, walking by himself, talking by himself, have pity….

Yeah, I’m obsessed with Hamilton. No, it’s not a problem. No, I don’t need an intervention.

Also, Moana totally should have won the Oscar. #EGOTforLinManuel

But, I’m not here to talk about how amazing Hamilton is, or how I really just want to get brunch with Lin Manuel. Instead, I want to talk about the value of quiet.

The older I’ve gotten, the more privy I’ve become to how much value society places on being extroverted. I mean, even within the feminist movement, people are now saying that “female bosses are hot,” “female entrepreneurs are sexy,” “successful women are sexy,” and so on. Which, I mean, isn’t wrong. But, that’s not the point of the feminist movement. The whole point of the feminist movement is to promote equality between genders, as well as the groundbreaking idea that it’s ok to be yourself–whether that’s being a #girlboss, or being a supportive girlfriend/wife. Feminism is about feeling free to make choices in order to live the life you want–and that goes for both genders. Neither gender should feel constrained by a specific set of characteristics. Men shouldn’t feel like they’re “less” because they show emotion; women shouldn’t feel like they’re “unfeminine” if they like wrestling and sports or if they’re career women. On the same note, women shouldn’t feel like they’re not feminists unless they’re baller girl bosses–if that’s not what they want for themselves, they shouldn’t feel pressure to be that way just because it’s what’s currently viewed as attractive or successful. Success comes in many forms, and attraction depends on a lot of different factors. Both genders should just feel free to be themselves and know that whatever they choose, they will be accepted.

But anyway, I digress. Though, it’s extremes like these that make me feel like I need to prove that I’m cool in spite of the fact that I’m introverted. People don’t aspire to be more introverted; most introverts aspire to be more extroverted. I don’t hear many people say introverted people are attractive. I do hear a lot of people say that “overly sensitive girls are insecure and you must avoid them.” (Why is introversion associated with insecurity? And why is being sensitive such a bad thing? Being sensitive and being insecure are two completely different things, and neither have much to do with being introverted vs. extroverted.) When people think “confident,” they think extroverted. I do feel that the scales are tipped in favor of extroverts.

I really think it’s important to note that introversion doesn’t equate to not being confident or not being a go-getter. I consider myself introverted, and yet I also consider myself assertive when I need to be, and confident in myself. Just because I think a lot, and I don’t have a loud personality, and I don’t like to constantly be surrounded by people, that doesn’t mean I’m not confident. Confidence is, by definition, “a feeling of self-assurance arising from appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.” It has nothing to do with extroversion vs. introversion. It has everything to do with how you view yourself. Extroversion isn’t a pre-requisite for confidence. And introverts shouldn’t have to prove their confidence by showing how social or outgoing they can be, if that’s not what they want to do. I like to think that truly confident people can see the confidence in others, regardless of their personality type. People with false confidence, on the other hand, will only see the shortcomings of others, and will fail to realize the confidence others have in themselves if those people don’t fit a certain archetype.

I think it’s also important to realize the value of being introverted. For the greater part of my life, I was always encouraged to go outside my comfort zone, get to know people, talk to people, be more outgoing. It would be good for me, I was always told. It’ll be good for me to get out there, to talk and learn to be more loquacious and more social. (For the record, having good social skills also has little to do with whether you’re introverted or extroverted. I like to think I do have good social skills–I can carry conversations and make new connections with other people, even though I am an introvert.) Why aren’t extroverts encouraged to get out of their comfort zone and be more introspective? There isn’t enough value placed on emotional intelligence, and that’s a problem. It’s why people these days struggle to decipher “signs” from people they’re talking to, why people find relationships so complicated and difficult to figure out, why people don’t know how to feel better without the use of medication or external stimuli. I cannot count the many instances where I’ve been hanging out with people and they’ve gotten bored easily and have needed flashy, extravagant things to stay entertained. I cannot count the many people I knew who didn’t naturally like to go out drinking on weekends, yet that was the only way they thought they could meet other people and so they did it anyway, instead of risk spending a night alone doing things they actually wanted to do.

As an introvert, the things I valued were different. I wanted to figure out my own interests outside the pressure of what people thought was “cool.” (Which probably explains why, as an adolescent, I was never considered “cool” or “popular.” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) I wanted to understand why I thought the things I thought and felt the things I felt. If I was hurt, or confused, or upset–I ruminated a lot. While that did make me more stressed out and anxious, I do think I took away from those ruminations with a better understanding of myself and others. And I love the fact that I am introverted. I think that my being introverted has taught me a lot about emotional intelligence and understanding people, and I’m proud of that. That said, I still do think there are a lot of things I can improve about myself, but I consider my introversion to be a strength far more than a weakness. I think my introversion allows me to find hobbies and activities I’m really interested in, instead of just going along with where the crowds are. It allows me to feel more immune to the pressures of being a certain way in order to be accepted, and thus develop myself in a way that’s true to who I am. It allows me to feel at home and comfortable even when I’m alone. It allows me to feel perfectly content going to out to eat by myself (face it, unless you’re a celebrity, no one’s really watching you and no one really cares). If anything, my introversion has contributed to my confidence in myself. I’m definitely not the most confident person in the world, and there are lots of days where I struggle with insecurity, or anxiety, or both. But being introverted has allowed me to explore these struggles, talk through them with a trusted friend, and learn more about myself and others. Introversion is a good thing. It should be valued, not looked down on. Emotional intelligence, sensitivity, the ability to unwind and be alone–those are good things. Those are integral to personal growth. Those are things we should all want. So yes, it’s a good thing for introverts to go out of their comfort zone, try new things, talk to people, be social. But it’s also wonderful for extroverts to get out of their comfort zones. Spend some time alone. Unwind a little. Be comfortable in solitude. Understand your thoughts and emotions. Understand the value of being alone with yourself; understand the value of being quiet. When it’s quiet, that’s when you can really listen.

Snowflakes

It’s common knowledge that in order to come to an understanding with someone who disagrees with you, you must listen earnestly and try to be empathetic to their point of view. Name-calling and judgement will no do good in achieving any sort of understanding, and will only reinforce the negative assumptions one might have about the person he/she disagrees with.

I want to address one name in particular that I, and a lot of my friends, are called, simply because of our points of view on social, political, and economic issues.

Snowflake. 

Liberal snowflake, to be more precise.

I’m not going to fire back with a creative name of my own. There’s enough of that going around.

But I do want to clarify what I, and my fellow snowflakes, mean when we support certain policies and believe certain ideologies.

We’re not offended by every little thing. We do, however, think it’s important to raise awareness to the struggles that various groups face.

We’re all guilty of making an insensitive comment at one point or another, and that doesn’t necessarily make us racist or sexist. It just means that we take for granted certain privileges that other groups do not have. How does this affect you, and everyone else? It further perpetrates harmful stereotypes and normalizes the kind of bias that divides us. When we make an insensitive comment and someone is offended by it, we shouldn’t invalidate their feelings just because their feelings don’t make sense to us. We shouldn’t say to just “toughen up, it’s just a joke.” Making a joke about someone’s race is essentially making a joke about who they are. It’s dehumanizing, it’s humiliating, and yes, it is offensive. I’ve had this happen to me, and I’ve felt forced to brush it off rather than make the other person uncomfortable by explaining why that comment was offensive. I think that a lot of this gaslighting comes from our own fear of realizing that yes, we can be insensitive or racist or sexist or ignorant. We need to acknowledge this, and realize that it’s not because we’re bad people–it’s just because we don’t have those same experiences. We should aim to understand why certain comments we make are insensitive, and gain a better understanding for the different struggles other groups face.

We don’t believe people should receive handouts. We believe in working harder to make the same opportunities (for education, for work, etc.) available to anyone, regardless of their background, so that they can put their skills to use and find work that will benefit society. 

By now it should be no surprise that your race, your gender, your socioeconomic status, can play significant factors in the types of opportunities you get. These factors influence what types of schools you can attend, how much funding that school receives, what types of teachers are in those schools, what opportunities those schools offer to help cultivate your academic strengths. And the differences don’t end there. Once you leave school and start work, your gender and race can affect how much money you make or what benefits you can get. And don’t even get me started on implicit bias and institutionalized racism. The playing field is not even, and it’s not simply a matter of putting in hard work. In the cases of a lot of people, they put in the work, but the deck has been stacked against them since before they were born. For a country that claims to be the land of opportunity, this  doesn’t seem to fit that definition. That right there–the access to opportunities to build the life you want for yourself–that is what we’re trying to fix.

We don’t take a blasé approach to abortions. We believe that these decisions are incredibly difficult to make, but they are personal decisions that should not be controlled by the government. Even if your decision is guided by religious beliefs, government and religion should remain separate.

I have a lot to say on the issue of women’s health, and I do think it’s intertwined with a lot of other social issues and that can open up completely new conversations–but the crux of what I want to communicate here is this: consistency is key. If the government claims to be pro-life, then I want to see not only the lives of unborn babies protected; I want to see children of all groups fed, educated, supported, and protected. I want to see women’s healthcare easily accessible and covered by insurance. I want to see that people who have pre-existing conditions still have access to affordable insurance and healthcare. I want to see the citizens of Flint finally get clean, safe water. I want to see the government respect the Sioux people in North Dakota. I want to see compassion towards refugees.

If the government somehow believes abortions are unconstitutional, then provide access to family planning and safe contraceptives–not just for those who have money, but for all women (and men). From the point of view of a woman, trying to outlaw abortions and restricting access to family planning and contraceptives just feels like punishment. Pro-life shouldn’t just be anti-abortion. Pro-life should be just that–pro-life.

So, that’s this snowflake’s take on some of the issues that are dividing this country. I don’t believe that this point of view is spineless, or overly sensitive, or expecting the government to take care of people who don’t want to help themselves. I don’t think this point of view is unreasonable. I think this view is simply one that desires compassion, justice, and equality–which are core pillars of this country. If wanting that makes me a snowflake, then I wear my snowflake card proudly. But for the record, I don’t think that it’s just the snowflakes that want justice. I don’t think that it’s just the snowflakes that want equality. I don’t think that it’s just the snowflakes who are compassionate.

Now is not the time….

Look, I get it. I get how those of you who supported trump are proud that he won, in spite of the media, celebrities, your neighbor, that rando on the street, assuring you that he would lose. And I get how it can be tempting to relish that victory, to show how the right side won and the liberal media is biased and people are just awful but you really showed them.

I understand you feel pride that your candidate won…but now isn’t the time for pride. Be proud if trump proves himself to be a strong defender of the Constitution and the rights that it protects. Be proud if trump proves himself to be a president for all Americans. Be proud if trump proves to be an example of compassion, leadership, and hard work.

Be honest with yourself–does trump really make you proud? Are his actions since his election victory, and especially since his inauguration, things to be proud of?

Are you proud of the fact that he rambled on about his inauguration crowd size and the “dishonest media” in front of a CIA memorial? On a day that was meant for him to make amends with the intelligence community, thank them for their service, and show he was willing to work with them?

Are you proud that he has appointed people who have clearly shown themselves to be bigots, or uninformed and inexperienced, or all of the above? Are you proud that he has fired an attorney general who only acted in the interest of defending the Constitution, all because she didn’t do what he said?

Are you proud of all his conflicts of interests? Are you proud that he hasn’t shown, and will likely never show, his tax returns?

Are you proud of the fact that trump doesn’t seem to comprehend the concept of free press? Are you proud that trump is seeming more and more like, well, a fascist?

Are you proud of the fact that he wants to spend billions of dollars building a wall that Americans will inevitably have to pay for? Wouldn’t that money be better spent on our infrastructure, healthcare, literally anything else that’s a more direct benefit to this country?

Are you proud of the Muslim ban? He has banned Muslims from seven countries, and yet has not banned travel from Muslim countries with which he has business interests. Even though it’s been shown that an immigration ban doesn’t do much to protect us and does more harm than good, I suppose you feel safer now. Do note that there is a difference between feeling safe and actually being safe.

Are you proud that trump continues to display characteristics of malignant narcissism? Are you proud that trump seems to think things like humility and emotion and compassion are signs of weakness? Are you proud that he appears to lack empathy?

Look, nobody’s trying to take away from trump’s election victory, nobody’s doing this out of bitterness–he won, and that’s that. And I get that you may think that we’re being unfairly critical of him. But honestly, he did this to himself. Nobody made him do or say any of the things that give us doubt about his abilities to lead this country. He did that. He can’t expect us to be all chill with him when he has given us no reason to feel safe. He can’t expect us to support his presidency when he doesn’t even seem to want to support us. If trump shows that he is willing to get his act together and lead this country the right way–with justice and compassion and defending the rights of everybody–then great. But based on what we’ve seen so far, that doesn’t seem likely. And we’re not letting that slide.

To all my sisters…

This election has yielded a lot of emotions. Fear, shock, rage. Fear of the unknown. Fear that our rights will be taken away. Fear that we are not safe. Shock at how our much our country is filled with hate. Shock that there is so much division and so much self-inflicted ignorance and so much of a power struggle. Rage that after how much and how hard we fought, they still choose not to hear us. They still choose not to see us. They still choose to believe we are not good enough.

This election was the result of various factors, but you cannot deny that sexism was one of them. You cannot deny that had Hillary Rodham Clinton been a white male, she would not have received one-tenth of the criticism she received during the campaign. You cannot deny that the result of this election was, in part, men telling us that a woman should not lead this country. You cannot deny that this election was, in part, men telling women their place.

And they have gone further than that. They have appointed men who do not believe women deserve control over their own bodies. They have appointed men who have abused women. They have appointed men who believe that women should have no say, no voice, no power.

Yes, I am angry. I am angry that hate trumped love and that America showed it was not ready for progress. I am angry that the most qualified woman lost to the least-qualified man. But I will not sit here and talk about how angry I am that this happened. I will not sit here and talk about how unfair it is. I will not sit here and talk about how disappointing it is. We already know all of this.

Instead, I will say this. To all my sisters, do not be discouraged. Do not fear. You are powerful beyond belief. You have been wronged more times than you deserve, but you are strong enough. You are smart enough. Those who put us down, who try to silence us and try to blind us and try to deceive us…they are threatened by us. They know how powerful we are, and they hate it. They will do anything to make us feel like we are nothing, but we will not give them that power. Whatever they may do to suppress our voice–that is nothing. They cannot make us feel inferior because we do not consent to that.

To my sisters….you are more brilliant than you know. You have a voice, and you have the power to make it heard. To make it heard so loud and so clear and so dominant that they will hear it everywhere, and it will make them tremble. You are mighty. You are great. You are formidable.

Do not believe them when they say that a woman must submit. Do not believe them when they say a woman’s only place is in the home and her only duty is to serve them. Do not believe them when they say that women do not have a right to their own bodies, to their own hearts, to their own minds. Do not believe them when they try to use your own religion or your own morals or your own values to justify your oppression. Do not let them tell you that women are inherently deceitful and inherently selfish because Eve tricked Adam. We are not deceitful. We are not selfish. We are not evil. We are valuable and good and strong and kind and compassionate and fierce. Remember, God needed a woman in order for Him to assume the form of man. Do not let anyone get in the way of your story.

 

 

 

 

Fear.

This is not a normal election. This is more than just rooting for your party’s candidate and being upset when he or she doesn’t win. This isn’t just a matter of accepting the differences of opinion on someone’s choice for the Presidency and moving on, as if we’ll have another chance to make things better in 2020, because I honestly don’t know if we will. I stood with Barack Obama in 2012, but I never questioned Mitt Romney’s suitability to run this country. I never questioned whether John McCain was fit for Office. This time is completely different. I understand how you might choose one candidate over another due to differences in opinion over policy and social issues, and if this were any other—normal—election, I wouldn’t be this vocal or this outraged. We were faced with the choice between someone who has made mistakes throughout her career but is qualified and fit for the Oval Office—and someone who has never held any sort of office and has never been in a public service position. You say he’s a good businessman, and he’ll turn the economy around. But business is not the same as government. The objective of a business is to turn a profit; the objective of government is to protect its people. Businesses lay people off for various reasons, they fire people, they often have to make tough decisions that affect its employees—for the good of the business. That’s not what government does. Government doesn’t let people go if the country isn’t doing so well. Government is inclusive. You say that you want trump to be President because he will run America the same way he has run his businesses? Do you even know how his businesses have been run? Do you even know if his employees were happy working for him? Do you even know how he treated his employees, whether they were dispensable to him, or whether he valued them? If trump is running America like a business, then we are, essentially, his employees. And we damn well better hope that he’s a fair employer that treats us like human beings instead of a means to an end.

We are choosing someone who has no idea how the government works, who has consistently shown us, very clearly, how little he knows about the issues our country is facing. Who has virtually zero empathy that he cannot even comfort a Gold Star family. This is not the best we can do. We have—or rather, had—a better choice, and we refused to make it. We chose someone who was outside the “establishment” because we weren’t satisfied with the past few years. We think that politicians don’t understand the majority of the people; that they only care about themselves. But trump is no different. trump only cares about himself. We had other choices who would have worked to fix the problems we were facing, but instead, we chose to create a bigger problem, while not actually solving the problems we had to begin with. Right now, I fear that as a person of color, my citizenship will be questioned. (I came to this country legally and became a citizen in 2002, for the record. And it’s outrageous that I feel I need to mention this to protect myself in the first place.) I fear whether there will be a place for me under the leadership of a man who has consistently exhibited racist and misogynist behavior. I fear for my friends who are Muslim and/or LGBTQ. I fear that the glass ceiling will never be broken. I fear that as a writer, I will not be able to freely express my opinions without fear of punishment. I fear that all the progress we have made, all the things we have worked for to make America progressive and equal for all, will be undone. This is what the result of this election has brought on for me. Not hope. Not optimism. Fear. I hope we’ll be able to get out of this mess, but right now, I’m really disappointed in us, America.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: A Review (or, Why Scorpius Malfoy saved the play and Holy Crap Voldemort’s a Daddy)

Hello friends! It’s been a while. I have to say, I’ve written about a few random topics here and there, and I’ve always felt like I needed to establish some kind of theme for my blog and write consistently about those topics. But then I figured, that’s an awful lot of planning and I’d rather just write more often, about whatever came to mind, and maybe a theme will arise organically. And so, I decided I’d pick this back up and give my take on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

**This review contains spoilers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

First impressions

It had been a while since I read the series from beginning to end, let alone the final book (or penultimate book now, I suppose), but I thought picking up right at the epilogue was a great way to open the play. The play is well-written, with catchy dialogue and a shapely plot. The story drew me in and kept me on my toes. But, the voices of the characters don’t quite reflect the characters we’d come to know and love in the original seven books, so it felt a little jarring reading their lines and trying to fit the characters into their new voices. I think the play could have better captured the personalities of the trio, especially with Ron. Ron’s character was reduced to “goofy dad whose sole purpose is to provide comic relief.” His characterization reads more like Movie Ron than Book Ron. While Ron is goofy and silly, he’s also loyal, kind, and selfless–it’s tough being the best friend of The Boy Who Lived, and yet Ron stands by Harry throughout their years at Hogwarts. I missed these aspects of Ron’s character in the play.

Pros

Scorpius Malfoy: He was easily the greatest character in the book. If there’s one reason I’ll accept Cursed Child as canon, it is because of Scorpius. Scorpius is a character who has had it tough his entire life–he has grown up under the shadow of his family legacy, he’s lost his mother, and he and his father are alienated from the wizarding community. Yet, Scorpius isn’t jaded or cynical or dark. Instead, he is kind, optimistic, forgiving, smart as a whip, and proudly geeky. He doesn’t resent his father for shielding him from the outside world; he understands why his father does it. He doesn’t feel vengeful towards his classmates who shun him and tease him; he grows a thick skin and brushes off their insults. And, he selflessly helps Albus with Albus’s own problems, even though Scorpius has struggles of his own. Scorpius shows that his past and his family don’t define him, and yet he also loves his family and doesn’t try to distance himself from them. In some respects, he represents the best parts of Harry’s and Malfoy’s characters.

The fallout from the Second Wizarding War: I really appreciated how life post-war was portrayed for the characters. Things didn’t just go back to normal, and the world didn’t suddenly just get fixed. The characters have emotional scars from the war, and it affects their families. While Albus can come across as surly and bitter, it’s not unreasonable for him to be this way. He has had a legacy thrust upon him that he never asked for and that he doesn’t quite know how to carry. He simultaneously feels pride and resentment towards his father, and, like his father, he doesn’t quite know how to work through these emotions. Albus’s characterization represents a very human reaction to his circumstances. Cursed Child carries on the trend of the original seven books, where although the characters are witches and wizards, at their core they are still human and face struggles that magic can’t fix.

Cons

Time-travel: I’m certainly not the first person to point this out. I just have to ask, Why???? Why didn’t JKR abide by the original time-travel portrayal from Book 3? In the original series, time-travel is a closed loop, meaning past events are fixed and cannot be changed. It’s why Harry and Hermione see themselves in the events that already happened (like punching Malfoy, or conjuring the Patronus). When they go back in time, it’s like they’re going back to a rerun of events that have already transpired, and they are separate from it. Yet, in Cursed Child, time-travel is portrayed as a ripple effect, (the alternate reality time-travel plot). One small change affects past and future events, thus creating alternate realities, like one in which Cedric becomes a Death Eater and Voldemort wins the war. It feels way too much like a ripoff of Back to the Future Part II, and the Harry Potter series deserves better. Color me disappointed.

Developing a strange, implausible plot to explore the central conflicts of the book, and Voldemort’s “daughter,” Delphi: The central conflict in Cursed Child isn’t an external danger, like Voldemort in the original seven (although the conflict with Voldemort does represent a variety of human struggles). Instead, the conflict is more internal and emotional. It’s between Harry and his son. It’s about their inability to understand each other. It’s about Albus’s struggle as he tries to make a name for himself under the shadow of his father. It’s between Draco and his son, and their struggle to escape the rumors surrounding them. These are the new challenges that the characters face after the war. I didn’t think it was necessary to explore these conflicts within some kind of time-travelling adventure, nor did I think it was necessary to introduce a new Voldemort-like enemy. What the characters deal with outside of Delphi is more than enough to craft a great story, and frankly, the whole explanation about Voldemort’s daughter doesn’t make sense and leaves a lot of questions. The Voldemort era is over, and that chapter is best left untouched. Why not explore other conflicts within the wizarding world that are not Voldemort? Why not make this story more centered on the lives of the characters, and less so on this weird adventure with an implausible enemy? I would have found that a much more compelling and believable story.

Overall Thoughts

I love the Harry Potter books, and I’ll read anything JKR publishes. Plus, I’m sure seeing the play is an entirely new, breathtaking experience. The script is meant for the stage, so that does take away from your experience reading it, but the story is interesting enough to keep you turning the page. The play has its pros and cons, and I think if JKR had written this as a book, it might have answered a lot more of my questions and would have felt like a smoother transition (and an actual eighth story). Personally, the story feels a little like fan fiction, and it’s hard to consider it canon. Still, I wouldn’t say I don’t recommend reading it. If you’re curious about the new book, it is still worth picking up and reading it for yourself. Read it, enjoy it, but perhaps consider it something separate from the original seven. For me, Harry’s story ends at these words: “All was well.”

 

 

A word on feminism….

The reaction I get from a lot of men when I talk to them about feminism is not that they’re against it, but rather, that they don’t see the point. “Women already have rights,” they say. And I’m lucky enough to live in a nation where that is true. Women can vote, women can go to school, women can work. But feminism isn’t exclusive to the U.S., or countries where women have rights. It’s a global issue. And even in countries where we have come farther in terms of women’s rights, we still have a long way to go. But I think a good place to start is respect. Feminism is largely about respect. It is about the belief that women should be treated with the same respect with which men are treated. It is respect that a woman’s opinions, perspectives, desires, are valid. As a woman, I believe that I should be regarded as equally competent, equally intelligent, equally worthy, equally human. I don’t want to be a pretty little thing; I don’t want to be your arm candy; I don’t want to be just another piece to complete your idea of a perfect life. I don’t want to be viewed only as someone’s wife, or sister, or daughter. I am a human being, plain and simple. I don’t want to be taught that, as a woman, my skills and talents are better suited in the home. I don’t want to be taught that my appearance is the most important thing about me. I don’t want to be taught that yes, I can have a career, but it will take a backseat to my husband’s career. I don’t want to be taught that being a wife and a mother should be my ultimate goal in life. I don’t want to be discouraged from pursuing a career that is considered a “man’s profession.” I don’t want to be told that my life has limitations simply because I am a female.

I want to be looked at as a human being who is deserving of respect. I want to be looked at as a person who is capable of making sound decisions, pursuing ambitions, and being self-reliant, because that is who I am. And yes, I can be emotional, and yes, I may also be sensitive, and yes, I do identify with being empathetic and caring, and yes, those traits are typically defined as feminine traits. But no, those traits do not make me any less intelligent or any less logical or any less capable. And I don’t want these traits to be viewed as weaknesses. It is not a weakness to be privy to human emotion and to know how to deal with it and to not be afraid of it. In fact, that is an essential part of personal growth. I think it’s high time we learn that emotion, and being emotional, is simply a part of being human. It’s high time we come to terms with the fact that emotional intelligence is integral to being a functioning, self-aware, and successful person–man or woman.

I want the perception of women to change. We don’t all want the same things. We don’t want to be lumped into categories–all women who like pink and bake cookies and want to get married and have families, or those bossy man-hating women who are career-obsessed and only eat takeout. There’s more to it than that. And it shouldn’t be an us-against-them sort of thing. It should be about personal choice, and whatever the choice, it should be respected.

I don’t want to feel guilty for wanting a fulfilling career instead of a family, for wanting to delay marriage, or for not having a maternal instinct. I don’t want the first question my relatives ask me at family reunions to be “Are you seeing anyone?” and then ask me why not if I say no, or rudely pry if I say yes. I want to be asked about my life, my goals, my opinions on important issues. My relationship status does not define who I am. But my goals, my opinions, my passions? These do, and knowing these is knowing who I am.

I don’t want to feel like I’m doing less with my life if I do only want a marriage and a family instead of a career.  And if I want a marriage and a family, I don’t want to be taught that I will always need to obey and submit to my husband. I don’t want my agency and my authority to be undermined because of silly social constructs. I want my marriage to be a partnership, and I want to teach my children that that is what a marriage must look like in order for it to work.

I don’t want to feel like I’m chasing the impossible if I find that I want the career and the marriage and the family. I don’t want to feel like I need to make tradeoffs. I don’t want to feel like I need to marry down if I want my own career. I don’t want to feel like no upstanding man in a respectable profession will want a woman who is in an equally respectable profession because he thinks she won’t be able to support his career or maintain the household, or she won’t want to. I don’t want to feel like I won’t be supported if I pursue my career, and I’ll have to bear my career work and our housework and family work all on my own. I don’t want to feel like I need to be smart, but not too smart, ambitious, but not too ambitious, in order to have the things I want out of my personal life. I want to feel like my potential as a wife is not wholly based on what I do for a living, or what I want to do with my career–but instead, is based on my support for my husband, my willingness to work in order to keep our relationship alive, my choice to love and respect my husband every day. And I want to know that we’ll both work toward our career goals, and we’ll both work to maintain our home and our family and our marriage.

I want to feel like I am valued for more than just my appearance or my cooking abilities or my cute hobbies. I want to feel like my worth as a woman and as a person lies in more important things, such as the passion with which I do things and the courage with which I go after my ambitions and the desire I have for helping to make a difference and the love I have for the people in my life. So my challenge to you is this: prove me wrong. Prove that my opinions on how women are perceived are wrong. This may not change the world overnight, but it’ll be a drop in the bucket. If enough people prove me wrong, then maybe it’ll be big enough for people to notice.

Outfit of the Day: Denim on Denim

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shirt: old from H&M (similar) / jeans: Paige / sandals: old from Ralph Lauren (similar)

Hi all!

I’ve been creating sets on Polyvore for a year now, and I’ve started blogging about work-friendly fashion on fortymagazine.com, so I figured it’s high time I start blogging about my own outfits. Today’s look is a pretty basic go-to ensemble for me. A pair of skinny jeans is something I wear almost every day, and I love the denim-on-denim look. Paige jeans are among my favorites, as they’re incredibly soft and comfortable. On weekends (especially Sundays), I’m all about being lazy and comfy, and this look is one of those awesome outfit hacks that keeps me comfortable while looking like I actually put some effort into looking put-together. 😉 What are your favorite weekend outfit hacks?

Ariadne