Things I No Longer Give a Fuck About: Men’s Egos

I was in the car recently with some friends and one of them was recounting an evening she recently spent with a guy she’s into. They just cuddled and watched a movie, and the next day he asked her why they didn’t do more. She hadn’t responded yet, and asked the group what she should say, and excuse after excuse poured out of my friends’ mouths:

“Tell him you were on your period!”

“Say that you had to wake up early for work the next day!”

Eventually I asked, “so, why didn’t you guys do more?” and my friend simply said “Because I just didn’t want to.”

I wondered why that wasn’t a sufficient response to this douchelord’s question and I realized that she, like plenty of other women (including myself), was trying to make an excuse so she doesn’t “hurt his pride feelings.”

I got to thinking about my own man-protecting behaviors and was lowkey appalled by the lengths I have gone to to avoid bruising the egos of the men in my life. So, without further ado, I bring to you the “Men’s Egos” edition of Things I No Longer Give a Fuck About:

  1. Faking Orgasms- Before you judge me and say “why would you do that?,” let me inform you that 80% of women have faked an orgasm at one point or another. The reason I do this is simple- I don’t want the men I’m with to think I’m not enjoying it. Men often have this idea that sex was good because they finished, and don’t really concern themselves with whether or not their partner did. I recently watched a TED talk about sexual pleasure and how women are somewhat socialized to think that men are the main beneficiaries of sex because we aren’t taught about “resolution” in the female sense, so we associate sex being over with when the man finishes, and don’t think of female orgasm as an objective of sexual activity (seriously, watch this TED talk, it was hella interesting). And while orgasm isn’t necessary for sex to be considered “good” in my book, and giving my significant other an ego boost by having him fake- rock my world is nice from time to time, I decided that faking it for the sake of their feelings isn’t helpful because a) I’m prioritizing their pleasure over my own, b) I’m not doing anything to teach my partner what works and what doesn’t (which prevents future orgasms, duh), and c) it’s just dishonest.
  2. Letting Men Down Gently- Now that I’m 21 and able to go to actual bars away from my school, I realized that I actually quite enjoy going out with my friends and blowing off steam on occasion. While shamelessly dancing to Top 40 and drinking mojitos is fun, unsolicited attention from men really isn’t. Whole twitter hashtags and Reddit threads have been dedicated to reasons why women may entertain men they aren’t interested in, and these reasons range from not wanting them to get aggressive (which is totally valid, since women getting killed by men they’ve rejected isn’t uncommon) to making sure their feelings aren’t hurt. Of course, there are going to be men who take “I’m not interested” as “convince me to give you my number,” so I’ve taken to using the “I have a boyfriend” excuse, which is a lie half the time. I thought about the premise of that excuse and realized that men accept it because they’re more willing to respect another man than they are to respect your choice to say no, so I’ve decided to change my tactic to just saying “no thank you,” and walking away. It’s clear, to the point, and doesn’t force me to waste time and energy beating around the bush.
  3. Staying in Relationships I Don’t Want to Be In- I was in two relationships over the past two years, and I really didn’t want to be. I was so upset at the thought of hurting their feelings that I stayed in these relationships for months after I already decided that I was no longer interested. When I finally gathered the courage to end things, I ended up having to do it twice in both instances because I opted for a “soft breakup,” wherein I claimed to just need “space” and compromised by making the relationships “less serious” and “taking breaks”. In retrospect, that was absolutely ridiculous and counterproductive because a) I was putting someone else’s feelings before my own, b) it was extremely unfair, condescending, and hurtful to the men I dated, and c) BREAKING UP TWICE IS JUST F*CKING STUPID. I’ll write another post about honesty in relationships, but this is probably where I should start.

The central theme here is that I need to put myself first when interacting with men- whether it’s a stranger in a bar, someone I’m dating, or just a ~special friend~- because men are temporary, and your most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.

Xoxo,

La Nouvelle Romantique

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Things I No Longer Give a Fuck About: An Introduction

I graduated college last month, and after an absolutely brutal school year, I decided to give myself a month to relax and really focus on making myself happy. Time alone is something that I absolutely need, and after so much of it, I’ve made a lot of realizations about myself.

I realized that over the past few years, I’ve done a lot of things I honestly do not enjoy for the sake of other people, and lost parts of myself in the process. Who I’ve been for the majority of my college career has been largely performative, and now that I’ve been removed from the environment that required that performance, I have a better understanding of who I am and what I really want from life.

Enter “Things I No Longer Give a Fuck About.” This past month has been amazing because I came to the conclusion that I just need to start living the way I want to, and with my major move for law school coming up, I’ll have the chance to start fresh and live a more authentic life. With that comes the release of things I simply don’t have time for anymore, so every Thursday (until I run out of things to not give a fuck about), I will make a new post documenting my guaranteed-to-be-hilarious musings and general, unsolicited advice about how you, too, can decrease your “fuck” quota.

Xoxo,
La Nouvelle Romantique

Where Sin Meets Soul: The Tragic Misreading of Lolita

Everyone who knows me knows how obsessed I am with Vladimir Nabokov’s classic Lolita. It battles it with Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence for the distinction as my favorite book of all time, and it’s the first (and sometimes only) title I suggest when asked for book recommendations.

lolita-cover-6Following narrator Humbert Humbert’s eloquent and seductive language as he tells the story of his love for precocious Dolores Haze leaves you rabidly turning the page, only to leave you feeling like you need to wash your hands after reading what he’s done. So it came as a huge surprise when I went on Tumblr and saw post after post talking about how Humbert and Dolores were the ultimate OTP, or #RelationshipGoals.

Except, Lolita is not a love story. Nabakov’s novel chronicles the theft of a young girl’s innocence and joy by an obsessed pedophile who kidnaps and serially rapes her for most of her adolescence. The man is deranged, and strips Dolores of her humanity by renaming her “Lolita” in his account- effectively creating a whole new persona for the scared child he abused to remove himself from the harm he inflicted. Humbert is written as an unreliable narrator, and you’re not supposed to take any of his claims of mutual romance or Dolores’ sexual precociousness seriously. If anything, these claims are meant to make his retelling of their story all the more disturbing.

With the recent rise of the “Daddy Kink,” Lolita has seen a resurgence online, with teenage girls “identifying” with Lolita’s character, since she’s portrayed in Humbert’s story as a young seductress with a taste for older men. Even Lana Del Rey likens her character in her ‘Born to Die’ album to Lolita due to her too-early exit from childhood and involvement with much older men (which is a narrative that is based on Elizabeth Grant’s actual life story). Even Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines “lolita” as “precociously seductive girl,” showing how deeply the misreading of Nabakov’s novel has permeated our culture. It is this same perversion of innocence that makes “slutty schoolgirl” a popular Halloween costume and pornography trope. lana-del-ray-lolita

As media became the focus of many studies and further investigation, a disturbing trend of sexualizing young girls has been written about at length, and its effects have been summarized in a report published by the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Sexualization of Young Girls. Girls pick up messages from media and popular culture about the social capital associated with sexual behavior or provocative appearance, and this leads to risk-taking behaviors, self image issues, as well as anxiety about social acceptance by peers of the opposite sex. Young girls who make their sexual debut too early due to abuse or coercion tend to have lasting psychological scars that impair attachment later in life.

And these messages aren’t just seen in teen idol music videos or magazines, but even in schools. Dress codes have gained a lot of attention in recent years due to their outrageous and overtly sexist nature,  but there’s a key element that is often ignored. Dress codes usually call for girls’ shoulders to be covered and shorts to reach a certain length so as to not “distract” the boys in their schools, but these codes often include considerations for male teachers as well. As if the not-yet-legal bodies of middle and high school girls are so provocative that they’re being viewed in a sexual context by the men in the school meant to be a safe space for them. Like it’s the responsibility of a 14 year old girl to make sure the adult man she trusts as her teacher doesn’t experience hebephilic fixation on her body.

Last year, a Twitter hashtag and Reddit conversation asked women to recount the first time they were catcalled. What was shocking was that most of these women cited their first incidents around the onset of puberty, around ages 11-13. In a study conducted by Cornell University on street harassment, 84% of women recall being catcalled by adult men between the ages of 13 an 17. The first time I remember being catcalled was when I was 12 years old. A man walked passed me in the mall and told me I “looked good enough to eat,” despite the fact that I still had the body of a child- as I had not yet developed breasts or hips at that age.56fd37152e00002d00950166

Former Ohio mayor Richard Keenen plead guilty to the rape and molestation of a 4 year old girl, claiming that she was a “willing participant,” despite the fact that she was a toddler. It’s actually a common practice for pedophiles to blame their victims for being “too provocative” or “sexy,” despite varying stages of sexual and emotional maturity as a means of justifying the abuse.

The primary issue with the Lolita Effect and the cultural sexualization of young girls is that it thrusts sexual responsibility for the behavior of adult men on children, forcing them to carry a weight they are both psychologically and physically unable to bear. By prematurely projecting sexuality onto young girls we effectively implicate them in their own sociosexual trauma- making us as a society are no better than Humbert Humbert himself.

Xoxo,
La Nouvelle Romantique

Leave Melania Trump Alone!

 

Okay, we get it: You don’t like Donald Trump. Neither do I. But regardless of how you feel about our 45th President, you absolutely have GOT to stop slut-shaming his wife, Melania.

“Celyra, what do you mean? How can you say that? His wife’s naked photos are all over the internet for everyone to see! That’s not becoming of a First Lady!”

melania_-_copie_13Before I tell you why you’re wrong, I need you all to understand something: Melania Trump did not marry Donald with the expectation that she would one day become First Lady of  the United States. She was a model. Models are naked all the time. Her nudity was part of the creative vision of the people who photographed her, and as a model, it was her job fulfill said vision. And not that it really, matters, but she’s serving Looks™ in those photos.

As I said in my post about Kim Kardashian’s naked photos, women are allowed to feel empowered by their sexuality. Melania Trump has built her livelihood around her body and the confidence with which she carries it, and that is certainly something to celebrate. She may not be a model anymore, but her photos represent a career not many people can or have the opportunity to pursue, and that’s impressive.

Some people have taken the step to compare her to my biggest role model, First Lady Michelle Obama, and comment on the obvious difference between the two:

“Michelle Obama is the most educated First Lady ever. How are we going to go from a lawyer with two Ivy League degrees to someone I’ve seen naked?”

Again, this is something I’ve already talked about. You cannot divide women into two camps like this. Brainiac v. Barbie Doll, is a dangerous, misogynistic practice that is at the root of a lot of the issues surrounding sexism. This is the same division that tells men (and a lot of the time, other women) which women deserve their respect and which do not. Which women get hired for the job and which women do not. Which women will be taken seriously by police when investigating rape charges, and which women will not.

The fact that I know what she looks like naked doesn’t subtract from the fact that she spent the last year and a half supporting her husband on something as demanding and stressful as a presidential campaign while simultaneously mothering her children- and (ignoring her highest form of flattery towards Michelle Obama at the RNC), she did so with the grace and class I expect from a First Lady.

You guys have decried the sexism that ran rampant in this campaign, and responded to the loss by being sexist yourselves. This transition isn’t going to be easy for anyone, but please be respectful and do not let your hatred for Donald Trump (and internalized misogyny) unfairly cloud your judgement of Melania before we’ve given her a chance to prove herself as First Lady.

J’adore,
La Nouvelle Romantique

 

What I Need My Republican Peers to Understand About Their Hurting Friends

It’s over. After nearly two years of unadulterated bullshit from everyone, the election is over, and my candidate did not win.

Exhausted and anxious, I watched as red state after red state appeared on CNN’s map. I was so in shock that I literally couldn’t bring myself to continue until the race was called in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, and went to sleep teary-eyed, stressed, and devastated.

The next morning I, like all of you, woke up to social media post after social media post echoing the disappointment that lulled me to sleep the night before. People were astonished that someone as controversial as Donald J. Trump could be elected President, but a lot of others were just plain hurt.

This is where the lack of understanding from my Republican friends comes into play.

Upon seeing the dozens of posts decrying the prejudice that characterized his campaign, my Trump supporting peers interpreted them as personal attacks.

“Just because I voted for Trump doesn’t mean I’m racist, or hate gay people, or am Islamophobic!”
“I don’t know why people are acting like it’s the end of the world, Donald Trump is only one person!”
“It’s immature to end friendships over ‘differences in political opinion.'”

What these statements demonstrate to me is a lack of empathy and failure to see the bigger picture. I have plenty of Republican friends, and a lot of them are extraordinarily intelligent, caring, and accepting people. They’ve repeatedly spoken out against the prejudice that has colored this campaign, and stand against it every day of their lives. They themselves are not racist or prejudiced in any way- that is not at all the accusation your friends are making.

Your (rational) Facebook friends are not calling you a bigot, but are disappointed in you for thinking bigotry is acceptable. By voting for Donald Trump, you told your friends that you think the things he says and does are acceptable. 

That is certainly an oversimplification- I recognize that. But for your friends affected by the events leading up to this election, your support for the President Elect feels like opposition to them. In order to help you understand, I’m going to walk you through their thought process: Your friends are upset because, by process of deduction, they’ve concluded that you do not find anything disqualifying about a lot of the objectively terrible things that have been said and done by your candidate. If you thought these behaviors were inappropriate, you would have taken a stand, like those on this extensive list of Republican leaders against Trump, and not given your vote to the man who demonstrated them. Since you did, in fact, cast your vote for Donald Trump, it shows them that you did not find anything wrong with his behavior, and that realization hurts their feelings. For them this is not just “difference of opinion,” but an endorsement of behaviors that degrade them as people.

Again, that’s not entirely fair. Emotions are not always logical. You may have been vehemently against Trump’s actions on the campaign trail, but still voted for him for other, more complex ideological reasons. Or maybe you just hated Hillary Clinton. Those reasons absolutely have merit, and are not the reasons your friends are upset with you. They have taken your support for Donald Trump as acceptance of the bigotry and hatred surrounding his campaign. 

Before you get defensive and stop reading, I need you to be objective, analyze statements of fact, and hear me out on just a few points:

  1. As it relates your Muslim friends: Donald Trump has run a campaign generalizing Islam as a menace to world peace, and has even suggested banning adherents from entering the country. Donald Trump attacked the parents of a Muslim solider who gave his to defend your right to vote for him, and made remarks about Mrs. Khan “not being allowed to say anything” while her husband spoke at the DNC- remarks inspired by negative and many times, inaccurate assumptions about how Islam relates to its female adherents. You thought this was acceptable. 
  2. As it relates to your LGBTQ+ friends: Donald Trump has repeatedly spoken against marriage equality, and vowed to repeal it during his campaign. Donald Trump chose a running mate who believes that a) LGBTQ+ citizens should not be allowed to defend their country (which is quite a sacrifice considering the fact that they’ve been treated like second class citizens in this country until very recently), b) LGBTQ+ people should not be protected from discrimination the same way other minorities are, and c) state funds should be redirected to programs that “redirect homosexual behavior,” which has been proven time and time again to be both ineffectual and absolutely traumatizing for those who have to endure it. You thought these things were acceptable. 
  3. As it relates to your Latinx and First Generation Friends: Donald Trump announced his campaign with a speech wherein he called undocumented immigrants “criminals and rapists.” On his campaign he tried to exploit the grief of parents and loved ones who happened to lose their lives at the hands of undocumented immigrants to generalize them as a group of violent, lawless monsters when you and I know that is not the case most of the time. (Sidenote: The shitty way you feel about being generalized for being a Trump supporter is the same exact way your minority friends have felt since this campaign again. Empathy is a bitch, isn’t it?) I know a lot of people who were either a) brought here illegally by their parents (which is something they had no control over and thus should not be criticized for, btw) or b) born to parents who came here illegally. One of my close friends was brought here by her parents as a child when they fled their town in Mexico, which at the time was (and is to this day) being terrorized by a drug and human trafficking cartel. They wanted their kids to have a chance to escape the horrors of their cartel-run, poverty-stricken environment and gave them a chance at life in the US. They, and all of the families like them, were prejudicially characterized as dangerous criminals, and you thought that was acceptable. 
  4. You thought this was acceptable:
    trump-3
  5. For your PoC friends: White supremacists groups have been emboldened by the Donald Trump presidential campaign. His rhetoric speaks to the fear (and sometimes hatred) of people who are different (be it racially, ethnically, religiously, etc.) felt by some people in this country. This is a fact. America is quickly diversifying, and for those who fear what they do not understand, this is cause for nervousness. They’ve seen how minorities are treated in this country, and as a result are afraid of what that status entails for them as diversification continues. Trump’s prejudice and xenophobia (both implicit and explicit) have rationalized the opinions of those who are tacitly simmering with racial resentment and inspired those people to be more vocal. David Duke (the former Imperial Wizard of the KKK), as well as the Klu Klux Klan’s national newspaper have endorsed Donald Trump because he shares “their wholesome values of race and gender” and supports the “virtues of a white, Christian republic.” When a hate group with over 100 years of history painted by terrorism and the dissemination of hateful, racist rhetoric endorses a candidate because they believe he upholds their values, that should give you pause. It clearly did not, because you voted for him. 
  6. As it relates to women: I’m not going to touch reproductive rights because it’s a touchy issue no matter who is running. But I will say that Trump’s advocacy for punishing women who have abortions is extreme, especially since he did not communicate any punishment for the men who are often part of the decision to terminate a pregnancy. Donald Trump has bragged about “grabbing women by the pussy,” been accused of sexual assault by over ten women, is being brought to trial for sexual assault next month (which is troubling on its own, regardless of the verdict), and has perpetuated rape culture by saying that some of his accusers “weren’t attractive enough” for him to even assault (which is absolutely not the point of assaulting someone). You thought this was acceptable. 

If you’ve made it to this point, I commend your maturity and willingness to see another perspective. The point I’m trying to make here is that you should really try to put yourself in the shoes of those belonging to the groups above. Just because most of the offensive things you’ve read likely did not apply to you, it doesn’t make them any less terrible in the eyes of those to which they did. Your friends are very hurt, scared, and confused as to why more people didn’t complete this exercise in empathy before voting, and are trying to process their feelings. Instead of subtweeting on Twitter, getting upset about being called a bigot, or taking all you see to heart, I recommend having a meaningful discussion with your liberal friends, and help them understand where you’re coming from in much the same way this article aims to show you where they are coming from. Although she didn’t win, Hillary Clinton was right when she said that we’re “Stronger Together”

J’adore,
La Nouvellle Romantique

All The Ways I’ve Said “I Love You”

The phrase “I love you” always tasted like capitulation to me. Like giving someone verbal consent to ruin your life. “I love you” was always one of those phrases that disintegrated in my mouth like those cheap allergy pills you get from the big $0.89 bin at the grocery store.

Until today, it was something I reserved for my family (because let’s be real, your family ruins your life- whether you consent to it or not), and for my best friends (because they’re the ones who are there to clean up the mess when people ruin your life- usually without consent).

I’m going to go ahead and admit that central to my aversion to the eight-letter epithet is my fear of intimacy and general anxiety about expressing my feelings; which is ironic considering my recently deceased childhood dream of becoming a therapist.

The bottom line here is that I used to be of the opinion that “I love you” was a bullshit phrase people said because they should and not because they meant it.

Last week, someone who did not fit into either of my categories for expressing affection told me they loved me, and I stared at them like they spoke to me in Klingon, completely unable to respond. I spent several days thinking about it, and my parley paralysis.

At the end of my meditation, I decided that the reason I’ve never said it must be because I haven’t felt enough love for it to be important to me. It seemed reason enough to me, and honestly, I was done thinking about it.

But tonight, as I type this out, I know that that is complete and absolute bullshit. I’ve felt a million types of love so far- and they’re all equally important.

The very first, terrifying, wildfire kind that never really goes away (no matter how many times you delete his phone number). The kind you feel when you’re telling a story in a group you don’t want to be in and you catch the patient eyes of the only one who’s listening. The kind you feel when you walk past someone who is now just a stranger you talked to on your freshman year common room couch until the sun came up about all the ways you’ve tried to disappear. The kind you feel when you’re 16, high as a kite, and singing A-Punk as loud as you can with your friends on a Friday night.The bittersweet, temporary, reminiscent kind you try to devour before the post-breakup sex glow disappears. The kind that makes you so angry that you hit your little brother in the face then vehemently apologize for it immediately after. The kind you reluctantly spend your whole life giving to someone hoping it’ll make them better enough to return it one day.

As someone who is very aware of their own mortality, it suddenly became very important to me that the people in my life know the way I feel about them in case they didn’t already. How thankful I am for having them teach me about all the different kinds of love there is to give and receive. How grateful I am that they’ve given me love even though I have problems giving it to myself.

I guess the point of this post is to remind you guys to say those three silly syllables to the people who deserve to hear them (and maybe even to those who don’t) because at the end of the day, it’s the only phrase that matters.

J’adore,
La Nouvelle Romantique

Double D’s and Double Standards: What Kim Kardashian’s Naked Body Tells Us About Modern Feminism and Body Positivity

As most of you know, Tuesday was International Women’s Day- a day where we celebrate the myriad accomplishments and absolutely magical existence of the women in our lives, both past and present.

International Women’s Day was also the stage on which a heated debate about slut-shaming took place over Kim Kardashian’s latest nude selfie.

Bloggers, celebrities, and social media land TOOK OFF on Kim K for her racy photo- admonishing her for setting a “poor example” and using her body to create harmful messages for young women.

The two most talked about critiques came from 19 year-old actress Chloe Moretz and pop star, P!nk- which can be seen below.

Capturefff

The two women have defended themselves saying that they’re proud feminists and would never slut-shame another woman, but the problem is- they did exactly that.

The central message in both of these statements is that as a woman, you are either a whore or a role model. That you can’t be a positive, powerful, influential woman who also happens to love the way she looks. That you’re either a sexual being or a brain. That women who embrace their sexuality are inherently less intelligent or unknowing of their worth. In summary, these are some of the most anti-feminist statements I read in light of this situation and are a direct result of the misogyny feminism aims to fight.

It’s messages like these that make women feel like they need to act and look a certain way to be taken seriously. The reason why my gorgeous good friend Sarah purposefully hides her beauty when she’s at her computer science internship so that the men she works with respect her more. The reason that women are still calling other women sluts and whores.

I applaud Kim Kardashian’s bravery and self confidence in posting this photo. As she put it herself, she is empowered by her body and her sexuality and her womanhood- which is more feminist than the messages espoused above.

Kim shows that you can be a sexy, confident woman while still being a wife, mother, and businesswoman (say what you will about her business, but she knows what she’s doing and does it well). Embracing your looks and your sexuality is just as empowering as embracing your brains and your accomplishments. As I said in a previous post- women can be both. 

What I’ve noticed lately is a double standard in modern feminism that seems to manifest itself very often in the body positivity movement.

For example, take Lena Dunham’s “Girls,” an HBO original TV show (and personal favoritelena-dunham of mine) that follows four twenty-something year-old women as they find their place in the world. When it first premiered, Dunham was showered in praise for her inclusion of nude scenes featuring women with “less than ideal” body types, particularly her own. She was championed as a feminist crusader in the smashing of restrictive body standards and a hero for “real women” everywhere.

So why is Kim Kardashian a whore for showing off her body?

I thought about this all day yesterday and came to the conclusion that the only reason Kim was assaulted for her picture is because she represents the very ideals that Lena’s naked body protests. Body positivity, unfortunately, has devolved to include and celebrate women who represent the “imperfect,”  while women who wear a size 2 or have proportions like Kim are left out, and sometimes even made fun of.

img_20160310_184426.jpg“Real Women” campaigns almost never present women who aren’t curvy or women who don’t sport round shapes. I recently received an email containing the phrase “real women with real bodies,” which I found rather tasteless as it assumes that some women who happen to be smaller and wear a size 0 (like myself) or women whose silhouettes fit perfectly in a Coke bottle (like Kim K) aren’t real women.

On the more extreme end, some people will make statements like “only dogs like bones” and “#FuckAThighGap” that serve to put smaller or more slender women down to raise larger women up.

The purpose of the body positivity movement is to celebrate the beauty in ALL body types, not just the ones lacking in societal support. While I understand that society and the media shoves women with “perfect bodies” down our throats every day, the fact of the matter is that those are real women too- and their bodies deserve as much love as everyone else’s.

My hope is that as time moves forward, feminists continue to include ALL women in their efforts towards fighting harmful pressures and double standards in society and never lose sight of the fact that this movement does not work when we don’t stand together.

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J’adore,
La Nouvelle Romantique

 

Magee and Me: A Relay Story

The first time I had my heart broken by a book, it was in your class. We read Quentin Compson’s emotional breakdown in terms of word choice and syntax, and all I could think of was the twisted hands of a ticking watch and the broken man at the bottom of the Charles River.

CaptureThe first time I had my heart broken by a boy, you were there too. You gave me what I thought was a cheesy young adult novel and told me to read. That day you taught me that I was the world, and a ridiculous teenager in dirty Chuck Taylor’s was not and could never be my Armageddon.

You started my love affair with spicy hummus, and gave impetus to my first Angry Feminist rant about sexual consent (I’m sorry Aaron).

I remember sitting in debate, mocking your southern drawl and lamenting your (what I thought were poor) book choices. I remember complaining to you about Paul D’s pretentious tin heart. I remember the twinkle in your eye as you laughed at our Earnest attempts at British accents. 166301_1810689189881_7723917_n

Leaving your class was bittersweet, but you stuck with me, even through college. You advised me through dozens of recipes, 2 changes of major, 1 failed relationship, and too many existential crises to count. You told me to “be young” and I don’t think I would have if you didn’t.

You weren’t just an Advanced Placement Literature teacher. You were an educator in the school of life, and most importantly, a friend.

And it is in your Beloved memory, Patti Magee, that I am participating in Relay For Life this year.

Thank you for everything

 

Album Review: Denitia and Sene’s “his and hers.”

I’m just about ready to have Spotify’s children because of all the great music its Discovery Playlist feature has led me to, and Denitia and Sene’s sexy, chilled out, contemplative album is my first choice to soundtrack the endeavor.

denitia-sene-his-and-hersThe duo met in 2011 in the Brooklyn creative commune known as The Collective, and in what seems like an act of fate,  fell creatively in love with each other. Blending Denitia’s soft, silky, voice and Sene’s pure gift of production, the two create perfect artistic synergy- a quietly explosive combination of trip hop, synth pop, and R&B.

Their 2013 debut album ‘his and hers.’ is hypnotic, minimal (almost to the point of perfection), all while remaining entirely natural. The “battle of the sexes” subset of moody indie pop, best exemplified by the xx’s debut xx, has obvious appeal: seductive, murmured exchanges, quiet yearning, dissection of relationship dynamics, etc. What sets Denitia and Sene apart from these similar acts while sticking to its major themes, however, is the fact that they see situations from completely different points of view.

The LP’s lead single “Casanova,” details the dissolution of a relationship in light of an affair. Sene is the bitter ex finally accepting his loss to the titular character in a soft falsetto, while Denitia is contemplating what her choice will be between her two lovers, all set to a groovy electronic beat.

Another standout is how to satisfy., a true R&B solo showcasing just how silky smooth Denitia’s voice really is (and how simultaneously reminiscent it is of Sade and Portishead), pulling pages from the genre’s early 2000’s golden age.  The song is fun, flirtatious, and definite mood music. Despite it’s simplicity, this track includes some of my favorite lyrics from the album: “Treat her like a sunrise, setting over empty beaches. Watch her go down, and treat her like a bag of peaches.”

“his and hers.” clocks in at only 35 minutes (even less if you cut out the skits that end most of the songs on the album), which is just enough time to be completely entranced by its 8-bit lullabies, but short enough that it isn’t relegated to background noise.

Bonus Track: I actually discovered this band when Spotify suggested “breathe.scream.dream.” a stand alone single sung primarily by Sene in his ambiguous, Rhye/Sade-esque falsetto. He anxiously delivers his first thing in the morning thoughts to a droning background, making this (in my humble opinion) their sexiest song to date.

I encourage everyone to keep up with the pair, who will be releasing new music soon (according to their twitter), on soundcloud and their website.

You’re Not Cool, Just Sexist: Why Your “I’m Not Like Other Girls” Act is Bullshit

Hello Romantiques,
We need to talk. Again.

I was scrolling through Facebook today, and as per usual, I saw something ridiculously irritating.

One of my acquaintances from high school posted this picture and captioned it “Have fun with your makeup, Barbies. I’ll be over here reading.”

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All I could do really was cackle at how dumb she sounded as I made my way to the unfriend button, but then I started to think about why she, and so many other girls, feel the need to separate themselves from other women.

Pictures like these are made under the assumption that there are two types of women: Brainiacs and Bimbos.

The Brainiacs function on a holier than thou, “Not Like Other Girls” complex made under the assumption that any girl who enjoys makeup, clothes, and mainstream pop culture is an uneducated Barbie doll with no personality or opinions.

The Brainiac views herself as much more complex because she likes *insert esoteric or unpopular thing here*, drinks tea, and is just such an introvert. She brags about her need for intellectual conversation and subtly shames girls who aren’t as modest in dress as she is.

She says things like “I hate hanging out with girls, they’re such drama,” “I’m just like one of the guys,” or my personal favorite “I don’t need to wear makeup/ dress “slutty” to feel good about myself.”

In essence, the Brainiac is an asshole, and is representative of a larger problem:

Internalized Misogyny

I’m Not Like Other Girls is a phenomenon born of the idea that women in general are too stupid and vain to have anything going on intellectually, and that if you’re smart or complex, you’re obviously the exception to that rule, and as a result more attractive to men. This creates a form of competition between women wherein stereotypical femininity is looked down upon in favor of traits that are viewed as more “masculine” (intellect, different interests, low maintenance, etc.)

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This is the same phenomenon behind the look of disbelief when I tell people I’m in a sorority. The same one that causes my friend, who is a brilliant makeup artist, to downplay it as “just a silly hobby.” It’s also the same one that forced that poor girl on facebook to share that picture.

Would you like to know who created that idea? Men. (Sidebar: This isn’t an all men are evil post, so don’t get your fedora in a bunch. In fact you fedora-wearing “I’m not like other guys” guys suffer from a similar phenomenon stemming from the hypermaculinity presented by art and media, but we’ll save that for another day.).

We know the “Date the Marilyn, Marry the Jackie” dichotomy established by men all too well. There are two types of women, and each is better suited for two different types of interaction. Result? Everyone wants to be the Jackie. Girls want to go to great lengths to prove that they’re Not Like Other Girls to show men that they are/can be the Jackie (or the Vivian Kensington against Elle Woods), and is worthy of romantic interest (see the Gone Girl “cool girl” passage).

This idea is represented time and time again; in our YA literature (I’m not like other girls, I’m pale and shy and read books trope @JohnGreene @StephanieMeyer), in our music (Taylor “Friendship is Feminism” Swift’s ‘You Belong With Me’ video), in our movies and TV (Zooey Deschanel in literally everything).

While embracing who you are (“quirks” and all) is important, it’s  equally important to know how to do so without knocking down other women for a number of reasons:

  1. That girl you’re making fun of is a person. Like you, that girl has interests, passions, and most importantly, feelings (crazy how she, too, is a human being amiright?). Talking her down does nothing to boost your self esteem. You’re still the same person who feels inadequate, otherwise you wouldn’t need to put her down in the first place.

tumblr_mmcat2Mk9f1r186lno1_5002. Tina Fey said it best. By making it okay and even normal to make this type of girl-on-girl put down, you make it okay for guys to put down girls in the same fashion. As I said before, That Girl is just as worthy of respect as you are.

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3. Other girls are cool as fuck. My group of friends is ridiculously dynamic, and each woman I associate with has her own unique traits that I can’t help but admire. Women are amazing, if you haven’t noticed, and separating yourself only leaves you missing out.

Xoxo,
La Nouvelle Romantique