An Open Letter to the Bachelor In Paradise Producers, From an Abuse Survivor

Co5fYxCW8AEqIJCHi there. You don’t know me, but I’m a loyal fan of The Bachelor and its spinoff shows. I’ve been watching the franchise since the third season of Bachelor Pad, and despite being a Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies major when I was in college, I’ve defended the show through thick and thin. Remember when you made Britt and Kaitlyn compete to be The Bachelorette? I blogged angrily, but I watched. When Kaitlyn got slut-shamed all over the place for sleeping with Nick? I tuned in early, and then I blogged. I’m a proud member of Bachelor Nation, accepting roses from even the worst of seasons (let’s be real, JoJo was a bust). Continue reading

BACHELORELLA: JoJo’s Season of The Bachelorette Is Terrible. We Are All Terrible.

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I haven’t written about The Bachelorette this year because, to be honest, it hasn’t been good. I’ve never gone into the final five so apathetic about a Bachelor or Bachelorette’s choices. Will JoJo accept the proposal of the Ken doll with facial hair, or without? Will they break up a month after the finale, or two months after? What will she title the tell-all memoir about the failure of their relationship? In a moment of resigned crankiness I sought out Reality Steve’s spoilers, hoping there would be some shocking plot twist to motivate me to care. Meh. Let’s be real: this season sucks. Continue reading

My Abusive Ex-Boyfriend, His Fraternity Brothers, and Me

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I’ve been trying to write this essay for a few weeks. Every time I sit down to start, only bile comes out. The hurt I want to document goes deeper than a neat thesis statement. I feel betrayed, and betrayal is more like an infection than a broken bone. There is no way to easily reset it and wrap it in plaster. Betrayal burrows into your nerves and sets up camp for the long haul. Its scattershot symptoms are hard to explain to a doctor when you’re not confident in exactly what is wrong, and it’s easy in those moments of sloppy articulation to feel like you’ve made it all up. I keep waiting for the fever to peak before I put words to this. No matter what friendships I sever or pointed Facebook statuses I write, this strain of anger doesn’t have an easy cure. The struggle to write is the only inoculation available to me. Continue reading

When Revenge Fantasies Come True: Female Rage, Pop Culture and xoJane

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TW: discussion of violence and sexual assault

I’ve had a lot of conversations this week about justice. Justice is a difficult word for women—in the age of #FreeKesha, Jian Ghomeshi, Woody Allen flitting around Cannes, and a known abuser running for the highest public office in the United States, pure justice is a dated concept. “Justice” is too often doled out by the people who deserve it the most. An exhausted realist might argue that for women, for people of color, for the LGBTQ community, there is no justice in the justice system. Continue reading

Maybe He Doesn’t Hit You

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This essay was inspired by the hashtag campaign #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou, started by Zahira Kelly (@bad_dominicana) to share experiences of emotional abuse. If you are worried you are in an abusive relationship, click here to get help.

Maybe he doesn’t hit you but he warns you that he has a dark side he will make every effort to prevent you from seeing. You’re cuddled up in your narrow, squeaky dorm bed and it’s a weeknight, still early in the relationship, and he has these boy band dimples when he smiles. It sounds like such a cliché that you do not take it seriously. Whatever this spoiled, exceptionally dressed teenager throws at you will be no problem. He is sweet and funny and has a talent for saying exactly the right thing but in the most inventive assortment of words possible. On some late Wednesday night, or maybe it’s even the same night, he promises, “I won’t let you down” under the glow-in-the-dark stars glued to your ceiling. You are not old enough to know that this is an impossible thing to promise. Continue reading

Why I Don’t Call Herpes a “Gift”

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Here’s a fun question: how do we take back what has happened to us?

The answer for me has always been writing. Even if I can’t force difficult experiences to make sense, I can capture details in rainbow prism sentences. There are moments I’ve preserved until I have the maturity and perspective to understand why they matter: my ex’s hands gentle at my throat as he unclasps my favorite necklace, the loving breath of a man who doesn’t respect me. Words give me ownership of the complex and uncategorizable. Continue reading

How News Genius Silences Writers

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I moderate Facebook comments all day. While the rest of the Internet shuts off comments on publications, Facebook comments aren’t going anywhere—they count as engagement to help rank posts in the newsfeed, and there is no way for an admin to turn them off. As the host of a large media non-profit’s page, it is my responsibility to remove comments that are hateful while not censoring our audience. I work to create positive discussion by hiding the most appalling instances of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia, and by banning consistently hostile users. If we can’t turn off our Facebook comments, we need to own them.

As a result of this daily grind of filtering the worst instincts of humanity, I have a thick skin. I also know the value of sites that protect their creators. As a herpes+ sex blogger, I avoid writing for publications that do not moderate their comments, or, in some cases, even encourage negative comments through outrageous headlines. Websites that are known for their horrendous comment culture use it to drive additional traffic—online reading as public shaming that anyone can participate in. I have had my lifestyle, my intelligence, and my sanity raked over the coals in the comments of sites like BuzzFeed and The Daily Mail. The sexual nature of my writing is a beacon to the seriously disturbed. When I confided my terror in a male friend after going viral for the first time, his response was essentially: What did you expect? It’s the Internet. Continue reading

You Don’t Need to Forgive People Who Hurt You

forgiveness searchOn March 1st I will have officially lived in New York City for a year. It’s been a wild ride so far: I gained a few thousand Twitter followers, found my true publishing soul mates at Femsplain, went viral twice and met an actual good person on Tinder. I finally have an apartment with rooftop access, which the true readers will know I’ve lusted after for years. I know which bodegas always have Diet Coke and can stand on the subway for long periods of time without stumbling into the bearded DJ next to me. Walking into a bar where I don’t know anyone is still intimidating, but less so, as I am armed with healthy self-confidence and really cool business cards. I also have not come one iota closer to forgiving my ex-boyfriend, but that’s mostly because I haven’t been trying. Continue reading

Why “Peeple” Is Dangerous To Survivors… and, Really, Anyone

Hey Peeple, your logo and slogan suck.

Hey Peeple, your logo and slogan suck.

UPDATE 3/7/2016: Peeple has launched, with a new paid “truth license” that allows you to read hidden reviews to come soon. You can read my latest take here.


I work in social media. It is part of my job to stay up-to-date on the myriad new social networks that spring up like weeds every day. Some of them grow and evolve steadily like the cool, quirky nerd This.cm. Some inspire mobs of loathing and debate like the new mean girl on the block Peeple. Within a few hours of the Washington Post covering Peeple—a distinctly “what is the world coming to” app that allows you to rate and review people the way you would a restaurant—my Twitter feed was tearing it to shreds, and for good reason. Peeple is so riddled with flaws that you would think its creators had never experienced the Internet before… which they may not have, judging by their lack of familiarity with Twitter. But while Twitter was mocking Peeple and pointing out its similarity to a certain Community plot line, I was thinking about something very simple: how Peeple has the potential to ruin my life, if allowed to exist. Continue reading

The Conversation That Never Happened: On Herpes and Abusive Relationships

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I think I texted him that I needed to talk and asked if we could meet up. I might have called him directly, but my voice was shaking and brittle and I knew he would hear it. So I think I texted him, and he must have called me instead of answering the text—he liked to do that. Certain details are hazy, the exact order of events, whether he hung up on me because he was furious or I hung up on him because I was crying too hard. Was I crying? I must have been crying. Continue reading