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

xojane

Nope nope nope.

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

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

Everything 2015 Taught Me About Harassment

Twitter_BlockIt would be easy to say 2015 was about herpes. In reality, this year was about my voice and the Internet and growing up and falling short. I conquered some demons by capturing a specter in words. I gained a few thousand Twitter followers. I broke my own heart and never wrote about it. I moved into my first apartment. I met new, important friends.

But 2015 was mostly about harassment. I got harassed a lot this year. My friends were harassed. My mother was harassed. I spent one of the final days of 2015 in court waiting for her to testify against her stalker. We sat on a rigid bench for six hours and I thought about 2013, when I was harassed, properly harassed, for the first time. The first time, I didn’t know what it was or what to call it other than he won’t stop texting me and what do I do. I knew not to answer and just watched the missed calls rack up. Then there were texts, and then Facebook messages. There weren’t a lot, but a handful was enough to turn up the dials on my anxiety. It felt like all the air had been quickly sucked out of the room. I did all the right things, told my parents, saved screenshots, and eventually it stopped. I created a Dropbox folder of evidence if I ever… needed it, for some reason. I knew I could go to the dean about it and get a no contact order, but at that point it seemed safer to go quiet. And so I hid. And shook. And cried. And kept hiding. Continue reading

“Who Has The Time To Count Facebook Likes?” Fuck You, I Do.

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I get so pissed off when people rag on social media. You know that conversation, usually at a cocktail party (oh who am I kidding, I’m twenty-three and I go to cramped apartment parties or loud bars where I have to strain myself to reluctantly listen to sermons about modern technology), when someone you thought you liked starts talking about how social media is turning us all into automatons unable to relate to each other. Twitter, the end of empathy. Facebook, the death knell of human connection. Tumblr, the downfall of social justice activism. “I mean, who has time for it?” they ask, gesturing with their bottle of expensive and undrinkable Brooklyn Lager. “Who has the energy to count likes?”

I do, I almost say. Continue reading

Happy Birthday to Femsplain!

Bad bitch with great swag.

Bad bitch with great swag.

The theme over on Femsplain this month is “dreams,” which is pretty cute considering they just made a huge dream of mine come true. I’m delighted to announce that I am now a featured contributor for Femsplain!

I’ve sung the praises of Femsplain before. The digital publication—which turns one year old this month—is run by women, for women. They don’t only feature female voices you can’t find elsewhere; they also cultivate a warm, supportive and smart community of writers, readers and some of the loveliest commenters on the planet. The Femsplain staff has worked hard to create not a website, but a home for women on the Internet. Nasty, trolling comments have no place here. Since my first piece went live on the site in April, I’ve met some of my favorite new friends and mentors through the Femsplain network. I’ve also watched some of my old friends write about topics that used to terrify them and watched weight lift from their shoulders in the days that followed. And my writing has grown too. Continue reading

Bachelorella: The Bachelorette Gets Real About Online Harassment

Source: @BacheloretteABC

Source: @BacheloretteABC

The producers of The Bachelorette made an interesting choice during tonight’s “Men Tell All” episode. Between the awkward reunions and desperate attempts to rebuild reputations, Kaitlyn Bristowe and Chris Harrison had an honest conversation about the tidal waves of harassment this season’s Bachelorette has received online. In a controversial move, Harrison read out several real tweets and emails sent to Kaitlyn over the last few months in all of their violent, slut-shaming, expletive-laden glory. The studio audiences’ jaws dropped, Kaitlyn struggled not to cry, and her men winced and grimaced in sympathy and horror. Twitter lit up like a switchboard. Was The Bachelorette actually addressing the harassment women receive online?

Yes. Yes it was. Continue reading

The Boner Backlash: Stop Telling Me You Would Still Fuck Me

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I am too upset to find a better stock photo.

I get asked a lot if I have seen a backlash to my herpes activism. The simple answer is no, because it isn’t the backlash people expect. No one is raising ‘whore’ banners against me, and I largely ignore negative comments on social media when the response I’ve met has been so overwhelmingly supportive. There have been no (articulate) takedowns written about me, no inappropriate questions from journalists. For the most part people are ready to talk about herpes, and to talk about it kindly.

The backlash I’ve actually seen is worse, if I’m being honest. It’s insidious and “well-intended,” so banal I should have seen it coming. It’s the boner backlash: the wave of messages from men who find me sexually attractive and want me to know it. It’s the dozens of Facebook messages I’ve received from (always male) strangers inviting me out for drinks, or telling me I’m gorgeous, or writing that they’d still fuck me in the comments of my own blog like they’re defending my honor. It’s the simple “hey ;)” or “I can’t believe you’re still single” or “I’ll be at [x] bar tomorrow night, just fyi.” Continue reading

I went to the Outlander premiere, where everyone laughed at domestic violence

This is the face of someone who does not know why she is at the Outlander premiere.

This is the face of someone who does not know why she is at the Outlander premiere.

I’m sitting in the beautiful Ziegfeld Theater in midtown Manhattan, watching a woman be beaten with a belt. The audience around me is laughing, clapping, and whistling. My plus one winces as he watches the scene through his fingers. I listen to the delighted howls echoing through the theater and wonder if I am missing something. Is this supposed to be funny? Is this supposed to be sexy? Am I being a feminist buzzkill? Did I miss a memo?

I really need to talk about the Outlander premiere.

For those of you not in the know, Outlander is a time-travel romp of beautiful costumes and sexual tension on Starz. Claire Randall, a no-nonsense WWII nurse, gets sucked back in time to the 1700s Scottish Highlands, and her assertive “modern woman” personality doesn’t exactly mesh with the kilt-wearing rogues she is sort of held captive by. She winds up marrying Jamie, a sensitive fugitive from the English troops, and they have a lot of steamy sex but she’s conflicted about it. Outlander is beloved and popular because of its extremely heavy use of the female gaze, despite Claire being nearly raped every other episode. It’s the sort of show I watch with skepticism while scrolling through Tumblr on my iPhone: feminist enough to entertain but not perfect and not spectacularly written.

Continue reading

Bachelorella update: Bachelor Nation turns on itself, calls out its sexism

the-bachelorette-logoI went to bed angry last night, and apparently I wasn’t the only one judging by the mess that was my Twitter feed this morning. Bachelor Nation seems in agreement that the decision to pit Kaitlyn and Britt against each other in the first episode of the upcoming season of The Bachelorette is tacky, shitty, and sexist. Some of the strongest voices of disapproval are Bachelor and Bachelorette alumni themselves. Here are some of my favorite responses from the people who know the process best:

Desiree Siegfried, who made it to Sean’s finale four before getting sent home and going on to become the Bachelorette herself:

Sharleen Joynt, professional opera singer and my personal diplomatic princess queen (oh yeah, and she was on Juan Pablo’s season):

Continue reading

Bachelorella Finale Recap: Why having two Bachelorettes is BULLSHIT

From The Bachelorette Twitter:

This pixelated as hell image from @TheBachelorette, with the caption: “It’s a #TheBachelorette first! Who will the guys choose: #TeamBritt or #TeamKaitlyn?”

I’m going to try to recap the actual finale of The Bachelor before I descend into my rage spiral about the decision to have two Bachelorettes. Thankfully I wrote half of my recap during “After The Final Rose” before the big announcement, back when I had faith in society and was not shuddering with rage.

So The Bachelor ended without much drama, all things considered. Chris chose Whitney, she of the baby voice and refreshing maturity. Whitney could say what Becca couldn’t: that she was in love with Chris beyond any doubt, and she wanted to move to Iowa. While Becca admitted with far too much intelligence for this reality show that she just wasn’t where she was supposed to be in the process, stuck in the weird pre-love limbo that comes from only dating someone for two months, Whitney was like let’s do this, bro.

Continue reading