Whelp, it’s that time of year again the libraries are filled to capacity where noise of any kind is met with evil stares and death threats, everyone is offering to use their dining dollars for you, and every student seems on the verge of hysterical laughter, or crying, or fits of rage and most likely a combination of all three. It can only mean one thing! The end of the semester is finally here! And it has been quite a journey. As most of the bloggers have done I would like to take this time to reflect on my experiences this year, especially as they concern my time with ShoutOut!
If you didn’t know, the semester is wrapping up for the year.
When I look back on this semester I can only see a blur. It may not have been the toughest, but it certainly hasn’t been the greatest. Of the few real memories I can conjure up, I can distinctly remember every time I wrote for ShoutOut. Between long periods of writer’s block, cursing myself for again waiting until last minute and hollowly swearing I’ll start earlier the next week, I was actually doing something I was proud to be a part of.
This past semester I was introduced to another world. Unlike Alice’s journey into Wonderland or Dorothy’s to Oz, I couldn’t snap myself back to reality as I had unknowingly stepped into it. In this new environment I felt the patriarchy that held so many people back and created unrealistic expectations for all participants. I heard the language that was casually thrown around as if it didn’t sting like knives. I saw the pain in people’s eyes as they recounted events when they were affected by misogyny. The kicker though was the shame I felt realizing I played an active role in all of this like a chump.
Thanks to ShoutOut’s amazing writers and readers, I’ve begun changing my lifestyle. Taking small steps to turn my life around and lead it in an open-minded way, I’ve seen the positive it could do for the people around me. It’s been liberating to say the least, however I’ve recently felt like there was still something missing; a weight in my heart I couldn’t shack.
So as my last post I kind of wanted to write I guess what would be considered a reflection of some shape or form. There ultimately won’t be a general topic or subject heading, I honestly don’t know I’m going to title this…ramblings of nostalgic senior? I actually kind of like it but more to the point if I have one, I am a senior and have two weeks left of my college career, gosh it makes me feel so old. I remember when I was a freshman older people would tell me to enjoy it while it lasts because it passes by so quickly and I never thought I’d see the day when I was that older person.
It feels like just yesterday that I was a little freshwoman, well I still am little but hopefully a lot wiser. People always say that college is when you find yourself, you’ll experiment but along the road you’ll come into your own as a small person in this big world. You make mistakes, you learn from them and grow plus hopefully don’t repeat them but there’s ups and downs, break ups, hook ups and fuck ups, you may get an underage charge, you may find a soul mate, or just a best friend that you will always stay in touch with and you may very well may streak the quad. There are papers and tests but those aren’t the things that shape your college experience. You won’t care what you got on your geology test Sophomore year but the night you stayed up all night talking to a complete stranger, you will. Along this wild journey that people casually refer to as college, I found myself and I can 100% thank feminism for the woman I am today.
It is hard to believe it, but this is it. My 41st and final post for ShoutOut JMU. We have shared three semesters of avid blogging my dear readers – but let’s take one last journey together. I want to reflect on my blogging experience, talk about the transformative power of the blogosphere (and how you can be a part of it!), and share two upcoming feminist projects that I am really excited about. So, one last time, here we go…
While in class the other day, I overheard two girls talking about fat shaming, and one parroted to the other the old standby for empowering women who feel like they are too big: “real women have curves.” As glad as I was that the conversation was aimed at making one person feel good about her body, I was sad that it had to be at the expense of classifying women as real or not.
I’m a gamer and damn proud.
You won’t catch me toting a DS waiting to update my Animal Crossing town or feed my Nintendogs. I won’t spend hours in front of my tv wasting the brilliance that is the outdoors. And I will never pass up time with friends, to finish that last level of Bioshock Infinite or play one more round of Zombies. However, I will keep up with the industry’s latest and greatest. I do long for that occasional heartwarming nostalgia that comes with replaying an old N64 favorite. And I will always look forward to the occasional follow-up or reimagining of a series like Zelda or Tomb Raider. Gaming has been ingrained within me since as far as I can remember, but it wasn’t until recently that I stumbled upon a daring vlogger who prompted me to reanalyze these pieces of my past with a new feminist perspective.
A month from yesterday will mark the one year anniversary of a bold concept that would later rock the gaming community forever. After being invited to speak to video game development company BUNGiE, vlogger and creator of Feminist Frequency Anita Sarkeesian felt satisfied with her involvement, but realized there was a lot left to be said for the industry as a whole. She decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund a series of videos that would analyze the history of video games from a feminist lens and illuminate the iconic portrayals of women in these games. Little did she know the tidal wave of backlash, harassment, and vandalism that would follow her from arguably the most proverbial of boy’s clubs.
I don’t know if its the warm weather or the abundance of pollen plaguing the air but I can’t help but think about the summer which in turn makes me think of swimsuit season. UGH the dreaded words, the thoughts of self-loathing, the images of women that are prettier than you, skinnier than you and wear that bikini better than you that flood our minds as the ocean tides flood the beaches. As HannahGrace mentioned in her latest post, feminists sometimes have trouble admitting that we are not impervious to the images presented to us in the media that make us feel inadequate. I’m not here to talk about shaming other women due to personal feelings of inadequacy or turning to eating disorders or disordered eating. What I really want to explore is point where our societal beauty ideal transformed from one of a healthy curvaceous body to a thin one represented by 5% of the actual female population.
I don’t know about you but a far as I can remember thin was the way to be even though my mother told me I was beautiful no matter what physical phase I was going through. On our scales today the women on the bottom row of this picture would be considered “overweight” but have you ever considered over what weight? What is this tight imaginary box of poundage that we are supposed squeeze our way into?
Last Wednesday afternoon, I sat down at my kitchen table to do some homework. Like any normal, procrastinating college student, I headed straight for Facebook, momentarily disregarding the mountain of work silently pleading with me to get busy. After logging on, my initial intention of posting stupid pictures with cryptic captions was immediately sidelined, as I came across a trending article in my newsfeed that nearly twenty friends had reposted. My spidey senses started tingling when I realized it was from Jezebel. I clicked away, and my heart sank as I read the opening statement of the article, as follows:
“A 16-year-old student says she was forced to withdraw from her prestigious Catholic prep school after texting a topless photo to two of the school’s star athletes, who shared it with the entire lacrosse team but received no punishment. Instead of using the incident as a teachable moment for both male and female students about trust and social media, the administration sent a clear message: girls are ungodly creatures who tempt boys into sin.”
I was immediately appalled, and knew right away that I wanted to write a blog post about this. As a graduate of a Catholic high school myself, I felt an instant connection to this story. To boot, the subject of the article, Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, VA, is my alma mater.
Oh, the plot thickens! In all seriousness though, the school got a lot of heat, and frankly, it’s totally understandable. However, I want to step away from the parallel of girls being biblically-proclaimed wily temptresses, and come at this controversy from a more religiously-neutral standpoint than Jezebel. Continue reading
Summer is here and – ready for some real talk? – all the short shorts and mini dresses are making me feel fat, fat, FAT. Everywhere I turn there seems to be a girl looking better than I ever could in a skin-tight something, reminding me that squeezing into the skinny jeans I owned when I was 21 may not ever be a reality again. Ugh. It sucks to say, but feels good to get off my chest.
I think some feminists have a hard time admitting that they struggle with body image. They know and can cite supporting evidence that American culture holds women to impossible and narrow standards of female “beauty,” but knowing this exists does not make one impervious to its effects. As society polices women, we often police ourselves, internalizing damaging notions of what our bodies “should” look like.
Although it’s an uncomfortable subject, it is one that needs to be addressed, for there is a demographic of women who have taken this internalization to the extreme. They are women who identify as “pro-anorexia,” and although the term alone may shock you, these are not women who should be scorned or judged. Although operating on a different level, the psychology behind these women’s thoughts is not so different from my own “fat” feelings. They are women who need help and support, so, in an effort to promote non-judgmental awareness, let’s take a closer look at the so-called “thinspiration” movement and lives of “pro-ana” women. Continue reading
*Warning The Video That Is Attached Is Extremely Violent, Viewer Discretion is Advised*
This past week I’ve had two different conversations with two different groups of people about the life of Transgenders, and the difficultly that they face in our society. Our society, as a whole, still views them as abnormal and more often than not makes no commitments to help make their lives easier. For those of you who may not know a person who identifies as Transgender is someone who feels that their gender identity (man or woman) does not match their biological sex (male or female). The degree to which each individual person decides to handle this discrepancy varies some are fine with simply dressing and acting like the gender they feel, some take hormones to get their body to realign, and a small few go through surgery to physically make their body line with their identity. It is all dependent upon that individual person and how they see themselves and what makes them the most comfortable. As my inner feminist incessantly reminds me feminism is about equality for ALL people so during both of these conversations I had that inner desire and obligation to remind those that I was with how difficult it can be to live in our society as someone who breaks a norm.