Little Letter

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Dear Rain,
Wow, it’s good to see you again old friend. It’s been too long since last you made your presence known in Southern California. Stay awhile, won’t you?

Dear “The West Wing”,
You are surprisingly addictive. I can feel myself getting sucked in already, which is not good considering you have seven seasons…

Dear Fulbright,
I just heard I was selected as a semi-finalist! Thank you, I can’t tell you how much this means to me. Now I hurry up and wait till March.

Dear Monday,
I was dreading you until school was cancelled due to the many road closures caused by landslides! Oh beautiful, joyous Monday! You are my new favorite day of the week.

Dear Women’s March,
It was a profound, deeply impactful experience to march on Saturday. Something special happened, that I’m sure of. You were the largest organized march in US history. Bravo.

Dear NPR,
Gosh, keep up the good work!

Dear “Old School”,
Props to you, Tobias Wolff, for writing such a stellar novel.

Dear Novella,
I should be much further with you than I am. And by further, I mean I should have started writing you a long time ago…uh oh.

Dear Guitar,
My guitar class has proven so insightful! Thanks of being a gorgeous instrument.

P.s. Photo from the Women’s March

The Women’s March

fullsizeoutput_3aafYesterday was historic to say the least. More than a million people in over 670 locations world wide marched to bring awareness to human rights, particularly women’s rights, at the start of Trump’s administration. In fact, more people participated in the march on Washington alone than attended the Inauguration.

My two friends and I headed downtown to show our support. Though it was quite a feat getting there, including an intense search for parking and a crowded subway ride, the atmosphere was electric with positive energy. On the way there, I heard a dad saying to his little girl, “You are making a difference in your city, your country and your world today sweetie.” My heart melted.

There were men, women and children of all stripes and walks of life taking part. We marched from Pershing Square to City Hall, chanting and dancing along to music. There was even a group of Native American dancers performing amidst the crowd. I was blown away by the creativity of people’s signs and outfits. Below are a few photos if you’d like to see:fullsizeoutput_3aa9fullsizeoutput_3aac^My first time on the metro in LAfullsizeoutput_3aadfullsizeoutput_3aaefullsizeoutput_3ab0fullsizeoutput_3ab5fullsizeoutput_3ab8fullsizeoutput_3ab9^So powerfulfullsizeoutput_3abafullsizeoutput_3abdfullsizeoutput_3abefullsizeoutput_3ac1fullsizeoutput_3ac2fullsizeoutput_3ac6^These ladies dressed as tampons!fullsizeoutput_3ac7fullsizeoutput_3ace^City Hallimg_3624fullsizeoutput_3acf^Probably my favorite sign of the day. Carrie Fisher would be proud!fullsizeoutput_3ad3^The girl(s) with the power!fullsizeoutput_3ad4As Michelle Obama so eloquently said:

“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half its citizens.”

Now I’m off to take a nap– fighting the patriarchy is exhausting! Have a good one friends.

P.s. Feel free to read this article if you want more info!

Are We Sluts Or Prudes?

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The other day I watched the iconic movie Mean Girls and one of the scenes (pictured above) got me thinking.

Usually the opposite of a negative is a positive– dark vs. light, evil vs. good, sad vs. happy, you get the picture. But where female sexuality is concerned, the opposite of a negative is another negative. If you’re not considered a slut, you’re a prude. Both terms have negative connotations and force girls to constantly walk the blurry line between experience and inexperience.

Women are extremely over sexualized in our culture, but often they don’t know what to do when faced with an actual sexual situation. The media places unrealistic expectations on them as if they’re normal. Their partners in turn place these expectations on them or they place them on themselves. Talk about mixed messages! I’ve heard girls my age say, “I’m proud of my body and will show off as much of it as I want to!” But that confidence soon comes off with their clothes. It’s not more than skin deep.

I recently read the article, “On Girls and Sex: The Importance of Talking to Girls about Pleasure” by Peggy Orenstein. She has spent the last 25 years interviewing girls on their sex lives and gained some interesting insights. She says girls are not having intercourse at a younger age, but they are engaging in other sexual behaviors such as oral sex earlier. Many girls saw giving oral sex as a way to postpone actual intercourse or maintain power and control. A particularly interesting finding was that while most men tend to measure their own pleasure based on their own pleasure, most women tend to measure their own pleasure based on their partner’s pleasure. Girls do not receive oral sex nearly as often as they give it, and end up largely ignoring their own wants and needs in the process. Maybe that’s why Orenstein reports that women in homosexual relationships orgasm more regularly than women in heterosexual relationships.

Like many things in life, children start learning these lessons at an early age. Orenstein says:

Parents don’t tend to name their infant baby’s genitals if they’re girls. For boys, they’ll say, “Here’s your nose, here’s your shoulders, here’s your waist, here’s your pee pee,” whatever. But with girls, there’s this sort of blank space — it’s right from navel to knees, and not naming something makes it quite literally unspeakable. Then they go into puberty education class, and girls have periods and unwanted pregnancy, and you see only the inside anatomy — that thing that looks like a steer head, with the ovaries and everything — and then it grays out between the legs, so we never talk about the vulva, we never talk about the clitoris. Very few girls explore, there’s no self-knowledge, and then they go into their sexual experiences and we expect them to be able to have some sense of entitlement, some sense of knowledge, to be able to assert themselves, to have some sense of equality, and it’s just not realistic that that’s going to happen.

If girls don’t even understand their own anatomy, what makes us think they are going to be able to tell their partner what they enjoy or don’t enjoy?! Interestingly enough, the idea of one’s ‘loss of virginity’ still carries weight in our culture. It is a symbol of maturation and one of the entry points into adulthood. But several of the girls Orenstein interviewed said they viewed it as ‘something to get over with,’ not necessarily to enjoy. Many of them didn’t lose it with someone they loved or even mildly cared about, and it wasn’t a physically pleasurable experience.

So my question is, what if we redefined the idea of ‘loss of virginity’ to include multiple virginities? What if we placed just as much emphasis on oral sex, or anything that produces the same physical response (i.e. certain hormone release), as we do on intercourse? Or what if we broadened it to include the first time you orgasm with a partner? The traditional, narrow definition is not doing young people any favors.

As someone who grew up in the church, I believe I bring a unique perspective to this conversation. I do believe sex should be saved until marriage. But I also believe it should be talked about more within the church before marriage. It’s clear the church doesn’t like saying the S-E-X word, so they just preach abstinence and move on with their sermon. But the Bible never says explicitly don’t have sex, it says avoid sexual immorality. Now that’s a much vaguer and broader concept that needs to be explored.

It’s so easy to justify your behavior by saying, “I didn’t have actual sex, I just gave him head, so I’m good.” Are you really good? Do you know what that act means for your body and your relationship? I know it’s a hard topic and there are no clear cut answers to these questions, but can’t we at least talk about it like adults?  The church needs to stop throwing around antiquated terms like ‘purity’ and ‘wholeness’ and get down to the nitty gritty details.

So parents, talk to your children about sex. And women in particular, talk to the young women in your life about their own pleasure. Fight the social taboos and tell them they are neither a victim nor an object nor a slut nor a prude and never will be, no matter what. Chances are the conversation will bring you two closer in the end and she will feel less confused and alone. And isn’t that worth a little initial awkwardness?

I believe wholeheartedly that it is.

Five Inspiring Women

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If you know me, you know I’m all about female empowerment. It can be a little much sometimes– but what can I say? It’s one of my passions! I make a point to keep up with news regarding break throughs made by women in society, and try to read as many books as possible on the subject. It’s an exciting time to be alive. I feel as though we are the middle children of history. Something is shifting, and I can’t wait to see what magnificent things women continue to accomplish during my life time. That being said, I thought I’d share five women who have inspired my recently in some way or another in hopes that perhaps they will inspire you as well. Enjoy!landscape-1451322311-younghillary.jpgHilary Clinton Okay, I know the jury is still out on this one for many people, what with the election and all, but I personally believe Hilary Clinton is an example of a woman who puts her self out there despite her imperfections. She is obviously flawed, but she doesn’t let that stop her from following her passions and making a difference in the world. Just think about the positions she’s held in her career: first lady, senator, secretary of state, and now possibly president. She has broken glass ceiling after glass ceiling for women and, regardless of your political views, that is something to be admired.lana-del-rey-interview.jpgLana del Rey Singer Lana del Rey is one of my personal favorites. With her bluesy voice and 1960’s vibes, she is a true original. Her 2012 album Born to Die reached number two on the US charts and was the fifth highest selling album of the year. Her following three albums have achieved similar success, and she is currently the most streamed female artist on Spotify in the US and the fifth worldwide. As someone who’s been a fan longer than most, I can say I am truly inspired by Lana del Rey. She is breaking records left and right and paving a new path for female vocalists the world around.static1.squarespace.png

Amy Poehler If you don’t already know who Amy Poehler is, you may have been living under a rock for the past few year…just kidding! But seriously, Amy has been killing it lately. She began her career in improv, staring on SLN and eventually founding the Upright Citizens Brigade theater school. She then went on to write, direct and star in shows and movie such as Parks and Recreation and Mean Girls. Her most recent book Yes Please was received exceptionally well and was one of my personal favorites. In all her spare time, she is the mother of two young boys! As an aspiring writer myself, Amy is a picture of what it means to pursue your passions no matter how tough the going may get.Misty-Copeland-Workout.jpgMisty Copeland In June of 2015, Misty Copeland was announced as the first African American principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre, which has been around for more than 75 years and is one of the top three ballet companies in the US. Rising from a tough childhood and tense custody situation, Misty rose to fame and is now considered one of the most graceful, sophisticated dancers in the sport. She appeared on the cover of Time magazine as part of their 100 most influential people issue and is the author of two autobiographies and a documentary. Needless to say, this woman has been busy in her 23 years! She is a true inspiration in a field that is largely lacking in diversity.mindy-kaling1.jpgMindy Kaling Mindy is a gem. After reading her book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? I garnered a new appreciation for this actress, writer, and spokes woman. Surprisingly few people know that she was a writer and producer on The Office, one of the most prolific shows in TV history, before moving on to direct and star in her own show The Mindy Project. She is also a pioneer for minority women in a largely male dominated field, and carries herself with enough grace and charm to make anyone jealous!

The Generational Divide Among Female Voters

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I don’t usually write about politics on this blog (or in general!) but I thought I’d give it a shot. Here goes:

One would think all women would unequivocally support the first female candidate with a real shot at the White House. This is what we’ve been fighting for for decades, is it not? The problem is, some of us have been fighting for it longer and harder than others.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC/Marist College Poll in New Hampshire, “Some 64% of women Democratic voters younger than 45 backed Bernie Sanders, while just 35% supported Clinton…When it comes to women 45 and older, Clinton leads Sanders by 9 percentage points.”

While any woman with half a brain knows sexism is not dead, the older generation feels it more severely than the younger. As a 20 year old college student, I have not yet had my first ‘real’ job, and have therefore only heard stories about the pay gap, lack of female leadership or subpar maternity benefits in the workplace. I have not experienced these things first hand.

Women in the generations above mine, however, have been working for years in environments that support men’s dreams above their own. They’ve been waiting an eternity and they are fed up. They want to see a female in the White House during their lifetime, and are not willing to wait another four to eight years.

That sense of urgency is missing among my peers, who may no longer see feminism as a burning issue in today’s society. According to Lori Day, 52 year old psychologist and author interviewed in this CNN article, “We don’t take for granted any of the progress she [Clinton] helped create because we know that we could lose it, and if a Republican wins the White House, we will…Younger women have no collective memory of this, and they do tend to take things like birth control and legal abortion for granted, simply because these things have always existed in their lifetimes.”

However, statements like former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other” at a recent Clinton rally are not going over well with younger women, who refuse to vote for her based solely on gender. They argue that one’s gender is not what makes them a feminist, it is more than that.They will vote for a candidate based on policy, not anatomy.

Baby boomers and women of my mother’s generation have spent years of their lives watching Hilary break new ground for women as a first lady, senator and Secretary of State. They view her as a pioneer of sorts, and her ascension to the oval office would be the final step in that collective climb. But many women my age are supporting Bernie Sanders because on his focus on issues facing Millennials, namely college tuition, student debt and minimum wage reform. And although he is a 74 year old white male, he seems oddly more relatable than Hilary in many ways. Janis Brett Elspas, a 59 year old business owner and mother adds, “I also think Hillary’s own age may simply have less appeal and relevancy to those female voters who are much younger than she is.”

In a race that has been largely characterized by inner-party fighting and juvenile name calling, it is important to remember to support one another in our decisions. We as woman do not have to agree on which candidate is best suited for the job– that is the true beauty of democracy after all– but we can agree to work together for the greater good in any ways we can. Because at the end of the day, we all share the experience of being a women in America, and that is something far more unifying than a politician could ever be.

P.s. What did you think? And photo from here