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Recently, it seems like every morning new allegations about sexual misconduct committed by a high-profile man alight the day’s tabloids and bombard our Twitter feeds. Finally, women are speaking up against the oppression and humiliation they are forced to face day in and day out. Finally, we are using our voices to fight for a cause that really boils down to basic human decency — a trait that is clearly lacking in several people (particularly of the male variety, if the news is any indication). Although I could use the next several hundred words to praise women and the recent trend in exposure of sexual predators, to do so would mean ignoring another issue altogether: the everyday street harassment women are subjected to, whether it be on their way to work, school or a night out with friends. Whatever time of day, no matter what kind of clothes we wear, it is an unfortunate circumstance that continues to pervade our society.
Even though today’s social media platforms are filled with content that promotes body positivity, the same cannot be said for college campuses across the nation. For example: the idea of the "freshman 15." As a graduating senior in high school, I was both excited and anxious at the prospect of starting college and preparing for this next phase in my life. I spent hours researching all of my academic options, reading about different professors and devising lists of residence hall essentials. But there is one thing that repeatedly kept coming up in my research: the dreaded "freshman 15" and how to avoid it. YouTubers that I admired and looked up to at the time who dedicated entire digital series to college-related advice would have at least one video in which they detailed their “weight-loss journey” after packing on the pounds their first year at university.
By the time these words have been published, almost everyone with or without an internet connection will hear about the scandal regarding Harvey Weinstein. I am not writing this as “just another feminist” claiming that men are the bane of our existence. I am writing this as a woman who sympathizes with women who choose to remain silent, specifically the victims of Weinstein’s advances. Although I am fortunate enough to say that I have never experienced sexual assault, I think it is pretty hard — or rather, impossible — to go through life as a woman without being subject to sexual harassment at one point or another.
Nowadays, it feels like it’s easier to meet people through dating apps, and I’m not just talking “romantically” here — a lot of these apps have recently installed functions that allow you to search for “friends” in the most platonic sense possible. How can we meet people and engage in proper conversations if we are essentially fixated on our phones from morning till night? As a result, the art of conversation has been lost, particularly among millennials and Gen-Ys. But that’s probably not news to anyone at this point.
President Donald J. Trump’s opening speech at the United Nations General Assembly last week has created a certain degree of anticipation regarding how far the president of the United States is willing to go in order to restrain North Korea’s efforts to become a nuclear superpower.
As a young girl, my favorite toys were Barbie dolls and Polly Pockets. My brother, on the other hand, was given monster trucks and action figures. I never questioned why girls were assigned a certain set of toys to their gender, and boys another. That’s just the way the world works, right? I’d like to think that I would have naturally gravitated towards “girly” toys regardless of the interpersonal and societal pressures to do so that were present in my life — I enjoyed having imaginary tea parties with my stuffed animals and dressing up in glittery princess costumes. But not every girl feels the same.
Since its early beginnings in 1911, International Women’s Day — held every year on March 8 — has become a globally celebrated event. In the past, women have used this day as a platform to showcase their discontent with unsafe working conditions, low wages, reproductive rights and several other issues that have plagued women’s inferior status since the dawn of time. And in today’s technologically advanced world, another method of celebration exists for this historic day: social media. On March 8, if you do not post an inspirational quote by Gloria Steinem as a Facebook status or Snapchat that “feminist” graphic tee in big, bold letters — did you really participate in this important day? This year, however, there was an additional requirement besides the cliche text posts and selfies: If you weren’t praising “Fearless Girl,” you might as well declare yourself an advocate for the anti-feminist movement. “Fearless Girl,” created by artist Kristen Visbal, is the title given to the bronze statue of a confident young girl that was placed near Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, on the eve of International Women’s Day. As anyone with a cable or internet connection will know, this statue was purposefully positioned to face the 7,000-pound sculpture of Wall Street’s iconic “Charging Bull.” In other words, “Fearless Girl” is being promoted as a symbol of female empowerment — but upon further reflection, I began to question the integrity of this assertion. State Street Global Advisors — the investment firm that installed “Fearless Girl” — explain on their website that this sculpture is a celebration of “the power of women in leadership, and the potential of the next generation of women leaders.” Yet State Street’s supposed “pure intentions” get a little murky as they go on to note how “research shows that companies with greater levels of gender diversity have had stronger financial performance as well as fewer governance-related issues.” According to The New York Times critic Gina Bellafante, State Street’s claim recalls “the temperance movements” of the 1800s when “women were enlisted as moral safeguards” to further capitalism’s progression “on the backs of a sober labor force, ensuring that rich industrialists got richer.” In simpler terms, it seems that State Street’s implicit motivation in the promotion of women’s leadership is purely in the interest of financial gain. How fitting, then, that the statue was placed at “the heart of New York City’s financial district.”
Two years ago I had a job as a teaching assistant, working with children at a local daycare center ranging from a few weeks old to the age of 4. Not a single day went by where at least one parent didn't feel the need to profusely apologize for leaving their child in the care of others due to demanding work hours. I recall one particular mother who almost drove herself to tears when she’d be late to collect her 3-month-old. Is this the kind of life we want for our nation’s hardworking parents — to be forced to spend extensive hours parted from their infants at a time when that parental connection is essential for healthy development? In 2015, CNN reporters Kelly Wallace and Jen Christensen presented their research findings on over 20 studies regarding the positive effects of paid parental leave. Some of the benefits include a reduction of the “infant mortality rate by as much as 10 percent,” an increase in the likelihood that children will obtain proper immunizations and an overall improvement of the mother’s mental health. Moreover, researchers have concluded that paid leave also “benefits women economically because they tend to go back to work and stay with the same employer, which means their wages grow at a faster rate afterwards.”
Women’s history is often sidelined to showcase the achievements of men, and this is never more true than in our nation’s schools. As a third culture kid, I attended a total of six schools in my life — some public, some private — and am saddened to admit that I can count the amount of lessons I received that were exclusively devoted to women’s history on one hand.
Fact: Spring break is less than two weeks away. Also a fact: Women will be slaving away at the gym and watching their portion sizes in an effort to look "fit" in a set of overpriced Victoria’s Secret bikinis. In light of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I think it’s important to have an open discussion not only about eating disorders, but why most cases occur in the first place.
It’s Dec. 27, 2016. The time is 1:25 p.m. I’m spending the day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida. I hold up my phone to capture an image of the Star Wars Launch Bay area, but am interrupted by a pop-up on the screen that reads, "Breaking News." My curiosity gets the better of me — I hastily exit camera mode, open the news app and wait for the articles to load, biting my lip in anticipation. After what feels like the longest 60 seconds of my life, letters and images filter onto the screen so abruptly and simultaneously that my eyes need a moment to adjust to the information overflow. When I can finally make sense of the words staring back at me, boy do I wish I hadn’t looked. The wind was knocked out of me so intensely, I may as well have been riding the Tower of Terror. Variants of the same headline impound my screen: “Carrie Fisher, Dead at 60.” I didn’t think 2016 could get any worse, but clearly it had one more dirty trick up its wicked sleeve. Later I would be proved wrong once again, when Fisher’s mother and iconic Hollywood star, Debbie Reynolds, was also pronounced dead the very next day.