Stop Making Decisions About My Body

I started taking birth control at a very young age. I used to come home from school crying and I would lay on my living room floor in agonizing pain. My back would lock up, I would get such bad nausea I couldn’t eat, and cramps made me double over walking down the hallways. Birth control eased the pain. I could finally sit through classes comfortably and didn’t have to spend one week every month curled up in unbearable discomfort.

A few years later, birth control let me start to safely explore sex with people I cared about. It taught me responsibility in the sense that I had to take the pill at the same time every day, and that I was able to make decisions about my body and my future. At an age I deemed too young to be a mother, but old enough to understand the pleasures of sex, the pill allowed me to safely and responsibly explore my sexuality.

This is not to say taking birth control comes without side effects. I’ve switched strains of the pill because of depression or weight gain. Close friends have been affected by side effects ranging from blood clots to acne. But the overarching term “birth control” isn’t just limited to the pill – women can choose which form of birth control best suits their body, whether it be an IUD, the patch, etc. We have the responsibility to make a commitment to our bodies and our health.

See a theme here?

The fact that this article cites the pill as a deterrent of “pro-creation” is wildly archaic, and its oversight in referencing other forms of birth control makes it an uneducated opinion.

But there’s also the fact that this author seems to believe birth control has caused an increase in casual sex, which, “has led to endemic levels of fatherless households as well as sexual abuse.”

NEWSFLASH – if taken properly, birth control does the exact opposite of creating fatherless households. It lets women responsibly choose to have sex without getting pregnant – a personal decision women have the right to make. And secondly, people that have casual sex that don’t use birth control have the same risk of being sexually assaulted as those that do. Birth control doesn’t lead to promiscuity and place a target on the backs of women for men to do as they please. Making even the slightest connection to sexual assault and birth control disregards facts and statistics entirely.

Additionally, this writer believes that casual sex “[reduces] people to mere means of achieving sexual gratification rather than individuals with intrinsic dignity and worth.” I’m not sure if you’re aware, but you can have sex and still maintain self-worth, and I’m sorry if nobody’s ever told you this before, so let me be the first. This “harmful carcinogen” changes the lives of so many people, and actually gives women the confidence to explore sex, or simply get up every day knowing they won’t be surprised by getting their periods in the middle of a presentation at work.

If you’ve never had to leave school or a party or work to go home and change from unexpectedly getting your period, I wouldn’t expect you to understand.

If you’ve never had to make the decision about whether you want to risk spending nine months of your young adult life carrying a child, I wouldn’t expect you to understand.

If you haven’t had a personal experience with assault or know someone that has, on birth control or not, then I wouldn’t expect you to understand.

If you haven’t had men and women try to take away your right of access to free birth control, abortion clinics, or any other form of health care necessary to take care of our bodies, I wouldn’t expect you to understand.

But then, I wouldn’t expect you to make ANY decision about MY BODY and my birth control for me.

This article is written in response to an article by a student at St. Bonaventure University, originally published by The Bona Venture.


Being A Working Woman In A Man’s City

Walking down Fashion Avenue with my white lace skirt blowing against my legs, I hear two men shouting, “Damn, I love this city. And I love gorgeous women.”

Mind you, it’s 8:30 a.m.

The two women walking next to me in pencil skirts and designer handbags rolled their eyes. “Sometimes I just want to turn around and yell back ‘would you talk to your daughters this way?’ That would shut them up,” one woman said.

“It’s disgusting,” said the other. “I can’t even walk down the fucking street to go to work without getting harassed.”

And then they turned the corner and their conversation shifted to their plans for this coming weekend, as if they’d never heard those men shouting.

Many women in New York City experience this every day, myself included. I feel like I have to pull my dress down even further or cinch up my shirt as I walk past the group of leering construction workers next to my building. I stood on line for a smoothie the other day wearing a very modest dress and a man looked at me agonizingly slowly from head to toe, and said “nice dress.” I can’t even count the number of times I’ve walked past a man and had him shout the words “so hot” in my face and walk away. Not to mention the men that sit at the tiny chair and tables on Broadway and turn around to very blatantly stare at a woman’s ass as she walks by.

It’s infuriating and demeaning, and yet, just like the two women on my morning commute, I do nothing but roll my eyes. Why? Because of the other hardship we face as the weaker sex — fear of retaliation. What if a guy shouted something at me, or touched me or harassed another woman? What if I said how I really feel, and told him to fuck off? Would he get mad and attack me? Would he scream back and further embarrass me?

So I keep my head down and keep moving. I roll my eyes and go off on a silent tirade. I complain about how a working woman can’t be noticed for her intellect and watch it happen all over again on my walk home from work.

The good men do exist. They stand up for us or tell the leering men to stop acting like pigs. A man once got off a subway and punched another man in the face for touching and harassing a woman standing next to me. But far too often these men don’t stand up, and the only voices heard are those of the pigs degrading women.

There may statistically be more women in New York City than men, but we seem to be nothing more than an objectified minority.

I’m Sick Of Seeing Such Preferential Treatment Toward Athletes

From a young age I was exposed to the preferential treatment of athletes. 

At my small high school on Long Island, being an athlete meant an automatic ticket into the “cool” friend group — the one that threw parties on the beach and consumed alcohol before we had our Sweet Sixteens. 

And there was nothing wrong with that, and I didn’t expect anything else — that’s just how it was. School administrators allocated money to a new turf field or new team uniforms, and at the same time threatened to cut academic programs such as French. 

I watched money being poured into athletics throughout my entire high school career — not just at my own school, but schools in the surrounding area.

I watched helicopter parents worship their child-athletes and defend them until their last breath. “Well my child is a football player and he didn’t have time to do the assignment,” was a common phrase in parent-teacher conferences.

Then I started college at a small, Franciscan university in Western New York with a declining enrollment and administrators who seem to think that sports, not academics, should be our claim to fame. 

I’ve sat in classes for an entire semester where, on the very last day of class, a sports player shows up for the first time all year. He or she had been traveling the rest of the time, or at practice, and couldn’t make it to class. 

In one of my international studies classes specifically, I watched a professor give a sports player yet another extension on an assignment due two weeks prior. 

I’ve watched sports players walk around with textbooks that they don’t pay for because athletes in some sports do not have to pay for their textbooks. I’ve watched them eat lunch at places for free that others have to use Bona Bucks, additional money added to meal plans for certain cafes on campus, to pay for.

I’ve seen the favoritism of athletes for years. And not every school, every team or every athlete conforms to these norms – not everyone gets handed money, extensions on assignments or special treatment.  I’ve met outstanding athletes who do not get scholarship money and who receive a 4.0 for the semester. I’ve seen hardworking athletes. I’ve seen respectful athletes. 

But I’ve seen the athletes that get away with actions others face repercussions for, simply because they can run fast or swim fast or throw a ball well. 

A prime example is Brock Turner, otherwise known as the Stanford student convicted of raping a woman and leaving her naked on the ground behind a dumpster. 

What makes his case special? What does being an athlete have to do with raping a woman?

Nothing — unless the judge agrees that he is, in fact, guilty of rape but only punishes him with 6 months in prison, with parole. 

Why? Because he has Olympic-level swim times. 

If you’re anything like me, that sounds ridiculous. Why let a convicted rapist get away with such a meager punishment when, in comparison, the victim will be haunted for the rest of her life? 

Apparently many other people, including the judge in this court case, don’t see it that way. Just take the “Brock Turner For 2016 Olympics” Facebook page [since deleted] that refers to the judge’s decision of a six month sentence as, “a tragic miscarriage of justice.” The genius that created this page believes that because this short jail sentence cuts into Turner’s precious swim practice, people should support his path to the Olympics. 

I’m sick of seeing such preferential treatment toward athletes. Had Turner been a “NARP,” or a non athletic regular person, as so many athletes kindly refer to the rest of us as, the judge might not have been so kind when giving a sentence. 

Total Frat Move? More like Total F*cking Misogynists

“You may have seen your favorite celebrity like Taylor Swift or Gigi Hadid sporting one of these babies [referencing high-waisted bikini bottoms] on their latest social media post … either way, you’re not them. These girls have the body to pull it off. You do not. Snap me photo proof if you think you can.”

This is just an example of one of the unsupported claims by The Therapist, an anonymous user on Total Frat Move, or TFM, in an article called “Why Girls Should Stop Wearing High-Waisted Bikinis.”

TFM, a self-claimed “news and entertainment brand that consists of the #1 college comedy website on the internet,” (yes, they really left the ‘i’ lowercase), is owned by Grandex Inc. Grandex owns other “entertainment” brands like Total Sorority Move, Rowdy Gentleman and Post Grad Problems. Grandex has 47 executives listed on their website, and only seven of them are women.

Misogynistic posts like The Therapist’s litter the site, using derogatory language in most articles and treating women as sexual objects.

“Misogyny now has become so normalized,” Paul Roberts, author of Impulse Society, said. “It’s almost like we’ve gone back to the Mad Men days.”

Mad Men, a television series that premiered in 2007, follows the lives of advertisers working at a fictional advertising agency in the 1960s on Madison Avenue in New York City. The male employees often harass the women, almost all of which only work as secretaries, and treat them as sexual objects.

Total Frat Move harbors this misogynistic norm and maintains it by allowing users to remain anonymous and write what they please. Providing anonymity provides these men with the confidence to post an uninformed, ignorant, degrading opinion without fear of personal retaliation.

The author that wrote about high-waisted swimwear, The Therapist, also wrote articles titled, “Girls Should be Required to Shower and Shave Before a Guy Goes Down on Them,” “The Smaller the Dog, the Crazier the Girl” and “Should I Bang my Girlfriend’s Hot Mom?”’

One of TFM’s featured columns this week, titled “The Official Guide to Scoring a Threesome” starts by claiming, “In a new relationship, you’re pretty much inside your new girlfriend 24/7. You basically live inside her. You pay rent for her vagina.”

At least this writer, Wally Bryton, chose to use a name. Whether it’s real or not is up for debate.

Other articles on the site include, “The Time I Brought Home a Dime and It Blew Up in her Face,” “What Your Favorite Porn Category Says About You” and “I Banged a Fat Girl and My Life Will Never be the Same.”

To find those articles, I looked through the first 5 pages of the website.

Conversely, looking through the first 5 pages of Total Sorority Move, a parallel to TFM, not a single article criticizes men – most don’t even mention men. Instead, they feature more gender-friendly articles, such as “8 Reasons you Should be Celebrating National Wine Day Right Now,” or “13 Snapchat Filters We Actually Need.”

Like many other writers, I’ve received criticism from articles or blog posts that I’ve written. It comes with the territory. Sharing an opinion to a national, online audience always comes with the risk of backlash. Because of this experience, I support any and all opinions – supported opinions.

Someone could write a very conservative article about why gay marriage (which I fully support) should not have been legalized, and if it’s a well-researched and supported article, I respect the writer and his/her opinion. I may disagree completely, but I respect it.

However, an opinion based on claims not supported by any data, research or examples that shames a community based on both body type and gender does not deserve any respect, and neither does the writer or the website that supports it.


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The Real Reason You Won’t Find Me at the Gym

I feel pressure every single day to go to the gym.

Between the constant advertisements on my computer for cute workout clothes, new diet and weight loss tips popping up in every women’s health magazine and Cosmopolitan’s daily “butt challenge” videos, it’s hardly a suggestion.

Not to mention that one of my roommates runs 15 miles per day and the other gets up at 6 a.m. to hit the gym early.

No pressure, right?

Wrong. Every day, I come home kicking myself mentally for not finding the time to squeeze in a quick, half hour run on the treadmill.

It’s not just that I can’t seem to find the time to go – it’s that I adamantly hate working out. I find absolutely nothing about it enjoyable.

A lot of people enjoy the day after the gym, where their muscles ache to the point of discomfort. They say it proves that they did a great workout, and it makes them feel good.

I’m sorry, but in no world do I want my arms to be so sore that I can’t even reach above my head to wash my hair in the shower.

I haven’t been to the gym in so long that I’m painfully uncomfortable working out in front of people I know. God forbid that cute guy on the baseball team sees me sweating like a pig trying to finish one mile. And what if I’m lifting incorrectly? I’ll look like an idiot. Not to mention the fact that at this point, the most weight I can lift is 10 pounds and I can’t do more than 20 sit ups in a row.

I’m out of shape, out of time and out of habit.

Every time I try to start making the gym a habit again, I skip one day and fall right back off the wagon. If I skip two days, I tell myself that I’ll start again on Monday. Every Monday, it’s suddenly 11 p.m. and I find myself wrist-deep in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s instead. Oops.

The only type of exercise I actually enjoy doing is yoga, which just so happens to be one of the instructor-taught classes that got taken away from my university due to underfunding. Of course.

Sure, I could always pop a yoga video into the retro VCR that adorns the recreation room in the gym. That’s if I can ignore the door swinging open and closed as each new group of noisy people comes in to get free weights or a mat.

With yoga out of the picture, I’ve tried coming up with numerous ways to get my ass to the gym.

“The hardest part is getting there,” I’ve had people tell me. But honestly, the hardest part for me is staying there.

I’ve worn gym clothes to class, sneakers, sports bra and all, and walked into the gym, got on the elliptical, completed one mile and left, completely unmotivated to do any kind of weight lifting or abdominal workout.

So what gives? Why do I hate myself at the end of each day for not doing something that I loathe? Why do I feel like I have to put myself through the torture of bicep curls next to some sweaty rugby player?

Because society tells me I should. Because people tell me I should. Because doctors have told me I should, since 30 minutes of exercise per day is the healthiest way to live.

Because the kids in my 3rd grade classroom told me I should when they found out I weighed 120 pounds. Because my coaches in high school told me I should to bulk up to improve my game. Because my parents have told me I should, my friends have told me I should and most importantly, because no one has told me I shouldn’t.

No one has ever looked at me and said it’s OK that you don’t work out. It’s OK that you hate exercising. It’s OK if you’d rather lie in bed for an extra hour in the morning and eat vegetables all day instead of putting yourself through a monotonous workout.

No one has ever told me it’s OK not to work out because that’s not what society tells us. That’s not what workout apparel advertisements tell us, or social media tells us or magazines tell us. They tell us to drink lemon water, buy cute, strappy sports bras to wear to the gym, find a boyfriend that will fulfill your “relationship goals” by working out with you and do certain uncomfortable-looking exercises to tone your butt in time for bikini season.

Hats off to those that enjoy running or swimming or exercising in general – it is very healthy and has a lot of life-long benefits. Good for you.

But to those that consider walking to the car each morning enough exercise for the day, you’re not alone.

I don’t want to come home at the end of a long day of exams, club meetings and LSAT prep just to stress myself out more with the promise of going to the gym.

Fuck that. If you need me at the end of the day, I’ll be accidentally dropping food down my cute, $60 sports bra, thank you very much.

The Struggle of a Millennial Writer in an Era of Listicles

The $40,000 I pay per year and the long hours I spend studying all amount to listicles and open letters.

Media have changed from providing consistent, informative substance to circulating “click-worthy” content written by millennials.

And I am guilty of providing this fodder.

I spend hours coming up with clever lists that feature the most relatable gifs and writing heartfelt letters to anyone that ever had a sliver of meaning in my life.

At this point I want to write an open letter to thank everyone for reading all the crappy open letters I’ve ever written. Throw in a listicle naming off everyone that hid their cringes whenever I wrote a cliché “20 things all college students understand” list.

Why do I continue to join the millennial bandwagon?

Let’s face it – listicles get the most shares, and therefore the most recognition for the author.

For the same reason, we give our best content away for free to websites like The Odyssey and Elite Daily. And by best content, I mean both well-written content and the content most likely to go viral.

We all sit around and write blog posts each week about different nail art designs or ways to get over a breakup and come graduation, we wonder why we can’t get hired at the job of our dreams.

In a world where social media circulates thousands of articles per day, why don’t more aspiring magazine journalists or bloggers get offered jobs?

We lack originality.

Try articulating to a potential employer why your nail art listicle that got 21.4K shares is different from any other nail art listicle.

Then there’s the pressure of a deadline – it’s hard to have a grand revelation about your life every single week by Friday at 5 p.m. Some of these websites have a strike system too, which means if you don’t produce content when you’re supposed to, you can’t be a contributing writer.

And so we succumb to the listicle or the open letter that takes 30 minutes at most to type up. It’s likely to go viral, please our editing team and it doesn’t take up too much time.

Isn’t it ironic that with so much information at our fingertips, we choose reduce our knowledge and entertainment to the simplicity of a list?

We live in a world where time is of the essence for both our readers and ourselves. The shorter the article, the more it’s shared. The shorter the time it takes to write, the more time we have to contribute content to more digital media platforms.

The endless cycle continues. The listicles live on. The open letters never close.

At what cost?

Just the small price of tuition and our creativity.

Dating is Antiquated and It’s Sad

Dating – what a silly concept in modern society. I can’t say that I’ve ever been out on a “true” date – the kind where the guy picks you up at your door instead of texting you saying “I’m outside.”

The kind where the guy takes you to a restaurant and asks you questions about your family instead of asking you to “Netflix and chill” while meeting your mother via Snapchat selfies.

The kind where you get nervous when he walks you to your door because you’re not sure if he’s going to kiss you, instead of remembering that you made out with him drunk at a party last weekend.

Proper dating has become an anomaly. There are so many levels to dating now that I’m not even sure how to do it anymore. People are either “seeing each other” or “talking” or “just hanging out.”

I’m not saying I want a guy to ask me to “go steady” or ask my father for his permission to take me out. I think that part of dating is kind of antiquated.

All I want is for a man to ask me out to dinner, not meet me at a bar and ask me what I want to drink.

The man isn’t the only person to blame in this situation – women are just guilty.  Continue reading

How to be a Heartbreaker

This week, my thumb finally healed.

Three weeks ago I sliced it against the jagged edge of a metal can, trying to cook dinner.

For two hours it bled uncontrollably onto a Band-Aid, distracting me from everyday activities.

I wore the Band-Aid consistently for the next two weeks and it consistently got in my way.

I’d try to wash my hair in the shower and I’d feel it. I thought about it every time I picked up my pen. It prevented me from texting with both hands, decreasing my communication.

It was in the back of my mind for three weeks, disturbing me.

Routinely, I woke up each morning and changed the Band-Aid, cleaning the wound in the process.

Eventually, one day I woke up and it didn’t hurt anymore. The skin grew over the cut, the blood had dried and all that remained was a   scar – a subtle reminder to be more careful.

Three weeks ago, I broke my own heart.

I sliced it with the sharp edge of my words.

For two hours it bled uncontrollably, distracting me from everyday activities.

Eventually one day I woke up and it didn’t hurt anymore. All that remained was a metaphorical scar – a subtle reminder to be more careful.

Why I Love Being an Editor

In high school, I volunteered to be one of the student editors of my school paper. Originally, I wanted the position because I love being right. Being able to correct other’s mistakes gave me a feeling of power and confidence. It also helped my own writing because I learned what great writing should sound like.

My freshman year of college I joined the online school newspaper as a staff writer for the news section. Suddenly, I wasn’t the one pointing out the mistakes – someone else was pointing out mine.

So I learned from it. I corrected my mistakes and didn’t make them again. I googled something if I didn’t know how to spell it, I looked up AP style references and I made sure everything I wrote was mostly error free.

Eventually, I became the news editor and reunited with my red pen.

After about 6 months, my focus shifted from news to the notorious “listicles” and magazine-style writing. I interviewed for an editor position with Her Campus and began the editing process all over again.

But this time, I noticed editing became less about correcting the mistakes of others, and more about watching my staff writers grow. Our chapter of Her Campus has about 40 members, and a majority of them are freshmen. Some are journalism or strategic communications majors, but some are not.

I watched throughout the semester as each feature story my staff turned in improved. I read stories at the beginning of the semester that were struggling listicles with a clichéd title.

By the end of the semester, I read stories about struggling with depression, a parent’s divorce and the loss of a loved one. I watched my writers turn impersonal features into relatable stories filled with passion. I watched them grow and struggle to do what I’ve been teaching myself since high school – to learn from mistakes.

I love being an editor. I love watching growth, improvement and passion come from young and inspired students like myself. I love knowing that these writers are inviting me into their hearts every time they type their feelings onto a blank page.

Yes, it is true that a large part of being an editor involves copious cups of overpriced coffee and a lot of late nights. But when I finish editing an article at 2 a.m. and I look at the incredible feature it’s become, the caffeine high is worth it every time.

48 Things I Wish I Knew as a Teenage Girl

  1. Your mother is always right, no matter how much you don’t want to admit it.
  2. You should learn how to cook at least one meal.
  3. Those 5 or 6 Oreos won’t kill you – eat them while you still can.
  4. Being a nerd is more attractive than purposely acting stupid.
  5. You won’t miss the party of the year just because you decide to stay in one weekend.
  6. Most people drink in college, but it’s okay if you don’t.
  7. In moderation, alcohol isn’t poison.
  8. A man that doesn’t respect your decision not to have sex is not worth your time.
  9. Sexism still exists – never stop fighting for what you want.
  10. You won’t automatically gain the freshman 15 just from drinking a couple of beers and binging on pizza every now and then.
  11. Running sucks, and there are so many other ways to stay healthy and exercise.
  12. Brussel sprouts don’t suck as much as they did when your mother made you eat them before you left the dinner table.
  13. Bubble baths are not just for babies.
  14. No one will remember or care what clothes you wore to school.
  15. College is nothing like your high school english teacher says it is.
  16. You shouldn’t have sex in high school – not for a religious or moral reason, but because it’s inexperienced. Men don’t understand how to make it a pleasant experience until you’re older.
  17. Your number doesn’t mean shit.
  18. Every person who enters the women’s bathroom gets their period. You don’t have to try and muffle the sound of your tampon wrapper.
  19. It’s not the end of the world if you miss a practice for an after-school sport.
  20. College is so much better than high school.
  21. Most of the friends you have freshman year of college won’t be your friends by senior year and that’s ok.
  22. You don’t have to be friends with everyone and it’s ok if you’re not loved by everyone.
  23. Bars are not the place to meet quality men.
  24. Your mom’s cooking really isn’t that bad, especially compared to dining hall food.
  25. Making money during the summer is a lot more important than taking days off to work on your tan.
  26. A tan isn’t worth the risk of getting cancer and using a tanning bed wastes a lot of money.
  27. Being an undeclared major is almost smarter than coming into college declared – most people change their major anyway.
  28. It’s ok to quit a club because you don’t like it anymore, even if you hold a position of leadership or authority.
  29. Taking a personal day every now and then won’t ruin your GPA.
  30. Ben & Jerry’s can heal all wounds.
  31. Wine has the same power.
  32. If your friends don’t like your boyfriend, they’re probably right about him.
  33. Everyone gets zits.
  34. Remembering to wear your retainer every night may be a pain in the ass but you’ll be thankful when your teeth stay straight.
  35. Coffee is not bad for you, it is not disgusting and it is 100% worth the risk of stained teeth. That’s what Crest white strips are for.
  36. Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but sometimes it’s not doable. Keep snacks in your car.
  37. Sleepovers suck. Don’t be angry when your mom says you can’t go.
  38. Your siblings will be your biggest allies in the future – don’t burn bridges.
  39. Always have an umbrella handy and dress in layers.
  40. Bagels don’t cure hangovers – iced coffee does.
  41. Sit near the door in class if you’re hungover.
  42. Never leave the house for an extended period of time without a phone charger.
  43. You have your entire life to make your own rules so abide by your curfew. Staying out past 10 isn’t worth the consequences.
  44. Never go shopping when you’re hungry.
  45. You don’t have to be nice to everyone – stand up for yourself.
  46. Don’t buy every “required” textbook for a class.
  47. Don’t get caught up in all the crap life hands you, because in 5 or 10 years it won’t be relevant. Live a little and enjoy the time you have.
  48. Nothing will make you happier than doing what you love.