Activism Gender The World Inequality

Gulabi Gang: India’s badass all-women vigilante group

The streets of Banda, Uttar Pradesh were once filled with despair. Ranked 154 our 447 on the Planning Commission’s index of backwardness in 2003, caste-based violence, domestic abuse, and poverty were pervasive throughout Banda, with little to no police support. In the midst of such chaos, the Gulabi Gang formed to combat the widespread domestic abuse and violence against women.

Clad in “Gulabi”, or pink sarees, these women wield bamboo sticks as they accost male offenders. Most, if not all, members of the Gulabi Gang are of oppressed castes, as are the women they assist. The gang was initially created to “punish abusive husbands, fathers, and brothers in an effort to combat domestic violence and desertion”. The gang has various stations set up and each station has a “commander” that takes care of the problems of the women in her area. Through word of mouth, the location and purpose of these stations are spread to women in the district. 

When a woman comes to the station to narrate the story of her abuse to the group, the police are immediately called. If the police fail to take charge, the Gulabi Gang takes over. Often, the gang accosts male members and calls upon them to understand their wrongdoings. If the men do not relent or resort to force, they are publicly shamed or beaten with bamboo sticks. Because the gang has over 200,000 members, they receive enough support from the women of each district, and by carrying bamboo sticks with them and walking in large groups, they prevent men from being able to successfully retaliate. Recently, the group has started to offer cost-effective services such as henna application, tailoring, and flower arrangements to provide their members with a source of income to sustain their lifestyle. 

The work of Gulabi Gang has resulted in legislation to designate 33% of parliamentary seats for women in India. Even though this has brought upon many positive changes for women empowerment in India and legislation to promote gender equality, the Gulabi Gang continues to operate in their relevant areas. They prefer to work outside of politics because of the widespread corruption amongst Indian politicians. 

Over time, the gang’s scope of issues has expanded from domestic violence to child marriage, dowry deaths, and access to education. They also target human rights and male oppression by actively encouraging men to get involved in activism. Many members of the Gulabi Gang are men who support the causes that the gang raises awareness for.

Because the scope of the gang has grown so much, the woman have been able to engage in undercover projects to bring deep-rooted government corruption to light. In 2007, the founder of the gang, Sampat Pal Devi, heard that government-run stores were not distributing food and grains in a village fairly. Due to widespread poverty, hundreds of families depended on this food to survive. The Gulabi Gang observed the shop undercover and found evidence that the store was shipping the allocated grains to open markets to make a higher profit. The gang reported the store to the local authorities, who ultimately ignored the complaints. However, this incident solidified Gulabi Gang’s reputation as an organization that fought for justice. 

In 2008, Gulabi Gang stormed an electricity office in Banda to force them to turn the electricity back on. The office had cut the electricity to the district off in an effort to extract bribes. Additionally, the gang has stopped multiple child marriages and protested to receive justice for oppressed-caste rape victims. In India, police indifference to the rape of oppressed-caste women is pervasive, as is government action. 

As an Indian-American feminist, I am blessed to be able to walk in the steps of the empowered women of the Gulabi Gang. India has a poor reputation with women’s rights and gender equality, which is often not acknowledged within the Indian community. The work of the Gulabi Gang is exposing how deep-rooted women’s oppression is in India, as well as creating solutions to empower women while fighting the patriarchy. 


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We need to start complicating our conversations about consent

Contrary to popular belief, consent is not just verbally or physically agreeing to have sex. There is a lot more to it than just saying yes. It baffles me that people believe agreeing to one thing means an agreement to everything. When an individual consents to one thing, it does not mean they consent to everything – and consent can be withdrawn at any point. 

Consent can be a topic of discomfort for many but it is an important conversation that should not be avoided. In order to progress individually and as a society we need to keep talking about consent. A common misconception is to take on a “yes means yes” approach to avoid any uncomfortable conversations in the future. This is where the problem stems from. People are not always in a position or state to say no. 

Sexual consent does not exist within the context of hegemonic power structures because hegemonic power is inherently abusive. The phrase ‘abuse of power’ is redundant because the only function of hegemonic power is abuse. In order to be able to consent to sex, you need to have equal power to consent to the person initiating sex with you. Power, however, comes in different forms. It comes in the form of emotional, psychological, neurological, physical, status access, etc. 

Similarly, saying ‘yes’ to sex when one is under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not consent. Saying ‘yes’ to sex when you are emotionally, psychologically, neurologically unwell, or experiencing cognitive/psychological distortions OR influenced by your desire for proximity to power, access, is not consent either.

The argument that ‘they were two consenting’ adults is alarming because a large proportion of people who have been sexually abused do not even realize that they have been abused.

There are several reasons as to why people who have been sexually abused do not know that they were sexually abused. Below are just a few of those reasons:

  1. Misinformation can result in a lack of understanding of what constitutes sexual abuse. 
  2. Manipulation and/or lack of emotional maturity. More often than not, people who have experienced sexual abuse are under the impression that the abuse was a romantic/love affair. It is not until later that they realize that, what they thought was love, was in fact, abuse. It is important here to recognize that sexual age gaps can be problematic. The older person is more likely to convince the younger person that it is love or romance.
  3. Sex is pleasurable (for many people), which is why it can often confuse the victim. They may be under the impression that pleasure signifies consent.
  4. More often than not, victims of sexual abuse may have been deprived of love, affection, and intimacy during their lives. Therefore, any form of sexual interest may be perceived as love or affection.
  5. Dissociation is a common coping mechanism for people that have experienced abuse. It involves dissociating oneself to escape the trauma of what they experienced. 
  6. People may experience psychological, emotional, neurological, and cognitive distortions. This can be due to mental illnesses such as depression and other neurological issues.
  7. Many people are in a state of denial. They refuse to accept they have been abused due to fear, pain, or shame. Additionally, former victims often go on to become sexual abusers themselves. Therefore, they deny admitting to their own experiences of abuse to avoid having to recognize themself as an abuser.
  8. Fear plays a crucial role in sex abuse. More often than not, there is a power dynamic, and victims of sexual abuse face fear and not entirely acknowledge their experiences as abuse. They may not have the power to control their narrative and feel helpless. As a result of this, people are more likely to suppress or deny experiences of sexual abuse to avoid shame or feeling helpless.

It is more than likely that victims of sexual abuse have ‘consented’ to sex due to one or a combination of the aforementioned reasons. It is impossible to progress and reduce sexual assault until we expand our conversations about consent and acknowledge that it goes beyond a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. 

While we are at it, it is also important to draw attention towards the illusion that ‘women are sexually liberated’. The sexual liberation movement has fallen into the hands of men.  Women’s sexual liberation is reframed as sexual availability for men in patriarchal structures.  This is more apparent in the media where women’s sexuality was once censored in film, art, and literature. It is now explicit and sexualized. Either way, production structures have always been patriarchal and exploitive.

The de-stigmatization of sex was expected to liberate women. However, it has further reinstated the patriarchal perception of women as nothing more than sex objects intended for reproduction. And this is why we need to complicate our conversations about consent in today’s age of freedom and liberation. In patriarchal structures, men actively exercise possession and abuse towards women, which is institutionalized and protected by the law. Essentially, women do not have humanity in a system of male domination.

Dismantling patriarchy is another conversation on its own. It is, however, imperative that we realize consent goes well beyond a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Therefore, instead of shutting someone down the next time you hear them open up about their experiences of abuse remember that consent is not always black and white.


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I was sexually harassed online and no longer feel safe on the internet

Trigger warning: mentions of online sexual harassment.

I was in 9th grade when a guy called me on Skype with a fake identity and masturbated. It began when I received a message on my Facebook account from a girl I had a few mutuals with. I glanced at the mutuals and did not for a second think that this might be a fake account. I read the message and it said that she had to tell me something very important. I didn’t initially respond but messages from this account lashed down on my message box unabated. 

I finally messaged this girl, asking her what she wanted to tell me. She said she’d tell me on Skype. “It’s important and best if we talked,” read the black letters on my screen. I gave her my Skype account details but I was suspicious so I covered my camera and blanked the screen. She was doubtful if I was still listening. She typed “show me your hands” in the chat because she wanted to make sure I was there, falling deeper into her trap. Then she turned on her camera. At that point, I wasn’t even sure if it were a “she”.

I’ve told you already what I saw next. It was a man masturbating. The person asked me again if I was there. I looked in disgust at the words that glimmered in the chatbox. I tried to swallow but my mouth was dry.

His presence remained unscathed, but I was traumatized for life. 

I turned off my computer after I understood what was happening. I felt so scared. Never in my wildest imagination had I thought that I could be sexually harassed online. I was young. I was innocent. I was naive. I didn’t believe in the worst side of this world.

I didn’t realize what was happening right in front of me. I was breathing heavily and feeling so scared. When I turned my computer off, I was winded like someone had punched me in the gut. 

Sexual harassment has a way of making you feel so unsafe, regardless of the form. Even though the offender sat on the other side of the screen, I felt like he was right there. I didn’t know who he was. I didn’t know why he did this. And I didn’t know if I could ever confront him on what he did. His presence remained unscathed, but I was traumatized for life. 

It happened again, one summer evening, on Snapchat.

Snapchat was trending in those days and, like everyone else, I jumped onto it. My account was new and I was still in the process of adding all my friends. And then, history repeated itself. A few years later, I received videos—this time from three accounts—of men masturbating. I immediately blocked those accounts. I was disgusted.

Who were these people? Why did they send me inappropriate, explicit, and disgusting content? Where they got my username from? I never found out.

Online sexual harassment is devastating, and the obnoxious content that you’re presented with can last in your memory forever.

I just know that both these incidents were extremely disturbing. I felt stupid for becoming a part of someone’s sexual activities and letting them manipulate me. I felt abused. I felt like it was my fault. 

Most girls experience electronic harassment at some point in their life. Sometimes, it’s very graphic. Other times, it’s presented to them as sexually explicit messages from real or fake accounts. Either way, it’s equally devastating, unpleasant and inappropriate. 

I still have so many messages on my social media accounts sent in by people I have never known in my life—asking me for sexual favors, complimenting me, or simply saying “hi”. I don’t read them, or respond to them. I tell myself they’re not worth my time. 

But deep down, I still feel afraid. If these men are so frustrated that they can slip into a girl’s inbox they’ve never known or met, what must they be like in real life? 

Online sexual harassment is devastating, and the obnoxious content that you’re presented with can last in your memory forever. And even years later, it can make you feel the same way—afraid, anxious, in disbelief. It lives with you. It breathes in your memory reminding you of what you endured. 

If these men are so frustrated that they can slip into a girl’s inbox they’ve never known or met, what must they be like in real life? 

To all the girls reading this—your experiences of sexual harassment are real despite what anyone tells you, or how many times you let them go because you didn’t want to make things messier. Don’t listen to people who degrade you. Don’t feel afraid of the world. And don’t let anyone invalidate your experience.

I believe you. I hear you. I see you. And I always will. 

Love + Sex Love Humor

10 crushes you’ll have before you’re 25

We’ve all had crushes. It’s that special person who walks into a room and fills your stomach with butterflies. You hate it, but secretly love it. Even people in relationships have harmless, fleeting crushes. These crushes are usually playful and far from serious. They just give us a tiny rush of adrenaline that gets you through the day.

Here is a list of the crushes that you’ll probably encounter before you’re 25.

1. The Celebrity

Jason Momoa smiling (via Giphy)

My celebrity crush is Jason Momoa. He’s so dreamy and hunky and cool and perfect. He’s my ultimate crush and an unhealthy obsession. Sorry, not sorry.

2. Dog walker guy

Dog licking man’s face (via Giphy)

OK. Be honest with yourself, he’s not that cute… but his dog is freaking adorable. And the furry little fellow smiled at you! This guy only seems attractive because he has a dog. You fantasize having a relationship with him, except you spend more time thinking about his canine companion than him.

3. Your childhood beau

High school student in plaid shirt looking distraught with a quote reading “I don’t even count, right” (via Giphy)

He was your first love. You used to dream of getting married to him as you scribbled his name in your notebook. Now that you’re older, you think it would be such a cute story if you two would fall in love. Maybe, he was the hottest kid in the yard back in the day, but admit it, now he’s kind of a dweeb.

4. Barista bae

Barista making latte (via Giphy)

He’s the first person you want to see in the morning and the only one who can get you through the day. He knows your order by heart and doesn’t judge when you when you’re a cranky. He always knows when you need a pick-me-up and gives you your order free of charge. His face is definitely one that you’d like to wake up to.

5. The guy with an accent to die for

Cedric Diggory smiling (via Giphy)

He’s charming and sweet and from a someplace that you want to visit. He always comes into class slightly late but he gets away with it. You love the way that he translates his expressions literally. Everybody adores him and his charming, flirty, ways.

6. The super attractive one

Young Ashton Kutcher thinking “I’m the best person to look at in this room. No, in this whole town. No, in this state.”

You only like him when he’s not talking. He’s gorgeous until he opens his mouth and says something atrocious.  But still, you can’t help crushing on him though because he’s so damn fine.

7. That Gym Bro

Anthony Joshua flexing biceps (via Giphy)

He’s not one of those fitness mansplainers. He’s polite, shy, and has amazing biceps. You picture the both of you together at the gym, of course, doing one of those cringey, PDA-infused workouts. You occasionally make some small talk, but you’ll never forget that time your fingers brushed while reaching for dumbbells.

8. World traveler passing through your home town

Crowd parting to reveal a rugged Indian Jones (via Giphy)

He’s been everywhere and he’s got the passport stamps to prove it. His stories are unbelievable, like the one where he saved an orphan on the way to his then girlfriend’s grandmother’s funeral and later that day ended up at a rave in a neighboring country. There’s no telling how long he’ll stay or if you’ll ever see him again. Part of you secretly hopes he’ll whisk you off your feet and into an overseas adventure filled with romance.

9. Woman Crush Wednesday

Rihanna hair flipping (via Giphy)

This lady has her life together. You want to be with her and be her at the same time. Maybe if you spend enough time together, her personality will rub off on you, and you could rub off on her too.

10. The Hidden Gem

Hugh Grant saying”that’s umm.. perfect” (via Giphy)

Sometimes it’s not the loudest or most beautiful people who catch your attention. It’s the shy guy who you suddenly get lost in conversation with at a bookstore or art show. You like the way they think and their humble, dignified nature. They’re interesting and deep and there’s so much there for you to explore.

There are so many other kinds of crushes you will run into at this exciting time of your life. Whether you choose to go after them or stay at a safe distance is your choice. Sometimes you can’t help but delve deeper and get to know someone. Be careful who you choose to get to close to, it might turn into so much more.

Editor's Picks Community LGBTQIA+ Gender & Identity Life

At 25, I’m just starting to learn what being queer means to me

This past June was San Francisco Pride. It was my first time attending pride as someone a part of the community and not solely as an ally. Even with all the acceptance and inclusivity being thrown my way, it still felt like I should’ve been standing on the sidelines as a cheerleader instead of in the game as a queer participant.

This past year has been a difficult, slightly unexpected and extremely refreshing year for me regarding my sexuality. I think I’ve always prided myself on how much I know myself and how in-tune I am with how I feel and why I feel that way. But this time around, I had to put my ego aside and get to know another part of myself and allow myself to simply….not know.

Less than a year ago I met my now partner, who is fully immersed in the queer community and so openly proud and comfortable with who they are as a non-binary queer individual (fuck yeah 100%). As we got to know each other better, we decided to share our coming out stories. It was my turn and I didn’t have one. I was physically shaking, I felt ashamed, embarrassed and thought they would think I was a fraud. Am I a fraud? I thought. I was so terrified to admit to them, let alone myself that I was not comfortable or sure of who I was, which was a feeling I hadn’t felt in a long time.

I didn’t and still don’t fully feel a part of either the hetero or queer community. It’s that feeling like you don’t have a spot on the team, because before you get a spot you first have to choose which team.

When I’m around the queer community, there’s this feeling like I have to be fully queer, that I have to prove my “gayness” when I myself don’t even know what that looks like yet. Then there is this fear of if I express my attraction towards men that I no longer belong to this community because “I’m just going through a phase”.

But even through all the dark tunnels I go down, I come out of it every time reminding myself that this isn’t what the LGBTQ+ community is about, right? It’s about accepting the in-betweens, the unknowns and the exploration, whatever that may look like and down whichever road it may take you. It’s about remaining non-discriminative, even within your own community and allowing people to be who they are, no questions asked (unless they’re being assholes and rude, bye).

Going through the exploration of my own queer identity has created a whole other shelf of empathy for the LGBTQ+ community. It has also made me recognize my privilege that exists within my experience. I have both parents, my sister, my closest friends, my colleagues all telling me they love me no matter whom I love. I live in one of the most progressive regions of the country, and I have a partner that wants nothing more than for me to feel included. I am cis-gendered and can pass as a hetero femme.

So maybe this is not where I take center stage, where I do not stand in the spotlight, but learning that I can still be a part of the team as a whole. That I can still admit I feel lost and out of place.

I still don’t feel like I have my coming out story, and it’s a strange and unnerving experience when you feel like others are writing it for you. The best thing y’all can do, both people of the LGBTQ+ community and those outside of it, is to not assume or tell people who they are, who and what they must like. ASK. Create space for others to write their own story and allow them to read it aloud when and if they’re ready. Listen, be supportive and open to all the times they may change their mind. Believe them if they tell you they’re not sure, if they say they’re still figuring it out. Believe them if they say they like both men and women, believe bisexuality, show them that however they feel, is valid.

I am still learning myself, so say it with me: “My sexuality is real and valid wherever I fall on the spectrum.”

I thought that I had to be fully gay or fully straight. I thought I had to prove myself one way or the other. But learning that human sexuality can be SO fluid and that we must practice patience for ourselves and learn to love our process.

That is where we can truly understand ourselves.

So here I am, 25 years old, a baby queer, still learning my first steps, growing with each day, hearing my own voice, and being okay with admitting that I don’t know.

Love + Sex Love Life Stories

I am sick of being a manic pixie dream girl

I remember reading The Fault in Our Stars the summer the movie came out. There was a lot of hype around John Green books at that time, and I fell into it. I read a couple of his other books but to be completely honest, I didn’t really see the pull. They were interesting books for sure, but just not really my cup of tea. And call me cold and detached but I didn’t cry reading The Fault in Our Stars (or during the movie).

Yet, these books played an indirect role in my life for the next couple of years. I moved away from home, became the “new girl”, dyed my hair, wore thrift store clothes and basically didn’t care about anything.

If you’ve read a John Green book you know he likes to write about a certain stereotype of girl that was dubbed the manic pixie dream girl. This girl was outgoing but a loner, “crazy” but just the right amount, deep, and introspective (with what you might call a romanticized version of depression). She brings the main character out of his slump and changes his life with her wild, non-conforming personality.

Basically she’s perfect… but in a quirky, hipster way.

As a new girl at a new school with my teenage anger and ripped jeans, on the outside, I fit this box. I didn’t care about taking care of myself, so I would engage in reckless behavior. I didn’t really fit into any of the groups and didn’t make an effort to, so I become somewhat of a loner.

Now, as a teenage girl who just moved thousands of miles away from everyone she’s ever known and loved, I was dealing with a lot. All these manic-pixie-dream-girl boxes I checked were at their basic form destructive behavior. Yet I was told I was just “acting like a teenager” or even that I was trying to fit the manic pixie dream girl stereotype. I was brushed of as a teenager girl fangirling over something so hard I was trying to become it.

Guys would become interested in me like I was a science project. What was I going to do next? Would I fix them?

As I grew older, graduated and went to university I thought I could leave the annoying stereotype behind. But date after date I got told “you’re crazy, huh?” with a gleam in their eye like it was a compliment. Because apparently the fact I liked to change my hair color also meant I was going to want to go on a midnight road trip with them and solve all their mommy issues.

It took me a while to realize that the manic pixie dream girl stereotype was just another version of the “crazy girl” stereotype. She’s the girl who will go partying on a Tuesday night and then wake up on Wednesday with perfect makeup and no hangover as she makes you breakfast. She’s the girl who says unexpected shit that is just barely crossing some moral line but she’s so hot you don’t care. This girl is wild but not so wild you can’t bring her home to meet the parents.

Spoiler alert! This girl doesn’t exist!

Dudes would become surprised when my “dark past” wasn’t just something that made me deep and introspective but also something that gave me real problems. They would realize that crazy on a Friday was fun but crazy on Sunday morning was too much. And so I would become too much while simultaneously not enough as they compared me to this unachievable stereotype just because on the outside I looked like I would fit.

It’s stereotypes like these that directly shape how we feel about ourselves. To a certain extent we like labels, they tell us who we are, but only if we are the ones putting the label on. I never wanted to be the “manic pixie dream girl” and so it became a box I was constantly trying to break out of. But every move I made seemed to only confirm the stereotype.

So I gave up. I stopped dwelling on it. If I wanted a tattoo, I got it, if I wanted to wear jean on jeans, I did. I worked on myself and my education. I’m still somewhat of a loner, I still like bleaching my hair, but the difference is now I care about myself, and I care enough to not let some dude who wants to get me drunk and crazy look at me twice.

People can label me all they want, and they do. I still get told “you’re crazy” on dates but instead of laughing uncomfortably now I respond with “define crazy.”

Editor's Picks Love + Sex Love Advice

Do we owe anything to the people we ghost?

If you’ve ever been on an online dating app, you know that ghosting is inevitable. Whether you ghost someone else or you’re being ghosted, you are bound to encounter it at some point. It seems like for every decent match, three potentially good matches ghost you.

How many times have you been thinking “hey, this person might actually be cool” as you send that hahaha in response to their meme, and then… nothing? They vanish from your inbox like a dream and you are left wondering, “is it me?”

Well, is it you? I don’t think so.

Sometimes, people ghost you simply because they’re assholes and don’t care about your feelings.

Dating profiles make you a picture on a screen not a human being with feelings. It’s a lot easier to ignore a message on your phone than a person standing right in front of you. If you went on one or two dates with someone the odds are they didn’t end the date with a respectable “Hey, I don’t really see anything else happening between us but thanks for the night”. They probably just went home, deleted your number and ignored your texts till you took the hint and went away.

And while it’s a shitty thing to do, I’ve done it, and you’ve probably done it. Owning up to your feelings plus the added bonus of confronting someone about those feelings is scary. So we don’t do it.

Another reason why someone might ghost you is that they feel like they don’t owe you anything.

This is especially true if you get ghosted before you meet up with the person. If all you had was a conversation on an app the chances of getting ghosted increase tenfold – note that this claim is not backed by science. How many people have you ghosted after barely a couple of messages?

For me, it’s a lot. A lot, a lot.

And, hot take, I believe that’s okay. You actually don’t owe these people anything. Maybe if you’ve been talking for a while and they suggest a date and you don’t want to go you tell them, or you politely decline rather than ghosting. It’s up to you and your judgment of the situation. But you actually do not owe anyone anything.

Again, it’s possible that someone ghosts you for another innocent yet possibly hurtful reason: they forgot about you.

Have you ever been messaging a match and getting bored? You aren’t clicking with them and the conversation is going nowhere. So you close the app and watch Netflix or something. Then have you ever opened the app a couple days later and realized you never answered their last question? Yeah, that was because you weren’t interested in them and people won’t be interested in you.

You only notice these types of ghosts because you were really interested in them. Maybe you thought the conversation was actually going great, or you were having an off day and sending replies that weren’t really hitting their mark. That’s okay: it’s bound to happen. Yes, it sucks when it happens like 27 times in a row but there’s not really a whole lot you can do.

To combat the ghost you have to not become one yourself. If you hate them with every fiber of your being then don’t ghost people, all it takes is a short message. Here are some thing you can say if you don’t want to keep messaging someone but you don’t want to ghost them either:

1. “I had a good time last night but I don’t think we should go out again. Good luck!”

2. “This is [insert your name here]’s mom, [your name] is grounded.”

3. “I have lice.”

4. “Hey, we both know this isn’t going anywhere, au revoir and bon chance!”

5. “I suddenly got a huge assignment at [insert job, school, or hobby], I don’t really have time to be dating but nice talking to you.”

6. “Hey buddy bud, ol’ pal, ol’ friend, I don’t want to ever see you again. Goodbye forever.” 

And finally, if someone is harassing you on any dating app, you don’t owe them anything. Ghost them, block them, report them, do whatever you need to do to keep them out of your messages and out of your life.

They aren’t worth your time.

Dating should be fun (right?). So if you aren’t feeling it, don’t push it. At the end of the day, we are all people who make mistakes and accidentally ghost people who didn’t do anything wrong.

Maybe next time, just try to remember your talking to a real human  – not a bubble on a screen. 

Politics The World

Why are we blaming Kim for everything that Kanye West says?

When I was a little girl, I was implicitly taught that my actions weren’t the only actions I was responsible for.

In preschool, I said something mean to a boy in my class. He started throwing chairs around the room, and we were both sent to time-out because I, allegedly, caused it. If I upset my male classmates or even family members, I was held (at least, partially) responsible for their response, even if it was an overreaction.

As I grew up and became acquainted with feminism, I noticed that I wasn’t alone. Many of my friends who aren’t cis men have experienced similar situations: we were taught that we’re responsible for men’s actions. Unfortunately, this attitude means society tends towards blaming women for men’s actions. 

Recently, Kanye West caused waves when he showed support for Donald Trump.

He tweeted a picture of himself in a ‘Make America Great Again’ cap and made some shocking statements about slavery, saying 400 years of slavery ‘sounds like a choice’. Kanye’s support for the Trump, despite Trump’s bigoted and oppressive views, has understandably angered many of his fans – especially since it’s not the first time he’s said something harmful.

While many people are calling him out indirectly, some people have said that Kanye’s wife, Kim Kardashian, influenced his actions.

In unrelated recent news, the Golden State Killer – a notorious serial killer who was active in the 70s and 80s – might have been captured. Joseph DeAngelo, a former police officer, is now the prime suspect. While the case is being investigated, many are looking for the reason for his actions. Some believe that when his former girlfriend left him, she broke his heart, thus causing him to go on a killing spree.

Although these two situations are vastly different, they have one thing in common: men are committing transgressions of varying degrees, and we’re blaming women for it.  

Kanye West is responsible for saying what he said. The Golden State Killer is responsible for doing what he did.

We don’t have any reason to believe either of those men was manipulated or tricked into doing what they did, yet we still blame women for their behavior. 

These two cases aren’t isolated: the same dynamic plays out in a number of different ways throughout society. We see the same dynamic when incels blame their misogyny on women for choosing not to sleep with them. We see the same dynamic when schoolchildren are told to befriend potentially volatile male classmates to prevent school shootings. We see the same dynamic where women are blamed for being assaulted by men.

When we blame women for men’s actions, we aren’t only letting men escape accountability for their actions: we’re also putting an unfair burden on women. Women are taught not only to be responsible for themselves, but also for the actions of those around them. It’s exhausting knowing that we can trigger any action from a man and be blamed for it. It’s even more exhausting when women and non-binary people are brushed off as over-emotional and irrational when men are allegedly aren’t even capable of regulating their own actions.  

To varying degrees, women and non-binary people are taught to tiptoe around men to avoid violent outbursts. We’re taught that our biggest accomplishment is marrying a man and pouring emotional labor into him. Even in platonic friendships with men, we’re taught not to ‘friendzone’ men, lest we cause them to become angry and violent.

Flippantly blaming Kim Kardashian for Kanye West’s tweets, or speculating about the Golden State Killer’s ex-girlfriend, might not seem harmful.

When you look at the bigger picture, though, it’s easy to see how this common thread runs through society. If we want to create a society free from misogyny and oppression, it’s important that we stop blaming women for men’s actions and hold men accountable for once.

Gender & Identity Life

5 times that prove just how much men interrupt women

Simply put, there is a great term for the tendency of a man to interrupt a woman while she is talking.  It is called “manterruption.”

Essentially, when a woman is trying to talk about a topic or finish a sentence, her voice somehow gets lost in the midst of this manterruption.  She has to fight hard and stop being nice. I cannot count the number of times I have faced this in my own life. It happened to me most recently while giving a formal presentation that I did not get to finish because I was interrupted by the men in the room.

I eventually left the room feeling devalued.

Why does it happen and do men mean to do it? I am not sure about this one, and I am sure plenty of social psychologists may offer a better answer than I can. What I am sure of is that we have all seen some ugly instances of manterruption on live television.  Let’s take a look and analyze.

1. Lebanese presenter,  Rima Karaki, shutting down Muslim scholar Hani al-Seba’i on live television

Like me, if you watched this video a few years ago, you were cheering with excitement when Rima Karaki made it clear that she will not be spoken to with disrespect. If you watch the entire video, the scholar does everything to resist her very clear instructions: shut up and get to the point!

In his attempt to boost his own ego, he then proceeds to demean Ms. Karaki’s position as a woman and a news presenter.

He gets ugly, and I do not care what kind of scholar you are or how many people grovel at your feet on your daily basis. Nobody has to put up with that. The way she reminds him that this is her broadcast and that she will refuse to move forward if there is no mutual respect was GOALS for many women!

2. The 2016 US Presidential Election Debates

Whether you voted for Hillary Clinton or not is beside the point.

Watching Donald Trump never letting her finish on a national platform was embarrassing.  Maybe this is an indication of the child-like and reactionary antics of (gulp) the president himself, but everyone deserves his or her time to speak during a debate.

It sent a very clear message to young men in America: they are allowed to behave like this and can get away with it when called out.

3. Kanye and Taylor from the MTV Music Awards

Back in 2010, I watched an MTV Music Awards show after many years. Admittedly, I don’t think I have seen one since.

All I can remember is the way Kanye came up during Taylor Swift’s acceptance of an award to tell her that Beyonce had the “best video of all time.” Now, again, whether you like Taylor Swift or whether you thought this was a straight publicity stunt is not the point.

The point is it seems like common sense to let someone at least be able to begin their acceptance speech, and hey, maybe even finish it.

4. Indian politician Mahua Moitra trying to get her word in during Arnab Goswami’s rants

After spending what felt like an eternity saying “Please let me finish”  in this video, and having to get into a shouting match with Mr. Goswami, Ms. Moitra finally could make her point. Do not get me wrong, Arnab is like an Indian version of Bill O’Reilly, so perhaps this is not all that shocking.

Yet, one must wonder, if he will not let any woman speak, why bother inviting them on his show?

5. Male colleagues constantly interrupting Senator Kamala Harris when conducting testimony of Jeff Sessions

The interruptions began towards the last few minutes of the video. To provide context, Senator Harris employs cross-examination style of questioning commonly used in courtrooms. While Harris may have been grilling Sessions, it is not uncommon to do this in the chamber. Sessions was trying to make sure Harris’ time was running out, and being a difficult witness.

Instead of helping her out, other male senators stopped her and pretty much indirectly told her to “be nice.” Yet, when those same men employ these methods, they are playing by the rules of the chamber and doing their job.

You bet that Senator Harris made sure to call out her male colleagues out on it in the classiest way possible because this was not the first time this happened:

There you have it. Real-life, televised examples of manterruption.

The next time anyone wants to tell you that you imagined that situation at the meeting where yet another man interrupted you, refer to these examples. Also, try this cool new manterruption app!


Women constantly have to hide their achievements from their fragile husbands. I’m sick of it.

I recently came across a video on Twitter that left me and so many other women shook.

A group of female Arab talk show hosts discussed the responsibilities of a successful woman to her family. Having to discuss this in the first place is already ridiculous since men’s successes rarely come with a list of conditions.

One of the women on the show pointed out that a successful woman must remain humble in front of her husband so that he never feels threatened by her success. According to her, a woman shouldn’t gloat of her achievements, because it will belittle her husband. Instead, a woman must make her husband feel powerful by showing him how inferior she is.

Yes, I didn’t know I could roll my eyes that far back either.

I couldn’t believe what she was saying, and the fact that some of the other female hosts were agreeing with her!

[bctt tweet=”In a world where the odds are already stacked up against women, we need partners who will be by our side no matter what. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

In a world where the odds are already stacked up against women, we need partners who will be by our side no matter what. I don’t want to have to live my life constantly afraid of outshining my husband. I want someone who is going to encourage me to aspire to greatness and someone who is going to be proud to be with me.

Why do we tell women that men’s achievements must be celebrated and praised, but they can never be proud of themselves?

Why do we teach men that it’s okay to feel emasculated by your wife’s success?

This is how we end up raising men who become violent and lash out at their significant others when they feel that their power is being stripped away. In turn, we end up raising women who feel like they must constantly cater to men’s egos.

[bctt tweet=”Why do we teach men that it’s okay to feel emasculated by your wife’s success? ” username=”wearethetempest”]

Some men are raised to believe that their masculinity is dependent on how much power they exert over others, especially the women in their lives.

That is where toxic masculinity comes into play.

When we raise men to think this way, they’ll end up feeling like less of a real man whenever a woman in their life does something that exercises her power. This idea is often so ingrained in some men’s heads that they don’t see a problem with resorting to violence to keep their masculinity intact.

[bctt tweet=”This idea is often so ingrained in some men’s heads that they don’t see a problem with resorting to violence to keep their masculinity intact. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

The TV hosts themselves were probably raised to think that they must always be wary of overpowering their husbands. But instead of realizing how toxic that can be, they’re preaching to other women to behave the same way!

Marriage is a partnership where two people lift each other up and support one another. I don’t want to feel like I must choose between living my life authentically and having a happy marriage.

We have to stop telling women to leave their accomplishments by the door every time they go home.

Gender & Identity Life

Hey a-holes, stop telling me to smile

My whole life, I’ve practically been the poster child for Resting Bitch Face (a term I don’t even like to use, but I’ll get to that).


My mom told me that I was six months old before I ever cracked a grin. I inherited a lot of my dad’s features, and as a result, I look like I’m always frowning. Kids on the school bus used to ask me, as I was sitting quietly in my seat, why I always looked so sad or angry.

I would look at them confused and insist I was neither.

Teachers have told me I look intimidating. Friends have incorrectly assumed I was pissed when I was actually just thinking. Bosses and coworkers have asked me if I’m bored when I’ve actually been perfectly content completing my work.

And of course, there are the gross men who go out of their way to tell me to smile more, creepily offering their input when I’m trying to walk to class, buy my groceries, buy a gym membership, or generally live.

I distinctly remember walking back to my apartment on a cold autumn day, my head bent against the incessant Milwaukee wind when a middle-aged man passed me on the sidewalk and said something along the lines of, “Hey baby, why not smile!”

I wanted to grab the nearest pointy object and stab him to death, because I’ve been hearing disgusting shit like this all my life, but I settled for aggressively screaming, “Fuck you!” at the bastard.

He was clearly taken aback, his eyes popped wide open. As I walked away, I heard him muttering angrily to himself.

The disturbing phenomenon of men – usually middle-aged or older – telling me to smile or joking about my frowning angry-looking face has perpetuated itself dozens of times, with dozens of different responses from myself.

When I was younger, I felt intimidated and often just ignored my harasser’s unwarranted insults.

As I’ve gotten older and bolder, however, I’ve snapped back and stood up for myself. It almost always leaves men perplexed and offended that I dare tell them to go fuck themselves. The irony that they just invaded my privacy and said something completely inappropriate about a feature I can’t change about myself is lost on them.

But yeah, I’m in the wrong for telling them to eat shit.

Can all men who believe they’re entitled to women’s smiling faces go die in a hole? Please and thank you.

Men are wrong, and they usually don’t even know it, for telling women to smile.

This idea that women need to look happy, pleasant, and sweet for men reflects male privilege and men’s obsession with objectifying the female body. It’s literally telling a woman to transform her face into something beautiful to look at because a man believes he deserves her happiness and cooperation. It’s a sign that men assume women exist for themTelling a woman she needs to smile more, or that she would be so much prettier if she smiled, is just another way men use their power to intimidate and coerce women.

Don’t believe me? Take into consideration the tantrums men often throw when women retaliate after being “innocently” told to smile. Men take it personally when women don’t comply.

To all the stupid men who think it’s okay to tell a woman she needs to smile more often: our bodies, our faces, and our personalities are not here for you.

If your snide comment does get a smile out of a woman, it’s probably because she’s terrified of you and thinks you will hurt her or continue to verbally harass her if she doesn’t do what you say. She’s probably trying to avoid a scene and lessen the risk that you will follow her, call her a bitch, or worse.

Men never tell other random men to smile, so stop telling women what to do with their faces.

If a woman appears to be frowning, upset, or just normal looking, leave her alone and go on with your business.

This is the face I was born with.

I always look like I’m frowning. I can’t help it.

I actually have a naturally nice smile – when I decide to show it. I am not “bitchy” nor do I have a “bitch face” just because my mouth curves downward.

Resting Bitch Face shouldn’t even be a thing, because a women are not required to be amiable, happy, and grinning from ear to ear every second of the day.

It’s perfectly fine to not look constantly enthused in public.

Love + Sex Love Life Stories

Women don’t get a free pass on cheating. So why should I date a man who does?

It’s easy to fall into the narrative that all men are dogs, and they all cheat, and they’ve all got commitment issues, and whatever else you tell yourself to get through your latest heartbreak. But as comforting as those excuses are in your teary-eyed wailing as you dig through your third tub of ice cream, they’re not even remotely true.

Because cheating, commitment issues and toying with someone’s heart are not genes that any one person can be born with, so our generalization of men isn’t helpful.

Nothing exists in isolation.

We’re all products of our environment, upbringing, society, our past experiences and a variety of economic and political implications that influence our behavior. There is a bigger conversation here that needs to be had outside the confines of, “he’s such a dick.”

And believe me, I’ve said that phrase a lot recently. While it offers temporary solace, it, unfortunately, doesn’t give you any of the answers you’re looking for.

While I’m dissecting my latest relationship trainwreck, all I can think is “what happened to the man who said he just couldn’t be with me anymore?”

Now you might be rolling your eyes and saying something like, “maybe you’re the problem,” and trust me, I’ve gone down that road. I’m a woman, and society has programmed me to first and foremost ask the age-old question, “what did I do wrong?” I’ve asked it a thousand times.

But I also came to the realization that in this instance, it wasn’t me.

The thing is, currently, masculinity is in transition and it’s affecting our relationships. And while this evolution is happening, the men around us, desperately flailing for some sense of stability, turn into pricks in an attempt to steady themselves on what they feel to be uncertain ground. And I get it: trying to be a man to someone else when you don’t have a clue what being a man even is, is a terrifying thing.

Conversations about masculinity and what it means to be a man need to be happening, and they need to be led by men.

Women have been talking about feminism, womanhood and what being a woman means for so many years now. Whether you’re a part of it or not, you’re aware of its existence and have grappled with the idea of womanhood and what your femininity means to you at some point.

This has mostly happened because our society is structured to ask women who they are from a young age. From liking pink and being a girly girl, to being a tomboy teenager or a promiscuous twenty-something, we’ve been continuously playing with notions of womanhood as society asked; what type of woman will you be?

We couldn’t have ever avoided it.

Men, on the other hand, have never been asked to define their masculinity, mostly because they’ve never had to fight for their place. For the most part, they’ve been left pretty much to themselves as toxic masculinity was passed down from father to son, and from his grandfather before him.

Of course, there are exceptions and men who don’t feel comfortable with the dominant definition of masculinity, but I’m not talking about the exception.

My journey with what it means to be a woman has led me to realize that I don’t need a man. Not for a single damn thing. I am economically independent. I go out and metaphorically slay my own deer every day. I provide for myself and pay my way. If I want to go somewhere I don’t need the protection of a man to do it. And many women have come to the same conclusions.

So, if we women are surviving all on our own, just fine without a man, and men are still holding onto traditional masculine ideals – being a protector and provider – it’s no wonder we can’t all get along and find healthy relationships!

I’ve lost count of the arguments I’ve had with men on dates as they insisted they pay for dinner every single time.

Or even after a few conversations, they start asking you to tell them you’ve arrived safely at every single destination as if you were some small child navigating the world for the first time.

Our ideas of our gender roles in this world are so far out of alignment, that they can do nothing but jar and scratch uncomfortably alongside each other.

It just doesn’t work.

I may not need a man, but I want one.

I’d like a companion to share a life with. I’d like him to ask me about my achievements that day and what I accomplished instead of telling me to text him when I get home as some show of dominant ‘I’m going to protect you’ masculinity. Like it’s cool, you can just tell me you care instead of making grand statements about my safety.

Until masculinity has evolved, we don’t have a hope in hell of sustaining anything close to healthy relationships. They’re clinging on to a dead past and as long as they do, we don’t have a future.

And I know it’s a process, and I know these things take time and I know that it’s their journey, but I’m begging the men of our society to get there faster.

Because the more you stumble slowly through your gender identity crisis, the worse off we all are.