USA Reproductive Rights 2020 Elections Gender Inequality

Amy Coney Barett’s feminism is not here to save us

There’s no one way to be a woman. So why, in 2020, do we still expect all women to be the same? In many ways, this year has pushed us collectively to expand our intersections of identity, and redefine our activism. But what does it mean to fall under one banner, one slogan? How can we remain on one side of history and still maintain individualistic thought?

The recent passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been met with the seemingly collective fear of women across the US for their bodily autonomy. Well-intentioned messages flood Twitter to remind uterus-owners to stock up on birth control now, before we enter the new age of womanhood (read: Gilead). What a privilege it is to utter “Justice for Breonna Taylor,” “Abolish ICE,” and “My Body, My Choice” in the same breath, as if the three do not meet at a crucial intersection.

The irony is that the bodies of Black women were subjected to the horrific trials that produced modern-day birth control. The ever-updating news cycle revealed that the bodies of detained women in the US are again subject to illegal medical procedures and sterilization in the same week as Amy Barrett’s nomination. The only bodies to retain autonomous choice, it seems, are those of white women. These are the women for whom difference of opinion is not a matter of life and death. How else can Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Trump’s top choice to fill her seat, Amy Coney Barrett have tread the same career path?

This is not a matter of pitting women against women, but a reminder that our fear of Barrett on the bench stems from an age-old economic theory of scarcity. RBG was the second woman to sit on the Supreme Court—the first Jewish woman. In 2009, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the first Hispanic and Latina to become a member of the Court.  For as long as there’s a qualifier preceding a woman’s role, there’s a second, silent fear: what if she’s the only? While it’s simply not true—this fear has fueled our motivations in almost every field: model minority myths, purported college demographic quotas— the idea of nine women on the bench still seems far-fetched. Impossible. This is what makes us angry at Amy Coney Barrett—afraid even. She’s being offered the opportunity to represent all of us, but her track record shows her preference for the conservative, non-immigrant few. 

Last week’s confirmation hearings remind us that Barrett identifies as an Originalist–that is, much like her mentor, the late Antonin Scalia, she believes that the Constitution is not a living document, but rather one frozen within the context of the year it was ratified. She once again emphasized in her hearing that “it’s not up to me to update [the Constitution] or infuse my own policy views into it,” something she has been reiterating toward every question regarding her opinions on Roe v. Wade and her conservative Catholic views. Comforting, right?

However, despite Barrett assuring us that she is the consummate public servant, her promise that “[she] would assume this role (regarding her nomination to the Supreme Court) to serve [us]” feels hollow. The fear is real: historically women who do not have to fight for their right to exist have exercised the luxury of choosing to renounce things they don’t need. Consider Susan B. Anthony’s lack of interest of securing the right to vote for Black women in the United States, for example. It’s important to note that white women are not the founders of feminism—rather only the face of the modern word, as it emerged in the Western world. 

But what about Amy Coney Barrett’s feminism? After all, as women, shouldn’t we be on the same side? If anything, she’s a reminder that women, despite facing similar obstacles, are varied and complex. Feminism doesn’t deride motherhood or womanhood–it’s not meant to shame femininity or identity. Rather, it is best viewed as with most successful movements, through its intersectionality. A feminist doesn’t have to be a woman, doesn’t have to be unmarried or without children. However, a feminist does have to care and advocate for other marginalized groups. Therefore if feminism must include bodily and reproductive rights, it must do so for any and all uterus-bearers; eschewing a cis-heteronormative lens, and consider both those who choose parenthood and those who choose otherwise. 

Amy Coney Barrett is the right’s feminist icon because of her working motherhood, which in itself is not the issue. If anything, the fact that her hearing was filled with reminders of her seven children is a reminder that her personal choice to be a parent is now touted as a feminist flag for female success in the workplace: if Amy could be a working mother, then women have breached that final hurdle. However, it ignores her choice to do so: her choice to be a mother is as valid as another’s choice to not be a mother. What’s important here is that Amy Coney Barrett’s long-held anti-abortion views do not suggest that. 

In the aftermath of the 2016 US election, we saw many women vote against their own interests, and puzzled how we, as women, could be so divided. It’s worth noting, that feminism is quite literally, not for everyone. The 2010s resurgence of feminism and the need to make it palatable led quickly to the condemnation of White Feminism. This is a reminder that until they are truly intersectional, movements cannot achieve success. Sure, without feminism, Barrett would not have pivoted to the role she is nominated for today—but to support her blindly, in the name of feminism, or solidarity—is an injustice to any woman who does not fall under Barrett’s own scope. 

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Gender Inequality

Meet these 5 badass Nicaraguan women who are at the forefront of change

In the high conflict areas of Central America, women are leading protests, confronting authorities, and demanding freedom – all while changing perceptions along the way. In Nicaragua, young women are on the front lines fighting against the country’s authoritative president of Daniel Ortega.

On April 18, 2018 protests broke out in the country after cuts on social-security benefits and a nationwide discontent which had been simmering for years. 

Amid the uprising, countless Nicaraguan women were aiding the injured. They organized, protested, were incarcerated, and were inside the barricades.

Between the months of April and September, Nicaraguans took to the streets to demand change. However, protesters were violently attacked by police and paramilitary groups. As a result of the brutality 300 people have died and 100,000 Nicaraguans are living in exile. Meanwhile, the government continues to illegally arrest civilians and commit crimes against humanity.

Amid the uprising, countless Nicaraguan women were aiding the injured. They organized, protested, were incarcerated, and were inside the barricades.

They were everywhere, doing everything.

Two years later, women are still playing an active role in anti-government movements in Central America. To give recognition to the resilience of Nicaraguan women, The Tempest is highlighting the plight of five young Nicaraguan women.

1. Emilia Yang Rappaccioli

Emilia speaking at AMA event
Attribution: Madres de Abril [Image description: Emilia speaking on the microphone at one of museums events. ]
Emilia is an activist, artist, and researcher who focuses her work on the role of memory. When the protest broke out in 2018 Emilia was in Los Angeles working on her PHD at the University of Southern California (USC). She returned to Nicaragua weeks later. When she arrived she immediately joined and made her mark on the anti-government demonstrations.

On June 26, 2018 paramilitaries killed Emilia’s uncle. After this tragedy, Emilia joined the Association of Mothers of April (AMA). This is an association which was created with the mission of uniting, and representing, the mothers and relatives of the people murdered from state repression in Nicaragua.

Today, Emilia is the director of the Museum of Memory against Impunity. This museum was built in conjunction with the AMA in order to dignify the victims of the state and honor their memory.

Emilia along with Nicaragua Mother of April
Attribution: Madres of Abril [Image description: Emilia is third one on the left, joined by members of AMA.]
Emilia recalls that setting up the museum’s first exhibition was emotionally draining. She interviews around 200 victims about who they were, what happened to them, and how they remember the events.

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When the museum opened its first exhibition in Nicaragua, at the University of Central America (UCA), people were able to reach out to the victims in AMA. She says this has helped Nicaraguans come  to terms with much of the pain that was caused. Most importantly, she sees how the museum has really helped people to mourn as a collective. 

Regarding the country, Emilia says there needs to be work done which is centered on understanding women rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and the rights of black folk.

2. Karen Guido

Karen dancing
Attribution: Karen Guido [Image description: Karen dancing for last day of exhibition for the Museum of Memory against Impunity.]
Karen joined the uprising from her native home of Monimbo, Nicaragua’s most rebellious town.

Traditionally, the people of Monimbo have used dance as a form of resistance and for Karen this is especially true.

In the time since the demonstrations, Karen is part of two youth led groups and gives yoga classes in the name of resistance. She describes how the on-going crisis is detrimental for one’s mental health. Yet through yoga youth will be able to cope.

She emphasizes the need for one to take care of their mental health in order to keep resisting.

One needs to take care of their mental health in order to keep resisting.

For Karen, as an avid lover of all arts, it saddens her to see how the practice of art is controlled and appropriated by the government. She dreams to live in a Nicaragua in which art is no longer politicized. She feels that individuals in Nicaragua should be allowed to express their art freely, spontaneously, and that art should be accessible for all.

Karen continues to dance for events commemorating Nicaragua’s popular uprising, as this is her way to keep the resistance alive. 

3. Nathalie Román

3. Nathalie Roman young with a megaphone
Attribution: Nathalie Roman [Image description: Picture of Nathalie Roman holding a megaphone in a manifestation.]
Nathalie is a political science student and prominent member of the Student Movement to Support Democracy (MEAD). When conflict broke out, she primarily focused on aiding the university students who were barricaded inside of the universities. At the time, she also helped construct one of the first youth movements that emerged from the protests.

Nathalie focuses her activism work on organizing student movements and advocating for the demands on university autonomy.

Her most recent project is Chacuatol Universitario, an initiative seeking to inform and involve more students in the discussion around recovering, and strengthening university autonomy. 

Nathalie understands that there needs to be change within Nicaragua’s traditional cultural political framework.

In a country in which there are mostly men making political decisions, and women’s voices are set aside, Nathalie believes that it is crucial for women to be appointed to political positions.

4. Rosi Ariana

4. Rosi Ariana
Attribution: Rosi Ariana [Image description: Picture of Rosi Ariana.]
Rosi is from Bullocks Wharf, a municipality in Nicaragua’s South Caribbean coast. She joined the protests while studying political science at Nicaragua Polytechnic University in the capital of Managua.

Due to a law that the government passed which criminalizes any form of protest, Rosi integrated herself into the April 19 Student Movement (ME19A) in order to continue organizing against the government.

Now she is the coordinator and administrator of the ongoing projects of ME19A.

Rosi is concerned with the little to no attention toward the violence Nicaraguan women face. Especially women who live in rural areas of the country, like her hometown. Rosi says that women in these kinds of areas suffer from patriarchal violence. For instance, there are cases where women are killed by their husbands, for not having food ready when they arrive home from work.

There are cases where women are killed by their husbands, for not having food ready when they arrive home from work.

Rosi values the different factors within the feminist movement, but feels there needs to be more organization towards the demands of Nicaragua’s rural women. She hopes that one day she is able to help these women by making sure they receive justice and that their cases are not left in impunity.

5. Liza Henriquez

Liza Henriquez Nicaraguan indigenous woman

Liza is from the Mosquitia region of Nicaragua, living in the municipality of Puerto Cabezas (Bilwi) in Nicaragua’s North Caribbean Coast. She’s an indigenous Miskito woman, one of the many ethnic groups in Nicaragua.

Map of Nicaragua
Attribution: Lonely Planet [Image description: Map of Nicaragua.]
Nicaragua’s indigenous and communities of Afro descendant are among the populations which have suffered the most. Liza explains that her community, predominately those of Afro-descendant, has been involved in anti-government demonstrations way before the protests of April ’18.

Liza joined the protest of April ’18 while she was living in the country’s capital of Managua. After receiving threats from government sympathizers she went back home to Bilwi in order to continue protesting.

Once she arrived there, Liza summoned herself to help organize marches, hunger strikes, and participated in putting up “tranques” or barricades. She recalls seeing a 15 year girl shot in the head by a militant during one of the demonstrations.

Liza explains that there are more cases of young indigenous and Afro descendants who have been assassinated by armed groups – yet most of these cases are left in impunity.

Now Liza continues to organize through meetings with other young indigenous from different territories. It is during these meetings that she listens to the testimonies about how colonists or invaders are exploiting the land which belong to the indigenous communities living in these territories.

As for Liza she is always going to advocate for the end of exploitation of indigenous land, justice for the fallen, the inclusion of indigenous, and Afro-descendant women in politics. Lastly, also for a real implementation of Autonomy for Nicaragua Caribbean Coast. 

Liza is always going to advocate for the end of exploitation of indigenous land, justice for the fallen, the inclusion of indigenous, and Afro-descendant women in politics. Lastly, also for a real implementation of Autonomy for Nicaragua Caribbean Coast. 

Liza says that Nicaragua is not free until the country meets those demands.

Two years since massive protests, Nicaragua continues to be an area of high conflict. Despite the risks, these 5 young Nicaraguan women continue to organize, changing the panorama of the country’s traditional political framework.


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USA The World

The Trump Administration continues to threaten women’s access to birth control

The Supreme Court had us fooled. Just a few weeks after SCOTUS struck down a restrictive abortion law in Louisiana with a 5-4 vote, the justices upheld the Trump administration’s mandate that employers can refuse to let workers use birth control under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) due to religious or moral objections. Only 2 justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonya Sotomayor dissented. “between 70,500 and 126,400 women would immediately lose access to no-cost contraceptive services,” Ginsburg stated in her note of dissent, using a governmental estimate. 

The Health Resources and Services Administration – a government agency under the U.S Department of Health and Human Services – ruled that birth control is essential preventative care and that contraceptives would be free and covered under employer’s health insurance without any extra copays in 2012. Exceptions were explicitly made for places of worship, but not for religious controlled schools, hospitals, charities, and any other groups or businesses controlled by religious groups. However, both the Obama and the Trump administrations began to include a wider range of exemptions after pushback from religious groups. 

The U.S. government has always had a tumultuous and inconsistent relationship with birth control legislation since the creation of the ACA in 2010

In the 2014 case landmark case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the Supreme Court justices voted that for-profit organizations were exempt from the ACA’s contraceptive mandate under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), although the RFRA was declared unconstitutional by SCOTUS in 1997 at the state level. 

The U.S. government has always had a tumultuous and inconsistent relationship with birth control legislation since the creation of the ACA in 2010. The inconsistencies in legislation have allowed for the Trump administration to further their attacks on women’s healthcare. The RFRA has already been dubbed unconstitutional for states, so why does the federal government and the Supreme Court continue to allow the RFRA as an excuse to revoke women’s right to healthcare?

In 2017, Trump drafted new rules under an Executive Order that for-profit groups were officially exempt. The State of Pennsylvania, including several other states with their individual contraceptive mandates, challenged the government under the Equal Protection Clause. Despite, this, SCOTUS upheld Trump’s attack on contraceptives in the recent case Little Sisters of the Poor Saint Peters and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania. The Little Sisters of the Poor are a Catholic organization that provides homes for low-income elderly individuals. The nuns who run the organization are against contraception and abortion. Regardless of their religious rights, organizations and businesses should not have a say in what medication their employees are taking. It’s simply not their business. Now that SCOTUS has furthered these dubious exemptions, it will be easier for conservative businesses to regulate their female employees’ access to birth control under “moral” reasons. By revoking access to birth control, bosses are directly harming the lives of women. Contraceptives directly save female lives.

Bosses have no business deciding what happens in their employee’s private life, including what medication they are taking.

Birth control pills have a wide variety of different usages besides preventing pregnancies. Many women are prescribed birth control to regulate their menstrual cycles. Nearly 30% of women on birth control pills take them to make their periods less painful. Combination/multi-hormone pills also can prevent uterine and ovarian cancer. It can help reduce the effects of menstrual migraines, control endometriosis, and regulate PMS and PMDD, a severe form of PMS, symptoms. By upholding Trump’s mandate, many women will no longer have access to the medication that keeps them alive, especially poor women and women of color who cannot afford to pay for birth control out of pocket.

Just recently, SCOTUS also ruled that employers can’t discriminate against LGBTQ+ workers based on religious beliefs. Employers shouldn’t be able to decide the fate of women’s health and lives either.  Birth control shouldn’t be politicized. It’s necessary, preventative healthcare. The companies that are refusing to use company health insurance for contraceptives are silent on Viagra prescriptions. I’m sorry, but if your penis can’t get up, it’s probably “God’s will.” Bosses have no business deciding what happens in their employee’s private life, including what medication they are taking. 

Donald Trump and his administration have been attacking women’s health and the ACA the moment he stepped foot in the White House. He’s not an advocate for religious groups, he’s a tyrant who uses the guise of religious freedom to directly attack poor women of color. With Justice Ginsberg’s seat on the line, women’s health holds a terrifying future if Trump is re-elected. The government should not be pandering to the qualms of religious and conservative run businesses. Women’s healthcare is not a political tool, it’s a human right, and should be treated as such.

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Book Club Books Pop Culture

Navigating queerness & tradition in YA fiction with Adiba Jaigirdar, author of “The Henna Wars”

Adiba Jaigirdar is an Irish-Bangladeshi writer, poet, and teacher with an MA in Postcolonial Studies. Her latest book, The Henna Wars, is a poignant story about two Muslim girls falling in love.

Be sure to check out our live Instagram event featuring Adiba and our own editor, Shaima. We’re also doing a giveaway of her book, enter now!


Adiba Jaigirdar’s debut novel The Henna Wars stems from a genuine desire to inspire joy. She was drawn to “write a story that made [her] happy and that was funny to read and fun to write.” She settled on the idea of a romantic comedy with two teen girls with rival henna businesses while “attempting (and failing) to teach [herself] henna”.

Looking to up the stakes of the girls’ rivalry, Adiba imagined what it would be like “if the two girls were also romantically attracted to each other, and grappling with what that might mean.” From there, everything else came together to make this wonderful tale of love, longing, and growing up. 

The Henna Wars revolves around themes of queerness, first love, culture, and family. Adiba interjects stories with themes that are relevant to herself and her life, and exploring them in the medium of storytelling.

Her influences range from The Princess Diaries, Hayley Kiyoko and Janelle Monáe to Bollywood film like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai which she cites as part of her introduction to romance.

She recalls the first time she encountered a person of color writing about people of color in Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses (which we love!). Reading her stories made Adiba realize that it was possible to write about people like herself.

As a queer woman of color, she acknowledges that she has a responsibility to represent her culture, gender, and sexuality in her work. “There’s a lot of pressure, especially because there aren’t a lot of novels out there about Bangladeshi teens, and even fewer about queer Bangladeshi Muslim teens,” Adiba said. “Even though realistically I know that it’s impossible to represent everything as you write a single story, I still felt the pressure of that.” 

To her, storytelling cannot be separated from politics. “Especially as a queer Muslim South Asian, there’s no way that what I write is not going to be political. My very existence is political.” 

As she writes in the contemporary era, I was curious to see what she finds unique to the time that we are currently living in. To her, this time is a time of “rising up against oppression and attempting to enact change.” Yet, she believes this has been the case for a while, as “marginalized people have been fighting for our rights for a long time. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.” 

If this story were set in the future, she would love to say that the “characters like Nishat and Flávia wouldn’t have to worry about their sexuality, race, and culture making it more difficult for them to fit in.” However, she has her doubts. “I’m not particularly hopeful of that happening anytime in the near future.” 

For the writers out there or those interested in what happens behind the scenes, Adiba admits that her writing process is “honestly a little chaotic.” When she first begins writing, she “usually have a very basic idea of the story I want to tell. I figure out the important bits that I need to be able to write the story—the beginning, the end, and bits and pieces in the middle. Then, I begin to write and it’s a process of stringing everything together. It’s a little like putting together a puzzle. Once it’s out there on the page, it’s time for me to begin revisions and shape it into something that really works.”

[Image Description: Book cover of The Henna Wars, two girls with henna reaching their hands out to each other.] Via Twitter
[Image Description: Book cover of The Henna Wars, two girls with henna reaching their hands out to each other.] Via Twitter
The scenes that she enjoyed writing the most were the Bengali wedding scenes at the beginning of the book. “Bangladeshi people are obsessed with weddings, and our weddings are a whole event. So it was nice to explore that aspect of my life through the lens of a character like Nishat, who is surrounded by the familiarity of a Bangladeshi wedding, while also stumbling across her childhood crush.” 

As for how it feels to see her work being shared around the world, Adiba admits that “it still feels a little surreal.” Her dreams of being a writer when she was younger seemed to rely on her writing about straight white characters with whom she shared few experiences. Those were some of the only stories that she saw published or have mainstream success. “It was hard for me to imagine a world where someone like me could be writing stories about people like me.” 

In the future, she hopes that The Henna Wars can allow queer brown girls to see a reflection of themselves in its pages, and that it can open doors for more queer brown people to write and publish more of their own stories. 

For those that have enjoyed the latest book-to-movie adaptations like To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before or Crazy Rich Asians, Adiba shares that she would love to see The Henna Wars adapted for the big screen in the future. Especially if the potential adaptation stays true to the ethnicities of the characters.

As of now, Adiba is revising her second novel, which will be out from Page Street in spring 2021. It’s another YA romantic comedy which follows two girls—one Bangladeshi Bengali and one Indian Bengali—who have to start a fake relationship in order to achieve what they want. 

Have you entered our Instagram giveaway yet? And if you absolutely cannot wait, get The Henna Wars on Amazon or on The Tempest’s own virtual bookshop supporting local bookstores.
Editor's Picks Love Life Stories Advice Career Advice

Here’s the graduation advice nobody will ever tell you

I never thought I’d be writing a letter to college graduates, but considering the world that we live in today, and the many terrifying fears I remember going through in the day of and weeks/months/year after graduation, I think it’s definitely more than time for me to plunge into this.

I’ll lead with a disclaimer: take these nuggets of advice and see whether they apply to your life. Not everything will.

I’m not a fan of writing blanket statements, and hell, it’s okay if you’re not in the place many are today. If so, kudos!

1. I know everyone and their mother is already asking what your next steps are, and it’s probably reached a fever pitch, now that you’ve got your diploma in hand.

Here’s the truth: if you don’t know yet, that’s okay. One of life’s biggest secrets is that even the people asking you don’t know what their next steps are. Hell, sometimes they’re just asking in a desperate attempt to get some sort of advice or validation about their lives.

Another secret: once you graduate college, life is fluid. You don’t have to do what others are telling you. Which leads me to my next point…

2. Everyone has a plan for your life post-graduation – but the only one that has the real power is you.

I get it – I’m the oldest child of parents who have big, big dreams for my siblings and myself. I faced a lot of heated discussions the weeks leading up to and following graduation, all of which had the same tone: why aren’t you doing anything with your life?

 Know what that means? It means that your value is inherently determined only if you’re doing what your parents/relatives/friends/strangers deem to be appropriate. And that’s a load of crap.

Know that there will be a different future out there.

It’s a known fact that I worked at Princeton University for two years after graduation, but the thing I didn’t tell those who knew me was that I worked in Staples, struggling to apply to jobs and keep my head up, for the summer following graduation. I had even put in an application for a second job at Chipotle when I received the job offer from Princeton.

I do want to make this clear: in no way did my time at any of the three locations matter more or less than the other. Ultimately, it came down to keeping my head up, surviving incoming bills, and trying to still go after my dreams.

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I was okay with every moment, grateful for the opportunity – even if those who knew, weren’t – because I knew that there’d be a different future out there.

3. Your life in the year after graduation does not determine your worth or future or opportunities. 

Yeah, we all know about that wunderkind that’s got four incredible job offers, acceptance at five Ivy Leagues and a Truman Fellow. Want to know something? They’re just as unsure and insecure about what’s going to happen next, just as you are. And that’s okay. 

The reason “roadmaps” after college don’t really work is because – to be frank – you don’t know how your self and life will shift and morph and grow post-graduation.

You are incredible, no matter how you might feel right now.

What intrigued you during college won’t make you blink in the year after, or five years after. I graduated with a minor in education studies.

Newsflash: I haven’t really used it since then, but that’s okay.

I take it for what it was.

4. It’s okay to be afraid of what happens next.

I’m going to repeat it, just in case you haven’t really understood it: it is more than alright to be afraid of what life looks like ahead.

The biggest crime you could commit in this scenario is to let that fear hold you immobile, hold you back from trying. Don’t let that happen.

Throw yourself into things that just might pique your interest. Try out that internship, pick up a job, do what you can to remind yourself of your value – but don’t give up.

It is okay to be afraid of what life looks like ahead.

Don’t let the fear swallow you up – and if it does, confide in a friend you trust, a mentor – or a therapist.

5. The best part about being done with college is you now have the ability to make your life truly your own.

Regardless of whether you’re back living with your parents, crashing with friends, or living on your own, this is it.

This is life. You’re in full control.

No matter what people might tell you/advise you/berate you/try to drag you down – you’re the one in the driver’s seat. Never let someone strip you of that power. You are incredible, no matter how you might feel right now.

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You have your whole future ahead of you, to make of it what you will.

And that, that is truly empowering. I promise you.

But sometimes it’ll be lonely – which is okay. Hit me up on Instagram if you want to talk things through – even though I graduated years ago, I believe in helping those who need it.

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Celebrities Gender Race Inequality

Lana Del Rey has always been problematic, we just never talked about it

Late last week, Lana del Rey gave us another installment of Racist Dogwhistling by White Women Who Should Probably Know Better, a semi-monthly social media conversation that usually ends with iOs apologies and discussions about “real racism.” 

The singer posted an essay on her Instagram account that began thusly, “Question for the culture: Now that Doja Cat, Ariana, Camila, Cardi B, Kehlani and Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé have had number ones with songs about being sexy, wearing no clothes, f**king, cheating etc – can I please go back to singing about being embodied, feeling beautiful by being in love even if the relationship is not perfect, or dancing for money – or whatever I want – without being crucified or saying that I’m glamorizing abuse??????” 

She went on to describe herself as “just a glamourous person singing about the realities of what we are all now seeing are [sic] very prevalent emotionally abusive relationships all over the world” and said that she finds it “pathetic” that her “minor lyrical exploration detailing [her] sometimes submissive or passive roles in [her] relationships has often made people say [she’s] set women back hundreds of years.”

Apparently, she is “not not a feminist” but feels that there should be “a place in feminism for women who look and act like [her] – the kind of woman who says no but men hear yes – the kind of women who are slated mercilessly for being their authentic, delicate selves…”

Let’s unpack this. While I do not care to follow anything regarding Camila Cabello’s career because she has her own history of anti-Blackness, the rest of the women that del Rey name-checked have been criticized often throughout the course of their careers, for being “too sexy,” being “too political,” breaking up with their partners, their tattoos, their partners’ infidelities, the ways that they speak or dress. On one hand, del Rey was being ridiculously self-absorbed and obtuse. On the other, save for Ariana Grande, every woman on that list is a woman of color. 

Perhaps Lana del Rey could benefit from a brief chat with a capital F feminist, because then she may learn a little about the ways that Black and Latinx women have been stereotyped and hypersexualized by racists for centuries. And that by propping herself up like this “authentic, delicate” victim of undue criticism, she is operating right out of the Racist White Women of Yore Playbook, by invoking ideas straight from the Cult of Domesticity, or the Cult of True Womanhood. 

In response to the backlash she swiftly received, the singer wrote that when she mentioned women who look like her, she was referring to “people who don’t look strong or necessarily smart, or like they are in control etc. it’s about advocating for a more delicate personality, not for white woman [sic].” Which, as several Twitter users pointed out, still does an efficient job of masculinizing Black women – another old, racist standby. 

Full disclosure: I do not hate Lana del Rey’s music, despite some of its problematic themes. I enjoy a good, hauntingly depressing track every now and again. It was good music to write to when I tired of my other standbys, but I would often get put off by some of her lyrical choices, and I’m not at all heartbroken that I have to give it up. 

For example, in her song “Off to the Races” from 2012’s Born to Die, she repeatedly references Lolita, with the lyrics “Light of my life, fire of my loins,” a couplet that author Vladimir Nabokov actually pulled that quote from the real-life child abduction and molestation case that inspired his novel. 

If possible, she managed to make this even more troubling by heaping a bit of cultural appropriation on top, by describing herself (or perhaps more accurately, the character she plays) as “Lolita gets lost in the hood” during a 2011 interview with The Guardian. That she’d donned this “hood” persona but then turned around to throw Black and Latinx women – for whom being considered/stereotyped as “hood” can result in being devalued or disrespected – under the bus in 2020 is…not surprising, but it does rankle the nerves. 

Then, there’s her notorious sample of the troubling 1962 song by The Crystals, “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss” in the title track of her 2014 album, “Ultraviolence.” Are the accusations of glamorizing abuse really that far off? 

Lana del Rey has relied heavily on shock value in the past. For example, “Cola” from her 2012 album, Paradise literally begins with the lyrics, “My p***y tastes like Pepsi Cola/My eyes are wide like cherry pies.” Which she immediately follows up with “I got sweet taste for men who are older/It’s always been so it’s no surprise.” Is that a reflective take on power imbalances in her previous relationships? Or is it her leaning into her problematic “Lolita” persona? 

In her “final” note about her earlier post – which, spoiler alert, would NOT be her final words on the subject – she stood firm in her stance that she was merely “writing about the self advocacy [sic] for the more delicate and often dismissed, softer female personality. She went on to predict that the “new wave/3rd wave of feminism” would be helmed by the kind of women for whom she is speaking. 

Not even touching the fact that Lana del Rey does not know that third-wave feminism is already a thing, let’s dissect her comments about the aforementioned artists not being “soft” or “delicate.” 

Nicki Minaj was the first female rapper with major buzz in years, and she literally sang love songs, calls her fans Barbies and made the color pink a huge part of her brand. Beyoncé has songs about insecurities, feeling silenced in a relationship – the woman literally put out “Lemonade,” which repeatedly made references to her real-life husband’s infidelities. Cardi B breastfed her baby in a music video. Kehlani’s “Nights Like This,” one of the most-streamed songs of her career, thus far, is all about feeling powerless in a relationship that does not serve you. [Note: I’m skipping over Doja Cat because then, I’d have to write about her most recent scandal, and honestly, we’d be here all night.]

The fact that this all comes on the heels of food writer Alison Roman accusing decluttering genius Marie Kondo and cookbook author/famed Twitter user Chrissy Teigen of “selling out” for having become successful – it’s just too much. Roman was interviewed about her career’s trajectory and was discussing her future, and instead, squandered the opportunity to further her own wins by hating on two Asian women – one of whom (Teigen) was prepared to actually work with Roman. 

Apparently, if Asian women build successful careers by leveraging ideas and recipes inspired by their own cultures, that’s selling out. However, when a white woman does it, it is innovative and creative, and cool. When Latinx and Black women make music about sexuality, they can never be “delicate” or “soft.” Instead, they are “strong” and “in control,” which is code for “unfeminine.”

Given Lana del Rey’s response to the backlash she’s received, I’m fairly certain that she is shocked at her comments are racist. But here is the tricky thing about racism, especially in a country with a history like that of the U.S.: it’s been so heavily ingrained in American culture that many white people who traffic in casual, underhanded, or coded racism shut down the moment they are called out for their behavior. They believe that only violent, taboo racism is “real racism,” and that anyone who disagrees with them is reading too much into things, being overly sensitive, or misunderstanding their message. They don’t even recognize their own dog whistles and will argue you down that you are wrong because they didn’t mean it that way.

That is why the unlearning process is such a big part of becoming a say-it-with-your-full-chest feminist: this society was built on a racist, patriarchal system, and those who refuse to listen to women of color when they are called out for this kind of behavior are doomed to repeat it.

Health Science Now + Beyond

Why does society keep dismissing female pain?

The other day, I came across an article in The Atlantic that was published five years ago on female pain. Joe Fassler, the writer, described his wife’s traumatic experience in an emergency room where her unbearable pain was dismissed for 14-and-a-half hours. The woman in question, Rachel, had PCOS. As a result, an ovarian cyst grew undetected for so long that it caused her fallopian tube to twist. This is called ovarian torsion which was mistaken for kidney stones under a male doctor who barely took the time to do a physical exam on his female patient.

Disbelief of female pain is rampant.

Rachel withered in pain, knuckles white and face scrunched, for hours on end while nurses patted her head condescendingly, patients slept peacefully next to her, and doctors fluttered around attending to patients in order of arrival rather than the severity of symptoms. All while Rachel’s ovary was dying.

My heart ached for Rachel and I am grateful to say that I have yet to share in her trauma. The day I was diagnosed with PCOS, I woke up with sharp pains in my abdomen that radiated down to my toes. I was seventeen years old and my dad had to drag my weak body to the car. I barely remember the drive to my family doctor or what he had said to me up until the ultrasound occurred. But when it did, up popped up a blurry spot on my left ovary. The source of all my trouble was approximately 4cm in diameter, weighing down on my ovary, and caused a debilitating pain that is exclusive to this condition.

The dismissal and disbelief of female pain are rampant in the medical field. There is case piled upon case of how doctors tend to categorize the pain of women as “all in their head”. PMS and reproductive health have been longstanding points of debacle in the history of disbelieving female pain. PMS was originally (and still to this day by those who cringe at the word “vagina”) thought to only exist in the imagination of women as an excuse to mood swings or irritation. In my experience, any form of emotional showcase boils down to, “Is it that time of the month for you?”

Our pain is not worthy of concern – not even from ourselves.

Female hysteria dates back to 1900 BC in which ancient Egypt attributed the ‘disorder’ to “spontaneous uterus movement within the female body”. In the Greek world, hysteria was also tied back to the uterus. Hippocrates believed that due to an inadequate sex life, the uterus “not only [produced] toxic fumes but also [took] to wandering around the body, causing various kinds of disorders such as anxiety and a sense of suffocation.” I don’t know about you, but I tend to experience PMS regardless of whether I am actively having sex or not.

These ideologies may have been done away with, however, the gender bias still exists.

In a 2001 study titled “The Girl Who Cried Pain, A Bias Against Women in the Treatment of Pain,” it was seen that women are “more likely to be treated less aggressively in their initial encounters with the health-care system until they ‘prove that they are as sick as male patients’.” This is known, in the medical community, as ‘Yentl Syndrome’.

In Gabrielle Jackson’s book Pain and Prejudice, the endometriosis patient highlights that “women wait longer for pain medication than men, wait longer to be diagnosed with cancer, are more likely to have their physical symptoms ascribed to mental health issues, are more likely to have their heart disease misdiagnosed or to become disabled after a stroke, and are more likely to suffer illnesses ignored or denied by the medical profession.”

There seems to an unspoken agreement that female pain is either imagined or exaggerated. Even women themselves hesitate to go to an emergency room when in pain in fear of making a mountain out of a molehill. We are taught that our pain is normal and therefore not worthy of concern – not even from our ourselves.

These disparities in health treatment go even further. Studies show that if you aren’t wealthy, white, or heterosexual then you are less likely to be given the same quality of treatment than if you were.

Better to be wrong than dead.

Doctors downplaying or outright denying pain experienced by a female or pain exclusive to females is undeniably an issue that needs to be rectified in fears of it being fatal. If it, unfortunately, does happen to you, however, Dr. Tia Powell, a bioethicist and a professor of clinical epidemiology and population health, suggests three things to do: ask your doctor for guidelines on their recommendation; be direct with your doctor and make your concern for their dismissal known; check your own bias towards your pain – you would rather be wrong than dead.

In some ways, I am lucky to have a father who did not hesitate to believe my pain on the day I was diagnosed with PCOS. In more ways, I am angry at myself and the world to have to consider my position of having a male believe me as “lucky” when it should, in fact, be a norm. Rachel still relives that traumatic day through nightmares. However, she is alive and well… some women aren’t as lucky.

Book Reviews Books Pop Culture

Elizabeth Acevedo is winning all the awards for her novel “The Poet X”

I think I was about 9 or 10 years old when I first felt the strangest lumps on my chest. From that day I would check my lumps every single morning and as hard as I wished them away, they continued to grow into breasts.

I was the only girl in my 5th-grade class with boobs, and it was one of the most humiliating and awful times of my life.

Women of color sometimes develop a lot younger than many would expect. We get boobs in elementary school instead of middle, our bodies are curvy and “woman-like” from a young age, our hair big, commanding attention. All of which has led to the horrible hypersexualization that many of us face and have faced for centuries. I wish I could tell you that I experienced a beautiful journey into womanhood and that it was exciting to shop for bras with my mom and have educational and thought-provoking conversations about sex and the female body, but no, that shit was for storybooks about white girls.

Women, no matter what they look like at any age, are constantly subjected to sexist and disgusting comments about their body, and at the very young age of 9, most of us have already come to expect them from men. But the most shocking and hurtful instances is when you receive that hate from your family.

Puberty for me was filled with shame. I was shamed for having a body that attracted grown men. I could no longer wear shorts or V-neck tops or anything that showed my “shameful” body. To this day I still feel dirty if my boobs are even slightly on display. I was shamed for wanting to wear tampons instead of pads because of the uber-religious women in my family who thought that meant I was engaging in sexual activity or trying to be grown. I honestly just hated the feeling of blood leaking out of me and getting all over my pants.

I had never kissed a boy, thought about kissing or boy, let alone to have sex with one. I remember the day when I could no longer sit on my big cousin’s lap because it was considered “being fast.” Never mind the fact that HE WAS MY COUSIN. I never understood where any of the accusations were coming from, but I learned to stay in my place, and never ever talk to boys.

This story, like I said, is not one you read about in storybooks. But Elizabeth Acevedo knocked that wall to the ground and brought me and many other girls’ stories to life with her novel The Poet X. Her book tells the story of a girl named Xiomara or X. She is brown and beautiful and tall and curvy; her body dares to take up space. It takes up so much space and causes so many comments from men and her Catholic mother that there’s no room left for her to have a voice. But one day a loving teacher introduces her to slam poetry and it’s like X’s voice can no longer be contained.

Every day she writes and writes and dreams of the day she can share her work, and when she finally does, I felt that power of that healing. You see everything about Xiomara brighten as the story builds towards its climax and then Acevedo rips your heart out once more. I hate spoilers but just know that the climax had me on the floor as I recalled a time when my family too invaded my privacy and took away the one thing that made me feel worth something.

Everyone NEEDS to read this book. It’s filled with so much beauty and pain and healing. The same way I read this story and saw my reflection, I wish my parents could read and see how toxic their behavior is. Like Xiomara’s mom, I feel our parents mean well and are constantly trying to protect us from the world, but often they are the first people to hurt us and sometimes it feels worse than any strangers evil ever could.

This book made me cry so many times and you cannot convince me that it’s is not about me. I too found my voice through poetry, public speaking, and writing. I still can’t afford therapy, but pen and paper have yet to break the bank, and so like Xiomara, I write.  Maybe Xiomara’s story isn’t like yours but The Poet X is worth the read. You follow not only her journey but also her twin brother as he finds his truth and her parents who have to face their own trauma.

And if I haven’t managed to convince you yet, this book just won the Carnegie Medal and Elizabeth Acevedo is the FIRST writer of color to win. She has also been awarded the National Book Award, the Michael L. Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Award for Fiction, the Pura Belpre Author Award so honestly…READ IT. I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from the book,

“…Think about all the things we could be if we were never told our bodies were not built for them.”

Career Tech Science Career Advice Now + Beyond

This is what it’s really like to be a woman of color in the world of science

In the 10th grade, my chemistry teacher told my class that boys do better at science and math than girls.

Most of us brushed it off, but it doesn’t mean I was not familiar with this gender stereotype and heard this from numerous adults. I felt disappointed by my teacher’s comments. They stuck with me through adolescence.

Sometimes I wouldn’t do as well on a science test and find myself going back to my teacher’s words. For a second, I’d flash back to what the teacher had said, wondering,  “Is it because I am a girl?”

Most women are exposed to these negative stereotypes from a young age. This just gets worse as women climb higher in STEM fields.

Women of color are not only underrepresented in STEM fields. They also face a “double jeopardy” situation. They have to carry the weight of not only gender but race bias as well. Compared to their white counterparts, they are at a higher risk of being pushed out of science fields due to these biases. According to a study by the University of California, 100% of women of color in science report some form of gender bias compared to 93% of white women in science.

How does this bias affect women of color?

In a survey,  Black women report their skills being questioned. Latinas are mistaken as custodial or administrative staff. Asian-American women feel the pressure to act more feminine in workplaces. Most women of color report having to work twice as hard to be perceived as legitimate compared to white men and women. They also report instances of accent discrimination and demeaning comments.

There seems to be an additional bias at work against Black women, this makes them feel lonely and alienated.  Black women also felt that engaging socially with co-workers could lead to negative perceptions of their competence. Colleagues bring up awful racial stereotypes in workplaces. On confronting colleagues about those stereotypes, Black women were told off for being too sensitive and were told to “get over it” by their white counterparts. According to this study, women of color report that the challenges faced were attributable to “cultural differences” between them and the dominant culture. 

The race bias further molds sexism towards women of color based on ethnicity. Their white counterparts just don’t experience this “double jeopardy” anywhere near the same level.

Furthermore, the toxic environment hinders the relationship between women co-workers as well. The competitive environment gives rise to in-group conflict. To elaborate, women report feeling the need to compete with one another to maintain their spot. Carrying out scientific work becomes harder in such burdensome circumstances. Why should women carry the weight of society’s prejudice and ignorance?

How does the lack of diversity affect science?

Any sort of bias is demoralizing and exhausting. Negative stereotypes set a precedent for young girls and women that they won’t be as good as men in science. No wonder the caricature of a scientist is a cis-gendered white male. There is little representation for women of color in science. 

Children mainly learn about male scientists in classes. This implicitly tells young girls that there is no place for them in science. In reality, women of color have been making major contributions but are left out of the narrative.

Moreover, the lack of diversity affects science too. With a monolithic workforce, the understanding of scientific concepts and inquiry become limited. A diverse set of scientists would bring broader questions and insights to the table. Groups such as 500 women scientists are working towards a more inclusive and accessible STEM field. Their ‘March for Science‘ rallies conducted across various cities worldwide stood for this message.

These efforts work toward an inclusive and diverse science workforce. Such a workforce is key to helping science evolve and grow.

Editor's Picks Love + Sex Love Life Stories Advice Weddings

5 things unmarried Desi women are SO sick of hearing

A successful marriage can turn out to be the best partnership in one’s life.

However, before you decide to find the right partner, you should first work on recognizing yourself. Take time and go through life and its experiences to know yourself better and figure out what you value. That journey of self-discovery, however, takes time and patience.

Unfortunately, the middle-class Indian society that I was raised in does not believe in such a journey. Instead, it enforces a culture where women are expected to be married by the age of 25, if not earlier.

The society I come from places significantly less value on self-growth, career and the development of emotional intelligence in the ladder of a woman’s life. Matrimony and motherhood are often considered the most important milestones in a woman’s twenties.

Hence, there is endless pressure on getting married starting early on.

I am a single woman in my late twenties who, for the last five years, has been fighting this rigid culture of age-bound matrimonial rules.

Despite my exceptional academic and professional growth, I am constantly faced with intrusive questions regarding my personal life from “well-wishers. “This list includes but does not end with older relatives, cousins, neighbors and family friends. Many times, there have been questions that simply hit a raw nerve and get too difficult to handle.

After several attempts of tackling them, I have devised the perfect quick comebacks to unwelcome remarks.

1. “A career is good, but when do you plan to get settled?”

Chelsea Peretti Eye Roll Gif By Brooklyn Nine-Nine by
Chelsea Peretti Eye Roll Gif By Brooklyn Nine-Nine by

Uh. Whenever you stop asking me that question.

Time and again, I have had friends, relatives, neighbors, and even acquaintances ask me and my parents this question. What society chooses to ignore is that marriage is not the end-all, be-all of anyone’s life. Every woman should become financially and emotionally independent before deciding to get married.

2. “If you don’t get married now, all the good boys will be taken.”

Anne Hathaway Nbd Gif By Ocean's 8 by
Anne Hathaway Nbd Gif By Ocean’s 8 by

Thank god. I thought your list was never-ending!

Thank you so much, aunty, for your unsolicited advice, but I’d rather decide on my own the difference between “good” guys and “bad” guys. Despite living in the 21st century, these patriarchal prejudices continue to plague social behavior among the Indian society I grew up on.

The good boy argument constitutes someone who earns a huge salary, belongs to a privileged upper-class family and is of the same caste and religion as the girl’s family.

These three prerequisites are thus presented as time-bound since most of such ‘good men’ choose to marry younger women.

3. “The earlier you get married, the sooner you’ll relieve the burden off your parents’ shoulders.”

Benedict Cumberbatch Gif By BBC on
Benedict Cumberbatch Gif By BBC on

The only burden on my parents is your uncalled-for interest in my life.

One of the most manipulative things that I have repeatedly been told is that, after the age of 25, women become a liability on their parents.

Sexist gender roles subscribe men to be the breadwinners of a household, while women are only supposed to be homemakers. While this statement dips in misogyny, it is also gaslights young women into feeling responsible for their parents’ happiness, thereby pushing them into matrimony.

4. “How bad would you feel if your younger sister gets married before you do?”

Confused wait what gif by
Confused wait what gif by

Not as bad as you would for not being invited to her wedding.

If my sister is happy with her partner and decides to get married to him, I would be the happiest person on this planet. Indian culture often dictates the eldest sibling get married first, but each one of us lives by different expectations and beliefs.

Why time-stamp every journey with similar rigid milestones?

5. “Your biological clock is ticking.”

shrug gif by
shrug gif by

And I do not remember asking you to set the alarm.

Motherhood is considered to be one of the first conventional outcomes of a marriage. Patriarchal cultures thus force women into early matrimony so as to bear offspring early in their lives.

But what about women who do not want to become young mothers? Or simply do not want to have children? What if someone prefers to adopt?

No, these are not options.

While comebacks like these can help you tackle the many intrusive questions, this constant fight can also lead to burnout.

Through my own personal experience, I can attest that as hard as you try, you will never match society’s expectations. Because other people will never be satisfied with anything. Marriage will be followed by expectations of parenthood which will then be followed by raising the children “right” according to others’ belief.

A prejudiced society can thus place you on an unending trial of life.

At some point, you have to learn to trust yourself and follow a path that only you are responsible for. A path that places the reins of happiness in your own hands and not those of others.

When you find peace within yourself, no amount of outside noise can deter you from doing what you wish to do with your life… whether that involves marrying young, marrying late or not marrying at all.

USA Politics Inequality

After the midterms, can we dub 2018 the new “Year of the woman”?

We’re a month out from November 6th and I still feel warm and giddy from all the gains made by women this past midterm election. Anyone else? We might have not gotten all the wins we wanted but considering the number of women who ran for office this year, it’s completely worth throwing our fists in the air.

One hundred and twenty-four women have been elected. That’s 102 women elected to the House, 13 to the Senate, and nine will serve as governor. The amount of women in politics has been growing at a steady rate, but this year’s election, we made a huge jump, to say the least.

I promise you it’s not fake news, it’s real! Here’s a quick run-down of some of the big wins that women made this midterm election.

Kansas Democrat Sharice Davids and New Mexico Democrat Deb Haaland will become the first Native American women elected to Congress. Davids is also the first openly LGBTQ+ member of Congress for Kansas.

Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib and Democrat Ilhan Omar of Minnesota will become the first Muslim women elected to Congress. In addition, Omar will also be the first Somali-American member. She came to the U.S. as a refugee when she was eight years old.

Democrats Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia will be the first Latinas from Texas to represent the state in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona is the first elected Democrat to the Senate since 1988. She is also the first female senator elected in the state and the first openly bisexual senator in the country.

Democrat Ayanna Pressley is the first African-American woman elected to the House from Massachusetts.

Ok, so this is pretty cool but one could ask where is it coming from, and why now?

One place of comparison we can look at is the 1992 “Year of the woman elections. NPR reporter Danielle Kurtzleben stated how, “democratic women, in particular, were galvanized that year after watching a panel made up entirely of white men grill Anita Hill over her sexual harassment allegations against the then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. As a result of that election, the number of women in Congress climbed by two-thirds.” 

Now in 2018, watching that same demographic grill Christine Blasey Ford, could have ignited a similar fire in women today.

[bctt tweet=”Now in 2018, watching that same panel grill Christine Blasey Ford, could have ignited a similar fire in women today.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Unfortunately, that climb in 1992 resulted in a decline the following years before becoming stagnant.

So if this is really the new “Year of the woman,” how do we continue this engagement in a way that women in 1992 could not?

One step is acknowledging how women are more likely to step up to the plate if an opportunity presents itself. In conversation with Kurtzleben, Democrat Lauren Underwood states how she decided to run after a conversation with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  “At the end of that conversation, [they said], ‘we’re looking for someone to run in the 14th. Is there any chance you’d be remotely interested?’ That opened the door for me.”

Kurtzleben follows up by saying, “[the] fact that she only really started thinking seriously about running after she was asked makes her a lot like many other women candidates.”

Another example is Republican State Senator Elaine Bowers from Kansas. She shares with the New York Times how she was originally asked to run by a retired male senator. “Women running for office isn’t always their idea,” she said. “I think that’s a shame. I said, ‘Am I qualified to do this?’ And I was more than qualified to do it. How do we change that perception?”

We could change this perception by looking at the impact women have in politics.

In a 2011 study, researchers found that women elected to office performed better than their male counterparts.

“Congresswomen secure roughly nine percent more spending from federal discretionary programs than congressmen,” the study says. “Women also sponsor and cosponsor significantly more bills than their male colleagues.”

While it’s easier said than done, these are still strong places to start! Seeing women step up, makes me feel empowered and hopeful. Is that naive of me? Maybe. But it could also be a reflection on how strong representation can really be. 

Deborah Walsh, director of Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics, said she feels hopeful about this year. “It feels like this moment is different — that there is potential for this to be more than a one-off,” she told NPR. “The momentum and the energy behind these women running feels like it has the potential to last — you know, to have some legs.”

So let’s ask ourselves, how did it feel to fill in the box for a woman candidate or see a more familiar face represent your values and goals? How does this motivate YOU as a womxn?

Let’s make this moment different than the one in 1992. Let’s create space for sustainable engagement and give it some legs. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, watch us run—for office!

Music Pop Culture

If your favorite pop divas had a baby, it would be this Brazilian popstar: IZA

Earlier this month, my family and I were fortunate enough to spend two weeks in the beautiful country of Brazil. As a media-minded person, I often use our trips as a way to study what is popular in countries other than my own. Brazil is one of the most ethnically diverse places I have ever been and I wanted to measure how much the countries’ music, movies, and must-see TV reflected that. As a young woman of color, I am constantly seeking out mainstream images of myself. That is why I tend to follow singers, writers, actresses, etc. that look like me and the women that I surrounded myself with. I tried to put myself in the shoes of a young, dark complexioned girl growing up in Rio, and wondered what her options were; who would she gravitate towards? Fortunately, I did not have to wonder for long. A few days into my trip, I was enraptured by a confident, sexy, beautiful, dark brown woman whose bright pink, pop themed music video lit up my walk along Copacabana Beach. Instantly, I was left with two questions, who is this amazing talent and why doesn’t the world know about her?

Imagine if Beyoncé’s show-stopping moves, Rihanna’s swaggering style, and Nicki Minaj’s effortless flow were all wrapped up into one person. Imagine if this same person had Lupita N’yongo’s flawless skin and Kelly Rowland’s brilliant smile; I give you, IZA. Now, this is a very bold claim, but it’s also one that I am not afraid to make with regards to this soon-to-be international superstar. Born Isabela Lima, IZA is a singer/songwriter from Rio de Janeiro who first garnered attention online. After posting several covers of songs by Western artists, she signed with Warner Music Brazil and began her rapid ascent to fame. In only a few years, she has already garnered a massive following of 2.6 million on Instagram and a string of hit songs, including Pesadão, which has accumulated over 100 million views on YouTube.

Image result for IZA
[Image Description: IZA with a crown on her head looking up] Via The Apricity
I already know what you’re thinking; “Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’ ALSO has over 100 million views. The number of viewers does not equal quality.” Fair point, but in IZA’s case, not applicable. A quick scroll through her YouTube and social media comments will prove that this superstar is adored by fans, near and far. After being exposed to her music and style, I completely understand why.

Not only is IZA beautiful and talented, but she completely embraces who she is. She cites her identity as a “Menina Negra” (black girl) as a driving force of her work and wants to encourage as many females as she can to be their best, bold, and brightest selves. For IZA to celebrate her identity and amass this amount of success can serve as an inspiring act, and one I hope sets a precedent for other artists of color. Although it’s fun to compare IZA to her American contemporaries, the singer is blazing a trail of her own in the most unapologetic of ways. She is not afraid to twerk, rap, or whip around her floor-length box braids when performing in music videos or onstage. And best of all, she looks like she is having an enormous amount of fun.

Let’s quickly address the elephant in the room; IZA is Brazilian and yes, all of her lyrics are in Portuguese. She has become a regular on my Spotify playlist, but trust me when I say I still have no idea what she is singing. At no point, however, does this take away from my enjoyment of her music. Hip-hop and popular culture are some of America’s greatest exports. This means, that people in just about every nook and cranny on Earth listen to and love songs that are sung in English. We should be able to do the same; after all, music is the universal language. I may not be able to understand every song IZA sings, but a bop is a bop, my friends. And bops can definitely break down barriers.