So, what are you going to do after you graduate?” As a junior in college majoring in the liberal arts, this question plagues me on a weekly basis. By this point in my college career, I have a few standard responses. The hopeful: “I’m going to make cultural change.” The indignant: “I’m going to do …
Chances are, if you’re into academic feminism or if you’ve taken a Gender Studies class in the past 15-20 years, you’ve heard of Judith Butler. Butler, a feminist theorist who helped found queer theory, is generally regarded as one of the most important philosophers of our time: she’s extremely prolific and her work literally changed …
Around this time every year, we start thinking deeply about the relationship between gender and sexual violence at Take Back the Night (TBTN), the anti-violence group I co-coordinate. We are in the thick of planning our annual March and Speakout and for the last few years, we’ve organized it as a women’s led march (that …
Last week my mom, my little sister, and I went to see the latest Disney movie (the first to feature a black protagonist), The Princess and the Frog. As a feminist wary of the whole Disney Princess “some day my prince will come” thing, I didn’t get my hopes up and was prepared to leave the theater mildly annoyed at best and angry and offended at worst.
But in fact, I left the movie happily surprised. (***spoiler alert ahead***) Tiana, the protagonist, seems like a modern feminist herself—she’s a hard-working waitress who plans to open her own restaurant and doesn’t need a man to make her dreams come true. Tiana does eventually fall in love with Prince Naveen, a fun-loving yet lazy and materialistic guy; however, Tiana then teaches Naveen to cook and in the end the two marry and found Tiana’s dream restaurant together. With themes of gender equality and overcoming racial adversity and poverty, The Princess and the Frog seems like a feminist dream come true. (for more on its feminist themes, read this awesome blog post by Rose at Feministing: http://www.feministing.com/archives/019389.html)
I’ve been reading a book called Girldrive: Criss-Crossing America, Redefining Feminism by Nona Willis Aronowitz and the late Emma Bee Bernstein. In the book, Nona and Emma, two young feminists, recount their recent cross-country road trip. The goal of their trip was to meet with more than a hundred women—most of them young women—in order find out what women think about feminism. The book is a beautiful and thought-provoking narrative collage of interviews and photos, interwoven with pieces of feminist history and thoughts from the road. The book’s innovative format—it reads like a magazine, or like a blog really—makes it easily accessible and fun to read in both short bursts and for long periods of time. To me, the book makes feminism come alive: every interviewee has her own take on feminism, which demonstrates both the flexibility and the vivacity of the concept and movement.
In the anti-sexual assault community on my campus, there’s a lot of talk about “self-care.” We start every group meeting with a check-in about how we’re feeling and end every meeting affirming one thing we are planning to do in the next few days to take care of ourselves. We promote self-care since anti-sexual violence work takes a huge emotional toll on those in the community: in order to keep working in the field, we have to proactively work to prevent burnout.
With that said, self-care is a complicated concept. At first it doesn’t seem that way: usually, when going around the table in a meeting, people will say things like, “I’ll make sure I get enough sleep tonight,” or “I’m going to chill out and finally watch this week’s episode of Glee.” Now, getting sleep and watching Glee are great things. But beyond those one-time activities, how can we make sure to do self-care at times when we feel pressured to put everyone else’s needs first?
When Simone asked me to write for this blog, I was excited and nervous (nervcited!). I wrote a bunch of practice posts before I was satisfied with one and finally submitted it—my first post about my Consent Facilitator training. Before I submitted it, however, I sent Passion (one of the other fabulous writers here and another intern at GLI this past summer) an anxious text message that said something like ,“Can we talk about the blog? I don’t know if what I wrote is ok!” Passion responded telling me that whatever I had written was probably fine. I wrote back, “maybe I should ask Simone?” And Passion replied, “You know the answer to that, you are just asking me because it makes you feel better.”
About three weeks ago, I spoke with Rachel Simmons at her book tour event in New York City and talked about my emotional journey pre-GLI and post-GLI. It was a really great experience for me–I got to share parts of myself that I never share with anyone with a group of strangers (ok, a few of my friends were there). Actually, I felt really scared, but felt great afterwards. So I thought I would share what I said that night with this community:
Hi, my name is Lauren Herold. I’m a sophomore at Columbia University and in the summer of 2006, I was a camper at GLI. This past summer, I also interned at GLI. First, I would like to thank Rachel for inviting me. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to speak here.