Monday, August 29, 2016

Mean Sixteen \\ Birthday Fun

Six awesome ladies I am so happy to have in my life.
On August 25th, I celebrated my Mean Sixteen. Yes, I'm aware the common saying is "Sweet Sixteen," but "Mean Sixteen" is kind of an inside joke with my friends. Actually I mostly just say it and they roll their eyes and tell me to use the correct term. I just like it cause it rhymes.

Anyway, while my birthday was on Thursday, I celebrated with my six of my friends on Saturday and Sunday. I always have a slumber party on my birthday--it's my favorite kind of party. I love staying up late into the night, giggling and talking with my friends amidst a nest of sleeping bags and pillows.

Henna-ing Olivia's belly button
The main activity was a scavenger hunt my dad set up, where we followed a series of clues all around town, stopping along the way for soda at a local restaurant and to look around various thrift shops. Back at the house, we ordered pizza and gave each other henna tattoos. I drew designs around a few of my friends' bellybuttons (and my own), and one of my friends with a steady hand drew super cool carrots and radishes on people's arms and legs.

As it grew darker, we broke out sparklers and choreographed a dance to "Catch and Release", then tried our hand at taking long exposure photos. We ended up taking a really great one that spelled out "Ella 16". Honestly I'm just shocked we were able to be that coordinated.

I got some really wonderful and thoughtful gifts, and then it was time for cake! It's a tradition that I order a Ben & Jerry's ice cream cake on my birthday. I love their ice cream, and the frosting on their cake is delicious. This year I asked for a very specific thing on my cake: succulents. If you don't know me, I love succulents and cacti and I had seen a really cool photo of a cupcake frosted with buttercream succulents, which seriously inspired me. The B&J staff tentatively said they would do it, but I was worried they wouldn't be able to handle such a specific request.

Hands down the best birthday cake I've ever had.
I was wrong. When we went to pick up the cake, I was awestruck at what a great job they had done. They created a beautiful succulent garden, filled with all different kinds of plump succulents, which flowed down the side of the cake. It tasted great, and it looked even better.

After enjoying the cake (Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Phish Food, in case you were wondering), we set up camp in the living room, changed into our PJs, and then gave each other sparkle tattoos. I put a cute feather on my wrist and a silver strip down my spine.

As we snuggled down into our sleeping bags and began to gossip and swap stories, I couldn't help but be filled with joy at being surrounded by my friends, able to make and share memories and have intimate conversations. This time last year I only had a few close friends, many of them having been lost in the chaos and strain of freshman year. Over the past year I have formed bonds and spun a web of people I can rely on and be open with. Friendship is extremely valuable to me, and I'm just thankful to have so many people I can share it with.

As the night drew on, we lost people to the temptation of sleep, until it was just me and two others, talking about school and life and feminism. Finally, about 3:30am, our words began slurring and we drifted off. I fell asleep warm and happy.

L8r sk8r,

Thursday, August 25, 2016

What is Intersectional Feminism?

intersectional feminism intersectionality
If you've been here for a while, you might remember that I wrote a post a little over a year ago called "What is Feminism?" While I do not regret writing that post and sharing my beliefs, in the past year I've educated myself quite a bit and, naturally, my views have evolved with that education. One of the biggest parts of that evolution has been coming to understand and put into practice intersectional feminism. 

A year ago, I had no idea what intersectionality was. And perhaps some of you reading have heard the word but are fuzzy on its meaning, or are finding yourself faced with a completely new concept. Not to worry! I'm here to educate you and help you become an even better member of the feminist community.

To get us started off, feminism is commonly defined as the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. Simply, it's about privilege. Men in this world hold the most privilege of the genders, and feminism has been historically about advocating for women specifically to gain the same rights and privilege as men.

Here's the thing: gender is not the only factor that determines one's privilege. This is where intersectionality comes into play. Intersectional feminism is about recognizing that some people have more than one factor that determines their privilege in society. There are many factors besides gender that can hold a person down in our society, including (but not limited to) race, sexuality, economic status, place in the world, ability, etc.

For example, a white woman in America is more privileged than a black woman, because of the systematic racism in our society. This does not devalue the problems the white woman might face. It just means that the black woman has more odds stacked against her, and that because of how our society functions, the white woman happens to have more privilege than her.

Intersectional feminism aims to recognize and include women who are oppressed because of more than just their gender. As an intersectional feminist, it is my job to recognize the privilege I possess as a white, able-bodied, middle-class American and use that privilege to help uplift the women--and people of all genders--who are struggling beneath multiple layers of oppression.

Equality of the genders cannot be truly achieved until issues of racism, ableism, classism, homophobia, etc are resolved, because until women who are facing these issues firsthand are free from these types of oppression, they will still be faced with barriers that make it impossible to achieve equality to those not facing the same issues.

It would be irresponsible of me to ignore my privilege and fight only for women facing my specific set of oppressions. I would be shirking my duty to fight for all women, no matter where they stand in society.

I bring up intersectional feminism in the context of my old post, because at that time in my life I had never heard of intersectionality, and was not thinking in that mindset. While working on that project and writing that post, I was coming from a place of privilege, something that shows through in my writing and research. For example, I said that women earn 78 cents to a man's dollar. What I neglected to mention--or even realize--was that number represents what a white woman makes to a white man's dollar. A black woman makes 65 cents to a white man's dollar. A hispanic woman makes 58 cents. In fact, a black man only makes 73 cents to a white man's dollar. This is a perfect example of how I, as a white woman, have privilege in society. Not all women are born onto equal playing fields. And as an intersectional feminist, I am fighting to level the playing fields of all women.

If you didn't know what intersectional feminism was before this, thank you for reading, and I hope you've come away with a new perspective on feminism and your role in this movement. If you did know about intersectionality, think of this as a "correction" of my previous post. Either way, keep fighting for gender equality and don't forget to check your privilege.

L8r sk8r,

Monday, August 22, 2016

OTD: Yellow Converse + Jean Jacket

Welcome to another...drumroll, please...Outfit of the Day! I was feeling stylish today, so I decided to put together a hipster/alternative outfit and I'm really happy with how it came out. Listen to me, talking about fashion as if it's an art form. Which it kinda is. 


Glasses: Maybeck frames from Zenni Optical, a super cheap online shop where you can order Rx glasses for really great prices. 

Shirt: Just a chill, green tee from a charity concert. I've been really into vintage-esque graphic tees from events or organizations. I used to think these kind of shirts were so dorky, but now I honestly love how they look tucked into high-waisted jeans or shorts.

Jacket: Denim jacket from Bullhead Demin, bought from Pacsun (my holy grail of stores). I've adorned this jacket with pins and patches, and even put my own homemade stamps on the back. I like it because it's ripped in the shoulders and looks slightly worn. Loving the distressed look.

Jeans: High-waisted jean leggings from Hollister. If you're a skinny bean like me, Hollister jeans are great. I wish these were actual denim instead of stretchy material, but I'm working with what I've got.

yellow converse rubber shoes

Shoes: Converse! This is a staple part of the outfit. I bought these full-yellow Converse on sale at a local shop just recently, and I have no regrets. The material isn't your usual fabric--it's actually rubber. My mom was quick to point out that they're "not breathable" but since I don't sweat very much I don't think it will be a problem. 

Some people might be hesitant to wear bright yellow Converse, but I'm loving them. They make a great statement piece and actually work with more outfits than you'd imagine. 

The two things that tie this outfit together are the jean jacket and the shoes. The jacket serves as a fashionable layering piece, and the shoes are a sturdy and eye-catching foundation. The look just wouldn't be the same without them.

Let me know if you're into this whole fashion blogging thing, cuz I honestly love putting together outfits.

L8r Sk8r,

Friday, August 19, 2016

2 Dangerous Things I Will Never Do Again

Howdy from the warm waters of North Carolina. Just kidding--where we are the water isn't that warm. I'm at a family reunion with all the cousins, aunts, and uncles on my dad's side. Funny thing is, my dad isn't here. He hates the beach, so it's just my mom and me.

Anyway, that's not the point of this post. I am writing this to warn you about two new things I've tried this week that have left my body bruised and battered.

The first one is paintball. A few days ago I piled into a jeep with my uncle and seven cousins and drove to a paintball range. If I hadn't know it was for paintball, I would have thought the area was a creepy junk yard or abandoned hobo camp. Basically, it was a wooded area filled with heaps of old tires, broken down vehicles, and planks nailed to trees. These are what you use for cover as you attempt to shoot the opposing team.

I was looking forward to blasting my cousins with paint bullets, but when the marshal laid the heavy, black rifle in my hands, all I could think was What if this were a real weapon? As I donned my black gas-mask type helmet and followed my cousins out to the range, I couldn't help but imagining what would happen if this were a real battlefield. If I was actually a soldier in war, out to shoot and get shot.

Pushing these sobering thoughts aside, I crouched behind a pile of tires and dutifully did my best to shoot the small, yellow paint pellets at my family members. I also got hit quite a few times, and let me tell you something: the bullets hurt. And it's never just one bullet at a time; it's four or five, shot quickly and haphazardly. Most of them don't even break when they hit you; they simply smash into your skin and then bounce off, unbroken. After a few rounds I really wasn't feeling it, and I decided to sit out the rest. There's just something stressful about running around the woods and knowing at any time someone could let loose a round of bullets at your body.

Back at home, we compared bruises. My legs were completely demolished; I had some gnarly scratches from where I had run through brambles, multiple bruises across my knees and calves, and one distinct red mark from where a bullet had made direct contact. Was the pain worth it? No.

I thought that was the end of my bodily mutilation. And today, when my aunt suggested a friendly competition involving two teams of cousins using a giant sling shot to launch water balloons at each other, I readily agreed. Who doesn't want the chance to peg someone with water balloons via a huge sling shot?

The first few rounds were great. A few rounds in, I linked arms with my team mates and watched as the opposing team readied themselves from twenty-five feet away. Oh, what the heck, why didn't we get a little closer, make it a little easier to hit the human targets? Great idea. We shuffled up five or so feet.

My cousin plucked a bloated, pink balloon from the cooler and placed it gently into the fabric of the slingshot. He grabbed the handle and pulled back, the elastic stretching. I watched as he crouched to the pavement, squinted, aimed, and released. There was no time to react. The balloon slammed into my thigh with deadly speed and accuracy.

yes, a water balloon did that to me!
Immediately, a horrible pain spread through my leg. I bent over, gasping. OW! Was it supposed to hurt this much? I mean, seriously. Family gathered around me, cooing in concern. I looked down. Where the water balloon had made contact at the top of my thigh, a nasty bruise was already starting to form. Broken, red blood vessels leaked a huge, splotchy mark under my skin. Yikes.

Without me, the rest of my team continued, but--I kid you not--the next balloon fired slammed my cousin right in the stomach. She crumpled to the ground, clutching her ribs. It didn't leave the same horrible mark as it did on me, but she's having trouble bending over just the same.

I sit here a veteran of two dangerous games I shall never take part in again. Learn from my battle wounds. The pain is not worth it.

L8tr sk8tr,