Thursday, April 25, 2019

PRETTY HURTS

Mama said, you're a pretty girl
what's in your head, it doesn't matter
brush your hair, fix your teeth
what you wear is all that matters

A guy said he was no longer looking for hookups, then got my number and immediately asked if I had nudes to send him. We hadn't even met. Kinda mixed messages there. Fuckboys can be annoying but most of them at least know where they stand and don't pretend to be something else. I'm tired of men who have this holier-than-thou attitude, who say they're not looking for hookups. Who say they want to be friends, and then look for the first in to sleep with me. You think it hurts to be friendzoned? I wonder how they think it feels to be fuckzoned. Out of 10 men talking to me, 9 if not all 10 are thinking of bedding me. It doesn't even matter that I have one of the longest bios and profiles you'll see, talking about my miscarriage, or about intersectional feminism, or about Scrabble. Men here don't know shit, one thinks just because I'm wearing a revealing dress that he can place his hand on my bare back and lead me around as we walk. We are not good friends, please learn what boundaries and personal space are. The night I met Joey, he didn't touch me the entire night, until I kissed him. The date with Bennett, I held his hand first, and still he asked if he could kiss me at Central Park. I fucking hate being touched without my consent. I also hate hypocrites who are not self-aware. Please stop trash-talking other men and reflect on your goddamn self.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

DULCE DE LECHE

I just had ice-cream so I'm very happy. If I ruled a sovereign nation, I would make ice-cream the staple food and my land's happiness ratings would soar through the roof. I fucking love ice-cream! I just watched this video, and it's so stupid but it makes me so happy. (Also, the animations are actually so well done, I feel like I got all my money's worth --- it's obviously free, it's on Youtube.)


These are its lyrics:
what up, world?
it's your boy, just one of the guys down here
well, I could be more specific
uh, I'm a human, and I just wanted to, you know,
for the sake of all of us earthlings out there,
just wanted to say

we love the Earth, it is our planet
we love the Earth, it is our home
we love the Earth, it is our planet
we love the Earth, it is our home

hi, I'm a baboon
I'm like a man, just less advanced
and my anus is huge
hey, I'm a zebra
no one knows what I do, but I look pretty cool
am I white or black?
I'm a lion cub, and I'm always getting licked (meow!)
how's it going? I'm a cow (moo!)
you drink milk from my tits (moo)
I'm a fat, fucking pig
I'm a common fungus
I'm a disgruntled skunk, shoot you out my butthole
I'm a marijuana plant, I can get you fucked up
and I'm Kanye West

we love the Earth, it is our planet
we love the Earth, it is our home
we love the Earth, it is our planet
we love the Earth, it is our home
we love the Earth

ba-dum-da-dum-dum, ba-dum-da-di
we are the vultures, feed on the dead
we're just some rhinos, horny as heck
I'm just a giraffe, what's with this neck?
hippity-hop, I'm a kangaroo
I hop all day, up and down with you
I'm an elephant, I got junk in my trunk
what the fuck? I'm a clam!
I'm a wolf, howl!
I'm a squirrel, lookin' for my next nut
and I'm a pony, just a freak horse, heh-heh-heh
but, uh, c'mon, get on
giddee-up, let's ride
I'm HPV, don't let me in
I'm a koala and I sleep all the time
so what? It's cute

we love you, India
we love you, Africa
we love the Chinese
we forgive you, Germany
Earth, it is our planet (it's so tiny)

I'm a man (hello?)
can you hear me? (anyone out there? hello?)
I've trudged the Earth for so damn long
and still don't know shit (what's going on?)
I hope it's not a simulation
give each other names like Ahmed and Pedro
and, yeah, we like to wear clothes, girls still look beautiful
and it covers up our human dick, eat a lot of tuna fish
but these days, it's like we don't know how to act
all these shootings, pollution, we under attack on ourselves
like, let's all just chill, respect what we built
like look at the internet! It's cracking as hell
fellas, don't you love to cum when you have sex?
and I heard women orgasms are better than a dick's
so what we got this land for? what we gotta stand for?
love, and we love the Earth
oh, yeah, baby, I love the Earth
I love this planet

hey, Russia, we're cool
hey, Asia, all of you, c'mon
every one of you from the plains to the Sahara
let's come together and live
우-우-우리는 지구를 사랑해요
amamos la tierra
我们爱地球

c'mon everybody, I know we're not all the same
but we're living on the same Earth
(have you ever been to Earth?)
everyone who is listening has been to Earth, Ariana
we're not making music for aliens here
(are we gonna die?)
you know what, Bieber? we might die
I'm not going to lie to you
I mean, there's so many people out here who don't think
global warming's a real thing
you know? we gotta save this planet
we're being stupid
unless we get our shit together now
All the different artistes (Ariana/Bieber/Adam Levine/Kris Wu etc) are featured as animals or things on Earth and it's so dumb I love it. I completely second Leonardo DiCaprio and I think this is now my favorite song ever.

You know, I used to always hate guys whose bios are just "here for a good time, not a long time" on Tinder or whatever dating app. Guess what my bio is now. Fuck this shit. We don't have a long time, we can at least make it a good time, right?




Also, I don't get how my phone can take photos with a depth-of-field to put DSLRs to shame, and my MacBook (2017) Photo Booth still takes photos that look like they were taken by a model of potato. POTATO I tell you.

I'm out, bitches.

IN MY HEAD

My sister just received a call that her appeal to go back to school was approved. She'd been automatically removed due to failing the same module twice, and her attendance was poor. My sister has had anxiety and depression, and she hasn't taken well to any therapist she's seen, so she hasn't gone consistently, and when faced with difficult situations like a module she's already failed, she would tend to avoid it rather than put in more effort for it. Last week, we went to talk to a panel of her course mentors and teachers, and I had to do most of the talking 'cos Lyssa is an introvert, I had to bring across her thoughts so that they would understand her. So they would trust that she wants this, and that she would henceforth be more consistent with therapy and that her drive and grit would be sustainable until she graduates. The funny thing is the module she failed is a Math one, and my best friend is an engineer and could and would have helped her all the way. I think sometimes we are too scared to accept our weaknesses and flaws when there is no need to be. We all have weaknesses and need help, even if they're all in different aspects of our lives.

I told my best friend Han that the appeal was successful, and I wish I would get the same news for my own school application. Han said pseudo mom duties really suit me. Just yesterday in Homecoming I read the line "you can't be what you can't see", a line I really believe in. It's mostly used to explain why women don't succeed in certain industries, like STEM, because they don't see their women peers doing it or having done it. You can use it as an excuse not to do something, or you can use it as the reason you do something, so that the people after you will have less of an excuse. In my head, I have this vision of setting up an almost sort-of halfway home, for kids who don't feel safe or accepted in their homes. It could be due to believing in a different religion or no religion at all, it could be due to poor performance in school, it could be for kids who have failing mental health issues who are not being advocated for properly by their parents, for people who are exploring their fluid genders and sexualities. I'm not sure if I will ever get the capital to set this up, but I have this vision. Even though my mom was not equipped to be the right mother for me through my miscarriage situation, I don't want to excuse myself that I would not be a good mother because I didn't see the values I can emulate from my own birth mom. I want to foster and advocate for surrogate children and even adults who are being failed, and I want to be the responsible adult despite what the system has allocated me. There are too many people who don't feel safe and supported in their natural birth homes, and they're not being allowed to succeed where they naturally would. You can't be what you can't see, and I want to be the person they can and they do see, so they really do become whoever it is they want to be.

This is why I applied to study psychology or women and gender studies, so I can understand people and perhaps advise and counsel them better. I want this halfway house to be the family they perhaps never got but rightfully deserve. I'm thinking there are this type of shelters in the US, but I don't think it's as prevalent in Singapore, but I'm not sure.

Monday, April 22, 2019

WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK

I watched Beyoncé's Homecoming on Netflix and it was brilliant. The marching band, her backup singers and dancers, Destiny's Child, the execution of everything was perfectly in sync and it blew my mind. She also talks about historically black colleges and universities, and how putting together her show for Coachella made her entire ensemble feel like a HBCU. I would highly recommend it.

I also watched Someone Great, from which came this monologue that Gina Rodriguez's character wrote down into a book:
Do you think I can have one more kiss? I'll find closure on your lips, and then I'll go. Maybe also one more breakfast, one more lunch, and one more dinner. I'll be full and happy and we can part. But in between meals, maybe we can lie in bed one more time. One more prolonged moment where time suspends indefinitely as I rest my head on your chest. My hope is if we add up the one mores, they will equal a lifetime, and I'll never have to get to the part where I let you go. But that's not real, is it? There are no more one mores. I met you when everything was new and exciting, and the possibilities of the world seemed endless. And they still are. For you, for me, but not for us. Somewhere between then and now, here and there, I guess we didn't just grow apart, we grew up. When something breaks, if the pieces are large enough, you can fix it. Unfortunately, sometimes things don't break, they shatter. But when you let the light in, shattered glass will glitter. And in those moments, when the pieces of what we were catch the sun, I'll remember just how beautiful it was. Just how beautiful it'll always be. And we were magic. 
It's one of those feel-good films, kinda? I mean, it did make me cry because it's about a nine-year relationship that ended and the sad, sad breakup but it's also about ending things amicably, and about the friends that have your back through such phases in life.

Yesterday I read a line that said "love shouldn't be a metric in relationships" and perhaps something I would identify closer with is that love shouldn't be the only metric in relationships. I also read today that just because your relationships end should not necessarily mean that they were or are failed relationships. If you've grown beyond each other, and you break up to allow each other to grow, then in many ways I think that's a success. Staying together when there is no personal growth nor growth in the partnership is a failure even if the relationship continues.

I think it's really quite hard to adopt such a mindset in Singapore, because a lot of the society here are either religious or conservative. The idea that you can break up and be alone and be healthier when you're alone while having had a successful ended relationship isn't a pervasive one, and moreover the community I come from is Muslim. The more "failed relationships" I've had and the more partners I've had in my life, the higher the likelihood is that the people I come home to are looking down on me like I'm "used goods" or that there is something wrong with me that no one wants to pick me, instead of the fact that maybe I just have not found real happiness and I'd rather date around and find out instead of settling.

I've grown so much, through all my relationships and dating experiences. I'm happy with myself, for trying time and again. I've learnt so much about people, about myself, etc etc. To be honest, I really think every time something gets me down, I just gotta keep watching and reading things to reframe my mindset.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

ACAB

I got home from work today, and after not having seen each other for at least three days, my mother commented on the fact that my top was not long enough to cover my belly. I am 28 going on 29 in two weeks, I have a tattoo that stretches along my spine, I rarely even wear bras anymore (I have small breasts so thankfully I can afford to do this) but my mother still polices my clothes. Consider me amazed. I just want to get married and get away from here. I'm done, I've done enough advocating for myself at the very least, if not for other people. I just want an agreeable husband, who would watch similar Netflix shows, who reads some books that I do and some that I don't. I want a husband that maybe has a few throwaway tattoos, that don't even mean anything. A husband who understands the terms intersectional feminism and emotional labor and agrees with the expunging of criminal records of black and colored folks for marijuana use. I want someone who will never police what I say and wear and do. We can live in a small apartment, it doesn't matter, I'll cook and clean. We won't have kids because the way I see it, climate change is at this point still irreversible and I do not want my kids to have to see the end of the world within their lifetimes. We'll use public transit and laugh and make up stories about the other commuters that we see. We can hang out with his family if they're cool, or we can just both not hang out with either of our families if his has also been toxic. God, I'm just so done.

CLIMATE CHANGE

I read this Tweet and suddenly felt the most panic I've felt this year.


This makes me really sad. The world is going to end (or at least get hotter and colder than it's been) and I will die and not have gotten married nor ever had an orgasm in my life. I'm very sad I'm going to cry myself to sleep. This is a joke I'm not going to cry myself to sleep. What is a joke is if I never move out of this country and earn enough to see a sex therapist. My life is a joke. Goodbye. I'm outta here.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

CARRY THAT WEIGHT

Currently, there is a big story blowing up in Singapore. It's about an undergraduate, Monica Baey (@monicabaey), who lives in one of the dorms of NUS, Eusoff Hall. NUS is the National University of Singapore, the top university in Singapore, and regularly ranked among the top in the world, in terms of academic performance. Monica was filmed while showering, by a fellow NUS undergrad who lives in Eusoff Hall, a Nicholas Lim studying chemical engineering. His only excuse? He was under the influence of alcohol. Bro, in what universe does being intoxicated lead you to even consider filming someone in the shower, and think it's the right thing to do? If you're that intoxicated, you probably wouldn't be capable. If you weren't that intoxicated, you're in control of your actions. The worst part is he was only suspended for one semester, during which he's apparently already gotten a job in the insurance industry, and the school has said they wouldn't take any further action against him unless he makes another wrong move in school. Already, there are comments on her Instagram saying that she's trying to seek attention and that he's already sought recourse by writing a letter of "apology", so his future shouldn't be further destroyed. First of all, he didn't even proofread his letter, it's been posted on her social media, and even as an outsider I feel like he only wrote it in a flurry because he had to, not because he felt any remorse. Secondly, he filmed someone in the shower and ruined her mental health and safety, and she has to seek redress with therapy and whatnot, and his future is the one at stake???? Third, why should a sexual offender be able to commit a crime twice before being justly punished? Was the first victim's duress not enough? When it comes to drugs, there's no second chance in Singapore. Why is there a discrepancy for sexual criminal activity? Is it the patriarchy in Singapore manifesting itself? Monica has been interviewed and has spoken on her own social media. Hundreds if not thousands of comments from the other universities and schools in Singapore have piped in, saying that the universities in Singapore, much like every other establishment on this island, care so much about their public image, that this has definitely not been the first few times this has happened. Victims have always been told to keep quiet any time this happens, and that's why perpetrators keep doing it. There is no deterrent if the institutions don't take it seriously enough to side with the victims. It's time that Singapore grew up and moved forward with the rest of the progressive world. Remember perpetrators' names. Remember Brock Turner. Remember Nicholas Lim. We're going to believe women.

420

I'm at work and if one more thing happens I'm going to have a nervous breakdown. I only have three more hours to the end of this work day. And then I get to go home and take a long shower and wash away this entire week. Of advocating for my sister. Of trying to mend bridges with one of the loves of my life. Of just being frustrated with the state of things in Singapore and my inability to change them. This day will end. This week will end.

MIDNIGHT

I had a very long day at work. I don't know what it is about a bank holiday that just brings out the worst in retail customers, they are just dreadful, as if basic human decency also took a day off along with Good Friday. The physical exhaustion seeped into my mentality a little bit, and I just feel slightly defeated today, on everyone's behalf. I want to make apologies and I want to help and fix everyone, even if whatever broke them was about seven degrees separated from what I have ever affected in my life. I want to say, I'm sorry for causing a rift in your romantic life, I have never really meant to do it. I have never known your relationship status, so to be honest, I really never know what the situation is and what the acceptable response should be. I want to say, I'm sorry to your parents, and perhaps to mine, this must be a rude shock for any parent to find out about. I want to say, to all my exes' exes (the weird thing is my decades-ago-ex-boyfriends' ex-girlfriends-from-decades-ago read this and I will never understand why) that I must have been problematic at some point of time. I don't like female rivalry, I really, truly don't. I hate feeling like "fuck he's dating someone cuter now" because you know what, if any of my exes is dating someone cuter, good on both of you! I hope you both like each other and love each other and y'all are happy, and I wish this for all my exes, and my exes' exes. If, like me, you are an ex's ex and are single, then I hope you know that I am going to quote the Tinder profile that has been featured on Buzzfeed or wherever. The most precious person in the world, by the name of Jill, wrote this in her bio "Listen, I need to be clear about this: I think it is brave and good and pure of you to be looking for love and I know it can be really hard and defeating at times (we've all been there) but I hope that you don't let some stupid app make you feel any less valuable, loveable and worthy than you are. We might not match, not everyone is everyone's type, but I'm rooting for you and I hope you find what you're looking for." I am rooting for you, whoever you are. This goes out to an amalgamate of everyone I've dated or some form of person I've been: I hope you solve those daddy issues, I hope you stop gaslighting people, I hope you see a therapist and remember how to have feelings, I hope you stop allowing yourself to be gaslit, I hope you learn to trust again, I hope you let someone else in, I hope you find your happiness, I hope you heal. I'm rooting for you, and I'm rooting for me, and I'm really rooting for the person who's also looking for me, so they can root for me too.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

STAN

There are speculations that Taylor Swift has new music dropping on April 26. That's honestly the only thing I'm looking forward to, even though I'm also hanging on news from four different CUNY colleges. The current status is my documents have been received but they haven't been evaluated, so I don't know what that means. My grades should sort of make the cut based on the course requirements, but I'm not sure if they'll be evaluated differently because I've gone through a Singaporean/British education system, with the GCE O-levels and all that crap. Still. T-Swift is dropping music (we all think) on 4/26 and the world will be alright for about a month from then because Taylor Swift music always makes it alright, at least for me.

ON WORDS

Artistic expression really usually comes about from intense emotions. I know this because I have been through heartbreak and depression, and I have been in love, and both times were when I wrote really well. I want to write and let my words flow easily again, and I am not much of a masochist, so I obviously want it to be when I am in love. I remember when I loved and was in love with my second boyfriend. I remember the way I felt about Joey, before either of us had a clue about the pregnancy. I wrote paragraphs of him working on his vehicles, of us just hanging out with his friends and colleagues. It was mostly boring everyday stuff we did (apart from the racing) but when you're in love, the mundane becomes extraordinary. I remember loving Bennett in New York. We talked to each other endlessly, and I remember thinking his hair was such a lovely shade and so gloriously curly, it felt amazing to run my fingers through. To be honest, I think anyone would feel that way about someone's hair, the moment you're in love. I'm not sure if y'all have been able to tell, but I'm a demisexual, I don't really feel sexual attraction to people I don't have a strong emotional connection with. It is not something I can control, I have tried, but it doesn't seem to work. I really liked all three men I mentioned, so in bed, I enjoyed myself thoroughly. I think some people think this is a "woman" thing but I've seen enough of the world to know sexuality is not dichotomized based on your sexual organs. Men can be demisexuals and women can have fun with sex, no feelings attached. I really miss being in love, in all the ways. I miss being cerebral and carnal, I miss writing about shit no one usually cares about because they are so ordinary, but tinted in such a way by love that makes people care to read it. I think that's why people even read this shit, tbh, because I love what I write about, and I love when I am writing, and somehow this makes for good reading.

NOEL

I told my sister that Joey deleted Whatsapp, the only app that I use to communicate with my American friends. Funnily enough, when I broke up with Adam and with Ben (Benjamin), they both also did the same.

Lyssa: and how do you feel about this

Sarah: a lil sad but I suppose
Sarah: its a good thing we got to apologize to each other
Sarah: and this time we rlly didnt end on a bad note even tho he tried to talk to me
Sarah: it was nice
Sarah: and it made me miss him
Sarah: but im just sad cos
Sarah: as a #noshitsherlock
Sarah: I like him
Sarah: I like him and I like Bennett and I like B (what I called my second boyfriend)
Sarah: and it's so rare that I rlly love people I like

Lyssa: :)
Lyssa: it's okay
Lyssa: at least maybe now you got the closure you deserve

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

THE CIVIL WARS

You know the guy whom I went on a Tinder date with two weeks ago? We'd mutually decided not to see each other romantically, but then he said he liked the things we talked about and my personality or whatever, and would like to stay friends. I declined. If you are a younger girl or any-gendered person reading this at any time between now and the time the world ends from human-induced destruction, I want to tell you that this is okay. If you don't want to stay friends with someone, it is okay. If someone doesn't want to stay friends with you, it is also okay. Sometimes I don't want to stay friends with an ex because I have too many feelings for them, and sometimes they don't want to stay friends with me because they have too many feelings for me. Sometimes you can both have many feelings for each other and still somehow like each other enough as friends to really stay friends, with nothing complicating it, and that's okay. Sometimes someone could get you pregnant and you could mess up each other's lives for years, and still somehow you want to talk to and be friends with each other. Friendships are a type of relationship and any relationship that requires interaction with another human being is going to be nuanced, complex and will take time to navigate before you can settle into a routine with ease. You will find that some friendships require more emotional labor and manoeuvring and at any time you find that the labor is more than the comfort the friendship brings you, it is okay to say you don't want the friendship anymore. I am a very sociable person, I am an extrovert, a thot that loves attention, but after years of dating and ending friendships (even platonic ones with girls), I find that I'm okay, and it's okay to cut off ties if you don't have the energy for it. Friendships and relationships take time and money and energy and your interest to be invested in someone else, and you are allowed to choose who you feel is worth all those things.

WEIRD FLEX, BUT OK

If you haven't cried in six years, you are not okay and this is actually not okay.


Today I was a good sister, good daughter, good friend and good colleague, all at separate times, so. Today is a win. If I don't get in college, whatever, man, I'm already a great person. Who needs a cert to tell me I'm brilliant and amazing?? It's your loss, COLLEGES OF NEW YORK. /passive-aggression

(Actually still waiting, sighz)

One of my favorite anecdotes of New York was the time Adam and I were in an UberPool. So we'd gotten into a shared ride first, then the driver picked up a gay couple. We were trying to make conversation, and the couple were still quite cordial, but then they said they were on the way to a Christmas party attended by gays, and they had to finish watching the latest episode of RuPaul's Drag Race that had just dropped, because they didn't want to be spoiled at the party. 

Adam and I acquiesced of course, and let them watch the ep together on their phone. I swear it felt so quintessentially New York, I love what a hot mess this goddamn world is sometimes, it makes no sense and I adore it. I miss Adam sometimes, I think we could be better as friends but dang, dating each other was not so great.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

YOUTH

I'm currently going to speak with my sister's course manager at her school. For someone who has not given birth, I certainly seem to mother a lot of people. She studies chemical and green technology so we were walking around her labs, and one of the rooms says "low oxygen: do not enter." Her faculty is so different from how mine used to be. If anyone is going to Australia/the US or knows someone who will be doing so soon, could you help me get a pack of the teal-cap Advils please? I have three capsules left and they're the only things that work on my period cramps, until I hopefully get an IUD or whatever birth control. I recently watched Call Me By Your Name and I think it's the most romantic film ever, and so well-shot. All the European feelz~

?¿

This is just a friendly reminder to my stateside friendos to do your taxes! Not your exes! Not a joke, but also not not a joke. Sighsies. I'm gonna do something nice for myself on Thursday. Not fancy. Just like do a simple, self-care thing like reading or coloring or anything no-frills like that. My hair smells nice. It's the small wins! I used to really blame Harry for Sirius' death, 'cos it was really his fault for falling for the set-up, I don't know why I'm thinking about it.

Monday, April 15, 2019

DUE DILIGENCE

Lyssa: so what's up with Joey? What did he want?
Sarah: I don't know. But I'm a different person with much higher self-esteem now, so if he's trying, he's gotta really try. I'm not just an option.
Lyssa: we love a woman!!!!
(I'm guessing she didn't say strong woman because all women are strong and the adjective is therefore redundant.)

Honestly, I don't know if he has a girlfriend and he was just horny, he was smart enough not to have shown it. I really hope not though, because that would just mean he's still in the same spot and he hasn't grown and I want to give him all the benefit of the doubt but that's what all women have done for men for ages.

My family had a serious talk that had my mother, my sister Lyssa and I in tears tonight. Lyssa ran into some academic issues in school and I was trying to mediate between my mother and my sister. My mother has gotten slightly better with her hysterics but she still chose some unwise words to use, which just meant Lyssa reacted in the same manner because she and my mother are very similar so my stepdad and I had to keep doing damage control.

I tried to let my mom know that some things in Lyssa's and my lives happen due to our mental health issues and we can't really help it, especially for Lyssa 'cos she hasn't even really taken the initiative to seek professional help. I told my mom that she may not really understand it fully 'cos she hadn't been raised in an environment that encourages discussion of such issues, and she may only have learnt of such topics recently as an adult, but it doesn't mean it's untrue or that they don't exist.

My mom was slightly more receptive than she's been, she always needs more and more exposure, as people do, but she also said the alternative could be that we were "far from God" and she shudders to think about ever accepting my disbelief of her personal truth. I feel slightly bad for her, that she has this burden of what she thinks is going to happen to me, while I drift further from it and feel ever more chill and comfortable with not believing in an afterlife, or at least not believing in a deity that will pass hard-and-fast judgment based on some strange point-based system and whether we practise it now.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

CATION



Not at Coachella but y'all know I wouldn't miss any chance to have glitter on my face — I recently heard a remark that one might appreciate my words more than my photos, which is a valid enough opinion bc you can glean much more personality and character from words than photographs and I do like that people appreciate my writing, but it's a good thing this was said to Me, perhaps bc they also knew I'm so opinionated I would do what I want anyway: life is real short and unlike in fiction, there is no pause or reset button, you have one life to do all the things you want to. You can like posing for photographs as much as you like books, you can enjoy racecars as much as crossword puzzles, you can refrain from using single-use plastic as well as put pressure on corporations to stop polluting the environment, you can like cats And dogs, you can waste time on Instagram and still be a pseudo-Intellectual™️, you can do it all and be it all. #coachella #notrllytho #glitter #makeup #yolo #thanksforcomingtomytedtalk
A post shared by Sarah Mei Lyana (@sarahmeilyana) on


Today, we found an astronaut Barbie at work and no one wanted it so I took it. Isn't it cute? I love it. It's my new favorite toy. It's like a blonde Valentina Tereshkova. It then made me think of three people consecutively. It's strange that I gravitated towards people who love the outerspace. My best friend Han had childhood dreams of being an astronaut, but Singapore doesn't have a space program (srsly what do we have?). I met Joey and saw rockets at SpaceX. I then became close to Tina, whose IG handle was @spacegirltina when I first met her, who has a lunar globe in her apartment, whose cat is named Hadley, and who gave me a dress with planets on it. How fascinating.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

GIGI HADID

A week ago, I went on a first and only date with a guy I'd matched on Tinder. On our date, we talked about our lives. He'd shared some of his difficulties so I thought, okay, let me also let my guard down and talk about the biggest thing that's happened so far in my life, right. Also I'd linked this site on my profile, so I assumed he'd have known at least the gist of it. I don't know how I put it or what it is I said that made my date ask, this man who was on a romantic date with me, he asked, why don't you get back with the guy? I'm not sure which part of my story didn't enter his consciousness, the fact that the guy is in a completely different country than I am, the fact that we aren't exactly on the best of terms and hadn't spoken for years until three weeks ago, the fact that I was on this date with said person I'm talking to. So anyway, this date and I decided we weren't exactly compatible and I put it at the back of my head, right. Then, yesterday, the guy in another country sent me a text. Brooooooooo! I asked him what was the matter, because I assumed that there was something the matter if he's texting me, and he said nothing was the matter, and asked "should there be?" I still don't know why he texted me. I don't know if he has a girlfriend. You would assume if a man is texting a girl he has history with, he would not have a girlfriend, or at least that is what I used to assume, but on @textsfromyourex on Instagram, loads of men who send texts to their exes, have girlfriends. So I dunno. I don't know what relationships mean to people living in LA/NY. Nor do I know if this guy actually has a girlfriend. Not that he's said or done anything strange, it's more the fact that he texted me that strikes me as strange. Will I ever understand men as a species? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Friday, April 12, 2019

EVENT HORIZON

You take fast, shallow breaths the way you do when you're watching porn. This is the first time he's touching your skin, tasting you. Everything is technicolor lurid, dream lucid, summer languid, amniotic fluid. It had almost become forgotten, the taste of skin rubbing against hair, against tongue, against saliva. There's a penis, there are tongues, and a clit. There are fingernails digging into skin. There is so much skin, so much flesh. You bite. He bites. She bites. Wait, you say. I need to remember this. She looks out the window at the crescent moon, recalls for some reason what the snapshot of a black hole looks like, meshes it with all their feelings of being there in that moment, and the millions of moments she had experienced from within the womb to then. This moment has happened an infinite number of times before this, this moment will happen an infinite number of times after this, this moment is happening this once and it will never happen again. She tries to level her breath, tries to be present in the moment, thinks of a singular breath travelling from the room into her nostrils, into her lungs, into her blood. Happiness has never tasted so lasting, nor felt so fleeting. There is a first time for everything, so make that first time last, not the last.

Monday, April 08, 2019

NO FEAR

So I have a new favorite live performance video, which is this one of Electric Fields performing Nina, their song comprised of lyrics made up of a speech by Nina Simone. It is brilliant and magical and electric and electrifying and I cannot get enough of it. Wow I haven't gone for a live show forever. "What's freedom to me? Same thing it means to you - you tell me!"


I was reading Feminists Don't Wear Pink (and other lies), a compilation of essays on feminism. I chose some of my absolute favorites, although the entire book is a precious gem, and have included them in some posts. Viv had borrowed the book from the library, then thought it was "very me", so she passed it to me, and wow, I love it.

Also, I was very literally bored, and this happened. Ariana Grande is such a mood.


My best friend Han says, regardless what happens, April 1 2021 is my deadline to start or least receive a placement in university, and April 1 2031 is my deadline to have cleared all my student loans incurred. She gave me 5 years to clear them after I graduate. She also told me I have to put this on here, so I'm accountable for it. HAHAHAHA. Find you some best friends who are insane planners if you ain't one, maybe it'll help compensate for the lack of planning in your parents and family?????

10 WAYS TO SUPPORT THE WOMEN IN YOUR LIFE

by Olivia Perez

There was no exact point in time when I felt I had come into my own feminist. There was no ah-ha moment, no specific anecdote that jolted my body into a state of rage against the patriarch. I was genetically bred to be an unruly woman. I was raised in Los Angeles by a Jewish, French Moroccan father and a Serbian mother in a Brady Bunch family of strong female figures - four sisters, two stepmothers, three godmothers, and a mom who dedicated her life to raising fearless women in a town that didn't necessarily breed security. My upbringing was undertaken by women I aspired to become - women who co-existed despite multiple marriages, divorces and backgrounds, supported one another and their children unconditionally, and taught me that being soft-spoken was not an option, especially at our dinner table. 

When I was two, my parents enrolled me in ballet. I studied ballet into my adulthood, practising after school and on weekends, touring every summer, and performing seasonally. Being a ballerina was like living in a state of constant adversity. I would wake up every day and dress myself to physically blend in with my class - pink tights, black leotard, hair in a tight bun - but then dance under the immense pressure to outshine. I would work myself as hard as a professional athlete, and was then expected to appear frail, delicate and feminine. Remember your steps, control your temperament, be feminine here, be masculine there, look pretty, move quickly, stay on the beat, transcend, captivate, all at once. From a young age I was trained to defy the odds, rise above obedience and move people with just my physical presence. I was trained to demand attention. I was trained never to question my place as a woman centre stage. 

My feminism is inherent. It's not a trait, adjective, label or by-line but an orientation towards the world. Today, I'm twenty-four years old and live in New York City where I run my company Friend of a Friend, an editorial community based on telling untold stories and lending a platform for women to find their individuality through expressing everyday experiences. I live with that same demand for the world's attention because there is no space I will ever accept for women other than centre stage. All the opportunities in the world are ours for the taking and ours to be shared. There is no time more important than now, in 2018, for women to show up for each other and push each other towards our own spotlights. There is no better time for us to be loud, strong and unruly. I've made it my mission to be an ally to the women in this generation, to break down misogynistic stereotypes, remove walls that divide them, and create a community grounded in supporting one another. In my experience as a young woman, a female business owner, a daughter, sister and friend, I've learned that being a feminist isn't so much about your own voice, but how you use your stage to encourage and support other women to find theirs. 

1. Show up for women, physically and emotionally. Whether it's sending your girls a daily text to check in, being a shoulder to cry on, calling your mother, supporting female-founded companies, or smiling at a woman on the street, be an advocate for supporting our community in any and every way.

2. Create environments for women to take up space. In my experience of hosting panels, events, talks, interviews or even just a girls' night, there's nothing more gratifying than watching women thrive in an environment where they feel able to be themselves and use their voice.

3. Be transparent with each other. Be open about jobs, salaries, relationships, sex life, hardships, successes, botox, everything. Secrecy breeds jealousy because the unknown makes us insecure. By having these conversations with each other, we empower our experiences, good or bad, and create a foundation of shared experiences that make us feel supported rather than alienated.

4. Don't lift a woman up by tearing another woman down.

5. Collaborate, don't compete. Competition thrives on insecurities. Identify those women you feel you're sitting across the table from and sit next to them. Find a common ground. Wanting women to succeed without jealousy is the definition of grace.

6. Strive to say more than 'You look pretty'. Remind the women in your life that the space they take up in your life and the world is not dependent on physical attributes.

7. Never miss an opportunity to facilitate moments of learning between men and women. It's easy to fall victim to stereotypes by saying a man is 'just being an asshole' or 'men will be men' when helping women to cope with gender issues, whether in the bedroom, the boardroom, or beyond. Be an active ally for both genders by advocating accountability and a level playing field.

8. Hire women, train women, mentor women. Be the vehicle that turns a young woman with big dreams into the badass woman she is destined to be.

9. Carry lipstick, pain relief like Tylenol or aspirin, and tampons, always. Save a sister, make a new friend.

10. Step up to the spotlight. Not just as an example for others but for yourself. Take every opportunity, challenge and risk that comes your way without questioning your worth, ability or place as a woman. And once you find your light, don't be afraid to be a little unruly.

TELL HIM

by Jameela Jamil

Bloody hell, where do I start?

I suppose when writing something about feminism I can't help but feel that it's not only us who should be learning and growing, being armed with motivation and understanding.

I think so many women have the power to tackle misogyny in their own homes. It starts by never taking for granted how poisonous society can be to the male psyche, and protecting boys from the onslaught of misinformation everywhere. They are bombarded with dangerous imagery, song lyrics, peer pressure and often quite damaging / violent / entirely-intimacy-free pornography, all of which is sold to them as a glamorous and realistic norm. Men are throttled with toxic masculinity and given made-up ideals that they are forced to subscribe to. They are belittled and rejected when they show signs of sensitivity. They are mocked and insulted when they show their pain or 'care too much'. Songs that are kind to women, or that talk about feelings, are considered 'wet' or labelled 'sad boy music'. It's such a potent, rotten marinade that boys grow up being soaked in.

Don't get me wrong - this isn't some 'poor boys' appeal. It's just that, in my opinion, it's as if men are recruited young and brainwashed, in order to be indoctrinated and manipulated into an oppressive patriarchal institution. This is a call to arms for the women who have boys growing up in their houses...

We have a lot of work to undo...

Mothers, sisters and aunties, I implore you to take this little sponge and render him sodden with humanity and an understanding of women. It will send him into this delusional world with an armour of empathy and self-assurance, with an understanding that a strong woman is something to celebrated and not feared / crushed / undermined / spoken over / stopped / humiliated / shamed / blamed / discouraged / controlled / told that to be worth anything in this world she must have big tits but a small waist and thin arms, oh, and a big pert arse but absolutely no thighs and a young face (forever).

All you have to do is tell him the truth.

Tell him what happened to us.

Tell him our whole story. Tell him how only very recently we were able to fight, protest, beg and starve our way to basic human rights. Tell him that a long time ago, as far back as you can imagine, men became afraid of women. Women could make people inside their bodies; they could feed those people using just their bodies. They had an extreme and quite scary tolerance for pain, and were distracting and beguiling for men. On top of all this, we were equally able to learn, to hunt, to keep ourselves and our kin alive. AND we have tits. TITS. Who doesn't love tits? Whatever size. They are simply fantastic. Men feared that, other than their semen, women had little need for them. And actually we were very self-sufficient and tough, while at the same time being able to arouse men and sometimes drive them quite mad with love/lust/possessiveness. We held quite a lot of power. And so, using the only thing they had over us (physical power), men fear-mongered an entire gender into submission and controlled us for thousands of years.

Tell him that we work the same hours, with the same skill sets and the same qualifications and get paid much less, just because we were born with different chromosomes.

Tell him we were only recently allowed to choose who we love, rather than be sold by our fathers to the highest bidder, however unattractive / unkind / unsafe / boring / old that man may be, with no question as to what we wanted.

And tell him this is still going on in many countries around the world today. We are still second-rate citizens in many places.

Tell him what it's like to be a woman. Tell him we have to be on guard, literally ready to protect our lives, every time we walk down the street at night, walk through a park, get into a cab, take a train, go out drinking, walk to our car, go on a date, be in a lift with a stranger, be in ANY BASEMENT EVER. Sometimes we even have to feel afraid in our own houses because there is a constant threat to our safety from men, both strangers and the ones we know. Make him sympathize with us and feel protective over us.

Tell him to cry when he is sad, tell him how important it is to talk about his feelings. Tell him it is better to be soft and strong rather than be hard and weak. Never let anyone tell him to 'stop being a girl' when he is showing sensitivity. By narrowing our ridiculous prescribed gender roles, we will come closer together and no longer be such a mystery to one another, which will dilute the fear and mistrust men have towards us. And, by making him a more mentally stable and secure person, you will greatly lessen the likelihood of him being swayed by our insecure and pathetic patriarchy.

Treat him with kindness and empathy. Make him feel safe. Do not betray his trust. Your relationship with him will shape his entire outlook on women. So that in every girl he looks at, he will see you, and feel love and respect. Make sure he confides in you from a young age, so you will have a sense of what poison is pouring into him, and do not judge him (to his face - you can totally judge him behind his back, and to your friends....) and explain the correct, fair path in a way that makes it sound fun and appealing.

Tell him about sex. Not just reproduction. Sex. The pleasurable fun part of it. The joy of equal pleasure and enthusiastic consent. Do not shy away from this. Do not make it an awkward topic in your house. If you push him into the shadows, he will find Pornhub in there and that will become his teacher. And nobody wants that shit. Nobody. Learning to have sex from porn is like learning how to drive from The Fast and the Furious. A bloody horrendous idea.

Tell him it's OK to watch porn but to know that it's a fantasy, sometimes a downright lie, and that the women are acting, and they are being paid to pretend to enjoy every *brilliant* thing the man comes up with. Explain to him that real women are specific and nuanced and that sex where she feels wanted, appreciated and catered to will be ten times better than when she's doing what he wants to do, even though she isn't in the mood, just because she's afraid of disappointing him. That's not sex - that's just a wank he's using a woman's body for. Hell, show him a documentary about the truth behind porn. Scar him for life.

Tell him about the history of the word 'No' for women and how new it is to our vocabulary, and how, if he were to abuse our historical conditioning to bend to the whims of men, it would be the greatest sin and sign of weakness he could show. And when it comes to sex tell him technical consent isn't the gold standard but the complete basic foundation, and anything less than a woman being enthusiastic about something sexual that is about to happen is a bad thing and a sign that he must stop whatever he is doing and talk to her.

Tell him that being generous in the bedroom will be reported far and wide among women across the lands, because we tell each other everything; the tales shall travel far and wide, and his name shall become legend among us.

Tell him about your hopes and dreams so he grows up wanting them for you and feels as though they are important. Tell him how you feel. Don't always be perfectly stoic as we have been conditioned to pretend we are, which in turn means that men overestimate our coping ability and then push us to the fucking edge. Build a man who understands that we are only human and have needs and sometimes need help.

Tell him that we are smart. Show him smart women you admire. Tell him to look for that in a girl. Show him films with tough female leads from when he's young.

Tell him that we are funny. Show him funny women.

Tell him we are strong. Tell him that's a good thing. Tell him it's cool. Tell him it's sexy. Show him how strong you are. Don't just pick up after him. Don't just pick up after his father. Command the respect you deserve.

Be his friend. Be his teacher. Spend your life with and raise him in front of a good man who shares your beliefs and respects you.

Do not ever sell yourself short.

We may have to fight our generation of men (and the one before that) for our rights, our safety and for our voices to be heard, which is sad and frustrating. But we have a golden window of opportunity to completely shape the future of our entire society from our living rooms. Build these men from scratch to fit women, rather than to take up all the space and force us to compact ourselves to the little corner allocated to us by them.

God, we must be pretty amazing to have overcome all of this shit. Tell him.

BRALESS WHITE WOMEN

by Angela Yee

Growing up, when I heard the word 'feminist' I always pictured braless white women rallying and making demands that were foreign to me. The issues I dealt with in school, at work and even at home were just the norm. Of course my brother had more freedom than I did - he's a boy. Of course in high school I had to protect my reputation as best I could, while the boys were applauded for having fingers that smelled like pussy. When I had internships during college, I was able to brush off comments about my appearance and I made a conscious effort to wear baggy clothes so I wouldn't draw attention to myself. And when I graduated from Wesleyan University, armed with my English degree and a plethora of internship experience under my belt, I jumped right into the music industry.

There are too many incidents to name that happened to me and countless others during my twenty-plus years working in marketing, management and radio. I can recall the most blatant situation. I was working for a small label, and they had just secured a deal providing office space and overhead for their employees. I was the first person they hired, being lured away from my position as assistant to the CEO at Wu-Tang Management to become the General Manager. I was only twenty-three years old, so I was excited about the salary bump and the new title. Not to mention, they had one of the hottest artists signed to them, which was how they had inked the deal in the first place.

In one of my first 'mistakes', which I refer to as a life lesson in retrospect, I should have never left my position at Wu-Tang for one with a fancier title and more money. I ended up passing the days watching the clock tick and doing things like sharpening pencils for the elderly white male partner, who was adamant that I should not have any power or authority. He couldn't understand why they'd hired a young black girl in the first place. But he was still using pencils? The younger black male partner consistently rolled up to the office wearing sunglasses at any hour he pleased, with stories of deals he'd brokered and women he'd conquered, most of which I discovered were flat-out false or grossly exaggerated.

The next hire was the ex-girlfriend of one of the partners, who would sit on his lap in the office while they laughed hysterically about Lord knows what, until he would sometimes close the door. Every morning I woke up dreading another day at this hellhole, and I would often lie in bed contemplating if I should call in sick or not show up at all.

One particular day, time was crawling by as usual and I was trying to keep busy by organizing contacts. The artist, who was the anchor of the label, was erratic about showing up to the studio and the label had been paying enormous sums of money to hire producers, musicians, engineers and back-up singers. Because the artist had no music and was missing every deadline, we had no work to do. The younger partner called me to his office and I grabbed a pen and a pad of paper, thinking we were finally going to get the ball rolling. He closed the door behind him and I sat on the sofa with my pen poised and ready to write.

'I think you should sleep with me,' he stated matter-of-factly. I was completely taken off guard, and he continued to lay out his case.

'We can come to the office like nothing is happening, and I'll take you to nice dinners. You'll get paid well. It will be fun.'

I got up and told him, 'I wouldn't do that if you were the last person on earth.'

I walked out of his office shaken and confused. The first thing I did was gather my belongings and go outside to call my best friend. She had an artist who was in the process of signing a development deal at the label and she signed on as an A&R consultant. Her advice was to look for a new job but continue to get my payslip until I found something. After all, I did have bills to pay and no money saved up.

I set up a meeting for the following day with a marketing agency I had already been having preliminary talks with regarding employment. Prior to this incident, I knew I couldn't stay there much longer. When I showed up to work the next day, pretending things weren't awkward, the other partner called me in to his office and fired me. He said they would pay me an additional two weeks' salary, but for no specific reason my pencil-sharpening skills were no longer necessary. I was angry, worried and happy all at the same time. I hated this job, and I would be getting paid for two weeks to not be there. I had a meeting for another job set up that same day (and they did hire me to start immediately). Maybe I would have just stayed there in misery if this hadn't happened.

It never crossed my mind to go to human resources or to hire a lawyer. I didn't even want anyone to know because I was embarrassed it happened to me. I also feared that no one would believe me, and I would be blackballed at the beginning stages of my career. All I wanted to do was put it behind me as a negative experience, and move on. I did exactly that, and when I tried to deposit my pay cheque they had already cancelled it.

I hear conversations frequently from women of all ages who have had to deal with sexism, sexual assault, coercion and rape. And alongside those conversations I hear people who question her validity, who question why she took so long to speak, and who question her motives. They wonder if she put herself in the situation, or if she sent out the wrong signals. They accuse her of wanting a quick payout. They bring up her sexual history, the way she dresses, who she has dated, and anything that may discredit her. And then wonder why it's so difficult to come forward with the truth about men or women abusing their power.

No matter how much progress we think has been made, there will always be reminders of how far we have to go. When I got hired at Sirius for my first radio position, the rumour was that I must have slept with someone to get the job. My former boss confessed he felt that way and had voiced this to other employees because I came out of nowhere, with no radio experience. After he saw my work ethic, and the relationships I curated with guests, he admitted he had been wrong for jumping to conclusions.

Even today, when we have guests on the show, if I ask for contact information from a male guest, I've overheard my co-workers say that I must want to fuck. When we take pictures with guests, the comments are about how I was flirting or you can tell I let him hit. I've heard DJs on other stations say that I sleep with every rapper after we interview them. I've read blogs that list people who I have slept with who I have never even met. Is this still par for the course for a woman working in the entertainment industry, or in any industry?

It has become useless to argue with social media agitators, but what I can do is be part of uplifting women. I can encourage the women who are striving to get their footing in this world to keep pushing and to express themselves. I want women to feel like we are not in competition with each other. We are on the same team. Something as small as a compliment to let another woman know she is on the right path or she is doing a great job can make all the difference. We can defend each other when we are being attacked or judged. We can hire other women and refer each other for jobs when the opportunity fits. I know how much representation matters, and in an industry where we are vastly underrepresented in positions of power it has become evident how poisonous that is.

I want to make sure we are negotiating our salaries and asking for raises when we know we deserve them instead of assuming the work we put in will be noticed and rewarded. I read an article in Marie Claire when I was twenty-nine years old about women not asking for raises as frequently as men do and the most effective strategies to use, and I realized I had never asked for a raise. I put together a presentation of all the press I had received and scheduled a meeting with the operations manager at Sirius, and received a 50% raise and a bonus. If I'd never asked, I would have never got such a significant bump. And I knew I deserved it. But I also know that the male DJ who had my position before me and the one who was hired after me earned significantly more than I did.

When I was offered a job on the morning show at HOT 97, I was told my name would not be part of the show and I would be responsible for weather, traffic reports and gossip. I turned that job down in favour of hosting my own show at Sirius. I knew the freedom of being able to call the shots and build my brand was more significant than the minor role at a legendary station. I told the programme director at the time that I planned to bust my ass to be able to step into a bigger position at the right time. I also used that job offer as leverage to get another raise.

I lament the fact that I didn't have a mentor to steer me in the right direction or to help open doors for me. I believe I would have made fewer mistakes and instead of travelling up, down and around to get here I would have progressed in more of a straight line. In this day and age of access and social media, there is a lot less patience and a lot more stuntin'. The pressure to appear perfect, to smooth out lumps and wrinkles, bring in your waist, make your butt look bigger, get your angles right, not get older, flaunt designer bags, drive luxury cars, hop on a private jet or yacht can be overwhelming. But the strength and confidence it takes to NOT succumb to these pressures is infinitely more powerful.

My feminism is empowering other women to know there don't have to be societal norms and standards for you. It's OK to make more than your significant other and hold down the household. It's perfectly OK to not have a significant other. It's fine if you choose to get plastic surgery (after evaluating the risks) if you want to do that for yourself. It's also fine to shake your little booty and embrace your so-called imperfections. You can be celibate, be monogamous, be in an open relationship, have a fuckfest, leave your lying, cheating-ass boo or choose to stay. It's all on you. My feminism is not passing judgement on others, but instead listening to understand our differences. I may like you or I may not like you after that. And you may or may not like me. Regardless, every time that I'm on the radio and functioning in real life, I will continue to initiate and participate in anything that makes women stronger, especially women of colour who have additional obstacles to hurdle. That means hiring us, booking clubs for us, running clubs for us, financial planning for us, internships for us, advice for us, mental health awareness for us, sexual freedom for us, body positivity for us, and education for us.

Whether you are quietly active or loudly roaring, you are an ally.

THE WEAKER SEX

by Keira Knightley

To my girl

My vagina split. You came out with your eyes open. Arms up in the air. Screaming. They put you on to me, covered in blood, vernix, your head misshapen from the birth canal. Pulsating, gasping, screaming. You were pushing yourself up with your arms, furious at your frailty. Wanting to see. Wanting to know. You latched on to my breast immediately, hungrily. I remember the pain. The mouth clenched tight around my nipple, life sucking on and sucking out. I remember the shit, the vomit, the blood, the stitches. I remember my battleground. Your battleground and life pulsating. Surviving. And I am the weaker sex? You are?

People came to the hospital immediately. Family, friends came to see you, the sweet little baby, and me in beautiful motherhood. We had champagne and Chinese food. I was in a hospital gown with paper pants on. Blood soaking through the sanitary pad wedged between my legs. Adrenalin coursing through my veins. I felt invincible. You were in a crib by the bed. You cried and I ran to you. Exposing myself to the men in the room, blood running down my thighs, arse, cellulite. You are mine. Mine, and I will stop you crying. My breast is out in front of them all and I don't care. Your life is my life. You need me. I'm there. Fuck them all with their eyes watching, their embarrassed faces at my animalistic semi-nudity. Is this soft motherhood?

The day before, I walked seven miles. Our house to a restaurant, the restaurant to the doctor's. I felt water running down my leg on Clerkenwell Road. I was wearing tights and they were wet on the inside. It ran all the way into my shoes. My favourite shoes. Brown lace-up brogues. You'd been engaged for a month, head wedged between my legs, waiting to come out. I didn't know that my waters had broken. I didn't know that the numbing, dull pain was the first contractions - they'd been going on for days. I thought I'd pissed myself. The shame. I walked two miles more to the doctor's. It began.

The day after you were born we left the hospital. I took a shower. Washed my bloodstained thighs. I haven't slept. Will never sleep again the way I did before. My shoes are crusted and sticky with the amniotic fluid of yesterday. They smell. Kate Middleton had her baby the day after mine. We stand and watch the TV screen. She was out of hospital seven hours later with her face made up and high heels on. The face the world wants to see. Hide. Hide our pain, our bodies splitting, our breasts leaking, our hormones raging. Look beautiful, look stylish, don't show your battleground, Kate. Seven hours after your fight with life and death, seven hours after your body breaks open, and bloody, screaming life comes out. Don't show. Don't tell. Stand there with your girl and be shot by a pack of male photographers. This stuff is easy. It happens every day. What's the big deal? So does death, you shit-heads, but you don't have to pretend that's easy.

I don't wash for a month. Can't get dressed. The hormones rage. I'm buffeted by silent storms more terrible than the battleground. I hear everything. It's all too loud. The world is too loud. The wind in the trees thunders around me. It thunders around you. Death. It's living next to me. I've brought life and understand the terror of losing it. The world is too big. I want to be with you in a cave. In a dark, deep, quiet cave. I want to shield you with my body. I cry. I don't want your dad to leave. He might be taken from me. I don't want my mum to go. I want her to make it better. One day you could all be gone forever. I would die for you. I would kill for you. You are mine and I am yours. Soft motherhood. Black cats frighten me.

I was born on the cork kitchen floor. My brother was upstairs sleeping. My mother's first battleground was in a hospital. She was told she wasn't in labour, she was imagining it, and was made to sit on a hard wooden chair while they called a psych nurse. The machine had read no contractions. Don't listen to the woman - what would she know? So it happened there in the wooden chair, nails boring into the wood. The baby and the body taking over. She split front to back and my brother came. She never went into a hospital again. With me she stayed in her cave. The kitchen. The beating heart of the house. The weaker sex.

My mother worked. I was so proud of her. So proud to be her daughter. She was a writer with a voice. She walked around with bare feet and caused a scene. She was ambitious and angry and loved me. She could do anything. I can do anything. I will do everything. She is a trickster, a manipulator, a warrior, a laugher; she is immovable; she is a fairy. She is a matriarch, she loves and is loved. She is in charge. I am in charge. You are in charge.

I work. I work because my mother told me to. I work because I am good at it. I work for my family. I work so you can be proud of me the way I was of her. I work to show you that you can. You must. I turn up on time, word perfect, with ideas and an opinion. I am up with you all night if you need me. Sometimes I cry I'm so tired. Up with you all night and work all day. You visit me in my lunch break or when the camera turns round. That time is your time. I try every which way to be there when you wake up and to put you to bed. I ache with tiredness. I weep with tiredness. I break with tiredness. My male colleagues can be late, can not know their lines. They can shout and scream and throw things. They can turn up drunk or not turn up at all. They don't see their children. They're working. They need to concentrate. I concentrate. I see you. I am yours and you are mine. I am not the weaker sex. You are not the weaker sex. We are not the weaker sex.

I work with men. I watch them and they watch me. They worry that I don't like them. It drives them mad. They belittle me, they try not to listen to me, they don't talk to me, they don't want to hear my voice, my experience, my opinion. Be pretty. Stand there. They tell me what it is to be a woman. Be nice, be supportive, be pretty but not too pretty, be thin but not too thin, be sexy but not too sexy, be successful but not too successful. Wear these clothes, look this way, buy this stuff. I work with men and they worry that I don't like them. It makes them mad, it makes them sad, it makes them shout and scream. I like them. But I don't want to flirt and mother them, flirt and mother, flirt and mother. I don't want to flirt with you because I don't want to fuck you, and I don't want to mother you because I am not your mother. I am her mother. I would die for her. Kill for her. That's not the kind of mother they mean. I just want to work, mate. Is that OK? Talk and be heard, be talked to and listen. Male ego. Stop getting in the way.

IMPOSTER SYNDROME

by Alaa Murabit

Ten-year-old me would be incredibly disappointed in me. By now, I should have had a yellow VW Beetle, an apartment in 'the big city' (I was born and raised in Saskatchewan, Canada, so 'the big city' could have been literally anywhere but there), two babies, a cat that loved me and was more excited to see me than she was to nap (this is clearly the most unrealistic thing on my wish list), and - of course - I would be THE surgeon in town.

Let me rewind a little bit. Since I was a kid I knew I wanted to be a doctor. I was never told that I couldn't be. And as a child of eleven I learned very quickly that the only things my parents care about were a) how we treated people and b) how seriously we took our education. So, as I would come home every day with a new idea (like telling my mom I wanted to go to the moon), the usual response would be along the lines of 'Great, I'll pack you lunch!'

By the age of fifteen I had graduated from high school and, only a month later, I'd enrolled in and began medical school. My vision was clear: I would have multiple surgical speciality degrees from elite schools and wear a very unique scrub cap that would relax patients (but still make them confident in my operating abilities, of course) and I would always have free time (despite the whole surgeon thing) because I would live free from the humble entanglements of child-rearing and homemaking, and - of course, à la the opening montage of every early 2000s romantic comedy and Grey's Anatomy - everyone who met me would fall madly in love with me.

But then, in my final year of medical school, the Libyan Revolution broke out, and in an effort to ensure women's inclusion in the nation-building process I founded a women's rights organization, the Voice of Libyan Women (VLW). I had done my research and knew that there was this window of opportunity, where if women were around the table, dictating security and services and the foundations of the new state, the long-term inclusion and leadership of women would be ensured. I finished medical school and, instead of searching for surgical specialties, I created national campaigns, delivered TED talks and negotiated global strategies. At almost every turn I was asked where I got my conviction from, as though I shouldn't have it in the first place.

My confidence wasn't shaken until nearly a year after I had launched VLW. I had been having coffee with someone I considered a mentor - an older, white male, who told me in good faith, 'Be very non-threatening, Alaa; don't freely give your opinions,' after I had told him about a heated debate I'd had with a colleague. When I had asked what he meant, he elaborated: 'There are going to be four challenges that you're going to come across in your career: your background (Libyan), your faith (visibly Muslim), your gender (a woman),' and then he said with a laugh, 'the last one you're lucky - you'll grow out of it - and that's your age.'

It was the first time I had felt like it didn't matter how hard I worked, how much I applied myself, and that in order for me to 'succeed' I would have to minimize myself to create comfort for others. For the next few months I spoke up less, negotiated my point less - not because of his advice, but because for the first time in my life I wasn't sure if my points or my suggestions were necessary.

Months later, I walked into one of my first high-level meetings. Now, to understand how truly excited I was, I would like you all to imagine you're twenty-one. I had spent the days before preparing and when I walked into the room I saw my name, engraved on a wooden nameplate. I took a seat and started pulling out my papers; I had never felt more self-assured, and at that moment, a young woman, an intern I would say was my age, maybe a year older, approached me and said, 'Sorry, but that is Dr Murabit's seat, and I hear he is very difficult.' She went on to tell me that I should go sit at the back, alongside the other support staff.

I picked up my notepad and computer and went and sat at the back; now, I don't know how many of you relate to this - when you kind of freeze and have an almost out-of-body experience? I didn't come back up to my seat until my colleagues, noticing I wasn't there, told me to 'move up to the table'.

As I sat there, in the biggest, most important meeting of my life to date, instead of looking at all the points I'd prepared, I felt a little bit embarrassed and angry, thinking up awesome rebuttals like, 'Oh, I should have said that.' I wanted to find the intern and tell her that she was out of line, but as I was looking around the room at everyone beginning to sit at the table they were all much older, predominately white and predominantly male. I didn't fit into any of those boxes, and I realized that while, yes, she shouldn't have made any assumptions, the problem is much larger than one intern. She has been taught - by the spaces we all occupy - that the experts don't look or sound like me; that they are older, whiter and male.

That moment shifted a lot of things for me. First, it created some clarity in my very foggy brain - unravelling some of the doubt that had been building there for months. And second, it turned my hyper-perfectionist, competitive, strategy-starved brain on to a bigger challenge: that the only way we can become more inclusive and ultimately more legitimate and successful at ensuring peace, prosperity and women's rights is by ensuring that all people can see themselves at the table, and that young women in particular have role models, mentors and the necessary support and amplification to ensure that we occupy those spaces. It was the reason I started my own mentorship programme - because, often, we can't be what we can't see.

That is not to say that the doubt will disappear, or that imposter syndrome isn't real. I expect I will hold on to doubt until my old age, because I will always be those four things: I will always be the daughter of parents with accents, Muslim Libyan immigrants who left everything and everyone they loved behind to create a better life for me and who gave me a name that, despite being only four letters, people still try to abbreviate and nickname.

I will always be the little girl who grew up believing she could make it to the moon, in a world that still debates whether girls should have an education and whether women should have reproductive rights. A world where little girls believe, from a young age, that boys are naturally more intelligent and capable.

But I also know that if we had more women in the room we could solve a lot more problems.

CLIMATE CHANGE? The most cost-effective and practical ways to combat it are the education of girls, and women's reproductive rights.

PEACE PROCESSES? 90% fail within five years but with the inclusion of women they are thirty-five times more likely to last fifteen years.

ECONOMIC GROWTH? If 10% of the girls in a country are educated they increase the GDP by 2-3%. Women then reinvest 90% of their income into their community (as opposed to men who reinvest 35-40%), spurring local economic growth and social transformation. And when girls receive an education they are less likely to marry young, will have fewer kids and will vaccinate those kids.

So, yes, it has taken me years. And it will probably take me a lifetime more. And while my hands still shake sometimes, and my voice falters, one thing I have never been more sure of is that what others see as your weaknesses, challenges or reasons to 'other' you, are often the very things that made you work twice as hard, read twice as quickly and try twice as much. The time, the effort, the faith, the work, the background, the age, the gender, the family, the experiences, the choices. All of it. They are what made me capable, what made me determined and what make me a leader, and - I would bet my ten-year-old dream yellow VW Beetle - they are what make you a leader as well.

FEMINISM IS A VERB, NOT A NOUN

by Alicia Garza

In 1986 Marie Shear wrote in a review of The Feminist Dictionary that '[F]eminism is the radical notion that women are people.' A refreshingly simple definition, Shear's somewhat sarcastic assertion that the notion of women as people is 'radical' says a lot about the conditions experienced by women.

For me, Shear's definition captures perfectly the reason why feminism is a verb, not a noun. The 'radical notion that women are people' requires that one upholds the humanity of women at every opportunity.

In America, white women make 78 cents to every dollar that white men make. Black women make 64 cents to every dollar white men make, and Latinas make 58 cents to every dollar white men make. Women are subject to daily harassment and threats of sexual violence, at work and in our communities. Our bodies are considered to exist for the sole enjoyment and discernment of men. Women are not seen as human beings, deserving of dignity and respect.

The socialization of the hatred of women is not solely perpetrated by men but infects women as well. No one experiences this more acutely than transgendered women, who are shunned by cisgender men and women alike, often using the very same tropes that are weaponized by cisgender men to denigrate and oppress cisgender women.

The current US President, Donald Trump, made headlines for leading chants among his supporters during his campaign to 'lock up' Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, for paying off Stormy Daniels, an exotic dancer with whom he allegedly had an affair, and for being caught on video sharing his tips for assaulting women on the popular show Inside Edition, saying that all you had to do was 'grab 'em by the pussy'. You can tell that in America women are not considered people by many because, despite these examples of egregious behaviour, Donald Trump was still elected President.

Furthermore, the agenda of his administration works to strip women of the rights we've fought hard for - rights to have self-determination over our lives by deciding when and if to start families, and with whom, and rights to have access to affordable health care. The administration has led the charge to dismantle supports for families, such as TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). In 2017, according to the US Census Bureau, 81.4% of single-parent families were headed by a woman who was unemployed. Cuts to government supports for families disproportionately impact women.

For me, this is why feminism must be a verb and not a noun. It is not enough to believe that women are people if our actions - for example, voting for a man who grabs women by the pussy and dismantles critical supports that enable women and their families to live with dignity - suggest otherwise.

To work for a world where women are treated as people in every aspect of our lives is to work not just for women but for all people to realize their full humanity.