I’ve been pretty cut off from the real world lately to say the least.  However, something has been continuously popping up on Twitter this week and it’s caught my attention.  The #YesAllWomen campaign has gone viral to say the very least, and not everyone is happy about it.  If you’re as clueless as I was at first, here’s the low down.  The #YesAllWomen campaign caught fire in the wake of the recent tragedy at the University of California Santa Barbara in which a young man went on a rampage, killing 6 people and injuring more than twice as many.  This man cited his anger at women as the reason for his murders.  As a result, the issues of misogyny and male entitlement have been brought to light.

My opinion? The fact that these issues are brought to light is a problem in itself.  They should never be cast into the shadows.  

Feminists everywhere are outraged, and I can’t say I disagree.  Uh oh – the F word.  Men, do you think your mother should receive less pay for her job because she is a woman?  No?  Congrats – you’re a feminist!  Men (and women) have taken to Twitter claiming that #NotAllMen are perpetrators of violence against women.  Fact.  However, this where #YesAllWomen comes in play.  I can say with 110% certainty that every one of my female friends and family members have been a victim of male entitlement.  Whether it is, god forbid, something as physical as rape or whether it is just an unwelcome comment or invasive look, we’ve all experienced it.  When (not if) it happens, many women are afraid to speak up for fear that the man will retaliate.  THIS IS A HUGE PROBLEM.  Has every man victimized a woman in this way?  Absolutely not.  But I would be genuinely surprised if #NotAllWomen can identify with what I’m talking about.  

So what do we do about it?  If you ask me, it starts at a very young age.  As children, we are taught that if a boy is mean to us or pushes us on the playground it is because they have a crush on us.  Why aren’t young boys taught instead to treat girls with respect?  As a teenager we are forced to abide to a lengthy school dress code because if not, it may be distracting to our classmates.  Why aren’t young boys taught instead that a woman’s body is not theirs to stare at?  As a young woman we are taught to watch our drinks at all times.  Why aren’t young men taught instead to, hmm, I don’t know, NOT DRUG YOUNG WOMEN?  Why do we have to clutch our keys inbetween our knuckles when walking in a dark parking lot?  Why do we inherently know to avoid eye contact with men on the streets?  All women have been taught these things.  Yes, all women.  Why are we all so familiar with the saying “boys will be boys”?  I hate that.  Boys will not be boys.  Boys will be what they are taught to be.

This issue is way bigger than a couple of hashtags.  While this debate is important, it won’t stop angry men from going on rampages and women from hovering over their rum & Coke’s. I do believe that gun control is a huge issue here as well, and I do hope that government officials can find a way to compromise with responsible gun owners and do so soon. But if we could see a full fledged societal change, we would essentially be unloading all of the guns.  

Not all men are violent.  Not all men are angry at women.  Not all men have made passes at women.  But some are.  And some have.  And #YesAllWomen have been on the receiving end of the weapon that is male entitlement.  I encourage all men to look into the #YesAllWomen campaign.  Warning: it will make you uncomfortable.  But maybe that’s what our society needs – a little discomfort to disrupt the status quo.

I’m sick of these acts of violence, and the fact that this one was caused by misogyny is truly heartbreaking.  All PEOPLE need to come together…because at the end of the day, male or female, we’re all people. 

Ask yourself – what if it were your son behind the gun?  What if it were your daughter in front of it?  What could you have done differently?

Do differently today, because tomorrow may be too late.


To a Freshman, With Love.

Dear Freshman,

Congrats on being accepted to college!  I’m sure by now you are having mixed feelings about leaving high school.  If you’re anything like me, you’re ready to go but not quite sure what college will be like or how you’ll handle being on your own with all new friends.  This stress is normal, accept it.  However, as soon as you step on that campus, whichever one it may be, let it go.  You literally have NO time to waste.

Make yourself at home.

When you get to your probably disgusting dorm room, make it your own.  Hang up as many pictures of friends and family as you need to make yourself feel surrounded by their love (for me, this resulted in about 150 pictures taped directly onto that cold white wall).  The first thing I did when I got set up was Skype my friends to show them my new home!  I guess in 2014 this would be replaced by FaceTime or the ridiculous new Snapchat, but do it anyway!  It was extremely important for me to feel like I wasn’t really leaving home behind, just bringing a little bit of it to somewhere new.

Be friendly.

As soon as you are done making your dorm room feel less like a jail cell and more like your new little haven, open the door!  People from other rooms will do the same and soon enough, you’ll have new friends all the way up and down the hall.  It is important to be friends with these people because guess what, you’re stuck with them for nine months.  I got lucky with this, I hope you do too!  When you get to your first class, don’t be afraid to be that loser introducing yourself to the person next to you.  Chances are, they’re just as lost as you are and it’s nice to have a friendly face other than that too-serious professor.  Basically, everywhere you go, look up from your phone.  Make friends.  It’s not hard, and you’re gunna need them.  Also – try not to make enemies because they’re the ones that you’re guaranteed to see around every corner all the way up until graduation.  Be friendly to everyone, they’re all just as nervous as you are.

Learn to love the dining hall.

Hopefully you chose UMass Amherst and then this task will be simple.  You may think you have money to order Domino’s every night or walk to Dunkin Donuts on Saturday mornings, but if you learn early on to just love the all-you-can-eat buffet RIGHT in front of you, your Senior self will thank you.  BRING TUPPERWARE! No one wants to be that freshman that spends all their time in the dining hall, so take some food to go.  You’ll feel like a badass doing it too; don’t get caught.

Do your homework!

I know, now I sound like your mother.  What you don’t realize though, freshman, is that your GPA is WAY easier to bring down than it is to bring up.  Get off to a good start or you’ll find yourself playing a constant game of catch-up for the next 4 years.

Take Pictures

There is no picture too insignificant!  Take pictures of campus, take pictures of your dorm room, take pictures of you and your roomie and ALL of your friends!  You’ll laugh your ass off when you look back at them. It’s important to have these to bring back any memories that may otherwise be blurry for whatever reason…

Have the time of your life.

I know you’ve heard this a million times by now, but these next four years are going to be unlike any others you will ever have. Get your work done, but don’t forget to have fun.  Attend sports games.  Buy an absurd amount of clothing from the school store.  Go out even though you’re tired.  The school work will only get tougher from here, so enjoy the abundance of free time that you now have.  I know you don’t understand how serious this statement is right now, but you will never get these years back.  Please, have the time of your life.

Freshman year is the time to lay the foundation.  Friends, grades, your bank account, etc.- start out strong.  You’ll thank me in a few years when you realize that your four years is now down to four days.

Oh and one more thing, freshman: don’t blink.

With love,
A Graduating Senior