Goodbye blog posts and first semester sophomore year!

This is my last blog post for Writing 220, and my very last homework assignment for my first semester of sophomore year … and for 2019! Wow. Finally. It felt like this finals week lasted an entire month.

Since I don’t have many updates, this post will mostly just be me expressing my gratitude for an exhausting, overwhelming, incredible semester. There have been new people and things that have entered my life that I’m eternally grateful for. So, I’d like to say thank you.

Thank you Owen, my cooperative house, for giving me new friends, new perspectives and a leadership position that has taught me so much about communication and kindness.

Thank you Ray for pushing me this semester to produce something I’m so proud to share. You challenged my ideas until I created something truly original and unique to my own experience. This accomplishment is a feeling I’ll remember, and something I’ll strive for in everything I do.

Thank you to my roommate, Lara, who has the gentlest soul and is always there to comfort me when I need it. She’s been one of my biggest supporters since freshman year, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.

Thank you to my boyfriend, Leo, for being so patient and loving.

And, of course, thank you to my parents, for supporting me in every aspect of my existence. I love you both so much.

Auf Wiedersehen!

Cheers to creative projects

I’m home with my family and it feels like Christmas! However, I have one more electronic final to turn in. And these blog posts. Bah humbug.

Although I’d much rather be in my bed watching Marriage Story on Netflix, I’m pushing through to write this 3-4 page reflection for my environmental justice project. If I’m being honest, I didn’t even mind this final project at all. I might’ve even enjoyed it. The only reason why is because it had a few traits similar to this class: it was creative, you had the freedom to do anything, and the main goal is to produce something you’re proud of. So, I did!

I chose to create a magazine article displaying five words that, when scrutinized, have a dark history of environmental injustice, and how most inconspicuously continue the same cruelty today. I focused on five words: soap, Yosemite, lettuce, Detroit, and fast fashion. After spending nine hours in the Fish Bowl (I actually hate that place now) on InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator, my project is finally complete! I linked all these words together, traveling from all of the U.S. (soap) to California (Yosemite and lettuce) to Michigan (Detroit and fast fashion), and eventually to Bangladesh and China (countries we use for fast fashion outsourcing). I learned a lot, and it feels good to say that.

So now I decided I’m done with exams and other boring things! Creative projects are the only thing that works for me. Goodbye to my natural science degree … helloooo humanities.

Just kidding. But it’s nice to have a balance, and this semester was absolutely perfect. Alright, signing off so I can finish this paper! Good luck everybody, you got this 🤗

I think I’ll just start posting about current events that have to do with my project

If you’ve read the news, I’m sure you’ve heard about the murder of Barnard freshman Tessa Majors. She was walking through a park near campus around 5:30 PM when she was brutally stabbed and killed by a group of teenagers.

And you also might’ve also seen this headline:

They really try to find every way to victim blame, don’t they? In the article, Sergeants Benevolent Association president Ed Mullins said, “Here we have a student murdered by a 13-year-old, we have a common denominator: marijuana.” He’s trying to put the victim and the murderer on even ground, and ultimately blame Tessa for allegedly walking through the park to buy weed.

Victim blaming: a form of gaslighting that tells the woman that any harm done to her is in some way caused by her own wrongdoing. And in this case, an 18-year-old woman’s murder is somehow made out to be her fault — by Mr. Ed Mullins and anyone who chose to support this story (thanks, New York Post).

If you’d like to read this shitty article, the link’s below. Please spread the word to stop victim blaming.

What pressure do I need to perform at my best?

This is something I’ve been trying to determine for a while, and I’m not really sure if I’ll ever have a concrete answer. I think it depends on what I’m trying to do — the process I use to study for a science exam is much different than how I write good essays. That’s similar for what pressure I need, too.

I think I need a personal connection to the material to do it, or at least motivation that stems within myself instead of someone else. I think back to high school soccer and how my dad wanted me to be into so bad. But I just wasn’t. There wasn’t any motivation coming from me to be a good soccer player. So I stopped trying as hard as I did when I once cared.

However, for the gateway final project, I felt a personal drive to make this podcast something I’d be proud of, especially since I’ve wanted to create a podcast for a while now. There weren’t any barriers or rubrics or a grading scale I had in the back of my mind. So, I just started creating. It also helped having a hard deadline (I made myself be done by the showcase) so I could let myself breathe instead of constantly tweaking minor things that don’t really make a difference. I feel the same way with my German and environmental science exams — I want so badly to speak German fluently, and I have a passion for understanding how the Earth works.

So maybe it’s personal drive and deadlines and freedom all wrapped into one? I’m not sure. This is the best I’ve got.

Positive feedback

After completing my final project, I sent it to almost everyone I’m close to: my friend groups, my mom and dad, my boyfriend and my older sisters. This is pretty unlike me, because I’ve never been confident enough to publish or broadcast anything I’ve written — especially something so intimate like a podcast. I mean, my voice sounds so weird. And I’m talking about emotions and pain and things I’ve experienced, even if I don’t outright mention it.

But I sent it anyway, because I was proud of myself and what I accomplished — and the feedback I got was so worth it.

My sister and boyfriend told me I had a great podcast voice, my mom sent me an email (lol I know) of how proud she was of me, and my friend who goes to Tufts showed her college friend group. She even put the link in her Instagram bio. My best friend at MSU said her and her boyfriend were “shook” at how good my website looks! So, all good things.

I know if I open this podcast up to more people, it’ll inevitably start to get criticism, like any writing piece. However, for right now, I’m enjoying the support. It’s helping me to realize I have something to say, and I shouldn’t be afraid to say it.

I just checked Twitter and now I’m furious

Hi again. My website is published, my podcasts are recorded, and I’m working on my three other finals I have due Monday.

Then I see this tweet from Donald Trump on Twitter:

I wish I had this tweet when I was recording the second episode of my podcast, “Gaslighting as a form of oppression.” Here, Trump is telling a 16-year-old female climate activist that she has anger management problems and that she needs to “chill.” He’s claiming that her passionate fight for climate justice is too emotional, too angry, and that she needs to “relax.”

This project has made me realize the horribly oppressive system Donald Trump constantly partakes in: gaslighting. And the attempted outcome? Silencing future young female voices.

I know tweets, stories and comments from him (and other powerful men) will regularly pop up on my feed. And now, after this project, I’ll be hyperaware of what those comments are doing. The worst part is I’m just sitting here, behind my laptop, trying not to rip my hair out.

Confessions of a Gaslit Female = complete

Hello everybody! My gateway project is finally complete:

This project challenged me immensely. I didn’t know what I was creating when I first started, but I ended up with a four part podcast series, a pink color schemed website and a new outlook on a phenomenon that (to me) used to just describe abusive boyfriends.

Gaslighting and self-gaslighting are techniques used by the patriarchy to oppress women into keeping quiet about their emotions and experiences. These tactics are used from the very start of a woman’s life — most often expressed with phrases like “don’t be a drama queen.”

If you’re reading this, please check out my final project and let me know what you think! Thank you to my fellow classmates and Ray for an absolutely amazing semester.

BTW: Even though I finished my project, I will still be posting on this site consistently for the next week. I have 6 more blog posts to write 🙂

“Relatability” has the power to promote white privilege and underrepresentation

Unfortunately, I was sick when Ray asked us to write about the topic of relatability for a blog post worth 2 POSTS. Even though this is coming to you two weeks after he assigned it, I desperately need the points.

Since I wasn’t there when Ray explained what we’re supposed to do, the only information I have is to write about the topic of “relatability.” I guess the first thing I think of is mutually shared identities. For example, I relate to a lot of things that describe the female experience, because I’m a woman. I also relate to things that have to do with being a college student, because I’m a college student. I also relate to my fellow members of the “Happy Cats” Facebook page, because I love cats.

Although relatability can bring people together, it has some hidden evils too. It can create further divides in systems, and these divides can disadvantage the already disadvantaged group. For example, people are more likely to vote for candidates of their own race. You might be thinking, if everyone does it, why is it a problem?

Well, due to voter suppression in predominantly minority communities and other racial barriers tied to Election Day, there are overwhelmingly more white people that will vote in elections. And since minorities can be barred from voting from obscure laws and regulations, this translates into blocking minority candidates from being elected, due to the “vote within your own race” idea. Obviously, the evils of relatability doesn’t always pull through, since Barack Obama won the candidacy in 2008 and 2014. However, he was college educated, Catholic and a male, which connects him to many other categories privileged people can relate to.

Obviously, this argument has to be fleshed out more fully, but I don’t plan on writing a 7 page paper with sources, counterarguments and a thesis for my blog post. Just sharing my thoughts on how relatability can sometimes promote greater evils in society, like white privilege and underrepresentation.

Self-gaslighting and Bitch Media

In class, Ray asked us to think about any criticisms we have regarding the representation of our topic thus far. My topic is gaslighting, and although it’s a very popular phenomenon, everything I’ve seen and read fails to discuss the lasting pain it can have on someone’s psyche. Most articles are about what it is, where it takes place (ex: Donald Trump’s administration or a toxic relationship) and a list of warning signs to see if you’re being gaslighted. Occasionally, I’ll see a personal story or a “how to” fight back against your gaslighter. However, something I haven’t seen is a discussion on the aftermath of being gaslighted, and especially how that can lead to self-gaslighting (a topic also rarely discussed).

I’m interested in how experiences with personal or societal gaslighting can eventually lead to other painful behaviors as aftermath, specifically self-gaslighting. Instead of brushing it off as just being insecure, anxious or doubtful, which of these tendencies develop due to the “gaslit nation” that has surrounded women for centuries?

Ray also asked us another question: where would you like to see your work published? Since I’m attempting to make a podcast for my final project — AKA my favorite form of media — I have big dreams for where I’d like it to end up. Ideally, I’d like it to end up on NPR, NYT or WNYC Studios.* For example, something like NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, where we’d start by dissecting a film or TV show that shows gaslighting and from there, shift into having deeper conversations (with guests). In another example, WNYC Studios has a show called “Two Dope Queens,” where we would be able discuss my idea but with the perspective of black women, who experience different and potentially more severe forms of gaslighting. I guess now I’m just choosing podcasts and putting their theme’s spin on my idea, but it’s pretty cool seeing how versatile my concept is.

*There’s also a smaller publication I admire called Bitch Media. It’s an all-things-feminist magazine, which also has a strong online presence. They also make two awesome podcasts, analyzing today’s media and pop culture from a feminist lens. I would love to see my podcast published here.

The most difficult part of a problem: the solution

After my second experiment wrapped up, I realized I’m doing pretty well with discussing the who, what, why and how of gaslighting in young women. I’ve dabbled in long articles and personal narratives, thus giving a logical and creative frame to my topic. The only difficulty? I can’t seem to figure out the “now what.”

Of course, male superiority in our culture needs to change — both the mindset among men and its systematic power in society. However, gaslighting itself doesn’t have such an easy fix. To say that no one is allowed to refute anyone’s beliefs, feelings or experiences would lead to something potentially dangerous, and here’s why.

Let’s say someone has deeply racist, homophobic, xenophobic or sexist beliefs, which naturally shapes the way they view certain experiences with groups of people. Thus, their feelings about these experiences are also influenced by their prejudice.

I think we can agree those beliefs are morally wrong, and should have no place in someone’s mind because they can lead to discrimination, injustice, violence and a multitude of other issues that should have no place in our society. Yet, if we support complete and consistent validation of one’s emotions and thoughts — even if their experiences are influenced by prejudice — dangerous outcomes could very much take form.

Gaslighting itself refers to the psychological manipulation of making someone question their own sanity for their experiences and feelings. The situation I mentioned before doesn’t seem like psychological manipulation, but the term “gaslighting” can be easily misconstrue and exploited by people who hold beliefs that are very controversial — especially if we encourage a society that allows everyone’s feelings and experiences to be “validated.”

This is a very hard question to answer! And I have no idea how to do it. I think overall, this is the most difficult, high-risk question of my topic. It’s uncomfortable to read, and it made me uneasy writing it. But it’s a crucial part of the conversation.