I don’t like this expression “First World problems.” It is false and it is condescending. Yes, Nigerians struggle with floods or infant mortality. But these same Nigerians also deal with mundane and seemingly luxurious hassles. Connectivity issues on your BlackBerry, cost of car repair, how to sync your iPad, what brand of noodles to buy: Third World problems. All the silly stuff of life doesn’t disappear just because you’re black and live in a poorer country. People in the richer nations need a more robust sense of the lives being lived in the darker nations. Here’s a First World problem: the inability to see that others are as fully complex and as keen on technology and pleasure as you are.
One event that illustrated the gap between the Africa of conjecture and the real Africa was the BlackBerry outage of a few weeks ago. Who would have thought Research In Motion’s technical issues would cause so much annoyance and inconvenience in a place like Lagos? But of course it did, because people don’t wake up with “poor African” pasted on their foreheads. They live as citizens of the modern world. None of this is to deny the existence of social stratification and elite structures here. There are lifestyles of the rich and famous, sure. But the interesting thing about modern technology is how socially mobile it is—quite literally. Everyone in Lagos has a phone.
You shouldn’t ask if something is Feminist because the question is disingenuous. You’re asking if it fits your own personal philosophy and morals, which you have labeled Feminism.
By this definition, nothing can be Feminist because:
1. Nothing is perfect according to any standard except one based purely on that thing. (Probably not even then.)
2. There are so many Feminisms. It may be Feminist according to your Feminism, but that doesn’t mean it is according to mine, or someone else’s.
When you make discussion about whether or not something is Feminist, you waste time on a meaningless question that can never be agreed upon except amongst small groups of people with near-identical views.
“If you write just about one type of person, not only is that boring, not only does that deprive people of other points of view, it is also just false. It’s not what the world looks like. You should try to write about the world that’s there, because that’s the interesting one.”—Joseph Fink, who’s p good at writing, I think. (from this week’s Philadelphia Weekly)
“We don’t just need more women in videogames — we need more women who don’t fit in boxes. Left Behind isn’t remarkable just because it meets a quota. Ellie and Riley aren’t just concepts or good intentions. They’re people: fully-realized, quirky, funny, dangerous girls. Ellie isn’t there for anyone – to inspire, titillate or motivate them. Ellie there because she’s herself, and for once, that’s reason enough.”—Laura Hudson, "The Videogame That Finally Made Me Feel Like a Human Being" (via femfreq)
Tumblr is a place where a lot of feelings about fictional characters are expressed very sincerely in terms of projection and identification, to the point of feeling some or more ownership over the character than their original creator, and I am going to defend this as a practice that is…
“The longer this kid goes without failing, the more dreadful it will come to seem. When you’ve never coped with failure, it often comes to seem imperative that you arrange your life so that it never happens. Since that’s not actually possible, you spend a lot of time trying to arrange away the inevitable.”—
This article is good, but the inciting incident filled me with a sickly nostalgia: I was in the inaugural class of International Baccalaureate students in my school system. There were only four of us left still in the program by the second semester of my senior year when I finally turfed out because I chose to take a drama class on writing musicals instead of the required IB elective.
I excelled at the secret lessons of those honors classes, the stuff hidden under the curriculum. Deny, obfuscate or outright lie to cover your every mistake. Choose credit for putting the right answer over doing the right thing. There is a right way of doing things and if you are perfect enough in following that path you will get to a place that is Right and Safe Forever. Hide your feelings, especially from authority figures. Let nobody in and only perfection out. Cry while you proofread your suicide note, then cry while you throw it away for being too over-the-top. Then take it out of the garbage in case your parents find it and worry, tear it into many pieces, hiding one piece each in different garbage cans, just to be safe. Worry anyway that somebody saw this and will tell on you. Never let yourself be told on. Double check. Triple check. You may be exhausted and miserable, but stay ever-vigilant. Anxiety is the same as vigilance. Never risk, only try. If there is a part of your life you can’t control, it’s because you aren’t trying hard enough or aren’t a good enough person.
This diseased foundation will grow many strange and toxic Ways of Being. Left unexamined, it will seep into the bedrock and the water supply. How do I unlearn these things? How do I improve as an actual person instead of as a machine for receiving approval from those in power?
Show me a curriculum, and I’ll ace it. Jesus, I wouldn’t be able to stop myself.
I know I’ve told this story before, but my abusive ex refused to let me take birth control. I was on the pill until he found them in my purse.
I went to the Student Health Center—they were completely unhelpful, choosing to lecture me about the importance of safe sex (recommending condoms) instead of actually listening to my problem.
Then I went to Planned Parenthood. The Nurse Practitioner took one look at my fading bruises and stopped the exam. She called in the doctor. The doctor came in and simply asked me: “Are you ready to leave him?” When I denied that I was being abused, she didn’t argue with me. She just asked me what I needed. I said I need a birth control method that my boyfriend couldn’t detect. She recommended a few options and we decided on Depo.
When I told her that my boyfriend read my emails and listened to my phone messages and was known to follow me, she suggested to do the Depo injections at off hours when the clinic was normally closed. She made a note in my chart and instructed the front desk never to leave messages for me—instead, she programmed her personal cell phone number into my phone under the name “Nora”. She told me she would call me to schedule my appointments; she wouldn’t leave a message, but I should call her back when I was able to.
And that was it. No judgment. No lecture. She walked me to the door and told me to call her day or night if I needed anything. That she lived 5 blocks from campus and would come get me. That I wasn’t alone. That she just wanted me to be safe.
I never called her to come to my rescue. But I have no doubt that she would have come if I had called. She kept me on Depo for a year, giving me those monthly injections in secret, helping me prevent a desperately unwanted pregnancy.
I cannot thank Planned Parenthood enough for the work they do.
So I did the archery meet up. The host was Virginia Hankins, who is basically Brienne of Tarth meets Merida. Pics of her as Disney princesses and in her lady knight gear have gone around Tumblr a billion times. She’s wonderful, I’m so glad she invited me out. Virginia had a brilliant coach join to…