Wednesday, September 17, 2014

J'habite à Nice

LIFE UPDATE: I've been living in Nice, France for two weeks. It's great, and very surreal. Am I in a dream? I can't believe that there's a life outside of school, and that that life includes living in Nice. How did I get here? I have no idea.

What have I done since my arrival? Well...

I've seen some bizarre public sculpture.

I've gone on a long-ass walk along the Promenade des anglais.

I've been to a couple of beaches.

I've gotten lost in Old Nice.

I've had a milkshake that did not settle well in my stomach. (When a milkshake is 2 euro, don't drink it.)

I've been to a French toy shop.


I've gone out with new friends. :)

I've hiked a French Alp and lived to tell the tale.

...And spotted some wildlife on the way.

And I've hosted a cultural meal (part Brazilian, part French) at my new flat.

My overall analysis of Nice? It is nice, yes, but it is more than that. It's my new life.
À bientôt! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Beyoncé's "Flawless" Video

I've been wanting to write down how I feel about Beyoncé's "Flawless" video for a while now. If you haven't seen it yet, watch it here:  
It's important you watch the video before you read the rest of this post.

"Flawless" is the song Beyoncé was singing during her VMA set when the word FEMINIST lit up behind her. This song also features the talented writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who delivers a very cool speech smack dab in the middle of the song:

'We teach girls to shrink themselves/
To make themselves smaller/We say to girls,"You can have ambition/But not too much/You should aim to be successful/But not too successful/Otherwise you will threaten the man."/Because I am female/I am expected to aspire to marriage/I am expected to make my life choices/Always keeping in mind that/Marriage is the most important/Now marriage can be a source of/Joy and love and mutual support/But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage/And we don't teach boys the same?/We raise girls to see each other as competitors/Not for jobs or for accomplishments/Which I think can be a good thing/But for the attention of men/We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings/In the way that boys are/Feminist: the person who believes in the social/Political, and economic equality of the sexes.' (From A-Z lyrics)

This is freaking awesome, right?

If we listen to other parts of the song, we hear Beyoncé say, "I took some time to live my life,/ but don't think I'm just his little wife," and "I woke up like this." 

The song's message is basically this: We shouldn't have to change or shrink ourselves to feel proud of who we are.

This is a pretty solid message.

The vibe and tone of the song is very vitalizing. Fist pumps all around. Hell YEAH I woke up like this! When I first listened to the song, I was very moved, and I was basically ready to don my cape and go out and change the world.

But then I watched the music video several times.

I have qualms. 

The song is talking about the empowerment of women. The message states (clearly, in my opinion) that women should be free in their self-expression. In no way should they feel obliged to please another person (presumably a man), especially through their appearance. Be happy with who you are when you wake up in the morning.

But there's a double standard that's hard to swallow. There's a camera shot in the video that is basically just a shot of Beyoncé's butt, and while Beyoncé is free to show off her butt (it's a nice butt), I can't help but think the shot sexualizes the singer and simplifies her down to the curve of her ass. Also, Beyoncé clearly did not "wake up like this." She has a makeup and wardrobe team. She looks "flawless" in a Photoshopped kind of way.

Bringing social justice issues to the attention of the masses (let's admit here and now that Beyoncé's audience includes a quantifiable amount of the masses) is awesome! Having "FEMINIST" light up behind Beyoncé at the VMAs is super cool. It's exciting to see more and more people get on board with feminism and begin to understand what it means. But we have to be careful. We don't want to send out mixed messages.

Censorship is the worst. I'm not saying that Beyoncé shouldn't show off her butt. I'm not saying Beyoncé shouldn't wear makeup. She is entitled to her own self-expression, which is what her song promotes. But at what point is Beyoncé no longer expressing herself? Is there a point at which she's perpetuating misogynistic norms--a point at which she's more of a (perceived) commodity than a feminist with something to say?

I don't have the answers to these questions. I just think they're important to bring up and discuss. It's one thing to jam out to Beyoncé's "Flawless," but I don't want to stop there. I want to understand the implications of the song, and its relationship with its presentation in the music video. What do you guys think?

Honestly, let me know what you think. I'm all ears.

Thanks for reading. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014


Everyone thinks girls are moons,
but they're actually suns--
they reflect light onto the guys.
But we live in a place
where cool is better than
respect, and skin, soft,
is harder to respect
than being a human to another human.
Robin Thicke
is probably just a stupid guy
but my friend says his publicity
equals power, and therefore, he
must take hold of his influence
and stop being such a dunce.
I eat my noodles at 4 a.m.
The wine stains my teeth, the
smoke hovers in
my throat, I'm
so happy to be writing this to you. So
happy to say hello and tell you
about the moon, shining
outside my window
like a wee lad.