Story Time: “I’ve Never Been With A (Insert Race Here) Girl Before”

Bonjour à tous!

It’s official. I’m an owner of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. I haven’t been this excited and fulfilled in my entire life. I’ve jumped many hurdles in life, but this amazing accomplishment is, by far, the biggest. Now, it’s time for grad school to accomplish another huge goal; receiving my master’s degree.

Post-graduation, I’ve decided to take advantage of things that I’m unable to do during my the school semester like watching Netflix with a glass of wine, going out and meeting up with friends, and just having a great headstart into the summertime.

While having some drinks in Downtown Manhattan with a friend that I met in France last summer, I got to meet some new people, including one interesting guy that got me thinking about a statement that he had made while attempting to flirt with me (very poorly I might add) over a glass of rosé. Let’s call this guy ‘Alex.’ After the “you’re gorgeous” statements and standard “tell-me-about-yourself” questions, Alex slightly giggles and says, “I’ve never dated a black girl before.”

How did I respond? I didn’t. If I did, I’d instantly become the “angry black woman.” I turned my back to him as if we’d never met.

Let’s talk for a moment.

It’s completely okay to have never dated outside your race or outside of your normal dating preference, but it is absolutely not okay to blurt out that fact when you first meet someone. Regardless of your intentions, it’s offensive and it only tells us one thing.

Now, let me explain thoroughly.

Let’s start with the stereotypes put upon women of color (par example). Latinas are sometimes stereotyped in society to be fiery and sassy while black women are said to be loud and/or (wait for it) “exotic.” If the first thing that you point out to a woman of color when meeting her for a date or talking to her for the first time is her race, then this is a form of objectification. It expresses that you see her as nothing more than an object; one more “to-do” to kick off your bucket list or a great story to tell your pals about that ‘one time with a [insert race here] girl.’

As a young woman of color who has experienced such events, I’ll tell you honestly that statements like these are not funny or cute in the slightest.

They’re actually quite ignorant.

When I meet people for the first time, contrary to popular belief, their race is not the very first thing that comes to my mind. So excuse my astonishment that my race, along with racist stereotypes (yes I said it,  because, let’s face it, stereotypes are racist) are almost absolutely the first thing that comes to mind when I converse with the opposite sex of a different race apart from my own.

It doesn’t keep me up at night but it’s definitely a conversation starter. What are your thoughts?

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À la prochaine,

A.

Nevertheless, She Persisted! …And Then Got Scolded For It

.Bonjour à tous!

Have you ever achieved something in your life, but received negative comments or feedback from others despite your success? I have. Especially last week, when I found out that I was one out of 19 percent of applicants to be accepted to attend one of the top journalism graduate schools in the U.S. What’s surprising is that a lot of these negative comments did not come from men, they came from women.

In this age of widespread feminism, I cannot understand why women still bring each other down rather than uplift each other.

I’m a feminist who watches the patriarchy of many different societies tear down women every single day, but no one talks about how women do the same to other women. Feminism often bases its platform on equality between women and men. This includes a woman’s right to succeed as well as any man. But shouldn’t women, especially those who call themselves “feminists,” applaud other women when they succeed in a male-dominated world?

 The answer is, “without question.”

If you are a woman or you call yourself a feminist, live up to it. We fight against hate, not become it. On that note, here’s to smashing the patriarchy!

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Celebrate your sisters as they should celebrate you.

Stay strong and kick a** together.

Photos by photographer, Dina Raketa (Instagram: @dinarocket)

Merci for tuning in this week!

À la prochaine,

A.

Body Acceptance: Self-Love

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FTLF supports self-love!

 

Bonjour!

As a teenager, I went through a lot of self-hate issues when it came to my body. I was fit because of sports, but I always saw my hard-earned muscle  and natural curves as “fat.” When constantly told that there is only one “ideal” body type, it takes a toll on your self-confidence and the way you look at yourself in the mirror. I was determined to change large parts of my body to fit what mass society deemed “acceptable.” This week has been a chance to demolish some of these body ideologies by celebrating self-love with ‘Body Acceptance Week.’

Though, I do support people who change certain things about their bodies because they desire to do so, whether it be body modifications or plastic surgery, I do not support people who modify their bodies to please the personal views of others.

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Cat-Eye Glasses : Sunglass Hut; Pants: Fashion Nova

As a full-time student, it sucks to only have 24 hours in a day. With 20 hours of classes per week, college professors make sure that your “free” time outside of the classroom is completely occupied with work, even if you only receive four hours of sleep each night. Sadly, I am living proof of this. This week, I’ve probably received only three hours of sleep or less because it’s Body Acceptance Week.

I’m all for anything feminist-related and LGBTQ pride-related, especially when it comes to self-love.

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It’s your life. Would you rather live it  hating your body because you do not fit society’s “ideal” body type or would you rather be happy with what you see when you look in the mirror everyday?

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Until next week!

À la prochaine,

A.

Respecting The Woman: From America to France

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Photo Credit | Stop Telling Women To Smile

“Respect” for women varies between cultures, countries, and social classes. In the United States, many define respect as ‘the treatment or admiration of something or someone.’ All human beings are vulnerable, but possess many strengths. Respect for another person means being aware of and acknowledging their vulnerability as well as their strengths, yet supporting them, without condescension.

Women in American society face disrespect, sexism, and misogyny from men almost daily; where their vulnerability is being acknowledged, but their strengths are being overlooked.

In New York City, which has a population of over 8 million people as of 2015, in this day and age, public disrespect amongst individuals has become a norm, especially to women.

From time to time, female public harassment stories are printed in New York media sources, but media coverage does not grasp the severity of female public harassment in the city. New York residents have named this form of gender-based harassment as “catcalling.”

According to the 2015 Oxford Dictionary of English, ‘catcalling’ is defined as “a loud whistle or a comment of a sexual nature made by a man to a passing woman.” Catcalling has often gone farther than just whistling or harmless comments. Women have been called distasteful words and, at times, have been inappropriately touched or physically manhandled by strange men on the streets.

The New York Post journalist Doree Lewak called catcalling “flattering” in her August 2014 article “Hey Ladies! – Catcalls Are Flattering! Deal with it.” Lewak’s article received a lot of backlash due to her reasoning to why catcalling shouldn’t be taken seriously. In the article she says, “[Men] need something to look at while they’re on their lunch break. I can be that objectified sex thing for them! What’s so wrong about a ‘You are sexy!’ comment from any observant man?” Women who have read the article have called Lewak “disgusting” or “ridiculous” and have accused her of “encouraging low self-esteem in women.”

Many female New York Post readers felt offended by Lewak’s article stating that she “failed” to realize that catcalling is degrading, disrespectful, and can lead to physical violence. According to authorities, catcalling is a form of sexual harassment. In response to Doree Lewak’s article, blogger Michael Hollan wrote, “What Catcalling Really Means.” “The idea that women should appreciate catcalling is weird, because it’s implying that catcalling is done with respect,” says Hollan. “The guys doing it don’t care [that] it’s disrespectful. [They] are just hoping that the girl’s self-esteem is low enough that she’ll just be happy that somebody has noticed her.”

In France, there is a vast difference in how women are treated by men compared to New York. From random men pulling out a woman’s chair before she sits down to men giving their seats up to women on public transportation, men in France show more courtesy, decorum and chivalry to women than men do in New York. Gender-based street harassment happens in France as well, but the percentage to how often it happens is low compared to the United States.

Paris has a population of 2.2 million people while Nice (South France) has a population of over 343,000 people. There are many differences in each city when it comes to the behavior of individuals in public, but the courtesy and respect for people are the same.

On many occasions on the Paris Metro, men often offer their seats to ladies, regardless of if she was young, pregnant, or elderly. Other acts of chivalry include pulling out a chair or opening a door for women.

Catcalling or other forms of social disrespect for women rarely exist in France. Catcalling makes women feel disgusted, insecure, and many times, victimized, especially if strangers use derogatory language, talk about a woman’s body assets, or physically harm them. Most French men think of themselves as equal to women rather than superior to them. Unlike American men, French men do not have the egotistical hunger for male dominance and masculinity. French men do not obsess about the perfect body or being more dominant than women.

Body language is another thing that differs between French and American men. While the majority of American men seem to have a tough exterior, French men are very relaxed and serene. They are very comfortable in their own skin and comfortable with their sexuality; they do not feel like they need to show their masculinity to be confident or manly.

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh is an artist from Brooklyn who has spent years trying to raise awareness on street harassment against women through art. Because many women are afraid to speak up to their harassers, Fazlalizadeh draws portrait sketches of women who have experienced such harassment daily and puts a quote under each sketch on posters to give these women a voice. She then hangs these posters in various parts of New York City streets to get their messages out.

Culture plays a large part in the difference in behaviors and actions of individuals in France and the United States. America is a large boiling pot of different cultures, religions, beliefs and lifestyles, so respect for women varies from state to state and from community to community. The French do not separate themselves by community or state. They consider themselves to be more unified than Americans as a whole nation, so social behavior and respect between the north and south of France do not differ.

Though disrespect towards women happens worldwide, French men tend to respect women more than New York men respect their women.

In a nutshell, men in France seem to respect and value their women more than American men value theirs. A woman is not a man’s possession. She is a human being with free will, talent, opportunities, and choices. Acknowledging all of this defines “respect.”