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.

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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.”

Unforgettable Summer | Spelling ‘London’ with an ‘Ex’ (Part 3)

When starting this serial, I promised not to hold back. This summer has taught me many lessons and has taught me what it means to be happy. While in London, I resided in Tanners Hill. The people were comforting, public transportation was nearby, and the view for my guest house was breathtaking. But, behind experiencing London’s beauty, a bit of ugliness lingered.

Traveling alone is a contentment of which I’m rather fond of, but crossing the Atlantic Ocean for the first time was a huge first step for me. I scouted assistance in showing me the basics of public transportation, time difference and the most difficult of all, change in currency. Six days and five nights in London, four hours to get to the guest house, three transportation transfers, two bags of luggage and one ex-boyfriend who offered to accompany me around the city.

Touring this large city was a great learning experience. Jet lag hovered over me like a dark cloud but, another thing that hovered over me was the presence that followed. When traveling, alone or with company, one should be excited to have the time of their lives. For six days, I was the opposite. From being talked down to me every time I asked a question to being called ‘fat’ every time I put food into my mouth, I felt worthless. Sometimes, it takes a small reminder to realize why the past should stay in the past. It’s one thing to educate someone, but it’s another thing to belittle and patronize them repeatedly to feel superior to them.

The biggest mistake that people can make after a huge break is the delusion that they can stay friends with their ex. Especially when the break-up is caused by betrayal, some form of abuse, or any toxic situation. After two years of being disrespected, lied to, cheated on, and verbally abused, I, too, made that mistake. I think it goes without saying that a woman should never allow a man to make her feel low and useless. 

While finding different cultures of Europe, I also found myself in ways that I never thought were possible. The biggest thing that I found was my worth. If there are any women reading this, especially young women, if you do not know your worth by now, find it. Just remember that men have not, do not and will never define your worth. Acknowledging this sooner than later will save you from losing your true self.

Thanks for tuning in.

À la prochaine,

A.

Trafalgar Square, London, UK | Photo Credit | FTLF