On Being Basic

by Isa Meyers //

If you do any of the following:

  1. Love watching The Bachelor
  2. Have attended Coachella
  3. Exclusively drink rosé 
  4. Regularly post selfies on social media
  5. And/or, hop on the latest fashion trends

you are, by most definitions, a basic bitch. The term basic bitch, commonly shortened to just basic, popped up in pop culture in the early 2010s. Being basic is being predictable, and a follower of social and cultural trends. While the manifestations of basic-ness have changed from the 2014 pumpkin-spice-latte-drinking, duck-face-posing, Ugg-wearing, basic bitch poster child, the threat of being basic persists in our notions of femininity today. Basic has only changed trends, leading to the next cultural fad that Tik Tok and other platforms make viral. 

I would like to stress that I recognize there is privilege with being basic—there is privilege in being critiqued for being a part of the norm. This is a privilege that is not given to people who are genderqueer and are oppressed for precisely not conventionally embodying femininity.

Trends come and go, but what continually permeates this notion of basic-ness is the sexism it’s rooted in. Women have constantly been critiqued for what activities they partake in. If someone is too feminine, she’s basic. If someone is not feminine enough, she’s “one of the guys.” Women, mostly white, embody the stereotype of “cool girl” (coined by Gillian Flynn in her novel Gone Girl) when they embrace masculinity. Because your identity as a cis woman can only be rewarded when it’s associated with masculine qualities and rejects what constitutes as feminine. Contrastingly, it is imperative to note that queer women and women of color are not afforded this chance to grasp the power of being a bro the same way cis white women are able to smoothly integrate into the communities composed of their white male counterparts.

The issue with basic is that it polices women for choices that are, frankly, unimportant. However, I would like to stress that I recognize there is privilege with being basic—there is privilege in being critiqued for being a part of the norm. This is a privilege that is not given to people who are genderqueer and are oppressed for precisely not conventionally embodying femininity. And in contrast to the threat of violence these individuals face, being basic is a trivial problem. I also want to stress that being basic is closely tied with socioeconomic privilege. One cannot be basic without also being able to buy into these capitalist trends.

Because men who watch football are not basic, they just like football. Men who wear khakis are practical. Men who spend several hours at the gym each week care about their health. Men aren’t basic, they’re just men. 

But the constant criticism of how women decide to dress, what they choose to watch, and what foods they like to eat, is outdated and contributes to our oppressive gender binary. This calls into question the relationship women have with the common critic: white men. Being deemed basic upholds hegemonic masculinity. Because men who watch football are not basic, they just like football. Men who wear khakis are practical. Men who spend several hours at the gym each week care about their health. Men aren’t basic, they’re just men. 

White, cishet men might try and argue that they are cast into negative stereotypes as well. And they should argue this because they’re not wrong. There are so many negative ways these assumptions affect men’s self-esteem. Sayings like “boys don’t cry” or “man up” inherently place masculinity as the antithesis to emotions. There’s a reason why men in the US are criticized for being emotive: they are taught to suppress any ounce of feeling for the sake of upholding their masculinity. 

But the typecast most similar to being basic for male-identified individuals (being a frat boy “Chad”) is created by a different set of stereotypes. Being a Chad is linked to his privilege. In other words, someone is a Chad when they are A.) white, B.) cisgender, C.) straight, D.) affluent, or E.) all of the above. Being a Chad is not based on what this Chad likes to watch or how this Chad likes to dress. Rather, being a Chad is not recognizing your privilege or using that privilege to oppress others without consequences because of the institutions they are a part of. This is drastically different than a woman being a basic bitch because she enjoys watching Addison Rae’s Tik Toks.

Privilege does come into play when discussing the word basic. And I’m not trying to minimize the white, socioeconomic, and cis privilege of being able to fit into the category of being basic. Instead, I’d like to insist we think about the words we use to degrade people, especially women. What may appear as a joke or a simple colloquialism can, and does, reflect the institutions that police gender norms related to masculinity and femininity. And these norms affect everyone.

Depicting Sexual Violence in Television

by Aditi Hukerikar //

Trigger Warning: This article contains mentions and descriptions of sexual assault. Please read with caution.

Disclaimer(05/2021): This article was written before season four of The Handmaid’s Tale and the events that occur in that season’s plot.

The CDC reports that in the United States, over 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced sexual violence in their lifetimes (data for nonbinary individuals was not reported). So, with the prevalence of sexual violence in our communities, which can be extremely traumatizing for survivors, how should forms of popular media, such as television, handle the inclusion of sexual assault into their respective narratives?

Recently, the Netflix series Bridgerton has become widely popular, centered around the Debutante season in Regency-era England. The show follows the main character Daphne Bridgerton in her fake-turned-real relationship with Simon, Duke of Hastings, who she eventually marries. In the season’s sixth episode, Daphne realizes that Simon has lied about not being able to have children. In her desire for children, Daphne attempts to become pregnant by taking advantage of Simon during sex, after he withdraws consent. Though the continuation of a sex act after someone has withdrawn consent is considered to be sexual assault, this episode does not feature a trigger or content warning for sexual assault. 

Showrunner Chris Van Dusen acknowledges the controversy of this scene’s inclusion, which is included in the source material, Julia Quinn’s novel The Duke and I. Van Dusen tells Entertainment Weekly that “…we did discuss it a lot as far as how to approach it and how to handle it,” eventually including the scene due to its role in Daphne’s character development. 

Without addressing sexual assault in further episodes or implicating that Daphne’s actions were wrong, the show seems to brush aside sexual assault rather than addressing the gravity of the issue.

Despite the showrunners approaching Bridgerton’s inclusion of sexual assault with serious intent, Bridgerton still sends the message that sexual assault isn’t a significant issue. Daphne does not end up facing any major consequences for her actions, she and Simon remain in a relationship, and Simon even starts to believe that he deserves blame for the situation. Without addressing sexual assault in further episodes or implicating that Daphne’s actions were wrong, the show seems to brush aside sexual assault rather than addressing the gravity of the issue. Furthermore, men who are survivors of sexual assault already tend to be silenced, brushed aside, or stigmatized. Including the sexual assault of a man in the show without treating the assault seriously or showing his trauma in the aftermath contributes to the invalidation of real survivors’ trauma. 

In Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s famous novel of the same name, viewers are also presented sexual assault on screen. Atwood’s novel includes the routine rape of handmaids by the Commanders they are assigned to, referred to as “The Ceremony.” The show chooses to include this depiction of sexual assault but also deviates from the source material during a scene in the tenth episode of the second season, titled The Last Ceremony. During this scene, Commander Waterford sexually assaults June (Offred) while Serena is restraining her in order to induce labor in June. This episode’s description does include a trigger warning for sexual assault in the episode description.

In essence, The Handmaid’s Tale treated sexual assault as something explicitly terrible, while Bridgerton did not. 

The presentation of sexual assault in The Handmaid’s Tale differs greatly from that in Bridgerton because of the seriousness with which the topic is treated. Waterford and Serena are presented as antagonists from the beginning of the show, and the Ceremony is portrayed as a means of subjugating women, including the protagonist June. In other words, sexual assault is clearly labeled as unethical. Furthermore, choosing to include an explicit warning for sexual assault in The Last Ceremony’s episode description sends the message that sexual assault is a serious issue and warns viewers who are survivors of the potentially triggering content. Bridgerton, on the other hand, depicts sexual assault in a lighter manner; Daphne, the perpetrator, remains the protagonist of the show, continuing to be cast in a positive light. Additionally, the narrative following the sexual assault takes no major steps towards labeling Daphne’s actions as cruel or immoral. In essence, The Handmaid’s Tale treated sexual assault as something explicitly terrible, while Bridgerton did not. 

At the end of the day, it is up to a television show’s creators to decide whether or not they want to include sexual assault as part of the show’s narrative. However, creators must be mindful of how the inclusion of sexual assault scenes will impact audiences. With sexual assault remaining a prevalent and dangerous issue, it is important that its depiction and discussion are treated with the necessary gravity. Fiction maintains the ability to significantly impact the real world, and handling sexual assault seriously in the media can ensure that we can continue working towards preventing and eliminating sexual assault in real life.  

The Aftereffects of a Pandemic: Eating Disorders and COVID

by Hanna Carney //

Trigger Warning: this article discusses eating disorders and body image.

Everyone can appreciate a good ice breaker question. The rare thought-provoker can save you from having to listen to the all-too-monotonous answers of your classmates during syllabus week. One of my professors tried to get creative by asking us “how have your eating habits changed during COVID?” This question took me aback. What a specific, personal, and possibly triggering question to ask. And this same question was asked again in another one of my classes later that same day. I assume that my professors had nothing but good intentions. But from their perspectives as privileged, white men, they may not have understood how inappropriate such a question could be–especially now. 

Why is there such an emphasis on eating and body image during the pandemic? I remember downloading Tik Tok during quarantine in March and being bombarded with Chloe Ting challenges, complaints about post-COVID weight gain, before and after pictures, etc. And these trends have not alleviated. Recently, people have been hula hooping to lose inches on their waists. I feel like every day I hear someone mention intermittent fasting. #WhatIEatInADay is making its way around social media with people listing their calories for the day, and some of these numbers are dangerously low. Diet culture has seemingly always existed in the United States, but why has there been an upsurge since the beginning of the pandemic? 

Perhaps the danger that COVID poses to our bodies is festering in the American Psyche. As Lalita Abhyankkar writes in “Anorexia in the Time of COVID,” “eating disorders are only partially about body dysmorphia and body image. They often stem from an attempt to achieve control while in a state of anxiety or uncertainty.” Therefore, the anxieties that come with living through a pandemic are risk factors for those who suffer from eating disorders or struggle with body image. Since the beginning of 2020, people have experienced isolation due to quarantine and social distancing. Most of us had to stay at home near full-time. We’ve had to restrict our grocery runs, so a lot of us have been at home with overly-stocked fridges and pantries. Those who are underweight or obese have been added to the list of those at risk. And, of course, we’ve been exposed to the endless discourse on social media surrounding weight gain and weight loss (both pandemic-related and otherwise). These examples do not constitute a comprehensive list of risks that the pandemic has posed to those with eating disorders. There is an undeniable overlap between COVID and these disorders as one exaggerates the other. 

But perhaps the implications of our use of “pandemic” should include the current mental health crisis associated with COVID. Pathologies like anxiety, depression, and eating disorders seem to be comorbid with living through a pandemic, so we should acknowledge and attend to these serious issues.

This overlap can be seen in the way medical care resources have been exhausted as a result of both afflictions. The National Eating Disorders Association reports that they received a 70% increase in the number of calls and chat inquiries from 2019 to 2020. Just as we saw hospital beds full of COVID patients, inpatient eating disorder units became full. Those unable to receive inpatient care were put on waiting lists. Clearly, the stress that COVID has put on our healthcare system has extended to eating disorders and mental health in general.

When we speak of the pandemic, we obviously refer to the spread of COVID throughout the world. But perhaps the implications of our use of “pandemic” should include the current mental health crisis associated with COVID. Pathologies like anxiety, depression, and eating disorders seem to be comorbid with living through a pandemic, so we should acknowledge and attend to these serious issues. Just as you put on a mask to protect your family and strangers on the sidewalk, or socially distance from your friends, you should make it common practice to check in on yourself and others. We must be aware that this pandemic is far more widespread in ways we don’t always consider.  


For urgent services, you may reach the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the 24/7 National Crisis Text Line by texting HELLO to 741741, or the 24/7 National Lifeline Crisis Chat service here.

For support, resources, and treatment options for yourself or a loved one, you may contact the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline. You may call (800) 931-2237, text (800) 931-2237 from the hours of 3-6pm Monday through Thursday, or you can access the chat feature here. For crisis situations, text “NEDA” to 741741 to be connected with a trained volunteer at Crisis Text Line. 

If you are a member of Cornell University, Cornell Health Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is available to all students at Cornell University. If you feel you are in need of psychological services, you may call to set up an appointment with CAPS at 607-255-5155 or visit their website here. For urgent services, you may reach the Cornell Health 24/7 phone consultation line at 607-255-5155 and press 2.

Call Her Daddy: Feminism or Faux?

by Isa Meyers //

“Degrade me.”

This phrase accurately reflects the sentiment of the Barstool Sports podcast Call Her Daddy. After its debut in the fall of 2018, Call Her Daddy immediately became popularized, launching co-hosts Alexandra Cooper (26) and Sofia Franklyn (28) into stardom. Now solely hosted by Cooper, listeners can tune in to hear about anything related to sex. Ranging from what porn to watch, to the best blow job techniques, to dating advice, Call Her Daddy is now a pop culture icon, raking in over 1.5 million followers on Instagram

The show’s title seeks to reverse gender roles in the realm of sex. Calling her “Daddy” flips the power dynamics that traditionally grant men more power in a heterosexual relationship. In theory, being a Daddy is a form of empowerment, giving the show’s hosts and fans a sense of reclamation over their bodies and sex life. Many women who regularly listen feel legitimized, saying that Call Her Daddy has given them confidence and the ability to assert themselves as sexual beings without feeling guilty or powerless. 

Everybody—regardless of shape, size, color, sexuality, and gender—deserves to feel empowered.

This is a huge part of intersectional feminism: feeling comfortable taking up space in any environment. Everybody—regardless of shape, size, color, sexuality, and gender—deserves to feel empowered. Everybody deserves to safely have sex of any kind without fear of stigma, violence, or systemic oppression. 

Yet, Call Her Daddy falls short. Despite its intended message, the podcast fails to acknowledge the privilege of being a cis, affluent, white, straight woman. Without considering nor valuing the voices and experiences of marginalized groups, Cooper’s sexual stories and advice remain without nuance. Frankly, Call Her Daddy has become yet another problematic branch of Barstool Sports. 

Criticisms of Barstool are not new. Since its foundation in 2003, Barstool has received backlash due to its sexist and racist content. Founder and president Mike Portnoy has been frequently called out for using racial slurs, refusing to apologize for this and other blatant acts of racism. 

This critique is aimed to deconstruct calling the show feminist and for fans to recognize its shortcomings and demand greater representation and nuanced content from popular media outlets.

This is not to shame any person who enjoys listening to Call Her Daddy. All the power to you if the show destigimatizes sex for you in your personal life. Rather, this critique is aimed to deconstruct calling the show feminist and for fans to recognize its shortcomings and demand greater representation and nuanced content from popular media outlets. Because if Call Her Daddy isn’t intersectional, it’s not feminist. 

What I’m asking for is the accountability of both Barstool and Cooper herself. While she has called for a more diverse conversation, that won’t happen under Portnoy. And it most certainly will not happen if only white women are in charge of the discourse. 

In other words, “diversity” is not enough. Even if the podcast were to regularly include trans and lesbian women of color, featuring these individuals as merely episodic guest stars is not the solution to the inherent exclusion conventional capitalist media outlets are founded on. Not to mention, Cooper and Barstool are the ones profiting off of these people and their experiences. Rather, we need to decide whose voices need to be prioritized and under what companies. And if that means giving Call Her Daddy the boot, then so be it. 

It’s not just the lack of intersectionality that makes Call Her Daddy fall short, it’s also the blatant sexism it can perpetuate.

But that’s not all. It’s not just the lack of intersectionality that makes Call Her Daddy fall short, it’s also the blatant sexism it can perpetuate. In their early episode “If you’re a 5 or 6, Die for that D*ck,” Cooper and Franklyn discuss how ugly women, rated 5 or 6 on a scale of 10, should know their place in the realm of sex. They conclude: “If you are a 5 or 6, you are getting slammed into the wall, you are saying horrible, disgusting, filthy things to get this guy off. You’re in overdrive, overtime, putting in all the stops, saying fucking porn star shit. ‘Cum on the face and make it fucking rain, baby.’ If you’re a 9 or a 10, a guy knows he has to roll out the red carpet. He has got to be ready because he knows you’re not just gonna spread your legs and be like: ‘Here we go, baby. Let’s do the damn thing.’” 

Not only is this degrading, but it also assumes that conventionally attractive women deserve more respect than their “5 or 6” counterparts. Not every episode features such blatant sexism, but the intolerant sentiment of Barstool cannot be shaken from this “girl power” podcast. Rather, it’s an exploitation of sex appeal guised as female empowerment. 

Call Her Daddy can still be watched and enjoyed, but as a form of limited entertainment or comedy. And for the white, cis, straight women who call it a new wave of feminism, I urge you to reexamine your privilege and educate yourself on sexual wellbeing outside the realm of your heteronormative relationships. It’s time to support all women, not just the select few that Call Her Daddy relates to. 

One Day at a Time: The Dire Need for Representation in Television

by Nara Cowing //

While Hollywood is still typically white, straight, and overall quite traditional, One Day at a Time breaks boundaries and norms, setting a model for the rest of the industry to follow. After being canceled by two networks, the show’s cast has just lost the fight to be picked up by a new network. 

This show displays an atypical family: newly single mother, Penelope Alvarez, lives with her two children, Elena and Alex, and her mother, Lydia. Many major plot points revolve around the Alvarez family’s Cuban American heritage and Lydia’s experiences immigrating to the United States as a child during the Cuban Revolution.

Another major storyline is the daughter Elena’s coming out experience. In a traditional family, coming out as a lesbian was not easy for her at first. Both Lydia and Penelope struggle to overcome and unlearn their inner prejudices while still showing their unconditional love and support for her. As one of the few prominent lesbian teenagers on prime time television, Elena is a feminist icon in her inclusivity, intersectionality, and passion for social justice. She is frequently found attending protests for a variety of issues such as climate change and discrimination of marginalized groups. 

Later in the series, the LGBTQ+ representation increases when she begins dating Syd, her non-binary “Syd-nificant other.” They are one of the even fewer non-binary characters to be represented on television. 

One Day at a Time is also unique in the variety of issues that it represents – including, but not limited to PTSD, alcoholism, verbal and physical abuse, and the difficulties that veterans experience when reintegrating into civilian life without proper federal support. 

This show means so much to millions of people. As a funny, sappy, loving family sitcom, this show tackles so many serious issues and represents so many identities while remaining light-hearted and optimistic. Viewers of One Day at a Time have flooded the cast and crew with love and support on social media. 

“This is a show I’ll always treasure. It made me feel like home for the first time since losing my mom. With this show, I got a piece of her back. Thank you. Thank you all. This show helped me dream a bigger dream than I thought I could because I saw myself on screen. Thank you all for everything” (@amycassandramtz on Instagram) 

“this show has changed my life and i will always carry everything i’ve learned thanks to these characters (and all of you beautiful humans) very close to my heart. familia para siempre” (@rhiannxns on Twitter)

Because of the vast range of identities and issues that the show covers, every member of the loyal audience was able to see some aspect of themselves. From the Alvarez kids navigating the intersection between their American and Latinx identities to Penelope struggling with depression and PTSD, there was a place of understanding for everyone.  

“#ODAAT is the first time I truly saw my culture on American TV. From Lydia’s accent to Penelope’s self-discovery and the kids’ navigation of their dual culture, the show is too important and it should stay on screen as long as possible. #SAVEODAAT” (@lairayrp on Twitter)

“I love how #ODAAT helped me realize that I do need to see the doctor and that it’s okay if I need to take something for life. So, please #SaveODAAT” (@teachermajik on Twitter)

In just four short seasons (none making it past 13 episodes), they have fought to get their show renewed two times, displaying just how much pushback there has been against diversity on television. At the same time, they have been nominated for several awards including (but not limited to) the Primetime Emmy’s, GLAAD, NAACP, Imagen Foundation, GALECA Society of LGBTQ+ Critics, People’s Choice, and Teen Choice. They’ve won several Primetime Emmy awards along with other awards recognizing both their talents as actors and producers as well as their vastly unique representation.

Despite their high ratings, the show’s average seasonal viewership of 1.3 million was not cutting it for CBS. According to Variety, many of the lead-in and follow-up shows airing in the surrounding time slots grossed around 3 million viewers. 

As of December 8th, One Day at a Time was officially discontinued. The show’s entire cast was passionate about fighting to get the show renewed during the two times it has been canceled, raising morale and support on social media as well as pitching the show to several producers. 

Netflix, the show’s original network, has a track record of canceling shows with LGBTQ+ representation after very few seasons. Shows like Everything Sucks!, I Am Not Okay With This, The Get Down, The Society, and Sense8 are just five of the several other queer shows that Netflix has canceled after fewer than two seasons. 

Why do shows like Stranger Things or 13 Reasons Why continue to receive renewals while Netflix refuses to support successful shows that are predominantly queer and BIPOC? 13 Reasons Why, as one example, gathered an overall average rating of 35% on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.6/10 in IMDb. Every previously mentioned LGBTQ+ show has a nearly equal or higher rating on both platforms. One Day at a Time scored significantly higher with a whopping 99% on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.2/10 on IMDb. 

What is Netflix so scared of? Is it of deviating from the norm? Is it of attracting viewers that will see characters on television who look more like themselves than the cookie-cutter skinny, white protagonists? 

In the real world, LGBTQ+ people and BIPOC aren’t simply side characters or comic relief. Media should not stray away from representing everyone rather than one type of person. Representation matters; it inspires and saves lives. 

Female Hysteria?: A Question of Silence Film Review

by Maria Siciliano//

The courtroom was filled with an uproarious chorus of laughter by every woman in attendance. 

This is how the film by Marleen Gorris, A Question of Silence, closes with no further explanation. In this highly controversial 1980s film, I was truly struck by the feminist critique that the director posits on society. She positions female hysteria, a major component of the study of feminist theory, as the proposed reasoning behind the characters’ undoing and thereby cause of the murder in the film, which demonstrates the misogynistic, patriarchal society that the women are fed up with. 

The film opens with a female psychiatrist being assigned to the case of three women who did not previously know each other until they came together to murder a male store owner after being accused of shoplifting. The psychiatrist, Janine, is to determine whether these women are sane or crazy, with hysteria being the only plausible reasoning behind this heinous act. Janine then interviews each of the women: a housewife who won’t speak, a waitress mistreated at a café, and a secretary at a male-run office. After each woman tells their story, while never confessing, Janine comes to realize that the women are in fact, completely sane. They are simply tired of the treatment of women in society. And, so is Janine, who finds herself in a sexist relationship. She comes to identify with the women by the end of the film. 

The last scene in the film takes place in the courtroom. Janine presents her findings and gives the opinion that the women are sane, reminding the court that the boutique owner was male. The prosecutors try to sway her, and eventually suggest that the outcome would have still been the same if the store owner were female. All four of the women begin to laugh, and then the courtroom is filled with uproarious laughter from the female witnesses. The women exit the courtroom and the film closes. 

I thought the film was a truly thought-provoking take on feminist criticism. By using hysteria, the very reason behind much of the female subversion in history, to critique this patriarchal society, Gorris allowed the women’s situations to speak for themselves. In reality, three women who did not know each other, coming together to kill a male store owner, has grounds for being seen as crazy. But considering the treatment that these women receive on a day-to-day basis in a sexist, misogynistic, and classist society, the murder might be based in reason. The laughter that fills the courtroom, when the men simply don’t get it, is the feminist critique in and of itself. After being silenced and not heard, all the women can do is laugh. 

Play Recommendation: Diana Son’s Stop Kiss

by Miya Kuramoto //

Last semester my playwriting professor recommended reading Diana Son’s Stop Kiss. This play has a non-chronological timeline, something I was trying to achieve in the play I was working on at the time. While I did enjoy the structure of the play, I found the discussions of sexuality, sexual harassment, and misogyny to be more compelling. The play begins with the first meeting of Sara and Callie. Sara drops off her cat at Callie’s while she adjusts to her new life in New York City. This seemingly lighthearted narrative is quickly disturbed by the account of Callie and a detective on the night that Sara is brutally assaulted by a man who saw the two women kiss. This juxtaposition of tender and harsh scenes makes Stop Kiss a must-read. So, consider this article my official invitation for you to read Diana Son’s play Stop Kiss.

As an Asian American woman myself, I was excited to read the work of an Asian American female playwright. What I enjoy about Son’s play is her representation and inclusion of people of color in a narrative about sexuality and self-exploration. She does this in a way that is not forced. Instead, Son normalizes these experiences among people of all colors and backgrounds. Not to mention that in the original cast of Stop Kiss, Sandra Oh, best known for Grey’s Anatomy and Killing Eve, starred as Sara. It’s cool to think that someone as famous and influential as Sandra Oh once performed in theater.

 One of the most compelling reasons to read or view this play is its continued relevance even twenty-two years after its original production. It was only five years ago that same-sex marriage was legally recognized in all fifty states, and the LGBTQ+ community still faces discrimination and institutional oppression. Similarly, the play recognizes the importance of intersectionality. The interlocking oppression that is created by being both a member of the LGBTQ+ community as well as identifying as a woman is highlighted through the relationship of Sara and Callie. Unfortunately, misogyny, homophobia, and expectations of passivity are rampant in the world we live in, even decades after Son originally wrote Stop Kiss.

Stop Kiss challenges sexist and homophobic conduct while acknowledging the reality of consequences that comes with fighting for what you want and believe in. Nonetheless, it is important to portray raw and sometimes traumatic experiences so that we can recognize and discuss these issues rather than looking the other way. Son’s Stop Kiss is more than just a tale of modern romance. It’s an account of how relationships can help us grow as individuals and learn to accept the parts of ourselves that we were once ashamed of. 

“How Privileged Are You?” Quizzes: Why Quantifying Privilege is Harmful

by Nara Cowing //

“Check your privilege.” 

This is a common mantra that people recite without providing a tangible way of doing so. You can reflect on your experiences and those of others, you can take a moment to be thankful for what you have and acknowledge that everyone faces and overcomes different societal boundaries. You may even want to stop arguing with someone over something you do not fully understand because of certain privileges you have.

Often, people have decided to quantify and measure the various societal privileges one may have. However, these “privilege quizzes” are harmful and do not accurately sum up the intersection of privilege or lack thereof.

One popular example of these quizzes is the Buzzfeed “How Privileged Are You?” quiz. It provides a checklist of 100 statements – such as “I am white” or “I can afford medication if/when I need it” – that one may check off if they apply. In the end, you receive a score out of 100 that tells you how privileged you are. 

Ultimately, many questions on this checklist were confusing. I’m half white, so I benefit from white privilege and light-skinned privilege to a certain degree. However, I’m also half non-white and have been the victim of racial bias. Do I check the “I am white” box off or not? 

I do not work a salaried job because I’m a full-time university student, but by not checking off that I work a salaried job, the quiz assumes that I lack privilege because I am currently unemployed. On the contrary, being an unemployed college student gives me privilege because I am not required to work full-time to pay for my tuition this semester. Additionally, I just turned 18 and have never independently done taxes, bringing less meaning to checking off the “I have never done taxes myself” box. 

Even so, many of these statements are accurate ways to check one’s privilege. Statements such as “I have never lied about my religion as self-defense” helped me to acknowledge the privileges I have.

However, aspects of privilege are more fluid and complex than this quiz makes them. There is simply no way to quantify privilege. In different contexts (geographic location, upbringing, personal experiences related to one’s identities, etcetera), the manifestation of privilege can evolve and help or harm individuals in different ways. 

However, there is no one way to equally measure racism versus sexism versus homophobia versus xenophobia versus religious discrimination. None of these societal problems have an exactly equal meaning within any given community or nation. 

This particular Buzzfeed quiz seems to equally weigh all aspects of privilege, equating all different forms of discrimination. However, there is no one way to equally measure racism versus sexism versus homophobia versus xenophobia versus religious discrimination. None of these societal problems have an exactly equal meaning within any given community or nation. 

People often throw the phrase “check your privilege” around as a way to appear as if they are taking responsibility for their place in society. I know people who have taken this quiz or similar ones and then simply moved on. They assume that by taking this quiz and “checking their privilege” they are doing enough. But know you have privilege without doing anything about it continues to enable the system and the power it has over marginalized groups. 

Knowing that you have white privilege without using it for something should not ease your conscience nor make you feel any more “woke” about racial injustice. Acknowledge your privilege, but what’s next? It is up to you to decide what action (or lack thereof) becomes of that knowledge. 

Riot Grrrl: The Then & Now of DIY Feminism

by Alice Kenny //

Riot Grrrl is on the tongues of many young feminists today. Many of us are familiar with it but are not in touch with its origin. Academic feminism, the kind of feminism that develops on and inhabits college campuses in the Western world, is far removed from the punk scene and “do it yourself” culture embodied by Riot Grrrl. I myself am positioned on an Ivy League campus in the Northeast of the United States. If you saw me on the street, or traversing the Arts Quad, you would never peg me for a punk. But Riot Grrrl spoke to me in a language that was shockingly comprehensive for someone so focused on feminist academia and theory. 

So what is Riot Grrl? 

Riot Grrrl is a social movement. It has been defined in a myriad of ways, but at its most basic, Riot Grrrl arose as a subset of punk in the Pacific Northwest in the early 90s. The pioneering bands, Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Excuse 17, Heavens to Betsy, Le Tigre, and others were “girl bands” in today’s terms. They were musical groups composed of punks who were women or women who were punks. They were sick of the toxic culture in punk that excluded women and failed to legitimize their music. So they started a riot. 

What’s so amazing about Riot Grrrl is that it never really materialized into something specific, but at the same time, it became this feminist movement, this unifying term that anyone could invoke. Riot Grrrl wasn’t defined by music, by its iconic zines, by certain leaders, or by bands, symbols, or brands. Instead, it existed broadly as a cultural phenomenon. This flexibility and intangibility is in large part what allows Riot Grrrl to live on today in the minds of young feminists who didn’t live through “Rebel Girl” as a hit or watch Carrie Brownstein get up on stage looking like a real punk. Most of us just know her from “Portlandia.” 

So how can we learn from Riot Grrrl and 90s women in punk? I guess, for many, the question might even be why should we learn from them? 

When I first learned about DIY punk culture and Riot Grrrl, I couldn’t believe they had been excluded from my definitions of feminism. There is so much that modern feminists, especially those of us still developing our ideologies and definitions, can learn from young “Grrrls” who existed within this exclusive punk culture in which they managed to carve out space for themselves and even extend beyond its original boundaries. Riot Grrrl began in the 1990s when a group of punk rockers came together to start a riot. They formed Grrrl bands, wrote songs, made fanzines, protested, and talked. The Riot Grrrl consciousness was formed. A subculture of feminism and punk was born. 

While there are many groups positioned squarely within riot Grrrl culture and there are many, many others that are often viewed as related to the movement. Examples include precursors like Joan Jett, a queer, feminist punk rocker, or modern revivals through collectives like Pussy Riot, which functions less as a cohesive band and more as a feminist political revolution. However, there are a couple of bands that have achieved icon status and early riot Grrrl punks who have become symbols of feminism, queerness, and political resistance. 

Sleater-Kinney & Carrie Brownstein

Sleater-Kinney is a Riot Grrrl group formed by Carrie Brownstein and Corrie Tucker in Olympia, Washington in 1994. Both women had been parts of other iconic Riot Grrrl bands, Excuse 17 and Heavens to Betsy, respectively. When their time in these bands came to an end, they formed Sleater-Kinney. While the band never officially asserted itself as a “part of the movement,” it is strongly associated with the vague defining features of Riot Grrrl: feminist punk, women-led bands, the Pacific Northwest, queerness, and DIY culture (including zines). 

While the composition of the band has changed since ‘94 as members have left to form their own projects, Sleater-Kinney is an important part of the Riot Grrrl legacy because, unlike most of the big names, they continue touring to this day. In this way, Riot Grrrl as a period in music exists in the modern context. Brownstein, who has made a name for herself beyond music, continues to push the boundaries of femininity and gender roles, identifies as a bisexual, cementing Riot Grrrl as movement of rebellion, androgyny, and queerness as well as feminism. 

Sleater-Kinney’s “Modern Girl” (2015)

Bikini Kill & Kathleen Hanna

If Sleater-Kinney represents the longevity of the feminist punk music that was defined in the 90s through Riot Grrrl, Bikini Kill represents the political aesthetics of the movement. Bikini Kill is arguably the most visible Riot Grrrl band, fronted by Kathleen Hannah (above, left). The band was formed in 1990 in Olympia, Washington by Hanna and bandmates Billy Karren, Tobi Vail, and Kathi Wilcox (above, right). Bikini Kill was known for its political lyrics. Hanna continues her career as an activist and artist with her band The Julie Ruin.

While Bikini Kill gained fame through performances and records, they were also instrumental in carving out a very important element of Riot Grrrl culture: fanzines. Fanzines, or as they came to be known, “zines” were defined by scholar Stephen Duncombe in his 1997 text Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture as ‘little publications filled with rantings of high weirdness and exploding with chaotic design’ where the producers ‘privilege the ethic of DIY, do-it-yourself: make your own culture and stop consuming that which is made for you’ (Triggs, 2006).

The above image features one such zine associated with Bikini Kill and Riot Grrrl culture. These publications were circulated through the punk scene and often provided creative entries (as you can see from the above coloring book), political ideas, and visual art formatted together as a “chaotic” homemade design. “BIKINI KILL ZINE 2”  published the most cohesive political ideology put forth in the Riot Grrrl movement in the RIOT GRRRL MANIFESTO, which laid out a commitment to opposing misogyny and building a “girl”-centered culture through Riot Grrrl. They were intentional in their precarity and represented a subculture media produced outside of the mainstream. For Riot Grrrl, this subculture promoted feminism, solidarity among women, and “girl power.” 

Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl

While this article discusses just a small slice of Riot Grrrl, it is important to consider the legacy of this movement as a whole in the context of modern feminism. Music and counterculture continue to be defined by a rage against misogyny and calling out the inequalities that exist within our societies. While DIY-culture and zines are no longer at the forefront of activism, Riot Grrrl, sometimes referred to as “third-wave feminism,” was essential to redefining the boundaries of feminism ideologies. 

Feminism is not for the elite. Learning and listening to Riot Grrrl helped me to see that the theory I read and protests I attend are not distinct moves but two parts of a whole. Feminism encompasses both the academic and the mobilizing realms. I argue that the sphere of activism and counterculture are the foundations for the revolutionary spirit that must guide the development of our intersectional feminism.