A Letter to My Ex

by Madison McCormick

Trigger Warning: emotional abuse, suicide, domestic abuse

Dear ex, 

You were the worst decision I ever made. I ignored every red flag as soon as you mentioned childhood trauma. I told you that I had a habit of being a people fixer and letting people walk all over me. You took advantage of that. You knew exactly what to say and how to manipulate me. You said just enough vulnerable things to make me think that you were just a broken person trying to heal and become a better person. But you are the worst kind of person. 

You took everything you experienced and channeled it into damaging others. You bragged about how you broke people and counted off the girls you’ve ‘broken’ on your fingers. You smiled when you recounted the worst stories. One girl became so ill because of you that she was admitted into the hospital. Another went through horrible depression. I should’ve run then. I did think about it as every alarm went off inside my head, but then you started crying about how horrible things were for you growing up. I was hooked. 

You took advantage of my kindness. I did everything for you because you manipulated me into thinking that you needed me. After everything, you were still so horrible to me. I told you when I was at my limit, but you took that as your sign to push until I cracked. You yelled and terrorized me until I had panic attacks, and you loved to keep yelling while I shook in front of you. There was no soul to be found in your eyes. Night after night, it was the same thing. It was one horrible fight after another. I told you I was breaking and begged you to stop trying to hurt me. I told you that I didn’t know who I was anymore because I started to believe all of the horrible things you said about me. I told you that I was scared of you and that you made me want to die. I was high-functioning until I met you, but you dragged me into the depths of despair with you. You wanted to make me as miserable as you made yourself. 

Things progressed so slowly at first. I didn’t notice what you were trying to do. Then, my depression peaked and you rejoiced. You chipped away at every bit of my spirit until there was nothing left. You made pointed comments about my body over and over again until my eating disorder hit me like a tidal wave. You wouldn’t let me eat without you. I couldn’t sleep when I needed to sleep. I cried and begged you to let me go to sleep but you just laughed at me. You told me I was selfish for going to class and doing homework. You started fights when I was trying to study for prelims or turn in assignments so that my grades suffered too. I couldn’t tell anyone what was really happening, though. I felt bad enough asking for a single extension so I just missed everything. You deprived me of basic needs, which I later found out is a torture technique used by militaries. You made it all seem like my fault, like I didn’t deserve to sleep. 

You told me that what happened to me was my fault. If I was drunk and something happened, it’d be my fault. You screamed at me and called me a “pompous, cheating b*tch” when something did happen. You berated me and demanded to see my face because you wanted to see the pain you were inflicting. You are sadistic. You told me that I was lucky that you loved me and that no one would ever love me again, but you were the lucky one. You didn’t deserve me. You didn’t deserve my love. You said that I would never have a family because you knew that was the one thing I wanted more than anything. You said that my dad was going to think it was my fault, too, and that he would never forgive me. You threatened to post everything and contact everyone I knew with your version of the story. You demanded that I go through every detail of the assault with you and convinced me that it was my fault. You put me in the hospital after you made me suicidal and left me all alone. You lied to my dad and said that you would take me to the hospital right away when I was in the middle of a breakdown, then told me that this wasn’t fair to you because you were sleeping. You woke up multiple times and yelled at me when I said I needed help until I started crying and left the room. You watched YouTube as I sat on the bed waiting for you to drive me. 

I should’ve let my parents call the cops. The hospital staff even told my parents that it seemed like something was wrong. You told me I was being selfish for trying to call you when I had access to the public phone and that it didn’t work with your schedule. You said it would just be a ‘surprise’ if you showed up to visiting hours after you said that you would come. You told my dad that you would be there for me, but you lied. You promised that you would pick me up from the hospital on time then showed up two hours late. Then you yelled at me as soon as we got back to your apartment and said that you hope I enjoyed my ‘little vacation’. Then you got drunk and threatened to drink yourself to death when I said I just needed to sleep because I was exhausted. I had to hide every bottle of alcohol and pill bottle in the house because you threatened to hurt yourself like it was a game. You threw a fit and laid on top of me while I was having a panic attack, then complained about me not being able to stay awake the entire night. You almost put me back in the hospital because I couldn’t handle everything. You knew what you were doing to me and you loved it. 

You are the worst person I have ever met in my entire life. You don’t have any integrity or sense of morality. You are merely a cold and heartless tormentor. I believe that everyone is capable of changing but you don’t want to change. You act like someone is forcing you to behave this way when it’s all you. You know how you’ve impacted people but you don’t care to change so you will probably always be this way. 

I let you convince me to stay every time I tried to leave. It got so bad that my friend offered to let me stay in their dorm room and buy me a toothbrush, shampoo, and everything, just to get me out of there. I should’ve accepted their help but I underestimated how strong a trauma bond could be and how good at manipulating me you were. 

But it didn’t take much more time for me to grow to hate and loathe you. I tried to slowly put space in between us so I could get away but you were incapable of respecting any of my boundaries. I asked for a break and you wouldn’t leave me alone. Then when I got angry enough to forgo my slow and steady plan for space and explicitly broke up with you, you replied, “We can talk about it on Thursday”, like it never happened. I could never escape you. I blocked you on every platform you harassed me on just for you to find another avenue. You told me that I couldn’t block you on everything because I needed to get my stuff back. I held my breath the entire summer waiting for the moment that I could get my stuff from your apartment and finally be free of you. 

I never want to see you again. I never want to speak to you again. But I can’t seem to escape you. You enrolled in the class that you knew I was taking, even though you told me that you’d already taken it. Have you been watching me this entire time? I shouldn’t have to leave class in tears because you traumatized me and then show up everywhere I am. If anyone should leave, it’s you. 

Every sign was there that you were a narcissist, but I didn’t know what to look for. I don’t think anything good came out of my time with you. I learned what to look out for to identify dangerous people, but I don’t know if that is necessarily a good thing. You knew the weight of the trauma I already carried and decided to double it. If you genuinely cared about me at any point, then the least you can do is pay me back for the NYC trip that I paid for and the extra years of therapy I need because of the hell you put me through. 

I have wanted to confront you about everything you did to me, but I know that it wouldn’t be safe to do that. I will not be gaslighted anymore. I will not be manipulated into thinking I am crazy and that I’m making things up in my head. I know what you did to me, and so do you. I hope that what you did to me haunts you for the rest of your life. If I have to be burdened with it, then so do you. You can’t plead ignorance this time. 

This is my version of closure. You refused to let me speak or be heard, but I will not be silenced now. I am done with you forever. I do not deserve to be alone. I did not deserve anything that has happened to me. I do deserve love and happiness, and I have found it. I will have my family, and I will be successful. You took me down to the lowest point in my life but I refused to let you win. You made me an empty shell of a person that no one in my life recognized, but I am not that person anymore. I was never weak. I have always been stronger than you, which is probably why you tried to tear me down so desperately. You made the mistake of confusing cruelty for strength and power. Everything you did and everything you are only shows how pathetic and weak you really are. Your despicable actions were never a reflection of me; they were a reflection of the ugly, dead heart that lies within you. I will live the life I have always desired and deserved. You cannot take credit for the person that I have become either.

I am the one who picked myself up and tried, again and again, every day until it wasn’t as painful anymore. I did the work to start healing. I continued fighting when everything in me wanted to give up. I found my voice and finally decided to use it. 

Goodbye forever. You will not be missed.

With No Warm Regards or Love, 

The Woman You Never Deserved

Emotional Abuse Information & Resources

Identifying Abuse: 

Trauma Healing:

Understanding Sex Work as Work

by Hanna Carney //

Sex work as a profession is widely misunderstood in the United States. Many stereotypes that surround the sex trade are harmful and inaccurate. For example, people tend to imagine women when they imagine a sex worker, but all gender and sexual identities are represented in sex work. Moreover, sex workers are often stereotyped as immoral, dirty, unintelligent, drug addicts who can’t get a “real” job. In other words, sex work is associated with immorality resulting in moral blame being placed on sex workers. Conversely, society also tends to simultaneously victimize these individuals, stripping them of their own bodily autonomy.  

Sex workers can have agency just as anyone can, and to reduce sex workers to be mere victims of some oppressive circumstance and nothing else denies them that agency.

It is true that people with marginalized identities (such as women, the LGBTQ+, and BIPOC) may have more difficulty finding jobs in the US, so they may feel that making a living from sex work is a more viable career option. However, people fail to recognize the differences between sex work and human trafficking. Sex workers can have agency just as anyone can, and to reduce sex workers to be mere victims of some oppressive circumstance and nothing else denies them that agency. Some individuals may “pursue sex work to explore or express their sexuality,” as Open Society Foundations astutely points out. Not everyone’s reasoning for working in the sex trade is the same.

We have a lot of educating to do on the nuances of sex work in America and around the world. A good starting point is examining current bills in the New York State Legislature that could decriminalize sex work. 

Stop the Violence in the Sex Trades Bill

This bill is sponsored by New York State Senator Julia Salazar. What is distinguishable about this bill is that it aspires to decriminalize not just sex workers but their clients and managers as well. These specifications—including clients and managers in decriminalization—are vital for the protection of sex workers. If clients, for example, could still be held criminal for hiring a sex worker, sex workers would have less clients and lower wages. This would inevitably lead to harsher working conditions. Specifically, as Open Society Foundations publishes in “Understanding Sex Work in an Open Society,”

Criminalization makes it difficult for sex workers to report rights violations, especially by the police, because they are vulnerable to incarceration, further abuse, and retribution. This perpetuates stigma, violence, and impunity, which further endanger sex workers’ health and safety.

Decriminalizing sex work and all consenting individuals involved is essential for protecting these individuals and promoting a safe, sex positive environment.

Sex Trade Survivors Justice and Equality Act

New York State Senator Liz Kreuger is promoting the Sex Trade Survivors Justice and Equality Act. In contrast to the Salazar bill, this one would only decriminalize sex workers, excluding managers and clients from this protection.

For the reasons mentioned above, this bill is inadequate, considering how it would not successfully protect sex workers as it supposedly intends to do. The New York State Legislature should also consider how this bill would disproportionately endanger sex workers of various identities, as BIPOC, the LGBTQ+, and undocumented individuals would be particularly vulnerable to the stigma and violence that would continue if this bill were passed. Supposed “activism” in favor of sex workers can sometimes actually life harder for sex workers. That is why it is so important to understand the nuances of the sex trade in America.

Sex Work During the Time of COVID

During lockdown, many sex workers had to stop any in-person work, because if they chose to continue working in person, the legal and health risks increased exponentially. Not only did they risk catching COVID-19 but it also became more difficult to get regular STI testing as hospitals were overwhelmed with COVID patients.

Since we saw the first cases of COVID-19 in the US, the unique vulnerabilities that sex workers experience in this country became apparent. Like most of the country, sex workers were put under financial stress as things became uncertain. During lockdown, many sex workers had to stop any in-person work, because if they chose to continue working in person, the legal and health risks increased exponentially. Not only did they risk catching COVID-19 but it also became more difficult to get regular STI testing as hospitals were overwhelmed with COVID patients. These reasons help explain why so many sex workers relied on online platforms to continue work. However, the criminalization and stigma surrounding the sex trade continued to make life especially difficult for sex workers during pandemic.

In August 2021, OnlyFans announced that they would be banning pornography on their website. This came as a blow to many sex workers who found some financial stability through their posts on OnlyFans. The website reversed this decision only a few weeks later, assuring that they would still allow porn on their websites, but online platforms can still be unstable for sex workers. Social media sites such as Instagram and Twitter constantly take down the posts of sex workers despite allowing similar content from other users. 

It is no question that sex workers deserve respect and safe working conditions. But some believe the question still remains of whether or not the sex trade can be an empowering profession within the patriarchy. Cecilia Gentili’s testament below outlines some of the more positive aspects of her experience as a sex worker.

An Empowering Service Industry

Cecilia Gentili, who wrote the guest essay “This Is What Will Make Sex Work in New York Safer” in the New York Times, shares her former experiences as a trans woman in the sex trade. Her eloquent and honest testimony sheds light on how the sex trade can be an empowering industry—not just for workers but clients as well:

“Sex work is a service industry. We often help people with social anxiety or a disability and those who are figuring out their sexuality or gender identity. Clients and co-workers (who are often prosecuted as traffickers) very often provide care to sex workers as well. It was a sex worker who helped me escape from a trafficking situation, not the police. It was a client who encouraged and helped me get into a drug treatment program, and it was a client who gave me my first immigration legal advice and helped me open my first bank account.”

Some enter the sex trade to empower themselves. Some do it to empower others. Some because they feel they need to. But no matter the reason, all sex workers deserve respect, understanding, and safe working conditions. 

Gentili and many others appreciate how the sex trade holds the opportunity to empower the individuals involved. On the other hand, some believe that sex work can only be oppressive in a patriarchal society, while others fall somwhere in the middle.


Regardless, sex work can be a viable and respectable way to make a living. Some enter the sex trade to empower themselves. Some do it to empower others. Some because they feel they need to. But no matter the reason, all sex workers deserve respect, understanding, and safe working conditions. 

Click here to read further about how you can be an ally to sex workers.

Altruism, Performative Activism, and the Instagram Infographic

by Natalie Brennan //

Let’s Talk Altruism

I took a philosophy course my senior year of high school. Aside from discussing philosophical works, we spent most of our class time discussing personal morals and ethics. It was an intense yet rewarding experience where I fear my pretentious side was cultured. To this day it is still one of the best classes I have taken.

He asked us if altruism even existed at all and insisted that there is always a reward when we do something for someone else. Examples we had brought up, such as donating to a food bank or reading to an elementary school student, did reward us with the emotional gratification of helping someone. 

In a more notorious class, we discussed what true altruism, or going out of the way for someone with nothing in return, looks like in practice. We all enthusiastically agreed that we could be truly altruistic, but this notion was challenged by our teacher. He asked us if altruism even existed at all and insisted that there is always a reward when we do something for someone else. Examples we had brought up, such as donating to a food bank or reading to an elementary school student, did reward us with the emotional gratification of helping someone. 

This conversation shifted to a moment of digestive silence as we processed our teacher’s argument. Is there any break in our fixed biology to do something completely in favor of someone else? I am not well versed enough in philosophy to give you the answer, nor am I equipped with the ability to unpack that.

Read more about defining true altruism here.

Activism at the Height of Quarantine

It is here that I switch gears to good old March of 2020. Stuck in my house with philosophical thoughts on altruism and the like, I took to attempting whipped coffee, walks around my block, and YouTube workouts to mitigate the whinnies of the moral high horse. In all seriousness, I certainly felt the stir-crazy that being stuck at home brought us and the anxiety of navigating all the unknown that was in front of us. For example, my mother, who was deemed an essential worker, would bring home stories of a coworker who insisted that martial law was to be enacted soon to enforce the quarantine. It was like living in a dystopian novel: social unrest was magnified.

The political polarization became more evident than ever. Those who opposed the lockdown took to all social media platforms to express their distaste for the government’s decision. I distinctly remember my mother and me calling my grandmother to discuss some of her Facebook posts (think outlandish sentences on the future of society with links to “independent” news sources). Protests took to the streets throughout the USA in support of BLM after George Floyd’s murder, and groups once again began to gather in solidarity. Flags were displayed in people’s yards, in the front windows of stores and small businesses, and on bumper stickers on the back of Subarus. CNN was kept on at all times in my household, and I had friends and family that would only watch Fox. Looking back, I realize that we all were actively contributing to the polarization that was occurring.

There had never been a moment in my life where I had been so aware of the news. I was searching up the mask mandates by state, locations of protests near me, the positivity rate of COVID cases in my town, and what exactly a presidential impeachment looked like. So much new information was to be acquired, and as a Gen Z-er, I had all of the social media outlets to get it from. As young people during this pandemic, we scrambled to make our voices heard to the general public.

Turn your Virtue Signals On

Enter the rise of the Instagram infographic. Again, as we clamored to find our online presence, as we worked to learn more and to spread awareness, infographics spread like wildfire. Unfortunately, these posts put more emphasis on aesthetics than reliable information. 

You can read more about the rise of the “Instagram Infographic” here.

My peers with left-leaning views would post an infographic with COVID news, information on the climate crisis, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and statistics on police brutality. My right-leaning peers responded similarly, with reposts of Trump’s pictures or tweets, Joe Rogan quotes, and Blue Lives Matter propaganda (not to mention there was a severe lack of pink and glittery infographics on their end).

These infographics, although on occasion imbued with reliable, good information, were used as weaponry. They were used to signal virtue, to incite conflict, and they often ended up as a conversation starter that resulted in both parties feeling more distanced from each other. The rise of the infographic was nothing short of performative activism.

My first semester at college proved to be just as ineffective with the push toward the Instagram infographic. In my freshman year, I attended a small liberal arts institution with just over 2000 students. In the most altruistic effort to form communities, Instagram accounts related to our school would post infographics as well. Most of the time these infographics were about COVID news on campus or mutual aid funds for BIPOC students. These were shared among members of our community on Instagram stories. When tensions would reach a high, whether this was an increase in COVID cases on campus or the forming of a chapter of Libertarian students, infographics would flurry onto my feed. For context, the general population of my school was very left-leaning, so the majority of these reposts would feed into an echo chamber, with rebuttals from that one “socially liberal, but fiscally conservative” closeted-Republican lax bro, resulting in his inevitable cancellation.

If Altruism Doesn’t Exist…Then All Activism is Performative Activism

Nothing quite spells out performative activism like sharing a cute, pastel infographic on violence against minority communities. We feel emotional gratification after reposting something, emotional gratification from what feels like us standing in solidarity, but really just screaming to your four active followers “I am not an asshole!”. 

If all activism is performative in the context of altruism, then we need to put our money where our mouth is. Direct funds need to be given to organizations or people who may be directly facing the conflicts and oppression posted about in these infographics. Every time there’s an urge to repost, make sure some other work is done on top of that so it isn’t just an announcement of your activism.

In my experience, the reposting of accounts for mutual aid or centers for donation was a chain reaction, starting with one account and leading to a heightened social media presence. But these goals for funds would often go unachieved, which I think speaks well to just how performative these reposts of infographics are. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are economic discrepancies among students on my previous campus. However, it was a small, predominantly white, and wealthy campus. I knew most of these kids personally, as COVID kept a large fraction of students squirreled away from campus. I still don’t think it would have hurt them to chip in a couple of dollars every time instead of reposting the same infographic.

If all activism is performative in the context of altruism, then we need to put our money where our mouth is. Direct funds need to be given to organizations or people who may be directly facing the conflicts and oppression posted about in these infographics. Every time there’s an urge to repost, make sure some other work is done on top of that so it isn’t just an announcement of your activism. Sure, there may be some emotional gratification in return after we donate, but at least there is a tangible benefit for those who are struggling.

I can openly say that, yes, I too mindlessly reposted circulating infographics to my Instagram story to avoid people thinking I was problematic. In the spirit of speaking against Instagram infographics, I don’t want to hypocritically oversimplify an issue. Performative activism can come in separate forms than the cursed infographic, and they can be reposted for entirely different reasons. There is nuance behind the choice to repost something that often ends up in an assumption about the reposter. I can assure you that from my viewpoint, not all infographic reposts are negative. But I can enforce the deductive argument that if altruism doesn’t exist, rendering all activism performative, then money in the form of aid and more agentic activism in society will speak louder than a circulating, pink Instagram infographic.


by Hanna Carney //

It can be hard to keep up with everything going on in the world–especially now, and especially as a full time student. Here is a list of compiled resources for readers to self-educate and support feminist issues and BIPOC communities.

Ways to Donate

  1. 68 Ways to Donate in Support of Asian Communities
  2. Stop AAPI Hate
  3. The Daunte Wright Sr. Memorial Fund
  4. Indianapolis FedEx Facility Family Support Fund
  5. JusticeForMakhiaBryant
  6. Support the APPI Community Fund
  7. Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund 
  8. Minnesota Freedom Fund
  9. National Bail Fund Network
  10. Central Ohio Freedom Fund
  11. Detroit Justice Center
  12. How to help India during its COVID surge–12 places you can donate

Petitions to sign

  1. Black Lives Matter petitions on Change.org
  2. Change Minnesota Sexual Assault Laws 
  3. End Hate Crimes Against Asian Amerians
  4. A Call For an End To Violence Against Black People and Law Enforcement Officers

Breonna Taylor Petitions

  1. Breonna Taylor- moveon.org
  2. Breonna Taylor- colorofchange.org
  3. Breonna Taylor- justiceforbreonna.org
  4. Breonna Taylor- change.org
  5. Breonna Taylor- thepetitionsite.com

Ways to Self-Educate: Reading Material


21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph

As written in the book summary, “Joseph examines how Indigenous Peoples can return to self-government, self-determination, and self-reliance–and why doing so would result in a better country for every Canadian. He dissects the complex issues around the Indian Act, and demonstrates why learning about its cruel and irrevocable legacy is vital for the country to move toward true reconciliation.”

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

In her book, Kendall examines intersectional feminism and the ways mainstream feminists have failed to account for issues such as food insecurity, access to quality education and medical care, etc.

Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad

Based on the original workbook with the same title, Me and White Supremacy helps readers understand their white privilege and engagement in white supremacy.

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Hong

As is written in Amazon’s summary, “Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose fresh truths about racialized consciousness in America. Part memoir and part cultural criticism, this collection is vulnerable, humorous, and provocative—and its relentless and riveting pursuit of vital questions around family and friendship, art and politics, identity and individuality, will change the way you think about our world.” 

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Founder of the Antiracism Research and Policy Center. Explains why it is necessary to be actively against racism–neutrality only exacerbates problems in our racist society. 

One Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson 

Touches on gerrymandering, voter suppression, and racial discrimination during elections .


  1. How to Help India Amid the Covid Crisis
  2. 68 Ways to Donate in Support of Asian communities
  3. The Politics Behind India’s Covid Crisis
  4. From India, Brazil and Beyond: Pandemic Refugees at the Border
  5. A Minnesota man can’t be charged with felony rape because the woman chose to drink beforehand, court rules


The Stoop

A podcast that focuses on blackness, race, and American identity.

The Daily

Made by the New York Times. A good way to keep up with world events if you’re too busy to sit down and read or watch the news 

Code Switch NPR

Journalists of color have conversations about race and how it impacts different parts of society

Black Girl in Om

Guided meditation for Black women to practice self-reflection and self-care.

Mental Health Resources 

Black Girl in Om

See above description.

Asians Do Therapy

Yin Li is a licensed therapist that began Asians Do Therapy in the hopes of acknowledging Asian people’s experience in therapy and encouraging more Asians and Asian Americans to seek therapy if they need it.

One Sky Center

One Sky Center is a resource center for American Indian and Alaska Native education, research, and health. This organization hopes to qualify health care across Indian Country. 

BEAM Collective 

As stated on their website, “BEAM is a national training, movement building and grant making organization dedicated to the healing, wellness and liberation of Black and marginalized communities.” 

Buddy Project

Founded by Gabby Frost, this non-profit works to prevent suicide by pairing people with a buddy to help them through loneliness and isolation.

A College Student’s Pandemic Survival Guide for Staying in School

by Alice Kenny //

I want to start this piece by saying that this is supposed to be fun. 

The truth is that I have no idea how to do this. I don’t really have any secrets to dealing with all of the big and terrible things that have come with a global pandemic. I’m not sure that anyone really does at this point.  I can’t offer support to students who are struggling to pay for their classes, who are worried about having a safe place to live, who are stuck in jobs that endanger them, who are worried about getting sick or about sick friends and family members. I wish I could. The best I can do is to say that college is stressful. I don’t think anyone imagined this level of fear for our mental, emotional, and bodily safety going into it. But here are a few things I’ve learned after more than a year of doing this. 

  1. Get outside every day if you can

This is a big one. I don’t always honor this one myself, but that’s sort of how I know it’s a good one–because I definitely notice it when I don’t get outside during the day, and especially if I don’t for a couple of days. Ideally, I like to go for a run, talk a long walk or bike ride, or spend an afternoon in the sun with friends. However, I don’t always have the time or energy, so I sometimes make do with just literally stepping outside. Whatever the weather, I try to take myself outside, even if that just means being a few feet from my front door. It helps me feel more grounded. 

  1. Be kind to yourself

Treating yourself well is a good rule of thumb in general. But especially during a global health crisis, it’s helpful to try to remember that you are living through a global health crisis. If you procrastinate, or sleep in, or eat two boxes of mac and cheese in a row (not from personal experience), don’t judge yourself too harshly. Things are harder than usual, and therefore, you should be kinder to yourself. This thing isn’t over, and the longer it goes on, the greater the toll it takes, at least for me. Don’t forget to take care of yourself in the best way you can right now. 

  1. Make a schedule of your deadlines

Logistical tips can be sort of annoying, but this is one that I find to be super helpful. Whether it’s hard just getting by in your classes, or you’re thriving, it’s never a bad idea to make sure you know when your crunch weeks are well in advance. Especially now, I’m really grateful I have this protocol to follow. I’ve been having a hard time not procrastinating and staying on top of everything, but sticking to the bare minimum of getting my assignments done on time works well for me. I remind myself that things won’t be this hard forever, and I try to just hang in there. 

  1. Take advantage of Zoom University

Zoom U sucks. Pretty much everyone agrees. But just because it’s not ideal doesn’t mean there aren’t things about it that are kind of nice. I try to make myself a nice breakfast most mornings–and sometimes I do it while I’m in class (please don’t tell my professors). I can go for impromptu runs in the middle of the day with my housemates because I don’t have class, and it’s easy to just change into workout gear when you’re already at home. I’m taking classes with earlier start times than I normally would because on a bad day, I can take them from my bed. Yeah, this whole COVID thing is pretty awful, and it’s exhausting and scary and just really draining. But there are some silver linings if you’re a student right now, so try to take advantage of those while you can. 

However, this semester in particular, I’m also learning to give myself a break. Saturday afternoons have become my time where I just get cozy, drink tea, and watch a movie.

  1. Listen to your body 

The idea of listening to yourself may not seem very controversial, but I actually think it sort of is. University students, especially Cornell students like myself, are taught to push ourselves, to always give 110% to our assignments, to not procrastinate, and to manage our time well. We’re told that if we do all of these things, we’ll be successful. Honestly, in general, I haven’t found that to be untrue. I do strive to do all of those things. However, this semester in particular, I’m also learning to give myself a break. Saturday afternoons have become my time where I just get cozy, drink tea, and watch a movie. There are days where I stay in my pajamas all day. I’m not saying you should procrastinate, or shouldn’t work on your time management, because I do think those practices can be very helpful for dealing with stress and improving your mental health, but don’t let them work against you by beating yourself up when you “waste” a few hours watching Netflix in bed. 

  1. Put on an outfit

This one is short. Get dressed. It doesn’t have to be every day, but for some reason, showering, getting ready like I’m leaving the house, and putting fresh clothes on makes a huge difference. I highly recommend giving this a try if you’re having a tough day, week, or year. 

  1. Curate your space

Another simple suggestion. As college students, dorm rooms are supposed to be these temporary spaces where we sleep. They’re usually not really built for hanging out in. Everyone always says don’t study where you sleep–but, obviously, that’s all changed now. I started out my academic year in a room the size of a closet. I don’t live in a dorm, but most students aren’t living in the most luxurious of accommodations in general. Still, it’s helpful to recognize that you spend a lot of time at home, or in your room. Find ways to make the space work for you–putting up a new poster, buying some ambient lighting, picking wildflowers, getting essential oils, a humidifier, or whatever makes your space more appealing to you. 

Everyone else in the world is going through this, even if our experiences are different.

  1. Talk to friends and family

You’re not alone out there. Everyone else in the world is going through this, even if our experiences are different. Keep in touch with people that bring you comfort so you can support each other. If you’re feeling lonely, reach out to old friends you haven’t talked to in a while, or people you want to get closer to. 

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others

We’re all in this together, but we’re not all going through the same thing. Don’t imagine your circumstances are identical to everyone else who seems to be thriving. They may be struggling in ways you can’t see, or maybe they’re doing great. But that doesn’t mean you need to be doing great, too. COVID impacts people in different ways depending on circumstances, background, resources. If you’re scrolling through social media, don’t feel bad that you haven’t learned a new language or found a new best friend in the past year. Just try to be okay with where you are without making a comparison. 

  1. Mask up!

Lastly, put on a mask. We all just want this to be over, and being careful now means that we can start thinking about a time when we don’t all have to be wearing masks all the time; they may be annoying, but the annoyance is a small price to pay to protect the health and safety of our communities.

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.

Has Working From Home Pushed Women Out of the Workforce?

by Aditi Hukerikar //

“Women will have achieved true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.” -Ruth Bader Ginsberg

A study conducted by Mckinsey & Company and Lean In has revealed how working women in the United States have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This report found that women in the workforce have faced numerous challenges after the transition to working from home, and a startlingly high number of women may be considering leaving the workforce as a result of the pressures they feel from their new situations. 

Many companies were understandably ill-equipped for the quick transition to an online work environment, leaving employees scrambling to adjust to balancing online-work and their new home environments. Families have faced many challenges resulting from the various changes. But unfortunately, even though people of all genders and socioeconomic statuses have struggled to cope with this unprecedented situation, women—especially mothers—have been extremely burdened by their new home lives. 

Working women have found themselves being tasked with both their professional responsibilities and expectations to take over household responsibilities, which have become a bigger burden with families being constantly at home. In families with children, despite mothers and fathers both being at home, mothers are still bearing most of the responsibility for domestic labor and child care (commonly known as “the second shift”). The Women in the Workplace report finds that in parents with children younger than 10, 76% of mothers—as opposed to 54% of fathers—believe that “childcare is one of their top three challenges during COVID-19.” With similar numbers of mothers and fathers transitioning to working from home during the pandemic, why are women still expected to handle most of the childcare responsibilities?  

The study also finds that “one in three mothers may be forced to scale back or opt out” of their careers by leaving the workforce, cutting back their hours, or finding less demanding jobs. Women’s opportunities in the workforce are already limited based on the assumption that they will put family before their career. Despite women finding increasing opportunities to enter the workforce, the continued expectation to bear all of the household responsibilities has limited many women from focusing on their careers as much as they would like to.

Many companies are now at risk for losing women in leadership positions, which hurts the diversity of the work environment. Women in senior positions are more likely to promote “racial and gender diversity” along with programs that benefit employees. Companies rely on women in executive positions to foster a more welcoming, diverse company culture. Women provide essential perspectives, and as the study shows, also tend to be more willing to listen to other employees and their perspectives. 

The challenges of the pandemic has further revealed how working women continue to be constrained by their domestic responsibilities..

Can we really have equality for women in the workforce until women feel that they don’t have to sacrifice their personal lives for their professional lives, or vice versa? The challenges of the pandemic has further revealed how working women continue to be constrained by their domestic responsibilities. As the report concludes, companies need to take greater action to support their employees who identify as women. Doing so will allow women to advance their careers and to contribute to their company environments. 

Ableism, Election Politics, and the Media

by Isa Meyers //

A Comprehensive Guide to Both the 2016 and 2020 Elections’ Ableist Rhetoric

Donald Trump has COVID-19. Some people feel this diagnosis to be poetic justice considering Trump has downplayed the impacts and effects of the coronavirus since late-February. Others pray for his speedy recovery. But regardless of how polarized we stand as a nation in the weeks prior to the November 3rd General Election, Trump’s contraction of COVID-19 serves as yet another example of how we allow covert ableism to dictate both our social and political spheres. It also further illustrates how we define power dynamics in general in both conservative and liberal ideology. 

Contextualizing Disability Theory 

Ableism’s dictionary definition includes “discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities.” However, disability theory is far more nuanced than just the inequality of disabled individuals within Western society. The creation of the disable/able bodied dichotomy can be traced back to the establishment of the medical model by the European Enlightenment. This model, which laid the foundations for modern medicine, serves as a catalyst for how we view the body as a focal point for normalcy. In other words, our bodies are our outward expressions for complying to social norms.

This physical manifestation of normal allows for policing by every cultural institution, whether it be heteronormativity, the media, the Church, education, or the medical industry itself. Similarly, the concept of otherization lies primarily in the realm of the physical body. Disability studies seek to deconstruct this identity category; they assert that it is not our bodies that are disabled, but rather, society and its institutions that disable the body. Disability is not a noun, but rather a verb—it carries out cultural policing. For instance, a person who is physically handicapped is not disabled in a room with a wheelchair ramp. Only when they are placed in an environment that limits their mode of movement are they disabled by that building. 

The social model of disability indicates that the category itself comes into being through these factors rather than the actual pathologization of the body. The category of disabled remains the only social category in which any person, at any time, can enter. By viewing the definition of disability through a transient lens, we can understand and critique its social and medical construction. Only then can Western society abolish the disable/able bodied binary and its consequent social hierarchy. 

2016 Election Fears 

In the 2016 Election, the Stormy Daniels bombshell headlined every major news and media publication. Stories, tweets, and memes regarding Trump’s small hands and emasculation by Daniels circulated social media. It was inescapable: our nation was obsessed with talking about Trump’s (inferred) tiny penis. 

Our obsession with the body and placing cultural meaning on its functions remains perpetuated through political discourse in regards to both Clinton and Trump’s physical capability. The physically disabled body is often viewed as asexual and agendered, so Trump’s emasculation and perceived sexual dysfunction painted him as disabled.

There’s no question that this election heavily revolved around gender politics. Hillary Clinton was either too feminine (and inherently too sexual) or too masculine. If she wore a shorter dress, Trump and his campaign followers inferred she was a whore. If she wore a pantsuit, they speculated that she wasn’t a “real woman.” No matter what Clinton did, she could never amount to the toxic masculinity Trump radiated. In other words, she couldn’t “man up” to run the country like he could. 

Our fascination with Trump’s, and consequently Hillary’s, genitalia can be singularly summarized by toxic masculinity. The revelation of Trump’s inability to please Daniels in bed equates to his failure as a man. This destabilization of his manhood, then, became a tool by liberal news outlets, comedians, and influencers to link his sexual failure to being a bad leader. Thus, being a leader means having a penis. And being a great leader means having a large penis because the larger the penis, the larger the man. 

Our obsession with the body and placing cultural meaning on its functions remains perpetuated through political discourse in regards to both Clinton and Trump’s physical capability. The physically disabled body is often viewed as asexual and agendered, so Trump’s emasculation and perceived sexual dysfunction painted him as disabled. Media publications made it painfully clear through their coverage of Daniels’ story: disabled bodies have no place in politics. 

2020 Realities

Flash forward to four years later where Trump’s body is, yet again, on the frontpage of the media. As the oldest president ever sworn into office, criticism regarding his fitness to govern the country runs rampant. The notorious “#RampGate” serves as another indication of liberal media interpreting the inability to properly be in power as a symptom of disability. 

During his commencement speech at West Point this past spring, Trump walked slowly and with hesitance down the ramp to the stage. While speaking, he also seemed to have trouble lifting a glass of water to his mouth, holding the glass unsteadily with two hands. Immediately after, news outlets and late-night talk show hosts ran their course with the expected ableist rhetoric. Jokes and speculation on the health and wellness of Trump dominated the headlines and the hashtags “#TrumpIsUnwell” and “#TrumpWearsAdultDiapers” were trending. Not only do these hashtags and stories do nothing to actually critique Trump and his policies, but they reinforce the bodily hierarchy created by ableism and the stigmatization disabled bodies carry in public spheres. 

A few months later, trending posts regarding Joe Biden’s speech impediment circulated from both sides after the first presidential debate in late September. Fox News continues to spread misinformation regarding Biden’s health, dubbing him “Sleepy” or “Senile Joe,” while also mocking his stutter and putting together compilations of him “stumbling over his words.” Liberal news outlets jumped on this opportunity to call out the harassment of Biden’s impediment, claiming these remarks to be cruel and ableist. 

Both parties use ableism when it’s convenient for their platform. By degrading Trump for his inability to walk or for the size of his genitalia, the left perpetuates an ableist binary. The right does the same when spreading misinformation about Biden. These examples indicate that regardless of which party people plan to vote for, a disabled individual is not fit to govern. 

Trump’s Diagnosis: What Now? 

Trump’s initial diagnosis with COVID-19 at the beginning of October (with just a few short weeks until election night) has perpetuated our public’s fear of disability. Articles discussing his weight, underlying predisposition to the virus, and his age suggest that this could be potentially fatal. Part of the left has started to rejoice in the wake of this news, while others recognize that MAGA supporters and current American conservatism don’t need Trump alone to function anymore: his legacy already precedes his eventual death. Regardless of where the nation stands, these headlines continue to negatively politicize the pandemic. 

Biden’s campaign recently released a statement saying that they will disclose the results of every COVID-19 test Biden undergoes, effectively making the contraction of the coronavirus yet another competition between the two candidates. Similarly, during Trump’s hospitalization a few days after his initial diagnosis, doctors refused to inform reporters that he had been given supplemental oxygen. This upheld the facade that Trump remains unfazed by the deadly virus, as though showing any kind of “weakness” to a form of disease would paint Trump as temporarily disabled.

In the midst of a global pandemic that targets the elderly and immunocompromised, we have the chance to reconstruct our bodily ideals. The uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought forward indicates that regardless of ability, anyone can contract the virus. Only by eliminating the ableist rhetoric that guides both liberal and conservative campaigns can we abolish the stigma and prejudice that we carry towards disabled people and construct social and political environments that inclusively welcome bodily difference.

My Body, My Choice: Anti-Maskers and the Appropriation of Language

by Hanna Carney //

The phrase “my body, my choice” is widely known in the U.S. as a reference to reproductive rights. This important slogan emphasizes that women and females have the right to control their bodies. Now, thinking they are witty, conservative individuals have appropriated the phrase for a new cause—refusing to wear masks. This appropriation of the phrase is far from clever. In fact, its new use is nothing but hypocritical. 

I first heard “my body my choice” used in reference to masks this summer.  A woman posted a long paragraph on Facebook, claiming those who identify as pro-choice are hypocritical to criticize anti-maskers. She weaponized the slogan, turning it on those who use it to support reproductive rights, implying their logic is flawed; apparently, if a female may exercise their right to abort a fetus, a person should be able to refuse a mask. However, to use the phrase “my body my choice” as a defense against mask mandates is unconducive to supporting the rights of individuals.

Some might argue against abortion rights based on the idea that a pregnant person is responsible for a human life. When reversed, some of these same people may refuse to wear a mask to protect real human beings—ones with lives, goals, families, a conscience. By not wearing a mask, they are putting their neighbors at risk, their neighbors’ neighbors at risk. To not wear a mask is to endanger the lives of countless people you do not know without their consent. It is to overwhelm hospitals. It is to take a hospital bed, a ventilator, away from someone who may need it. A person’s choice to get an abortion does not jeopardize their neighbor or affect their well-being. There are no instances where a high demand for abortions has taken a hospital bed away from someone who needs it. 

Not only are we responsible for the literal lives of others during this pandemic,  we also have the well-being of first responders to consider, who are taking mental, emotional, and physical tolls. If these people will so brazenly put the lives and well-being of others at risk during a global crisis, why would they care if someone chooses to have an abortion? According to this logic, perhaps someone who is pro-life would actually advocate for the wearing of masks.

In theory, the general phrase seems like a good sentiment: how can “my body my choice” stand for anything beyond protecting the rights of individuals? The opportunity for hypocrisy lies in the word “choice.” When you endanger the lives of others without their consent, you are inflicting on their choice, their individual rights, their body, due to your failure to consider the well-being of others. To use “my body my choice” in this contradictory way, you reduce the fight for reproductive rights and the right to choose in general. 

We must all be cognizant of the language we use. As words with certain histories are recycled, we must understand that our speech holds the potential to appropriate and diminish that history.